This is Kandace’s blog and it’s excellent (sorry I’m biased) and I wanted you to see her perspective from our mission journey. Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Philippines Trip 2015
What a week this has been. I’m sitting here typing this in the Detroit airport because we have a four hour layover until our flight to Charlotte. I thought I’d go ahead and get working on this blog while it is all fresh on my mind. My ankles are swollen, I’ve had the same pair of Chacos on for almost a whole day, the powder that I hurriedly put on my face yesterday morning has melted off of my face, the circles under my eyes are probably scaring the people around me, and I’m running on about 3 hours of sleep, but I am happy.
There is no feeling that can compare to the feeling that you have after you’ve been on a mission trip. Yes, you are exhausted, sick of airplanes, airplane food, and sitting, but you feel a certain joy that’s impossible to describe to someone who has never been on a mission trip before. You know that you have done something worthwhile and important. You have made a small dent on another part of the world.
This trip was different than any other trip that I’ve been on. I did things on this trip that I have never done before. It was a lot of new territory for me and at times it was intimidating, but it stretched me and now I feel even more prepared for the other trips that I will go on in the years to come. I didn’t really know what to expect. Everything was pretty hazy before we left. I did try my best to prepare some different things. I can’t stand not having a laid out/thought out game plan. I guess that’s the “Brown” coming out of me. 🙂
Let me start from the beginning of the trip. We left on Wednesday night after church and drove straight to a hotel near the airport in Charlotte, NC. I was blown away by all of the people from the church that came to tell me bye and that they were praying for us. What an amazing church family I have. We were up bright and early the next morning to head to the airport. We flew to Detroit first and then flew the 13 and a half hour flight to Tokyo, Japan. I haven’t flown on a plane for that long since I was 8 when we adopted Clara. I only slept for about an hour and a half of the entire flight. By the time we reached Tokyo at 3 in the morning I was worn out. I experienced deja vu over and over again as we walked through the airport. It was the same airport we had had a stop over at when we went to get Clara. Pretty crazy to have walked through the same place again 10 years later! From there we flew to Manila, Philippines. As soon as we stepped off the plane a wave of sticky heat hit me right in the face. There were Ebola warning signs posted everywhere. That unnerved me a bit. We were also handed a paper in the immigration line that listed potential sicknesses you could get while you were there. I tried not to dwell on the thought of getting some incurable Philippine sickness and being banned from the U.S. I guess when you have only slept for about 4 out of the last 48 hours your brain automatically thinks up the most ridiculous scenarios that it can comprehend.
We finally got our bags and met Pastor Dave outside of the airport by about 10:30 Friday night. We hopped in a little Filipino size car and made it to our condo at about 12:45. The condo was only about 15 miles from the airport. The traffic was so bad that it took us over 2 hours to get there. It was quite a sight! We got to know Pastor Dave and one of the deacons in the church named Romano on the way there. They kept us entertained the whole way! Exhausted was an understatement by the time we made it to our beds though.
We got some rest and were up the next morning (Saturday) to do a crusade at Exodus Elementary School. There were about 550 people there! The principal was so kind to let us use their outside gym area. It’s awesome to see people in the school system who still allow people to come in and share about Jesus. It was a wonderful service. Many prayed to accept Jesus!
The next day (Sunday) we had a wonderful service at Shekinah Glory Baptist Church. They are such wonderful people. They immediately accepted us into their church family. Dad preached and many said that they prayed to accept him. I spoke to a group of the girls at the church after the service. Dad spoke to the adults and Pastor Dale spoke to the young men. I loved talking to those young women and sisters in Christ. They listened to me with their whole hearts and we had a question and answer time afterwards. They asked me some challenging questions and we all chipped in to answer them. It was so encouraging to see that people like me who live across the world deal with the exact same struggles and temptations that I deal with. We are different in some ways, but are so alike in others. We are alike in Christ. It was a wonderful time that I will never forget.
On Sunday night Shekinah Glory had their 25th Anniversary Homecoming Service. It was a huge celebration! It was such a blessing to watch the church members sing and speak about that last 25 years in their church. The members of Shekinah Glory are so devoted to their church and reaching the people of the Philippines. It was very encouraging to see how this has been lived out so faithfully by these people. It was a wonderful time of worship for us all.
