This March, we sent an Open Team to the Philippines to engage with Young Life in another culture.
The team shared some of their favorite memories from the trip with us and we wanted to share them with you …
“There is a lot that I experienced on our trip… I felt God move in crazy ways and not only from serving but also by being served by the Filipinos, seeing their culture, experiencing so much love from all that were there and all in all through seeing the same God that I knew back home doing all of these amazing things halfway around the world.
Overall, my favorite memory that I will hold dear to my heart will be the last day that we were in the Philippines. The past week had been full of work and fellowship, and we had just gotten back to the Young Life center from club with just a couple of hours left in the country before we had to depart. Seeing something I would never forget : one giant long table filled with Filipino high school kids and their Young Life leaders sharing a meal together. It was a powerful scene for me as Filipino myself, to be able to see all of my favorite foods along with so many smiles, laughter, and conversation. I stood there and just thought, ‘ Wow… God is enough for them. They look so happy ‘. And in that moment, I realized that I just was able to witness a glimpse of the Kingdom of God and I wondered what the full glimpse will be like in heaven.
I will never forget this experience!”
“My trip to Cebu, Philippines for spring break hit harder than I imagined.
Initially, my guys from Missouri State and I had few expectations. We were mainly excited for the journey and to begin serving the people over there. However, God had different things in mind. Not only did our team of 11 people, from different states in the U.S., mesh well together and have fun, but we also connected deeply through sharing our stories and getting into deeper discussions with one another.
As I reflect on the trip, it felt so pure. I don’t know if words are even able to do it justice. But those people, those friends, and those followers of Christ, ended up helping us more than we helped them.Yes, we painted cabins in preparation for a work week and assisted them here and there. But ultimately, they lit up our hearts.
My biggest take-away from the trip was definitely to love first.
We heard many of their testimonies that seemed to be quite similar to some of our own through their struggles and finding their lives at a crossroads; but what stood out to me the most was their choice to put our Father above all no matter what their past reflected. When they could have turned to drugs or rooted their happiness in worldly things, they grabbed God’s hand from above. And it occurred to me, what they did was a byproduct of their relationship with Christ.
Having the opportunity to grow in deeper relationships with some guys over there struck my heart and made me entirely grateful as well as impressed with them all.
It felt as if God was speaking new wisdom and wonders to me everyday as we learned new games, played tons of basketball, ate amazing food, laughed until our stomachs hurt, and even went island hopping around the Philippines. We lacked nothing and were filled with so much of the Holy Spirit. I will never forget this experience.
I will definitely be visiting Cebu in the future, but until then, Salamat ( Thank You ) God for my journey.
Cebu will always be in my heart.”
” Getting the opportunity to go to the Philippines is something I never imagined would happen.I was able to meet and get to know the most loving people, sweat more than I ever have in my entire life as we worked, and not only see but also feel the love of God all around me.
This experience has changed the way that I view Young Life, relationships, and the power of God’s love.
There were many people from the trip that had a huge impact on me but one person in particular would have to be Mai Mai. She is from a city called Lapu-Lapu and is probably the most loving person I have ever met. We had the opportunity to hear her story and listen to her share about the hardships in her life. And being able to hear Mai Mai share how those things did not defeat her is something I will never forget.”
“The Philippines adventure that ten of my friends and I embarked upon on March 9th, was an experience I will never forget.
Meeting and getting to know kids that were the same age as us, but who were living such dramatically different lives, helped me gain an immense amount of perspective. And it wasn’t even based off of the comparison of our lifestyles, but rather, the differences in our focuses. Their focus was dead set on Christ, and I was continuously reminded of this throughout our trip. I got to see how centered these people were in God, and how trusting they were in His plan for them. Experiencing this taught me how much the distractions in our lives can stray us from the Lord’s plans.
On March 11th we landed in the Philippines, and that night we stayed with host families. I stayed with a Young Life staff member named Mai Mai. She offered me my first look into this devoted love for Christ through opening up her home to me and my friend Kirsten. We had the privilege of meeting her family as well as getting our butt’s kicked in volleyball. I also got to attend her Young Life club and see how devoted the leaders and kids were to the word of God. It was so striking to see how incredibly happy they were.
The people I was surrounded by in the Philippines found so much of their happiness in Christ; which, I believe is a universal opportunity for us all. But the happiness I saw in each and every person I met in the there, exuded Christ’s love for them. It is this kind of joy that these people felt so deeply that I hope to emulate in my life for the rest of my days.
After my stay with Mai Mai and her family, we headed back to the city of Cebu, gathered together, and bused to the camp that we had come to paint in preparation for the several weeks of campers that were to come in the near future to hear about Jesus. The camp was in the middle of what felt like a jungle, with geckos and frogs all around. Over the course of the week that we spent working at the camp, we got to know a whole slew of people who shared their stories with us and by the time we had to leave, we left with countless new friendships.
The camp itself was fostered for something great — sharing Jesus and his love! — and when I was discussing it amongst friends at the site, I felt that it was, in the best words I can muster, a sort of holy ground. As if you could feel God’s presence in every nook and cranny of that place, as cheesy as it may sound. But, it truly was a testament to that first impression I had gained from meeting Mai Mai, Bienz, Arrah, and so many other friends over there; it was all for Him.
In life I believe that it is easy to feel lost in all the things that require our focus every day. Those focuses can lead us astray from what is really significant, God. This trip taught me so much, but I feel that the most important takeaway I gained is to remember that the to-do’s, must-complete’s, and “oh no’s” in our lives really fall away in comparison to God’s plan for us. Trust His plan, because, things always seem to work themselves out in the craziest ways when we do, and it probably won’t ever be in the way that you would think either. The Filipinos I met had a much better grasp on this theme, and even after I landed back home in the U.S.A. this memory continues come into my focus over and over again.
So in conclusion, Salamat (Thank You!), Philippines!
If the opportunity ever comes to take a ginormous step out of your comfort zone, take it. I’m so glad I did.”