By popular demand, here’s a blog post about what I’m doing in the Philippines.
Actually, you should probably go read Dave’s post about what I’m doing in the Philippines; I couldn’t have put it any better. If you’re too lazy to click over, I’ll summarize for you here. Although I’m singing, dancing, preaching, cooking, and showing kids how to brush their teeth, these ministries are not the reason I’m now here with five other interns. The reason I’m here is to learn by doing.
Like I said in November, there are amazing people here spreading the Gospel by all means. They don’t just preach the Word of God, they model discipleship through their actions. While I have a ton of ideas percolating about things I could do after these ten weeks are up, my objective for this trip is to learn. And I’m learning by doing things alongside the people who are already here.
So what I have I learned so far? Well, the Ilonggo* language for starters. Although my level right now is still at “please,” “thanks,” “my name is Joe,” “when’s lunch,” “here’s my fare,” “stop here,” and “where’s the bathroom?,” I’ve had fun picking it up and want to learn more. More importantly though, I got experience in LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical). Instead of trying to about a language, you learn a language by talking to people who speak it.
We had several native speakers of Ilonggo to help us with this method. Each morning, we spent a few hours going over basic phrases and conversation starters. In the afternoon, we headed out to the streets to start up conversations with people. Although a lot of people wanted to speak English when we stopped by, we managed to find people who were gracious and patient enough to let me try my broken Ilonggo! My LAMP helper Leo is in the picture below, along with his mom Aida on the left:
I also spent a week at Leo and Aida’s home and learned about their family. They served me loads of delicious Filipino food! Leo showed me around his neighborhood and we struck up yet more Ilonggo conversations along the way.
Aside from learning the language, we’re also learning how to be ready for preaching and ministry whenever the opportunity arises. We stopped by the young professionals HUB group at Full Gospel Church and I gave a message about how God arranges our careers. This was the first time I’ve written a Bible study. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but God is still teaching me how to prepare.
Aside from learning, we’re also observing. Nate and Abegail Shuck, who I met a little over a year ago, have been focusing their efforts in the Calajunan area. As unbelievable as it may sound, there are people here who live inside of a giant trash dump. A mountain of styrofoam overlooks makeshift homes. Both children and adults mine the dump for recyclables they can turn in for money. (However, there’s a secret about this place we discovered when I visited with my church in 2009.)
Since then, Nate and Abegail have worked with people in the area to establish a church. This past Sunday, we had a chance to visit the church site. When Nate opened the gate, I stood there speechless. Nate had been talking about this for over a year, and there it was in progress:
This church is not just a place where people will worship God: it is an urban farm where livestock will be raised and organic produce will be grown. The produce will not only provide food for the people growing it, but will also be sold in local markets so that the church is self-sustaining.
This church is far enough away from the dump to feel like another place, but it’s still within reasonable walking distance. They’re planning on screening in the sanctuary, while surrounding it with plants so that it will feel like having church in a garden. Some smaller huts are also being built where kids can have Sunday School and catch some cool breezes in the shade.
And this week, Nate and Abegail will also be leading us through classes on children’s ministry. As they’ve described it, we’ll be doing “class” in the mornings and “lab” in the afternoons. So, it’s off to class for me now!
* Or is it Hiligaynon? At least I’m certain it isn’t Tagalog.