Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Glimpse of It

Week 1

Hello fellow friends, family members, and students serving through Nehemiah Teams.

This is just a update to tell you all about our first week and the amazing things God is doing here. This week our team traveled to a Methodist school and was able to minister to around 120 elementary aged children while  teaching in classes, playing sports, serving meals, and just simply loving them. We didn't quite know what to expect as we pulled up the first day. Children just stared at the "Mazungu's" (white people) with amazement and awe.

The teachers immediately put us to work in the classrooms and we quickly bonded with the teachers and students. Before long they were calling us all "cha" which is short for teacher and they ran to us every day when we arrived.We were all put into separate classes and taught lessons as well as crafts with the kids.  It was wonderful to see how each member of the team bonded with the children and teachers. Each class was like a little family. I was amazed at how much the kids shared with one another, and we were all impressed with how well behaved the students were.

Although our time at the school was short, the impact that the teachers and students left on us will last a life time.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Bus Ride Silliness

Our First Bus Ride
This is a little video from our first bus ride here in the Philippines. There was pounding dance music the entire time, so the guys decided to have a little fun.

Luzon Media Team Member - Tyler

Media Team Member for Island of Luzon - Philippines
Age: 20
Student at Mississippi State University
Mission Verse: Jeremiah 17:7-8

I had some help from a friend at Open Door

Then I met a new buddy at New Faith Family

With a Few Pencils...

Tyler – Luzon Media
At Open Door Orphanage, it’s hot, humid, tiresome, and AWESOME!  The kids steal your heart immediately; there’s nothing you can do about it.  Their excitement for anything, generosity, and loving nature draw you in, and before you know it you’re hooked.
The youth at Open Door are a bit more reserved.  Even after being there a few days, we still didn’t feel like we saw them very much or knew them well at all.  The girls were busy throughout the day helping with cooking, laundry, and trips to the market.  The boys helped with church functions and construction of new classrooms for the school.  Their tasks explained why we didn’t see them very much, but even when we did, we realized it would take some creativity to know them better.
The boys immediately opened up to Derek when basketball came into the picture, so they opened up to me by association.  Becca came up with an interesting solution for the girls.  Her passion for teenage girls and her background in psychology helped her build a bridge between the girl youth at Open Door and the team.
Becca:  We wanted to do something special for the girls one night because we hadn’t had much time with them.  We arranged a secret get together in one of the classrooms.  When they arrived, we took out paper, colored pencils, and stickers.  Then the fun began.  We told the girls to write down their favorite things and decorate their “personality pages” any way they wanted to.  It really allowed us to see into their minds to know what they liked, allowed them to have some creative expression, and gave us glimpses of their personalities.  They really enjoyed making their pages, and we loved finally getting the chance to bond with them.
As we worked on our pages, the younger kids started showing up.  Eventually, nearly every child in the orphanage was drawing a page or writing a note for another kid.  They were all gladly sharing the twenty colored pencils we brought – not a likely occurrence in America.  
The kids want to participate
Later that night, we were able to talk with the girls about their pages.  They were beginning to trust us more.  Some of the girls even shared their stories of their lives before Open Door and their testimonies.  It was a beautiful experience to see God claim such a victory through something as simple as colored pencils.

And it all started.......

...with pencils

Love The Children, Meet the Team

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:1-2

Brittney, University of Southern Mississippi
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."-Matthew 5:8-10

Julie, North Greenville
“A father of the fatherless and a judge for widows, Is God in His holy habitation God makes a home for the lonely; …God is to us a God of deliverances.”  Psalm 65 

Brittney, Holmes Community College
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. Proverbs 31:25

It's Amazing What a Ball Can Do!

