Friday, February 20, 2015

Forever a foreigner


If you want to skip the “boring” part of what God has been teaching me and scroll down to the quick updates, that’s fine. ;) I won’t tell!

I was writing letters to each of the girls that have slowly begun taking hold of my heart, and I was filled with sadness. I am leaving again, and once again I am leaving a large chunk of my heart. 

For the past 1 and a half years it seems I never stay in a single place for longer than 8ish months. I LOVE the life of traveling, but sometimes, the yearning to have a home to return too is there. I have slowly come to realize that home for me, is felt in many of the relationships I have developed, and once again, I am leaving “home”.

Around 5 days after I turned 18, I flew to the Philippines after packing up 18 years of my life into 6 boxes, and I traveled with 1 and a half suitcases. After staying about 5 months in Bacolod, I “moved” again to Manila, after a month there, I packed up again and flew back to America. After a few months “home”, I moved out AGAIN and moved in with friends after packing a backpack full of things. Fast forward to August and Michael and I moved in with a dear friend that was willing to put us up for a couple of months. After we had settled in, October 19th came along, and off we were again. This time to Navotas, Philippines. We have now been in the Philippines for 5 months, and guess what? We are leaving in 20 days. The plan? Pack a suitcase (Essentially all of our worldly possessions at this point) (Hopefully one, we don’t want to pay ridiculous amounts in baggage fees and would honestly fly with just backpacks if we could), and fly back to the states for 5 months. Tops. Lord willing, and RETURN back to the Philippines. Who knows for how long? (We’re still looking at many, many more countries to travel, explore, and share Christ with. Go figure.)

My wonderful, amazing, husband continually tells me, “just pack the basics, and when we get there we will get whatever we need to furnish the house.” I know. Trust me, I know. It would seem I have been living out of a suitcase FOREVER at this point! The realization is dawning on me that once our child is born and we head back to the Philippines, it will have been a complete 2 years of traveling for me. Crazy, right!?

The meaning of one of the names God showed us for our baby (WE’RE KEEPING IT A SECRET!) is "God is my Nation". That really resonated with me; at this point I feel like a fish out of water no matter where I am. I am a half Americana that lives in the Philippines and is lost when it comes to language and culture. I am a half Filipina that lives in America that is lost when it comes to culture (not as much when it comes to language depending on the day ;) ). I do not belong to a Nation or a Country. Neither will my child, as he/she will be an American living in foreign countries. (I laugh when I think of the shock my child is in for. He/she is going to be born wondering where all of the familiar voices and Filipino accents are. Everyone is constantly talking to him/her and rubbing my belly!) I had read articles of missionaries returning “home” and not fitting in, never realizing that would be me too. God is gracious in teaching me, molding me, inspiring me and giving me so much HOPE!

BY FAITH we understand that the universe was formed at Gods command, what is seen was NOT made by things that were seen.

BY FAITH Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a RIGHTEOUS man.

BY FAITH Enoch was taken from this life, yet never experienced death. He was commended as one who PLEASED God.

BY FAITH Noah built the ark in holy fear to save his family. By faith he CONDEMNED the world, and he became heir of the RIGHTEOUSNESS that comes through faith.  

BY FAITH Abraham, when called to a place, OBEYED and WENT, even though he did NOT know where he was going. He lived as a stranger in a foreign country. For he was looking forward to a city where God was the architect and builder.

BY FAITH Abraham, even though he was past age-and Sarah herself was barren-became a father. Because he was considered FAITHFUL.

All of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. They admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country that they left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore, God was NOT ashamed to be called their God! He has prepared a city for them. –Hebrews 11:3-16

By faith I will move when God tells me to move, and by faith I will continually seek his will and yearn to become a citizen of His heavenly country. Let this encourage you as you realize that YOU ARE a stranger in this world! An alien to your country and a foreigner to your people. I have been so inspired by this today… God gently reminding me of who I am and lifting my spirits! We are praying for you friends, as you also seek His will in your life.

Quick updates:
  • Our visas went through! We now are “missionaries” rather than tourists and legally have a full year of residency here! 

  • Thursday we went to MFH (My Fathers House orphanage) and spent an evening enjoying the kids! I have missed those faces so much! They are as precious as always. 

