Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can I get a Kayak Please!?!?!

Two words can describe the last week of my life... rainy and wet. I can now say that I fully appreciate and understand why the Filipinos describe the months of June-September as "the rainy season." You see, in America there are 4 different seasons, but in the Philippines there are only two... The rainy season and the dry season. Throughout the year, the temperature pretty much stays stagnate at 85 degrees and I am told that the only thing that changes, is the rain. During the rainy months, an average of around 35 cm/month of rain falls, but only around 5 cm/month fall in the dry months... crazy.

After the first 3 or 4 days of the rain, I finally started wondering if it was ever going to stop. I mean, I had experienced some rain and storms before (Hurricane Isabel for all you Richmonders), but rain for 4 straight days!!! That just doesn't happen in the "real" world. So finally gave up on the rain ever stopping and on Thursday afternoon, I went out to an office branch about 20 min away from my apartment because a Filipino friend of mine invited me to come play music with them. I had zero idea what that entailed.

When I get out to the branch it was not raining hard, and I found out that what playing music meant was that I was going to play in the drums for the worship band on Saturday and we were practicing that afternoon. Every Saturday CCT has what they call corporate worship for all the staff at a few different branches across their network. Its a time to come together every Saturday morning for worship, prayer, and teaching. I was super stoked about that because I haven't really played the drums in about 3 years and its something that I have missed. We had a great time practicing as I slowly got the feeling back in the wrists! But what I didn't notice during our practice was that the rain had turned into a torrential downpour for the last 2 to 3 hours.

When we finished practicing around 7, and then realized that the flood waters had begun to flow! The head of the office we were at informed the staff that the water was at about calf level in the street and no Jeepney's were available to get us back to the elevated train station I needed to get to. So after waiting about 45 minutes, rolling up my jeans past my knees, and borrowing some flip flops, opps... i mean slippers, we thought we were going to have to walk to the station... BUT at the last second, one of the CCT trucks showed up and he willingly drove me through the flooded streets to the station, along with around 10 workers from the branch.

After slowing driving through the smaller streets the truck emerged to the main road which was even more flooded than the smaller roads. Traffic was hardly moving at all and people were running every which was through about a foot of water on the sidewalk. Our expert driver delivered us right to the stairs going up to the train (henceforth to be called the LRT). Me and two other Filipino guys scurried inside the mall right next to the station and grabbed some delicious KFC for dinner. After that, we said our goodbyes and I headed up to the LRT.

The LRT station was completely packed with people because neither the Jeepney's nor the tricylces were not running. I pushed and pushed and finally got myself on the train with my face pressed up against the glass because we were so tightly packed (this is actually pretty common on the LRT, not just on rainy days). After a 5 min ride I got off at my stop, not quite sure what to expect. Keep in mind that the hurricane like rain was still coming down, the wind was blowing around 30 mph, I was wearing borrowed flip flops, and my computer and leather shoes were packed tightly into my backpack.

I walked down the stairs and found myself on the sidewalk in knee deep water!!! The entire street that my apartment complex is on was flooded up to my knees, which consequently means it was sadly up to many Filipino's waists. As I slowly began walking to the street corner that I had to cross, I began to ponder what would happen if I stepped on an uncovered man hole. Way #3 that I could die in the Philippines... fall into an uncovered manhole during a flood and drown to death (#1 was a car crash while riding a tricycle, #2 was being smashed to death by the Philippines excessively responsive elevator doors). As I crossed the intersection the water went considerably up my thighs right to the edge of the phone that was in my right pocket.

Probably the most humorous part of this evening for me was when the buses drove by the intersection. Because the water was so deep, whenever the bus would drive in the water a huge wave would make its way towards the sidewalks, followed by a REALLY loud scream from all the Filipino women. It was pretty hilarious considering the wave was like 5 inches high and the women were already soaking wet from the rain. I crossed the intersection with a Moses crossing the Red Sea esque confidence (it was basically this in downtown Manila), hopeful that the road to my apartment (about 2 blocks away) would somehow be less flooded. I was wrong.

My street was even more flooded! The entire road and sidewalk was well up to my jean pockets, but there were also a lot of stairs leading up to different stores and high rises, so using my expert navigating skills I was able to lower my risk of falling in an uncovered man hole. After about 10 min of walking 2 blocks down the road I successfully arrived at my apartment complex, victory!!! Of course, I was 30 min. late to a Skype I had set up with some of the other interns for HOPE in Pennsylvania and Ukraine. But after I told my epic Indiana Jones like story, they understood (I think).

