Archive for September, 2008

Hello again all my diligent readers!

I appreciate you coming back for the second part of this blog series, it means a lot to me that you would take the time to read this.
If you haven’t read the first installment, I am asking you to please pop over and take a peek at it.

I first met Paula last January on the Rebelution Forum ( http://www.therebelution.com/ ), I had just joined to find like-minded young adults who were passionate for God. Paula contacted me because she saw I had my own website -Maidens of Modesty ( http://www.maidensofmodesty.com ) and she had some questions of how to start her own website. 🙂
We became fast friends, we started talking about missions, God, our personal lives, our personal beliefs, our personal passions, and our personal convictions. At first it was almost eerie, sometimes she would talk about her passion for something and it would be something I had been passionate about. She’d then explain why, and it was almost word for word how I would explain why I was passionate about the very same thing!
It was such a God gift, because ever since then she has been a CONSTANT encouragement, blessing, and an amazing sister in the Lord and friend. 🙂 (She has stuck with me through thick and thin. *hugs* Love ya, Pau!)

As an American missionary Paula has to come back to the United States for furlough. This October she will be using a ticket that she has had for a long while to fly back to the US!
Some time between the time she arrives and the time she leaves again for the Philippines, she’ll be coming to stay with myself and my family! 😀
So yes, we will FINALLY be able to meet Paula! *laughs* (Don’t worry, we will post pictures of it. If you’re not on Facebook but would like to see the pictures anyway, please let me know and I’ll email them to you guys!)

One of the things that I would like to ask you guys to do is pray for Paula and her ministry. They are constantly coming across huge obstacles that keep them from doing what they need to do to better serve their community. Things like having no money to buy food, pay for gas, keeping the electric and to buy things that the mission desperately needs… etc.
That simply is not something they can tolerate, the enemy is trying too hard to bring them down because this mission has been ministering to and impacting the community so much!

And now, my dear friends, back to the interview with this passionate-for-God missionary girl. 😉

Danica: What is the hardest thing for you, right now, about the mission?

Paula:Wanting to help more people but not having the funds/resources to be able to. There are so many kids living on the streets, so many children who aren’t getting educated, so many hungry mouths. We want to house them, we want to give them a chance for a future. You can walk down the streets or in the wet markets and just see in their eyes their silent cries for help, having to see that every day, but knowing that you can’t help them right now, that is what is hard. To keep walking when you want to go wrap the kids in your arms and take them back to the home to be cared for and given a chance.
These kids have so much potential, there is nothing wrong with them, they just are not given a chance in this society. They have dreams in their little hearts, but for most of them that is all they will ever be…dreams, unless some one intervenes. That is what God has sent us to do, but we can only help so many right now. We want to increase our outreach from mere hundreds a week to thousands, but we need funds to make that happen.

Danica: If there was one thing that you could change in your ministry, what would it be?

Paula: I would and am doing everything I could to make it self sufficient, meaning that I would get businesses going where the profits from the said businesses would provide for the weekly and monthly budget for the ministry. starting new businesses would also provide jobs for people which is something greatly needed in the Philippines.
Good jobs are hard to come by here because a person cannot even work at a McDonald’s unless he/she is working towards or has a college degree! There are many talented people with poor jobs because they didn’t have the money to go to college.

Danica: What does a ‘normal day’ look like for you guys in your ministry?

Paula: The ministry is mainly broken up into 6 parts;
-4 Churches
-MMEC (Miracle Ministries Education Center our school)
-The HFC (Home for the Children)
-COPE (Children Of Poverty Everywhere) feeding program

Each area runs and functions every day in different ways.
The four churches are each in a different area of Pampanga (the region that we live in) and each reaches out to different communities.
The Pastors do home bible studies and outreaches many times during the week.
There are also prayer meetings at least once a week at each church.
Saturday mornings there is ‘kids klub’ at each church. Kids klub is a church service especially for kids, everything from Praise and worship to a Bible story to games! After words the kids get a free meal. COPE feeding program and the church share the expenses to feed these kids. Because of the poverty these kids live in some of them originally come just for the food but after coming to kids klub every week they eventually start coming for
God and they get a true desire to serve Him!

