Soul of the City
The SPY Mission Trip 2017 left New Zealand on 7 July 2017.
Here's the service the team took before heading away.
This morning the team had base orientation. We met the directors paul and chona who were part of north bay Christian fellowship when Danny was ministering there and George led a team over.
They remember him fondly.
After the team took a walk around the neighborhood.
Sadly whilst they were gone 2 of them, jo and Ben, had money taken from their room.
The base leadership are devastated and looking into it. The team fund will replace what was taken.
To the credit of jo and Ben they have not let it get them down.
After lunch we went to the field of dreams for a feeding ministry that we sponsored and some activities and the first distribution out project Lily clothes. Unfortunately Haidee was still nauseous from the long travel and stayed at base to rest.
The field is a small patch of grass in the middle of rubbish strewn streets and partially dressed children.
The team were superb. Engaging the children in sport and song and drama.
It was 3 hours of mildly controlled happy chaos.
We loved it and I wish you could have seen the team and been as proud as I was with all of them.
From Madi playing piggy in the middle until her arms were covered in mud to Bella greeting shy children to Emma Jerome Grace painting little faces for hours to Ben jo and jono pumping and sculpting balloons for a swarm of kids to Anchen and Becky helping Cathy distribute an enormous amount of clothes to grateful children and parents.
We laughed and played and shared life.
And then we drove away.
It is a hard reality to come to terms with.
But we have played a small part in telling the story of God's love to his people and, now, our friends.
We value your prayer for the health of the team and our efforts in discussing the tough reality.
Today was busy.
We kicked off with worship at River of God church with pastor Ric Mendoza.
The team performed their drama to the enraptured congregation. As Ben came on the kids whispered 'Jesus Jesus '. It was the hair that gave it away.
Anchen shared her testimony and we lead a song. One of many during the service.
We then took Ric and his team to lunch at a mall. It was good to hear from him the work they are doing and about the state of affairs in manila regarding the much reported violence.
We have been travelling by jeepney. An adventure for the team albeit a close and sweaty one.
After the feeding we returned to base briefly before being picked up by the team we worked with yesterday.
This time we participated in a feeding on trash mountain, the old city dump that has been resettled. It's now a four storey high mound covered in crops and some unauthorised settlements (squatters).
A church has built a small shelter on top which serves as a base for ministry.
We helped with the feeding, threw a rugby ball around, painted more faces and sang a bunch of songs. Generally interacting with the children present and the other team running the day.
As we walk through the streets many people greet us warmly and children will often follow us and clasp our hands or cling to us briefly.
It is nice to see their joy and happiness but confusing when you locate it in a rubbish dump.
Tonight we shared about what we had experienced thus far and many of the team mentioned the contact they had made with children, others shared the smells and sights around Tondo.
It is an enormous place and the hustle and bustle is everywhere. The view of manila gym atop trash mountain have us a panoramic view of the sprawl. The city, even on a fine day, is shrouded in a grey haze of pollution.
The team are doing very well in all that try are asked. Haidee has recovered well and joined us today.
This morning the music team led worship at the YWAM base.
We shared a local song and everyone joined in and had a great time.
Afterwards we joined the staff for visitation ministry.
We divided the group into 4 and visited families in the community around Tondo.
It was a chance to see the reality of the lives of the children and their families that we have been working with over the last two days.
It is easy to see the smiles and happiness of the children and believe life works out ok.
But when you enter a permanent housing block with no lights, dark water and cold concrete everywhere it begins to sink in.
The homes in these 5 storey blocks are about 3m by 7m with a small lower space up some stairs for sleeping.
Some of these were home to 9+people or sometimes 3 families. They cost 2000p a month ($60nzd) and the families often struggle to meet the rent.
Small children still greet us excitedly often wearing one ragged piece of clothing.
YWAM provide sponsorship to the families we visited enabling the children to go to school.
The team talked with these families and prayed for them and heard their stories.
One family living in abject squalor asked for prayer for their 13yr old son who is missing. It is a difficult story to read but enormously more difficult to cope with for the team who now know that family.
Please pray for the team as they come to terms with a world it would be far easier to ignore.
Just to add that the leadership at the YWAM base have taken the theft very seriously. They are upset and have undertaken a process of interview and investigation that had seen the thief confess.
We have had the money returned.
We expressed our forgiveness for them to pass on to the one who took the money and also our thanks for their integrity and process.
Their sincerity and concern has been admirable.
This morning the team had free time. The base director Paul took us to Rizal park. A beautiful scenic area dedicated to the Filipino heroes who fought against the Spanish at the end of the 19th century.
After that we went to fort Santiago. A ruined remnant of the Spanish rulers.
The team noticed the difference between a more affluent, manicured area of manila to the ones we have been ministering in. The streets were clean and ordered, no rubbish piles could be found, people weren't in throngs but less densely packed and dressed casually, the smell wasn't of rubbish but of cut lawn.
