Nov 20, 2010

What Exactly are You Doing, Katelyn?

"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might..." Ecclesiastes 9:10

So what type of missionary am I? What do I do?

Good question.

I’m not really a teacher. I don’t work in an orphanage. I’m not an assistant in a hospital. For that matter I have no boss telling me what to do from day to day. So what do I do?

Whatever God prompts me to do.
Living and working here fits my personality so incredibly well. Everything is different from day to day. I talk and visit with people. I sing and speak and help with services. I play with children. I plan events. I live and I talk and I act as I believe God would have me live and talk and act. It’s definitely a ministry of presence, but that doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing all day. I’m amazed with how much I do with my days here. I would not recommend my situation to those who thrive on routine or schedules or well defined roles and guidelines. But for me, it’s great!
Let me give you a glimpse of what I do.
This week we mourned the loss of a church member in a neighboring barangi. Here, funerals (called necrological services) are a big deal. They are weeklong or more affairs with a service happening at the family’s house every night. We went 3 nights to pay our respects, 17 of us piling into the IHSA van.
The First Night
More decoration was added
on subsequent nights
My very first time in the Philippines (my very first night, in fact) I went to a necrological service, so I knew what to expect. But it can be quite the shock for a westerner. The deceased is embalmed right after death and placed in a casket with a glass coving and a wooden lid. A sort of memorial is created around the casket in the family home. So when you arrive, you come and sit inside the house, right next to the body—and try to act like you can’t see it (you get used to it, though). Then you sing songs altogether, pray, have a special music, and someone gives a short talk. Then there’s a final song, a prayer, and the snacks come out for everyone to enjoy. That’s how it goes every night. A candle is lit constantly during the whole length of the necro, which can last up to weeks if many people come from all over to pay their respects. We spent a lot of time participating in the services this week.

Our Jeepney From Afar

Yesterday we had a bit of an adventure. We made the trek to the church in Adams, a mountainous town about an hour and a half’s drive away from Pagudpud Central. I’d never been there before, so I was excited to go. I’d also never ridden in a jeepney before, so I was even more excited. We’ve been wanting to go for a while, but the road to get there is very rough and especially treacherous during rainy season. Even though it had been decently dry for a while, we still rode through a fair amount of water. There were at least 3 waterfalls that incorporated our road into their routes. It was quite an adventurous trip. Good conversation with new friends made it even more enjoyable.

The Bridge
Unfortunately, we had other appointments to keep and had to go back after just a few hours of worship and fellowship with the members there. We’re planning on going back later and spending the night. That way we can do some more hiking up there. But oh, how beautiful it is up there. It is so quiet and peaceful, lacking the hustle and bustle of living in a central town. The church rests in a dip in the peaks, which means you can turn every which way and see the green mountains touching the sky. It is so gorgeous and beckons for quests into the wilderness. We are undoubtedly going back. We did have a slight bit of questing though. On the way back, we took a suspended foot bridge across a river. It wasn’t as frightening as I had supposed it would be, but it was a thrill nonetheless.
There you go—a small snapshot of what life is like here. Who knows what this next week will bring. Every day is different, every moment an adventure. Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing something more. But then I go play with the neighborhood kids and sing “Jesus Love is A-Bubblin’ Over,” and I’m more than satisfied.

Nov 8, 2010


"Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King." Psalm 149:2

Sometimes I sit. Or I stand. Or I talk. Or I listen. Or I gaze. Or I sing.

And the moment is--full.

I wonder if you know what I mean. I imagine you do.

There are these moments where I find time stands perfectly still, allowing me to soak in the wonders of the universe. These moments that are pure and real and good. These moments that fill my heart with life and love and depth. These moments where I feel blessed almost to the point of aching, that I might burst from God's lavishness at any moment.

Sunday, I sat on the ground and watched three girls jumping rope in the late afternoon sun. They were showing me their skills and simply having fun. I laughed and clapped and cheered. And then I just sat there. Full. And I thanked God for that moment.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon talking with two wonderful ladies who I hadn't talked with much previously. We just talked about life and ate lots of food. They are such loving women, so full of life and beauty. I was so overcome by their smiles, their words, and especially their hearts. At one point I just sat and listened and thought, "Wow. I love them so much!" I was so grateful just to be in their presence, talking with them, eating with them, praying with them. It was simple, but somehow holy.

I just came in from outside where the rain is pouring. I had been making the way from a house back to the church with several other SMs when we came upon several girls with umbrellas. I crouched down next to one girl and huddled under her umbrella, sharing with her a big smile as we proceeded to walk. I walked and talked with the girls, asking their names and where they were going. "School," was the answer. "Where are you going?" I was asked. We were passing the church, the other SMs branching off towards it. I looked at the girls and shrugged. "School." They laughed. I continued to walk with them. Sopping wet and laughing, I was so full of utter joy and freedom. I walked with them another block until they made a turn at the road. I waved a goodbye, and they reciprocated. All the way back to the church I couldn't stop smiling.

They are just moments. Life is made of billions of them, I suppose. But each one seems everlasting in a way. I thank God so much for blessing my heart, for bringing me here. Of course, as with anywhere, there is pain. Life is not perfect. There are messes here as much as America.

But somehow, goodness lingers. Life is slowed, allowing one to drink it in so much deeper. Leaving one completely and simply...full.