Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
St. Theresa of Avila
The Philippine Short-term Vision and Mission 2010
Mont Clare UCC, Chicago, IL.
Since 2005 the youth group of Mont Clare UCC, Chicago, had a vision to experience a journey to be hands and feet of Jesus not only within the local area but as well as overseas. The youth are already involved in local missions around Chicago but felt a call beyond that. The previous youth coordinators planned a trip to the Philippines. We started raising funds since 2006 but due to some situations and even misunderstanding in the leadership this vision was not pushed through leaving us a painful experience and a threat to our community's unity.
In March 2008 we had a new youth minister a Master of Divinity student of Chicago Theological Seminary, Epenito Ursos Jr., whom we call Kuya Rambu (“kuya” Filipino term for older brother). He found out about the youth group’s vision to experience mission work overseas. But being aware of the previous painful experience he did not push to revive the idea at that time.
It was in the summer of 2009 that Kuya Rambu and some members of the youth group began to talk about reviving the idea for a mission trip. With the encouragement of our church’s Mission Committee chairperson the group returned to their vision of going to the Philippines for a mission trip. On that same summer Kuya Rambu drafted a proposal, which he shared with the youth and eventually presented to the church council and to the whole congregation.
It may be argued that there are a lot of possible mission trips in the United States, which are also significant areas of the church’s ministry. However, the experience of having it in a different country—environment, culture, traditions and language—would have a very different impact. The USA no matter where state would the mission be would still be a place of comfort for the missionaries. For this mission however, the challenge is to get out of one’s comfort zone as experienced by the first disciples of Jesus Christ. Although the youth may be of Filipino descent they have been raised and influenced by an American culture which is a contrast to most world communities like that in the Philippines. Moreover to have it in a different country creates an avenue for the individual missionary to discover the heart of poverty in a third-world country. Develop an understanding of Micah 6:8, do and see the Word in action “…act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” Experience the work and to work with the Holy Spirit on one’s personal life and the larger community. Learn to sensitively interact with people different from one’s culture and traditions. To realize the discomforts in this culture are nothing compared to the realities of life in poor communities. This also gives the Filipino-American youth the opportunity to rediscover one’s root identity to strengthen personal formation and family ties.
We praised God for the support of the congregation but we knew the real challenge was up ahead as we started to raise funds for the mission trip. We had the goal to raise at least $25,00.00 for the trip. There were members of the congregation however who still doubted the cause knowing what had happened in the past. They question the youth and the church’s ability to raise such huge amount. The youth were not deterred or discouraged hearing those comments from doubting individuals. Rather, we focused on planning how to raise the funds and looking for people who could work with us achieve this goal. While the youth focused on raising funds, the youth minister started communicating with the Philippine local churches and communities we envisioned to work with.
The youth raise funds through coffee houses, performing songs, dances and serving food. At times entrances fees were collected on other times the food was for sale. Donations were also being accepted. The coffee houses were held at the church’s fellowship hall. The youth also learned how to crochet and sold their finished work, from scarves to shoals, they made and sold as many as they can to achieve the mission funds goal. During the Advent and Christmas season the youth and church choir did caroling to help raise the funds. The church also had a garage sale to facilitated by the Board of Stewards which most of the proceeds were added to the mission fund. To lessen the would be missionaries expenses, the youth minister proposed to the local churches in the Philippines to sponsor the missionaries’ board and lodging during the mission dates. The local churches were more than willing to assist us with our basic needs when we were there.
By January 2010 ten youth confirmed they are coming with out youngest at age nine. We could not stop thanking and praising God for in February we were able to achieve most of the amount that we were able to purchase our international tickets. As the youth minister presented to the congregation our tickets those who doubted we would make it this time pledge their full support. We continued to raise funds until April 2010 to pay our local travels in the Philippines and some of our meals and lodging. On June 24, ten missionaries and seven adults including our administrative and youth pastors embarked on this journey. Our first stop was at Ellinwood-Malate United Church of Christ in the Philippines in Manila were we engaged with the church congregation, the youth and the church’s mission program for the street dwellers. To those of us who came to the Philippines for the first time, Manila was a good introduction on what the Philippines is all about. We engaged with the Manila community from June 26-28. June 29 we traveled to Dumaguete City, central part of the Philippines and engaged with Silliman University Church, Kalauman Development Center, Habitat for Humanity and Casa Ezperansa an institution helping abused girls and women. The youth engaged in building homes and interacting with children and families supported by the various mission and outreach programs. In Davao City we engaged with various local churches and communities from July 7 to 18. We engaged with several schools, observing their classes and to be in fellowship with the students. We also had the chance to visit Brokenshire Hospital and institution run by the UCCP. Our mission engagement were with two local churches, Matina UCCP and Davao City Church. We were involved from feeding programs, medical missions and being immersed with communities many living below the poverty line in the Philippines.
