Monday, November 16, 2009

On Travel...

I recently finished at book called The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. Unlike many travel memoirs, this book is divided into sections (Departure, Motives, Landscape, Art, Return), and goes chapter by chapter inspired by varying artists (or "Guides" like Van Gough, Edward Hopper, Charles Baudelaire, Gustave Flaubert, Alexander von Humboldt and more), and place they traveled. An interesting compilation of essays by Botton, complete with pictures of the paintings, photographs, writings of the artists and pictures of the places they loved.

Some excerpts to share:

"Unexpectedly poetic travelling places--airport terminals, harbours, train stations and motels."
"It always seems to me that I'll be well where I am not, and this question of moving is one that I'm forever entertaining with my soul." -Charles Baudelaire

"Baudelaire honored reveries of travel as a mark of those noble, questioning soulds he described as 'poets,' who could not be satisfied witht he horizons of home even as they appreciated the limits of other lands, whose temperaments oscillated between hope and despaire, childlike idealism and cynicism. It was the fate of poets, like Christian pilgrims, to live in a falled world while refusing to surrender their vision of an alternative, less compromised realm."
"Carriage, take me with you! Ship, steal me away from here! Take me far, far away. Here the mud is made of our tears!" -Baudelaire

"What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home."

"I'm obsessed with inventing stories for people I come across."
"I think I must have been transplanted by the winds to this land of mud; surely I was born elsewhere-- I've always had what seem to be memories or intutions of perfumed shores and blue seas." -Gustave Flaubert

"I am a soul brother to everything that lives, to the giraffe and to the crocodile as much as to man." -Flaubert

When asked where he came from, Socrates said not 'from Athens' but 'from the world.'"
"L'infinie immensité des espaces que j'ignore et qui m'ignorent." -Pascal
"The night is even more richly colored than the day.." -Vincent Van Gough

"The most effective means of pursuing this conscious understanding was by attempting to describe beautiful places through art, by writing about or drawing them, irrespective of whether one happened to have any talent for doing so."

Ah, the words are so tasty to gobble whole.

Mexi en el Otoño

I made two trips to Tijuana, México this fall to visit my beautiful babies at the orphange Cuidad de Angeles. Every time I go down I never want to leave. The kids bless my heart so much, so much more than I could ever bless them. Each child is literally a miracle; their stories are crazy yet they are alive and well. 
The young girls are soon entering their tween years which is apparent from their sassy selves. I lent Liliana my camera the past two visits and was shocked at how grown-up they pose in their photos. It's great with the juxtoposition of the things they take pictures of in their lives-- teddy bears, trash cans, backpacks, bed sheets. The pictures are a unique look at their world from their own perspective, not mine as a relative outsider, an older girl, an American, a visitor. They maintain their childhood while shooting Myspace-esque photos of themselves in the mirrors. I was intruiged when I got my camera back. I wonder, where did they learn the vanity of mirror self portraits? How did they learn to pose with sexy lips with the camera above their heads? These girls do not have abundant access to the internet; I don't even know if they are computer literate. Is it from TV, which they can and do freely watch? I was slightly disturbed that they are already learning to make suggestive faces and pouty lips at their age. It's too much a Lolita complex with their underlying naivite beneath the model posing. I don't want to ruin their childhood more by over analyzing their photos, but they had to have learned the sensual performance of picture posing from somewhere, it cannot possibly be innate. What could be innate is the desire to be beautiful-- both a cultural and universal construction. It seems like young girls are being taught earlier and earlier how to be desirable to the opposite sex, and the social networking sites seemed to have fed this in recent history. But these girls seem to be affected by the styles and inner culture of these sites by diffusion, not even having a Myspace or Facebook at all. I didn't start caring as much about my own personal appeal in photographs until about 13, and then even more at 15 when I opened my Myspace account. These girls are barely double digits.

Are they just having fun taking pictures of themselves or do they know what they are implying? Are they trying to be older? Are they trying to be sexy?

