We’ve finally touched down in our final destination of Cagayan de Oro on the main southern island of Mindanao in the Philippines!
After a hard last few days saying goodbye to all those we met, especially the youth, doing the Jail ministry and doing a final Bible study with the Wawandue community, it was time for us to leave.
If you’re not familiar, one of the crazy things about the Philippines is that it contains over 7000 islands, most of which with entirely their own culture, language and identity. Even though we had already been living in Subic for the past two weeks, it wouldn’t prepare us much for the much hotter conditions, the difference in language, and other needs associated with this region.
As some of you may have heard, after some threats and a lot of violence from the terrorists in ISIS for the last few years, this island has now been put under martial law. Though the terrorism threat has gone down a lot since then, other problems have remained an issue including the drug war, and tension in the government.
In Cagayan de Oro, here we are blessed to be staying in a YWAM base here, YWAM Cagayan de Oro, who have been hosting us and taking us to their various different ministries. This base which has been running for many years has lead ministries including many rural community outreaches, mass weddings, children’s and youth groups, women’s groups, child sponsorship and has been such a light in this community. They also have connections with an Orphanage and have been pouring out to many pioneering churches in the local area.
Meals still consist of rice and chicken here for the meals, but we have become so grateful even for that as it gives us so much energy for the day. The accomodation is as expected here but the bucket showers are a bit of an upgrade over the ‘squatty potty’ holes in the ground we had in Kenya.
In a high contrast to maybe Awasi in Kenya, we are now living near the busy high street in the city where there are many malls and shops nearby. Having said this, we are also on the edge of 4 very rural communities who mainly live in smaller wooden shacks a bit like in Kenya.
For the first few days, after having recovered from the flights and the travelling, we spent the time in the rural communities getting to know the residents there and visiting their houses and sharing the word with them. Because of the long connection they’ve had with volunteers from the base, many of them were glad to welcome us into their homes and hear what we had to share with them.
Following this, for two of the afternoons, we hosted open air evangelistic crusades in the main square of each of the communities. At both we performed one of the skits we’ve been doing, and on Friday I had the opportunity to be the one to preach to the community.
All the members of our team by now have been given opportunities to share their testimony and some form of message to groups both here and in Kenya. For me however, it has almost become second nature, it has been encouraging that the team have noticed a gift of teaching in me and have been encouraging me often to be the one to lead the group and share the message in whatever setting we find ourselves in. Each of the members of the team have similarly found different giftings and passions that God has stirred in them.
Though people have been more shy here with coming forward in response or for prayer, we have seen the Holy Spirit show up so many times and are always expectant for what he will do next. It’s easy for us to lose focus amidst the busyness of everything we’re doing here, but everyday we spend time realigning our desires with that of God, and praying in earnest expectation for how he will use us this day.
On Saturday, we hosted the children’s group in the morning and youth in the evening. Wherever we go, they are always so open with us and ready to be involved in whatever we have planned for them. Here was no exception, it was a real joy to put these groups on for them, and after we did a drama for the youth in the evening, I shared a short message and we had a time of worship, again as we prayed with them, the youth spent time in his presence.
After leading a service at one of the pioneering churches in the area on Sunday morning, we’ve had the evening and Monday off.
It was a nice surprise that on Wednesday we were all taken as a base to the beach where we finally had a chance to relax after a busy couple of months and appreciate the sun for a change.
We still have about two and a half weeks of our time here, and I’m excited about some of the other areas we’ll be involved in helping out in. We want to continue praising the Lord for everything he has been doing over this time so far!
Please be praying for more opportunities over these next few weeks, that people would continue opening their hearts to God, and that we would be strengthened and equipped daily for what he plans for us.