The two things that stand out to me most from tonight are the themes of grace and courage. The Aneco Conference Hall was packed with about 300 people. The synergy between the worship band from New Life in Christ Fellowship, Michelle, the whole team of sound and light persons, volunteers running the event, and my music, could not have been a better fit. The enthusiasm of all the pastors, project workers, Compassion students and graduates, and other young and old alike in the audience, was something very stirring. I was overwhelmed and humbled to sing on the stage tonight, to meet so many beautiful faces, and to receive such love from the people of Butuan. May Christ be magnified by whatever I did or said on stage and off. That is my sole purpose for being here, and if that is accomplished, then the night was a success!
Michelle's words were hard-hitting to the soul...what touched me most was her call for courage. I ended with "Charis" as the audience reflected...and I sensed the Lord whisper to my spirit: remember grace and courage. Both are so necessary to find our way in this world. Both, gifts, that point to the Heavenly Father. My prayer is that very person there tonight, every person at any of the Beauty for Ashes events over the past two weeks, would be filled to a greater capacity than ever before with the virtues of grace and courage.
As I reflect on my last day here, and our last event...I am exceedingly grateful for more than I have time to write, but let me mention a few things...
For the children at God's Love Student Center this morning!
For Ate Mila's kindness and servant's heart (she does so much for this community! What a beautiful woman!)
For Raf's ability to laugh all the time and her gift for exactly the right words on stage.
For Charmaine's constant smile, humility, and non-stop eagerness to help.
For Michelle's long-time friendship and the dream that has come true of finally doing ministry together!
For New Life in Christ Church...Pastor Jack's constant provision over everything, Jehoven's willingness to drive us anywhere and everywhere in Butuan, and the worship team's gift of music opening the concert tonight.
For new friends like April, Jonalynn, Jean Lee, and so many, many more!
For the whole group from
Caraga State University who helped SO much in pulling off the event tonight!
For Jollibee restaurant's spaghetti and the surprise of my CD playing over the airwaves (only in the Philippines! Ha!)
For fresh island mango.
For dinner with Raf's family tonight and the celebratory dance "after party" with her little nieces & nephews...gangnam style!
For ginger tea and sweet treats from Cebu!
For the beautiful bouquets of flowers which New Life surprised Michelle and me with after the concert/event tonight!
For tricycles, lizards, hotel hopping, prayers, laughter, photo snapping, and a bed to crash in after it all! I know I have so much to reflect upon after this Philippines experience...but that is all for now, my friends! It is such a joy knowing I have friends back home, here, and all over who have journey with me through this blog! More to come...and Japan is just around the corner!
Salamat ("Thank You") God for Your many gifts. Please continue to grant me doses of grace and courage!