Hello friends! I’m writing to you from the beginning of my 5th week in the Philippines.
So far, I’ve learn so much and seen God provide in so many ways! It’s been challenging, but it’s also been so good – isn’t that usually how it works during times of growth in our lives? Here’s a few highlights:
We are staying in the very northern-most region of Manila, in a city called Marilao. As a team, we are assigned to do ministry in Marilao and its larger neighbouring city, Meycauayan (Mey-ca-why-an). The area is a lot more rural than the metro parts of Manila that other teams are in and we rely pretty heavily upon local transportation to get around. Two of the most common that we use are the 3-wheeled motorcycle + carts called trikes, and Jeepneys, which are long, colourfully decorated jeeps with two bench seats in the back that are well known for squeezing many more people into them than you’d think they could!
We are staying in Marilao with a pastor and his wife from a local church nearby. They have been an enormous blessing to us, and also such a source of wisdom and fun! We are staying in a couple rooms above their garage and an adjoining restaurant and are very well taken care of and comfortable. Janet, who runs the restaurant with her husband Abet, is one of the best cooks that I have ever met! Getting to know her and being introduced to her many amazing Filipino dishes has been a highlight of our living situation. The people in the Philippines are known for their hospitality, and we have certainly experienced that well at our accomodation.
We arrived in the Philippines with only a handful of contacts and no set ministry to do. As the first of 4 teams that will be in our area in 2017, we play a pioneering role in the work that will be done here this year. What does that look like? For us, it has meant starting off with a lot of prayer and exploring and relationship-building. For the first two weeks, we spent most of our time prayer-walking across our 2 cities, stopping into churches we discovered, praying within people and building relationships. As we went, we communicated over and over that we are here to serve Manila and its church by sharing God’s love, discipling, equipping and inspiring new ministry opportunities.
As we did this, God has opened up some really cool opportunities! After the second week, we were in communication with around 20 churches, meeting with pastors, visiting youth groups, doing house visits, scouting out new ministry areas and more! Just this week, we were able to meet the Mayor of Marilao and attend his Monday prayer meeting alongside many other local church leaders. While we were there, we prayer for the Mayor, his office and his week and shared a message on God’s provision. We’ve also been able to start doing home visits in a slum area here that God has put on our hearts and have started weekly kids ministry with the many young children there and in another large school in a Muslim area. Another cool opportunity we’ve seen has been through connecting with the local police. We were just approved to start a bible study in one local jail in Marilao and to start visiting and sharing with the inmates in a Meycauayan prison, where there are 160+ prisoners in cells made to hold only 50. We will also be giving several seminars in February to help equip local church leaders with practical counselling skills for their ministries. We are expecting God to do mighty things with these opened doors! So often, as we are out doing ministry, I am reminded of Jesus’ full reliance on God for the success of His own ministry and that we are in the same place of dependence and trust in God’s faithfulness.
A couple of days before we flew to the Philippines, the leaders of my school unexpectedly asked me if I would take on a student co-leadership role on my team. The role meant that I would play a support role to our team leader in leading the team, making decisions and serving the needs of our team during this outreach. This has added a whole new layer of learning on top of the normal experience of being a student. God has been speaking to me about stepping into leadership roles and this invitation was a confirmation and encouragement toward this. I’ve learned a lot already about guiding a team on outreach, how to communicate well, and how to better love, encourage and support a team of people in the middle of an often challenging setting like outreach. I’ve also learned to rely on God and lean on Him, as I often see that I have a lot to learn! He provides wisdom, patience, strength and love that far exceeds my own abilities.
“No man can do me a truer kindness in this world than to pray for me.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Your prayers are felt so much during this time! I would love your prayers for my team and for God’s personal revelation and zeal into what we share with people that we encounter! I could also use your prayers for energy, as I often am battling physical weariness. In addition, please pray for focus on God’s voice, and for courage, boldness and peace as I engage with people and share God’s heart with them! I am also hoping to see more 1×1 counselling opportunities in the next few weeks, for both myself and my team.
Thank you for reading and for your support. It means so much to me! If you have any encouragement, thoughts, or questions, please reply back. I do my best to get back to everyone I hear from.
Sharing about God’s love with kids from the slums
My team with the Mayor of Marilao and his team during their Monday prayer meeting.
Preaching the gospel to a group of young basketball players before their game on Saturday night
Praying with a woman who was experiencing heart pain in her home in Marilao. As we prayed, her pain eased. We hope to see more healing each time we visit her.