Monday, August 27, 2012
Today was amazing. I was so extremely tired from the plane ride and bus ride here to Baguio that it all seemed kind of surreal. Everything had a blurry edge. I actually can’t believe it’s only been one day. What can I say about being with my best friend again after a year apart – we picked up right where we left off. We drank coffee, she said, ‘Tricia, where is your cup?’ and then laughed because it has been so long since she has said that. We got ready, put our makeup on in the car J and talked and talked and talked some more. The kids were so excited to see us and we were excited to see them. Hugs all around and I have a new little shadow named Angel. She tells me how beautiful I am all the time and I tell her how beautiful she is. She is always comparing our skin, ‘See, Aunt Tricia. You white, me brown.’ When Neely was sitting in my lap she said, ‘White, white’ and then put her arm next to mine and said, ‘White, brown.’ It’s a big deal to her that her new family is different than she is. I told her I like brown. I try to get more brown by being out in the sun a lot. I think brown is beautiful. She smiled.
We met Pastor Dan. He took the 6 hour bus ride with John to meet us at the airport in Manila and then turned right around and took the 6 hour bus ride back to Baguio. Then he showed us around the city all day today. He took us to a Dominican Seminary that was gorgeous. It is really old and has been used for many things – including a Japanese military base during WW II – Chris took tons of pictures. His wife, Sister Melody, and sons joined us for a trip to the mall and some lunch … I’m not sure of the official Filipino name of what we ate but it was beef fajitas with rice, y’all. Then Neely picked out some cupcakes and we had a small celebration for her birthday. I’m pretty sure we will have the ‘real’ party when we go to Alaminos, where John & Mandi live most of the time. We visited with Pastor Dan and Sister Melody for awhile and then all took a much needed nap. We spent the evening catching up. Talking about everything John and Mandi are doing here and where it looks like the future is headed. They showed us a million pictures.
Pastor Dan asked me in the van today if I thought I could make this my second home. I said, ‘Yes, I think so.’ But what I really wanted to say is, I have to pray all the time for God to help me slow down. I have wanted to do exactly what John and Mandi are doing for such a long time. I am so happy they are getting this experience but a little envious too. I would move here tomorrow and pitch in with both hands and a full heart and be the happiest person in all the world. I don’t know how it happens that you love a place so much that you have never been. When we flew over Manila my heart just wanted to explode, ‘I’m here. I’m finally here!’ I couldn’t sleep for the longest time on the bus ride to Baguio. I want to swallow everything whole. I want to absorb every moment with these people and in this place. I want to see everything, smell everything, feel everything. I want to speak to these people in their own tongue. I want to learn the way they do things. I want to know what they know. I pray because I know it has to be in God’s time and in God’s way … and I want it so bad. I can’t begin to explain to you why. I don’t really know. I just know it is getting bigger all the time and after one day I know this is where I am suppose to be. I don’t know how and I don’t know when. I am praying I just enjoy the time I have and as the Filipino people are so good at … leave tomorrow in God’s hands.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Last night I fell into bed and passed out. I can’t remember the last time a day was so gloriously long. Of course it is now 3am and I am wide awake because my body tells me it is really lunch time somewhere back in Colorado. So here was my day …
First thing this morning Chris and I took a moment to talk to each other before every one else got up. There isn’t much time for things like talking to your spouse, so you take it when you can get it. The Philippines is everything we thought it would be and so much more. We have met some of the most amazing people on planet Earth in our short two days on this small island in the Asian Pacific – and we are falling in love. I told Chris our friend, Misti, told me before we left, ‘Tricia, I want you to remember that God made you special for this. Don’t think that someone else can take your place and do the job God has for you. Girl, God would have to come down and physically sit in front of me and tell me he wanted me to move to the Philippines before I would even consider it. Not everyone was made to do what you are doing. You are perfect for this and no one will be able to do it like you.’ Oh, how I needed those words. Thank you dear friend. It’s easy to see that truth in others but so hard to see it in ourselves. I often find myself thinking, ‘But what do I possibly have to offer?’
Then, we all got ready and headed over to Pastor Dan’s house.
An Aside: A little more about Pastor Dan – or at least what I have learned so far.
First, Pastor Dan is one of those people you want to be when you grow up – except he is younger than you and that makes it kind of sad and amazing all at the same time. He reminds us all of another pastor we love and adore – Pastor Jason Bay. They have the same way about them. You can tell them one convoluted sentence about what God is doing in your life and they get up in front of a group of people and explain what you were trying so hard to say in a way that sounds like you knew what you are talking about the whole time. You end up looking pretty bright and as if you actually have this whole thing figured out … except you are looking at them with everyone else and thinking, ‘Wow, that is what I am doing? Dang, that’s awesome!’ Pastor Dan started Jesus History Makers Ministry in 2009. He has a huge heart for God and for his people. He is one of those men you don’t meet very often. He has a servants heart which makes him one of the best leaders I have ever seen. He really listens. And he gets excited when he sees the Holy Spirit at work. He is a go-getter too. No sitting around with Pastor Dan. We are going to get this stuff done, y’all!
