A Picture A Day [April Part II]
4/18/2012 – MUG Anniversary. I had the chance today to attend another missions organization’s meeting tonight, this one the one year anniversary for MUG (Missions UnderGround) Philippines. MUG was started by some American missionaries from Florida who volunteered with MMP (Mission Ministries Philippines) for a while here in the Philippines and then went back to start a similar church planting (house church based) ministry to the urban poor in Florida. Just a year ago they re-partnered with MMP and Filipino pastors here in Manila to plant house churches in some of the depressed areas here. It was good to see other American missionaries partnering with the poor here to preach the good news of Jesus!
4/18/2012 – Iglesia Ni Christo. This is a picture of the biggest Iglesia Ni Christo church here in the Philippines. INC is one of the many cults here (an offshoot of the Christian faith), started by a former Filipino protestant minister who was never content with the Christian faith. In addition to not believing that Jesus is the Christ, like many other cults, this church also believes that when Jesus comes back, he will take the INC churches (including the buildings) with him. Which is why they are often so elaborate. It is sad to see so many Filipino’s being led astray from the truth, but seeing these churches reminds us of the importance of good theology and teaching in the faith!
4/19/2012 – MMP training – field trip pictures! Today began one of two three-day seminars with ATS (Asian Theological Seminary) and MMP (Mission Ministries Philippines) in Educational Center Development. The seminars are being taught by MMP staff and professors at UP Diliman (a prestigious university here in Manila) and are teaching us (other MATUL students and I, along with 100 other Filipino pre-school teachers/administrators) how to run a pre-school, particularly amongst the urban poor. MMP has already helped start more than 500 pre-schools throughout Metro-Manila, providing training, curriculum, and support to the teachers and administrators, but doing it through partnerships so that they can all eventually stand on their own. This ministry compliments the church planting branch of MMP, making for a good partnership between new churches and pre-schools that can help fund the church as well.
4/20/2012 – Onesimo play. Tonight, after our all day seminar, I went with two classmates to a play put on by Onesimo, another ministry here in Manila that helps provide housing and support to street-children. The play was AMAZING, as the children from Onesimo reenacted their lives on the streets (drugs, sex, poverty, dysfunctional families, survival) and their transition into Onesimo. Because the children have lived the experience, it was not too hard for them to re-live it through the play. Though it was in Tagalog, I was able to understand most of it, and the visuals themselves told a thousand words. Definitely made me think, considering today there are 11,000 children living on the streets of Manila, 44,000 in the Philippines, and 1 million worldwide! I typically don’t go a day without seeing numerous street children, and while I haven’t been able to do much more than give some food on occasion, I am encouraged that there is an organization helping to change some of their lives through the gospel and love! Though I didn’t get pictures of the play itself or the kids, these pictures are of two other groups who watched the show, the first picture being one of my language school teachers and his family, and the other some of the youth from my classmate Katie’s church in another depressed area here in Manila…with the set of the play in the background.
4/21/2012 – MMP “Graduation.” Well, we graduated! Or at least finished our first three days and 30 hours of training to be pre-school teachers and administrators :) Actually, the training will be valuable as it gives us some tools for helping to start pre-schools or other types of schools in communities we may find ourselves in one day (including Montalban where I have been serving who may start a pre-school this next Spring). We each received a certificate of completion for this first of two parts (the next to be in May), and Brandon, who couldn’t make this ceremony was creatively superimposed in, wearing a medal mind you, by my classmate Katie :0 More pictures to come next month!
4/22/2012 – Tonight I was able to attend a Christian worship concert here in Manila at the largest arena in Manila, the Araneta Collisem. The concert hosted Israel Houton and the New Breed (from the States) and the Planetshakers (from Austrailia). The worship was spectacular and I definitely felt the Spirit’s presence throughout the night. It gave me a good opportunity to join Filipinos from across Manila and Luzon in worship and prayer, as we praised God for His goodness and what He has done, and prayed for continued work in the souls of the people here in Manila and the soul of the city itself. For me, I also felt the call to pray for continued reconciliation between our two countries (US and Philippines), and for God’s work to be done around the world. And of course, it was an added benefit to have such gifted and passionate musicians, and an even more passionate crowd!
