Bahay Sibol, Home of Hope: Zion Church of Clarion's Mission Trip to the Philippines

Everyone on our team had their own reason for going on this trip. Talk to them to hear it.

This is our personal story.

We are being honest here. This is our hearts. I knew God was working in me when I agreed to go on this mission trip. I have always been one to make excuses for why I couldn't do something. Brett is the opposite. He is a go-getter, and he enjoys spending time with people and doing whatever anybody asks of him. I was scared. I was making my own plans about my life. With some encouragement I said yes to going. I didn't even come around to the idea at first. Overtime the thought became real to me and I became more and more excited as the time drew nearer. I knew then that I was becoming more God centered. I have always wanted to travel but swore I would never get on an airplane. Well, guess what. I did it. And it was about as long as a flight (flights) as one could take. And I was fine. I am learning to trust that I do not need to fear when God is on my side.

Brett wanted to go to have his eyes opened to what God wants for us. He wanted to find a way for us to use our talents to help people. He found what he was looking for. We are now overcome with options of what to do next. Do we consider ongoing missions work to give missionaries media coverage and documentation to bring acknowledgment to their work? On what scale? Only God knows and He will prepare us for the answer. I am in love with the idea, but am being held back at this time. I want to start a family and that has been my focus for almost a year. A large reason that I initially was reluctant to go on this trip is because I thought I would be pregnant. Unfortunately, after struggling with infertility, my spirits are not always at their highest. It is not something I want to talk about, but I have to realize that I need to trust God. I was on such a high when we were in the Philippines and I absolutely loved every minute of every day and everything we did. Returning home, my focus went back onto what we have been trying to achieve in our own lives and I became frustrated and discouraged. Upon reading Romans last night, Brett made something clear.

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us " -Romans 8:18

Zion Church has been working with the Gormley's in the Philippines for several years. Missionaries have worked with the school and church in past visits. This time we were headed over to help work on an ongoing building project called Bahay Sibol, Home of Hope. It will be a grouping of several homes, each which holds a set of house parents and a number of orphaned children. The idea is not to get them adopted but to give them a home off the streets. It is located in San Jose del Monte, a rural area outside of Manila. This hit me hard when we were heading to dinner one evening and had stopped to exchange some cash. Brett and I stayed in the van, and a group of kids came up to the window asking us for money. When we continued down the road I saw a little child about 3 years old sleeping on the sidewalk on the side of the road. This is their life. They sleep where they can, they beg and they steal. It was heartbreaking. This is what this project is about. To bring in children who live like that and teach them life lessons and love them.

We will get through anything if we have faith. I just need a reminder. Im not going to say its easy to give up worrying about things, but it is easy if you think like God and do what He asks of you. I just need to know that God's plan is better than anything we imagine it could be, and we are not always right.

When we arrived in Manila the first night, we were already two days later than everyone else because we had to photograph a wedding that weekend. Michelle was getting lost in the crazy traffic. We made it to the resort around 12:30 AM. The gate was closed, so Brett went and untied it. After realizing that there was no way to get into our room a man with a rugged shotgun that looked like it was made out of a lead pip had found someone to try to find a key. Luckily it worked but the water did not, until about 2:30 AM when we were awoken by the sound of the shower running. That is when I noticed what I thought to be a cockroach scurrying along the wall, but it turned out to be a gecko. We started each day off at 6:00 AM with prayer time and breakfast before we headed out to our locations for the day. We all worked on several different things while we were there. The main reason for us being there was the orphanage. The first home is almost completed structurally. We helped where we could, carrying gravel and sand to make cement, chipping away holes to work on the electric for the house, doing masonry work. We even got to meet the couple who will be the first house parents. Something I was excited about doing was working on a home for the caretaker of the property. He and his wife Elsie have three children and one on the way. They currently live in an old, open barn on the property. Walls were built about a year ago around one small area. When the Gormley's hired them as the caretakers they did not want to move them into a pig barn, but upon visiting where they were living at the time, it was a large step up. We helped with building a 16' x 16' home for the family to live in. It was hard, it was hot out, things were heavy, but it was so worth it to see Elsie's reaction. I see the appreciation in her face when she speaks and it reminds me that this is the kind of thing I want to be doing. I want to be able to give people the feeling of genuinely being loved and cared for. Plus we got to go barefoot and be in mud. To quote the great Kayla "You two look so cute with your hats and your ethnic feet"

Some of us went to the school to teach about bullying and self worth. Dawna had put together some programs that helped girls with their confidence. Jenna helped her for most of the days. During lunch the children asked us what our favorite food was. They all really liked pizza. I can't say I blame them. It was the first thing we ate when we got to Seattle on the way home. We also designed the new sign for the property to hang up on the last day of the trip. This will be a yearly ritual. Kayla and Josh got to speak in Wednesday night church. They were both so great and passionate about what they were saying.