Tyler – Luzon Media

Waking up on the first morning at Open Door, Derek and I were unsure of how we would bond with the children.  They know some English, but mostly speak Tagalog.  Our Tagalog is pathetic.  What do we do?
            We were happily told good morning by the children with “Magandang umaga, Kuya Derek.” or “Kuya Tyler.”  (kuya is a respectful term meaning older brother.)  They followed us to our luggage room where they waited intently for us outside the door.  Derek thought sports might be a good ice-breaker to bond with the children.  Well the ice didn’t break – it shattered!
            The boys’ eyes were the size of saucers as Derek and I pumped up a basketball, and they raced downstairs to the basketball court/play area for a game.  The bonding began with a ball and has developed into something beautiful.  It is a story best told through Derek’s perspective though. 
Derek:  Basketball has been my link to the Filipino children since I got here.  I had no idea how much they liked it.  They often ask who my favorite team is, or who my favorite player is.  They call me Dirk Nowitzski,  only because I’m white – no resemblance. I mean they call Tyler,  John Cena, clearly no resemblance there.  Anyway, I played with them for hours that first day.  They NEVER get tired.  It is now an everyday thing.  Even during school if they see me, they will scream, “Dirk Nowitzski!  We play basketball today?”  They are so happy to play that I can’t tell them no.
Two boys saw "Dirk" through the window during class
The news of my playing has spread to the youth boys too. On Sunday night, the youth from Open Door, as well as the youth boys from another church, played basketball with some locals as a fellowship and ministry time.  They said I was the first Kuya to come to Open Door that liked to play basketball.
Derek playing with local youth and men on Sunday night

Chucky from open Door's church shooting on Sunday night

Romer from Open Door Shoot on Sunday night
One of the boys, Clark, is a beast at basketball.  He is so little, but so good!  He’s fast, like a little ninja!  Every time he asks me to play, I say yes of course, and he runs to me, grabs on to my waist and says, “My team! My team!”  His little smile melts my heart. 
Clark - King of the Court

Clark dominating Tyler
Derek "Dirk" showing the kids how it's done

Ate (big sister) Victoria joining in on the fun

Thursday, June 16, 2011


   Yesterday was the first day of school for our children here at the orphanage. Because of the cost of the uniforms and school supplies the orphanage is now homeschooling. A school is going to be built adjacent to the compound at the end of this month and hopefully be completed in August.

   We began with an hour of English. I reviewed basic phonetics and the sounds the English letters make. Then I had each child write down some facts about themselves. Many want to be doctors and scientists. The second hour was math- some of them loved it and some of them hated it. I split them into small groups to practice with the addition, subtraction, and multiplication flash-cards we brought with us.

   Today in school I created scenarios of going on a picnic and going to the beach to show the children how math applies in everyday life. It was so fun! Everyone made up how much things would cost and how much money everyone had with them. (Two millionaires, and one that only had 5 sentimos!)

   These children are very smart and eager to learn. Education is a privilege to them and I must say I feel incredibly blessed to be able to be teaching them! It could be intimidating to teach them with the language barrier that is between us, but I have seen God's hand in it all. He has made me patient when I wanted to scream. Creative when I had run out of ideas. And energetic when my mind was screaming for nap time.

   As I stop to think of being here, not a full week yet, I am overwhelmed by the grace of God. May He get all the glory for bringing us here and living powerfully in us!

Please pray for...
The school building for the children.
Continued finances for supplies.
Energy for the team! (Morning starts at 4:45!)
Unity among everyone.
And for the health of each of the team members.

Thank you for your prayers!

Loving on Those Children!

Brittney, teaching the children how to write their names.
The people of the Philippines have an amazing ability to improvise. Since my team has arrived, we have seen just how hard life is for the majority of Filipinos. People here do the best they can with what they have to get the job done. It seems like the everything is made out of tin, concrete, and bamboo. This has given me a new worldview, it is not just the lack of having but the creativity to use what one already has.

The streets are crammed with tricycles and motorcycles with extra seating for passengers. (This is two of their forms of public transportation.) The sidewalks are vendors selling fruits, barbecue, raw meat, and even shampoo. Everyone and everything is close together... and a little crammed!

The Love The Children Foundation building, is nicer than most of the other houses in the neighborhood. Because it is built to hold many children it is much larger than the surround buildings. Although there are a few obvious repairs needed the campus as a whole is well maintained and cared for.

