Archive for July, 2010


Report: JUNE 30th

Each month we have to write a report on both personal and professional development and share some stories about our time here. It is a report that we have to submit but im pretty sure that it is really for our own debriefing benefit. And as I write it I am glad that I have to cause otherwise I wouldnt.

SO when I submitted my report last month I was really pleased with my “Jenny” story (see earlier post) but I didnt feel like my other peices were worth putting on here. But after getting some great feedback on my report alongside complaints that im not putting enough on here about what my life is like I will just start sharing excerpts from my reports in case they are of interest.

So here it is, Question 4 from my June 30th report!:

In one paragraph, please describe the activities you have undertaken in the past month to understand more fully and participate in the local context:

The nature of our work and our everyday surroundings allows us to have many interactions with various Filipinos in many different settings. We live with two volunteers of our organization who have trained us in how to ride a trike, a jeepney and buy things at the local market and mini-mall. At work we often attend meetings, help the women with their livelihood projects and daily share meals together which are all cultural experiences in themselves! One of the most important cultural events we have experienced at work as well as our home are despedidas (good-bye parties) for different people, all of which involved various combinations of eating, dancing, music and karaoke. We’ve also become friends with one of the Filipina volunteers who is our age and invited us for a weekend away with her Navigators group from the University of the Philippines. It was a weekend for relaxation as well as for the group to discuss their future, so we got to see some of the struggles that affect even the ‘privileged’ within Filipino society.

We spent two weeks at language and cultural training school where we learned a lot of the basic vocabulary and rules to to understand Tagalog, and it was great because we also met other ex-pats there working in similar ministries to the urban poor, including some fellow Canadians! Another benefit of language school was that our teachers were two women our age, and when we had a “real life” language session at a mini-mall, after class time, we all decided to go used clothes shopping together! This was one of my favourite activities because I felt like a young person of Manila, instead of just a visitor. Visiting a mall in itself is also a very “Manila” thing to do. Free air-conditioning leads to an overall “Mall Culture” which is why Metro Manila has 3 of the 10 largest malls in the world and Lydia and I have definitely enjoyed them on hot days! One of the other activities we did with the language school was a cultural outing to some historic sites in Manila – which helped give us a better idea of the history of the Philippines as a whole. So even though it’s only been 5 weeks, I feel like we’ve been immersed in Filipino culture and we have also enjoyed it immensely!

there it is – a bit choppy cause it was supposed to be much shorter, but there were so many things to cover!

i hope you enjoy…

now stay tuned for Quetsion 6: Discussing Professional Goals…

ITS OFF DA HOOK!

much love and goodnight (love you mum! – I know you read this!)

Cambodia writes… and i do not

well

lyd and i just got back from cambodia, or i did last week but got food poisoning last sunday night and was out of comission until thursday (not cool bangkok, sushi and/or undercooked steak…).

the jist: we had to figure out how to begin our big project of getting our organization’s library resources online and how to start the project from scratch, so we went to visit an ORG in Phnom Penh who has done similar work, to talk technical stuff with them. while we were there we got to stay with Lydia’s family and also see our internship friends on Team Cambodia: Andrea, Naomi and Jeff. They are BY FAR the funniest team! unsuspecting, put hilarious! i laughed so hard in those brief fews days…

anyways… as with most things in life i hope to HOPE to write about my time in Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh and Bangkok, but until then please settle for an honourable mention in 2/3 Team Cambodia’s blogs (Naomi’s has a tar antula pic).  they are pretty great and often funny blogs to follow even i wasnt being mentioned but yes, enjoy!

http://naomicambodia.blogspot.com/2010/07/ok-fine.html

http://jeffseaman.wordpress.com/2010/07/25/dengue-fever-asian-jokes-and-awkwardness-read-on/

walang shout-out, but still worth reading just for kicks: andrea’s blog..

http://willyougo.wordpress.com/

clockwise: Lydia, Naomi, Jeff, Steve*, Jody*, Andrea, Me (*SP Cambodia)

now if you know me, you will know that this next picture is completely unexpected

They were so good I ate 2! You can seriously fry anything and it will be semi-edible.

The Cambodian Intern's Initiation for us: Eating Tar antulas! They were so good I ate 2! You can seriously fry anything and it will be semi-edible.

GOOD NIGHT GOLDFISH!

GOOD AFTERNOON FIREFLIES!

Please pray, right now.

PLEASE PRAY for some of the women we’ve been reaching out to; 24 of them (in two separate incidences) got taken to jail even though there is a law that protects them from being arrested. it is odd also because one of the groups was taken to a different district than the one they were arrested in, which is very suspicious. please pray that these women will not be abused, trafficked or ‘disappear’ and that they will receive a fair trial. we found out last night during our training time so half of us stayed to pray and our ministry leaders went to bring them food and supplies. It was also to make sure the police knew that these women’s whereabouts were known and to discuss the terms of their arrest on behalf of these women. the leaders also prayed with the women before they left and the women cried, surprised that our group cared for them enough to go out to jail late into the night. pray that this whole situation is under God’s hand of protection. seriously! pray! these are real girls. thank you.

