Arriving in Manila was quite a culture shock. The time zone, heat, humidity, noises, smells and way of life all naturally took a while to get used to. Some things I don’t think I ever adjusted to; the friendliness and hospitality of the Filipinos never ceased to amaze me! Some things were harder to see, like visiting a slum and seeing a tiny room where a whole family sleeps every night or seeing the father of one of the recipients seriously ill in hospital.
One of my favourite experiences was going to the boys’ home. This is quite a long journey from CRBC where I was staying, involving two jeepneys and a tricycle, but it was always well worth the journey! To start with, it was quite difficult relating to the younger boys as they only spoke limited English and I spoke much more limited Tagalog. However, they proved to be among my best language teachers, and it was great to learn how to relate to each other even when words are difficult!
I was quickly introduced to basketball. I often led the Bible devotion (with translation) in the evening when I visited, which included looking at the life of Peter and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The oldest two lads in particular were listening well and engaging with it, even helping with a bit of translation. It was such a good time being able to be a bit of an older brother to the boys.
The community Bible studies were also a real highlight. I remember being in one of these where four mothers were attending, probably in their thirties. We all had an open Bible on our laps and they listened attentively, and asked lots of questions at the end. How often in the UK do we have an occasion to open the Bible and discuss it like this? To think that every week there are eleven of these small group Bible studies running, sometimes with over a dozen in attendance – it is truly a remarkable opportunity.
So in both of these ministries, I have been really encouraged that the seed truly is going out, not just in the more formal times of sharing the Word, but also in everyday life as the housemothers and social workers interact with the different people CCM is able to help and support.
I was also struck by the great faithfulness of the staff to their work. For me, I felt exhausted at the end of my stay, but for them, they have this week in, week out, whilst also bearing the greater burden of the troubles and backgrounds of the people they work with. We must praise God for these people, and pray for them. It was great to be able to get to know them and to try and help them by editing social work reports written in English and running a couple of grammar courses to help with writing these in the future.