Greetings from Manila!
It’s amazing to believe how the internet can connect people so fast in different parts of the world. Here i am in Manila , Philippines trying to redefine mission in my own terms and understanding what God has in stock for me whilst here. It’s more fun in the Philippines were the welcoming words i noted upon arrival at the airport and fun comes in different ways. Getting into a taxi this morning and noticed that my head was reaching the top roof of the car wasn’t funny, what of a tri-cycle on my return where i obviously had to bend down to fit, and a jeepney fully packed, and you ask yourself am i that tall?
I just made my first visit in the Manila area and returned to the office a few minutes ago (Time difference!), and the visit was at a location that Kapatiran-Kaunlaran Foundation, the organization i am working with has programs, it’s the Manila North Cemetery. It seems to be the biggest cemetery in the country but the most surprising thing isn’t about it’s size and capacity but about the way people live within the cemetery. People in this place live alongside the dead people, numbering about 3 500 families, with no electrical power and in their numbers they have developed a community. And you wonder what life, joy, peace of heart and mind means for these people. It was my first experience since i was born to encounter people who lived in the cemetery as good as my age.
That alone didn’t stop me from wondering but as we interacted with the people there, i learnt that people here have different ways of earning a living. The primary one being taking care of the tomb, selling flowers and candles and other jobs to earn a living. For taking care of a tomb which includes cleaning the surrounding, a family earns P20 a month which is just as good as the cost of a small bottle of water. But that’s the way people have lived over the years and that’s where some call home. A simple meal of rice and fish with a bottle of water for my dinner yesterday was P130 and how can a family ever imagine sending their kids to school or worst still think of buying pairs of jeans.
Whilst talking to the guide there, my mind kept on referring to the concept of simple living that we learned during our Young Adults Mission training in New York. I asked myself what it means to live a simple life and how can one survive under such conditions. I couldn’t hesitate to write such a note after encountering the life of people there and it was a moving experience. and pray that miracles happen for these people.
the question that i asked myself is, why did God allow me to visit such a place? The first response that came to my mind was, it’s mission. There is great human need in some communities that you would imagine are non-existent but together with God we can stand with those at the margins of our community and make positive change. There are a lot more of moving stories as to how God has a unique purpose for each and every individual on earth and we need to look into the world and identify the call.
Simple living is exemplified in different forms in our communities and what are we doing as people of God to make a positive change to help empower these people. The reality may be different but extreme poverty is real and the call for real change begins now. Tomorrow i am scheduled to visit a community in Tondo, where thousands of people live close to a dump site. Is this a mission experience? God being our guide everything is possible if we stand together for a common cause with the marginalized members of our communities and offer help to those in need.
May God be with you and bless you on this day,