It’s been a while!

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted a blog, so I’m going to separate my experiences into three separate posts. That way it’s easier to read.

My first two weeks in the Philippines were difficult. Mostly because it took the entire two weeks just to get over the jet lag. My fellow YAVs and I were dead on our feet by 7pm, only to wake up at 3am and not go back to sleep. Towards the end of the first week, we could barely stay up until 9:30pm! Luckily that is not the case now.

We were in Manila for our first week in the Philippines and it was just like any other major city. There was a ton of traffic at all times of the day and night, so much pollution that it was common to see people wearing breathing masks. Of course, rush hour was a nightmare. We spent the first few days learning about the history of the Philippines and visiting major landmarks around the city.

It was surprising to see how influential other countries were and still are on the history and life of the Philippines and its people. The two major influences are the Spanish influence and the U.S. influence – it’s a bit extreme. Although, food-wise, I’ll have to give it to the Chinese; they introduced rice to the Filipino people. I’m told that it’s not a meal if there is no rice; it’s only a snack. I’ve concluded that according to that belief, I only have a meal a few times a year!

After Manila, we traveled to another island to a city called Dumaguete for a little bit of relaxation and fun. It’s very much a college town. In fact, there are about four major colleges in the area, meaning there are a lot of young adults in the area. The traffic isn’t so bad, but that’s mostly because it’s more affordable and convenient to travel by motorbike. It’s also a very affordable city for foreigners, meaning there are a lot of retirement age people in this college town. Overall, it’s a very lovely city, right on the water.

Some of you may have heard about the bombing in Davao, Philippines. If you haven’t, now you have. It was a very tragic happening that affected the entire nation. Security was increased, literally everywhere, events and flights were cancelled – it was pretty bad. Davao was where I was originally supposed to serve my year, however since the bombing, I have been relocated to Dumaguete. I’ll say much more about the city and what I will be doing here in my third blog post.

That concludes the first blog post. I will have the second up very soon. Thank you for being patient with me!

I’m Here!!!!!!

After 30+ hours of traveling, I am finally at my final destination: The Philippines! It’s only been one week since I left home, but within that time so much has occurred. During the week between my leaving home and my arriving in the Philippines, I have learned so much at what is lovingly called “Dis-Orientation.” The first two days of disorientation were all about racism and white supremacy. It got uncomfortable, confusing, frustrating, depressing, and so much more. My biggest frustration was that I sat in a room for 18+ hours talking about a problem that I had no idea how to fix. There is no simple equation to solving the world’s problem of white supremacy; it is so complex and involves so many parts – one person can’t solve it. I may write another blog post about that talk because I wont do it justice if I leave it at that.

Another major part of my week was coming to terms with the fact that mission work does not have a pretty history. It is the cause of so much hurt to many different places. And even if mission work means something different to me, I will always be associated with its rough history because “mission” has touched many places. I am on a mission to learn from those around me, however I have to accept the fact that some people wont see it that way.

On a brighter note, I met some amazing people this past week. The diversity among the YAVs was inspiring and amazing. I’m hoping we can all keep in touch and share our experiences throughout the next year. After hanging out with my fellow Philippines YAVs, I have some optimistic hopes for the future. Although, I normally don’t get homesick, I probably will at some point because this experience is new, different, and far away. But I know that God’s got me covered! I will rely on Him more than I ever have before. He is my strength and through Him, I can do anything.

Success!!

Wow! I have some amazing supporters out there! Two days ago, I was informed that I have met and exceeded my fundraising goal of $4,000 by January 2017. I mean, that is just amazing! I met my fundraising goal before I even left for the trip. I just want to thank everyone who has donated so far. You are truly amazing.

Now, just because I have met my fundraising goal does not mean I am no longer accepting more donations. It costs approximately $24,000 to send one person to an international site in the YAV program. Although, I am only required to raise $4,000, each additional dollar you all help me raise will benefit my fellow Philippine YAVs and me. That money assists us with the program costs, such as room, board, health insurance, transportation, and training.

Whether or not you are able to support me financially, know that I cherish spiritual support above all. My journey in the Philippines is one that will bring me closer to God and strengthen my faith. I will need all of the spiritual support I can get. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers while I am away from my home, family, and friends for the next 10 months.

I did it! Thank you!

I passed my goal of raising $2,000 by July 1st! Although, I don’t think I can say that I did it, because the credit really goes to the people who have donated and pledged their support. It feels amazing to have so many people supporting me! Even people who don’t know me personally have (hopefully) seen some type of potential in me and have given me generous support! As of right now, everyone has helped me raise $2,745!

I do have to say something about one person who pledged support to me. There is a man, let’s call him Billy (which is not his real name, but for the sake of this story, it’s his name), who is homeless and doesn’t have much else to call his own (that I know of). I went somewhere to ask for donations, prayers, and to give information about the YAV program and Billy happened to be in the crowd. Now, I knew he didn’t have much, so when he came to me after my speech, telling me he wanted to give support, I told him that if the only thing he can manage is to keep me in his prayers, then that is truly more than enough. I left that building with no expectations.

After I came home from a trip, my mom hands me an envelope with Billy’s name on it and inside the envelop are a few dollars. I think those few dollars are the most meaningful gift so far because he didn’t have to do that. Billy didn’t have to give that money, knowing it wasn’t “refundable.”

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:44

I can’t feel much else other than appreciation and thankfulness. I am in awe of how his Christianity shines through his every action. I hope that someone will take a look at me one day and see my faith shine through every one of my actions. I know I still have some work to do, but I know I can do it because God has given me the strength to do so.

I want to thank everyone who has given me support in any way, shape, or form! It is truly appreciated and awe inspiring!

Next goal: A total of $4,000 by January 1st, 2017

My First Donation!

I finally did it! I just made my first online donation for my trip. It may be a drop in the bucket, but it’s just the beginning! I am so excited for the things God has in store for me!Donation 1

Charlotte Presbytery Commissioning

I am so excited to begin this adventure, but I don’t think I really understood how much this affects not only my family and me, but also the community around me. On Tuesday, May 17th, 2016, the Charlotte Presbytery commissioned me to serve as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer. In front of the entire Presbytery, I committed to giving my time and energy to the work of the church and to serving God and God’s people during my time in the Philippines.

After being presented to all of the churches in the Presbytery, I realized that I’m not only representing my family and my church, Central Steele Creek Presbyterian, but I’m also representing the entire Presbytery. In addition to that, I recognized that I have a duty to the PC (USA) to take this opportunity back to my Presbytery and inspire others to pursue this program so they can bless other communities through the work they will do in the future.

It’s an honor and a privilege to represent my family, church, community, presbytery, and PC (USA) in the Philippines, but it’s an even bigger honor to serve God and have Him use me while I’m away from home and working in the Philippines. I know this next year will be a big challenge and will test my limits, but that’s exactly what I’m look forward to the most. Through those experiences, I anticipate growing in my faith and as a person, and returning home to, hopefully, inspire those around me. I want to inspire everyone to challenge themselves and open their hearts and lives to God so he can work His miracles through them.