Here I am, sitting at the kitchen table of Mission House, Ayungon, Philippines, reflecting on my first ten days. I can tell you about the struggles of the missionaries I am visiting, I can try and describe washing from a bucket of cold water and dealing with the blocked toilet, about constant emails, trying to raise funds and four-hour long trips to the city using three different modes of public transport, only to find the bank account still empty.
I would be able to entertain you with descriptions of tricycle rides, where 12 people all squeeze onto a small vehicle, clutching bags of shopping, rice and buckets of smelly fish, or Erla and I balancing a bunch of coconuts on our knees because the roof space is taken up by the box with our weekly shop.
I can tug at your heart strings by telling stories of sad children, burdened mothers, despondent fathers, dirt, depravity and oppression. I can do all of those but I won’t. I would rather tell you about the fun we are having, dancing around to the beat of a badly played drum, waving our banners, swishing our ribbons. I would rather you know about the young girl who turned up last night to look for someone to pray with her. You see, she had been to the service in the plaza and heard about this Jesus Who loves her and she wanted to come and meet with Him.
I want to tell you about the blind man, Henry, who found his way over after Jesus told him to come. Henry, who learned to play the keyboard from tinkering on a child’s toy and now followed the worship team practicing in the kitchen – the only place big enough for a drum kit. I want to fill you in on the little children who laid hands on Henry and prayed a prayer full of faith for Henry’s eyes to be restored – the same little hands laid on my head when a headache sent by the enemy tried to lay me low.
You need to hear about young people so hungry for Life and Light, that they come early on Sunday morning, bringing their own chairs rather than miss out on hearing the word of God, broken and abused young men who come and sit on the step to read a daily devotional left in the kitchen.
God is good and He is madly in love with all His children and here I see Him lavishing His love on the marginalised and the hurting. I love Him even more for it. I love Him for changing my heart, for breaking it and filling it with compassion to overflowing. I love Him for doing it for me, because my heart was hard and calloused and in and of myself I had nothing to offer these precious ones, but now I have the map to living water, where they are free to drink until they too will overflow into their nation.