Immersion – Manggahan – Part 3

Sleeping on bamboo floors must take practice, Meredith and I slept fitfully.  Local military walked through the village near the house and dogs barked at various times in the night.  We were never in danger, just a little unnerved. 

For breakfast, we enjoyed peanut butter sandwiches and fried rice. 

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After breakfast, we walked to the river to take a bath. 
We rode in a boat which was made from a hollowed coconut tree.

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kids walking to school from the neighboring village.

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After bathing, we rode back across the river and met with the farmers.  While we were bathing, Angie’s helpers started mixing concrete for the staff house steps to the comfort room. 

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The farmers’ meeting was supposed to start at 9 a.m.  but they didn’t see Angie, they only saw Meredith and me and they left. 

Finally, at 10:30, Edward found them, and we met with them to talk about a cow and a goat pen. 
Angie worked through a situation that they have with a cow (it’s actually still a calf that’s not big enough to work) and the need for food was again discussed due to the recent flooding.  The Dumagat people are not looking for hand-outs, they like working with Angie who helps them take ownership of their own solutions. They expressed a need for a goat shed.  This is where Angie really impressed me,  in exchange for a bag of rice, Harris Memorial will provide nails and the villagers will also help with repairs to the staff house so that Angie and the other Harris volunteers can have a safe place to stay on their weekly visits. 

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After a consensus, we closed the meeting.  On behalf of the Ubuntu team, we presented the head farmer with a donation.  He in turn gave it to Angie as a sign of their partnership.  They all agreed that the donation would be the seed money for the community health workers start-up funds to make cough syrup and ointment.

They also said that I have an open invitation to come back and teach them to make soap; they have plenty of coconuts and wood ash. 

We started back down the mountain to Manila.  7.5 hours later (including a 3 hour ride in the back of the truck on a bumpy road, a van, and 2 taxis) we arrived back at Shalom Center in Metro Manila where we met our team members for dinner at Mr. Poon’s which features 7 kinds of steamed whole fish and watermelon shakes.

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This section of the journey will be forever imprinted on my heart and I will use the skills observed in Angie to better my own communication skills.  What a blessing.

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Seeing community outreach and Reflection

On Saturday, we visited a center that doubles as a temporary shelter and office combination for women and children who had been adult entertainers, foreign workers and human trafficking victims of both Christian and non-Christian faiths.

This program is supported in part by the United Methodist Women and several other Christian organizations. 

We were served a wonderful meal of whole (head included) fried tilapia; I ate fish eye for the first time ever- actually quite tasty. 

From there, we traveled to Metro Manila to spend time with the Urban Poor street children program. 

We were told that many of the parents of the children in the program are food vendors on the square where we stood.   Nearby, there was a fast-food restaurant chain known for old-fashioned hamburgers, a busy intersection where traffic lights and dividing lines are mere suggestions. 

This program, in the shadow of a lightrail commuter train, partners with parents (the same street vendors).  Our facilitator, speaking in Tagalog, grouped the children by age and we went across the street to a park near. A large statue of a warrior who fought Magellan SP many years ago. 

We learned that on Mondays and Fridays, volunteers spend time with the children, offer a place for them to bathe and provides a feeding program. We saw that kids are kids, they have their own pecking order and don’t like to share.  We were watched by locals, including university students, tourists and homeless, all wandering through the park in a seamless dance of life.

We noticed that several areas were roped-off and that was to save the grass after last month’s flooding. 

Some of the children live in shanty homes, constructed of rusty metal or cardboard.  One of the little boys who loved learning to play “Duck, Duck, goose” actually lives with how parents under the trees on the square.  Last month, when the floods filled the streets with water containing deadly bacteria and debris, this little boy and his family could not lie down to sleep, they could only sit in the tree and wait for the water to subside. 

Each child told us their names and their grade in school.  The group Julie and I had included 8 year olds.  2 of them had already dropped out of school, not finishing the 3rd grade because their parents could not pay the fees for uniforms, school supplies and/or books. 

We passed a church filled with wedding guests and a smiling bride and groom.  Just outside, a woman sold food and another bathed her infant in the leftover water from an ice-cooler. 

As we headed back to our accommodations, children and adults, barefooted or wearing flipflops, walked between 3 rows of merging traffic of cars, buses, jeepneys, motorcycles, tricycles, street vendors selling single cigarettes, water and fish.

Our driver, Denis, returned us to the center and we took a few minutes to gather our thoughts and regrouped for dinner at Mr. Poon’s that offers inexpensive and good-tasting items like Fishlips soup, mango shakes, bawang, dimsum and halo-halo. 

