Well, here is the post you have all been waiting for. Everyone has been asking, and I've been saying "good" for too long now. Here is my real answer; are you ready for this?
Hot, humid, green, busy, pollution, traffic, jeepnies, flip-flops, Tagalog, family, sunshine, poor, rich, cement houses, food, Catholic, tricycles, canteens (little cafeteria shops), ethnic, Asian, billboards and signs all over (with everyone and their grandma's picture on everything they can get it on), dirty, palm-trees, mountains, loud, music (getting so tired of "Gangnam Style" wherever I go), cellphones, food (did I say that already?), sweet food, salty food, snacks, cheap spas, cheap massages, cheap everything, fruit (sorry, that's food too), mangoes, lack of toilet paper, dirty bathrooms, dogs in cages, "ma'am/sir" echoing from all sides, mangoes.
Yes, I like mangoes.
Especially the Philippine mango, fresh and cheap, every. single. day.
Oh, and rice. Better not forget that.
But you know what? Some of the above may seem a bit foreign and annoying (no doubt it is) but that almost comprehensive, descriptive list is more than just a list. It's more than just my experience so far, and it's more than what life is for the next 22 weeks.
What makes that list is carving itself into my heart.
What makes that list?
in a beautiful place
called the Philippines.
Yes, it is beautiful. In spite of the run down tricycles, the lack of garbage cans (that should have been in the list), the crowded streets and malls and everywhere, the poor houses (shacks), the messy everything...
It's beautiful. Not those things in and of themselves. But those things represent real people and real lives and real souls.
Even I am not sure how the Philippines could be growing in my heart in spite of the foreignness (I didn't know that was a word) and inconvenience of being a North American SDA young woman who looks like and is a Filipina but can't speak Filipino in the Philippines.
But it is. Why?
God wants me here.
Anywhere is beautiful if it's where God wants you to be.
I pray that...
whenever I feel like I don't want to be here,
.........I will remember that God wants me to be here.
whenever I feel small and inexperienced,
.........I will remember that God is big and infinitely experienced (understatement).
whenever I feel tired,
.........I will remember that God "never slumbers."
whenever I make a mistake,
.........I will remember that all things work together for good, for them who love God...
...and who are the called according to His purpose.
So then, what is His purpose for me? That, my friends, is answered on a moment by moment basis (other than the grand, overarching purpose of reconciling the world to God, who is Love, by lifting up the cross).
But, what it looks like might be His purpose for me is something like this. If you'd like more details, don't hesitate to ask.
- Be a positive influence, encouragement, and help in my family, in many ways. (My lola [great-grandma] lives with us, and my grandma is battling cancer).
- Be involved at my grandparents' school teaching violin etc.
- Be involved with an Adventist family whose kids play violin, in their music and health evangelism ministries.
- Orchestrate music part time for Fountainview Academy.
- Go on a mission trip with my home church (from Canada) to the mountains of the Philippines.
- Be involved with the local church and boarding school.
- Continue reading and studying and memorizing and utilizing what I learned at ARISE.
All in all, I am just waiting to see how God leads each day, so that He can use me to be a blessing in whatever I do. I've been getting over a cold for about a week now, so since my parents left last week, not too much has happened yet. But now, life is about to get rolling...
Dear Father in Heaven,
Help me to remember that these people in this place called the Philippines are beautiful. They are beautiful to You; let them never cease to be beautiful to me. Help me help them. Reveal to them greater and deeper pictures of Your character and love through me. I am a weak and small vessel, but You are strong and great. The vessel is right-side up: please fill me, for You promised. Fill me with Your Spirit and with Your love. Let the next 22 weeks (and beyond) be fully and entirely Yours.
In Jesus' precious name,