We got to talking about – gosh, everything. Cailey being sick, all the things God showed us and taught us during that horrible time, the vision God has given us of our calling into missions. I did a lot of the talking. Shocking, I’m sure. At one point I thought Chris said, ‘Is your jaw tired?’ He didn’t, he was asking Angel a question (she is teaching him Tagalog J) but we all thought it was funny because maybe everyone was thinking that very thing. Maybe. At one point I mentioned to Pastor Dan that I might have found a mission opportunity in Baguio through The Assembly of God World Missions website. Ten minutes later we were headed to the mall and free wi-fi to look up the address and go talk to them (after climbing a gazillion steep steps up a mountain side from Pastor Dan’s house to the road – no wonder that man is in such great shape).
We ended up at The Asia Pacific Theological Seminary with me talking to the President about possible opportunities for an American woman with a Master’s Degree in Psychology. How did this even happen? You aren’t asking yourself anything I didn’t ask myself a hundred times and let me just say, there was whole lotta praying going on for God to give me some good words, from this old gal.
I learned there is an endless need for someone like me at the Seminary. Who freaking knew? The students are from all over the world and all the classes are taught in English, so English tutors are in high demand as well as proofreaders that know a little something about the written English language (poor unknowing souls). I would also be perfect as a counselor because it is a conflict of interest for the Dean’s to counsel the students and I am not Asian – many of the students would feel safe talking to me because I am unlikely to tell another Asian. Then the poor man’s brain went into overdrive and he started talking about this counseling room they have but don’t use because they don’t have a counselor on staff and would I please pray about it and he would just love to meet my husband and show us around the compound. I told him I sure would and walked out smiling ear to ear and shaking my head at the endless miracles of God in my life. I didn’t even know the place existed until about 3pm this afternoon and of course Pastor Dan said, ‘Let’s go!’ I put on a skirt and we got there after 5 but Pastor Dan asked for a favor from the guard at the gate and apparently you are kind of a big deal when you are from Texas and in the Philippines and you just up and get to meet the President of the number one Seminary in the country … words fail me y’all.
Chris and I are going back tomorrow. We have been praying for over a year for God to show us ‘How’ – I can’t imagine it gets any clearer than that.
You’d think I would be exhausted after such an unexpected interview (especially since I am considerably out of practice having been a stay-at-home mom for the past five years) and you would be right. But if you think our adventures where over, you would be very wrong. We drove to a village in the mountains to fellowship with a home church that Pastor Dan started.
Another Aside: I love the coffee here! It comes in these little packets and you just add hot water and it is already sweetened with things like brown sugar and it is deeee-lish! Chris and I also can’t get over these butter cracker things that taste more like cookies but are WAY better. We are so bringing some of those home to the kids – they are going to love them!
Okay, so where was I? Oh, we met the most amazing young people in this little village. I have never seen people worship like this. So pure and true and uninhibited. They closed their eyes and sang out to their God. They praised Him and loved Him and, oh my gosh, it was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
We drove (well John drove – and I will not go into his INSANE Filipino driving skills at the moment) up winding, narrow streets, walked down a rocky mountain path, up a steep flight of stone steps, past a very loud pig pen to a small room in a small home where over 70 people come to worship their God. We took off our muddy shoes at the door and entered into the most simplistic beauty on the planet.
How do you stop the tears? How do you keep your heart inside your chest surrounded by such pure and honest praise and worship? How do you keep it together when these precious people say how much they admire you for giving up everything and coming there to be with them? How do you tell them they are the ones to be admired? How do you explain they are what Jesus was talking about, they are what He looks like? How do you say you are running to them to save yourself from a home that has lost it’s way and you wish with all your heart you where the selfless person that was giving up everything to be with them but really what you are giving up is the empty, meaningless world and what you are gaining is the Kingdom of God on earth? How do you explain to these bright eyed, pure hearted, most beautiful, poorest of the poor that they are so much more to you than you could ever hope to be to them?
You don’t. You thank God for this moment. You thank God He chose you for something so big and true that you know you will never find the words to share it with your world. But it’s too much not to try. So you wake up at 3am, unable to still your full mind or quench the overflow of your heart, and you will try to search out the words. You will pour them out and hope the unexplainable can some how be found among`your sorely inadequate descriptions.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
You know what one of my favorite things about being here is so far? Seeing the effect it has on Chris. Last night at the mountain village, Pastor Dan asked him to pray and I was surprised at how short and flat his prayer was. I mean he even said at one point … ‘Please be with John and Mandi and um, um Pastor um Dan. And Lord Dave, we just want to thank you.’
Yeah, I mean what even was that?
Then he tells me this morning that right when he said that he was praying to himself, ‘Please God, don’t let me start crying.’ He said he could feel it coming and he was trying so hard not to cry in front of all those kids. (This is the point where he can’t hold back the tears just remembering) ….
‘I mean, Tricia, here are these kids praising God in this tiny room and they don’t have anything and they spent the last TWO MONTHS praying for Cailey. I just can’t get over that. I want to give those kids everything I have. I want to tell each of them, ‘You’re going to college, and you’re going to college, and you’re going to college, and in 12 years you’re going to college too just because you’re here.’ I want to tell them you are all getting out of this place and realize those dreams you have because you deserve them more than anybody I’ve ever met. And that Victory kid. Watching him praise God, man, that kid just touches my heart. I just want to hug him and cry and say, ‘You’re going to college!’ I got to get up and make some coffee. I can’t even talk about this anymore.’
I had to record what my big, strong husband should have shared with every one of those kids last night. He has got the biggest, softest heart and it is too beautiful not to shine from the highest mountain top.