Jenny*

*NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED

Well – its no one’s fault but my own – my readership has totally tanked!

i went from 25 a few days ago all the way down to 2!

so…

im sorry ive been so bad at updating ya’ll – i KNOW that is the whole point of the blog – but ive been so busy with both work and rec and lying in front of a fan or killing bugs or making food or drinking water that i just havent had time!

anyways

here is an except from a monthly report we have to do for our internship – where we talk about one of the experiences we had in reaching out to the women we are hoping will join our livelihood training program to begin the walk to getting out.

Its about a woman named Jenny* and you can pray for her.

Its just a quick insight into what the friday night bar ministy looks like. ive also attached a photo so you have an idea of the type of areas we are working in… def not yonge st. and it is quite messy after it rains, which it does every afternoon now.

keep praying every friday for us.

i think awesome stuff is going down especially with this one woman we will call *Dot.

also please be sensitive on here when commenting and please dont put any information about the group im working with – for our safety and the safety of these women.

thanks

much love from phili

Very similar street to where *Jenny's bar is

On my first outreach night it had been raining quite hard during pre-outreach prayer so our leaders were considering canceling, and considering my nervousness I was going to be ok with that! But the rains stopped, so our group of 3 leaders and 3 interns headed out by jeepney down one of the city’s major arteries to a strip of nearby ‘karaoke’ bars. I had passed them multiple times that week but never knew they were the bars that held the women that I had already been praying for. What surprised me was the difference in appearance in these bars, even from the ones I had been picturing as I prayed. I had been careful not to picture a ‘North American’ bar with an air of temptation, dazzling lights and pictures of scantily clad female-creation on the front. What I did imagine was a bar standing shyly in the presence of street lights with bar stools, a menu, well hidden ‘rooms in the back’ and a generally enticing red light allure. The purposes of the bar I went to, and its women were not as coyly hidden as I had imagined, and this ‘bar’ looked to be the furthest thing from inviting. It was marked by old lawn chairs, a rainbow picnic umbrella, Christmas lights and a poorly painted ‘Karaoke’ sign. Inside there were rows of doorways covered only by sheets and the outside was made of rusted sheet metal. By Canadian standards it was nothing more than a ‘shack’ and here it was a regular weekend establishment. The standard of the bar became evident as we got closer and a dead rat lay on the muddy walkway, tred over by those in search of a drink, karaoke and more.

I met a woman there named Jenny*. Although she was dressed quite fancy with a sequined top and bright red lipstick (vastly more seductive than the other women I have since met) she was not at all who I was picturing as a prostitute; Jenny was about 60 years old and this was her life. She was beautiful, but not from any of the things she had ‘put on’ to make herself feel that way. I sat with Jenny and in typically Filipino manner she held my hand throughout our chat. We conversed in her broken English and my broken Tagalog – completely ignoring the topics of brokenness we both knew were the reason for my visit. As I sat with Jenny and got to know her in the most basic of questions her eyes constantly darted away from me as she scoped out cars that looked like they might have noticed the Christmas lights above the bar and more importantly their reflection off her sparkly top.

Those moments for me were overwhelming. As I asked if she had kids and where she grew up, I kept thinking about all of my training and everything I had ever learned about how a person ends up sitting on the other side of this picnic table. It was as though in that moment Jenny encompassed all the stories of exploitation and women that I had ever heard about and all I wanted to do was mourn for her. I prayed and prayed that God would hold back my tears – how judgmental would that be if I cried in front of her, on her own behalf? Thankfully – and only in God’s strength – I didn’t cry. I kept asking myself and God questions of the situation; Why is she still here? What is her full story? And, how is it that the demand for porn for those in Toronto indirectly affects her – without her even having a say in the matter? Considering we both knew that if she had had other options she would have taken them, the hardest question I wrestled with was, ‘how come it is Jenny on that side of the table and not me?’

My ministry partner and leader was a woman named *Maria and she sat so comfortably on the damp lawn chairs that remained un-wiped after the heavy rain. She spoke with ease to Jenny and it wasn’t even because Maria knew her native language – it was because Maria knew her.  Not the her within the greater picture of demand, exploitation and evil, but the her right before us. And for all the things I had trained for and read about, all that really mattered in that moment was that I got to know her, Jenny. In that moment God didn’t answer my questions but He revealed to me that they weren’t what was most important. What was most important and what truly mattered then and there was Jenny, His beloved daughter.

Since that night with Jenny, outreach has become much easier and much more comfortable, because I am no longer going to “minister to prostitutes” but I am going to check up on new friends. My hope is that by the end of my time here I might see some of these friends ‘get out’.