Sunday, April 30, 2006

philippines: day 2, sunday, april 9

AM worship service was great! Church was so small, but it was packed and there were people sitting outside listening as well, and children's Sunday School was outside next door. Worship was simple yet moving, more emotional than Cornerstone's. Helped me see how God is worshipped differently. Church was hot but not as bad as I expected. Sat in the back and was close to the breeze coming in. A purse-snatcher caused some commotion outside during the service but not too much disruption. Walt preached and they seemed to understand well enough to follow along. People were so nice!

Lunch then orientation time was good. Were introduced to Steve, Deborah, and Lindsey Scott (MTW Philippines leaders), Dr. Dale Knutzen (doctor missionary), and Harvey and Joan Hill (retired, teaches woodworking). Much encouragement on both sides. Steve stressed importance of short-term teams in encouraging and renewing long-termers. That was great to hear. Learned a bit about the Philippines in general.

Dinner was awesome! Great seafood at Josephine, not to mention the view! Well worth the trip. Got to get in on some Filipino style driving, too! Didn't interact much in conversation though...what else is new?

The people here are so nice to be around. So much passion and kindness - what more can be said? I wish I had more of that, and U.S. culture needs so much more. This culture is great for that. The church here is so strong too. I think if MTW folded the church we attended would continue on, strong as ever!

Still struggling to adjust and relax. Still preoccupied with things back home and such constant worries. Need to get over that; hopefully more time here will help in that regard. Need to just trust God in my life, but how to actually do that...

Up late preparing/stressing over Jonah study to lead tomorrow. I still hate last-minute stuff like that. What about needing more sleep? Some things never change.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

philippines: day 1, saturday, april 8

[This first entry is a little weird in that I didn't actually journal it. I didn't have a journal yet at the time, so I scribbled down some thoughts and now I'm trying to use those to create what should have been my journal entry.]

The flight over wasn't too bad, and certainly wasn't anything close to as bad as I expected. I did have the standard screaming kid within five seats - he was one row back and I think three seats toward the center so technically that counts as four - on the long leg of the trip, but he stayed more or less quiet until the last bit of the trip so that wasn't bad at all. I did sleep some but spent a lot of time meeting a lot of interesting people. Yeah, that's weird for me, but hopefully it will continue after I arrive. For the record, I think the check-in to pick-up time of the trip was around 26 hours.

Customs was a breeze compared to my previous third world entry experience (the utter chaos and inefficiency that is Egyptian customs). The team, in an apparent attempt to embarrass me, sang happy birthday loudly in the loading/pick-up zone at the Manila airport at midnight and managed to get a bit of applause. Their efforts were mildly successful. We went home, crashed, and that was that.

Today [Saturday] was our first real day of ministry. We spent the morning in Ang Bahay Parola (ABP, "The Lighthouse" I think) house 3, a street girls' home of ages 5-13 or so. We learned a lot about the street children's ministry Buboy manages. [Buboy has visited and presented at our church before and we support him through prayer and financial assistance.] The girls were cute and fun, and I (gasp!) enjoyed my time around them, playing games and encouraging them and helping them decorate their pictures and whatnot. But as usual I had tremendous difficulty showing emotion with them and relating to them in general; I'm still not at all convinced I'm called to any kind of children's ministry, though I might have done better in a boys' home. But it's irrefutable proof that God can work wonders through our ineptitude, such as mine with kids. Or maybe I'm not as bad as I thought, given the comments of others.

[I can't remember what we did in the afternoon, and the only note I wrote down about it is that I got very tired and need to get more sleep in the nights to come. Yeah...thanks, self. Perhaps that's why I don't remember. Though I also wrote down some stuff about an annoying barking dog that wouldn't shut up during the night, and that Sherri stayed up all night and hasn't slept since the plane landed last night. Wow.]

Walt's "window of interpretation" teaching this morning was great. It seems that the guy has a gift for putting things in terms that connect with me; his past couple of sermons have been awesome as well. But, he followed that with a list of Jonah teachings that need to be covered by everyone in the group as our daily devotionals. I volunteered to lead the first one on Monday, as that will get it out of the way and allow me to focus on the other stuff for the rest of the trip, like my short Bible study and journaling. Plus, the beginning will hopefully be more leader-friendly because I'll be able to take up a chunk of time with a book intro. So Jonah 1:1-6 it is. Looking forward to the rest of the trip!

philippines trip posts

Man, over a month since the last post. Once again the blog has fallen by the wayside. So much time needed to do stuff and so little time to commit...

It's been customary of me to post trip reports from my trips here - not saying much given that I've only taken one other trip to new places since my blogging career began - so I'll do the same for the Philippines trip. But since that one was so lonng and so packed with stuff so much more meaningful than a touristy vacation, it'll have to be done over several days methinks.

Well, it turns out that, at the urging of our pastor/team leader, I conveniently kept a journal - an amazingly good idea that I had once hoped to apply on a regular basis but have long since given up all hope of actually carrying out - during the trip. This means I have a short report of every day of our work there. And, the first "real" day of the trip was a Saturday, which happens to be exactly three weeks prior to today. So my game plan is to copy my journal over to my blog (editing portions as necessary or as I feel like), one day at a time, in successive days. It should be easy enough for even me to remember.

Trouble is, it will also require amazing diligence for 11 consecutive days. Doing something consistently for 11 days in a row is completely unheard of in my life. I honestly can't think of the last time I did a simple activity (pure leisure stuff and basic needs like eating excluded), even reading the Bible (why isn't this in the leisure stuff category?), for that many days straight. Perhaps I never have. Well, okay, my freshman and sophomore years of college I did the regular Bible reading thing, but that's been a while. But 11 days in a row without missing...that I can't be sure of. Heck, I know there haven't been 11 straight days in my life that I did homework on. I'm not even confident I've ever been to 11 classes in a row (at least not since freshman year) either of the same class or different ones back to back. I've tried to exercise regularly, but that regularly? Ha! Try three or four. I mean, anything...prepared my own meals...spent meaningful time in prayer...talked to someone for longer than 15 seconds...never happened.

So, such a thing as this would be a feat. Sad as it may be, it'd actually be somewhat of a milestone in my life. Geez, how's that for starting somewhere? And there you have it, Jesse's Encouraging Note of the Day...or as close as Jesse comes to encouragement, anyway.