We closed the evening with devotions and reflections on what we’ve learned, how we’ve seen God, cultural differences and what we want to share when we return home.  For me, there is a lot that I am still processing and each Ubuntu journey is different.  I awoke at 3 a.m. local time, unable to close my eyes.  Sounds outside my window include a cacophony of horns beeping, tricycles and motorcycles roaring, car doors slamming, trucks rumbling down the street and the air conditioning unit rattling.  The humidity permeates the air even at this time of night.

Our group is splitting into smaller groups invite early morning so that we can go to different churches.  I will get a few more hours rest now. 

Janet

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Travel Day – Part 2

After a 14 hour flight from Atlanta to Incheon/Seoul, we waited 2 hours and boarded another Korean Air flight bound for Manila. 

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During the flights, most of us managed to sleep a few hours or at least cat-napped.  I happened to sit in a section surrounded by 4 toddlers and babies who tired of confined arrangements after 10 hours in the air.  I gave away 2 beaded bracelets to their mothers that I made while watching Korean Air entertainment… for me, that meant 3 newly released Hollywood movies, a Sting performance in Berlin and a few games of Reversi.
The last 4 hours of Korean Air to Incheon was tough due to the crying babies, but I knew it was harder on their mothers.  We met a Filipino pastor who spent an entire year in the U.S. teaching about the Philippines and was a missionary to the U.S.

Flying into Korea with a transfer included a trip through security, body scan and x-ray of the bag…something caught security’s eye and I almost laughed.  My hole-puncher that I use to start blankets was in the bottom of my crochet kit.  I completely forgot about it.  After a quick demonstration and an admonishment from his supervisor in Korean, I gathered my bag and we walked to the next gate area. 

If you think McDonald’s coffee is expensive in the U.S, take a look at how many Won it takes to buy a cup of coffee

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The restrooms in airports also all appear to have issues with folks smoking…

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After a short layover in Incheon, we boarded the next fight bound for Manila…where we talked to our seatmates, watched movies and ate Korean food. 

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Each seat included a blanket, small pillow and toothbrushes & paste. 

Arrival to the Philippines included another trip through security, immigration, baggage claim and customs. 

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A last minute change due to last month’s flooding caused us to have a change of venue. 
We are staying in a hotel for 3 nights, while attending the national women’s leadership conference.  Our venue is one block away, so, it is great for walking and crossing the street. 

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lights of manila

It seems like we left the States longer than 34 hours ago. 

Be Blessed,
Janet

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Meeting a U.S. Ubuntu Sister

For me, this week included travel vaccines and an opportunity to meet my Ubuntu roommate, Meredith. 

My arms are still a bit tender from the three shots earlier in the week.  Meredith and I met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for brunch and seemed to hit it off immediately.  Meredith’s experience as part of prior mission trips helped put me at ease and we found ourselves laughing for over an hour during our meal of fried eggs and coffee.  I’ve never been out of the country and I know that this is a wonderful opportunity. 

To say, “it’s as if we’ve been old friends” would be too cliché.  I know in my heart that it is all part of the connection of the Methodist church and the United Methodist Women. We both have our own stories and are so excited to learn from our Philippine sisters about issues in their communities;  to be a part of this team sharing in their joys and their sorrows. 

This mission is about building relationships, ties, bonds and friendships with those from other cultures, other countries and sharing those experiences back home.  We each go representing our home churches, communities, and conferences…learning differences from each other and sharing an unconditional love and hope. 

Meredith and I discussed our packing strategies and expressed the same sentiment about the 14 hour flight to circumnavigate the globe, “what do you do for 14 hours?” I’m packing a good book, some embroidery floss, a sudoku book, a change of clothes and a lot of patience. 

Flexibility and patience are key traits for traveling …. along with a hearty dose of laughter.  Those of you who know me will probably say, “well, the laughter will be in abundance with Janet.” The seriousness of some of the conference issues, including human trafficking, is no laughing matter.  The reality and sobriety of women’s issues can weigh heavily on our souls…it is through the depths of these sorrows that we fully appreciate the joys of blessings and can laugh in spite of ourselves. 

Meredith and I parted lunch having put a face with a name, a mutual understanding of our responsibilities and excited anticipation of our upcoming mission in less than a month. 

We know that our Ubuntu sisters in the States and in the Philippines are making similar preparations.  Prayers go out to our families, church members, friends and coworkers as we make preparations for travel.

Janet