Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas!!

Giving out food bags in Malabon on Christmas Eve!









Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas, a time of JOY!

One of the great things about being a child of the Most High God is that along with the privelage of being His child, you also have Joy... even in the hard times! Even when things are going wrong in nearly every way imaginable... we still have Joy knowing that our Heavenly Father is still on His throne! He is still in control! Nothing takes Him by surprise, even when it knocks the breath from our lungs, He is not surprised in the least! I take great comfort in this! That in the unbelievably good times and the unbelievably bad times... He is still GOD and we, as His children still have JOY!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sunday Uno!

Patrick, Franz, and Em!

My Uno playmates...Patrick, Em, and Franz!

Em and his Uno cards!


Gil taking a picture of Patrick.. without previous warning to Patrick.


Gil being silly in the kitchen!


Franz!!

Laughing at these silly boys.

Patrick with his cards!

We had a rare lazy afternoon yesterday, and played Uno! I had so much fun with Gil, Em, Patrick, and Franz.. even if they cheat at Uno!!! haha!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The beginning of a new day...

I've only been here for a few days, but I've got a few pictures of some of the kids. Hard to get many pictures with so much craziness going on with everyone getting ready for Christmas. These pictures were taken earlier in the day before one of the Christmas parties they had.




Friday, December 18, 2009

From Manila...

So I'm here! It's been a very crazy day! As soon as I went down to the first floor today, I was tackled in the hallway by a bunch of the older kids (4-8 year olds!)!!! Things are pretty crazy around here right now, trying to get ready for Christmas. We had a Christmas party here today and had a bunch of visitors from the community. That's about it for the first day. I'll try to post updates as often as possible! ~To God be the Glory!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December 15, 2009

So it is finally here. Today is the 15th, and tomorrow morning I board the plane en route to Manila, Philippines. Today and tomorrow morning is as my momma always says, is going to be very bittersweet. While on one hand I am leaving my family and friends, my sweet church family, and my familiar surroundings; I'm also going where God is calling me, going back to another family, my sweet filipino family he has placed in my life, a family with nearly 40 little children and about 2o brothers! I've been counting down the days for months in anticipation of tomorrow, biting at the bit to get back, but at the same time, cherrishing each moment here with my dear family that God has so graciously given me.

I will be arriving in Manila Thursday night (Thursday morning KY time) and will hopefully be posting an update soon.

But in the meantime, here are some of my favorite pictures over the past 4 1/2 months that I spent at home in KY!






Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charming Fabulous Church Family!

I never brag enough about my church family! They are simply precious! I feel so overwhelmingly blessed when I think of how these Christ-loving and God-fearing people have touched my life! They have been so encouraging to me over the years, always supporting me wherever God was leading me. When I hear them say, "We'll be praying for you" I know one thing... They will actually be praying for me! It's not something they just say, but a promise that they fully intend to keep. Especially here lately, the church as a whole has swallowed me up in support and encouragment as I start this slightly new chapter in my life.

Part of my wonderful church family is my Sunday School Class. I can't even begin to describe this group.... we are all so unique in our own ways, but have one thing in common... we all love God! It can get crazy sometimes..well most of the time actually, but we still fit, just like a family does! We fit together like puzzle... by ourselves we all look kinda silly sometimes, but we fit together and are an amazing picture of a part of the family of God.

Well, today after another wonderful morning at church, I was sitting down and checking some email before we were supposed to head to a family gathering, when the doorbell rang. I went to the door and ... "Surprise!!! This is your 'Going Away Party'!!!" ...there on my porch were 8 college students and our Sunday School teacher and his family, everyone had their hands full, some had pizzas, others with 2-liters, others with plates and napkins, others with crock pots of dip, others with chips in hand. Come to find out that my dear siblings began planning about 3-4 weeks ago, my parents were in on it, even the relatives to whose house we were supposed to be going to knew.... I was clueless the whole time!

It was such a precious afternoon. I feel so blessed to be able to call these people not only my friends, but my family in Christ! Words cannot express how grateful I am for their presence in my life! ~ To God Be the Glory!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Great Filipino Weekend... in the US.