To say that it was life-changing is much of an understatement. After seeing the beneficiaries of a program that served kids with cerebral palsy, Angela Noble, 18 years old, felt compelled to do ministry with massage therapy. Jordan Yu, 21 yrs old and studying to be a nurse, realized his dream of wanting to travel the globe doing medical missions. 17 year old Camille Ward, who aspires to study medicine, plans to go back to the Philippines and do volunteer work for sick children. We realized that we all are people of mission. We will seek to serve. We will care for the neglected. We will tend to the sick. We will feed the hungry. This mission trip not only strengthened our youth groups relationships it made our church move forward and start healing the wounds from the first mission attempt years ago that did not push through. Now our church have started supporting children and communities in the Philippines. The youth now plans for a second mission trip to the Philippines in 2013.In the same manner we have thanked people half way across the world, we want to thank you for letting God bring them into play as instruments so that we may become instruments ourselves. We will never forget this experience and the kindness and support that our Mont Clare family provided for us. However many years from now, long after we’ve realized that we’ve been bit by the mission bug, we’re going to remember what started it all. As the poem reads: Christ has no body but yours, No hands, no feet on earth but yours, Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. It’s been an amazing summer, and we thank God for blessing us with these experiences.
The Journey Time-line & Testimonies
Summer 2009 the youth presented the proposed Philippine mission program to the council and eventually to the congregation. Fifteen young people signed up to be part of the mission team.
Our first mission work was with Habitat for Humanity. For all of us, it was a life- changing experience.
-Angela (18) Dumaguete City
Although the first few
moments in the garden were silent, it wasn’t long after that the sounds of the
backyard were filled were laughter. Despite the obvious language barrier, Ate
Triza helped us learn their names and helped us introduce ourselves to them.
The girls were very interactive. They were eager to learn about the Filipino
American missionaries, about our lives back home, and what we do on our free
time. They inquired a lot from Ate Triza, asking her questions about the other
missionaries and what they were like. Soon, they started interacting without
the help of the translator.
with Casa Ezperanza
Fund raising began in September 2009 through coffee houses, crochet products, garage sale and individual solicitations.
September 2009 to April 2010 training sessions were held to prepare the prospective youth missionaries to what may lie ahead as God calls them to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
May 2010 the youth minister goes to the Philippines a month ahead of the mission team. He meets the mission dry-run team from Davao City in Manila. The dry-run team's objectives were to meet with the local churches and communities the Mont Clare UCC youth will engage with. Together with Rambu was Joy (youth director of Matina Davao UCCP), Stephen, Michael and Daryl (young people both Rambu and Joy worked with)
The ten youth missionaries: Jordan (21), Camille (17), Hope (10), Triza (22), Joy (16), Alpha (13), Angela (18), Lance (9), Jamie (17) and Andy (13) (sitting).
We ended up all singing together. An outsider wouldn’t have been able to tell who belonged to which group because we meshed together so well It was hard leaving them.
- Camille (17) fellowship with Bradford UCCP Youth, Cebu City
Not only did UCCP Matina supply us with these amazing relationships and friendships, but we experience so much with the people of Davao especially the kids.
- Joy (16) with Matina UCCP Davao City
After that we had a two-hour drive to Santa Cruz were we interacted with a Badjao tribe. We arrived there at 11am and we went near the shoreline to see the Badjao boats and the houses they lived in. Their life style was really so simple. Their dialect is their own native Badjao. Although we had problems communicating we were able to get a translator to explain what our praise songs meant. We met with the youth of the Badjao, we were to convince them that there is more to life and they need to not get pregnant at such a young age. We got to share our stories and our experiences and we ended our meeting with a prayer.