Saturday evenings or Sunday evenings is youth group. The youth group is a place where youth can come and be with other youth and have fellowship in a safe environment no worries about their jobs or their cares at home, but they can all come together to worship God. The Youth group (or DOC – Disciples of Christ) is also a training ground for the youth. They are being trained to lead worship, to preach and do other types of ministry. At least once a month the youth lead the main service on Sunday mornings.
The youth also get fed snacks before going home.

MMEC – MMEC is free education for the children of the communities. The students also
get a free meal at school everyday. It is an ACE school that focuses on students individually instead of expecting them all to be on the same level at the same time, they can move along at their own pace. This is important for our school because we have children that come in all different age levels and different levels of knowledge.

We had a boy come 2 years ago, he was 17 and didn’t know how to read or write, he couldn’t even tell you the alphabet. If he went to ‘traditional school’ he would have to start in preschool with 3 year olds, but instead he was able to come into a classroom with other teenagers but his books were at a lower level than those of his classmates. The students are grouped by age not by level. The students have 7 subjects; Math, Science, Social Studies, English, Word building, Filipino, and Bible. Devotions are held every morning before 1 schoolbook is opened and once a week a church service is held and put on by the students of the school. It is done sort of like a rally with all students and teachers attending to Praise the Lord as one body.

HFC- the Home for Children is a place for children to come and permanently live. These Children come to the Home for all different reasons. Some because they live too far from the school and so they live here so they can get an education. Others have been forsaken by their parents and left to themselves. We had two girls at age 9 and 10 who had been abandoned by their father while their mother was in prison. We took these kids in 2 years ago as small malnourished children with worms in the stomachs and who honestly didn’t know right from wrong. Now, they are 2 well behaved, healthy little girls. The oldest girl is now a member of the youth group and even leads worship on occasion. Both of them have dreams of helping the very family that hurt them so much when they were younger. The youngest girl even wants to be a missionary. We currently have 5 children in the Home for the Children. There are “house parents” that take care of these awesome kids on a daily basis. They all get 3 meals a day and snacks.
They also live on the same compound as the school and church so they are daily immersed in the word of God.
Right now we are in the process of building a Home for them, but construction has been
put on hold because of lack of funds. The Home will give a place to live to 100 children.
Right now we have converted 2 schoolrooms into houses, separate rooms for the boys and
girls. This is where the children and house parents are living until we can finish the Home.

COPE- Goes into action almost everyday feeding the students at school from Monday to
Friday and then on Saturday feeding all the attenders of kids klubs.

Danica: How many children come to your school every day and what sorts of things do they learn?

Paula: 100 children attend our school at this time. they have 7 subjects as listed above. Each book they go through has a memory verse that the student must memorize before he or she can take his or her test. All of the students also memorize a chapter of psalms every month. The first year attending at our school every student goes through LTR or the ‘Learning to read’ class. This class goes through each letter of the alphabet teaching the students the letter sounds and how to blend the letters to make words. Students can graduate highschool in public school in the Philippines and still not know all the sounds that different letters make, so this is an essential class for our school. After this 2 semester class the student then takes a placement test, and then is transferred to a new class according to age or level.
The students also get ‘merit points’ for attending church and kids klub/youth. during Bible class the children learn to exhort the word of God. and once a month each class has a chance to lead the ‘mid week service’ for the rest of the school. At that time the children are even the ones to exhort and lead worship.
Even at the ages of 7 and 9 they are already learning to lead worship and preach!

Danica: How many people live in your community right now and what kind of living conditions do they live under?

Paula: In all we reach out to about 7 or 8 communities. Each at a different level of poverty. Open sewers are a fact of life whether rich or poor. The sewage or open drainage is almost like a ‘threshold’ that you must cross before entering someone’s home. the children play in and around, sometimes toys are dropped in it, or balls thrown in it, the kids will fish out whatever is thrown it, wipe it off and continue playing. The ones considered rich have homes with more than 1 room and have running water. No carpet or air conditioning, no toilets that flush (you dump a bucket of water in the toilet to make it go down), no heated water, their homes have cement flooring, and they still eat rice 2 or 3 times a day, but there is actually a man of the home with a good job providing for his family. Those are the rich. In the poorest communities most every one works. The wife, the husband and the children.
Many don’t have running water or bathrooms in their homes. others live in 3 walled homes with leaky roofs and no floor. Still others have a small home…but not even all of their children can fit inside so some of the older boys have to sleep outside or on a motorcycle with a sidecar that they use for work during the day. The situations above are situations of real people that I personally know. their houses are in such poor condition, and then when rainy season comes, they stay awake at night begging God for mercy that their house will not flood, or worse, be destroyed. Flooding of a few inches is normal a few inches of water would not be a problem if it were water alone, but with open sewers this problem becomes a danger. Dengue and other mosquito carrying diseases are also a threat to society here.
Danica: What does your ministry need most right now?