Style Like U

My good friend Lily began this aweseome site on personal style that I am obsessed with. Check out my post (with my best friend and roomie Rachel) and the other creative, amazing artists:


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Diginity for the Poor, Humility for the Christian

This is a personal narrative paper I just wrote for a writing class at school, summing up my summer in a different light:

It is in every “good Christian” Jiminy Cricket conscience that they must serve the poor to please God. In children’s Sunday school on the flannel board, you are taught that Jesus loved the least of these, and he healed the sick and dying, and spent time with the outcasts. Then when you reach youth group as a teenager, you are encouraged strongly by your leaders to go feed the homeless with the group after playing a gross-out game, usually involving raw cow tongues. As you reach adulthood, more and more of your “good Christian” peers start becoming the leaders in the youth group or, even more notably, serving overseas. And then Jiminy really starts nagging.

It is at that point in life when I-- not a youth group leader or Sunday school volunteer or any sort of “good Christian” example-- decided that I should too serve overseas. I mean, “I really love other cultures!” I thought. “I am not afraid to get down and dirty!” I reasoned. “I really love Jesus that much.” So in went my application to a Christian non-profit organization, and up went my feel-good vibes.

Then, in came my acceptance letter and down went my happiness. I had been chosen to intern in the Philippines for 2 months doing photography and videography. The Philippines? But wait, had I not made it clear to them that I am fluent in Spanish, am specializing in Latin American anthropology and really cannot resist little Mexican babies? Apparently not, and apparently I was a little less loving of all other cultures than I thought. I resisted this placement in an unknown land with no Christian credibility stamp (after all, it wasn’t Africa or even Latin America!). I said, “God! I don’t care about the Philippines like I care about Latin America!” And God said, “Hey, that’s rude.” And so off I went in June, excited but uncertain.

After only my first week I started to feel more enthusiastic about my new home. At first I just compared everything I saw or experienced to the Mexico I knew and loved, but eventually, after hours of Tagalog language class and pounds of rice and fish, the Philippines took its own shape in my mind. I stayed with a family in a province outside the capital, but my job allowed me to travel to other communities using just about every transportation method available in the Philippines—tricycle, petty cab, jeepney, bus, train, and taxi.

I enjoyed my work, because I got to do my favorite things-- play with children and take tons of pictures. The economic status of the families was difficult to take in at first, but it had seemingly no affect on the attitudes of the people. I have never encountered such hope and joy amidst an environment that I was trained to view with pity and disgust. I became embarrassed of my pride for serving the poor, when in actuality I was more poor in spirit than my new friends were economically. Who was I, coming in as a stranger to teach these strong and beautiful people to wash their hands correctly, when I had thought I was too cool to serve Filipinos? The term, “the poor” became almost offensive to me, because now “they” were no longer a blob of dirty, raggedy nobody’s, but Sister Neng and Brother Al and Mico and Miggy…

I was always told me to volunteer abroad, always told it would change my life, but I was never told I would learn what it is to give dignity to the impoverished. My former vision of single-handedly saving all the skinny-limbed, plumped belly orphans in Latin America was crushed by the reality of my inability, my arrogance, and my naiveté. I no longer want to serve the poor to mark off a box in my good Christian checklist, but I simply want to help out my dear friends in need of life’s basic necessities. In the depths of a country I once could care less about, I finally discovered the heart of God’s love for the poor as special human beings that extends beyond what I was taught in church.

Now when people ask me how my summer was, I can respond with an honest answer, free of “Christianese” terms I have used all my life without knowing the true meaning of. And I’m pretty sure that overcoming the flannel board-faith of my youth and learning to truly love my poor brothers and sisters has made God very pleased indeed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Final Debrief

Before I returned to the US and after I did, FH helped my process the experiences of summer through various debriefing exercises. I think copying some of the questions and tools here is the best way I can sum up my time, and hopefully these will answer many of the questions you might have for me at the end (or end of part) of my journey.

