Saturday, February 16, 2008

Magandang Umaga (Good Morning)!!!

We've only been here 3 days but are already adapting nicely. We arrived to an EMPTY apartment but fixed that ASAP. This will be our 4th time moving together in 1.5 years and we are beginning to think we're professionals. We purchased a bed, bedding, dish soap, towels, and bathroom organizer. And 2 days later – dishes, cookware, A FAN, dish drier (no dishwasher), a squeegee (no shower curtain and that's how you clean the tile here), signed up for jugs of purified water, cell phones (sorry local plan only), more bedding, a refrigerator, towel racks, groceries (someone here is always hungry - Andy), brooms and ant chalk (to keep out ants and cockroaches).

Our apartment is really nice and in a nice part of the city. It's about a block from the ministry office, so it's really convenient. It's also a quick 'trike' (a motorcycle with a little cab attached to the side that just fits both of us) ride away from a huge grocery store called the 'Cash and Carry.' It's right across the street from a karaoke bar. Our first night here was Fat Tuesday and it was wild. We were exhausted and we just got our bed delivered and were starting to lie down at about 10pm. We turned off the lights and said a collective 'ahhh' when across the street blasts the theme song from Top Gun. It's funny now, but it was miserable that night, they rocked out to all the classics until the wee hours of the morning…it's ok we're resourceful and moved our bed into our kitchen.

Last night we ventured to the Cash and Carry again. We love it as it reminds somewhat of home. First it's air-conditioned and has a few of our favorite! Frozen tortillas we a god send (however, we have nothing to heat them in yet), ice cream and chips and salsa (even Tostidos brand).

Since we've been here we've had orientation, a prayer vigil, Mercy Ministry and Batang Krayola (children learning thru cloring with crayons). Mercy Ministry is on Wednesdays and is for the "Rugby boys". Rugby is the type of glue the kids sniff to get high to escape from their current lives and take away their hunger pains. It is fairly common here as it is cheap and legal to buy. Most Rugby boys live under a big bridge and find ways to make money (i.e. make a small wooden bridge for people to cross wet areas and charge a peso = 1/40th of a dollar). After mercy ministry (hanging out with the boys and making them lunch) we went to find a little boy Anjon (about 3 years old) who we heard was in the hospital with HEPA (hepatitis A). We went to his home to look for his family. I wish we would have taken a photo, but felt too badly. The conditions we the worst I've ever seen. Urination and human feces everywhere, a strung piece a cloth that makes a hammock for the baby. We couldn't find the family as they were at the public hospital (public hospitals typically do not give care – only private that require payment do). We found some "Rugby boys" in the neighborhood. They were again finding creative ways to make money. However this was tough one to see… An abandoned factory dumped all their waste on the side of the road (where Anjon lives). I thought it was a trash dump – apparently those are significantly larger. The boys were digging through the trash to find metals that they could turn into the "junk shop" for pesos (1 kilo of rusty old metal = 12 pesos and 40 pesos = $1.00). The encouraging part is that many of them are saving this earned money for a trip put on by youth mobilization to take the boys on overnight sports trips instead of spending the money on Rugby glue.

Overall the work of God is VERY prevalent here. The inspiring stories of the Filipino missionaries are overwhelming. People rising out of poverty and raising enough pesos to serve the world is incredible to see. A lot of our teammates come from squatter areas (people who never really have homes – they find an area to create a shack in the middle of the city and are required to move at any given notice. All the squatter areas we've seen so far house hundreds of people in terrible conditions. The Lord is enabling miraculous programs, testimonies and transformations here. We're blessed to be a part of it!

We attached a few photos of the Mercy ministry (a boy with a pile of metals and digging at the abandoned factory), a photo of the fish farms from the air plane, and our apartment. We added a brief video of the city to youtube titled 'Traffic in Manila, Philippines' and 'Riding in Trike with Groceries' under people and blogs. We also posted this on our blog to keep it updated for everyone. Please forward this message on to anyone we may have missed.

We miss you all! Thanks for your prayers!