This past weekend I had the delightful opportunity to be graced with the presence of Jordan and Kyla, two girls that were on my team this summer in the Philippines. This summer started out with us meeting for the first time in the airport... and ended with us all being the best of friends! God certainly hand picked our group this summer, as was evident early on, as we all just clicked and fit together wonderfully, which was key with the emotionally tough summer we had. Unfortunately, only 3/4 of our team was here this summer as Courtney was unable to make the trip.
This past Sunday night I also had the opportunity to share with my church about my trip this summer to the Philippines and about my plans to return soon. I'm so grateful to have a church family that is so faithful to support me in this journey God has taken me on and is always faithful to remember me in their prayers. Their outpooring of love, support, and encouragement is such a treasure to me! Below the other pictures is the video from this summer that I shared with them.
This morning Kyla and Jordan headed back to their homes...states away. They've yet to be gone a full 24 hours and I already miss them dearly and am already anticipating seeing them again in the coming months! And of course... as with most of my posts.. here are the pictures:

The whole team this summer!



Me, Kyla, and Jordan this summer!

And Below: The most recent pictures!

Me and my grandparents after my share service.
And this is a little video of my trip this summer!

video

Monday, November 16, 2009

30 days...

One month people...the countdown just got so much more intense!!!

(And yes, I'm aware that to most of you... this means nothing.. but to me.. its BIG!!!... and it's my blog.. so I get to blog about what is BIG to me... hence this post.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

5 weeks...

I leave in 5 weeks. I can't believe I'm so close, but yet I still feel so far away! I know this time that I have with my dear family and friends is oh so special, for once I am gone, I will be there for a long while. However, when one knows where God is calling, its hard not to be excited, especially when there are sweet precious children involved! I think of the children that I left when I came back to the United States and my heart breaks for them. They have already experienced so much abandonment, but still opened their hearts to me... and I left. There was no way to explain to the them that I had to go to my home for a short time, but that they would always be in my heart! There was no way to convey to them how much of my heart they had captured! There was no way to tell them that I would be back as soon as I could to hold them in my arms once again! There is no way of telling them today that I'm planning on coming back soon! There is no way to tell them that I'm on my way, eagerly counting down the days till I see their smiling faces and their mending spirits again!!!
Oh babies, toddlers, and children of Gentle Hands...I miss you dearly! I will be counting down the days of these long 5 weeks!
To God be the Glory ~

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sweet Sundays!

So this past weekend... pretty much rocked! haha! Sunday was an absolutely amazing day! Let me tell you about it:

Sunday morning, as always, my family goes to church. A church that I have grown up in and over the past few years have watched God turn us around! I've watched the church leadership take steps to ensure that we as a church are living biblically in the way that God has told us in His Word that we should. We are no longer doing things 'the way we've always done them' we are now looking at scripture and seeing how God says we should do things. It's been a wonderful thing to see! Well this past Sunday was no different. We've been going through the book of Acts, and whenever we start going through a book we go through it verse by verse, seeing it and reading it as God intended, not skipping parts that might be difficult to understand or accept, and I love that!! Anyway, back to Sunday, we were going through Acts 10 (you should go read it), and were talking about how God revealed some prejudices that were in Peter's life and how that was sinful, because Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross was for everyone, he wasn't prejudiced and we shouldn't be either. To help us see some possible seeds of prejudice in our lives, our pastor gave some examples of real life situations in which our initial reactions would expose some areas we need to examine and apply a more biblical and Godly mindset. To some, these were really tough situations. One of the situations that stood out for many was the example of marrying someone of a different race. I went away from the service thankful for Godly and biblical teaching and wanting to be aware of possible areas of prejudice in my own life and continually make a concious effort to be Godly in all my actions and thoughts.

Well then on Sunday nights, our church has started LIFE Groups. Basically the big congregation splits up and meets in smaller groups in homes to further discuss the morning message. I've really enjoyed this, as it has helped us as a church to get to know each other better and has allowed us to be the church to each other alot easier by getting to know each family and what each family is in need of or is struggling with. I've also so enjoyed the discussions we have in our LIFE Groups. Well on this past Sunday night, we were discussing the morning message over Acts 10. For several within our group, the example situations revealed areas of prejudice that they had never considered prejudice, particularly in the area of marrying someone of a different race or ethnicity. It was the way they were raised, to think that that was wrong, and that it was right to think it was wrong. That everyone was equal and everyone was treated with the same amount of respect but that you just didn't marry people of a different race / ethnicity.