Day to day life is different here. Bucket baths are a part of life here. Washing clothes means going down by the river and washing them by hand. (A weekly task.) Rice is eaten at every meal along with a small portion of vegetable. (Whatever was the best price at the market that day that could be bought in a bulk quantity.) Even with all the hardships that seem so evident to me Filipino believers are faithful in praising God for the work He has done in their lives. Since our arrival we have experienced many things, the heat and sweat that seem to never end, schooling the children, and working in the kitchen. Cleaning is an all day activity when you have 30+ kids in one house!

Rice! Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sometimes for a snack!
Community outreach is something that we do in the late afternoon each day in different locations. On Saturday we do house visits, and during the weekdays have VBS in different neighborhoods located near the orphanage. The children love the music and games. Even the adults like to sit in and listen. Please pray that we will be able to communicate the truth of the Gospel not just to the children but to their aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents that standing in the sidelines listening.

God is giving us strength. Strength to wake up early. Strength to love the children. Strength to hand wash our clothes. Strength to share God's Word!

Thank you for your prayers for our team!


Last Update For The Next 2 Weeks

After three days of adventure, Team Olympus (Brandon, Matthew, and Daniel) and Team Lighting (Zach and Adam) have made it back to home base safely. Both teams were getting their feet wet in the home base city. The teams were driven an hour away from home base, dropped off with a translator, then were challenged to find their way back to home base while meeting people and learning about their culture. Team Lightning got to do some spearfishing at night, while the local waterfalls amazed Team Olympus.
As for me, I spent three days exploring a small island with Team TNT. We visited a few small rural villages, climbed a mountain to touch the clouds, and spent some time diving at the ports of a couple of villages. Living with little electricity, no air conditioning, and no toilets will be the challenge for each team coming from a land where these things are considered necessities.

All Praise Belongs to YOU, A Handwritten Blog

  Two Riverboat Backpacker teams are serving among the Waray-Waray people, literally meaning the "absolutely nothings."  They eat, sleep, and live with the villagers among whom they minister, and as a result, they are likewise isolated from modern comforts such as cell phone reception, constant electricity, washing machines, running water, beds, and an internet connection.
  So we've invented handwritten blogs, which are scribbled on pieces of paper in the middle of the jungle, handed to their field supervisor, hand-carried onto a boat headed to town, driven four hours through the mountains to the city, and uploaded for the world to see.  And that's how the riverboat teams do it!

Prayers and Poverty, A Handwritten Blog

  Two Riverboat Backpacker teams are serving among the Waray-Waray people, literally meaning the "absolutely nothings."  They eat, sleep, and live with the villagers among whom they minister, and as a result, they are likewise isolated from modern comforts such as cell phone reception, constant electricity, washing machines, running water, beds, and an internet connection.
  So we've invented handwritten blogs, which are scribbled on pieces of paper in the middle of the jungle, handed to their field supervisor, hand-carried onto a boat headed to town, driven four hours through the mountains to the city, and uploaded for the world to see.  And that's how the riverboat teams do it!

Sacrifice and Sharing, A Handwritten Blog

  Two Riverboat Backpacker teams are serving among the Waray-Waray people, literally meaning the "absolutely nothings."  They eat, sleep, and live with the villagers among whom they minister, and as a result, they are likewise isolated from modern comforts such as cell phone reception, constant electricity, washing machines, running water, beds, and an internet connection.
  So we've invented handwritten blogs, which are scribbled on pieces of paper in the middle of the jungle, handed to their field supervisor, hand-carried onto a boat headed to town, driven four hours through the mountains to the city, and uploaded for the world to see.  And that's how the riverboat teams do it!

Arrived in Kenya.

