I’ve been existing on two different time zones, somewhat awake and aware, and the time on my clock represents the hour of the day in Laurel, Maryland and in Baguio, Philippines. It’s because my friends from the US have met up with my friends from the Philippines are now busily putting into action the plans we’ve been making and changing the past several months.
School visits. A hospital ward visit.
Prison visits. A medical outreach to a dump site community.
They’re all happening or about to happen.
Pasko Sa Hulyo is in motion.
And I’m living vicariously through my friends.
The Baguio leg is almost over. Interestingly, despite the explanation given that our team flew in from the US and would be leaving the next week, a request for another visit has come in from the principal of one of the schools. It is as if the explanation did not sink in, because they could not understand why anyone from the US (and others from different parts of the Philippines) would willingly go to their schools just to teach a class or two. What was the gain in that?
What the teachers saw was how the school children were blessed with laughter and lessons and gifts.
But perhaps what they did not see was how our team was blessed in return.
And what they received will last way longer than the bags of school supplies they gave away.
We often go on an outreach with the idea our going will mean an improvement in the life of our target community. And in some ways, that can be true.
But the reality is, it’s never a one way street.
We know that.
It still surprises us when it happens, though.
Our team went to one school bearing gifts for the students and teachers.
They were treated to a lunch spread that cost the principal and teachers more than it cost our team to be there.
Because of where it came from.
We bear gifts to help people in their poverty, but then the economy of heaven goes to work and the tables are turned. And we walk away feeling so much the richer in our spiritual poverty.
And gratitude is no mean outfit. Those who wear it are transformed into beauty, making an impact on those they interact with. Just ask one of our leaders…
Thinking it was important to apologize for not being able to provide snacks for the children in one of the schools, this leader apologized to the principal.
The principal replied, “Kahit isang lapis lang ang ibigay nyo, we will be very thankful dahil yung isang lapis na yan, you multiply that by 300… and that is not a small thing… we don’t know what was sacrificed for you to give us one pencil for all our pupils, but we know you sacrificed so we are very thankful.”
Roughly translated, the principal said even if we give only one pencil, they are thankful because one pencil multiplied by 300 is not a small thing.
Isang lapis. One pencil.
It opened doors of communication between people,
giving credibility to our message of love and hope.
I probably have over a hundred pencils lying around in my house.
Sometimes your negligent buying will bite you where it hurts.
Next week our team will be in Dagupan. What adventures will the prison cells and the garbage dump spin out for us? I’m excited to see.
“He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?”