Photo credits go to My Father House, Manila, Philippines. 

  • Tagalog lessons are still continued twice weekly. We have an AMAZING teacher and we are learning so much! 

Michael is becoming more and more Filipino and is now the proud owner of a barong. Also, he will be singing in Tagalog this Sunday.He finds it hard being so handsome here and continually complains about his “pogi problems”.
(Pogi = handsome)

Friday, February 13, 2015

Where He leads


Do you want to go down and see them? Krissa asked. 

I looked at Sarah, trying to tell if she was okay with it. I didn't need to ask, it didn't matter that we were walking underneath a bridge on a two foot ledge covered in river water, along the Manila River. It didn't matter that we were wearing flip-flops and could catch an infection from the black water. It didn't matter that Sarah is 5 months pregnant and was super clumsy even before she was pregnant; nothing was going stop her from serving. 

I climbed down under the bridge and as I walked along, I silently prayed that Sarah would pay attention and not fall into the river beside us. We walked about 10 yards, when I hear Sarah yell, “Shoot! Grab it Krissa! Grab it!” 

I turned around to see my wife standing with one blue flip-flop on and its pair floating away down the river. Our friend, Krissa was holding onto a beam, reaching her leg out to try to rescue the runaway shoe. Oddly enough, I wasn't surprised. I have come to expect events like this from my beautiful wife, I guess it’s what makes life exciting. 

We made it to the end of the bridge, where a ladder stood leading up into a house, literally under the bridge. Several families had placed boards and cardboard along the beams of the concrete bridges, and that is what they called home. 

What do they do to make sure there house doesn't flood and their family doesn't drown when the river rises? Pray. Besides that, there is not much you really could do. We talked to the mother, father and their three children for a bit, prayed with them, and gave them a sack of food before leaving. 

We were able to give out five food bags to different people in that area today, and had a wonderful time doing it.

We were reading Katie Davis’ blog yesterday, a missionary in Uganda, and she spoke of having kids following her everywhere she went, yelling “Auntie Katie! Auntie Katie!” I commented that I would love for that to happen to us whenever we went out, and Sarah replied that we could have that, we just needed to get out more. Most of the work we have done here in Navotas has been organized, but this last week we have started just walking around, giving out food, or just talking to people. It has been amazing and I wish we had stared earlier. I’m realizing more and more that you don’t need to bring 50 sacks of food and a whole team to witness, in fact you don’t need to give anything but Jesus’ love.

Sarah and I will be returning to Boise on March 13, and I have very mixed feelings about this. I love it here, but also know that it will be better to have the baby in the US, and we can raise more funds and come back (if it’s God’s will) more prepared and excited than ever. But it is sad, because we are just starting to “fit in” and just starting to understand the culture and language. We are planning on returning after the baby is born, but we know God may lead us in other directions. As we've lived away from the US, we have seen (like never before) the need for Christ inside the US, our hearts are being pulled by both sides of the world (literally). But even as uncertainty rises, my faith and confidence in my Savior rises higher. I know that my God who paved the way for us to come here to begin with, will continue to pave the way for us. And I am learning (slowly) to be content with wherever He leads.  

Little kitten sleeping on the bridge

Sarah and Ate Krissa (pronounced Kree-zah)

One of the homes that is alongside of the river. Yes, a family truly does live on there. 

A wooden scooter made out of salvaged scrap wood 

Another one of the homes alongside the river

One of the families from church lives just beyond (next lot) this lot in a tiny house

A bridge made out of odds and ends

The home of one of the men we met down near the river today in Malabon City. Both he and his cousin live there. They have lived there since the year 2000 and previously had lived directly under the bridge until they were flooded out.  

The homes under the bridge. The ladders lead up to little lofts that house families. 

Inside one of the homes. The ceiling was only tall enough to sit. It was about as big (length and width wise) as a minivan and housed a couple and their 3 children (ages 8, 10, and 11)

Prayers for the husband. He is sick (flu like symptoms), has a running fever and a severe pain on his left side. He believes it is his kidneys. He collects trash and sells it as a source of income for his family but has been unable to work. 

Walking back

One of the little ones that lives under the bridge

One of the children who lives under the bridge. Their family washes clothes to earn money, she is 11 years old.