As I return to the United States, I feel…
• Surprised at how much God has opened my heart to the Philippines and its people, and how much He has taught me here

Going back will enable me to…
• Minister more relationally (instead of just doing, being; engaging with the people is as important as the act of service)
• Appreciate my luxuries and not chose their comfort solely for comfort’s sake

I think the hardest part of going back for me is…
• Trying to accurately and truthfully relay my experiences to my family and friends without overwhelming them
• Having the feeling that no one understands
• Feeling prideful for serving overseas
• Feeling guilty for my privileged life

The ways I have changed are…
• Realized how prideful I am and am working on ridding myself of it
• Matured through traveling and living in a foreign country alone, so I have more worldly knowledge and experience
• I have a new view on God’s relation to the poor and thus my relationship to the poor and what it should look like
• I’m more open to full-time ministry abroad wherever God wants (not just Latin America/Mexico)

The 2 memories that best sums up my time in the Philippines is…
1. My birthday—
• Jenn, Katie and I ate at Pizza Hut which is super nice there and had deep conversations
• I had a crazy experience at the Pure Gold Supermarket which involved the store’s dancers performing in the produce isles, a miscommunication with my credit card (classic Filipino cultural difference), and spending way to much time discovering the “seasoning” isle only carried soy sauce, fish sauce, banana ketchup and vinegar
• My “surprise” birthday party in all its singing, playing, eating, dancing and laughing splendor
2. Being baptized in the church I learned to love so much by the Pastor whom I learned so much from, to signify my commitment to God to make real all the things He taught me in the Philippines.

The ways I plan on putting what I learned into practice are…
• Living simply , being a good steward of my resources
• Continue asking God to help me in learning humility

What I liked most about my new culture…
• The openness of the people
• The respect for elders
• Importance of family
• Appreciation for and universality of singing and dancing (everyone does!)
• Tagalog

What I missed most about my home culture…
• The food! (the selection/diversity, healthy options)
• The straightforwardness of Americans

What was challenging for me in the new culture…
• Ambiguity of language, invitations, plans (ex: saying “yes I’ll be there” when they mean “no”)

The ways I see God differently now are…
• His crazy love for the poor and how much He relates to them
• I’m much more in awe of his greatness, grace and holiness, and my utter sinfulness and poverty of the spirit

What was an “ah-ha!” moment?
Reading 1 Corinthians 13 where is says, “If I give all I posses to the poor, I gain nothing without love.” I realized I would not be doing the people I served any service without love, and not just human love, but Christ’s love. I was tired and slightly unexcited about taking pictures the next day, but when I read this the night before, I understood that I needed God desperately to help me love others deeply, because me just taking pictures and video and even singing and playing with the kids would mean nothing without also showing them Christ’s love.

What was a breaking point?
Traveling from Tibag, a community north of Manila, not knowing where we were going (or how much it would cost) in various jeepneys, buses, tricycles, and trains during traffic in the rain.

One sentence statement…
I made meaningful relationships that taught me humility and revealed my role in serving the poor.

Thank you very much for being a part of my trip to the Philippines, for your prayers, your encouragement, even your comments on this blog. I am so grateful to God for having supporters like yourselves.

Pagpalain po kayo ng Dyos at miraming salamat po! God bless and many thank you's!


Some funny things happened in the Philippines. Here are my absolute favorite hilarities...

• To get the Pizza Hut delivery line, you call 911

• (Not everyone will understand this one, sorry!) One time Jenn and I were bouncing down a street in the most pimped-out, neon-painted, fuzzy dice decorated Jeepney I ever rode in, and the hip-hop song “Yeah” by Usher came on the radio. That was my most ghetto moment in my life’s history.

• The big promo at Starbucks was Coffee Jelly drinks. These were basically regular lattes or Frapuccinos with chunks of coffee-flavored jelly in the bottom that you would suck up in your straw every now and then for a nice textural surprise. At first I was skeptical, but after receiving so many free samples from my Starbucks friends, they grew on me.

• While I was there, I ate chicken feet, soup with beef bone marrow, fried pig skin, various kids of animal fat, banana ketchup, raw squid, plenty of mystery meat and a whole fish (eyes, scales and all). Many of these things were for breakfast.

• The supermarket had its own dancers to promote sales (by dancers I mean regular employees who also dance and are by no means professional). I was at one called Pure Gold, and when I heard, “All Pure Gold dancers report to produce” over the loudspeaker, I was totally confused. Then, a few minutes later, a bunch of seemingly normal employees busted into a choreographed number the middle of the store. The best part? It was to a Backstreet Boys medley. It was like a real-life musical.

