Emmaus Home, Masinag, Quezon City, Philippines
13th August ‘07
Kumusta? (How are you?)
Mabuti! (I am fine!)
I think it’s helpful having coming here for a while. I feel more and more settled every day, which directly affects the ministry- once situations start to make sense, it’s a lot easier to use them for the Lord, because you know how they work, what to do and how. Pieces are gradually fitting into place and I’m beginning to see how the world works out here. God has also been providing much more alone time with Him, which is everything. Praise the Lord, I’m even beginning to get a grasp of some very, very basic Tagalog, which is very gradually opening up a whole new world of understanding! Once you realise that the incomprehensible communication is actually the same as what it would be in English, the world suddenly feels a whole lot more familiar! Praise the Lord for all that He is teaching me. 🙂
On Sunday, Ate Nida took Becky and I to visit her family, who live in Velenzuela, which is on the other side of Manila. We went to the Velenzuela Reformed Baptist Church, which is where Aries and Jodith Libero (GBM missionaries) are working. I hadn’t expected to have a chance to meet them, and it was so good to see the work that they are doing. Their church has around 20-something members. They meet in a building right in the middle of the squatter areas, which is a problem because the building often floods during the rainy season (which we are right in the middle of at the moment). The service was encouraging, though. Matt Gamston preached in Tagalog. The service was followed by Adult Sunday School- a seriously good idea! It’s basically an adult Bible class, tackling things like doctrinal teachings or Bible history or Bible-handling or topics… I seriously recommend it! After the service, we had lunch with Aries and Jodith, as well as their little son. It was lovely to spend a little time with them.
I spent Tuesday afternoon and evening at the new CCM Boys’ Home, which began only a few months ago. Kuya Scott and Ate Emilyn have just moved over here from America to act as the houseparents, along with Ate Virginia, and they now have about 10 boys in the home. I realised when I visited that the boys are a whole lot crazier than the girls! If you left the girls alone in a room, they would probably do naughty (masama in Filipino) things, but they would be calm naughty things! If you left the boys alone, they’d run around and play-fight and go crazy! They were so funny- using their orange peel to make ears and false teeth, and doing this funny dance they’ve made up to an exercise video! It was lovely to spend time with them, although particularly difficult because most of the boys are very young, which means that they hardly know any English at all. It’s so strange to spend time with kids when you can’t talk to them or give them instructions or even tell them off! I had a go at teaching them to read in English. It was good, but slow progress. Quite a few of the boys are seriously behind in their studies. I think as many as four of them are in Grade 1 (Reception or Year 1 in our system, I think), even though they are as old as nine or ten. The boys have such sad, sad stories. When I was in the office last week, I made profiles for them. Their stories are heartbreaking. Some were abandoned, passed from person to person without a place to call home, some are orphans and all, I think, have seen horrible things that will (apart from the Lord’s healing) leave scars for life. One was sold by his mother. It’s so, so sad, and yet, in a way, they have been given the best thing they could ever have, which is a Christian upbringing. So few kids are brought up on the Word of Life, and the knowledge of the way of salvation is priceless. Yet, still, these kids have huge scars. Please pray that they would be led to the One Who comforts as no-one else can comfort.
On Thursday morning, I went with Ate Reah to visit some of the street people. It was shocking, and yet also amazing. God has given people an incredible ability to survive in the most challenging conditions. It is normal for these people to live on the streets and they get on with it, day by day. Scaffolding becomes a washing line; carrier bags are stashed in doorways; children take naps on the pavement. The street people always have access to a very basic income because the Jeepney drivers (the Jeepneys are the public transport here- loud, brightly-coloured jeeps with thumping music and rainbow-coloured slogans, many of which are superficially Christian, like “God bless our trip”) pay them to call out for passengers. But life is so tough. Families have lots of children and there are many teenage pregnancies. Life is so hard on the streets, and there are so many challenges. The constant need is very real. And what about their eternal needs? What will all of this be when dawn breaks and eternity comes? It was so good to meet the street people. As ever, I can’t say much to them because of the language barrier, but I had been given a stash of Tagalog tracts, so I could share Christ with them (assuming they can read)- please pray for God’s blessing on the people (including two precious, precious prostitutes- oh, the need of this generation!) who received tracts.
Thursday afternoon was a good reminder about why this is all worth it- why every single sacrifice made for the Gospel is worth everything. We went to visit another couple of “communities” (slum areas). One of them was particularly horrible. It had been raining (there was a typhoon further north, although the rain has gone now). This slum is built right on a river- if you can call it a river. The water is absolutely filthy, and it smells. The shacks are located either side of the water, with some of them hanging precariously over it. Whenever it rains too hard, the lower shacks flood.
We went inside to visit some of the CCM clients. To get to the shacks, you walk down dark, dank tunnels, some of them wet with filthy water. You have to have directions or a guide, or you’ll get lost in the maze of shacks. The shacks are stacked one on top of the other in a big, corrugated structure. To get to the higher ones, you climb up shaky wooden ladders and negotiate your way from one level to the next. Some families live in than one level, joined by precarious stepladders. Yet these are homes, too. Families have made them livable with their bright pictures and taped flooring and electrical appliances, although you can still see glimpses of corrugated metal and graffiti and dirty wood. I wasn’t too fazed by it all until someone mentioned the rats, which freaked me out a bit- rats scare me!!! I was just beginning to get a bit scared, even starting to grumble mentally, when God reminded me of why this is all worth it. We went into the shack of one lady, and Ate Lorna (the social worker) informed us that this lady had become a Christian directly through the ministry of CCM. She is now a member of CRBC (Cubao Reformed Baptist Church). I felt the tears sting in my eyes. This is why Gospel work is worth it! Yes, this lady lives in a tiny shack, in poverty and hardship. But now she has an eternal hope. I will spend eternity together with her in Heaven. And what are her sufferings in comparison to the Glory that awaits her now, all because someone made a few sacrifices so that she could hear the Word of Life? When the CCM social workers get to Glory, they will see her face there: the face of someone they witnessed to here on earth… along with His, of course, Whom to know is life itself. And that makes everything worth it, no matter what.
More to come…