We also stopped by the manila cathedral. A magnificent building that really captured the teams attention. The stark contrast to where we have been was remarkable. Polished floors, immaculate (forgive the pun) statues of Mary and a grandiose organ.
After lunch we again divided in to 3 groups.
One went with pastor Ric for home visitations. They meet 7 families and were able to minister to people in severe need. Anchen told a story of comforting a woman who sobbed into her chest.
Jerome and Becky told of a son who had unjustly been imprisoned for drug offences for 3 years with no end in sight.
The other 2 groups went with YWAM staff for bible studies with mothers. One group to the dreary permanent housing and the other to a YWAM facility in the shadow of the old Smokey mountain.
These teams enjoyed the positive constructive setting with Emma and Haidee sharing testimonies in one group and Bella and Grace in the other.
In a slightly melancholic turn one of the YWAM staff told me the old dump at the port that we have visited in the past and had thought was emptied out of families is now more crowded than ever.
Church groups are no longer allowed on the site as the potential embarrassment for the government is too great.
The government moved families off the site over the last 4-6 years and erected permanent housing to accommodate the communities displaced. Unfortunately many leave these dwellings to be closer to the potential for earning money from scavenging.
Tomorrow we are off to Calapan. A travel day which can be as exhausting as work. The congestion and traffic are nearly as spectacular as the way the jeepney drivers, pedestrians and motorcyclists all negotiate it. It's like a dance.
There is a cough going around a few but all are in good spirits and health.
After a long and cramped jeepney ride and a fairly straight forward bus trip followed by a simple ferry crossing and lastly a wee bus journey we are in Calapan safely tucked away at the mercy link base.
Our program is full and the kids are sleepy. So too are the leaders.
We are enjoying the green surroundings and quietness of the country. The smells and the air are fresher.
Thank you for your ongoing prayer.
We will see Danny and Lily on Friday.
Our first full day of ministry in Calapan has been completed.
This morning half the team went with Angel Karen and Dani to a local preschool and ran activities with the 20 students. They sang and helped with school work and hung out with the cute children.
The other half stayed with Dave and did work around the mercy link base. They pulled weeds cut bamboo and broke concrete. Tough work in blazing sun. It has been odd to hear of the extreme cold weather back home when we are sweltering.
Bella and Anchen had a rest this morning as they needed some rest and recuperation from feeling a bit off.
Cathy and I went shopping this morning and bought stationery and dental supplies for two schools we'll be visiting. Somewhere around 200 items of each will be provided from money the team fund raised before we left.
A good feeling.
This afternoon 7 of the team visited the Ruel Foundation. They worked hard cleaning walls, assembling a trampoline and being with the children.
4 others went and played basketball with some locals as part of an outreach program. Sadly the rain kept them away but the team played on staunchly through the rain.
That same afternoon Cathy brought Bella Anchen and Haidee to a women's bible study. The fellowship was remarkably encouraging and the stories they had to share were inspiring.
It was good to see Bella and Anchen have the opportunity to minister today.
Having to take time out is important but can sometimes leave the kids feeling like they've let the team down. Of course this isn't true but it's hard to avoid the thought
There are some tired team members and we value your prayers as we had into another busy day tomorrow.
Mabuhay (welcome greetings)
Another full on day for a lot of the team has now cone to a close.
This morning some of the team helped Rupert paint the chapel. A new building erected since our last visit.
We were able to purchase the paint for this so there will now be a permanent memory of our teams time here.
Unfortunately the painting in the sun and long days have gotten Jerome a bit under the weather.
The other half of the team visited the same preschool as yesterday and delivered the newly purchased stationery. They also led music a bible story and activities with the wee ones.
During this time Karen Cathy and I visited Danny and Lily Besoro.
It was good to see Danny up and talking well. Lily is still the live wire she had always been. Danny has lost some weight and is frail but had much more function than we expected. His memory and mobility are limited but he greatly appreciated our visit. We will try to get back and see him. They are living upstairs in their lovely house with renters below who are doing some building.
His ministry to 65 mangyan children continues.
After lunch another group visited tee bustling ministry at Ruel. They danced and cleaned and led the kids in craft. It's a great chance to be a part of a ministry to kids whose future would have been awfully dim without them.
We were supposed to be involved with a volleyball ministry but the rain said no.
This meant we had a slightly larger group visit the hospital for prayer ministry.
Dave Becky Emma Madi and myself entered the surgical and paediatric wards with interpreters. We approached patients, who are necessarily accompanied by a family member, and asked if we could pray for them. It's pretty daunting but the families are so happy to have us there.
Some patients were in a pretty horrifying state. Especially in the children's ward that Emma Madi and I visited. One 2 month old has hydro cephylaus which disfigured his cranium horribly. Another had meningitis and that awful disease had wrecked havoc on its wee body.
Hard hard places to be and hard hard things to pray for. But the kids did very well even if none of us really have come to terms yet with the suffering.
Other children were smiling at us and grabbing our fingers. Emma recounted a story of a woman who was told she had a cyst and at 8 months had surgery to remove it. Along came a daughter now nicknamed 'save'.
