It is hard to believe that I’ve been away from home now for 2 weeks and on Sat will have been here in the Philippines for 2 weeks. There have been alot of changes and happenings in that time. My living conditions are much different than I’ve ever experienced in the past. We are living in very rough homestays. There is consistent electricity which is an upgrade from many places I’ve stayed, but the running water situation is much stranger. There is indoor plumbing, but the water is undrinkable and the flow varies greatly. Also the toilet flushes only with water poured down it and takes much water. Showering is with cold water and from a spigot on the wall in the bathroom, buckets, and small bowls with handles for scooping it on you. Much different from even bucket showers I’ve had in Latin America and Africa. I’ve also never stayed in a room with no window until now. You learn to really appreciate the little things when they are taken away. I am adjusting to the situation much better this week than last. I hope I am learning the important lessons the Lord is using this experience to teach me. Last week, I was feeling a bit desperate to find a solution, but I think my lesson is we don’t always have control of our circumstances and sometimes we must deal with the hand we are dealt no matter what good or bad things that might include. I am thankful half of the first month is almost complete and I’ve come a long way.
Also this week, I have had many changes with people arriving and leaving. Last week one of the volunteers in my house left on Thursday. We had a new arrival come in on Saturday. Funny enough it was another Australian, but a young girl who has never done any traveling. She is very nice and I was glad to find out is also a Christian. I have enjoyed the times we have spent with our Nanay and family, but Caitlin is only here for another week after this one because it is a college trip and she must return to work. This week on Wed morning another volunteer from my house Johnny left. He had been here about 2 months or so I believe. The visiting family of my Nanay left Wed late morning or at least a few of them. Also my good friends from Samaritan’s Purse left so it was very sad to say so many goodbyes in such a short period of time. I think the next goodbyes will be when the Australian’s leave on Sat of next week.
This Saturday is a big deal because it marks the one year anniversary of the Typhoon. There is a special dance tomorrow evening and then many events on Saturday which I will have to decide what to attend. It feels like there are many celebrations/holidays here right now. At least once a week or so. Kind of crazy considering we don’t have nearly as many in the US. There is much to be thankful for here though with so much loss and devastation in this area. Many are still out of work and still have much need, but they are alot farther along than they thought they would be in just one year thanks to many many countries coming and offering assistance. There are still several NGOs here doing a variety of work. Some are planning their exit, but there are others who will be around for a long time at least to some extent. I am very interested in seeing and learning more about the immediate effects of the storm this weekend.
As far as my work goes at the Women’s Shelter we have come a long way in the 2 weeks I’ve been there. I remember the first day the ladies were so shy they didn’t seem even interested in interacting with me. Many speak a little English, but not much and are very unsure of themselves. Others speak none or almost none so I rely heavily on assistance in translation from a few staff who speak English pretty well. I am attempting to learn Waray Waray which is the local dialect and most also speak Tagalong the national language. I am at a disadvantage not having knowledge of either, but thankfully Waray Waray does have a little Spanish influence which is good since that’s the only other language I really have any knowledge of. Working at the center helps me learn some Waray Waray while assisting the ladies in practicing their English when they get over their shyness. I have been able to do a craft, teach a couple lessons, songs, and interact with them on some of their activities. Today I went prepared with a lesson and activities about animals and they were already well underway in a project of their own. They call it recycling and were making “lanterns” today. To us they would be like unique wreaths, but I was very impressed. They are making beautiful things with water bottles and coke bottles! Much better than much of what goes on both here and in the states with trash! Someone has taught them well and I was also told they know how to make Christmas trees with the same materials! I learned something incredible today and assisted in something they do not only to make decorations, but also to sell to make money. I took one photo of the one I assisted with. I figured that was okay because it didn’t have any of the ladies in it. I was told I was not allowed to take photos of any of them while I was working there because it is a government owned facility. I will try to figure out how to upload the photo so you can all see it, but each girl that wanted to took initiative to make their own color pattern and use their own creativity, I was so proud of what they were doing! They truly are amazing ladies and I am enjoying my time with them each day. They ask me to stay longer and want me to eat lunch with them everyday despite my insistence that I’m not hungry so I try to appease them with eating a little rice and I always eat what they bring for the am snack. Seriously Filipinos eat like 6 to 8 times a day and are ALWAYS trying to feed me. I just can’t eat that much, but they don’t seem to understand that. LOL Well, my time is short so I am being told I need to wrap up and get out. I will attempt to get the picture up from my phone if possible. Otherwise look for it later. I will try to update again soon. I hope this message finds all of you doing well!
Lastly I ask that you pray for my family at home this week. There are a couple big things going on at home so please keep them in prayer as well while I cannot be with them. Thank you all for supporting me with prayer and I hope you are enjoying the updates!