After our first real night of sleep, we woke up Monday morning ready to tackle whatever God had in store for us. Our driver met us at 8:30 and took us over to Concordia Children's Services (CCS), the orphanage we'll be at this week. It takes us a good 40 minutes to get to the site, as traffic has been redirected throughout the city. Good old Hollywood producers are here making a movie sequel in The Bourne series. Once we got to CCS, we jumped right in to caring for the kids. It was awesome to see team members showing love to kids who certainly don't get what they fully need yet. CCS does a great job at caring for them, but there's no love like what a parent could give them.
The CCS building is very old, and in drastic need of a facelift. Our team spent much of the morning painting the commons area, front porch/door, columns, and a wall running the length of their driveway. The team worked quick and shocked CCS staff with what was done in just a few hours.
This is Sean Harlow, currently the only LCMS missionary in The Philippines. He's our guide this week, and also serves as assistant to the LCP (Lutheran Church of the Philippines) president. Great guy with a big heart.
After lunch, the urban street kids stopped by. Due to such a huge population, Manila runs two different sessions of school each day. Half of the kids attend school from 6am-noon, and the other half of the kids attend school from 1pm-7pm. These kids had just gotten out of school, and they always stop by CCS for whatever ministry is going on that day. CCS funds their school supplies and uniforms, as well as transportation to and from school. It's a much needed ministry and outreach! Our team helped another team from a local college make Valentine's Day cards with the kids, which they'll in turn sell to help fund this ministry. We also ran a VBS-type program and taught the kids the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The kids had fun coloring the characters on paper, and playing with their new kazoos.
Here's Ate (Ah-tay) Beth, the director of CCS.
Something of interest is across the street from CCS is the old Lutheran Hour Ministries building, along with Gloria Dei Lutheran church and school, which currently serves as the headquarters for the LCP.
We left around 4pm, and headed over to a market near the Lutheran Hospice where the LCMS office is located. It was about the size of 3 football fields, and was absolutely buzzing with activity. You can buy fruits, veggies, fresh fish, fresh meats (very very fresh - like alive), and other goods. We were warned not to bring much cash and to hold on for dear life to cameras and wallets, because the market is a pick-pocketers dream.
Then it was back to the office to grab some dinner. Mario made another incredible mixture of filipino foods - prawns, fish, veggies, three types of lumpia, etc...
A few of us even tried Balut - a local delicacy that makes most people cringe. I'll spare you the pictures, but just know that balut is a fertilized duck egg that's way older than a typical scrambled egg.
For our devotion time, we looked through Philippians 2:14-16. Every single mission trip I've (Pastor James) ever been on has had some sort of internal conflict amongst team members. We're in tight and stressful situations, and people tend to get irritable at times, so this passage encouraged us to act in love and humility towards each other all week long. We also realized that we're "holding out the word of life" by showing genuine love to everyone we encounter this week. We also looked through Galatians 6:2, 9-10 and talked about how we can carry each other's burdens this week.
The people of the Philippines are some of the most genuinely loving and gracious people we've ever met. They constantly go out of their way to serve and love us, honestly a drastic difference from our American culture. We came to show love, but love is being shown to us. God bless your day!
P.S. We're unaffected by the 6.8 earthquake to hit the central Philippines.