For a team of ages 17 to 21, we’ve never been to the Philippines before and for most of us, it wasn’t just our first mission trip, but a trip of many ‘firsts’ as well. Needless to say, we were all extremely thrilled at the thought of being able to be a part of what the church in Marikina is doing.
After an unexpected 2-hour flight delay, we finally touched down in Marikina, Philippines in the morning and were welcomed by Pastor Kathy and team. We headed straight to the under the bridge community, where families were literally living under bridges.
We spent the day having our first taste of interacting with the locals there, followed by praise and worship, a song item and sharing of testimonies by Shawn and Celine. A salvation call was given and three responded! Subsequently, we helped serve food and distribute clothes and necessities to the families.
In the evening, we made our way to church where we fellowshipped over a home-cooked meal before their mid-week service began. Jun Liang shared a message about the power of God that resides in us and going forth. Though the turn-out was small in comparison to their main service, we found out that their mid-week services was also a form of training ground for the people to exercise their gifts, be it in praise and worship, emceeing or preaching!
The next day, we visited the women’s prison. This was something we were long anticipating, having heard stories of how the women worshipping God sounded like angels singing. We entered their maximum security facility, where most of the women were serving a maximum sentence for offences such as drug trafficking. We had no idea what to expect when we eventually reached the facility where the service was held. Indeed, the sound of 150 women inmates as they sang felt so surreal. There was something about the way they wept as they worshipped and the way they exclaimed with joy, “We are free!” that left an impact on us – a form of liberty despite captivity. Wei Jian shared his testimony while Shawn preached about the presence of God. An altar call was given and every single woman raised their hands as they responded to the message and gave their hearts to knowing God and spending time in His presence more. Our whole team was in tears at the end as we witnessed how God was moving in that place.
On the third day, we visited the old folk’s home in the morning and the orphanage in the afternoon. We had a great time interacting with the old folks. As we were youths, we were initially a little intimidated to take the first step to interact with the Lolos (grandpas) and Lolas (grandmas) there, but all that was gone when we were greeted with warm smiles and hugs. They prepared a dance item for us, and we moved on to praise and worship, a song item and then a skit of the Prodigal Father which they enjoyed very much. Zi Hao and Shawn shared their testimonies while Jun Liang and I headed to the backyard where some other old folks were chilling and shared our testimonies too.
One thing in particular that surprised me was how many of the lolas had come up to me after that. I had shared about how I used to struggle with feeling unwanted and unloved as a child before I knew God, so when the lolas came up to me after that, they smiled and looked me in the eye, held my hand, then hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. I felt so overwhelmed with love that tears began to well up in my eyes. When we went to the orphanage soon after, we were greeted by a song item from children aged 5 to 18. We sang, danced, performed a skit and Wen Jie shared a message about God’s purpose for our lives.
We spent the remaining of our time playing ice-breakers together and when it was time to leave, we left with heavy hearts. There was something about how the old folks had so much love to give, yet no one to give it to, and the children who needed love yet lacked the people who’d give it to them. At this point, though we’ve seen all the joy we’ve brought them, our hearts were broken too.
On the fourth day, we went to the girl’s home. The girls were extremely lively and inquisitive, and we had a great time together with them. After praise and worship, I shared my testimony with them about our worth in God. We then taught them songs and danced with them, and before we knew it, we had to leave once again.
There was a little girl named July whom I had spent the most time with, and as she began to grow more and more attached to me, I feared how painful goodbye would be when we had to eventually part ways. As a result, I started to busy myself with helping out in other areas. However, when I eventually returned to the hall where the girls were, I found July in tears. At first I was confused, but I soon realized that she was heartbroken when I chose to suddenly leave her alone. It struck me how the pain of having to say goodbye was more real for her than it was for me, because they have visitors on a frequent basis, and every time they start to open their hearts to them, they have to say goodbye again. Furthermore, these are girls who are unable to live with their families due to financial difficulty or abandonment. When we eventually had to leave, the whole path leading from the entrance of the home to the van was jam packed with girls as they cheerfully escorted us and chorused goodbye and “I’ll miss you.”
