A Picture A Day [ February Part I] - Tatalon and Manila
2/1/12 – Today starts a new month. I’ve been here for nearly two weeks now and am thoroughly enjoying every day. I honestly cannot imagine being anywhere else right now. It seems slow at times, and challenging learning the language and culture (the cultural innuendos are more difficult at times than the language itself), but I have already begun seeing seeds planted in my own heart as well as those around me!
Today I was able to participate in a worship service with the MMP (Mission Ministry Philippines) missionaries that I will be partnering with during my time here. They have worship together twice a month, a day of prayer once a month, daily prayers for people who live close to the office, and a three day silent retreat every quarter (which I have been invited on at the end of this month!) After being here for two weeks now, I am more eager to work under MMP during my two years here. It was the suggested organization by my director, Viv Grigg, and a good recommendation at that! The MMP missionaries (all Filipino, though always having guests from China and surrounding Asian countries) are humble, authentic, and God-fearing. Their methods are holistic (including development of jobs, schools, and health care in addition to spiritual evangelism, discipleship, and church planting) and their lives fully submitted to God. They are a new sort of a Protestant Missional/Preaching Order very similar to the Franciscans and Sisters of Charity. Below are a few pictures from their website (http://mmphilippines.com/). Check it out if you get a chance. It is a great ministry to support too if you or your church is wanting to support holistic church planting!
2/2/12 – So I got lost today :) But it gave me a good chance to find my way around another part of Quezon City and hopefully to prevent the same mistake in the future! The Jeepneys (old US jeeps from WWII) are tough to decipher at times, especially if you don’t know which sign to look for (a small sign in the front window of the jeep). Thankfully, it only costs about 20 cents for one ride, so my three extra rides today only cost me about a half dollar and an hour of detour. Walking from one Jeepney to the next I was able to take the below pictures while walking across a bridge. Though this is not the community I live in, there is a similar river and housing on one side of my neighborhood.
[I am still sensitive about taking pictures in my community since I am not just a tourist, but actual resident. I’m doing the best I can to blend in, and though my white skin is a bit of a give-away, there are many things I can avoid doing to keep a lower profile (like not taking out my expensive Nikon camera in the middle of a slum where the cost of the camera is about half of some of their annual salaries) (Another thing is wearing pants when I go out. Though it is very hot during the day, most of the men where pants (jeans) and shoes when they’re going out. In the neighborhoods it is okay to wear shorts and flip-flops, but not typically outside of the neighborhoods – though women can at any time!). Thankfully, there were not too many people around me when I took these pictures, so it gives you an idea what some of the rivers and buildings look like.]
2/3/12 – The following pictures are from the ATS (Asian Theological Seminary) website (http://www.ats.ph/). Again, since I’ll be studying here I wasn’t too keen to take a bunch of snapshots of the campus, but these pictures give a good insight into the campus and campus life. Though I don’t start classes here until April (they are currently in the middle of a semester), I go here frequently to study in their library and meet with their staff to discern my education and ministry during my time in Manila. The community is representative of students from all of the world (I’ve met people from Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, Canada, UK, Australia, and the US). I’m excited to get more connected with this community during my time here!
2/4/12 – Today I was able to visit two more of the MMP sites, Taguig and Taytay, which are both located on the south side of Metro-Manila. These are two depressed areas (a more politically correct term for slums) where there are MMP missionaries serving and doing church planting. During our time (my classmate Lindsey came with as well), we joined Pastor Mc Lloyd (pictured below) and ten women in a Taguig squatter settlement of 150+ families who are participating in a micro-finance fellowship in the community. Pastor Mc Lloyd and MMP were able to secure a 100,000 peso donation (just over $2,000 USD) from a man in the UK, to be used for non-interest loans amongst the poor. Taking advice from Exodus 22:35 which says: “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.” It is common here in the Philippines for moneylenders to charge 20% interest on loans. Thus, if a family got a 5,000peso loan, they would have to pay 6,000pesos in return. Pastor Mc Lloyd has been able to issue 10 5,000peso non-interest loans to families in Taguig about two months ago. His only requirement is to have a small Bible study (which he divides into Welcome, Worship, Word, Work/Payment) every week during their collection times. The people here (though not all Christian) are much more receptive of this ministry than I experienced in many communities in the US, and Pastor Mc Lloyd much more convicted, determined, and loving in his teaching the Scriptures. (Two side notes – one, there has been 100% payback of loan payment in the last two months after the women were being issued the loans; two – the other pictures are of a lake here in Manila – Laguna Lake – which the community is nestled up next to.
We also visited the community of Taytay and observed a feeding program they do there with some of the children twice a week. After a short Bible lesson, about 70-80 kids from the community were given soup and juice, of which they were very grateful. The MMP team (three MMP missionaries and one local pastor from their partnering church) will be finally starting a Sunday service in Taytay on Sunday after having done evangelism, Bible studies, and the feeding program for over a year now. Their church is a mere tent overlaying a small plot of land, but I’m sure the Spirit of God will be alive and well tomorrow during the service!