• The Enchanted Kingdom theme park I went to is best described in this formula:
Disneyland – expensive décor x paint detail + carnival + cruise entertainment x fire = Enchanted Kingdom

• Filipinos love Korean soap operas with poorly translated English subtitles. On the one my family loved the most, a bride decides at the alter she does not want to get married to her groom and calls off the wedding dramatically right before the vows. The groom looks into her eyes and asks her why they cannot get married, and according to the subtitles, she replies, “I am a cool girl.” Dramatic music and tears ensue. Ouch?

• Jenn and I went to a small zoo on one of our days off with her host family. The zoo was difficult to find and get to as we had to squeeze between a barbed wire fence and a brick wall. When we first walked in, we saw a sign reading, “Animal Encounter,” where a tiger was in a 5 foot by 5 3 foot cage closed in by a lock that was 2 inches by 1 inch. Kids were kicking its cage, I touched its paw, and I felt it’s breath on my face. From there, a lion was in a cage shaped like a huge Godzilla, the pony pen gate was open, 2 pythons were chillin’ freely in the fish room on the fireplace, and for $0.25, I put a boa around my neck. It was an animal activist’s nightmare.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Starbucks Video

This video depicts my weekly journey to the Starbucks Coffee in San Pedro where I lived. You may gasp, "She went to Starbucks while serving in a third world country every week?!" Well, yes. It was a great place/the ONLY place to edit my photos and videos where I could plug in my computer, get internet, spread out and have AC (plus nourishment!). It was a luxury, that's for sure-- and slightly ironic-- but the voyage there was neither. Here, a documentary on the dangers I faced to reach Starbucks...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back in the States

I'm back! I am excited to tell you more and to answer some questions, but I need to sort of chill out and reflect before I do. So, I am home safely, in a state of great culture shock, but happy to be home and so thankful for my experience in the Philippines. Thank you so much for all your thoughts and prayers, every single one was impactful and appreciated (even if it was never articulated). Thank you so very much. And more to come...

Under His love,


Friday, July 31, 2009

Final Product

This is the video project I've been working on for my internship for the past 2 months, and here is the result! Does it make you want to come to the Philippines? You can also check it on Youtube...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dignity for the Poor

I want to start by apologizing to you. If you have read my stories of the people here and felt guilty or pity towards them, I am sorry. I am sorry for their sake that I have subjected individuals to such emotions you need not feel for the sake of feeling bad. I am learning what it is to give dignity to the poor, or rather I have learned this and have realized what this looks like. Through the communities I have visited here and in my experiences with my orphan loves in Tijuana, Mexico, the “poor” have taken faces. “They” are no longer a distant idea of nameless, big-eyed, malnourished picture used by a charity organization, “they” are my friends. As one man involved in an FH project in Uganda said,

“As long as the poor are just an idea, you don’t have to deal with them. But when the poor—this poor person—becomes your brother, then you gotta deal with it.”

They are not a category, a stereotype, a class, but they are human beings. Just as I hate being labeled and being restricted to the boundaries of the “white, middle-class American” group, people here do not deserve to be bound in the “poor Filipino” group. After all, what are these labels we apply to one another anyways? (Thanks, Rach). All they do is bring about judgment (to which I am in no way past, myself), and everyone deserves a fair chance to get to be known as the beautiful, unique, and complicated being created by God as they are. So do accept my apology for making broad generalizations and not focusing enough on the stories of my friends here. As the internship is coming to a close, I do regret not figuring this out until the end after I already pulled the guilt and pity card on my readers.

