Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A New Tongue

So, for months now I've been slowly working on my Tagalog, the language spoken here in Manila. I have a notebook of words and phrases, and I'm to the point now where I can finally start hearing it, I can finally tell where the words are when I hear the language spoken, its no longer just an endless whirl of blahblahblahblah. I was texting with a new sweet friend from church, and I was saying how I hate that I haven't gotten the language yet, or at least more of it. Her replying text was, 'It's ok...I hope you will learn it soon and I will pray for it.' Those last words popped. What? You're going to pray for it? Here I am, the 'missionary' and I am caught off guard that someone is going to pray for something. But in all honesty, I had never thought to pray about learning the language. I've prayed about thousands of other things, over sick children, dying babies, costs, living arrangements, friends, attitude, mindset... all these things.. but for myself to learn the language...it never occured to me to pray and ask God to help me. This happened last night, also yesterday I read the new Crazy Love post about Challenge #2, it was of course...prayer requests. HaHa! I love God's timing!

So that is one of my new prayer requests, it seems to me to be almost small and silly considering the other things that I've requested prayer for in the past and all the things I'm currently praying for and about; but there it is. Lord, please help me to learn this beautiful language. Help me to grasp the language and understand it and to be able to speak it. Help me to be able to communicate with the people that I have come to love in their own language.

~ To God Be the Glory!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A few different posts, all rolled into one..

I was sitting in the session when the video came on...clips from the Passion of the Christ movie put to music. I've seen similar vidoes and clips before, the movie clips are always heavy on my heart and impact me, but I can tell you what songs I have heard in the past. I can't tell you what the song was this last time. I just remember seeing her face... as if I was seeing it for the first time. I remember not being able to breathe.

I had seen the clips of Mary before and thinking, "Oh my.. I couldn't imagine watching someone I love innocently endure that!"... But it was different this time. This time, the sweet face of a little girl played like a movie in my mind, consuming everything. I remembered the anger that I felt towards those who had hurt her, towards her biological parents, towards the doctors and social workers of the hospital...I remembered how hard it was for me to forgive them in my heart... I couldn't bear to even try to fathom Mary's pain. At the very second that I saw her face and thought of my own little girl, my breath was gone. I couldn't bear to dwell and imagine the dreaded.. what if that was me? My heart was torn in yet a new way, yet another pain that I have never imagined before.

As my Momma and a friend here told me, "Once a mother, always a mother." I never understood that phrase.. that is until now.. that is until Pamela. Having that sweet girl in my life, though it was such a short time has changed me forever in so many ways, ways that God is still revealing to me. I had seen clips like that before and always it was the music and the lyrics that I really paid attention too, putting the words to the actions that I was seeing... this time I cannot for anything, remember what song was playing. I'm trying as I type this...surely I can remember...but I draw a blank. The only memories I have is of her face, his beaten body, and the picture of my sweet little girl; and now as I type this a new picture has just come to my mind...my sweet daughter in His arms, arms that were beaten and scarred for her life, for my life, for your life.


Another sunny day in Malabon, kids running around, new visitors/friends experiencing Malabon, loving on babies...the usual Malabon. When I decided to take our visitors back into Malabon, into the tiney crowded windings through the neighborhood. We ended up at Emerlyn's house, which is further back than I normally go. I first met Emerlyn back in June 2009, on my first trip to the Philippines, she had come to stay for a short time at Gentle Hands, but had been released back to her family. But this was the first time to be back since my second trip in December. I was eager to see her when I recognized that we were coming upon their house. Her mom came to the door and was so sweet to us, and soon carried sweet Emerlyn out to see us. Emerlyn is 4 years old and has hydrocephalus, and as her mother put her into my arms, I was nearly brought to tears as yet again, memories of my daughter surged to my mind, and I was so thankful, oh so thankful as I looked at this precious sleeping child, I noticed some things...she was clean, her hair was clean and healthy and had been taking care of, her body and clothes were clean and healthy. This little girl was LOVED! Her family, her parents, her siblings, they all loved her and took care of her together. As much as it saddens me, that she has to endure this...I'm so thankful for the love that she is experiencing constantly, that she is being showered with love at all times!! I have seen firsthand how this culture will throw away the 'damaged'... my little girl was thrown away.


Wednesday -
It was a normal day, my last day of working this week before heading off to camp in the morning! I walked into the office, my usual stop to say Goodmorning to Ate before heading upstairs to eat breakfast. I said my goodmorning and asked how everything was going this morning, her solemn reply, "Um.." there was a pause and I knew it was gonna be serious...and bad, "Mando died last night."

Mando. Our happy little boy that had so many problems, club feet, full cleft palette, and other problems we weren't even aware of... Our little boy that I had been taking to the doctor every week to get his casts, we were getting his club feet fixed... only 1 more casting before the surgery that would allow him to one day walk. The surgery for his cleft palette would come later. He had been sick for a few days, but nothing prepared us for this. His death was completely unexpected. We take comfort in knowing Mando is in heaven and no longer in any pain.

