Thursday, November 14, 2013

march two thousand seven // Samar, Philippines.

i took this photo back in march 2007 while on a mission trip in Samar, Philippines. i remember the room was hot and stuffy, people fanning themselves even though a slight breeze blew in from the ocean and through the open windows of the one room school. my missions team and i were there for a school graduation ceremony - it was a very important event for the barrio. everybody was dressed in their best, especially the graduating students. 

as we waited for the ceremony to start, i remember this little boy (i learned his name later own was Lito) in the photo peeking into the room. we made eye contact and he smiled back at me. and even as the ceremony began, Lito continued to watch from the outside, smiling at me every so often. 

afterwards, my team and i congratulated the students and their family and spent time talking with many of those who attended the service. many asked why would we come all the way from the United States. we had been serving in that particular barrio as well as surrounding ones, assisting a medical team as they offered free medical and dental care and distributed vitamins and food in a very rural area. we also had the opportunity to set up a Vacation Bible School in all the towns we stopped in, teaching children and their families about Jesus and the Bible. 

as we left the building, a large group of children, including Lito, gathered around us, asking us to play and to stay for just a little longer. and of course, we did, running around the small school yard with its thinning grass and playing tag until parents started to call their children home. though we could not communicate in the same language (i can understand Tagalog but being further south, they spoke a completely different dialect), the laughter rumbling from the pit of our bellies and the sparkles in everybody's eyes communicated the love and the joy among us.

we spent a week in that small town - and as i think back to it, a rush of memories come back to me...

...this morning of the graduation ceremony and all the children there
...befriending a little girl named Michelle, who followed me around all day long at VBS and invited me to see her house, a nipa hut
...walking through the dirt roads with my teammates and drinking coconut juice straight out of a coconut.
...teaching about Jesus and the Bible in small one room schoolhouses and churches and underneath trees to a group of people who had never heard about Jesus
...laughing and bonding with my teammates
...meeting so many Filipinos and hearing so many different stories and exchanging hugs and tears and lives together

so when i heard about typhoon yolanda hitting the Philippines last week, particularly in Samar where our team had served for a week, my heart broke into a million pieces. and it's still breaking as i continue to hear news report after news report from my television, the internet or my facebook feeds.

and this whole post might seem like one big ramble, but it's what has been on my mind all week long, therefore, i write. these are real people, real lives wiped away in an instant. some are searching for loved ones amongst the rubble, while others are gathered with their families but without food and shelter. and to be honest, i am at a loss of how to even help. as i write, i am waiting to hear back from fellow teammamtes, Philippine ministries and family members on what is the best way to do that very thing.

but for the time being, i urge you to pray with me - for these lives...that they be provided for. that help comes in time. that sweet reunions happen between family members and loved ones. that God be glorified and be a shelter and divine comfort for them in these dark times. 

much love.
{happy thursday, friend.}