Bethany Hunter's Archive

Switching sites

3 Commentsby   |  06.19.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

“Thank You”

11 Commentsby   |  06.01.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

Saturday we went to Consolacion Church where we had VBS with the kids there. It was funny to watch their reactions to seeing us for the first time. Some were eager to come say “hi,” and others would keep a safe distance even though you could tell they were curious. They began to warm up to us, and I soon had a group of mainly girls (the guys were playing basketball with Ian) gathered around me. Some of them would touch me really quickly before I could turn around. It was as if they wanted to touch my skin to see if it would feel different since it was light. Then they started touching my hair. After a while they realized I didn’t mind, and one girl kept running her fingers through it. We started worship soon. Filipinos love to sing! Most of the songs were in English, led by Caidy who just moved here 3 months ago with her Filipino husband who is from here. Small world again: Caidy’s sister attends the small church in Nashville that I grew up at, and I just so happened to run into her one week before leaving for Cebu at the church’s 50th anniversary. Benjoseph also led a few songs in Cebuano. Then we split up into classes. I went with the youngest kids. They were so cute, but I could barely understand anything that was happening. I did notice the word “salamat” in the teacher’s prayer a lot. I knew that meant “thank you.” I also could tell she was telling the story of Benjamin and Joseph. I helped the kids with their crafts, but it was very hard not being able to understand their questions or get their attention. I was relieved when we got back together with the older kids for more English songs. One 11 year old boy, Ken, knew English very well. He was very nice and explained things to me without me even asking.

Sunday we went back to the Consolacion Church for bible class with the children follwed by church. Once again, I couldn’t understand what was going on during bible class. I just watched the kids color, and tried to talk to them if I could. They are so precious. It was fun to see a lot of the same faces again. The kids leave after bible class (the church is in their neighborhood and their parents rarely come), and the adults have church. There were about 14 of us there. Most of the service was in English with maybe a prayer or two in a different dialect. During the prayer I again recognized the word “salamat.” I begin thinking about how much I had heard it in the prayer yesterday and today. It touched me how thankful these people were- many of them poorer than we’ve ever been. I stopped to think about how many times we say “please, please, please” when we’re praying to God when we should be saying “thank you, thank you, thank you!” That’s what these people were saying, and seeing everything I’d seen the past week, I was feeling as though that’s what I needed to be saying too. Don’t get me wrong. There are times to say “please.” We are told to ask for God’s wisdom, and God longs to hear our desires. Asking for his help shows our dependence on Him. But sometimes we just need to stop and say “thank you.” There is not a second of any day that we don’t have a reason to thank Him. I realized that even if I couldn’t understand the prayer, God could still speak to me through it. In the same service we sang “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” I’ve sung this song a million times, rarely thinking much about the lyrics. However, it had been a while since I’d sung it. Singing it again for the first time in a long time, in a new situation gave me a fresh mind. The words hit me in a way they never had before. The line “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer,” really stuck out to me. Prayer really is such a privilege, and often we rush through it (or even skip it) as if it’s something to mark off a check list. We forget what a blessing it is. We have a loving God who is Father, Savior, and Friend that wants us to come to Him with everything! That is something to be thankful for!

Feeding the Homeless with Lilia’s Place

218 Commentsby   |  05.28.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

5-27 Friday we spent all day with Doug and Lisa Simpson, a family that moved to Cebu 2 years ago in hopes of starting an orphanage. They ended up getting involved with the homeless instead. They have two older sons (one that I actually have met at ACU… small world!) and two adorable little girls that they’ve adopted. Lilia’s Place is named after their oldest adopted daughter, and it helps get homeless families off the streets and back on their feet. They have a three bedroom apartment that they use. Three famlies (with about 20 kids) live in two of the apartments, and the third apartment is set up as a school for the children. Doug and Lisa also help feed homeless on the streets every other Friday through an organization called Cebu Missionary Foundation. CMF is run by Lucy (from Australia). Lucy is another amazing person who helps absolutely everyone she can. She has even helped a man that was dying from infected grease and fire burns, a man that had been kept in a dog cage by his family because of mental illness, and even a schizophrenic that started attacking her. CMF does a lot of the same things that Lilia’s Place does- giving homeless women jobs, providing a school for the homeless children, providing medical care, and providing a church for them (http://cebu-mission.org/ has more information on the organization). CMF is located in the middle of a huge dump site where many of the homeless live. There were a ton of children and adults picking through the trash. They build their houses wherever they can find the littlest bit of space between the trash out of whatever scaps they can find.