When it comes to helping my new friends, isn’t it just natural to want to help your friends whose need you can satisfy? Giving an egg to a neighbor friend is done gladly because they need an egg for cookies and you have extra, and in the end you’ll get to share in enjoying the cookies, and it’s all just lolly-dolly (yeah I just made that phrase up). Giving to our poor brothers and sisters should be the same attitude, “I’m giving you ___ because I know you need it and it will be good for you and me.” We’re (FHPH) administering classes on financial management to adults in the communities because it is good to know how to save and be educated about the matter, and to see people learn and grow in managing money is a blessing to us. We are giving money towards school supplies for CDP kids because they cannot afford them, it is good to have them, and seeing them earn an education to break their cycle of poverty is absolutely fulfilling for us. The relational aspect makes the giving and receiving reciprocal. And this is how I believe we should be giving to the poor.

Now (as the philosophy classes have taught me to be my own devil’s advocate), what happens when the results don’t come, when we are NOT blessed by giving? The adults in the financial management class chose to continue wasting their money on gambling. The children receiving school supplies chose to drop out of school. God’s command to give to the poor is still the same (found in so many verses in the Bible I don’t know which one to quote here). And yet we are all sinful and development is messy work and often does not go according to plan, as I’ve learned here. We are still called to serve, even when it’s hard and we do not see or feel results, because this is pleasing to God. And in His timing, we will be blessed. And God is still good, regardless.


Saturday, July 25, 2009


This week I went to the most beautiful ocean in the world for vacation. Well, one of the most. Boracay is a jeep, taxi, airplane, bus, and tricycle away, and I escaped here for 3 days and 2 nights to debrief and enjoy the splendor of this country’s breathtaking islands.

We (Jenn, Katie, an FHPH staffer Aileen, and I plus 3 guides and sailors) went exploring in a catamaran with snorkel gear, my camera, and tons of raw food for a fresh picnic lunch. The water is the bluest of blues and so clear that you could see the indents on the coral reefs from the moving boat. The sunrays stripped the underwater with light. I sat on the stern of the boat the whole day daydreaming of learning to sail my own boat and exploring all 7109 Philippine islands myself. The fish and shells were colorful and unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed diving to see both. I am also bringing back both; the fish in my stomach and the shells in my backpack. The views are just too beautiful to explain with my limited vocabulary, so hopefully these photos will help tell the story better:

We didn’t have to go far to see this marvelous ocean; our hotel was right on the sand. Actually, many hotels, restaurants and shops are. There is a nice path of buildings that line the coast and are filled with treasures… bracelets, and sun hats and flip flops, oh my! We spent time getting our fair share of awesome souvenirs. But more time was devoted to swimming in the crystal sea. It was so nice to be back by the water after more than 2 months of being separated from my dear love (thank goodness USC is near the beach!). The water was also so warm and refreshing, and to be surrounded by green palmas, white sand and cyan sky just made the swimming that much better. Oh and the sunsets! The mouth dropping, “Praise the Lord,” postcard-worthy sunsets! Again, words fail to describe the beauty, and again, here are pictures to try to:

The most profound part of the trip was the coming home. Yes, “home.” I was so excited to return “home,” and said it just so. On the plane looking at the lights from above, I thought of Phoenix and became quite sad. I am going to be very sad to leave this place. It really did feel so natural to jump in a taxi and arrive in San Pedro to my “family” and sleep in “my own bed.” It feels like I’ve been here long enough to consider life here as such, even though it’s only been 2 months. I miss my real family dearly and feel sad that I vacationed without them while they are vacationing with all my real family far, far away from the tropics (I wish I was also there by the way, Indiana (and Michigan) family! Actually you could also come here hehe). Walking into my house on New Years Eve and New Years Dr. from my vacation felt so natural, I cannot imagine leaving these special people forever. I cannot imagine living without my Philippines. We are discussing our feelings about leaving and how to leave well, which is and will be very helpful with dealing with these emotions. I will just be very sad to leave my new home.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Birthday Birthday Birthday

So I’m 21 now. And I celebrated with my good friends in a semi-surprise party at the church in traditional Filipino style. This means we played games, ate special birthday noodles, and everyone gave a rose. My favorite game was when I had to hit and break this ceramic pot full of candy and confetti (just like the piñata concept). Only I couldn’t find the pot for like 5 minutes. And I didn’t know the pot would just break nicely and thought it would shatter like glass everywhere so I didn’t want to break it. Sister Edna, a leader in the FH feeding program, had to direct my swing and force me to break it. It was apparently hilarious and super fun for me after I discovered the pot does not fly dangerous shards into the air and into my skin when it falls and breaks. Also the food was abundant and delish, plus I love flowers! Also my sisters sang me a beautiful song, Jenn taught everyone Pictionary using words that describe me (music, dancing, camera, etc.), and mom made sure I had a cake with candles. It was just fantastic! And a semi-surprise because I accidentally found out that people were planning a party at the church but it was still so nice they tried to surprise me. I love my friends and family here.

