Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Linking of Two Dioceses

There is something to be said about being in a foreign country and witnessing two different cultures sharing and learning from one another. It was an out of body experience as I watched the world get smaller.  Not only am I here learning about Filipino culture but here I also had the opportunity to soak up information about Kenyan culture through song, dance, and fellowship.

Yesterday, the Episcopal Diocese of Santiago (EDS) hosted eleven visitors from Kenya’s Anglican Development Service. They included Bishop Joseph Sapit and other regional development officers. Last year, September 2012, Sir Patrick and a couple others from the Episcopal Church in the Philippines attended the Anglican Alliance Board’s Empowerment Conference. A couple of the Kenyans in attendance took interest in Sir Patrick’s presentation about St. Mark’s Foundation and EDS’s work with cooperatives and micro-lending, which led them to plan a short trip to the Philippines to learn more firsthand.

The two Bishops
And when I say, short trip, I mean very short. The group drove 9 hours from Manila to Santiago City on Monday, had all-day Tuesday with us at EDS, and then headed back to Manila on Wednesday to return to Kenya. Not a minute of their time could be wasted.

After a tour around the center, the morning consisted of presentations about the projects of EDS and St. Mark’s Foundation followed by lunch. After lunch, the group split into two. One group visited two church cooperatives, St. Peter’s, Del Pilar and Holy Spirit, Bagnos. The second group visited only one cooperative due to farther travel, St. William’s, Butigue (Boo-tee-gee). I chose to go to Butigue since I’d previously visited the other two.

I rode with two of our Kenyan visitors and a driver. I was technically the guide.  However during the hour and a half drive, I quickly realized how much I don’t know about the Philippines. I got asked questions such as, what type of tree is that; do they farm milkfish and prawns; what is the difference between a carabao and cow; what is the government policy of workers who work in landslide prevalent areas? I felt horrible not being able to answer any of their questions, but felt a little better when the driver didn’t know most of the answers either.

Upon arriving to St. William’s Multi-purpose Cooperative, I found inspiration in listening to Father Frinzel describe how this started with six women of the church forming a savings group and grew into a multimillion operation. They serve over 1,000 clients who live in this extremely rural, farming community who otherwise wouldn’t have access to financial services.

St. William's Parish

Fellowship, dinner and a closing program followed the visits to the cooperatives. Each grouped shared songs and dances. A couple Kenyans gave short reflections on their short time with us. The important part was the emphasis on making this new link, partnership, and friendship between the two dioceses enduring. At the end we lit candles and passed on the light while singing to signify the light of God shared between us.

It was fascinating watching this link between two dioceses on completely different continents, with vastly different cultures and languages form. It all began with a presentation in Kenya. Fast-track a year later and now ideas of mission and development are flowing between Kenyans and Filipinos all working towards the same goal – mixing social ministry and pastoral care of the church to serve others. And they will continue to flow as these two dioceses walk together along the same journey.

Thanks for reading!

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