On the fifth and final day, we attended their main service and fellowshipped with the people there. As we made our way to the airport and said our goodbyes, we felt a little sad as we’ve truly enjoyed our time there and the friendships made.
Nonetheless, in those five days, we fed the homeless, gave out clothes and necessities to the poor, visited those in prison and those in homes. We sang, danced, acted out stories and played games with one another, but the key takeaway for us was truly coming to knowing God more. We may be young and we may not have much to give, but we’re glad we said yes to Marikina, and said yes to God. This whole experience has opened our eyes to see the heart of God and the vastness of His love in the process of it all, and our hearts are full. Kudos to the church in Marikina who do this on a constant basis!
Written by Genevieve Lim, PHI 04
On Sunday afternoon, 7 December 2014, after church service and lunch, the team from Singapore was divided into 3 groups to join the leaders and members of Cornerstone Church Santiago in their Street Power House Programme.
Beng Yong, Cynthia & myself, together with Pastor Jimmar, Pastor Jun, Ron and Crystal, went to the meeting place in Buena Vista. This is our first trip there but to the Pastors, it is their second trip.
The meeting place was a home where many relatives stayed together. A lola told Pastor Jun that her son was a Vice President of the country. Some pictures we saw from the house seemed to be of a royal status. The children were even named King, Queen and Princess. They were all lovely and wonderful children and there were about 10 of them.
After the story telling by Pastor Jun, Bible memory verse and games by Ron and Crystal, I taught the children an action song together with Cynthia playing the guitar. We could see all smiles on their faces and even the pastors too. They just loved action song! When all was done, we started serving the children and some adults the porridge and orange juice prepared with love by Cornerstone Church, Santiago. After they finished eating, we went into the house where Cynthia presented them a song with Ron on the guitar. We ended with praying for the children and blessing them. After the prayers, Pastor Jimmar and Pastor Jun noticed that we still had a lot more porridge left, and instead of going back to take a rest, they decided that we should bless the neighbourhood with the extra porridge.
We then walked down the street looking for a rundown house to bless as some houses seemed well-to-do. We came to a house that is very old and started singing Christmas carol but nobody came to the door. So we left. We went opposite and saw a lady with 2 children. Pastor Jun started talking to her outside the gate but she went into her house and closed the door and did not come out. Her younger son near the door also went in, leaving her daughter who was about 4 years old outside. Crystal gave her a pencil as a gift. We then started singing Christmas carol and after we have finished singing, we waited for the lady but she still did not come out. Instead her daughter went in and brought some shillings for us. We told them we were not there to ask for money but to bless them with porridge. Finally, she came out with an empty bowl and I filled up with the porridge for her. She was so thankful for our kind gesture and appreciated it very much. Pastor Jun then spoke with her and asked if we could pray for her. She agreed. Beng Yong then prayed a prayer of blessings upon her and her family.
As there’s more porridge to be shared, we decided to go into the van and Pastor Jimmar drove off. We came to a junction, and in front of that junction, there was a Community Centre, and immediately Pastor Jimmar stopped the van nearby as he saw some lolos and lolas hanging around outside the door. But when we alighted from the van, the group of lolos and lolas slowly moved away from the door and walked further away from us. However, there was one lolo and 3 lolas inside the Community Centre. We started singing some Christmas carols, but they were looking down and not interested. I guess they might be thinking that we were there to ask for money. While we were singing, Pastor Jun brought the pot of porridge and left it on the floor. He told them that we were there to serve them with the extra porridge. Then the elderly looked up and started beaming with smiles on their faces. We served them with the few clean bowls and cups we have. But there were more people around who had not taken the porridge so Ron took the used bowls and started looking for a place to wash the dishes. I then approached a lady amongst the lolos and lolas, and she immediately opened her house across the street to let us wash our dishes. God is so amazing that the person I approached was just the right person who lived nearby.
