You might think I’m off in a foreign country lavishing in the warmth of the sun, palms trees swaying in the breeze, coconut in hand & all that jazz. Sometimes I am blessed with those moments but in reality life is still raw and messy. You’ll find me covered in dirt nearly every day, barefoot most of the time, drenched in sweat, hair in knots (didn’t bring a hair brush oops), exhausted from chasing little kids, burning my fingers on pouring hot lugaw, and my nose is somehow always sunburnt, but I pray I’ll always meet others with a warm smile. Joy is unlike anything ever before when Jesus is your best friend.
Recently I’ve been encountering some odd, joyous, spontaneous moments. I wanted to shed light on some of the realities of every day life, even here in the Philippines. So here is a peek into some of these interesting times. All glory to Christ for never failing to bring goodness out of literally anything!
- The other day I was making my way to a nearby coffee shop. As I was crossing a busy street with two of my teammates I turned back to say something and somehow tripped over a bump in the middle of the street. I kept stumbling forward, trying to catch myself but my backpack really got the best of me y’all and I full on wiped out. My hydroflask went just a banging and rolling down the street. I heard both of my teammates yelling my name trying to make sure I’m okay. I look up and a jeepney was barreling towards me as the driver beeped continuously. I then jumped up and made it to the other side of the street. I had a pretty nasty cut on my elbow that was dripping blood everywhere and I immediately burst out laughing. There is no other place I would almost want to get hit by a jeepney then in the good ol Philippines! Although my elbow is still recovering from the trauma of the aggressive tar, I can easily say it was just not my proudest moment. I then had to continue walking to the coffee shop waving at Filipinos who weren’t quite sure what they just witnessed as blood dripped off my arm. It’s okay though the sun was so hot it dried and by the time I made it to the coffee shop it was an easier mess to clean up. Side note – for the rest of that day and currently the cuts on my elbows make for a great conversation starter with strangers. So it was really sweet. Thanks Jesus!
- The other afternoon at one of the feedings I had a group of lively little dudes clinging onto me. They’re a rowdy bunch and always like to pretend they’re dinosaurs, quite terrifying, yet never fails to make me laugh. In this location there’s a huge field by the school that leads into the rest of the community. These group of little guys don’t speak much English and somehow always assume I know exactly what they’re saying when they speak in their dialect. So I typically just nod my head and smile (learning that isn’t always the best way to go with little kids). They were bubbling over with excitement telling me we were in Jurassic Park. Apparently there were dinosaurs and monkeys everywhere so I had to be on guard. They practically dragged me across this huge field and let me through a row of narrow houses. Their sweet laughter filled the air and all was great. Eventually I looked up and suddenly was face to face with a real live monkey! Like what on earth! These dudes led me to their friends real pet monkey. This monkey wasn’t exactly the nicest monkey either. It ended up stealing this little boys lugaw and wouldn’t give it back. Even swung a couple times at the little man as he tried to get it back by chucking his spoon at it. Anyways I learned sometimes little children will take you to very unexpected places, and sometimes a monkey is involved.
- The other day after church some of my teammates and I found a local beach. We stayed for a bit (interesting story but for another time) and then ended up leaving. Side note, this was the same day I tore apart my elbow and the sweet lady who owned this little resort cleaned my wound for me with straight alcohol. It burned but it got clean so that’s a plus. Anyways my good sis Sam and I decided to dip early. We weren’t quite sure where we were or how to get home but basically we wing public transportation every time. Long story short we ended up being super duper far from our house, had no idea where we were or how to get back but it was a time I’ll treasure forever. We leaned into the Holy Spirit and chose to encounter this “failure” with pure joy! After being lost for almost two hours we had been on a jeepney for about 45 minutes, and then had gotten “kicked off” (driver said something we couldn’t understand, stopped, everyone looked at us so we assumed that was our queue to get off). We then had to walk a good portion of the way home, then a trike driver offered to take us the remainder of the way but then almost ripped us off with the price but we comprised. It could have been a really frustrating remainder of our afternoon, but Sam and I both loved the adventure of saying “okay Papa we trust you to do your thing and lead us back”. That’s the sweet thing He will always lead you back because He never leaves your side.
- The few Sunday’s ago a group of three little gal pals were hanging out in the yard so I spent some time just playing with them. I brought out some nail polish so they could do each others nails and of course wanted to do mine. I’m not really one to ever have nail polish on but it made them happy so I obliged. I ended up having about thirteen layers of nail polish on my toes, with no nail polish remover. All different colors too. So that’s been a really cute thing to show people as I’m always barefoot.
- Recently I’ve been balling with some rad brothers! They’re all construction workers who work extremely long hours in the sun all day. They’ve been building a sea wall across the street for quite some time. In the evening we meet at the court and play basketball. They’re all dudes ages 16-45. It’s a great time, always. So I get to spend my time before dinner drenched in sweat and dirt. Moments like this have just become normal everyday life. Hanging out with people who I would have never imagined I would be but giving glory to God because it brings joy to my heart.
Some days aren’t always the most joyous days. Sometimes I wake up in the morning already exhausted and already drained. Sometimes choosing to serve my teammates before myself can be hard. Sometimes I really have to pee and both bathrooms are being used for shower time but the Lord is good & loves to give patience (just ask). Sometimes I don’t want little children climbing all over me in the hot sun. Sometimes I don’t want to have to answer to anybody and I just want to sit by myself. Sometimes I physically don’t feel one hundred percent and I have a full day of ministry ahead. Despite all these “sometimes” it will never compare to all the times the Lord gives me strength to continue. Even the mornings I wake up exhausted, Jesus fills me with true excitement to be walking in His Kingdom. Even when I don’t always want to choose to serve my teammates first He reminds me of the deep love He has for each of them, reminds me I’m called to do the same, and shows me every time it’s always worth it. Even when I burn my fingers countless times on lugaw it’s always worth it when a hungry child is fed. Even when it’s the hottest time of the day and little hands are tugging on me from all directions I close my eyes for a second and give thanks to Papa Jesus because it’s a love so sweet I never want to forget it.
In every and any circumstance the Lord continues to be my strength. Continues to pull on my heart into a deeper love for Him and everyone around me. Continues to fill me with joy uncontainable. Continues to reveal His never ending goodness.
[ In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy. -1 Peter 1:6-8 ]
Enjoy this picture of the mean monkey I was introduced to that stole a kids food. Also note that the little child is attempting to throw his spoon at this monkey. It’s priceless. I don’t make this stuff up ya’ll.