We quickly made friends with the kids there. They loved posing for pictures and would bust out laughing when they saw themselves on the camera screen. They thought it was the funniest thing. Notice the one boy without pants. It’s very common to see poor Filipino children without pants or any clothes at all. You even see that on the main street in the city. After looking around the dump site we helped prepare some food that we would hand out to homeless families later on that night. Later that night about 20 of us loaded into that back of a flatbed truck with three HUGE pots of food, bagged mango and bread. We headed to a cemetary in the dark to begin handing out the food to the homeless. Cemetaries in the Philippines are aboveground. They slide the caskets into openings in a cement wall. A lot of the homeless will make their beds on the top of the cemetary walls. It was mainly children that came bringing pitchers, big tupperware containers, bowls, or whatever they could find to fill with food. After that we drove up and down the streets handing out plastic bags of hot rice mixes we had made. The mixture was kind of runny like porridge, and very hot. We had to be careful filling the thin, plastics bags in the back of a moving truck. It was quite a sticky job! We also were only supposed to give the food to homeless people because merchants would sell it for money. Because a lot of Filipinos are very poor, it’s sometimes hard to tell the homeless from the merchants. The merchants will sometimes live on the streets in their tiny shed-like stores to protect their stuff. It was really fun hanging out with the Simpsons all day and getting to know them better and hear about everything they’re doing here. One of the neatest things is that the moms living in their apartments that used to be homeless now come to help cook and feed other homeless. We got to spend most of the day with those ladies as well. They are some of the sweetest people you will ever meet. They are constantly smiling. Jennifer, one of the moms, knows pretty much everyone on the street. It was really awesome to see these ladies give back to people that are where they used to be. I’m looking forward to the next feeding!

The beginnings

18 Commentsby   |  05.28.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

Half of me can’t believe we’ve already been in Cebu for a week tomorrow. The other half of me feels as though we’ve been here longer. It’s been such an amazing week and I’m already in love with these people. The city is so alive all the time. The people are so pleasant, and the children are so beautiful! We spent the first few days touring the city and getting over jetlag. The city is so diverse. We were told the city is about the land size of Lubbock, but with over 2 million people. You can imagine how crowded that makes it! There are people everywhere all the time. There are huge buildings and houses and tiny shacks all right next to each other. And somehow there’s room inbetween for mountains, palm trees, and banana fields. You can’t imagine the type of poverty these people live in, and how prevalent it is! It breaks my heart, but at the same time I can’t help but love the city.

5-26 Thursday we had our first experience working in Cebu. We went to Cebu Bible College (CBC) to meet up with two of the college students, Vincent (18) and Benjoseph (21). They were going out to do a bible study with a lady in their congregation. They have been studying with her in hopes of strengthening her faith and witnessing to her partner. She had also hoped that her sister would become a Christian. We took our first Jeepney ride (a common form of transportation) to their house in a poorer part of town. We had plenty of time to talk on the way there and get to know Vincent and Benjoseph a little better. Vincent was pretty quiet, but Benjoseph was very friendly. He kept the conversation going, and never stopped smiling. He asked us about our culture and told us about his. He was very understanding and easy to talk to. When we arrived at the house, Lisa’s partner didn’t join us for the bible study, but her sister did. There were a few neighborhood kids that lingered around the doorway because we were a sight to see! Ian is 6’9,” which is pretty tall in general but especially in the Philippines. Filipinos are pretty short, so they hardly ever see someone that tall. And I was interesting because of my white skin and blond hair. Lisa told me that they wanted to see me because the only Americans they had seen were on TV. They were amazed by my blond hair. As we began the bible study, I was surprised to see quiet Vincent jump right in and start it. He seemed like a different person than the boy in the Jeepney. When it came to sharing the Good News, he was confident and passionate. He spoke over Malachi 1:6-8. Benjoseph picked up after that with Malachi 3:13-14 and 3:8. He talked about how we are like pigs that go back to the mud even right after they’ve been cleaned. He asked each of us why we thought people walk away from God. Some of our answers were that it’s hard for people to break old habits, we don’t want to leave family and friends, or it’s easy for us to stay where we’re comfortable. Benjoseph supported our input with scripture that went along with each of our answers. I really enjoyed being a part of the bible study. We had been told it would probably be in Cebuano, so we would just be observing. However, most of it was in English with a little Cebuano thrown in. I was really glad we got to be a part of the discussion and interact with Lisa and Mary May. It was so encouraging to watch Vincent and Benjoseph share Christ with others. I could see from their comments that they knew a lot about the history of the bible and scripture. You could tell that it was really important to both of them. Even just talking to them on the Jeepney, they had talked about how they will go around knocking on doors to share about Christ. Sometimes they get doors slammed in their faces, but for the most part Filipinos will listen to what you have to say. I could really see how dedicated they were to sharing the gospel just by listening to them talk about it and watching them lead the bible study. It really made me look at myself and ask how dedicated I am to sharing God’s word.