Can't wait for another celebration in Phoenix!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Princessita Divita

Here is a lil' video I did of my youngest kapatid (sister) Princess, who is the funniest young thang I've ever met. Please enjoy...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shalom, Pt. 2

Here is the audio of the sermon I mentioned, "Doing Justice" by Dr. Tim Keller, if you are interested:


Before I came to the Philippines, the FH staff recommended listening to a sermon by Dr. Tim Keller called, “Doing Justice.” I loved it the first time I listened to it but was also packing at the same time and was a tad distracted, so I listened again today and it was just as awesome. I want to share with you my reflections and some notes I took from it.

Keller asks and answers 4 questions:
1. What is justice?
2. What is doing justice?
3. Who is supposed to do justice?
4. How can we be people who are doing justice?

He begins by saying the word justice in the Old Testament is highly related to the Hebrew word, shalom. Now this shalom is translated into peace, but the Hebrew word is far more dense than the English word of peace.

Shalom= “the webbing together of God, humans and all creation, in equity, fulfillment and light”
• Beyond peace of mind or cease-fire; universal flourishing, wholeness, delight, natural needs satisfied under the arch of God
o The way things ought to be
o God’s design, the world is intricately woven together, a fabric (not a hodge-podge)
• Physical, psychological, emotional, etc. types of shalom.
o Ex: Socially, when those who have money, power, status and they invest in the community for everyone to share, that is social shalom; no one is going hungry, everyone has opportunities for good schooling, the neighborhood is safe, etc.

So, to answer Question #1: Justice is re-weaving shalom. Such a cool concept that I’d never thought of before. Also such a great word, shalom. Proverbs 29:7: “The righteous care about justice/shalom for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

Now, to follow similarly, Question #2’s answer: Doing justice is repairing the fabric where it’s breaking apart. Here it’s all about community, where the fabric is breaking apart in the community and world. Doing justice is not individualistic. Proverbs 3:27: “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.” Who deserves good? Everyone.

Keller brought up such a good point:
• The western idea of justice is removing individuals from their networks so that they have the rights to do whatever they want to do.
o Forget about family commitments, forget about the tribe, etc., you have the right to do what you want
o I worked for my money/what I have, so it’s my right… Let them (the poor/others in general) work for it too
• Biblical understanding is the opposite; we owe one another what we have, we need to spread it around
• Ex: Kids in the inner city who are stuck in difficult neighborhoods with poor schooling, and as a result have few skills and bleak futures. Why are they there?
• Liberals say: systemic racism; not enough money in the schools, structural evil
• Conservatives say: family values were inadequate; families aren’t investing in them
• Both agree it’s not the kid’s fault; they didn’t ask to be born into this situation
• You work hard with what you get, but everyone has the right to the opportunity of “success” (a paying job, food on the table, roof over the head, an education, etc.). Some are born into worse situations than others.
• Thus, failure to be involved in the poor is not just a lack of compassion, it’s a lack of justice!

In Filipino culture, children do grow up with a deep respect for their parents and a profound feeling of being indebted as well. Family is highly important, much more so than the individual. In this way, the Filipino idea of the older siblings sacrificing and working to take care of the younger ones (both financially and physically), is Biblically doing justice. I, on the other hand, do not have the same feeling of indebtedness, and did not have to drop out of school to get a job to support Corrie through her schooling, and this probably would not be condoned by my family or friends (although I would for my baby sis). When Mom and Dad grow old and need some help living day by day, our culture is more apt to put our elderly loved ones into nursing homes than invite them into our own homes (not that this is a negative thing). Nursing homes are absolutely unheard of here, because no question about it, you will take in your needy parents and grandparents, no matter how much of an inconvenience it is for you. That is also doing justice. In that way, as a result of western influence in my thought process, I am more prone to think that I have the right to do what I want to do in spite of what is best for my family or community. I literally thought as a teenager that going to college would be great because I could forget about my familial responsibilities (sorry fam, this was when I was very angst-y and clueless!). I’m sure Filipinos get tired of their family responsibilities, I’m sure not all practice this servant hood, but culturally, they are much closer to the Bible than Americans in this way.

