Coming back from six months of Discipleship Training School, I get the question, “So…what happened?”
Here I am sitting down to tell about it all. First off, I should tell you I have a new nick name: “the girl with noodle hair”. My reddish curly hair seems to have become my trade mark. But let’s get to it!
I remember arriving the first night, seeing the busy crowded street of Floodway (the street I would soon call home) with all the vendors, marveling at how traffic worked, and looking at the slum houses and wondering “Wow, that’s where people live?” Then we stopped in front of our road.
“Wow! This is real. I’m going to be living in the slums of Manila for the next two and half months!”
I grabbed my heavy back pack and walked down into our street. We were greeted by smiling, screaming children, our host family, and the youth group from our host church. Some of our new acquaintances were shy and held their noses yelling “nose bleed”. It’s a local joke meaning they can’t speak English very well and have to think so hard it makes their nose bleed.
I didn’t know at the time, but the people hanging around that night would become very dear and close to our team.
We were offered our first taste of Filipino hospitality and cuisine, as the pastor and his wife had cooked up the famous Filipino chicken adobo.
I not going to deny a feeling of fear as I saw that nine of us, both boys and girls were going to be sleeping in one small room. Stretched out on the floor that night, I couldn’t help reflecting:
“What did I get myself into? Can I really do this? ”
And yet a spirit of optimism was rising at the same time.
“I can’t wait to see all that God has planned! I can’t wait to get to know these people and learn about the Philipines.”
The next morning, we walked down our street with our new friends Jericho and Ezekiel, who showed us one of the many bakeries on our street for breakfast. I can’t remember the rest of the day except it included meeting many new people. Then we started our Bible reading. We had the goal of finishing the Bible, Genesis to Revelation, in three days.
Outreach was a bit of a blur. Every day we had many different activities and the days started meshing together, but many different memories and events really stand out.
The first week, one of our contacts, a pastor, invited us to speak on anger management at the local government office. He gave us 20 minutes in each office (architecture, agriculture, etc). I felt challenged as a young women to go to speak to professionals about a topic that I felt I was still struggling with. But the beauty of God is he chooses to use us in the midst of our struggles. So our team spent time researching about anger management and created our own presentations. We took turns in each room and went around to about 20 different offices inside the government buildings, including the local courtroom.
With that opportunity, the doors were open for people to approach us and ask us questions. I was so blessed to be able to engage in genuine conversations about how best to handle our anger.
One of my favorite ministries was going to the local juvenile prison. We were given this opportunity twice and each time God gave me chance to speak. I was amazed that being from different countries and totally different backgrounds we were still able to connect. We painted their nails, talked, and molded clay. We also had a chance to show them an example of who God is, by washing their feet.
After I explained to them about Jesus washing the disciples feet I filled up my bucket with water and asked the girl closest to me if I could wash her feet. She nodded her head, but remained silent and withdrawn. As I washed her feet I simply talked about Jesus’s love and prayed for her. I looked up and realized there were tears rolling down her cheeks and the hardness that was previously on her face was gone. She initiated a big hug that surprised me.
We spent a lot of time in encouraging and praying for people in the streets. At first I found this awkward and challenging, but as I saw God work and move through us every time we would step out, I became excited. As an art and media school we liked to do what we would call ‘art evangelism’. I would pray and ask God what he wanted me to draw. Then after I drew that picture I would ask God who he wanted me to give it to. I loved how God would use our talents to touch people.
Many times during evangelism I was amazed with the timing of meeting people. God knew exactly what people were going through, where they would be, and where we would be. One of my schoolmates knew God really wanted her to speak to a girl across the street while she walking and so, not knowing what was going to happen, she approached the girl. After talking with her for awhile, the girl broke down and told my friend how she was debating committing suicide. My friend was able to encourage her by telling her how God knew she’s was planning to commit suicide and sent my friend to speak to her.
We found dancing was a great way of building relationships with many of the local youth. I had so much fun learning new dances and teaching others. As we would hang out after school with dance groups, we got to build relationships with them. Through that we were able to share about God and also answer their questions about him.
Several times we were able to be a part of feeding programs in the different slums around our region. We ran a program with skits, songs, and short talks. After we finished our program and all the local street children had gathered they would line up for their food and eat. During these times we were able to talk, pray, laugh, play basketball, and just encourage the children. Many of the children had a very rough upbringing and didn’t experience much love.
It was such an amazing chance to be a light and show them Jesus’s unconditional love.
There are so many more stories to tell, stay tuned for Part 2!
Salalmat (Tagalog), tenk yu tru (Pidgin), Gamsahamnida (Korean), THANK YOU!!