Thursday, October 31, 2013

Inspiration from Social Enterprise Training

I apologize in advance for the length of this post but I couldn’t pick simply one inspirational experience to share.

You read that I was in Manila all last week, but I didn’t share many details on why. While in Bontoc, Attorney Floyd, Provincial Secretary of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), invited me to attend a seminar on Social Enterprise for the development officers and workers of the ECP.

First, let me give some background. The ECP has a foundation called “Episcopal Care Foundation” or “E-Care.” My understanding is E-Care works to serve as the developmental and social ministry arm of ECP. Each diocese has a Development Officer and Community Development Workers or CDWs. These Officers and CDWs work with communities to evaluate how E-Care can assist them in developing projects such as a water system or agriculture production. The goal recently is not to simply pass out grants to these communities but work alongside them to discover assets and skills within the community and utilize them to develop projects or businesses. They’ve been using the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) approach. The main end result trying to be reached is poverty alleviation for the communities.

Attorney Floyd addressing all the participants.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Church Leaders share about YASC

I'm sharing the last of the YASC videos done by The Episcopal Church. This one titled, "Church leaders talk about YASC" features priests, bishops, and program leaders from South Africa, Philippines, and Hong Kong. They share their thoughts on why the YASC program is important to their church and communities.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Little Things

Made it back in time to join in on the fun, birthday celebrations on Friday night after an exhausting 9 hour drive! I'm greatly appreciative that I only have to work two and half days this week. Due to elections yesterday, All Souls' Day on Friday, and closing the office early on Thursday, everyone in the office is looking forward to the short vacation.

One thing not pictured from recent little moments is Andrew Joyce, the YASCer continuing his placement here in the Philippines for another year, made it back from his month-long recharge in the states. Some were worried he wasn't actually going to make it back. I happened to in Manila when he arrived and got breakfast with him and Floyd on Friday morning before heading back to Santiago. It's good to have another YASCer and American on the island, again.

Cheers to the little things!

{Mornings spent at Starbucks in Manila}

Monday, October 28, 2013


Vote for me! Not really for me, but that’s what candidates were exclaiming before voters entered the elementary school grounds to cast their ballot.

Today was Barangay Elections throughout the Philippines, a public holiday (read: three day weekend). If you don’t know what a Barangay is let me break it down for you: Country -> Region -> Province -> Municipality -> Barangay -> Purok. I’m in Region 3, Province of Isabela, Municipality of Santiago, Barangay of Divisoria, Purok 4.

The Elementary School campus 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Weekend!

The picture above slightly sums up my life lately - road-tripping through the Philippines. Last week, I drove round trip to Bontoc, 10 hours, and then this week was a round trip to Manila, 18 hours. Somehow even though you are simply sitting in a car, it is exhausting! But I have to find energy for a birthday celebration of two co-workers tonight!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Little Things

There are some moments one can simply not capture on film. My tagline for life here has become "It's More Fun in the Philippines." That's the actual motto of the tourism bureau here but to me it has a deeper meaning.

{Perfection sometimes is popcorn, Gossip Girl and pineapple juice}

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Not Easy, but Worth It

Two months have come and gone in my year as a missionary with the Young Adult Service Corps!

I'm not going to sugarcoat the journey and say it's been all joys. The highlights always outweigh the low moments, but it is not without it's challenges. Adjusting to a new way of life, new culture, new friends, and a new language is a roller coaster ride!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Community Celebration of Love

Wedding bells were ringing at the All Saints Cathedral in Bontoc last week. As I posted yesterday, Attorney Floyd, the Provincial Secretary of ECP, invited Margaret and me to attend the wedding of an Episcopal Deacon, Kurt, and an American young lady, Crystal, All I knew, beforehand, was it was going to a wonderful cultural experience. I cannot deny that it was.

First let me say, weddings are a community affair in the Philippines. While in recent years in bigger metropolis areas like Manila, they’ve started to become modernize where you only attend if received an invitation. Up in the Mountain Province the custom is still everyone is welcome to participate in the fellowship.