Now, Question #3: who is supposed to do justice? Quite obviously, everyone. Keller talks a lot about Bible verses that tell of righteous people serving the poor (such as the 1st quoted one, Proverbs 29:7). What is righteous? Righteous= those are willing to disadvantage themselves for the advantage of the community. [Am I righteous?]

And Question #4: we can be people that do justice by being righteous with the help and power of God behind us.
• Guilt will not motivate you; it takes too much energy, too much ingenuity, too much creativity, too much work
• God identifies with the poor
• God says: The way you treat the poor and the way you treat me, are linked (Matthew 25)
• If you have a bad relationship with God, you have a bad relationship with the poor; if you aren’t treating the poor as you ought to it’s because you are not treating God the way you ought to whether we know it or not
• Only if you look at Jesus will you know how much God identifies with the poor (Jesus was a victim of injustice, he was poor. Jesus was a victim of human injustice)
• When we look at the poor, we are looking in a mirror; we are poor in spirit, saved by grace.
• The poor are socially and economically what we were (at least) morally and spiritually

I loved this message and am motivated by his ideas! What do you think?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


So I feel very home-y here in San Pedro now. I walk to the church and to Starbucks and I see people I know along the way. It was a highlight of the week to walk down from my bahay (house) to the church on Sunday and stop and chat to a young friend, wave to some kids shouting my name, and exchange words in passing to a church member. Such a simple thing as a smile and recognizing people in the community but I feel like I have relationships now. That’s what it’s all about, right? Even at Starbucks where I go frequently to edit my photos/video, I know the baristas’ names and snippets about their lives and visa-versa. Again, quite simple and perhaps silly, but it feels great to say I have friends at Starbucks and friends in San Pedro. It’s not just me walking along feeling like a freak of nature as everyone points and stares. Even if I don’t know people by name, I see familiar faces more often now, and I think people are not quite as shocked by me anymore. It’s really nice.

I am also super comfortable with my living conditions now. My stomach has calmed down (praise the Lord), I can flush any toilet that comes my way with one bucket of water, I can get from point A to B to C back to A all by myself using 4 different modes of transportation, I can speak enough Tagalog to have mini-conversations, and I am an expert at cold bucket bathing. Of course I do not say this with cocky pride but with “wow this is great” enthusiasm.

Most of the world lives without toilet paper, potable tap water, and AC. And now I am too and I’m loving it. Yes I miss these things and am very grateful for my country that provides these luxuries, but I am happy to know I can live without them and be splendid. Not that I didn’t think I could, but now it’s reality that I see for myself. I always knew you didn’t need these material things for fulfillment, but again, it’s nice to be myself without them and still be filled. I credit that to relationships, syempre (of course); relationships with God first and foremost, and relationships with the people.

I also credit it to the fact that much of how I live and what I live in is a luxury, not a necessity, and it was good for me to learn to distinguish the two. Now again, I knew this going into this that we live in a wealthy country in the US with many nice things that I wouldn’t have going to the Philippines blah blah. But again, I wouldn’t have thought about potable, temperature-controllable bathing water or mattresses as luxuries before this per sé, mostly because I wouldn’t think about it at all. Like, we have water coming out from a faucet onto our heads that we can also drink and decide how hot or cold we want it just by turning a knob. Amazing! Like showering with Evian. Many of us have cars, and we decide where and when we want to go anywhere. We have people who come to spray our houses and businesses and stores with pesticides. We drink brewed coffee! We have washing machines and dryers, and if we don't there are laundromats filled with 'em. We might even have our very own room at home. And it’s filled with stuff, stuff stuff! Even the poor Americans have the government that will gives some help, NGO’s to offer guidance/sheleter/food/jobs, and a law that says you cannot deny anyone water to drink.