Paula: We have dedicated workers, anointed staff and children that are learning. What we need physically is funds to improve things about the mission, finish the building projects and to start businesses to make the ministry ‘self-sufficient’. We could start gardens to grow veggies for the kids to eat, raise chickens and eggs, sell rice for a profit to buy the rice that gets consumed everyday.
We have many business prospects but we need funds in order to start them. We also have a home for the children still in its building stage waiting for funds for it to be completed. Until we have the funds the children and parents are living in 2 rooms that will eventually be school rooms.

To be continued…

Next blog on Paula’s ministry:
Big plans for the mission in the future!
Danica’s future trip to the Philippines!
How the mission plans to do more for the community!

For more information about Miracle Ministries in the Philippines, or how to donate, feel free to check out http://www.miracleministriesphilippines.com

All questions for Paula are more than welcome on this blog, or you can ask for her contact information. (She welcome emails, but prefers not to put it on the internet due to spamming reasons.)

(You’re tagged because you either asked to be updated with this, or because I know you’re a Christian and thought you might enjoy reading it. 🙂 If you do not want to be tagged anymore, please let me know!)


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Hello again everyone!

I know this is a different version of blog than I usually write, but I feel like I need to write this!
This is important to me, mostly because this is where a good deal of my passion lies, but also because of the amazing way this idea for the blog came about.
I have been wanting to write something like this for a long time, but I haven’t had the guts and I haven’t figured out how to.
This morning, I found an email in my inbox from Stu McLaren that really encouraged me and made me feel empowered to actually do this!
Here is the blog post from him: http://myideaguy.com/blog/take-a-chance-on-someone/
As I started to read this, I was so inspired! This was the work of God to encourage me to do this, this is no mere coincidence.

Thank you Stu for encouraging me and helping me get the “guts” to write this! And Thank YOU Lord for bringing this forth, and showing me how to write this!

This blog is about my close friend Paula, and the orphanage and ministry she runs in the Philippines. I am writing about this, because I have SUCH a deep passion for her ministry.
They are out there making a difference in this world! Everyone has a dream to leave their mark on this earth, or try to save the world before they die. But how many of us actually get to do that? The cemetery is the richest place in the world. It’s filled with the treasure of unfulfilled dreams. Most of us get stuck behind a desk working 9 to 5 waiting for work to get out so that we can go home to our family, heat up dinner in the microwave and turn on our favorite TV show, instead of pursuing our dreams. Doesn’t sound like saving the world to me.

But my dear friend Paula IS out there saving the world; one Filipino orphan child at a time. She is not doing it alone, she is being strengthened by her Lord God and He has been working through her to reach these communities in an overwhelmingly powerful way.

She left her family, at 15, to go join a stranger in the Philippines because she felt a strong love for this unknown country.
Now at 18 she runs the mission for four churches, one school and one orphanage in this community. The founder of the mission has come back to the US, and has left her over there to run it. (It is still HIS ministry, but she is keeping it going) Every day they makes decisions and choices that change the lives in the local community, the impact they have had on these people is amazing! The local villages have finally begun to thrive financially and Spiritually because of this ministry.

I have interviewed her, and will split up this blog series into 3 parts. The first will be about the “Past”, what got her started on this mission and what the mission looked like when she first came to the Philippines. The second will be about the “Present”, what the mission looks like now and what they need to keep thriving to be able to minister to these people. And the third will be about the “Future”, what their visions for the mission are and in their wildest dreams what it would look like in the next 2, 5 and 10 years.

Here is my interview with this dear girl;

Danica: How did the Miracle Ministries mission in the Philippines begin?

Paula: Miracle Ministries was started in February of 1997 by Bishop Dr. John B. Durrah. He went to Angeles City, Philippines and established Miracle Ministries in a small guard shack. This ministry started with four in attendance in an extremely small area in which to worship, but just look at where God has taken it in 11 years! Glory be to God alone! Brother Durrah is not shy to share the struggles he experienced in the start of this ministry.