Adult team members: Ate Delia, Ate Mayette, Ate Nene, Ate Glo, Kuya Rambu, Pastor Maxwell and Ate Baby (not in photo)
Fast forward to June 2010, the Mont Clare UCC mission team arrives with ten young people and six adults. They were met by Rambu at Manila and their first exposure or vision journey was with Ellinwood-Malate UCCP. Photo above with the church's youth groups.
The team engaged with Ellinwood-Malate's mission center where street dwellers were ministered. The team stayed in Manila from June 24 to 28. On the 29th they departed by plane to their mission area Dumaguete City (Visayas Group of Islands-Central Philippines).
This mission trip experience was so amazing to have. This was my first time in the Philippines, and even on a plane, so I will never forget this. I will always look back. Right when I got there, my first reaction was "it's hot here," but to know that I was doing mission work with God, I knew I was going to be fine.
- Andy (13)
on the mission journey
I can’t possibly put into
words how much I value the experiences that I’ve been blessed with and to be
given a chance to share God’s message through these experiences. I’m overjoyed
knowing that even a person like me can be part of God’s plan. It has been a
challenge, however, to compress six straight weeks of insight and spiritual
stimulation into just a moment’s sharing. In writing this testimony, I feared
that I wouldn’t do God’s story justice. But I know this won’t be the last time
I’ll be talking about it. There’s nothing that can keep me from talking about
what God has done. There’s so much more to tell.
- Triza (22) on the mission trip
In Dumaguete City they were hosted by Silliman University Church and Kalauman Development Center.They engaged and worked with Habitat for Humanity and the city's Department of Social Welfare and Development. They were housed by Dr. Everett and Dr. Marina Mendoza.
Team engaged with a family of a sponsored child of Kalauman Development Center. They worked to help build part of the family's house. The team stayed in Dumaguete City from June 29 - July 5.
July 6, the team then traveled by an inter-island fast craft to Cebu City for an overnight vision journey. They visited some parts of the city including a Taoist Temple.
The team engaged with Bradford UCCP with their team ministry and the youth. It was a night of fun and fellowship. The next day, July 7, the team traveled to Davao City by plane.
I even joined our church's youth mission trip to the Philippines in June... I have prayed to God to use me up to my last breath... I will do what God allows me to do... "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
- Gloria (82) on the mission endeavor
Honestly, I did not know
these young people in a deep personal level. The mission allowed me to do that.
I also believe the youth got to know me better and each other as well. I was
totally blown off in an inspiring and encouraging way to see how much our young
people have grown and matured, how much they could do, and that they could
still do more for God’s kingdom and glory.
- Rambu (33) mission director
The team worked with Matina UCCP Davao City from July 9 to 12 and engaged with the various church's mission programs. Feed My Lambs (above) is the church's program to minister/reach out to communities at a former city dump site.
Team with Matina UCCP members and their Administrative Pastor, the Rev. Pal Dumanig (second row fourth person from the left).
On the team's last evening with Matina UCCP, the church surprised them with a night to remember and taught them some Filipino dances.
The youth immersed with PKFI's sponsored schools in designated areas in Davao City. This one's in Matina Biao.
The youth also worked with the church's environmental mission.
The youth also engaged with the Badjao communities in Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
A joint welcoming midweek worship by Matina UCCP and UCCP Davao City.
Upon their arrival they were immediately exposed to local schools. The team was divided into to two. One team engaged with the Christian Colleges of Southeast Asia (CCSA). The other school was Brokenshire Science High School. Photo above taken at CCSA with the Dcs. Joy Veloso (elementary principal), Dr. Rose Fundador (school director) and Sir Elmer (high school principal).
Another mission program the team worked with was the Dental Mission where they assisted volunteer dentist to treat patients in need for free.
With Matina UCCP youth group.
July 13 to 18 the youth works with UCCP Davao City. They engaged with the various church's ministry and mission programs.
The youth worked with the church's mission programs the Pag-ugmad sa Kabataan Foundation Inc. (PKFI) and the Social Concerns Foundation. Here they are being led by Leah Genson, director of PKFI.
A preschool at New Carmen.
Visiting sponsored children and families in slum areas.
The team engages with the Badjao children and youth.
July 19-20, the youth mission team goes for a two-day rest and recreation. Paradise Island Beach Resort in Samal Island was one of the places they visited.
On July 21, 2010 the team departed Davao City back to Manila on their way home to Chicago land. Photo with some Matina UCCP youth who bid them farewell at the Davao Int'l Airport.