Friday, May 27, 2011

Squirrles=Bunny Rabbits

So this past week I have been deeply entrenched in the Hope International Leadership Summit/Internship training. Me and the other interns have gone from leadership session to training session non-stop from 8 am till 5pm everyday. Now I know that that is just a normal workday, but we have been absorbing an inordinate amount of information during these times and have been pushed to the max when it comes to learning about the in and outs of microfinance.

One random fact about Lancaster, PA... There are a ton of rabbits in the neighborhoods!!!! When I say a ton, I mean that you cannot walk one block in a neighborhood without seeing two little rabbits dart in front of you. There are about as many rabbits in Lancaster as there are squirrels in Richmond/Clemson. If you are from either of those places, you understand!!! Maybe one day the Lancaster rabbits and the Richmond squirrels will join forces and take over the world... I think its a distinct possibility...

So on to a more serious note, I am flying out tomorrow afternoon for the Philippines and absolutely cannot wait to go!!! The lord has used this week to over saturate me with his love, mercy, and knowledge of microfinance that I feel as though I am about to explode all of those on to every single Filipino I meet!!! So please pray for the flight and smooth travels getting to my apartment. Also, please pray for the lord to keep the current typhoon out of my planes way because I would really love to not have to fly through a typhoon en route to my awaiting apartment!!!

The one aspect about the past week that I did not expect coming into the training, was the unbelievable friendships I've formed with the other interns. There are 20 of us total, 12 staying in Pennsylvania and 8 of us going abroad (some have actually already left). These 19 other college students have quickly become some of my closest friends. It was incredible to get to experience a week with other people who have a passion for Jesus, economics, and seeing the poor lift themselves out of poverty. It has been the biggest blessing in the world to get to know these unbelievable people and I cannot wait to hear stories from all of them as we keep in touch over the summer.

So next time I update the blog I will be in Manila!!!!! Can't wait!!!

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. - Isaiah 58:6-9

I am so blessed to be able to serve this amazing God who has promised to reveal himself to us on Earth!!!!

God bless.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cheesesteak please!!!!

So right now I'm sitting in a room browsing the Internet for the first time in a few days and thought I'd update you guys about the past couple days which have been awesome!!!

So Thursday was my travel day and I hoped on a train in Richmond to ride up to Phili. The train ride was around 4 hours and I was able to finish this awesome book that my awesome sister lent me called "Heaven is for Real" which is an amazing true story about a little boy that gets to go to heaven and slowly tells his parents about it. You should read it, cause it will change the way you look at heaven, promise... Anyway, got to the Phili train station and was just itching to get a cheesesteak, but I didn't have time which was a major bummer because I LOVE cheesesteaks and have never had an authentic Philadelphia one. I jumped off my train and quickly got on a local train to get over to the airport where I was getting picked up by an HR rep from the company named Ray, who is a really funny guy from Malaysia.

After connecting with Ray and the other intern that was getting picked up we drove the 2 hours to Lancaster and got to the house we were staying at for the week of training. That night we walked over to the conference center and ate some dinner while the other 15 or so interns slowly trickled in. After a ton of eating, laughing, and talking with my fellow co-workers we decided to hit the sack early due to our early wake up time the next morning.

One incredible privilege we get to have this summer is that the Hope International Leadership Summit is going on at the same time as our internship training. The leadership summit happens once a year when all the leaders from Hope from all 15 countries they are in come together for worship, praise, prayer, fellowship, and direction for on week. So us interns get to meet and talk with all these incredible leaders from around the world, which is so humbling. So that morning we spent the day setting up the conference center for the summit. After that we went over to the main offices, got our computers all situated on their networks, and had a finance meeting with all the ex-pats (all the interns going abroad).

At the offices there was this great exhibit called "Pathways to Poverty" which was an audio tour through a ton of different rooms. Through the tour we got to experience and hear the stories of about 10 people in 10 different countries and how they were trapped in poverty. It was a humbling exhibit to say the least, but got me incredibly fired up to get to the Philippines and start working!!!

Following this moving experience, most of us were pretty tired, but decided that nothing would fix that than a game of basketball. So after dinner about 10 of us went to the local school and shot some hoops to get our legs moving for the first time in a couple days. One of the best parts of this experience so far has been just meeting and getting to know the other 19 interns here. Ever since meeting them it has been a constant part of our days to continually get to know each other and share our passions for Jesus together. And believe it or not, there are other people my age on this planet who actually enjoy majoring in economics, who knew!!! I think it is actually going to be difficult for me to say goodbye to these new friends of mine, as I can already tell that I am going to miss them greatly once all the ex-pats part ways for the summer.

So yesterday (Saturday) was another big day for Hope International. Last night they hosted their annual Fundraising dinner which was an enormous success. We spent all day traveling to the Lancaster convention center and setting up for the dinner. We mainly focused on setting up the four different booths from the four areas of the world that Hope is set up in (Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia). We also set up the silent auction which contained items from all over these four regions. I spent the 2 hours preceding the dinner welcoming people to the dinner.

The dinner itself was unbelievable. The president and CEO, Peter Greer, spoke and then gave awards to five different clients spread around the world and spoke on how a microloan from Hope International had changed their lives and their communities lives. Then the main speaker was a man named Scott Todd from Compassion International. You need to check out that website because he and his organization have a goal to end extreme poverty in the world by the year 2035, which is you look at the statistics is a very possible goal. You may think he's crazy, but I and a ton of other really smart people believe it can be done.

So anyway, that has been the last few days for me and today has been a great day of rest. The rest of the week is going to be slammed packed with training and meetings, but I'll try to post one more time before my plane heads out for the Philippines on Saturday the 28th. Thanks for reading and I pray that the Lord gives you rest today wherever life may find you.


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Beginning

Hey everyone. I hope that life is finding you well and full of joy and blessings. So you may or may not know, but the reason that I am writing this blog is because I am spending my summer working in the Philippines for a Christian microfinance company called Hope International. If you don't know what microfinance is or just want to learn a little more about the work that Hope International does, check out either of those two websites. Essentially what a microfinance company does is provide microloans (generally $50-$200) to entrepreneurs in developing countries around the world.

I first heard about microfinance in January 2010 and immediately fell in love with the idea of it. This past fall semester I started looking into microfinance much more deeply and found out about Hope International at the Passion conference in January and was able to hear their president speak at a breakout session, which confirmed with everything in me that microfinance is what I wanted to pursue this summer. After talking with some people who work for the company I went online and applied for their internship program and got the job in April.

I am incredibly excited and nervous about this incredible opportunity that the Lord has graciously provided me. Excited because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, but nervous/anxious because I have never been in a foreign country for 3 months. But above it all I know that the Lord is going to be with me as I go and do his work and I cannot wait to get started!!!!

I leave for a week of training on May 19th in Pennsylvania where the country is headquartered and can't wait to spend a week learning before I head out for the Philippines on the 29th. There will be 20 interns total that I'll be meeting next week, 12 of them will be staying at the company's headquarters while 8 of us will be traveling to different countries all over the world. I am pumped about this incredible adventure and plan on updating the blog at least once a week. In the couple weeks leading up to my departure, I have been especially comforted by Jesus' words in Matthew 28 that know matter where I go or what I do, he will always be with me. What an amazing God...

In Christ,
Nathan Wood

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -Matthew 28:18-20