Danica: How did you first learn about and join the Miracle Ministries mission in the Philippines?

Paula: I learned about Miracle Ministries when Dr. John Durrah, the ministry founder came and visited our church to share about the ministry and raise support. (That is our main way of support, Bro Durrah travels almost every weekend, sometimes two states in one weekend, raising support to keep the ministry funded. I have traveled with him and it is VERY tiring!) I was 15 years old at the time and knew I was called to be a missionary so we asked him if I could visit sometime. He said yes and I visited here for the first time when I was 15. After that I came home, graduated highschool and within a month was back in the Philippines. At that time bro Durrah approached me (while I was still trying to figure out a way to approach him) about coming to stay in the Philippines full time. I agreed, went back to the states and after 3 months returned to the Philippines to live.

Danica: What made you want to be a part of Miracle Ministries, rather than some other ministry?

Paula: At the time I didn’t have many reasons other than I knew that it was what God wanted. Now, I can see there is good and bad about every ministry, but here I have learned from experience and from the other people in the ministry how to trust God in everything. And how to keep a smile and a joyful attitude no matter what the circumstances are that you are facing. That is essential. Another thing is the focus of this ministry is children. The purpose is to salvage this generation. There is also outreach to adults but the main heart beat of the ministry is the kids. In a society where the children are looked down on and regarded as useless unless they are working….we provide a chance for the kids to be kids, for them to get an education and to learn about God.

When I first came here and started the youth group we began talking to them about the future. at first this was a strange concept to them because the future is not something that is talked about much in the Philippines. they literally live day to day. Usually they get paid daily (in our poor area) you can buy shampoo and toiletries by the sachet…enough for just one day. even oil is often bought in a plastic bag because people can’t afford to buy an entire bottle at once. So the future is just not thought about, especially for these kids because they assume their fate is to grow up being beggars or just working odd jobs like their parents, and producing children. When they come to miracle ministries they have hope for a future…and that hope comes through Jesus Christ. I remember once asking my youth what they wanted to be when they grew up…and I got blank stares in return. When I finally got them to answer one girl (who goes to our school and then collects trash to sell to help her family) raised her hand and said she wanted to be a nurse…then she laughed. You could just see in her eyes that she wanted to be a nurse but didn’t see how it could ever happen. We told all those kids that day that they could be anything and do anything they wanted that God had a future for them… today, you ask those same kids what they want to be they will look you in the face and some say “pastor” some say “teacher” some say “nurse” others “missionary” some just say “I want to preach the word of God”. But no matter what their answer is, the beauty of it is they have an answer, they have a goal for their lives, something they are striving for, and that is important for any one’s life! Some of their goals are impossible if you look at their situation, but with their hard work, and God’s guidance and strength we know this generation will be the ones to get out of the cultural rut of poverty and despair that their family has been in for generations!

Danica: What were some of the things that were hardest to get used to down there?

Paula: Seeing the poverty on a daily basis was very hard at first, especially as a young girl it was hard not to go around crying… but the thing I like about our ministry is that we aren’t just ‘giving them a fish’ but we are ‘teaching them to fish’ they get fed and helped for today but the most important thing we are doing is teaching them and helping them for their futures, on this earth and eternally.

Danica: What was one of the first things you did to help these people?

Paula: We have feeding programs for children every Saturday kids from the local communities can come and get their tummies filled, and attend Kids Klub to hear the word of God. Also at school is a continuation of the feeding program because the 100 kids also get fed everyday at school. The Kids Klubs are done at every church…we have 4 churches and we are reaching out to a total of 7 communities!

Danica: How many people were at the church, and how many children were at the school when you first came?

Paula: The school had 54 students it now has 100. The churches when I first came were only 2. I don’t know how many people just a handful at one and maybe around 60-80 at the other now we have 4 churches. None of them running less than 30 people. One has more than 100 every week, even during typhoons.

Danica: What was your first impression of the community when you arrived?