On Friday I picked the team as they were struggling to adjust to time. We had a good evening before the team spread their mattresses for the night. Yesterday was a busy day for us. We put up the teams tents and built an extra bath house. I loved the way Olivia, Whitney and Nick worked with me and by 4 pm the bathhouse was complete. At one time work came to a standstill as we all run to the top of my incomplete house to watch a big herd of Zebras which was  grazing nearby.
Today was a great day for the team. They all woke up in very good spirits and we prepared quickly to head to church. A few metres away was a herd of Giraffes .What a good day? We got to church and the team had a very good presentation as well as an interaction period with the youth in my church.
As I put down these few words we are taking dinner. The team has had enough rest from the fatigue of the long trip. From tomorrow Monday to Friday we will be working at our church's school. So far we have seen the hand of God. No complains, their health is very good. The spirit is high.
Please pray for us as we enter into the most crucial part of the ministry. Pray for the team’s health, safety as we interact with the children in the slums etc.I will be sending you reports as we progress.
God bless you.
Field Soporvisor
Matt McGowen
Field Coordinator
Make Way Partners

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Greetings! Our team has successfully landed and we are off to a glorious start! We visited the local marketplace where we learned a great deal about the vibrant and diverse culture of the people here. It is amazing how wide of a spectrum exists between the extremely wealthy and the desperately poor. Despite all of the differences between these groups they share the common thread of unbelief. Already we have visited two temples and a mosque where we witnessed the enormous need for the saving grace of our Lord. We were
so excited to pass out registration flyers for the English classes we will be teaching and finally make some
connections! The classes begin this week, please pray for an abundant number of pupils and close relationships with each one.

In His Service!

Journey to Open Door

Tyler – Luzon Media           
After five days of orientation, seven for team leaders, we should have felt like our trip was beginning, and the realization that we would be gone for two months should have set in.  It hadn’t.  The Open Door orphanage team and I discussed this thought on our way to the Atlanta airport.  Orientation had been an amazing experience and we had built strong bonds with our team members. It had felt like the most amazing church retreat EVER, and we should be headed back to our houses now. The 150+ Nehemiah Teams members had been shuttled to Atlanta in four different trips – the first at 1:00 a.m.!  Our group was the next to last to leave, and once everyone had arrived at the airport, we did another reality check.  It still didn’t seem like we would be across the world in the next few…well, next LOTS of hours. 

            The flight was the first time on an airplane for some Nehemiah Teams members, but everyone handled it beautifully. Once landing in Los Angeles - the weather really is perfect there by the way - we did another check.  It still didn’t seem real.  We stuffed down some food, called the parentals, and waited for a couple of hours for our flight. 
            We boarded the HUGE plane, took our seats, and waited to arrive in the Philippines.  Then we waited some more.  Waited.  Waited.  You could get up from the computer now, go grab a cup of coffee and come back - we were still waiting.  When we couldn’t sleep anymore we decided to all watch at least one in flight movie together. After five years of flying, we landed, examined our swollen feet, and headed to immigration.  It still didn’t seem real.
We claimed our bags, exchanged our money, and were met by Ate Nanette – the sweetest little Filipino lady walking the planet.  She met us, joked with us, and took us to one of the biggest malls in Asia – you would love her too now, right?  We went to the mall to wait for Victoria – she wouldn’t arrive until 6 p.m.  

Traffic in the Philippines is terrifying.  There are lanes, but hey, why use them?  Tricycles, taxis, and Jeepnies (public transportation) dominate the roads, and drivers pretty much make their own rules.  We got to the mall, I released my death grip on the seat, and we began our Filipino experience.
Naturally as Americans, our first significant feelings of our trip began in a mall.  There are NO white people here.  You could try to find them, but I’ll go ahead and save you the trouble. Therefore…we kind of stood out.  People stared, pointed, and smiled at us a lot (we hope out of happiness and not our ignorance).    The mall was HUGE.  There is not a font type or size I could use to express the size of this place.  We were there for nine hours, and we saw about half of it.
 I made the first stupid mistake.  We saw a Vibram FiveFinger shoe store. I got excited.  I saw the pair I wanted, and saw the price $950 pesos.  I get really excited – that’s less than twenty dollars.  I proudly said “Bag them. I want these!”  The register did something weird.  The price on it was 5950 pesos. Dumb me thought the 5 was a $!  So a very embarrassed me had to tell the worker to put them back and I booked it out of that store!
Later, we picked Victoria up, heard the epic tales of her travels (see below) and ate at McDonalds.  You can get rice with ANYTHING by the way.
Victoria's Journey: 

