Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On my way home!

Just really quick, sorry I wasn't able to respond to anyone's emails or facebook messages the last couple of days - the internet has been down at Sankey.
I am in the Manilla airport right now waiting for my first flight to Korea. Not too excited about the fact the the next 30+ hours will be spent on an airplane or in an airport, but excited to see many of you when I return home!
To all of my new friends and family in the Philippines, thank you for a wonderful last 5 months, I will miss you all very much!! Don't know when yet, but I will see you again!

Monday, August 6, 2012

August 6th

I know I said I wasn't going to post another update until midweek, but this isn't really going to be an update. I do however, while I know people are still checking this blog, want to share something with you all that I think God has taught me within the last couple months.
It started when a couple months back I was reading the book, "The Shack," which overall I thought was fantastic, and quite insightful - but there was one thing that when I initially read, it didn't go down so easy. I had to reread it a few times just to make sure I was reading it right because it was so contrary to the way I thought what being a Christian was about and how I should be acting.
I know it is rather theologically simple, but it has to do with the idea What Would Jesus Do - I'm sure many of us can recall when the WWJD bracelets were almost like a fad within the Christian community. And up until recently, even though I ditched the bracelet many years ago, I still tried to act accordingly to that principle. In a given situation I would try to determine, 'okay, if Jesus was in this situation, what would he do?' And not to sound arrogant, but based on the premise that Jesus acted out of love, I think I was fairly successful at determining a Jesus-like response for most situations; whether or not that was actually how I ultimately chose to act, that's another story, but I at least knew how I should be acting.
As a matter of fact, I came here to the Philippines with the mindset that I was going to be an example of Jesus here. Preaching and verbal evangelism has never been a strong point of mine, so instead of telling about Jesus, I would show them Jesus; I would do what Jesus would do. And for the first couple of months here, that is what I tried to do. Sometimes I was successful, but sometimes, as much as I hate to admit it, my personal shortcomings, limitations, and selfish desires got in the way and I didn't do what Jesus would do. 'I will try harder next time,' was often the thought that followed those instances.
And then I read The Shack; and the following is what I read that made me question what I was doing:
"You mean," Mack interjected a little sarcastically, "that I can't just ask, 'What Would Jesus Do'?"
Jesus chuckled. "Good intentions, bad idea. Let me know how it works for you, if that's the way you choose to go." He paused and grew sober. "Seriously, my life was not meant to be an example to copy..."
Wait...what!? I had to read this a couple times to make sure that that is actually what it said. So I'm not supposed to try to be like Jesus? After reading on and spending much time in thought over this, I began to understand the logic behind this statement. The paragraph continues:
"Being my follower is not trying to 'be like Jesus,' it means for your independence to be killed. I came to give you life, real life, my life. We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But we will never force that union on you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side."
(The Shack, William P. Young, pg 149)
It doesn't say this, but this is what I have drawn from reading this and spending much time deliberating how this could be so. It's not that our lives shouldn't look like Jesus', it has to do with the way in which that happens. There is one thing, and only one thing, that we must do on our own that Jesus did - and that is surrender our lives to God. Forfeit our own desires and will to the desire and will of God for our life. Jesus did this, and this is the only thing that we need to do. Consequently, our lives will look like the life of Jesus.
I hope this makes sense. Both WWJD and the surrendering of one's will to God produce a similar outward result, however there are a few significant differences that I should make note of.
Previously I mentioned that even though my goal was to act like Jesus, I wasn't always successful. My own desires and limitations got in the way, sometimes something as simple as being physically and mentally tired. I have limitations, we all have limitations. But, if our lives are surrendered to God, and like it says in The Shack, "We (God) will come and live our life inside of you...", then our limitations are no longer a factor. A God who has no limitations and does not grow weary or change, is now living His life in and through you and me. Our actions still are still what Jesus would do, but it is no longer our efforts to do so, but Christ himself living through us.
I spoke at youth group at Bethel last night and this was the meat of the message that I shared with them, plus or minus a few things. One of the last things I challenged them with, was are they willing to surrender everything to God - there is no half way, or even 99.9% of the way - its all or nothing. I could have asked for a show of hands of who is ready and willing to surrender completely to God, but I told them I wasn't going to do that because the 30 seconds they would have taken to think about it wouldn't do the magnitude of this question justice, and their answer likely wouldn't be sincere. I want to challenge you all with the same thing, and actually think about it - what is the one thing you desire to do most in life, what are your goals, dreams and aspirations? Now, could you forfeit pursuing those things I order to surrender completely to God? Now maybe those desires will still be fulfilled with God in control of your life, but would you be alright if they weren't? Different things have come up at different times that I will admit, it has taken me days to finally decide that I am truly willing to surrender it over to God. Do I still hope that it might happen, sure, but it's no longer at the forefront of my mind and it is no longer something holding me back from what God's will is through me.
Maybe this made sense, maybe it didn't. If it didn't, I apologize because this turned out to be rather lengthy and I therefore just wasted a decent amount of your time...haha. If it did make sense but you don't agree, that's okay, hopefully it at least made you think a little bit about what you do believe and why. Lastly, if this struck home with you like itdid with me when I first read it and began digesting the idea, I would encourage you to think about the challenge above that I gave to the youth group at church. And as I am learning now, surrending the one or two big desires in my life was only the beginning. Granted those might be the most difficult things to surrender, but I have found that surrendering must become a daily, or maybe even bi-daily routine. And I say that from a hypocritical platform as I myself am not surrending each day to God. But I hope that despite the hypocrisy on my behalf, any truth of the matter will not be affected and that if this is something that God wants you to hear, what I am doing or not doing will not be a hindrance.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 2nd