Going to Cebu

7 Commentsby   |  04.27.11  |  Cebu, Philippines

I never planned to do missionary work, but sometimes God has other plans for our lives. I’ve always been an introvert, and I’m usually afraid to try new things for fear I’ll fail, or for the thought that I should leave “that” to someone else who’d do it better. So naturally, the thought of mission work makes me nervous. I’m afraid I won’t know what to say or do. I feel like I’m too shy to share the gospel boldly. Luckily, I’ve come out of my introverted shell a little more in the past few years, and have pushed myself to take on leadership roles that I was a little scared to try at first. However, I still never really gave mission work a thought until last semester.

A representative from a program about teaching English through the bible in foreign countries came to talk to one of my classes last semester. Normally I’d think “that’d probably be too much money,” or “I don’t know if I could do that.” But for some reason I was really interested in the opportunity and really had an urge to look into it. After that I kept hearing about a lot of different opportunities for mission work. I felt like it was all around me. One of the programs I was hearing a lot about was Worldwide Witness. I knew WWW was a highly trusted program and I had only heard great things about it from people who had gone on mission internships through the program. I started looking into WWW more and talked to Gary about where I would want to go. I really love kids, so he helped me look into some locations that worked with children. I was still really hesitant to commit to the program, knowing I really needed an internship, and this would be my last summer before I graduated. I talked to some professors to see if I could double my missions internship as my field experience for my family studies major (having a focus in child development). My professor sounded like it might could work, but he didn’t seem very confident in that statement. It didn’t sound very promising, leaving me torn between doing this internship and trying to find a “normal” internship in Texas. However, I couldn’t seem to let go of the opportunity to serve abroad. I finally decided if I felt such a strong pull to be an intern with Worldwide Witness when I had never wanted to do mission work before maybe that meant something. I decided to let go of all reservations and just trust that God would work out the rest.

As soon as I made up my mind I felt a peace about my decision and an excitement about the opportunity of this summer’s internship. That doesn’t mean I don’t still get nervous sometimes. But at the same time I am also really excited, and I know God will do great things. I am really excited about the opportunity to experience how faith is lived out in another culture, as well as just experiencing a new culture in general. There will be many different opportunities for different types of mission work in Cebu including working with children, new churches as well as established churches, and the bible college. I am really excited about working with the children in the ministry as that was what I wanted to focus on coming into the program as well as with my degree. However, I am also excited to experience an array of mission work. I know that my eyes will be opened, and I will learn so much.  I have a heart for people and a heart for Christ, and I am ready to use those passions to love, serve, and share the Good News!

Bethany Hunter's Comment Archive

  1. Bethany Hunter on Switching sites
    11:32 pm, 06.19.11

    For some reason this blog isn’t showing what I typed for this post. I’ve decided to use a different website to write about my trip, as I have been having a lot of problems with this site. You can follow me at this new site:
    http://worldwide-witness-cebu-philippines.blogspot.com/.
    My teammate(s) will still be blogging here, though.