Paula: When I first arrived here my impressions of the community was shock. The poverty is just amazing…I had seen poverty on TV and such before but it is different when you are living breathing and seeing it every step you take every day. and while I was in shock just watching the kids be totally fine with it… like it doesn’t even effect them, it doesn’t effect the way they play, or enjoy themselves, or the way they worship! But there are lots of sad parts too….the kids love being at church which is wonderful, but also sad that most all of them would rather be at the church with us than at their own homes. There are many kids that when they are at church it is the only time they have to be kids. because when they go home they are expected to work or be parents to their younger siblings. In many of the poor areas the babies are loved and cherished until they reach an age where they are “annoying” then they are left to themselves or expected to work. At 7 years old a child can have the job of taking care of 2 or 3 younger siblings. a 14 or 15 year old boy can be expected to be the bread winner of the family while the father is drunk or lazy. Other times it takes every one in the family working just for them to get by on meager meals that aren’t filling. One of the hardest things to watch is the kids getting on the school bus everyday having had their bellies filled with lunch but knowing that when they get home they will have to work and then maybe not get another meal.

Danica: How would you explain the “state” of the community, that your mission now surrounds, when you first came?

Paula: For one thing there are open sewers in little canals. the canals run to another location, when heavy rains come the canals and streets flood…use your imagination. 🙂 haha! Ive had to clean up after that…its not fun!

There are small, meager “homes” that the people live in. Gambling on the streets is common. Even the kids know how to gamble. Anyone can buy beer and cigarettes, I’ve seen mere little children buying beer and cigarettes for their parents…but the sad part is after a few years they are already used to buying it for their parents and they will probably follow suit unless some one intervenes.

Kids are really left to themselves…I’ve seen kids come to school and for 3 years never get rid of their runny noses because of lack of nutrition. other kids don’t even bathe because no one makes them. These people live in condition with no running water and they use a pump to get water, sometimes their neighbor’s pump because the houses are so close together. I know 4 families who live in one house that they have separated into 4 … they all share 1 bathroom! about 24 people!

Beggars are everywhere and people sleeping on the streets is a normal sight. In a way, if you live here you almost have to become cold-hearted to it to an extent, or you will never get anything done because of your weeping heart. Kids without shoes, kids without parents, kids with drug addict parents, or parents that don’t care a thing about them…these are things I see everyday. Kids in the streets begging for a few coins… and when they get home the few coins they have begged maybe taken from them from their siblings so their older siblings can buy drugs.

Public school here is a joke. 50 kids to one teacher is normal. There is no individual focus on the students. A child can graduate highschool and still not know how to read! We have a 16 year old at our school right now that graduated highschool… she is now in our “learning to read’ program. Her parents enrolled her because her younger sister (who attended 1 year at our school before her older sister) could read better than the highschool graduates. Other students go to school, put their bag inside the classroom, and then walk outside to play all day, and the teacher does nothing about it because at least that is one less student for them to worry about.

The kids here are told and shown by society that they are nothing…that they are worth nothing and they will never be anything! That is what we are trying to reverse. We tell them that no matter what their situation is now… they can change that with God and through hard work! At first they were skeptical but now they believe it… they want to change they want to be something they want to change the tradition of poverty that they have always known! And they will!!!

You can read the ‘story of 2 girls’ on my blog… that is the true story of the 2 girls that I took care of the 3rd time I came here… they are still in our home for children today.

A meal for some people is a small handful of rice, and then soy sauce to help it go down. (I’ve eaten that 😛 Rice and soy sauce baby…nothing like it, but knowing there are people who eat that everyday is really hard to imagine.) If they do have meat, chicken or whatever, none of it is wasted. They eat chicken feet, chicken intestine, all of it!
Fish is a common food too. But always with rice. Rice is the ‘main dish’ and then you have a ‘side dish’ of meat, or veggies, or whatever. But really just a side dish portion, the rest is all rice…MUCH cheaper this way.

Danica: If you had a chance to begin your mission all over again, what would you do differently?

Paula: When they started they originally focused on the adults not the kids, as many ministries do in the Philippines. Even the churches don’t expect anything out of the kids. The vision God has given us is to change the Philippines through this generation. Start while they are young… the old ones are traditional and set in their ways, but the young kids have hearts open and hungry for the truth… and through reaching out to the kids the parents are coming to know Jesus through the witness of their children! Through the change in the lives of their
children, the parents also come to church to see what it is that has changed their kids lives! It’s really exciting to see.

To be continued…

For more information on Miracle Ministries in the Philippines go to http://www.miracleministriesphilippines.com

Next blog on Paula’s ministry:
How I know Paula and her ministry, and why I love her mission.
What the local community looks like now that the mission has been able to touch more lives.
What a normal day looks like on the the mission compound.
And much more!!!!

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