I never got over the things I saw and learned in the Philippines in 2007. By the summer of 2008, I was a new person in more ways than one. In that short period of time my health had rapidly declined. (I was very sick for most of college, but then God healed me...which is an amazing story I will tell another time.) For the first time in years I was whole physically, and I had just met Jonathan a few months back. We started dating just before I left to fly across the world. I kept a picture of him with me at all times, and I'll admit that I was more than a little love-sick for him. Still I felt compelled to go, so I did.
This time I was even more exited to return and see the people with whom I left part of my heart. However, this was definitely not the same trip. We still woke up early to visit and speak in the schools, but the team and terrain were vastly different. Before we had a small, intimate group. Now there were over 70 of us on the team and we were closer to the coast in the northern region of the Philippines.
I was struck even more so by the beauty of the country.
As I was sharing the gospel with a group of students at this school, I noticed the teachers nodding in accordance to the things I was saying. These teachers came up to us afterwards and with a new light in their eyes said, "Brother and sister, I will see you again when we are with Jesus!" I can't explain to you what it feels like to hear something like that.
This is one of my favorite pictures. Don't you love the umbrellas? Everywhere we went there were rice fields.
I loved making the kids laugh by speaking the phrases I knew in their language. The only things I remember now are "Mahal ka ng Diyos" (but I don't remember what it means) and "buhay na walang hanggang"...I think it means "life is good but eternal is better."
The children stole my heart once again.
This was the most interesting I ate while I was there...and yes, I ate it. Most of the food was absolutely delicious and the people were so hospitible! I especially love the mangos. You haven't eaten a mango until you've eaten a mango from the Philippines!
We stayed at a place near this beach for the last week I was there. They have brown sand here, not like the beaches in the States, but still beautiful nonetheless.
Some of the team came back from my first trip, like the lovely girl to my right and her sister. One of my favorite parts of the day was getting to hear everyone's testimony on our long treks from school to school. Every day there were different people in your group, so there was always a new testimony to hear.
At one school they asked us to sing for a large group. Since I was the only singer in the group, I steped up to the plate and sang "How Deep the Father's Love." I don't think I've ever sung better in my entire life or ever will. It was a powerful moment to be singing of how God sent His Son to die for us, for them, though we were the ones who had sinned against God. I stood there singing and praying that the love of God would penetrate the hearts of these people, the ones He died for. I'll never forget it.
By the end of the trip, I was very ready to come home to see my man (and family too). I was excited to come home because I knew that this wasn't the end. My life had a mission - to make Jesus famous and God had just led me to man walking down that same path. Though it was not as soul-shaking as my first trip, I came back with a new love for sharing the gospel. I wish I could tell you that I was incredibly focused on the Lord after that, but first relationship ever had my head more that a little in the clouds...but there is more to come about that in the next "where I've been" post.