Then the pastors told them about the ministry that they would like to start and immediately the lolos and lolas are so excited and straight away scheduled the date and time to meet the next round. Wow, God is good….
After prayers, we left. In the van, I could see that Pastor Jimmar was so touched because God had just answered their prayers. He thanked us for doing this outreach together with them to bless people with the extra porridge and because of our step of faith and perseverance, God answered their prayers – the birth of an Elderly Ministry! And God just brought together about 20 of these lolos and lolas. Woohoo, in His time, God makes all things beautiful. Amen!
Written by Carol Wee, PHI 15
19 November 2014. As I waved goodbye to my friends who had sent me off at Terminal 2, I had an aching in my heart, leaving behind the things and the ones I love. But I knew something greater was in store. We had a mission to do. A mission that Christ had commanded each and everyone of us to do. To go “and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19)
As my team (PHI 09) arrived in Marikina, Philippines, we were immediately greeted by the friendly and zealous local church staffs. We then checked into our apartments. Following that, we attended the mid-week service at Cornerstone church, Philippines. It was amazing to see and enjoy the fruits of our church back in Singapore. Though the Philippines church was relatively smaller, it was evident that the people there were also on fire for God. We had a great church service. It was certainly a refreshing time in God’s presence and in His word.
The next day, we set off to a place close to the Marikina highway. Upon arriving by van, we travelled on foot for a short distance before reaching our destination. The people there were literally living under one of the highways. They had mattresses on the rocky ground, small makeshift shops selling sweets and they probably did their laundry and bathing at a stream nearby.
We then gathered them together and our team member, Danny shared his testimony of how he was transformed by Christ: from one who occasionally involved himself in street fights, to a righteous man washed in the blood of Jesus. Then Terry shared the gospel and gave a salvation call. A few stepped forward and received Christ as their Saviour.
We then gave out food and water. Following that, we ministered to the people individually, showing God’s love to them. We provided clothes for the children, and left knowing we had impacted them in some way or another.
Next we headed to the old folks home. The empathy of God fell on us, as we saw the lolos and lolas through the eyes of Jesus. We held them, prayed for them, gave them food and shared with them the Hope of all mankind. I had an opportunity to share with them my salvation experience.
It was touching to see the elderly nodding their heads and lifting their hands in agreement when I told them that I found the purpose in life is to know God more.
After I shared my testimony, Jacquelyn spoke to the elderly of Jesus’ great love for them. That He had said “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6). After which, she gave a salvation call. Around 10 of the elderly came forward to give or rededicate their lives to Christ!
As we got back on the van, we discussed the experiences we had through the day, on how God’s presence was with us each and every step of the way. We then had a hearty meal tasting their local cuisine at a restaurant that Pastor Kathy (PK) and her fellow church staffs brought us to. Following that, we had a debrief and rested for the night.
Day three we gathered at one of our three apartments, the “Missions House”. We prayed for the Lord’s protection and blessings throughout the remainder of the trip. Then we took the Lord’s communion and had breakfast. Following that, we got into the van and headed for the orphanage.
We had a great time at the orphanage, ministering to the lovable children and showing God’s love to them. We carried and played with the babies, refusing to leave the orphanage even when the time was up.
The following day, we went to the women’s prison. We were pleasantly surprised that they had their own community there and there was even a market made of makeshift stores opened by some of the prisoners there. We then had a church service with them at one of the designated locations. It was amazing to see how passionate the prisoners were, praising and worshipping God with all their hearts although most of them would be in the prison for their entire life. We sang “Calvary” by Hillsong as a ‘special item’ put up for them followed by a message delivered by Kia Ngee.
Later that day, we went to the girls’ home. As I was walking around, four children came out of nowhere to play some hand games with me. Their innocent nature and loving hearts sure left a lasting impression on me. We then performed a skit of the miraculous event where Jesus multiplied the food. After which we served them food and did a drawing activity.