Our night ended on a happy note with the mercy link staff putting on a cultural evening. We had presentations on mindoro and some dancing and as a special treat...balut.
We have already had 4 of the team eat it at YWAM. Jo Becky Ben and Haidee were joined in that club tonight by Dave Grace and Anchen. Gross.
There is a bit of emotion running through the team as the impact of the lives we've ministered to is fully felt. Please pray for that and our health.
Magandang gabi (good evening)
Today the team united to minister to a Mangyan village with the Ruel foundation.
(All except dani - sore stomach, Jerome - head ache, and me - being a nice leader to care for them. Both of whom are doing much better tonight)
The team packed food to give to over a hundred families before setting off. Once there they engaged the community with basketball (got trashed), face painting (got swarmed) and giving out food and clothing. Again these were supplied by our fundraising and cloth gathering through project Lily.
The Mangyan people are more shy and take some time to get involved but the team came back with stories of engagement and sharing.
Later the leaders were invited to dinner with Rupert and Angel, the directors of mercy link. We had fellowship and a lovely meal and returned to the team who were happy and had even written is a song which they performed.
It is good to see our team growing and their perceptions of their world changing as they encounter people and their stories that are outside of the normal and expected.
They have been commended by all the partners we are working with.
The mercy link base held a church service this morning in which our team were invited to participate.
Ben shared his testimony to the congregation who listened keenly.
Dani Jerome and Bella shared their dance as part of the worship. The band also led 3 songs.
The team then split into two and ran programs for the kids. They had a great time and shared stories games and crafts.
After lunch Emma Madi Becky Cathy Dave & Dani ran dance and drama workshops for the youth who are part of the congregation at mercy link.
Everyone had a great time enjoying the fellowship and sharing of skills.
The rest of the team visited the hospital with Karen and I. On these visits we stop by the administration block to check in with the hospital's officials. We then head onto the wards and are led into rooms with 4 or so patients and their families. Our interpreter will introduce us and explain we're there to pray and minister
We then move in small groups around the patients introducing ourselves and praying. Today we visited both the obstetric gynecology ward and the surgical ward. We prayed for people with injuries and tumors in various states of health. In the obgyn ward there were women in a room with newborns together with those who had suffered miscarriage. Pretty rough.
The team are in good health now and looking forward to a day off tomorrow.
Last night we had some spectacular thunder and lightening. The rain arrived in a hurry and stopped as quickly.
The whole sky seems to ignite in rapid flashes followed by immense rolling thunder. Not especially notable for the locals but entertaining for us.
Today the whole team visited the school that we had purchased dental supplies and stationery for. We split up and presented a bible story and song followed by distributing the supplies. It was very gratifying to see the kids with all their gear smiling and saying thank you.
We blessed around 175 kids. The staff put on morning tea for us. We each had a fresh coconut to drink candied bananas and sweet potato. But as Madi said they are more potato than sweet here.
This afternoon Josiah and I went shopping for the food we are giving out at a Mangyan village tomorrow.
We bought 5 cans of sardines 6 packets of noodles and 2kg of rice for 50 families.
Later our planned community visitation around the base was cancelled due to heavy rain so the team got busy bagging up the food were taking tomorrow while Dave Cathy and I took another visit to see the Besoros. I'm glad we made it back to see them.
From 4:30-5:30 we ran a youth group program. The rain kept many kids away yet the appeal of the team at the base brought more than would not have come otherwise.
Josiah and Jonathan shared testimonies while Anchen ran a game and I led a bible study. The team led worship and prayed for the youth. It was a bit sad to say goodbye as we won't see the youth who attend programs at the base again.
It is surprising how quickly bonds are formed.
The team is doing well but we're all tired and the tolerance and consideration are a little thin at times.
Tomorrow is our last ministry day.
It seems both over too soon and a long time away from familiar comforts.
Is nz really as cold as we fear? It seems we are nearly acclimatised.
Apologies for no update yesterday. Amidst the cleaning and packing and sleeping it was forgotten.
Yesterday the whole team went to a Mangyan village to give out clothes and food and God's love.
The children are adorable and yet surviving on so very little and at great threat from the potent weather.
There was a girl at the meeting that the previous team met. At that time she could not walk and had suspected polio. The previous team had sponsored her hospital costs which otherwise would not have been possible. This time she was walking and healthy. She received clothes and food. Cathy also recognised a boy wearing clothes film or previous visit.
After lunch we met with the children's ministry. Our final ministry event.
The team team games and songs and stories for the kids.
We have enjoyed our time in Calapan immensely and have been inspired by the work of Angel and Rupert at mercy link.
Today we traveled back to Manila. It went smoothly and we have eaten well and are now enjoying nice rooms that fell utterly luxurious.
Tomorrow is our trip to the mall of Asia. Then flying home.
We are sad to be leaving so many people and memories but also greatly looking forward to seeing our loved ones.
See you Saturday.