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!)
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!