(Victoria:  I left orientation at 5:30 a.m. to catch my 11:45 flight to Houston.  This began my 36 hour trek to the Philippines.  The sixteen of us who took this alternate route to the Philippines quickly grabbed some Starbucks coffee and a hot dog at Nathan's in Houston, and then boarded the 24 hour flight to Singapore with a 1-hour stop in Moscow - lovely.  Twenty-four hours on a plane is pretty other way to put it.  The food has to be some of the worst smelling substances on the planet, and the polite people of the airline thought it would be best to feed it to us every three hours.  By the time we landed in Singapore, I was starving, nauseous, and dirty.  As soon as I stepped off the plane though, my attitude completely changed.  
All of us immediately fell in love with Changi Airport in Singapore.  We spent our 8-hour layover there shopping, walking through five different gardens, having it our way at Burger King, and bathing in the bathroom sink - much to the surprise of a poor Indian cleaning lady.  We felt amazingly cleaner, co it was worth looking silly to the woman.  I think the best perk of the entire airport though was the free internet.  We all got to update our families and our blogs while we waited.
When we finally boarded our flight to Manila, I was still nauseous and tired.  I prayed the entire time we were boarding that I would get to sleep, and God generously answered that prayer.  I was blessed with an entire row of seats to myself, and I slept the entire three hours.  I woke to the sound of the pilot welcoming us to Manila.  After a quick check through customs and immigration, I was reunited with my wonderful team. I can now officially say that I have traveled halfway around the world.)

We stepped off the rental van and into the team’s home for the next two months, Open Door Orphanage.  The kids were waiting outside to meet us.  We tried REALLY hard to match their excitement, but most of us hadn’t really slept in about 2.5 days, so it was hard.  Derek and I met the boys by watching a movie with them.  They don’t have much, but they are so creative and generous with what they do have.  The movie was on an iPod Touch looped through a shoestring that was hanging from the top bunk of one of the beds.   You know in America there would be one kid holding the thing, refusing to give it up, and everyone would have to get at the same angle as that kid if they wanted to see it, or everyone would have their one.  All of the children were crowded around the bed watching.  This was when it hit home that we were not in America anymore and these children will change the way we see everything.
We crashed into bed, and before instantly drifting off to sleep, we prayed that God would use us to love these children and make an impact on them for the kingdom.  We already knew that would have a life-changing impact on us.

Luzon Nanny Supervisor - Jenny Reichley

Age:  24
Kindergarten Teacher in Louisiana
Supervisor for orphanage teams on island of Luzon in the Philippines
Mission Verse:  Acts 20:24

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


   We arrived at NFF on Friday after a 5 hour bus ride from Davao City. As we pulled in all of us were  squirming with excitement in our seats.
    The first place we came to was  the church, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. This is where we will be spending our Sunday mornings. Next we came to the big dining hall which is used for AWANA and Saturday Fellowship during the summer. It is basically a big screened in bamboo pavilion.
   Then we were shown where we will be staying for the summer. We have a room with a balcony, that has an amazing view of the NFF Home and mountains. The room has bunk-beds and our own bathroom. The walls have been decorated by previous teams with words of encouragement.
   Finally, we were taken to the children's home. Downstairs is the kitchen where meals are prepared by the cook and where everyone eats. Upstairs there is a boy's side and a girl's side. Each side is made up of 4 bedrooms. There is also a wing for toddlers and babies.
   The home seems very organized. They children know their (daily) chores and know when to do them. It has been absolutely amazing meeting and getting to know these precious children.
   Malaybalay is a beautiful place. Yes, there are lots of things we are going to have to adjust to around here but we are beyond blessed to have beds and running water. So many of the other teams do not have those luxuries right now!
   The four white American Southerners are making adjustments and building relationships in the Philippines. We are looking forward to seeing what God is doing to do in us and through us this summer!
The guest house where we are staying.

The dining hall.
The New Faith Family Children's Home