A Picture A Day [February Part II] - Tatalon and Manila
2/12 – Wedding Bells. I was able to participate in the wedding of two couples at the church here in Tatalon that I have been part of (which is the mother church of the one I’m serving at in Fairview). This was a great opportunity to experience a unique part of Filipino culture. Though it was similar to weddings in the States, it had a few variations, and they even invited me to read Scripture. Both of these couples are new Christians at the church and have been living together for 8-10 years already. But to see them make vows to each other and honor the gift and sacrament of marriage, in the presence of their new church family, was “Maganda” (Beautiful). Both couples were appreciative of the love and support the church gave.
2/13 – CCT. These are pictures from CCT, Center for Community Transformation, the micro-finance organization that I will be doing an internship with over the next few months. CCT’s mission statement is “As followers of Jesus Christ, we join the Holy Spirit in God’s work of transforming lives and communities.” Their vision is “to see a network of Christ-centered faith communities where Jesus Christ is honored and worshipped and where people live with dignity and sufficiency in accordance with God’s plan for a just, humane, and caring society.” To reach these goals they minister as an organization to micro-entreprenerus, service workers, itinerant vendors, orphans, and abandoned children in urban poor communities. They also believe that development strategies are best achieved by enriching the spirituality of the person, in addition to the physical and socio-economic status. I will be sharing more about this I’m sure over the coming weeks, but for now, more information can be found at http://www.cct.org.ph/index.php
2/14 – Valentines Pictures. Well, it is Valentines day here. One day before the States J (we are about 14 hours ahead of CST zone). It may be obvious that these pictures are not of me, as I have committed to being single during my first year here in the Philippines. So while I stayed home with my host brothers and sisters (watching the new Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe), my parents went to a couples night at the church. It is great to see these pictures of so many couples in the church committing their lives to each other. The church places a high value on marriage, as well as marriage to one wife (having a mistress here is not uncommon), and not living together before getting married. It is good to see God’s original plan for marriage honored here in some of the churches of Manila.
2/15 – More Pictures from Kuya Sonny. These are more pictures from Kuya Sonny’s site in Southville/Montlebon. It is always great to get an insight into the communities where some of our MMP pastors serve, and through their eyes too!
2/16 – Tatalon sign. This is another Tatalon sign, just outside the community I live in. The first sign comes from the side of Tatalon that I live on, and this one from the other side, the side that is much bigger. This sign is on the way to CCT, and where one of the girls I will be working with at the Araneta Branch of CCT (Araneta is the main road dividing Tatalon) was born and raised. This co-worker also attends a house church in the community and is studying to be a pastor/minister. My host father told me that Tatalon used to be the second most dangerous barangay in Manila, next to Tondo, where an infamous gang lord used to live. Thankfully, things are better now, so there is less to fear. But we must continue to pray for this community, and pray that God’s church and people might be a light amidst the darkness; and magnify that light that is already here!
2/17 – Family playing Apples to Apples. So I wasn’t able to get a picture of this epic event, but I was able to finally play Apples to Apples with my host brothers and sister late into the night J (and decided this picture would do for the day) This was a great chance for me to get to know Tagalog and my family English better. Hopefully we’ll have more fun times like this in the future!
2/18 – Fireworks at MoA. Tonight I had a chance to go with some friends from language school and the running store, ARC Manila, to an International Fireworks competition on the Manila Bay, beside one of the largest malls in the Philippines and arguably Asia. The competition bouted Spain verses the UK, and though the UK had much bigger and brighter fireworks, Spain did a better job with the choreography and pyromusical technique. It was fun getting to know both groups from language school and ARC, and nice to get out of Tatalon for a fun event. Supposedly they have these competitions in other countries (US and Canada), but it was the first I’d heard of it.
2/19 – Dinner with the Nelsen’s. After church in Fairview, I had the chance to make the two hour trip out to Antipolo to see a missionary couple that has already been a huge support and I’m sure will be during my time here in Manila. The couple, Scott and Cindy Nelsen, have been missionaries here for over 20 years, and Scott is the brother of my pastor, Jeff Nelsen, back in Springfield. Scott is a doctor who offers free medical treatment to many of the local squatters and poor in Antipolo, and Cindy has been starting a program with some of the children. I’m hoping to maybe even help out at the clinic sometime over the next two years for my medical internship with MATUL. Thanks Scott and Cindy for a great night!
2/20 – Retreat Center Pictures. Today started the first of a three day silent prayer retreat with MMP. The retreat was in Tagaytay, on a mountainside bordering two volcanoes (one active and one inactive) just outside metro-Manila. It was great to get out of the Manila smog and noise for a few days of cool, clean air, silence (no talking either), and prayer and worship with my new brothers and sisters in Christ. I honestly didn’t think I’d ever be able to participate in a retreat like this with Evangelical missionaries/ministers, but it is something I have desired for so long now. Thankfully they have a regular rhythm of doing these retreats (4 times every year), so I’m sure they will come as much needed respites during my time here. We stayed at a Catholic retreat center with a beautiful garden in the back (with a labyrinth like the one my dad has in his back yard), and very few distractions. Praise God for silence, prayer, and retreats!
2/21 – Tagaytay Pictures. During the afternoon of our second day on the retreat I had a chance to go for a run down towards Taal lake and Taal Volcano Island in the middle of the lake, where there are the remains of an inactive volcano. The views were breathtaking, and this provided a nice element to my silent retreat. Really encourage anyone doing the work of the Lord to take time to get away, not just for vacations and high levels of activity, but also weekends of prayer, silence, retreats, and worship. Very restorative for sure!
2/22 – MMP Team and individual pictures. These pictures were taken before leaving the retreat center in Tagaytay. After breakfast and morning worship (with communion), we were able to talk again J and then packed our bags and headed out. Though we didn’t talk during the retreat (and more than half of the worship songs were in Tagalog), it was surprisingly a great chance to get to know these MMP missionaries better.