The First Day Here

Today was the true beginning of the “missions” part of this missions trip.

We were treated to a delicious breakfast of biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs and we planned the day. We had a Masai village to drive to, an English class to prepare for, and a sewing class to organize. Mixed in throughout that where was obviously time that would be spent with the kids in Neema Village. Each of the team members is assigned a few kids that they are encouraged to read to during the day whenever they can. We each have three kids, and the like to read and they I think many kids switched back and forth between people once a book was finished. They really like to be with people who want to play and read to them.

 

About half of the group left at 9 am and went to the Masai village to pick up one of the kids who went home for Christmas, Joshua, and his stepmother so she could attend the sewing class that would be put on by Krista.

 

 

While they were on their way to the village, the rest of us went into Arusha to exchange some money for trips to the market and villages. 10,000 Tanzanian shillings is about $5 and the largest bill that they have is 10,000 shillings so our stacks of money grew with the exchange.

Next were the afternoon classes. Debbie had to get her curriculum organized and Krista her sewing supplies ready. There were about 20-25 women that came in to learn English or to learn to sew using the machines that Neema has on site. They began with singing a couple of worship songs and then split for the different classes. There will be more classes tomorrow afternoon and then next week.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent with kids playing and reading. It has been really fun to get to know the kids and play. There are babies, toddlers, and the Montana Kids. The “Montana Kids” are the kids that are a little older and that are still left here by their families but are not able to be adopted because the families won’t sign off on the adoption rights even though they do not have the means to support them. So Neema provides a good place for them to be a kid and learn.

After some dinner prepared for us with some veggies that were grown here at the village, we began to wind down for the evening. Some gifts for the staff of Neema Village were put together for tomorrow and we got ready for bed.

So far so good! And we are all looking forward to the upcoming days!

 

 

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54 Hours later….

We made it!

 

It wasn’t the original planned time to get here, but we made it without any real problems that put the trip in jeopardy.

 

A quick update on the travel days…..

 

On the 30th we all met at the airport at 9 to get checked in. Each person had two bags to check with supplies that weighed about 50 pounds. Luckily the check in process was pretty easy and the bags were checked all the way through so we didn’t have to lug them around anywhere else.

 

We weren’t even sure if we were going to get out of Billings with all of the snow that was coming down, low visibility, and freezing temperature. There was an earlier scheduled flight that had to be de-iced twice and then refueled after the extended ground time. But, it cleared up and we made it out in time! Our plane had come in from Salt Lake and so didn’t require any de-icing which sped things up. We made it to Salt Lake City not too much longer after our scheduled time.

 

Salt Lake City proved to be our setback. There was a mechanical issue with the original plane so they had to bring in a different one. We went from a short layover that we were concerned about to a 3 hour layover with plenty of time to stretch and wander the airport for food and drinks. We knew we would be cutting it close to make our connection to Kilimanjaro in Amsterdam if we made it all. We would just have to wait and see. We boarded the flight early but didn’t take off until after the updated scheduled time, so we were just hoping that they might hold the connecting flight since there were so many of us. The 9 ½ hour flight wasn’t too bad. With movies to watch, it helps. The Aurora made an appearance out the left side windows as we were over eastern Canada so that was a great surprise.

 

We made it to Amsterdam and once in the terminal found out that we had missed the flight. KLM put us into a hotel (actually 2 hotels that we didn’t find out until we tried to all fit in the shuttle) and gave us our boarding passes for the next morning’s flight out. Our checked bags were kept at the airport thankfully, so we only had to worry about our carry-on items. Good for most, but bad for people who had packed their clothes into extra checked space.

 

So with the team split up, we settled into our hotels for the rest of the day and night. We had free lunch, dinner, and breakfast lined up so we were set. With time to kill in Amsterdam for New Years Eve, a small group of us decided to venture into the Van Gogh museum in the city. It was a fun bonus trip within our travel to Arusha. It was a rainy night so we wandered the area close to museum after making our visit and then went back to the hotel.

 

For our flight out of Amsterdam, we already had our boarding passes which made our trip through security much speedier. The flight from Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro was great and just a little shorter than the flight from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam at 8 hours.

We met Rebecca and Michael at the airport and then loaded up on the bus for the drive to Neema Village. It took about an hour to get here from the airport. We are all located in the volunteer house. It’s a pretty nice place with a common area in the middle and rooms surrounding it on three sides. There is a kitchen and dining area right here. We are all settled and about ready for bed. It’s 1:30 am January 2 right now, 10 hours ahead of Billings, and we have breakfast scheduled for 8 am. Since we missed a day, we are jumping right in so I need sleep! We are all looking forward to the next 2 weeks and can’t wait to meet all the kids!