2/5/12 – My first race in the Philippines! And my host brother Daniel’s first race ever! After waking up at 3:30am and taking an hour and half bus ride to another community of Metro-Manila’s south side (Pasig), we participated in a 5k race that had a course running on one of the skyways here in Manila! There were 6 races in total (the first starting at 12am!) from a 42k (26.2 mile marathon), to 21k, 16k, 10k, 5k, and 3k hosting over 20,000 runners. Thankfully my race was not until 6:30am but it was still early. It was a great experience, as we were greeted by a firework show (a first for sure) above the main staging area, and we got to see and run with our ARC (A Runners Circle) team here in Manila. And though I haven’t been training much lately in this transition, I was still able to pull of 4th place in the 5k out of 3700 runners. Not a bad Manila debut. My host brother finished well too, though he had to start in Wave F and weave his way through 3000+ people! A great morning for sure, and we even made it back to Tatalon afterwards for church!
2/6/12 – Timog. These pictures are of some buildings near the seminary that I will be taking classes at starting this April, ATS (Asian Theological Seminary). The school is located in a nicer part of Quezon City where they also shoot some tv shows. There is a Starbucks close by, nice hotels, and even this small shopping mall with a grocery store with western food and more upscale restaurants. From what I have seen this area is comparative with the middle class in the US. The problem is, though this class is growing, it is still a small percentage of the population, and there remains a HUGE gap between rich and poor. Though my brother might like the picture of the house too though, being an architect and all. Anyone want to move to Manila?
2/7/12 – Southville (Sonny). The following pictures are of Southville, the community in which my host father, Pastor Sonny is serving through MMP (Mission Ministry Philippines). They have been doing church planting and community development in the community for over a year now. I did not take these pictures, but sent the camera with Pastor Sonny to take some photos. Hopefully I will visit here soon. The first picture is Pastor Sonny being goofy, the second the team of 4 Filipinos helping plant the church (+ two Americans from Seattle who are helping out in this community for the time being as well), and the third one of the houses where they were proposing a micro-finance initiative alongside a Bible study that had been started in the community.
Following these pictures are a few pictures I took of my family at our house in Tatalon after Pastor Sonny got back from Southville.
2/8/12 – Looking out my window. These pictures are taken from my host brothers room where I do most of my studying these days (including putting this blog together). It is a great room with an open window overlooking our cluster (of about 10-15 homes. Often I hear people working on construction projects, blasting music, singing karaoke, or even playing basketball. I can also hear the roosters crowing in the morning, cars and motorcycles on the street nearby, and street vendors. This is not to mention how the smell of lunch or dinner often rises up to the room when my Ate (host mom) is cooking. Praise God for a great community!
2/9/12 – Manila Bay/ Fountain/ Cat, CCT, GP’s Pics – A big day with lots of pictures. Hope you don’t mind J Today I was able to go down to downtown Manila for an interview with CCT (Center for Community Transformation). After the interview (which went well), I walked with my host brother Daniel down along the Manila bay and took the pictures below. We then hung out and read for a while until the weekly Thursday night run for ARC (A Runners Circle) happened at 5:30pm.
The other pictures are selected pictures that my dad sent me from my Grandfather (his dad) who came to the Philippines 2-3 times for short term missions trips in 1970! He went to a different island and community (Iloilo), but it is cool that I am sort of retracing his steps by coming to the Philippines (as I have by following his lead into the ministry as a pastor/missionary as well).
2/10/12 – Movie. My first Filipino movie experience! I went with my host family (my brothers and sister, and two of their friends) to one of the malls here in Manila for a movie (costing only 26pesos = $.60). The whole night including transportation only cost us about $6.50 for the 7 of us for the night (sure beats the $15 movie I paid for pack in LA J). While this may not seem much to westerners, this is actually still a lot for the urban poor, and was a special treat for us all (I’m also trying to live simply and not spend more than about $3 a day). Thankfully it was a good movie too (Columbiana) as one of the catches is that you don’t know the movie until you go J. I was happy to pick up the bill because of how supportive and welcoming my siblings have been over the last few weeks. It is not easy making a transition to a new place, but they have made it great, as you can tell by the pictures! (p.s. One new experience was standing for the Filipino National Anthem before the movie started as a video with the Filipino history played in the background. Though I am still learning about the history, I know that the Filipinos have a lot to be proud of over the last 100+ years as through “people power” they have gained a lot of freedom and taken down oppressors and evil leaders in their administration).
2/11/12 – Basketball Courts. Here are some pictures of some of the makeshift basketball courts here in my neighborhood (this was on my walk home from the bus stop from language school). Basketball is the national sport here, though running and soccer are growing, and badminton and table tennis are also local favorites. There are professional basketball leagues here too which are often on tv, and they even have “imports” which are foreigners who play in the league. The leagues and games are fun to watch, and supposedly this past year, the Dream Team from the US came to play against the Filipino Dream Team which was a special treat for the Filipinos.