December 2, 2015, Dusseldorf Airport – the day my ten month trip to the southern islands of the Philippines started. At that time, I did not know exactly what to expect. Mission, church planting, that’s it. And now the time has already passed, a lot faster than I thought!
In the Philippines I spent most of my time with an indigenous people group. They live in the mountains, with a few on the coast, in relatively simple circumstances. Most of them are farmers to feed their families. They quickly climb the coconut trees, cross rivers using bamboo trees on which even a bike can be transported! Even a snake is not a big problem! A bigger challenge in the local area, however, is the fighting between rebel groups and soldiers or revenge killings among the various tribes. Nevertheless, the people in the Philippines are incredibly warm, cheerful, creative and even if they don´t have much to give they often give the best. Relationships and having time for other people is more important in this people group’s culture.
There are primary schools in some places but if the children want to go to a secondary school most of them have to leave their families and live in dormitories. Some were built by the missionaries and pastors of the local indigenous church. Most of my time I spent in these dormitories. I held devotions, taught English, danced with the students, prepared games and had a very blessed community with the students. It is amazing that most of the students can speak four languages!
Overall, my time in the Philippines was incredibly rewarding and I learned so much. Especially about my own identity, when much of what I have been done before is no longer as possible in the new environment. So I learned more about God’s incredible love for us and what it means to be a child of God. Again and again I was allowed to learn how different from our ideas God is. Often He is much more human than we expect and He is so close to us.
I also learnt what it means to travel a lot, being flexible and not having a real home. Epecially at the end of my time in the Philippines when I had to leave a dormitory early because of a war between three tribes.
How good to know that our life is in God’s hands. And even if we do not understand anything we can trust Him- He will never let us fall when we look at Him. God gave me such a great love for these people and I am so thankful for the time I could spend with them. If we trust God and go with Him He will bless us and even if things don’t always work in the way we expect, we can be sure that even this is in God’s hands. God wants to use us to reach the people and His ways are the best!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3,5-6
Written by Julia – A Serve Asia short term worker