That evening I hugged my toddlers a little longer before leaving, I gave a few more kisses, I let them climb on me a little longer, I snuggled them a little longer, and knowing that tomorrow is never guarenteed, I helplessly felt them wiggle their way deeper into my heart. After Pamela's death and Aveline and Amy leaving to their foster family, I thought I might take an emotional step back...the pain was just a little much, too hard. I needed to take a little step back and get some distance...my plan was all foolishness and failed miserably. As Ate C once said, in order to minister effectively, you have to minister intimately. You can't hold back, you can't do it halfway. When God calls you to something, He calls all of you, not half, not a part, ... all. I am called into this ministry, so I will put my whole self into this ministry. I won't hold back, I won't put emotional boundaries up, I will give it all, I will love them all, I will love with my whole heart, with all the love that I have only because God has loved me and given me love. So what does that mean... It means, there's hard times ahead, there are valleys so deep ahead, there are roads and experiences ahead that I wouldn't wish upon anyone, but I will go because God has called me there and through it all, He will be my Guide, my Comfort, my Peace. I know these things, and are promised these things, even when my feelings and emotions are deceiving and I don't feel them, I know they are true. So I will love, I will give, I will step forward to the life that God has called me to, and I will worship Him through it all.

~ To God Be the Glory

Friday, April 2, 2010


Disclaimer: This is a very gruesome post, please do not read this to children and avoid reading this if you have a sensitive stomach. These are the times when being a missionary isn't all warm and fuzzy. This is the reality. This is gruesome. This is part of my life.

I walk towards the Kia we came in. I reach up and wipe the base of my neck, I remember feeling something there. I look at the plastic cup that I bought at the beginning of the morning... its still 1/2 full. I feel bad for wasting, but I know my stomach cannot handle anything more right now.

I glance down... sighing at the sight. I'm splattered in blood, but not any one person's blood, this is the blood of men.. many men...hundreds of men.

I have just witnessed the penatensya for the first time in my life. The penatensya is a Catholic tradition here where men beat and whip themselves to commemorate Jesus' beatings, crucifixion, and death on the cross. The tradition is not put on by the catholic church, but the church definately endorses it. Hundreds of men parade through the street, some walking holding their whips that have many wooden sticks on the ends, about the size of cigars. The sticks are connected to the end of a long rope which the guy slings to his back and upper arms, eventually causing blood to run and splatter. There are volunteers who walk the streets with whips made of tire tread or wood, willing to whip the participants. Nothing is forced upon anyone, it is all of their own will. Some do it... just because. Some are laughing the whole time. Others are very serious about it, whipping themselves harder than the others, the ressults of their seriousness evident on their faces and their bodies. Other participants crawl, army style crawls, on their stomachs or backs the whole way on the rough pavement. The whole way people, 'good devout religious' people, watching the masked participants.

So why do I go? Why in the world would I standby and watch such horrific and tragic events...because this is the culture I'm called to minister to. This is the mindset of the people that I'm living amongst. This is me connecting with the people that I have come to love. I'm shaken by what I've seen, I'm shaken to the core but I'm also exposed to the blindness. The culture truly believes that Jesus dies every year...but I know better. I know that our Savior paid the price... ONCE AND FOR ALL! It doesn't have to be added to by their self-beatings...but oh, how to tell them that. How to tell the ones that believe they are safe that. My former Sunday School teacher David P. said it best, "If you don't think you're drowning, it will do me no good to throw you a life preserver; if you don't think you're drowning, you're not going to grab it."

Oh Dear God, please give me wisdom and guidance. Please allow me to love and minister effectively to the people You have called me to. Let me not be seen, let me not be heard, let it be YOU ALONE they see, let it be YOU ALONE they hear.

~ To God Be the Glory!

Did all that really just happen???

Wow... it has been a day. There have been so many different emotions that I've gone through...enough things happened today for about 5 different blog posts...and I'm going to sum them all up in one.... yea, this is gonna be long...

This morning, on what we know in America as Good Friday is known here as Black Friday. In the filipino culture (mainly catholicism mixed with tribal religions), black friday is a very sad day, because it marks the beginning when God is dead. They truly believe that God is dead from Black Friday till Easter Sunday. The city is dead, because its too dangerous to go out, because they believe that if God is dead, then there is no protection.

There is also another tradition here...the penatensya. Which will be another blog post... I simply cannot combine this experience in this post.

On a lighter note, I went out and was taught how to drive a stick shift today! One of the guys, and of course a couple people eager to watch me learn, took me out to some country roads on the edge of town where I was able to learn and drive some roads that had very little traffic on them. And then, since the city was nearly dead due to it being Black Friday, I was able to drive home! It was so much fun!

Then later in the afternoon, a few of us went down to Old Manila and walked around. It was nice to see some of the old city and look at the statues and read about the original city. However, it was while we were out that I realized... that someone made an unauthorized withdrawal from my personal account. My personal account being my wallet and it being unauthorized... well because it wasn't by myself. Yes, I had money stolen from me. We figured out, by figuring out the time frame in which it was taken, that it was some visitors we had earlier that morning, but the truth is the money is probably gone already. It wasn't an extremely large amount, but when you're trying to be wise about everything, it was enough to be upset about. But... in the end God is sovereign, I have to trust that in everything, as crazy and upsetting as it gets sometimes, that He is still in control. He saw everything, He knows exactly which hands took the money and He knows exactly what I'll need in the future and He will provide.

Then after all that, we came home to a delicious spaghetti dinner!! (My favorite!)

What a day... but in the end... no matter what comes...

~ To God Be the Glory!

Happy Birthday Bub!

Today is my brother Brandon's 24th birthday. He is very dear to me and we both agree that this last trip of mine has been extra hard on both of us. We're used to my past trips and have both never really had that big of a problem at all missing each other... well this time is different. As I miss my parents (and other family) and two best friends whenever I leave home, I've had days on this trip when all I needed was just my brother. I've never had times when I've just needed my brother before...not until this trip anyway.

Anyway ...