All Saints Cathedral

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bontoc, Mountain Province

Last Wednesday, I headed to Bontoc, a six hour drive from Santiago, with Sir Patrick, my manager, and Sir Junior as our driver. Attorney Floyd, Provincial Secretary of Episcopal Church of the Philippines, who coordinates the YASC program here in the Philippines invited Margaret and I to a Filipino wedding between a deacon in the ECP and an American young lady a couple weeks back. He said that if he was in America and learned a Filipino was getting married that it’s their cultural tradition to attend the wedding and show support. I didn’t tell him that’s not really our tradition. Wedding crashers are not welcome. Nonetheless I jumped at the opportunity to witness and experience another cultural tradition.

However, I’m not going to talk about the wedding in today’s post. Sorry to psych you out. Check back tomorrow! Today is solely on Bontoc.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Friday!

I hope you all had a wonderful week! I spent yesterday, Thursday, at a wedding in the Mountain Province. I can't wait to share more with you about this amazing cultural experience next week. It was a quick, three day trip but completely worth it. I'm ready to recover from the journey, though.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Little Things

Currently, I'm in Bontoc in the Mountain Province. A couple weeks ago I received a call from Attorney Floyd, Provincial Secretary of ECP, inviting me to this wedding of a deacon from the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines and an American. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to experience a wedding celebrated in another culture and country. I'm trying to reserve my expectations to enjoy it in all its glory!

In the meantime, here some things and moments I've been enjoying over the past week!

{Me interviewing an applicant during inspection of their property}

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Communicating through Laughter

Language barrier is currently the biggest hurdle I have to jump over. There is no substitution to a long, in-depth conversation in your first language. It’s icing on the cake when it’s with someone from your generation because you share common slang, pop culture.

This doesn’t mean I cannot communicate with those around me. Fortunately, most people speak or understand enough English. Merely different vocabulary is utilized, changes in intonation and pronunciation are made, and the speed is greatly slowed down.

I’ve been writing how much I laugh and smile in the Philippines. It’s true their joy and laughter is contagious.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Indigenous Sunday

I know last week I posted about finding a home parish. Nonetheless while I was having coffee with Fr. D’Abugao after helping with preschool, he invited me to attend their Indigenous Sunday service that coming Sunday at St. Stephen’s. There was a promise of gongs and native dance. How could I refuse?

I woke up early, 6:30am, to go. The Bishop drove us on his way to another parish, hence the early leave time of 7am. Emelda, her 6 year-old daughter, Amitess, Sandra, her 4 year-old son, Graynaan, Penny, and her 19 month-old daughter, Skye joined me in attending the service. We were about 2 hours early for the service, in the mean time we enjoyed coffee with Padi (the priest) and his wife, Myra.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Teacher Ashley

After a short stint of being a member of Future Educators of America club in 10th grade, I decided teaching wasn’t for me. And every time the choice to volunteer tutoring children or washing sheltered dogs, I always chose the latter. I even firmly said when interviewing for YASC that I refused to be a teacher or do anything with education.

When I was told I would be in the Christian Education Office all week, I didn’t know what was in store for me. Much to my delight, I learned I would be getting out of the office and visiting local church preschools. Although the teaching part wasn’t necessarily appealing, I took it on as a challenge to push myself out of my comfort zone.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Weekend!

This past week I've been assisting in the Christian Education Office. One of the tasks was to help teach at a few local church preschools. As many of you know, I'm not always one for children or teaching but this week gave me great joy, the ability to get out of an office environment and left me exhausted. Look for a post more about this next week!

Unfortunately, Typhoon Santi is hitting this weekend. I was supposed to help plant trees for a church project on Saturday morning but those plans have now been canceled. Looks like it may just be a rainy few days for me.

Also, I love the front of this journal in the picture, "live life to the full!" I believe all my fellow YASCers are doing just that.

Please Read On....

As Student Minister at the Cathedral in Grahamstown, Paul schedules young adult preachers for the Student Services. He's been sharing their sermons on his blog and this one is quite powerful, a must read!

While there are differences between American and Filipino cultures, Margaret is learning there is more that unites us than divides us.

Heidi finishes her first term at the Canon Andrea Mwaka School in a fun way and is headed off on a safari!

Julie is answering the questions we all want to know the answers to about her life in Haiti.

Will P. is taking full advantage of the saying, "you only live once" and couldn't imagine being anywhere else than Cuba.

