Thoughts from my Philippines Trip
February 24, 2009
I woke up in the Marco Polo Hotel in the city of Davao, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The bed was comfortable, I could fix myself some coffee if I wanted, and I watched CNN from my air-conditioned room before I went off to a wonderful buffet breakfast. I was traveling with 29 other pastors from several different denominations, but in this environment, denominational differences meant very little.
We visited a Child Survival Project sponsored through Compassion International and hosted by a local church. The church was a “Four Square Church” that opened its doors to the program of Compassion International, and therefore they were able to become a place of hope and support for many mothers living in the poorest of the poor in this hot and humid city. As we sat in comfortable plastic chairs, the members of the congregation brought us bottled water and the children sang, danced and recited Bible verses. Some of the mothers even performed a beautiful dance to a hymn. All the children were dressed in smart uniforms and they were truly wonderful. Then we began to hear the stories of the children. We met Hannah, who was at one time afflicted with Myocarditis, but was healed. I was immediately drawn to Hannah as I had been afflicted with mytocarditis at one time in my life and I understand the pain first hand. I put a picture of her and myself on our website. Then we met little Davey; Davey’s mother had passed away one week earlier. It was said that she died because of the pain she felt when her older son, Davey’s older brother was murdered in front of the family by a gang. Davey was alone now, accept for the school and the church.
Then we went out on home visits. My group visited Josephine and her family. Josephine has been diagnosed with TB, but she has two sons, little Stephen and the older John Eric. Grandma lives with them in their little wooden shack, but she can no longer walk. Compassion International has accepted Stephen into their program and someone in this world now supports this little child and has therefore offered hope not only for Stephen, but has greatly reduced the stress for his mother so that she can focus on John Eric as well. John Eric has dreams of becoming a seaman. While were there, Grandma kept asking us to build them a house… Pastor Jun explained to us how he does as best he can to keep up their faith and minister to them and many other families like them everyday. Pastor Jun has a very difficult ministry.
It was almost shocking to enter the cool refreshing air-conditioned hotel that afternoon. The pastors had all realized they had witnessed and seem images that would remain etched in their minds forever. I have received the gift of hospitality of people like Josephine many times before and each one of those persons is now a part of me. The whole time I was in the Philippines, and especially when I was with children like little Stephen, I thought about the members of Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church and how much I wanted you all to witness what was witnessing and feel what I was feeling.
Please take a look at the photo’s on our website and consider becoming the sponsor of a child through Compassion International. We will have a Compassion Sunday on March 29th, and there you will have the chance to witness more about our journey and see the faces of the poorest ones who truly became a blessing.
I went to sleep that night tucked into clean crisp sheets only thinking about Josephine, Stephen, John Eric, and grandma, all lined up shoulder to shoulder on the scrap linoleum they could find to make a floor.
See you in Church,