My favorite part of the trip was when we went to an internment camp to have a bible study. 18,000 families who were squatters in Manila were given 10,000 pesos and a home by the government to move. What we had to do when we arrived was so unexpected but such a rush. We had to hop out of the van, go around in the streets and tell all the children that bible club was starting. They all knew where to meet. Once everyone was together we sang songs, played games, prayed, taught lessons and gave out candy. Josh taught about Moses and the Red Sea with a great illustration, and Kayla participated in a rap presentation of the Ten Commandments. She was so gangster we couldn't even handle it. It was very hard to leave. One, because it was such a great experience, but also because the children were basically following us into the van to say goodbye!

We had a lot of food! We took breaks around 10AM called a merienda. We usually had small snacks and water. Lots of water. We needed it. Lunch was generally chicken and rice. So much rice. I don't think I can eat anymore for a long time. Even on the plane that is what we had. Spaghetti and fried chicken are popular dishes. We barely had to get used to anything different than what we eat here. Except balut. Stewart and Kayla were brave enough to try this boiled fertilized duck embryo. Blah. I can't even imagine. And of course there are the mango's. Nothing compares. Thank you to all of the wonderful ladies who prepared most of our lunches. Just to mention, Brett had a Mega Mac at the Tokyo McDonalds. Mega Mac? We don't even have that in America. Double Big Mac. Stewart , nicknamed Princess by Rojane (our driver/friend/comedian) was delivered Mountain Dew on a daily basis. It was funny, but also not very fair. Jenna just wanted mango's.

Traveling was much different than in America. In the big city of Manila it was fairly standard but there is just so much disregard for and traffic laws. In the suburbs where we were staying there are no rules. Basically whoever's nose is ahead of the others has the right of way. Cars, and trikes, and jeepney's all swerve in and out making their own lanes, meanwhile pedestrians just cross whenever and wherever they please. Policemen just wave their finger and don't do much else. I was seriously surprised that we didn't hit anybody (in a car or not). It was something that would take awhile to get used to, but has given me much more appreciation for driving back home. Stuart had a chance to drive a trike on the property. Rob sat on the back of the bike and Josh rode in the side car. We are not sure if we would call it a successful ride since Rob hopped off toward the end and the side mirror popped off. After they got back I was told that they drove off the road into the grass. Everyone was up for trying new things. Josh wanted to drive the van in the crazy traffic, but it turned out to be a pretty quiet time of day. The roads were not the greatest. When they are doing construction they use sticks and rocks to cover up the side of the road that you are not supposed to drive on, although motorcycles do not adhere to that rule. On the way to the property one of the days we came across a truck carrying many many many bags of feed that was stuck in the mud. We all got out to help, I took some photo's and got myself and my camera covered in mud. That is when I learned I would not be able to keep my camera clean on this trip. I dropped it twice too.

There were so many stray dogs and cats. Being a cat lover, I was warned not to pet them when we were there. It made me sad. I did end up giving a dog at our resort left over chicken and rice. I just can't ignore an animal. Speaking of not being able to ignore an animal, one morning we heard the sound of what could have been somebody being murdered. It turned out to be a Husky in a cage barking at a monkey that was chained up to a tree. Evidently there was a "zoo" at the resort. There was also a 10 foot Python and a bunch of boar. The monkey hated women, but held hands with Brett as he fed it a mango. When Jenna and I tried to approach it, it got all crazy eyed and loud.

On our off day we traveled to Manila. Malls are a big thing (literally a big thing). Like 4-8 floors and so much square footage. We went into a market (kind of like a flea market). It was a frustrating experience for me since I do not like being pressured. Brett bought some fake Beats Headphones that ended up only working in one ear. We headed to the American Memorial Cemetery to appreciate and reflect on the thousands upon thousands of American and Filipino soldiers that fought side by side in World War II. It was an experience to say in the least. For dinner, we went to yet another mall to Magnum. Dinner ended up just being dessert. We have eaten so much that day already. That is the premise of the Philippines.

We were sad to have to leave after the short week. Everybody was so hospitable and made us feel at home. We were not looking forward to the long flight either. It turned into an even longer flight due to a cancelled flight and some detours and long layovers in the Tokyo airport. At least Kayla made it funny for everyone by falling on Tom when she was trying to help him up, and by always getting frisked and searched. We appreciate showers and sleep more than ever.

We all grew so much as individuals and made lasting relationships with our team mates. We are a close family now, and we wouldn't trade it for anything.

To anybody considering this trip or making up reasons not to go, you should. You will love it and it will change your life.