I had expected this much, but what happened next blew me away. People were convicted! Instead of saying 'Well that's how it's always been' or 'Well that's just how we were taught', they realized that they were taught this way, but that that didn't make it right. People went away willing to throw out what they were taught, what they had known all their lives to embrace a biblical mindset, so that they might better serve, love and glorify our Heavenly Father!

Seeing their devotion to our LORD was so encouraging! To see them walk away from what they once thought was right because they were seeing that those mindsets weren't biblical, I hope I'm able to do that! I hope that when I see/hear something that makes me re-examine my mindset and the way I was taught, I pray that I will look only towards what is biblically right and base my mindset and actions upon that alone and not to simply what I've been told growing up! I'm grateful that we have such a gracious God, that draws our attention to areas in our lives that we need to work on and refine to glorify Him more.

I'm so excited to see what God is going to do!

To God be the Glory ~

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Cry of My Heart Right now...I wanna set the world on FIRE!

"Set The World On Fire"
I wanna set the world on fire
Until it's burning bright for You
It's everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?
[CHORUS]I, I am small but
You, You are big enough
I, I am weak but
You, You are strong enough to
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
Nothing I can not do
Nothing I cannot do
I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father's hands
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
Nothing I cannot do
Nothing I cannot do
My hands my feet
My everything
My life, my love
Lord, use me
I wanna set the world on fire
I wanna set the world on fire, yeah
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
Nothing I cannot do
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
There's nothing I can't do
Nothing I can't do
I'm gonna set the world on fire
Set the world on fire

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MY OH MY!!!

Do you ever have those wonderful days when you are literally speechless when you think of the many blessings you have been given!!??? Don't get me wrong, I see these blessing and am aware of how wonderfully God has blessed me everyday, but today I just seem to be breathless over it!!! I go to speak and I just stare in awed silence over how great my GOD has been to me! And the amazing thing is even if He takes everything I hold dear away...HE is still such a GREAT GOD who will always hold me in His hands, in the bad times but also in the good! Oh how great is HIS amazing Grace!

In the last 24 hours I have just been overwhelmed at how wonderful and faithful God is! There are so many things going on in my life (as is the case with most everyone these days) and to be able to just stop and be aware of how AWESOME our God is and to see how much He cares about little O' me in this huge world we live in ... its breath-taking!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

2 Months!

I leave in 2 months to head back to the Philippines and I am absolutely stoked! I'm stoked not only to see everyone that I've missed so much, but also because I know and am confident in the fact that God is leading me in this! I know that this journey is without a doubt where He is calling me, and that feeling is absolutely AMAZING! To know without a doubt that this voyage to the other side of the world is God's will... this brings about such a calm, such a peace, such an EXCITEMENT! I have a calm and peace knowing that I'm not making some huge mistake, and at the same time I am so excited to see what God is planning to do. I know He is going to do great things; He is going to teach me great things; He is going to show me great things.
Okay, so I would be lying if I didn't admit that I'm also super excited about seeing those precious children and my wonderful friends.

And with all this in mind that I'm eagerly counting down these two months!

To God be the Glory!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kuya Bernardo

July 2009

It was our Monday off and we had been out shopping for some supplies in a mall in Manila when we got the text. "I need Brittany back here in no less than 2 hours." That was it. So we had little over an hour to finish up before we needed to head back towards the orphanage, I not knowing what was awaiting me when I got back. When I got back I went straight to the orphanage's ICU. There lying on the bed was the man that I had seen a few days earlier for the first time, a man I later came to know as Kuya Bernardo (the term Kuya is tagalog (the language spoken in Manila) for Mr., or meaning older brother; a sign of respect). He weighed about 80 lbs when he first came to us. Why did he come to us at all you might ask? He was dying, he had TB and was dying; we were to provide basic hospice type care for him in his last few days.



