Magandang umaga, po! (Good morning). I can not believe that I have been in the Philippines now for over a month. I have truly enjoyed my time here. For the last three weeks (until last Saturday), I lived in Pook and worked to research how FHI’s programs impacted the community. FHI worked in Pook for about 12 years. However, they pulled out of the community 2 years ago. In addition to assisting communities, FHI strives to partner with local churches. The ultimate goal is to prevent the community from coming into a state of dependency on FHI, and instead, empower the church to eventually take over the work. This is why FHI left Pook 2 years ago.
Before leaving, FHI assisted the local church (Pook CRC) in creating a “comprehensive plan” to continue to help the community. With this plan, Pook now has a feeding ministry and educational assistance program to help some of the children eat and go to school. These children meet at the church every week. In addition to getting a good meal, the children are taught lessons from the Bible. Here are a couple pictures of the times I was at the gathering! In the 1st picture, the guy standing on the left and the two girls on the right are friends that I made (around my age) who are involved in helping with the ministry.
Because I was only in the community of Pook for 3 weeks, there are MANY experiences that I had which must not be taken for granted. What I experienced was a result of the local Filipinos’ very warm hospitality. I felt very welcomed, indeed. And I truly enjoyed my experience. I do not have pictures from the interpretive dance, but I hope to obtain some before I leave the country. 🙂 (Some were taken, which I don’t have).
As you may know/remember, the primary reason I came to the Philippines was to evaluate the Microenterprise Development (MED) / Livelihood projects that FHI conducts here. Obviously, in Pook, my research was strictly post-impact based. It is commonly known among researchers that it is very hard to only do effective post-impact research, simply because one of the only things we have to go on is what people tell you (which may or may not be true, and which must always be taken with a grain of salt).
Thus, with the many things that I learned in Pook, I must be careful to not generalize the data. I must critically analyze it, and if possible, I need to obtain the same data from as many sources and using as many different techniques as possible.
In addition to my work, there were a lot of people in the community that I became friends with. Of course, it is in the Filipino culture to be very warm, open and hospitable with foreigners. So this, of course, is one of the reasons why I had such a good experience in Pook.
However, it almost seems like 1/2 of the people of Pook are related to each other. This immediate family is related through Ate Nilda (the wife) to a bigger family. These two families (and Pastor Jerry) are the people that I spent the majority of my time with.
Well, I am now in Fairview. I arrived on Saturday (Sorry, don’t have any pictures yet!) This week, I feel like I am doing almost a grand total of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! Yay (just kidding). The FHI staff is still trying to get things sorted out. While we all know that I’m here to “evaluate their livelihood programs” it doesn’t appear that the local FHI staff has this as their #1 agenda – which is understandable.
Right now, this is actually fine with me. I got very behind in analyzing the data I had collected in Pook, so I am spending time catching up on that. I am also catching up on communicating with the outside world. Until yesterday (Monday), I haven’t had access to internet in over 1 & 1/2 weeks. Lots of people were asking about me, and I at least wanted to get off a belated Happy Father’s Day message to my dad.
Thank you, friends for your continued prayers. I do have a few specific requests.
1) That I would be patient, and wise with, and think through my research VERY critically. This is extremely important, and I’ll admit that I have not done this very well over the past month. The experience of simply being here is quite a lot of think about. Through the assignments that I have turned in, however, I have been forced to think through my research, and I have been reminded of this importance.
2) That I would make the adjustment into city life well. For the past 3 weeks, I lived in Pook, which is rural. But now I am in the (rather polluted) city. This is an adjustment in and of itself. However, I am also building completely new relationships. Please pray for me as I build these new relationships, I would not start comparing my experience in Fairview to that in Pook. Please pray that I would be able to start doing useful research in Fairview, and that while I wait to get started, I would have patience.
(I am actually traveling with FHI staff this Saturday away from Fairview, and will be gone for over a week in the province of Bicel. Maybe when I return, I’ll have things to do!)
What has the Lord taught me, you may be wondering?
In short, I have learned great reliance and peace on him. I have definitely grown in my walk with him, and have learned better what it means to find my satisfaction in him. I have also grown and learned more the importance of loving the people where they are at, for who they are, with all of my heart. I have been reminded that as an American, I do not want to go into a community with a big head on my shoulders. Instead, I want to be humble as I work to partner with the community. I want to avoid having a “superior” attitude.
This means that I MUST learn the culture. What is “humble” or “superior” in America is NOT the same thing in the Philippines. So please pray that I would also be open to the Lord’s leading in this area for the rest of my time here.
Ingat po kayo (take care), and God Bless!