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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Jeepneys & Childhood Dreams

Last night was the realization of a dream and prayer from my childhood. It didn't hit me until I returned to our guesthouse, exhausted and ready for sleep. We had our first Beauty for Ashes event in Davao for a large group of young students and professionals. It was such a beautiful evening. Ted opened the night by playing saxophone with such dynamics and emotion, I was almost brought to tears. He's an LDP (Leadership Development Program) sponsored student trough Compassion, graduating this year in civil engineering. 
Then another young LDP graduate, named Praise, and her brother sang a few beautiful worship songs I'd never heard before. She just radiates and truly lives up to her name with praise and love for Jesus. Rafonzel was ourfantastic  emcee/host/organizer/behind-the-scenes hero. She rallied enthusiasm from everyone in attendance as she spoke in the native dialect here. Then it was time for me to give a concert. A sweet student named Jessel decorated the stage creatively with hand made decor. Kenny was innovative and found a way to lift the keyboard stand higher using the tips of tables so it was high enough for me to stand...it worked! Everything was set to go...I had a captive audience filled with gorgeous Filipino faces. I sang my little heart out and shared things of faith, hope, and love between songs. And then the concert was over before I knew it. 
It was time for Michelle to go up. She did a more-than-excellent presentation on the 4/14 window...the urgency of the church in this generation...for the youth to take to heart the call of Christ and follow after Him, carrying our crosses with passion and courage. It was incredibly compelling. How amazing to see the way in which my friend has expanded her message, refined her speaking, and matured in reaching her audience (even though her message and delivery were always beyond powerful and eloquent, it's just wonderful to see God give her more and more grace in her gift of communication). The evening wrapped up with a video about Made in Hope. It touched hearts, for sure. The response was extremely positive, with young people picking up books and resources, and finding ways to connect with ministry opportunities, so they can be the generation that reaches out and changes their communities, their nation, and this world for good! 
I have to tell you, the light in their eyes, the energy and confidence shown by these young leaders, gives incredible joy to my spirit. I know without a shadow of a doubt that God is up to GREAT things here, in and through their lives. Even just a few minutes of conversation with one of them, and the maturity and willingness to give of themselves to serve others is so evident. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me the honor to meet such wonderful people, most of them only a few years younger than myself!
So the dream...it hit me. It's like God said to my heart, "Remember?"  Yes, I do remember. I remember being in just grade school and praying. I had two deep desires for my future, dreams I felt God had placed inside of me that could not be squelched. I was torn, though, as a youngster, because I didn't know these two dreams could go hand-in-hand. I thought I had to choose one path or the other. One was music. One was missions. They were so clear to me, visions I could not escape...but I remember praying, "God, which one do You have for me? I want to honor You, but I don't know which dream is the right one." Well, last night, in a more tangible, evident way than ever before, I was able to see these two dreams come together so clearly and perfectly. I'm amazed at God's faithfulness. The desires which He writes upon our hearts are there for a reason, it just may take about 15 years, sometimes even longer, to have that epiphany moment when we realize how He alone can fulfill the vision! 

The Compassion Children! 
Today has been an absolute blessings...Michelle, Rafonzel & I visited three Compassiom projects. At the first one, I sang for the children, and then they did a beautiful presentation for us with music, ballet, and even rappers! (Watch these creative kids here: http://youtu.be/3KT2McoVKVU) This was an exquisite example of how sponsorship not only blesses the child, but entire families. These awesome little rappers are the siblings of sponsor kids who hang out at the project when they
drop their brothers and sisters off, and so decided to come up with this music to praise God and give back to the project!
The second project was a wonderful time of seeing children in their classrooms and learning about the scholarship program which that church has set up for students. They really encourage college and offer unique funding for those who have potential for further schooling, but are not LDP students. This project has been around something like 30 years I believe. Seeing children at both projects made me wonder, "What dreams do they carry? What incredible destiny does God have planned for them to follow? What potential for greatness do they have locked inside, waiting to be released into the world?" All those precious faces, little lights in this world. Truly, the greatest in the Kingdom!
At the third project, we got to sit in on a family seminar for the CSP parents (Child Survival Program for mothers & babies, pre-natal up to 3 years old). They were such adorable babies! It was great to see not only dozens of moms there, but dads too! The pastor was the speaker and his wife, Jane, is the director of the CSP program. I had the opportunity to sing there, also, and they presented me with a beautiful gift. It was a joy to see these babies thriving and their parents eager to learn more about how to raise strong, healthy families.

And then...I got to do something I've been waiting for...RIDE A JEEPNEY!!!! Squished in with almost 20 Filipinos in a colorful vehicle found nowhere else in the world, it was a delightful little adventure. Michelle wouldn't allow me to ride one in Manila, looking out for her younger American sis ;) But here, she felt it was safe enough without me getting knife slashed or anything. That's comforting :)


I am thankful for the ways I saw God's glory on display today...looking forward to another day in Davao tomorrow!

-Caitlin