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Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

By Jeannie Dortch. Photos by  Meredith Booth and Ann Carter.

Steve and Meredith Booth, father and daughter, both traveled to Manila, Philippines, to work with indigent families and with inmates of a women’s correctional facility. But not together, nor at the same time!

Callout-heartRecently they compared their trips’ impacts on those they served and the difference it has made in their own lives as Christians. When the purpose of a mission trip is to share with others that everyone is worthy of God’s attention, always loved, never forgotten, time and place become immaterial. And Steve and Meredith’s stories become amazingly similar.

Meredith with Filipino children

Meredith with Filipino children

In August, 2012, Meredith traveled to Manila to serve with a mission team that ministered to displaced families in the aftermath of a devastating monsoon season. They spread God’s love through song, crafts and puppets in over crowded government evacuation centers, as well as through simple worship services inside a maximum security women’s prison.

Steve visited the same correctional facility when he arrived in Manila in July, 2013, but his group spent the majority of its time in Quezon City’s Payatas. Sixty-thousand people live around this large, open dumpsite, sorting and selling whatever they can find. The sheer number of people in need was overwhelming in both settings, something that might foster discouragement, but for one fact. In Manila, Americans are revered. As Steve said, “They knew we were Christians, loved God, and cared enough to spend time with them. They listened attentively to our presentations (of songs, crafts, and pantomimed Bible stories), but getting to know us was more pertinent to them.”

Steve with Filipino children

Steve with Filipino children

Filipinos view visits from American Christians as a sign of hope. They were awestruck that Christians would travel so far to just be with them, listen to their stories and share Bible stories with them. One person told Meredith, “Your being here helps us believe that God knows we still exist! And we know He exists because you came!”

Meredith explained, “I was at home praying that I wouldn’t forget to pack what was needed for the lessons that our group had planned to teach, but the people with whom we worked told us that just our being there was an answer to their prayers. Our presence was that important to them! The props we brought paled in comparison to that.”

Meredith and Steve were struck by the happiness exuding from the people they met in Manila. Steve commented, “They’re so free. We place value on the accumulation of things, but they are not bogged down in trying to protect stuff. They know from experience that what they have today can be gone tomorrow.”

no tables-improvise-MBooth“Yes,” Meredith continued, “even while their shanties were being wiped away by flood waters, people would stand on bridges watching their homes wash away and laugh. Because they have nothing, nothing holds them back in their faith. They understand the transitory value of things and the eternal value of God. Having nothing frees them to put their faith in Him 1,000% and they do.”

Both concurred that the only qualification needed to join a mission team going to this part of the world is just a willingness to go. “The setting equips you,” said Meredith, “and the people pull out of you just what they need.”

Steve added, “Giving yourself is a job anyone can do. Though we had an agenda, leaders and interpreters, the only thing necessary was a listening and loving heart. God provided that for both of us.”

2012 team members: Meredith Booth, Allen Cumbia (Team Leader), Hope Cumbia, Jensine Cumbia, Gladys Johnson, Ralph Starling, Matthew Szucs, Ruth Szucs, Cathy Tankersley, Lynn Turner.

2013 team members: Steve Booth, Ann Carter (Team Leader), Allen Cumbia, Elise Cumbia, Diana Hubbard, Emily Hubbard, Madison Brown, Andrea Culotta, Madeline Surles, Melissa Johnson, Claire Johnson, and Jonathan Kim.

Editor’s note: Since August 2013 we have published three stories of father-daughter mission journeys – a trend reflecting another way our church is blessed and is a blessing. See related stories: Letting Go and Ministering to the Zulu People in South Africa

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By Ann Carter. Photos by Ann Carter and Len Morrow.

I’ve had a whirlwind mission-trip season.