4/23/2012 – Debut x Two. Tonight was the night of the Debut’s, or the Filipino coming of age party for teenage girls. Though similar to the Latin American Quinceanera (15), this happens when the girl turns 18, and is an elaborate birthday party if you will, often with numerous people in attendance, lots of food (remember, this is the Philippines), and some sort of ceremony. I went to one with my classmates, Brandon, to our church in Tatalon for one of the youth in the church, and my host mother and sister went to one not far away for their niece/cousin. The one I was at had a traditional rose ceremony (where 18 boys bring a dance to the girl along with a short dance, and 18 girls do the same but instead of dancing give a few words of encouragement). The picture below is of my host families cousin and my host mom’s brother, who I was able to meet out in the province.
4/24/2012 – Social Entrepreneurship Presentation. Well, these weeks bring 'mga assignments para sa MATUL' (many assignments for MATUL). Today our Philippines MATUL team presented on social entrepreneurship, based on our internships with CCT (Center for Community Transformation) and all of our assigned readings. It has been a good semester of learning about how to help the poor beyond just giving a handout, and beyond simply relief situations. The process of providing micro-loans and working toward development is very difficult but has provided fruitful for millions of families around the world. If you're looking for another option of giving beyond child sponsorship or supporting a missionary, most micro-finance organizations also make good use (even repeated use) of donations. A good read is also The Poor Will Be Glad by Peter Greer and Phil Smith.
4/25/2012 – Track work. So admittedly, I haven’t been able to run as much as I would like lately. But you can’t tell by the picture, eh? (eh...the influence of my two Canadian friends here) I was able to do a night run tonight at the track in Roxas, the barngay neighborhing my own in Tatalon. Ever since high school there has never been anything like running under the lights and beside the grandstand (blechers in the states). These times make me think about Eric Liddell, a Olympic runner from Scottland and Missionary to China, quoted in Chariots of Fire as saying, “I know God made me for a purpose – China (where he was a Missionary). He also made me fast. When I run I feel his pleasure, not just fun. To win is to honor him.” Somehow, when I run around the track or on the streets here in Manila I also feel His pleasure, not to mention get a good workout and stay healthy.
4/26/2012 – ARC with Jason. Tonight I went back down the running store with another one of my host brothers, Jason (his first 5k!), and was able to see Joe, the owner of ARC back in LA as well as here in Manila. I’m sure I have mentioned Joe before, but he has been a sort of person of peace for me in my transition here to Manila. ARC has been a welcoming family during the last three months, allowing me to run with them every Thursday and even help lead some clinics. Though I’m uncertain of how much I’ll be able to help them in the future because of my ministry commitments, it has been nice getting to know them and partner with them for a little bit.
4/27/2012 – More “tuta” (puppies) pictures. So the dogs keep growing, and there are 6 of them, so it is hard to walk through our main room without having them either following close at your heels, or having to avoid their poop and pee until it gets cleaned up shortly after. They have been a good greeting committee to me when I return home from a long day (in addition to my host family of course), and they give me a good distraction from my work and ministry when I need one. I’m sort of getting attached to a few of them, and told my host father than if I ever did move out to Montalban with one of the other MMP missionaries, I’d have to bring a few of them with me :)
4/28/2012 – Gabriel. Busy at work :) Actually, Gabriel has been watching many you-tube videos of late, learning his ABC’s, Numbers, Colors, and Shapes. Some of the videos are sort of entertaining, and they are all in English, so it is easy for me to sing along. It is interesting watching him grow and learn new words, phrases and speech. He is also like a sponge now though, so I’ve got to be careful with my words around him (ok, maybe not too careful). He also enjoys being thrown up in the air or sitting on my shoulders, as I’m the tallest now in my host family and can hoist him up the highest. Also makes for some good times and breaks from ministry.
4/30/2012 – Red skies. With rainy season approaching, we are occasionally provided with beautiful skies following a light rain, rainbows in the sky, or even dark clouds rolling in. Though my view of the sky (and the stars) is limited by the tall buildings, smoggy air, and city lights, there still remains views like this reminding us of God’s presence through creation.