Keri is trusting in her faith and realizing doubt isn't the opposite of it.

Alan is starting to teach English at a local vocational school in Haiti.

Rachel's new motto, "everyday is worth celebrating", and so she's sharing pictures of things worth celebrating during her time in Panama.

Becky shares gorgeous photos of where she's been living in Honduras for the past two months.

How are you living life to the fullest this weekend?

Thanks for reading!

{image via}

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making a Difference

Last week, I went with Jocelyn, Maritess, Tessa, and Sir Junior to run a few errands for the Foundation. One of them was inspecting an applicant, Sheryl’s, Internet and copy shop. As with most inspections, every last chair available was found for us to sit comfortably as we asked every last question about their business, personal life, current finances, and future plans. This time as Sheryl hospitably passed me a bottle of Pepsi from her sister’s adjacent sari-sari store she said, “I’m so happy you are here with us.”

The words left me speechless until I finally fumbled over, “thank you. I’m happy to be here too.” A woman, who I just met who I was basically interrogating in her second or third language, offered me the kindest words. She’ll never truly know what those words meant to me. I will also never know what impact I had on her by simply showing up, being present and taking an interest in her.

Lately, I have been asking myself some hard questions:
Why am I here? 
People are saying they are so proud of me but I feel like I haven’t actually done anything? 
Am I really making a difference? 

I shared these concerns with fellow YASCers and a few others. I received some wonderful advice and encouraging words in response.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Little Things

Growing up in such a thriving, community-oriented, active, and energetic parish, it can be hard for me to attend other parishes' worship services without comparing them. My home parish set the bar pretty high. I know that I shouldn't compare and I should take each service as another unique way to worship God. But I still want a spiritual energy connecting me to His word, His people, and His love during a church service.

{Women taking communion at St. Mark's in their native dress}

I decided to switch it up this past Sunday. Instead of attending mass, as they say here, at the Cathedral on the compound, I attended St. Mark's in Batal less than a mile away in another community. They worship in a small, wooden, airy building. It is supposed to function as a warehouse during harvest time for rice, but it stands as their chapel. Unbeknownst to me, it was "Indigenous Sunday" led by the ECW. All the women showed up in their native dress, a woven skirt in their tribal pattern. All the songs were song in Ilocano or the Igorot native language. Actually, practically the whole service was spoken in Ilocano.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Take Up the Cross

On September 23-24, the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago (EDS) held its Strategic Growth Plan (SGP) meeting. In 2009, EDS created goals focusing on membership, churchmanship and self-reliance. It is striving to meet them by 2018. Every three years, the staff of the diocese comes together to check-in on where the diocese as a whole and each department is on meeting its goals.

While listening to reports all day in a conference room is not something I would consider fun, SGP proved to be informative for me. I was able to see a clearer picture of the role of each department and the work it is accomplishing. One of the major projects is the building of churches for current parishes that worship in small, worn down buildings. A good number have already been completed or are near complete. The question was raised, “we have these beautiful churches now, but yet our numbers in members are stagnant or decreasing. What is happening? Why are people not entering our church?”

It is a wonderful, important question, one that is being asked not just in the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago in the Philippines but throughout the Anglican Communion.

Why do these beautiful buildings of worship stand nearly empty on Sunday mornings?

But my question is when did we become so focused on filling the pews inside the church that we’ve forgotten that worship doesn’t only happen on Sunday mornings?

If I’m not mistaken Jesus did not stand at a pulpit every Sunday proclaiming the Good News. He was on the road with his disciples. He shared God’s word in people’s homes, on mountainsides, on the sides of roads, in boats, really anywhere people starved to be fed by his word. Matthew 8:20 says, “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”

I am not saying that people shouldn’t have a sanctuary to feel safe to explore their faith. I grew up going to a wonderful, thriving, energetic church every Sunday. Within the community they provided, they shared the bread I needed to be full which in kind taught me how to share with others.

I was then able to walk purposefully and exit the church doors to worship in another way by feeding the hungry, building homes for the homeless, cleaning up a destructed city, visiting those in prison, and providing light in a place of darkness.