Youth 1 gardeningAs part of a six-week gardening class this spring with Len Morrow (see below) Youth 1 planted potatoes in a roof top garden at the former Adams Camera Store. That building is being refurbished through ReEstablish Richmond to assist refugees who have been brought to Richmond by federal programs. The youths also worked with Len to prepare gardens around FBC for planting with summer annuals.

arkansas-cardgame250pxAt the end of June, I took 16 Youth One kids and five adults to Passport Camp, an annual week-long event that focuses on discipleship and hands-on mission time. In July I led a group of 10 children and youths and 15 adults to Helena, Arkansas. This has also been an annual mission trip, where we partner with, serve and love that community.

manila-youth250pxAnd 12 of us finished up the season in July with another bit of heaven in Singapore at the Baptist Youth World Conference, followed by a mission trip to Manila, Philippines—two more weeks of bringing heaven to earth—and experiencing heaven on earth!

These times were heaven on earth for me. I know saying that seems like a stretch. Really? Digging in dirt on a roof top? A week with middle schoolers at camp? Sleeping on the floor of a church with 24 of your closest friends and showering in a trailer? Yes!!!!!

Youth 1 on missionBut let me explain!

There is something really beautiful about traveling together, living together in close quarters, working together, learning together, worshiping together, playing together, laughing together, eating together, resting together, and growing together. Emphasis on together!

At the end of each experience our love for God and our love for each other has multiplied and deepened and strengthened so that we came home longing for more time together.

Youth 1 on missionActually, what we are longing for is heaven. Because I think that is what heaven will be like: people who love God and love each other, living, worshiping, eating, fellowshipping, playing and laughing, resting and working – together.

Look for more information on Len Morrow.
Find out about ReEstablish Richmond or email Patrick Bradford.
Editor’s note: Ann Carter serves on the FBC staff as Youth Associate.

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Enough

By Meredith Booth. Photos by Allen Cumbia.

calloutAs one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Manila, the Philippines, is far from serene. At all hours of the day, streets teem with buses, cars and tricycles (see first photo) pumping thick, black exhaust into the sultry sky. An endless stream of people wade through murky flood waters, their clothes saturated from the monsoon rains. Piles of discarded trash litter the ground, spilling into the scrap-metal shanty homes that line the road. The poverty is all-consuming.

philippines-flooded

In early August, our 10-member team of volunteers served families and children living in evacuation centers in Metro Manila. Many of these centers exist to support the thousands of families displaced by the recent flooding, while others serve as temporary government housing for impoverished families.

PhilippinesArmed with a spirit of adventure (and a few essential craft supplies), we left Richmond with anxious excitement for how God would change us and use us during this trip. We were prepared to sing and tell stories, ring chimes and play games, and do just about anything God placed in our path. And that He did.

He placed us in gymnasiums swarming with crying babies and smiling children. He took us to open-air awnings packed with hungry children. He drove us through neighborhoods built upon landfills and inside the walls of a women’s prison. We sang songs with their children, painted butterflies on their faces, and rejoiced with them until our shirts were drenched in sweat.

In the midst of such deep physical poverty, gratitude abounded. Children splashed in the waters that washed away their homes, smiled for our cameras, held umbrellas to keep us dry, and joyfully honored us with their finest hospitality.

And still our team was left reeling, consumed with the devastating need all around us. In one of our conversations with Elmer, the missionary we partnered with in the Philippines, we asked, “How do you deal with the overwhelming need here?” And his reply was quite simple, “Because it is my joy. You see, you are the answer to these people’s prayers. You are what they’ve been praying for.”

And so, in a place that seems somewhat forgotten, God has not forgotten His people. He answered with face paint and with puppets. He answered with enough. Enough rice for a thousand hungry bellies. Enough hope for a city under water. Enough crayons for a sea of tiny eager hands. Enough faith to believe God is still present. He has answered with enough in a place that has not nearly enough. He has answered with us.

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess … I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message).

Team members: Meredith Booth, Allen Cumbia, Hope Cumbia, Jensine Cumbia, Gladys Johnson, Ralph Starling, Matthew Szucs, Ruth Szucs, Cathy Tankersley, Lynn Turner

See Related Story: How are mission trips funded?


Meredith BoothMeredith Booth is a fourth grade teacher for Chesterfield County. At FBC Richmond, she enjoys serving as a small group leader for youth on Sunday nights and taking part in local and international mission projects. She loves traveling, being outdoors and spending time with her family, especially her nephews, Jackson and Wesley. God has given her more than enough.

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