We are back up and running here, so that's good. We have had a couple out of the ordinary events the last couple days that I can share with you - starting with Sunday.
I didn't go to Bethel like to I usually do on Sunday, I ended up going to the church in pagbilao that all of the kids go to because they were celebrating their 10 year anniversary as a church. They had their usual message, but in addition to that they had several dance and singing performances - many of which were by the Sankey kids. That was the reason I wanted to attend that church, and the kids did not disappoint - it amazes me how multi-talented so many of these kids, or young adults, are.
After service they provided lunch, and then families with kids stuck around and they played some games and hung out for a while.
And then Tuesday was a pretty eventful day. They ended school about an hour early here at Cugley, and we walked down the road and did a feeding program at the public elementary school that is about a half mile away. The Cugley kids did a few songs for the kids at the other school, a few of the teachers said a few words, and then we passed out chicken soup and bread to well over a hundred kids (I would guess). We didn't get to spend much time hanging out with the kids like we do during normal feeding programs with the church - most of the kids got their food and then went back to their classrooms. It was still raining on and off, so that was part of the reason, but pretty much as soon as we were done we made our way back to Cugley, trying to avoid all the huge puddles in the dirt road that the previous 2-3 days of rain had left.
That evening we had a birthday party for one of the Sankey girls who turned 18. In the Philippines they don't do much to celebrate most birthdays, however they do celebrate the turning of certain ages, and for girls, 18 is one of those. They call it a Debu. So we had a party in the gym for Mary Rose - she had one of her classmates escort her in to her seat which was in front of everyone, and then several people sang songs to her. She also had to dance with 18 of the guys there - each one of whom brought her up a flower when they were called up for the turn. It was kind of funny to watch because you could tell it was many of these boys first time slow dancing.
Then we had dinner and cake, and by then it was 8:30 or so, so some of us stayed and cleaned up, but most of the kids went back to their dorms because the next day was test day for the high schoolers, so they had to study and head off to bed.
Well, I am coming down to the last few weeks. It's really hard to believe that almost 5 months has already gone by. I probably won't post anything until the beginning or middle of next week since things are fairly routine and I will be seeing many of you again within the next month and we win catch up then.

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 31st

Just a quick message because the internet has been out of order due to bad weather the last couple days and when it is accessible it doesn't stay so for long.
I think the news said it was a typhoon, regardless, we have had strong winds and lots of rain the last couple days - the Manilla area was hit the worst, but we, being only about an hour and a half southeast, have had our fair share. It's letting up for the most part, but the winds are still pretty gusty - I'm guessing that is the culprit for the poor internet.  Hopefully it continues to let up overnight and I will post a little bit longer of a message when the internet is working on a more consistent basis.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

