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.