Phew… you get my point. Thank you God for the luxury items we have in the US, all of us, and especially me. I am so blessed, we are so blessed (and now I am sounding cheesy and I apologize haha).

(And that was the classic rant of a young American realizing her worldly wealth in a developing country and yelling about it. You get it).

The Office

Hey actually, on 4th of July my gift to myself to celebrate the good ol’ US of A was to watch episodes of The Office on DVD borrowed from my supervisor, Katie.

I did that after I went to Bacoor again for more pictures and video, plus I taught them some camp-style song and dance and games (“Flea fly mosquito!” and Simon Says were huge hits). It was awesome to interact with the children like that instead of just being behind a lens the whole time. In the evening of the 4th, my fellow American comrades (Jenn and Katie) and I celebrated with a BBQ… of sorts. We bought charcoal to grill chicken and corn on the cob but the charcoal was not working so Katie improvised and we toaster-oven grilled them instead. Not quite the same as the classic charred grill taste but better than nothing! We also had watermelon, chips and salsa, and lemonade to make our picnic complete. We only lacked fireworks and of course the family and friends to share them with. But hey we did what we could.

It did remind me of the other time I spent the 4th out of country in Poland the summer of 2007, when I taught English with a Highlands youth team. While lighting fireworks in a rustic Polish side street, our head pastor burned two Polish students with a malfunctioning firecracker. Ouch. But no worries everyone was OK and we really showed them what American 4th of July spirit is all about! Hehe

I have spent the past 2 days in the FH Philippines office in Manila. It’s actually in Chinatown, which is fun, but like many a Chinatown is not the most upscale part of the city. However, I love it down there. It’s right by the Quiapo church where the Black Nazarene is held and all around are signs in Chinese and traditional Chinese dragon, slopped-roofed entryways thingies. I take 1 jeepney from my neighborhood, 1 bus to the city, and 1 train to the area and then walk about 4 blocks to get the office, and yesterday and today I did that all my self. Yay me. I’m really feeling so much more comfortable in this place especially when commuting and I have a solid confidence in knowing where I am (which is unusual because I have a infamously terrible sense of direction).

I LOVE the office. All the people that work here are wonderful people of passion. There are not that many and they all have lots of responsibility and work but they are great at what they do. It’s encouraging that they, all Filipinos themselves, have hope for their people and dedicate themselves to the cause. Although Tuesday is the only day every staff member will be in the office (many work in their specific field community most of the week), there is a deep sense of community all the time. The office itself is filled with inspirational posters and pictures of what FHPH (Food for the Hungry Philippines) is doing, and worship music is usually playing in the background. It’s just simply a great environment and I love being a part of it (oh and they have wi-fi… yes!).

A benefit of being in Chinatown is the food! Yesterday I had delicious meal at a local restaurant with an amazing green tea shake for only P40, or less than $1.00 (Rach, Lee and Anj—almost as good as an Urth green tea latte!). This morning for breakfast I had Taho which is this soy, tapioca, and sugar syrup concoction that is warm and in a cup. Delish Mcgish!

"Si la Photo est Bonne"

Updates of some of my pictures from my internship thus far of some of the communities I've visited to shoot (take pictures of, not with a gun) for FH. Enjoy!


Trash on either side of the walkway in the water


2x4" walkway between houses


A CDP family

A boy scavenging in his home-made boat

CDP kids

CDP kids

CDP kids


CDP boys after a fun little game with lipstick on their faces

Cute lil' thang


Houses on the water with bamboo walkways

Big sister feeding her little brother

The elementary school which is flooded (and has fish in the stagnant nasty water. hm...)

A main resource of Bacoor-oysters!

During a game

This boy is walking in the water under his house to catch tiny fish to sell

The whole silly group of kids!


During a song... he is excited about singing!

This girl's family Sari Sari store (it's like a Mexican abarrote, or mini convenience store)

Bucket bath





Praying kids

Silly boys