The biggest surprise about the whole week of rain and floods was how quickly the rain subsided. The next morning there was no evidence that the street had been flooded more than 2 feet the night before. The rain finally stopped on Saturday and the sun felt oh so glorious. I will never, ever, ever again be upset because of hot weather.

The weekend as a whole was pretty relaxing. My world debut on the drums on Saturday was great fun and very refreshing. I forgot how much I loved playing with other musicians. I had another little brief cultural experience on Sunday afternoon. After going a catching a movie after church, I wandered past Rizal Park to see if anything was happening. Much to my surprise, around 40,000 people (I kid you not) were gathered at the park with music blaring and a huge stage was set up right in front of the statue of Lapu Lapu. It turns out that this enormous gathering was the 30th anniversary celebration of a Catholic organization called Couples for Christ. Different CFC groups from around the country all came together for a big celebration.

They were basically having this enormous parade that never ended! I literally went out of my way through the crowd and tried to find the end of the line/march/parade thingy and I could not find it. Crazy. But anyway, it was fun to be around that many people and to just sit and watch and listen. Love experiencing little Filipino events like that. And don't worry, I have pictures of the never ending line in all its glory.

Hope all is well back in the states. Everyone eat an extra hamburger for me on July 4th!!! (still haven't found a good one here) Me and my American friend are trying to find a grill so we can show the Filipinos some true America culture... Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, fireworks, and s'mores!!!

In Christ,

"When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" -Psalm 8:3-4

Monday, June 20, 2011

Jose Rizal Day!!!

I would like to officially wish all of you a happy Jose Rizal day. I mentioned the Filipino national hero in my last blog if you missed it. Today marks this young patriots 150th birthday. Because of this momentous occasion today was a national holiday here in the Philippines, so most of the work force (including me!) enjoyed a very lovely albeit rainy day off (it has rained for 3 straight days!!!). I am beginning to understand why they refer to the summer as the rainy season. I spent the day going to another great 50 cent movie and walking around Rizal park. I was fully anticipating there being at least 100,000 people at this park, but was sadly disappointed. It looks as though the monsoon scared everyone away. Nonetheless, I celebrated Jose Rizal day at Rizal park like a good little Filipino tourist! If you are too lazy to look at my last blog post to find out about Jose Rizal just check here. It will fill you in plenty. He's a pretty amazing guy actually.

Not much has happened the past week or so here in the Philippines. I've begun work on the two savings groups I will be starting and hope to introduce them later this week and officially begin the saving early next week. The past couple days have been filled with rain, so there haven't been any crazy adventures, but I thought I'd share with all of you a few more cultural nuggets I've discovered this past week.

Filipino Culture difference number: (you can find the other's in previous blogs fyi)

10. When Filipinos refer to "slippers" they mean flip flops. This really confused me the first time a guy at the office who I went to play basketball with asked me if I could borrow some slippers. So if you are ever in the Philippines, remember slippers=flip flops.

11. The drink sizes here continue to frustrate me! The average size of a Filipino drink at a typical food joint I would say is around kiddie size in America. The "larges" here correlate to around a typical small in America. This is rather annoying when all I want is a huge glass of water and it is around 100 degrees outside with 90 percent humidity. I miss America drink sizes :(

12. At the Filipino fast food places, you do not throw away your own trash. I actually love this feature of the Philippines, but I don't think I will ever ever ever ever ever get used to it!! It is the strangest feeling in the world to just get up and leave a McDonald's tray at the table. I feel like I'm committing a crime or something! Seriously, next time you eat at Chick-fil-a try standing up and just leaving you trash there. Even if you know a paid employee will pick it up behind you, it still just feels wrong, like its un-America or something...

13. Me and Charlie (the other American here) have decided that the American haircut industry is the biggest ripped off product in the World!!! Two days ago I got the best haircut of my life (yes, I am aware that I don't have much hair to cut, nevertheless!) for only $1!!! Like seriously!!! It would have cost at least $15 in America. I think we should launch an investigation into the legitimacy of America haircut places. Something smells fishy.

14. They show the previews at movie theaters before the advertised movie time here!!! I am completely convinced that this needs to be implemented in America today. Because if you're like me, you enjoy previews, but I also enjoy the movie starting on time. Obama should make this happen.

I hope everyone enjoys Jose Rizal day!!!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Americano, Americano!!!

"It sounds like you will at least become a better dodgeball player 'If you can dodge a car, you can dodge a ball.'"- Phillip Chesney upon reading my latest blog post. For you old people out there, that is a quote from a movie called dodgeball that everyone under the age of 40 has probably seen.