As Rev. Rich Smith said in this sermon, “The Church is not a service center for its members so much as a launching pad for mission.” On Sunday morning a service may end, but once you walk out those doors your service begins. Jesus doesn’t wait in the empty narthex until the next Sunday. As we said in the Office of Mission and Outreach last year, “Jesus has left the Building.”

Jesus has left the building and so have you. He said, “Come and follow me.” Are you ready to follow him?

Take up the cross and bring it to those who are in need of knowing God’s love. Crowds of thousands journeyed to hear him, to be fed by him, to be healed by him. While he fed and healed them literally, he also fed and healed them with community, love, and a relationship.

As the Rev. Dr. Margaret Ann Faeth said, “it is hard to draw what we have not seen. It’s hard to share which we do not know.” People can only know Christ if shown to them by those who are their neighbors and co-workers by creating a community, developing relationships and showing them love. They need to know He is alive in this wide and wonderful world beyond the sanctuary. They need to see the reflection of Jesus within each and every one of us.

If the people aren’t walking in through the doors, meet them outside and invite them in. Take up the cross, go to the streets, to the fields, to hospitals, to food banks, to prisons, and do as Jesus said, “be love like me and no one will hunger and thirst again.”

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 7, 2013

What kind of work do YASCers do?

Today, I'm sharing another wonderful video done by the Episcopal Church. Again, it features YASCers from last year, Holly Milburn, Cameron Spoor, Stephen Smith, Andrew Joyce, and Grace Flint who were located in South Africa, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.

The video gives a wonderful overview of the various types of work YASCers are doing all over the world. With this year having a larger group, the type of work has grown to include healthcare, economic development and more. You can check out what each individual is doing on my fellow YASCers page.

While we all have job descriptions, I think we are quickly learning that they don't even begin to cover our day to day work. For me while I work at the Foundation of St. Mark's, I am also rotating to different offices of the Diocese throughout the year to help out in whatever way possible. As Holly says in the video, "I do whatever is needed." And I try to convey the same attitude.

However, the quote that stuck with me those most in the video was Holly's,

"The one's doing the work here are the one's who care most and the one's who give all of themselves when needed." 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Weekend Reading

Happy Friday!

Now that it's October, I know Fall, my favorite season, is in full swing back home. As it still feels like the hottest part of summer here, I'm beginning to miss cooler weather, the leaves changing colors, wearing layers, apple cider and all the fun, Fall activities!

The beginning of the week was full of fun activities, going out to dinner and videoke. Now it's already Friday and another weekend. How time flies! Nothing planned at the moment, but something may come up. If not, I'll be happy to read and do mundane tasks such as laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Before I left for the Philippines, I was told that I would fit in wonderfully with my love for karaoke. After being here for over a month, I still hadn’t experienced karaoke or they call it “videoke” in the Philippines. I was always told, “next time. Next time.”

Well next time was finally this past Tuesday night! It was the birthday of Sandra, the EDS Finance Officer. We were going to celebrate on Friday night but since we had visitors from the National Office and EDNP (Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines), the celebration was moved up. A videoke machine was rented and delicious food including pork bbq and pancit, was cooked!

The Birthday Girl, Sandra, singing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Eco-Tourism Park

I posted about my weekend a little bit yesterday. But don’t let that give you the wrong impression. It wasn’t all boring or spent on the compound. Sunday afternoon was spent going on a little excursion with some co-workers.

After lunch at ChowKing, my new favorite fast food place, Ata Tess, Jocelyn, Ata Joyce, Sir Junior and I headed to the Lower Magat Eco-Tourism Park in Nueva Viscaya Province. It’s about a half-hour drive from Santiago City into the mountains. The land for the park was purchased by the Provincial Government to preserve the land and provide a space for people to enjoy. To enter the park, it costs 50 pesos ($1.14) per person. So cheap!

The Boating Area

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Little Things

Happy first day of October!

I cannot believe it is already October! 85 days until Christmas. I only say that because at the end of every news broadcast here they announce how many days until Christmas. The countdown starts September 1. I guess the U.S. isn’t the only crazy when it comes to the Christmas craze starting early.

Within the past week or so, I’ve started to find that the weeks go by here like they did in the states. Once you get through Monday and Tuesday, it is Wednesday. Then the next thing you know, it is Saturday. Then it is quickly back to Monday.

{My Daily View of the Office from my Desk}