When we were back in our apartment, our team had a great time rehearsing “Minamahal Kita”, a Tagalog worship song that we were preparing to sing at the service the following day. By the end of it, everyone was laughing and just having a great time spending time with one another. Next came “Uno”. We played a rather intense game and at the end of the game, the one who lost was forced by the two 8 years-old girls to eat jellybeans that had the weirdest and most disgusting flavours imaginable.
On the second last day, we attended the Sunday service at Cornerstone church, Philippines. After delivering our song, PK preached on how we should be thankful in everything. She talked about thanking God when we break a plastic spoon instead of complaining, because at least we have food to eat. I thought of the people under the bridge, and the elderly who were begging us for food and tears started welling up in my eyes. God has surely softened my heart during these few days.
We then proceeded to a time of fellowship over lunch, where food was cooked and prepared for us by the local church staffs. After which, our team leader Deacon Calvin delivered a powerful message on the keys to obtaining stronghold.
As our final activity, we headed to the boy’s home to help fit shoes for the children there. It was a humbling experience and we learnt that even through such simple acts, we can demonstrate the love of Christ for His people.
24 November 2014. As I waved goodbye to my new-found friends, I had an aching in my heart, one of not seeing them again (at least not for a while) and one of leaving the children, homeless and elderly behind. But deep down I knew that each of us had given our best and also that my faith in Jesus was deepened, that more exciting times awaits us. And that there is so much more that God wants to do through us. It is an end, but it is also a beginning.
Written by Xavier See (Generations)
Photos by Jacquelyn Ng (YA Ministry)
Marikina Mission Blog – Tessa Sim (PHI 08)
This was not my first trip but one after a long hiatus. Besides feeling not fully prepared for the trip (rewriting my testimony three times, having dry runs of sharing in front of the cell and trying to learn balloon sculpting for the kids) I decided not to worry anymore and will just avail myself to Him. Was I glad I made the choice to let God take over and went with a sense of adventure. I took up the role of scribe for the trip and saw how God started to open His floodgates of abundance. Our team members had pre-believing colleagues and relatives who blessed us financially for the work in Marikina even before the trip. At the airport we met a team member’s relative who emptied her wallet during a divine “bump into” while we were having breakfast before our flight.
Touchdown and the first night we attended mid week service. Dinner was awesome home cooked chicken adobo which we happily devoured, our pescetarian member had her breakthrough as well and we were all amazed as she sat and ate her chicken and rice. Our team had a quick debrief when we returned to the house after which we rolled up our sleeves to help the local team with the food preparation for the next day. It was a real treat to join with the local church volunteers cook with huge pots and heaps of cabbages and endless rows of local sausages (longanisa). We joked with the local church volunteers about baluts and durians while cooking for the next day’s outreaches.
To be honest I was really worried about the visit to the old folk’s home. God had really wrecked me when I visited a rural primary school in a previous mission trip and I remembered feeling a deep sense of heartache and weeping after that experience. The night before I made a candid deal with God and told Him that I’d be a better ambassador for Him if I could bring joy to the residents rather than being wrecked again, but whatever the outcome is His will be done…..God is a loving Father and a gentleman, He honors our vain requests.
D-day and during our morning devotion the team agreed that we had to bring joy into the place despite what we saw in the physical. We declared that the Holy Spirit will go forth before us and we armed ourselves with the joy of the Lord before setting out. God had really set us up for a memorable encounter! The old folks had us huffing and puffing as they made us dance with them during their interactive segment. Our team was so surprise having to make to dance “gangnam style” and “chicken dance” with the residents, we then took turns to pray for the lolas and lolos and distributed the pansig (noodles). Personally spending time laying hands and praying for each of the residents was bringing the verses in the Bible to life. I could feel the Father’s heart for them and it was such an honor to be His hands and feet in the place which was so hungry for the Father’s love. Our team hugged, laughed, dance and fed the residents and the words which was shared in the morning devotion were “to stop for the one” really came to life at the visit. We saw how God placed His joy ambassadors in tough places in the form of residents who just oozed joy.