I busted out laughing at the office when I read this and thought you all would enjoy it too. Thanks for the laugh Phil.

Oh and here is a picture from the basketball court I played at last week (please take notice of the cars and bikes on the court). I finally got some good Internet going, probably won't last too long though... I apologize for the poor picture quality. I really didn't want to whip out my nice digital camera while being the only American in a poor area of a country I had only been in for 3 days...

This past week has been a much more business oriented week than a culture experiencing week. Last Tuesday, me, 2 guys who flew in from India, 3 CCT women from different branches, and one Filipino man from the CCT head office went out to the mountains to a beautiful retreat center that CCT is building. It was located in a town called Tagatay, which is of course infamous for housing the world's smallest volcano. When we first arrived in Tagatay we went to this great restaurant that overlooked the volcano and the huge lake that it sits on. I later learned that you used to be able to rise horses around the rim of this volcano, but it recently became reactive!!!

At this retreat center we underwent 3 days of trainings to learn how to implement what the microfinance world calls Savings and Credit Associations (SCAs). At the most basic level, an SCA is a group of really poor people (People who are too poor to qualify for regular microfinance) who come together (usually through the church) and decide they would like to save their money together. Typically they are started by what are called facilitators, who come in and teach the group members how to start a group. There are a number of different forms of SCAs including Rotating Savings Groups (ROSCAs), Accumulated Savings Groups (ASCAs), or a straight savings groups.

Most anyone within the microfinance industry would tell you that the biggest issue for people breaking the never ending cycle of poverty is no access to simple banking services such as savings accounts. Even the poorest of the poor want to save and have the ability to save small amounts of money, but they don't have access to banking services because the amount of their savings is too small for commercial banks to service the poor. So, what ROSCA's and straight savings groups do is allows for groups of 15-25 people to pool their money together and commit to saving a certain amount of money every week for a certain period of time (usually about a year) for a specific reason or purpose (typically paying for their children's education). Having access to a small lump sum of money is huge for these people. It allows them to pay for medicine if their child gets sick, pay for school fees they wouldn't be able to afford otherwise, and helps them invest sufficient capital into their business in order to advance their business.

Now ASCA's are even better because with an ASCA the group members also have the ability to lend to one another. Without getting too technical, basically the members of the ASCAs write an extensive contract committing to saving a certain amount per week. From this pool of money, loans can then be taken out by the group members with a small interest rate of course. This type of group allows the poorest of the poor to have access to loans that they could never have dreamed of receiving in the past.

So basically for 3 days we learned all about these groups, how to start them, and how to facilitate the groups ourselves. These mountain were unbelievably gorgeous and we got to visit the highest point in the Philippines while we were there. Here's a picture of the training crew at the top, where you could literally see 360 degrees of almost the entire island.

So after that weekend we all came back to Manila. We haven't done anything terribly exciting the past couple days, expect we did get to visit the oldest fort in the Philippines and in the process learned all about the Philippines national hero Jose Rizal. This guy was basically the Thomas Jefferson of the Philippines (if Thomas Jefferson was executed by the British) in that he was an incredibly gifted writer whose writings led to the uprising of the Filipinos against the Spanish, who had colonized the Philippines since the 1500s. Because of his writings, which called for Filipinos to rise up and take back their country, the Spanish imprisoned and executed him 2 years before the Philippines officially declared independence from Spain. Pretty intense. His 150th birthday is coming up this Sunday and they are declaring a national holiday on that Monday. He's pretty beloved here to say the least.

Along with our history lessons this week, I have also had several meetings with my supervisors about the work I will be doing the rest of the summer. Essentially I am going to be overseeing 3 different branch's savings groups as they begin this month. I will actually be leading and starting 1 of the branches, while just overseeing the other 2. Its going to be a lot of work and traveling back and forth between the branches, but I'm really pumped to get started. 2 of the 3 branches are going to be starting savings groups for elementary and middle school children. This way we can instill in them savings skills and attitudes starting at a young age.

The other exciting thing that happened this week was the other American who now works in the CCT office and lives right next to me! He is a graduate student from Columbia University named Charlie and more than anything he is American! The fact that there is now someone else here just to relate a little more too has been a huge blessing from Jesus, even in these short few days he has been here.

And I'd like to make a quick shout out to my little sister, Maddie Wood, who will be graduating from high school tomorrow and then joining me at Clemson in the fall. So pumped for her!!! Sorry I can't be there sis, I'll be there in spirit.