 

Goodnight!

Medical Outreach Day 2

 

Our last day of ministry in the Philippines is over.

It was a good day to end with as well. We spent another 8 hours providing medical care, medicine, prayer, and gifts for families in the Smokey Mountain area.We worked hard but it was one of those days that even though you are exhausted by the end it felt like only a couple of hours.

During the two medical days, we saw mostly mother’s and their children. It is sometimes rough. It will humble you to see mothers with 5 young children come to you with so much need but everyone is still showing a smile and good attitude. Sometimes we can’t give them all of what they need with our small and limited supply, and the encouragement to really go to the clinic or hospital doesn’t seem like enough to actually push them there. Something like this free checkup and small dose of medicine may really make a difference for their lives, at least for a little bit.

I think it’s important to focus on their happiness and their gratefulness in all situations. It’s also a testament to their immune system. Kids play in streets covered with with trash and the rain water oozes down the avenues but children still run and mother’s watch and supervise. Some kids have only a shirt on. Some kids have nothing but innocence that covers their own eyes of their nakedness. Or maybe it’s ignorance. Maybe it’s normal life. With some clothes that are close enough to fit from us, we can help dress them up for parents to be proud.

We did our best and we did what we could to help out YWAM Balut and the Filipinos of Smokey Mountain. It is a week to remember and hopefully repeat sometime soon.

It’s exciting to accomplish our goals for the trip, but it is also sad. On trips like this I think a change of mindset is inescapable. At least if you are engaging with the people and culture and really working to help them, not just observe them. Engaging with the people and familiarizing yourself with the culture will really show you who you are with and what they need, why they need, and how effective you truly were with your objectives. Curious how helping others helps you. And with that realization you understand that even though you want to get home, you will reminisce about all that was. And I think that’s where the real work gets done. No, at home you are no longer with the people working and physically helping them, but in that missing or remembering we can grow that connection with the grungy streets that you walked (or rode) through and the desire to return and help again one day pulls you back in. Absence may make the heart grow fonder even in less cliché situations.

One time is fun and helpful, but many can truly make a difference.

We have built relationships with YWAM and people in this area, and that is why we return. In those relationships we can see real differences being made. The team here is family and so are the students we sponsor in a way. The Kingdom moves with all of us working together. Our nation or language doesn’t matter or hinder it, and so we keep moving and doing.

Medical Outreach Day 1

Today was the first Medical Outreach.

We were able to help a lot of people and we worked hard for 8 hours. It is safe to say that we are all exhausted but ready for day 2.

In the evening, sponsored kids in elementary school and high school put on a program for us to say Thank You. It was really fun to see what they had prepared and see their skills and excitement.

It’s been a long day and internet will be gone soon so I’ll keep this brief. We need rest for tomorrow.

 

Back in Manila

After a break from the big city in Olongapo, we are back at it again in the capital.

We began the day by preparing for the medical outreaches that we will be doing tomorrow and Friday from 9 am to 3 pm. With our team that has medical background (Heidi, Connie, Pam) and the doctor that just arrived (Mark Schulke), we are hoping to serve 150+ people each day. Those of us that are not from the medical field will participate in evangelism, drug administration (instructed by the pros), passing out eyeglasses and praying. We have a good amount of medical supplies and they will be put to good use tomorrow.

In the middle of the preparation, the “other” team arrived at the YWAM base to see the area and ministries. It was fun to see familiar faces from home in a completely different context. We are all looking forward to their report when they have seen it all.

In the afternoon we had the chance to visit families in the area. Many families that we visited have students that Word of Life sponsors. It is sobering to see the homes that the kids come from and to get a better understanding of where they come from and what their life is like. It is still impressive to see their full, happy life in the midst of areas that anyone from home would find absolutely unlivable. They live and they excel. At one home on top of Smokey Mountain (yes, homes on top of a giant pile of trash-turned-compost-heap) the children wanted to play and have their picture taken the entire time. It was raining but it didn’t matter. New people were here. New friends with cameras to play and talk to. We were there for their entertainment. Anyone new that arrived was herded by a little boy for a picture and then shown the picture on the camera and then it was running and teasing all over again.

Perspective. That’s what it comes to. Maybe being a child without an cares to. They are kids that are playing happily in what they know as home. Their families are doing their best, and a great job, in this part of the world with what they have been given. Thinking from our perspective we may expect some embarrassment or shame, but they show none. To be happy like them in their situation challenges us to be content and grateful for what we have. Maybe we realize we could do with less. Pray for parents. Pray for families. Pray for provision (maybe donate to YWAM Balut….) so they can provide without worry and their children can continue to be children and play at home in the rain.

Good night.