3/18/12 – Preaching at Fairview. Finally I get to put my preaching skills and seminary degree to use J The pastors at the church I have been helping at asked if I would be willing to preach this Sunday so I agreed since I’ve been here now two months and feel I have a decent idea of what the church and congregation are like. I preached on “Using Your Gifts,” the ministry principles of sacrifice, surrender, and suffering (using 2 Corinthians 11:16-31), and the fivefold ministry gifts in Ephesians 4 (Apostle, Prophet, Evangelists, Shepherd, Teacher). While I think I could have done a better job at integrating these together, I felt the congregation received the message and the Holy Spirit was definitely at work. I had a chance afterwards to have lunch with Pastor Arnold and his family, and then head back to Tatalon with my host brother, Daniel, who came with me for the morning.
3/20/12 – New Puppies! So as I’ve mentioned before, it is sometimes the little things that jump out at you the most. For me this week it is having six new puppies grace our house! Yesterday one of the two dogs in our house was crying a lot and hiding under one of the benches in the main living area. After asking about what was going on, my host family told me she was pregnant and going to have babies soon. And without fail, later that day there were six new puppies. I’m looking forward to the coming weeks of watching these little ones grow up, and seeing this miracle of life!
3/21/12 – Generics Pharmacy. This is one of probably hundreds of Generics Pharmacies that I have seen around Metro-Manila and even out in the province during my trip in April. These are affordable pharmacies which were started by CCT (Center for Community Transformation), the same organization I have been doing an internship with for micro-finance. It is great to see such a visible and regular reminder of God’s people at work and His Kingdom expanding into the public square!
3/22/12 – Rizal Park. Well, one advantage to a cancelled Thursday night run due to rain is the chance to explore other parts of downtown Manila with my host brother Daniel. I’ve heard of Rizal park, where there is a big memorial of one of the Philippines National Hero’s, Jose Rizal, but had never had a chance to visit. Tonight I had a chance though, visiting this massive park and its many green spaces, ponds, trees, and paths. The first picture below shows a snapshot of a water, light, and music show in one of the parks’ ponds, second maybe only to Las Vegas’ ? Fountain water show. Next is a picture of a pond with a huge map of the Philippines many islands (7,104 – though not all of them were showing of course J). I’ve seen these islands from the metro rail (seen in the background), but not up close like tonight. Great park with some great history and places to walk and enjoy God’s creation.
3/25/12 – Montelbon. Wow! What an experience. Today I had a chance to visit the Montalban community with my host father, one of the relocation sites for Manila’s displaced squatters (typically as a result of calamity like flooding, fires, etc.), and also one of the ministry sites of MMP (Mission Ministry Philippines). My host father has been working with a team over the last year to help plant a church in this community. During the first few months they went door to door visiting about 1000 homes, asking if the families were interesting in 1) knowing more about Jesus, 2) attending a Bible study, and/or 3) hosting a Bible study at their house. Based on these three questions (simply a survey, not forcing anything on anyone), they usually get a 15-20% rate of affirmation (meaning they hear no 8-9 out of 19 times), and this gives them an entry point into the community for starting Bible studies, sharing the gospel, and eventually starting churches. After churches are planted (there are currently no other churches in this community of 2,000 homes), they then help provide other services such as micro-finance, livelihood training, medical services, and a pre-school. It was great being able to visit this community and I’m hoping to visit more in the future.
3/26/12 – Volleyball. At night today, I was able to go with my host family to watch part of the Sportsfest that has been going on at my church this summer. It is a sports tournament taking place over the two months during the summer, hosting sports like basketball, volleyball, table tennis, track and field, badmiton, etc. This particular volleyball game was a match between my Bible study group and another one in the church. Supposedly their prepping me to possibly participate in the 400 meters for them, a mere sprint for me, but maybe a chance to put my last 17 years of running to the test :)
3/27/12 – Daniel’s Picture…Before and After. So if you have been following my pictures, you probably remember seeing this first picture on 3/12 along with another showing the river that flows next to Tatalon where I live. Well, as an assignment for his shadowing some of the graphic designers at the running store in Manila, my host brother Daniel was asked to learn how to use Photoshop. After watching some demo’s, he chose this picture (of all the pictures in my computer he could have chosen), and created the second picture. I believe this gives some great insight into the hope the people in this community have for the future, as little as it may be. We’ve even been talking recently about what it would take to get a community effort going to help clean up this river. Who knows…the Lord does miracles…right!
3/29/12 – Graduation Two. As part of one of my language and culture class homework assignments I had to ask about some of the similarities and differences between the Filipino graduation and highs school graduation. After talking with my host parents, I discovered the following: In the Philippines, the graduation usually has a number of local politicians in attendance. Depending on the level of graduation (middle school, high school, college), these could be local district or community leaders to council members, mayors, and government representatives. Though a treat to see people of such stature in the community, one of the negatives can be the required amount of money that is included in the cost of graduation for the students that is given to the government official as a “gift” from the school/students, in addition to the gown rentals and other expenses. Some of the similarities include a ceremony and presentation of diplomas, flowers for the girls, and depending on the families ability to provide, a party for the family, friends, and neighbors.
3/31/12 – 4/1/12 Scott and Cindy’s. I had another chance to get out to my Missionary friends’, Scott and Cindy Nelsen, house in Antipolo for the weekend. The two day “retreat” included an early dinner of delicious Chicken Alfredo, a leisurely conversation over popcorn on their porch overlooking laguna lake (second picture), a full night of sleep, and then church in the morning down in Ortigas at CCF, one of the more middle class churches here in Metro Manila. It was great to be able to fellowship with them (and an German doctor intern who was staying with them) for a few days, despite Scott being a bit sick and unable to join us at church on Sunday. I was finally able to see their back yard (first picture) in the day time, and even a stream that they are working on clearing a path to down behind their yard.