Thanks for reading about my life, hope its interesting!


"If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." -Isaiah 58:9-10

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Killing Magellon

Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I wrote this post about 3 days ago, but for a couple different reasons (mainly the internet in this country is terrible!!!) haven't been able to post it yet. Enjoy!

I have officially survived my first week in the Philippines!!! I am now starting to adjust to the culture and am beginning to love it. Which is a good sign because for the first few days I was fairly terrified to say the least. I still haven't settled into a set schedule or routine because I'm leaving for a 4 day SCA (Savings and Credit Association) training on Tuesday for a few days. A couple of Hope International workers are flying into the Philippines and we are going to some sort of CCT (Hope's partner organization that I am working for) retreat center for a few days. After this training I should be settling into more of a set schedule and should begin some kind of work that I am itching to get started on.

For those of you who are itching to know, basketball last week was quite the experience to say the least. We took about a 30 minute Jeepney ride to a pretty poor area of town (There were around 7 CCT employees with me). In the middle of this neighborhood was what looked like a government sanctioned basketball court. In other words, this basketball court was straight out of NBA Street for all you video gamers out there. There was about 2 feet between the sidelines and the concret houses that lined the court. But the houses weren't the main thing constricting the court. All around the court sat motorcycles, cars, and motorcycle rickshaws (which I'll talk more about later) which the men use during the day as transportation to make some money. So if a ball went flying out of bounds, you had to avoid all the different modes of transportation as well as the 150 or so people who were lining the courts to watch.

However... that is not what made the court so ridiculous. What made this court so crazy was the fact that the court was not just a basketball court, it also served as the main road intersection for the neighborhood. So while we were playing, we would have to stop every minute or two to wait for a car or motorcyle to pass through. One of the roads went along the baseline, while the other road went all the way across on one of the sidelines. It was truly unbelievable. The other internsting thing about Filipino basketball is that there is always a wager on the game. Money is always invovled, no matter how poor the people are. Our particular game had a 500 Peso bet (around 12 dollars). We won, which meant that I got to take home a whopping $1.50!!! My first Filipino basketball experience was wild to say the least, but I loved every second of it.

After the game, literally every single kid watching the game came running over the me, the "Americana", and started asking me all these crazy questions. They all really wanted me to dunk, but I had to disappoint them, because unfortunately I can't dunk. I think I broke a few kids hearts that night :(

The rest of my week was spent going to one of the branch offices in a little province of Manile called Intramuros. This province was one of the first places the Spanish settled in the 1500s and contains the oldest Cathedral in the Philippines (around 500 years old). I went with a girl from the main office named Keren on both mornings and we went early for staff devotions. After worship, prayer, and reading the word we took what I consider the most dangerous mode of transportation on the planet over to some of the client meetings.

This hazardous mode of transportation I am referring to is the lovely motorcycle rickshaw. Think back to WWII motorcycles you see in old movies with the passenger seat attached to the motorcycle. There is one main difference. The passengers in the Philippines are completely boxed in by a big metal box. So essentially, 4 of us crammed on the back of this motorcycle and into the "box of death" as I am beginning to refer to it and await certain death. Since we are really heavy for 1 motorcycle to carry us, cars, taxis, and buses go whizzing by us like we are sitting still. I had the following order of thoughts on our first journey in the box of death. "Wow, we are going really slow right now." "Wonder what would happen if one of those cars hit us?" "I wonder if our driver is paying attention to all these cars around us?" "Let me check." "Oh good, he is listening to his ipod while driving and can't hear any of the traffic around him." "I now know how I am going to die..."

Once we survived this trip we got to sit in on what Hope International calls client meetings. These are once a week meetings with all the loan clients of a particular neighborhood where they gather together for what they call the 5 Ws: Welcome, Worship, Word, Work, Wrap-up. These meetings are mandatory for all loan clients of CCT and Hope around the world. This way, the loan officers can easily monitor clients and ensure that their clients are hearing about Jesus at every meeting. Someone does not have to be a Christian in order to become a client of CCT, however it is the explicit goal of both CCT and Hope International to tell all their clients about Jesus and ensure that the kingdom is growing.