There was heaviness in the van when the team left the place, but the team made a conscience choice to keep our spirits up and talked about the positive we saw rather than being overwhelmed by the needs. That night I went to bed with the faces of the residents and told God to send a tsunami of His love and make a highway for His will in the home. The next visit was to the prisons. Being with the ladies to sing and worship God in a prison was something altogether! I had the opportunity to share about our identities being found in Christ; to see oneself in the way the Father does. The alter call was to love oneself the way the Father does. Pastor Kathy helped drive the message home and we saw many hands raised in response to the message. It was also heartwarming to see the ladies dig into the spaghetti we had made. We were surprised to see PRC ladies there as well and we shared the gospel with them in our best Mandarin. God really is meticulous in His planning and He sets up divine encounters for those who avail themselves.
On the third day, we visited the beautiful children at the orphanage. The children in the hall were overjoyed when Pipo the lion made a special appearance. The team wanted to make balloons for them but ended up cuddling every child that we could get hold and spend time with them.
The team attended a youth cell group meeting in a shoe factory in the evening. June, one of our team members, and I shared testimonies before our team leader, Daniel, shared a message on encouraging ourselves in the Lord. As our cell meetings back home, we ended the evening with fruitful fellowship with the youths and yummy snacks made by some of the mums of the youths.
Day 4 was a fruitful one as we witnessed 10 salvations at the outreach to the community living under the bridge. Daniel shared his salvation story and when the altar call was given, 10 people responded. After praying for them, we gave out food and clothes. We heaped massive amounts of rice and stew as we handed out the food and the local church crew said that said that this was the first hot meal they had eaten in weeks.
This trip will certainly not be my last. I was reminded of the phrase of “stopping for the one” just before the trip when I had an opportunity to help an old lady on the bus one morning, it stayed with me and I told the team that we needed to “stop for the one” while we were on the trip. I can truly say this verse came to life when I was on the trip. I hope that anyone who is thinking about going for their first trip or another trip in the future will be spurred to put a demand on God and go with a sense of adventure and anticipation, “What’s next Papa God? I’m here, use me!”
“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me……Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters you were doing it to me!’ Mathew 25:35-40
Written by Tessa Sim.
Dear Readers of the Couriers Missions Blog,
Greetings! Philippines Team 7 Marikina has come back with an excellent report. The trip to Marikina was so enriching and amazing in every single way. We arrived in Manila on 15 Oct 14 and was warmly greeted by the two most wonderful ladies, Pastor Kathy and her pastoral assistant Angel. We adjourned to Cornerstone Church to meet the local church and attend the midweek service. The next day, we set off for the Old Folks Home where we met with the loveliest “Lolos and Lolas”(Grandpas and Grandmas). It was a wonderful time dancing with them, serving them Gatorade and “Halo Halo” (coconut dessert like bobo chacha), sharing our healing testimonies and praying with them.
In the second half of the day, the team headed for the Women’s prison. We joined the female prisoners for a church service. The most remarkable thing happened! The female prisoners began to worship with such a passion and the songs they sung in Tagalog sounded like a heavenly choir. It was heaven on earth indeed.
On Day 2, we set off to a place we call under the bridge, where the homeless set up makeshift shelters. There were several families there. We interacted and played with barefoot children and then Cheryl, one of our team members preached the Gospel of an amazing God who understands us, forgives our sins and desperately wants to be close to us. During the altar call, the people responded. Slowly, one hand after another was raised. We recorded 17 salvations that morning! Glory be to God!
That afternoon, we went to the girls home and ministered to about 90 girls aged 7-17. They were the most lively and enthusiastic bunch of girls. They were very quick to swarm around our team members all eager for our attention. They were very inquisitive, asking us for our names and our favourite colours. We performed a skit based on the story of how Samuel chose David to be King. Belle shared about how she encountered God as one who loves us intimately and treats all His daughters like princesses. Many also responded to the altar call and asked to be prayed for a touch from God. The team ministered in prayer for the each of the girls. It was time to go and the team bade a tearful and reluctant farewell to these lovely girls.
