Well I’ve been in Manila, Philippines since Wednesday; it’s been a dream in the 4 days since then. Not only because I’m exhausted battling jetlag and the remnants of a cold, but with the fantastic new sounds, sights and people that I’ve met during orientation.
We landed at Manila International Airport at 4am, two hours earlier than our schedule indicated. That meant that we were able to wait outside for about 2 hours and watch the sunrise over the Philippines. Our driver, Alvin, showed up in an UMCOR pick up truck and drove us to the UMCOR headquarters in Cavite, about an hour away. There we met current UMC missionary Jay and Pastor Marlu who took us out for an excellent lunch. We then spent the rest of the day meeting many students at Union Theological Seminary before finishing the day with a Vesper service and going gratefully to bed.
Thursday found us awake at too early an hour, bidding our new friends good bye as Alvin drove us to Manila, to the UMC headquarters to make a courtesy call on Bishop Arichea and meet the rest of the staff. After lunch, we visited Harris Memorial College, a college that graduates many deaconesses, who serve locally in United Methodist churches as Sunday school teachers and music ministers.
Friday we visited the National Council of Churches headquarters in the Philippines (NCCP) where my colleague Rebecca Berry will be serving her internship. There we were introduced to the rest of the staff before heading over to the Batis Center for Women for lunch. Clifford and I started introducing ourselves with the Filipino pronunciation of our names: Cleef-ford and Aedahm.
We then journeyed to the Kapatiran Kauniaran Foundation, Inc, a UMC funded foundation and enjoyed the fruits of their massage outreach ‘SpaRitual.’ This left us very relaxed and refreshed, the first time I’ve felt completely free of stress since the flight over on Monday.
Today we visited the old quarter ‘Intramuros’, the traditional Spanish center of town and spent the early portion of the day sight seeing. I took some pictures that I’ll upload later. Right now I’m a little busy enjoying my free time before Clifford and Rebecca and I venture out for dinner. Pictures to follow later!
Tomorrow Cleefford and I will journey to our Davao City, some 500mi to the south where we will finally meet the staffs of our various organizations! I can’t wait to finally be in Mindanao after having heard so much about it from the various people we’ve met.