Following the meetings on both days, I was able to walk around some of the neighborhoods and interview two of the loan clients. I have sent these interviews back to Hope so their marketing team can use them to spread the message about the work Hope and Hope's partners are doing around the world. The first woman I interviewed was a woman who owned a soda selling business. Out of her home she used to sell around 200 sodas a day, not a terrible living, just enough to feed her family every day. But after taking out around 15 loans with CCT, she now sells over 4800 sodas every day, has hired 3 full time workers, bought a new house, and can afford to send her two sons to a very good school. In the process of working with CCT, she has come to know the Lord much more fully and said herself that God has changed her family's lives through the loans and spiritual discipleship she has received from CCT. In her own words, "The neighbors now notice something very different about my family." It has been incredible just to see how these loans are actually changing people's lives. No words to truly descibe the feeling.

On a slightly different note, I was able to attend my first Filipino wedding this past Saturday. The wedding was between two people who work for CCT. One of them is actually my boss who I didn't meet until after the ceremony, haha. One of the older women in the office found out that I had never been to a Filipino wedding before and made it her mission to get me an invitation. I found out later that this wasn't that big of a deal because Filipinos typically send out their invitations only 10 days in advance. So Saturday morning I woke up super early and rode about 45 minutes to the outskirts of Manila where the ceremony was being held. The ceremony was great and a lot like an American wedding, although quite a bit longer.

After my wedding experience, I went to my first Filipino megachurch, called Cathedrals of Praise. It was a massive auditorium which was unlike any other chruch auditorium I had ever seen. The main stage was an octogon in the middle of what was basically a stadium of seats. The worship was great and contained no less than a 200 person choir, a full rock band, and at least 50 dancers scattered across the auditorium. It was loud, passionate, and most importantly all in English, praise the Lord!! The pastor was an American man who started the church in 1980. It was a little difficult to figure out exactly what the church was all about given some of the natural cultural barriers, but I am still excited about attending next week.

After church, a few of the people I had gone to church with went to the local mall to grab some food and catch a move. Movies here only cost 125 pesos ($3.50), but we went to the 25 peso movie, The Warrior's Way. Which was actually pretty good considering the price we paid (50 cents).

Following the movie we headed to a huge park for about an hour, where there was a 100 foot statue of a man named Lapu-Lapu who is a national hero of the Philippines. Evidently he is the man who killed Ferdinand Magellon in the 1500s when Spain was fighting to take over the Philippines. Everyone loves him and his statue makes him look pretyt fierce to say the least. I wouldn't want to get in a sword fight with him.

So all in all, this has been a pretty challenging week for me. I guess that comes with being in a completely different culture you have never experienced before, especially when you don't have someone to laugh with you at the crazy drivers, or the way elevators are over here. Which reminds me!!!

Filipino cultural difference #8 and #9

8. The "Close Door" button on the elevators here are incredibly responsive. Like, too responsive. I personally have been smashed by the elevators doors multiple times since arriving here and witnessed countless others undergo similar fates. This may become the #2 way that I envision myself getting horribly injured while I'm over here, getting smashed by an elevator door.

9. The Filipinos have a fascination with techno music. I don't really understand this one yet, but in most of the fast food places I go there is techno music playing. It is starting to get really annoying.

If I had to summarize what the Lord has been teaching me so far, it is patience and absolute reliance on him. I am finding that I am way too reliant on the comforts America's culture provides me. It is my prayer that the Lord can continue to grow me and humble me which he is obviously doing so far.

It is my prayer today that the Lord would reveal himself to each of you in an extremely powerful way, much like how he is showing himself to me here in Manila.

"But let all who take refuge in you be glad; Let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you." Psalm 5:11

In Christ,

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chicken, chicken, and more chicken

So I have now successfully survived my first 3 full days in Manila, and I couldn't be more thrilled about that fact. My first two days were pretty uneventful as all I did was move into my apartment, struggle to find the Internet, and learn to navigate the crazy public transportation system known as the "Jeepneys".

A "Jeepney" is a short, and long (think wiener dogish) jeep like vehicle that pack the streets of the Philippines and drive up and down certain streets. I haven't taken a single picture since I've been here, because I am living and working in a very non-touristy area, so I don't want to look like a tourist so that nobody robs me. But I have three months to take plenty of pictures so don't worry. However, fear not!!! Because google can provide you all with the visual representation of "jeepney" that my camera skills have failed to provide.

With all that said, there have been a few cultural differences about the Philippines that I though some of you might enjoy...

1. All these people do is eat chicken, like for real. Right now I am in a starbucks writing this post and across the street are 3 different fast food fried chicken places. Jollibee (the McDonlalds of the Philippines), Inasal (great grilled chicken), and Kenny Rogers. I think this country dreams about chicken.