On Monday morning Dad spoke at the Flag Ceremony in Pasig City. The Mayor and most of the city officials were there. It was an unbelievable opportunity! Monday was also supposed to be our first day sharing at the schools, but with the typhoon (more on that later) school had been canceled. We instead went to a couple of different prisons in Pasig City. The conditions in those prisons we appalling. Those are truly the desolate and desperate people of the earth. My heart broke for the women/girls I saw behind those bars. They just needed something to believe in. They needed someone to love them and show them their self worth. I sang Amazing Grace to them before Dad spoke. It amazed me at how many of the people knew the words and sang along with me. Dad’s sermon of salvation and freedom in Christ touched many. It was powerful. God was there in a tiny prison in the Philippines. He was there speaking into the hearts of murderers and thieves. People who only knew hopelessness, pain, and sorrow. You are never too far gone. I saw that first hand in those prisons.
That night we experienced something that was pretty crazy. We had already been dealing with the torrential rains and high winds that typhoon Lando was bringing in, but we never expected an earthquake! I was sitting on my bed typing out an update for the day when the dogs upstairs in our condominium building started barking VERY loudly. They had barked before quite often, but this time it sounded different. It was more like frantic barking. I found that kind of curious… I glanced at my clock and it said 9:49. I went back to my typing, but not a minute later my bed started shaking. The table and lamp began to rattle and then my door began to sway quickly back and forth. I knew immediately that it was an earthquake. Dad wasn’t so sure. I usually jump to unrealistic conclusions. At first he said it was the wind that was making the building sway. Either way, it was concerning considering that we were staying in a five story building and our room was on the second floor. It went on for about another 30 seconds and then stopped. Not long after that I saw on twitter that there had indeed been an earthquake only about 60 miles away from Manila, Philippines. Needless to say, I slept a little uneasily after that!
On Tuesday we spoke at one of the largest high schools in the area. We shared the gospel with hundreds of students all day long. We went from class to class and spoke over and over again. It was exhausting, but awesome work! I shared my testimony with them. I think many of them were able to relate to it in some way. I had struggled with knowing if I was truly saved or not for years. It was a hard, hard time for me. I didn’t know how to have a relationship with Christ and for the longest time I didn’t even want to have one with him at all. I had to get to the bottom of my emptiness to be able to see what I was missing in my life. As I shared this, I saw many of them cry and nod their heads at what I was saying. The Lord was all over that work.
There was one girl who had cried the whole time we were in her class. I felt the Lord prompting me to talk to her. After we had finished our sharing time I asked her if she would be willing to talk to me outside of the class for a minute. She agreed although I could tell that she was a little afraid. I asked her if she was alright and if she wanted to tell me something and she said that her Uncle had been murdered by Muslims. There was so much fear in her eyes. She didn’t go into a lot of detail and I didn’t push her, but I asked her if I could pray over her. I prayed and she cried and then we shared a long hug. Her name is Wendy. I will always remember her. God put her into my path for a reason. I’m sure of that. Please pray for her and her family.
On Wednesday we went to another school and shared with almost a thousand students at one time. Afterwards, they asked us for pictures with them and for our autographs. They treat us like we are celebrities there. They are so amazed that Americans would come there to see them and invest in their lives. We finished it off by going to another school and sharing for the rest of the afternoon. By the end of the night our voices were gone, our feet were numb from standing all day, and we were beyond exhausted, but I have never felt so satisfied. Knowing that we had shared with so many people in those two days was an amazing thought.
During our days at the schools some of the young people from the church had come along to help translate and hand out tracts. I got to know all of them so much better during that time. There was always laughter and a lively conversation going on. They taught me things about the Philippines and I taught them things about the America (although they already knew almost everything there is to know about America) and we talked about our common interests. We made enough inside jokes to last a lifetime. 😉 I made some true friends for life and I’m so thankful for Facebook so that I can keep up with them! Gotta love technology! I will miss those Jeepnee rides and conversations so much, but there will many more in the years to come. I can’t wait to go back and see my Filipino friends again.
Thursday morning we started a long two days of travel home. I slept the majority of the plane rides home. Exhaustion had finally taken over. That Chick-Fil-A sandwich in Detroit was so good! I love my American cuisine. 😉
This trip changed my life. I know that’s a pretty cliche thing to say, but it’s true. I will never forget my first trip to the Philippines. It’s in my blood now and I’m already planning my next trip. God did so many amazing things. This blog barely scratches the surface of it all. He did a tremendous work in my life through those people. I am so excited for the things to come with this new mission opportunity. I can hardly wait to go back!