On the morning of Day 3, we set off for the orphanage. Here, we met kids that would capture your heart in an instant. These are the most adorable little toddlers and kids we have met. The team sang songs with them and Jane, our team member shared the story of how she overcame loneliness in school and shared a message of forgiveness and a God who hears our cries. Pastor Kathy sang a song in prayer for these little ones, asking God to send them a father and family they so longed for. After that we prayed for the kids and even the staff (aunties) responded. Praise the Lord! We spent some time making crowns to remind them that they are royalty in God’s eyes.
In the afternoon we visited the Boys Home. The home housed 235 lively boys from the age of 7-17. Initially, the boys seemed slightly unruly and the older boys slightly stand-offish. But no longer after we performed our rendition of “Our God is a Great Big God” complete with actions, that they started to warm up with smiles on their faces. A testimony of God’s power to change and transform lives was shared by Darren and many boys responded by renewing their commitment to God. Each and every one had so much potential in them and we could sense God’s deep love for them. They were later treated to delicious hotdogs that the staff of Life ministries catered. After some more interaction we bade farewell to the boys.
On Sunday, we attended Service and fellowshipped with the members of Cornerstone Philippines (Marikina).
On the whole we were greatly impacted by the trip, touched by the joy and warmth of the people we visited and at the same time deeply inspired by the love and service of the staff of the local church in Marikina. Each of our members experienced a spiritual awakening and renewal in one way of the other. There is no denying that the trip left an indelible mark in our lives and yes! All of us want to come back and visit in 2015!
Team 7 Philippines Couriers 2014.
My trip to Marikina, Philippines has come to an end and honestly, I wish that I could have stayed there a bit longer, things that I wish I could have done more. During this short trip, many memories of what I had experienced in my first trip to Marikina in 2012 were brought back, especially with the same feelings and thoughts when I was at the Women’s Prison and the Elderly Home.
In the Women’s Prison, I once again sensed such a freedom in that place. God brought me to an understanding that despite our own wrongdoings or weaknesses, He is there to redeem us and bring us to a place of greater things. I was amazed when I saw the ladies praising and worshipping the Lord with all of their heart, mind, soul and strength. Again, I was just thinking about how great God is, because despite what they have done that brought them to prison, God still redeemed them and set them free. They could praise and worship the Lord with such freedom and love for Him.
As for the visit to the Elderly Home, the team and I shared the same sentiments. It was heart-breaking to see the difficult living conditions for the elderly there. Some were even locked up in a small room with about 5 people inside, because they are mentally challenged. Most of the “lolas” (Tagalog for “grandmother”) and even “lolos” (Tagalog for “grandfather”) were very skinny. They looked like they were suffering from malnutrition, but I really thank God that the members of Cornerstone Marikina have been visiting the home regularly and providing food, making sure that the elderly are well taken care, praying for them, and loving them. Because of their regular visits and the love they have for these people, I see the elderly enjoying it when someone from CSCC visits them.
I also will not forget the children we met in the orphanage and the families staying under the bridge. I must say that these few experiences brought so much joy to me and I felt really thankful. I also want to do as much as I can to help those in need and lend a helping hand. Although I know that it is hard to meet the physical needs of everyone there, at least a seed can be sown spiritually. I thank God for the opportunity to go to Marikina again. These experiences not just taught me how to be thankful, but God also taught me to love, and to enlarge my capacity in that area.
Lastly, I want to end by saying that it is definitely a good choice to bring your whole family over for missions. Our team had two full families, with their children, come along! When I saw the little ones in my team happily singing and dancing to the songs ‘Every Move I Make’ and ‘The Wise Man Builds His House Upon the Rock’, I felt such a joy and child-like faith. Children have their own perspectives as compared to the adults; they see and experience things differently. It was amazing to see their childlikeness of wanting to be involved in performing, helping out in the distribution, and even blessing others. It’s never too young to start being a part of missions.
Written by Taferine Chua