2. They eat every single meal with a fork and spoon. I have yet to see a knife in the country and on top of this, they never ever touch their food. Which if you have ever tried to eat fried chicken with just a fork and spoon, you would understand my frustration!!!

3. Filipinos are the craziest drivers in the world. I have been to Shanghai and Beijing, where the driving is infamously crazy, but the Chinese have absolutely nothing on the Filipinos. There are pretty much, no traffic laws here and the thousands of "Jeepneys", cars, and buses just constantly weave in and out of each other like chickens with their heads cut off!!! (Pun very much intended)

4. Everyone I meet wants to know which state I'm from. I'm not really sure, why because I have yet to meet anyone that has heard of Virginia or South Carolina. They pretty much only know California and the names of the NBA teams. They can literally name ever NBA team and ask if I am close to any of them

5. On that note, basketball/Lebron James owns this city. Every single person I've talked to about the NBA (approx. 8 guys) have said that their favorite team is the Miami Heat. I usually go on and ask them who their 3 favorite players on that team are, and they always answer, "Lebron James. I don't know anyone else." I'm not sure how Lebron got so much more famous over here then any other player, but props to him. He's the most famous person here.

6. The men love rubbing their bellies. Still haven't figured this one out.

7. I am an absolute giant here. I mean like I have yet to see a Filipino man even close to my height!!! The closest I've seen is maybe 5' 10". On the subway earlier, I literally could see over ever single person on the train, and it was packed!!! This should bode well for my basketball prospects here.

That's about the major ones I can think of right now. I'll be sure to keep a tally going this whole summer of random/humorous cultural differences throughout my blog.

So anyway, on to the awesome adventure I had this morning...

So this whole week a guy named Allen who works for the company I am working for (CCT), have been basically in charge of helping me get around and showing me the company offices and making sure that I have everything I need. This morning he picked my up from my apartment complex (at 35 story massive building that I'm on the 34th floor of) and we went to what CCT calls its "Kaibigan" (or streetdweller) ministry. For those of you that understand the complexities of microfinance, you know that it can only reach the people who are just above the bottom of the poverty pyramid. Microfinance is completely useless for the poorest of the poor, or as Filipinos call them, streetdwellers.

What CCT has done is created a ministry that focuses exclusively on reaching these streedweller and I got to visit a halfway house for these streetdwellers. CCT has set up multiple compounds for these men and women to stay in order to effectively move them from the streets into a normal and functioning life. They provide housing and work for these former streetdwellers. They are in turn paid for this work, and are in charge of buying the food that CCT provides. They can then being saving some money and then graduate from the program. Many of them end up graduating and working for the program. I was with 4 such men today.

So we arrived at the complex at 6:30 am, but due to my jet lag, I still got 10 hours of sleep and had an hour long quiet time... haha. Got there in time to have the devotion, which included worship, prayer, and a few people sharing how they met the Lord and he got them off the streets. All in perfect Tagalog, so I didn't understand much, although I'm picking up on a few words because it does contain a little Spanish. I then toured the place and got to sit and talk with quite a few of the workers and see how exactly they operate.

They then fed everyone breakfast, which was the usual rice (every single meal here!!!) as well as scrambled eggs and an entire fish (the kind with the head attached an everything). I told the guys that my mom would freak out if we put that plate in front of her. We then talked to a few more people before 5 of us took a 90 min Jeepney ride over to the other side of the city to do their daily streetdweller feeding. They provide lunch one day a week to a different group of street dwellers everyday.

The men started by writing down every single man, women, and child's name who was there taking the food. They then preceded to preach the gospel (again in Tagalog unfortunately), which Allen told me focused on telling them to not just sing praises to CCT or sing songs to God, but to live a life of praise. They also told of their personal testimonies (4 of them had been former streetdwellers as well) and how they too could escape their current life if they work hard and put their faith in Jesus. I don't think the people responded too well considering. But I have faith that the holy spirit will move through them when the time is right.

After providing the people lunch (chicken and rice of course!!!) we headed our separate ways for the day. That's all I got, for today. I'm heading out now to play some basketball with some of the CCT employees. They already told me that I'll be playing center, so we'll see how I hold up. I hope life finds you all well. I miss all of you so much, even now because I am literally the only non-Filipino I have seen and have begun to think that I may be very lonely at times this summer. But knowing I have such an amazing family and friends comforts me so much.

"3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me."- Philippians 1:3-7

I truly feel those verses toward all of you reading this. Please pray for CCT and the Filipino people as I saw first hand today their desperate need for Jesus... in spirit and in truth.

- Nathan