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by Frank Caguin - Promotions
Edited by Wendy Bytheway
The idea of spending ten days surrounded by the stunning scenery of the Philippines sounded incredibly appealing. Filipino hospitality is renowned and the average temperature is a very pleasant 27°C. As I set off from Sydney in mid April, I was excited about being a member of the KawaSaka short term mission team.
We arrived in Manila and joined the rest of the team which was made up of the staff of GRN's Philippines office and a number of Christians from local churches. It was good to have these younger people on the team as they were full of energy and passion. It turned out that they (and we) would need both of these things because this was the reality:
The unpredictable tropical weather brought heavy rain and our accommodation turned into a mud bath. Swarms of insects feasted on us.
We had to walk miles each day carrying heavy equipment, including passing through an area where there are active militant groups.
A typhoon had passed through the area the week before we arrived and damaged the crops. As a result, food was hard to come by; the only protein we had each day was one egg per person. By the end of the trip, we were exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually.
When faced with conditions like this, it's tempting to grumble or give up (or both). However, we were greatly encouraged by Isaiah 52:7 which we studied during devotions on our third day together.
Many of us are familiar with the phrase 'How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news', but we sometimes forget that the context of the passage means we should expect suffering. God blessed us - and the villages we visited - in spite of and indeed through the challenges we faced.
Each day, after team devotions, we distributed GRN recordings and practical aid (canned goods, clothing, school materials etc.). Because our team leader had visited the villages a number of times over the previous year, these gifts were given and received in the context of a pre-existing relationship and demonstrated our love for these people who are precious to God.
After lunch we packed up and walked to the next village where we would set up our equipment. Once the sun had set, we showed a film telling a Bible story such as the precious pearl or Jesus calming the storm (dubbed in their heart language) which the villagers were able to relate to easily given their proximity to the sea. The whole village would watch the film and afterwards we had time to chat and pray with many people.
We had encouraging and exciting conversations as we shared the gospel. The villagers were so hungry for the word of God that they wouldn't have left the meeting place if we hadn't turned the lights out! You could see the gratitude in their eyes.
The memory of their tears and smiles is fresh in my mind each day; it even keeps me awake at night! This is why I will be going on KawaSaka 9 next year; for the joy of being part of God's plan of salvation for the people of the Philippines.
Please pray for the follow up from this year's trip and the preparations for KawaSaka 9 in 2016.
Pray for the GRN Philippines staff as they visit the villages visited by past KawaSaka teams.
Pray especially that the staff would be able to make and distribute more recordings in the villager's heart languages.
Pray for new, lighter, more reliable equipment.
Pray for the GRN Philippines staff as they start to build relationships with the villagers who will be visited by KawaSaka 2016; pray especially for good interactions with the chieftains and for the production of gospel recordings in the local languages.
Pray for people to join the team for KawaSaka 9 in 2016.