July 25th

It's been almost a week back here at Sankey and I am getting settled back I to the routine here with school and what not. I have posted some pictures from last Friday at school - the were celebrating healthy food month. They had been working on different activities the previous weeks when I was gone, and Friday was the culminating event. They performed their skits and winners were announced for essay, slogan and poster contests for each grade.
I'm not sure if you can see it one of the pictures below, but a lot of the younger kids wore hats decorated with a variety of vegetables in different patterns and designs - they were really quite cool looking!
The skits and winners of the competitions were all announced in the morning, and that afternoon when we reconvened the kids broke up into three different groups and each group made a healthy dish and drink - enough for everyone to sample!! I had a lot fun going around watching, and occasionally helping the different groups prepare their dish - I got a few pictures of that.
Throughout my time here I have noticed how much more lax they are with taking precautions than we are in the states - this cooking day was a prime example. I chuckled a little because never in a school in the states would you have a second grader using a 6" knife, or cooking over an open flame (even if they were being supervised). Here, no big deal!
Anyways, the fishes all turned out great! We had vegetable loaded spaghetti, some sort of chicken burger (the green patties in the picture below - I know they don't look overly appealing, but they were actually really good), and fried vegetables. Potatoes, carrots, and leaves...I'm assuming it was some sort of healthy vegetable leaf, but I got a kick out of it - and they say Americans will fry anything.
This week has been pretty regular thus far. It's starting to set in that I only have a few weeks left here, so I'm trying to get as much time in with the kids as possible. I've gone back to eating dinner with the kids more often - so it's back to the canin, isda, at gulay - but like I've been telling the kids, in a few weeks when I'm back in the states I will probably miss it, so I'll enjoy it while I can!
Thursday and Friday are half days for Cugley students this week, they have their first round of tests. So for computers this week we have just been reviewing. Most of the teachers are making up the computer test for their kids and I am just administering it, but I get to make up tests for a couple of the grades (I'm kind of looking foward to being on the making, instead of taking, end a test).

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 23rd

Week 3, take 2 (this had better work)...
As I think I mentioned, the Friday after camp ended two of the people from Maryland left for Tanza - they were going to meet up with a couple of Filippino nurses who run a free health clinic to her with that.
The rest of us went in on Saturday morning, and then by the time we got everyone's bags dropped off at the appropriate places (there were six of us, and we stayed two people at three different places) it was the afternoon before we made it out to the church we would be joining for the next few days. I ended up staying with one other person at the house of American missionary family.
That afternoon we met some people at the church they were getting things set up for a multi-church event the next afternoon after the morning service. So we tried helping get stuff set up with that for a little while, and then we went to the home of one of the ladies who attends the church because she was having a weekly children's bible study/feeding program. So we stopped in there for a little bit - long enough for me to teach them (some of the kids already knew though) the chicken dance (or in my broken Tagalog: manook sayow) and the macarena.
To get back to the church from this lady's house, we all ended I cramming in the cab of a garbage truck because we couldn't find two tricycles (which is how we got out there) to take us back - so that was kind of fun.
Sunday morning we attended this same church, and then we're there pretty much all day. The multi-church event started around 4 or 5 and they had music, skits, musical skits, and Mr Mauk, Miriam's dad, came and performed his spinning tops show.
Something he hasbeen doing for over 20 years now I believe, he combines his hobby of spinning tops (which is much more elaborate than I ever thought top spinning could be - and really quite fascinating) with a message of faith and reliance on God. I had seen this the two weeks before as he performed at each camp as well, but this time he spoke in Tagalog, and it was probably one of the neatest things I have seen since being here. Just his ability as an American to communicate and captivate a Filippino audience in such a unique way - I don't know, it may not sound like much, but I thought it was.
We had several people to drop off on the way home, but only one vehicle - so we ended up fitting 16 people in vehicle about the size of a Ford Explorer - crammed, yes - but also impressive.
Monday morning we got up and helped with another health clinic at the church (like what the first two people who went on Friday did). Well, a few of them helped - myself and one other girl, because we have no medical experience, jut played with the kids and gave out candy. Several mothers (and a few fathers) brought their kids by for routine checkups and to get different vitamins of sort. I did get to talk to one dad for a while - and at the end of our conversation he very genuinely told me that he had always wanted an American friend and that I was his first - I am glad to be so! The picture I posted before of me and the Filippino man, that is him, Rolando.
Tuesday we stayed in the area because we were going to meet up with some of the other counselors for dinner, so we did that and then headed back to RRC. We got back late and we're up and out early the next morning to go to Palm Beach Resort (the one here in the Philippines). <br>
The Mauks, the group from Maryland, and myself went and had a nice relaxing beach day at a very nice resort. We rented a few kubos and played games and swam (some in the sea and some in the pool). I actually got to do a first while there! Mr Mauk had brought along his scuba and snorkeling gear, so I borrowed some of it and went out snorkeling. About 50 yards out from the shore there was some reef with a surprising number of tropical fish living in it for not being very large. I stayed out there for probably close to an hour checking out all the fish/searching for a clown fish (which I never found) - it was really quite fun! <br>
Thursday I got up and packed and then went with the Marylandians (I don't know what the official name is for people from Marlyand) to the market of that they could get some souvenirs to take back to the states with them. Then shortly after lunch one of their drivers brought me back here to Sankey.
It was a wonderful three weeks, but it was also great to be back here and to see everyone again!

More Pictures

I had a post all typed up about the third week I was gone, but upon attempting to publish it, something went wrong and it frozen.
So - I will have to retype that tonight, but here are some pictures from Tanza and our beach day which I will talk about.