Over the next few days, the majority of my time was spent in the ICU. I was told he didn't speak a lick of English...and I didn't speak a lick of Tagalog. So there we were, him lying in his bed, gasping and battling for breath, and me just sitting in the floor, praying, reading my bible, making bracelets, journaling, or working one of my sudoku puzzles. There was usually someone else in there as well, whoever was scheduled to work that shift. But there we were, we'd spend hours in silence. When it was time for dinner or whenever his water bottles got low, I would go and fill them and bring in dinner. And that's how it was.. we just waited. There were some nights when I would have night duty and would bring in my small mat and tiny travel pillow to sleep on the floor; although sleep was usually the fleeting. I would get minutes here and there, but everytime he would cough or move, I would sit up making sure he didn't need anything.

I prayed, oh I prayed. I prayed first and foremost for salvation and secondly for healing, accepting however that if it was God's will to take him now, then so be it, I would still praise Him no matter what he brought of this situation. But, how much of a testimony would it be to the greatness of God, if this man were to WALK back into Malabon, the community where he lived; a community in which everyone knew he was DYING. He would truly be a walking miracle that no one could deny. My mind kept going back to Jesus healing the blind man, a man who everyone knew was blind. When he was healed, people couldn't deny it, some ventured to say he had been faking his whole life, but that notion was quickly done away with... people knew he had been blind. In the same way.. people knew Kuya Bernardo was dying, there was no denying that.

There were a couple nights that first week that were very close, we didn't know if he'd make it another day, even another hour was uncertain.

And then, as always, God was faithful. Kuya Bernardo accepted Christ as his savior and the Lord of his life. That was it. That was the changing point.

At that point, he was filled with something we had never seen in him before; he was filled with Christ; with the Joy of the LORD! He began to gain strength! He began to be able to walk on his own, without the need of his walker/chair. He began to talk! For the first time since I had seen him, he was happy! The change was incredible and was almost overnight! No one could deny that the LORD had truly done a work in the heart of Kuya Bernardo.

He began to get stronger and he began to gain weight!

One day during a shift in which I was the only one in the ICU with Kuya, I was working on a sudoku puzzle, when I heard a voice ask, "Ma'am, when do you go back home?" The voice was soft and hoarse, but it was voice that I wasn't accustomed to. I looked to the door, no one was there...the only other person in the room was Kuya Bernardo. But that was crazy Kuya Bernardo didn't know English, and I had understood what was said, so whoever had just spoken was clearly speaking in English... slowly my head turned towards the bed where he was laying... he was staring straight back at me. I glanced at the door once more, making sure there wasn't anyone else there. Hesitantly I looked back at Kuya and asked..."Me?... Are,...are you talking to.. me?" and without hesitation he asked again, "Ma'am, when do you go back home?"

WHOA!!! KUYA BERNARDO IS SPEAKING TO MEE... IN ENGLISH!!!! WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS?? my thoughts were screaming! It took me a second or two before I finally responded, "We will leave Gentle Hands on July 25."

So Kuya Bernardo knew english! Another miracle! In the coming days we talked about family, about his family, about his mother and sister that lived in the province, about his brother in Malabon. We talked about my family, I showed him pictures of my family, my parents, grandparents, brother, best friends, he even got to see pictures of my pets! haha!

Kuya Bernardo continued to gain strength little by little, untill the day we left, that morning, he was able to walk outside and spend a little time outdoors! I couldn't believe it! The LORD had done a miracle, there was no way around it, this man was a walking miracle!

October 2009

That was several months ago... I had heard from updates from some of our guys that Kuya Bernardo was doing well, but I was always so curious as to was 'well' entailed. Was he still enjoying walking outside? was he still gaining strength and weight??

Yesterday I was looking through some pictures of the work that our guys are doing, they were helping clean and prepare to rebuild our guard's house, he lost his house in the recent flooding. These are some of the pictures I saw:


YES!! I'm not sure if you can see it very well, but that guy in the grey shirt in the middle...THAT IS KUYA BERNARDO!!! He is healthy and getting healthier and is helping in the relief efforts!

Here is another picture of them leaving for the day, on the right is Kuya Bernardo, hauling a shovel! PRAISE GOD!!!

This last one is of Kuya Bernardo and some of the guys at Gentle Hands, preparing food to feed those who lost everything in the flooding!

I saw the first two pictures this morning and am still at 6:20 PM speechless over this!! Oh what a MIGHTY GOD WE SERVE!!!