This is a post outlining my Operation Christmas Child Distribution Trip to Cebu City, Philippines. This is in no way written to be a complete list of things that we did. These are just some highlights from my perspective.
We arrived late Sunday night, more like Monday morning, We went to bed as soon as we could and we arose bright and early and started with breakfast at 8am. And yes, I need to document when I ate. Food’s important to me. Pastor Trifon is assigned to our team. Pastor Trifon is a local Pastor and part of the Operation Christmas Child National Leadership Team in the Philippines. He’s awesome.
Then to the market. Then to a delicious lunch. Then to a small church to pass out shoeboxes to about 200 kids. 100 boys and 100 girls. They did some awesome skits for us and sang worship songs. They were all really excited. The Pastor and his wife, Rey and Elizabeth we’re very happy to have us there. They gave us some snacks afterward (remember that I document food).
In the evening we came back to the hotel and went for a walk in the mall next door. We had Krispy Kreme. Yes, Krispy Kreme.
Dave Groleau, our Operation Christmas Child Chaplain, opened the day with a devotional. Biblical compassion doesn’t just feel, it’s moved to action. That’s the heart of Jesus. To be moved by the Spirit of God, to have the heart of God, for the work of God. Dave is an incredible pastor and teacher, I always enjoy listening to him.
Our first distribution was in a hotel. It’s where the church meets. It consisted of a couple hundred kids. It went great. The Pastor and his team were very excited to see the church kids get shoeboxes.
The second distribution of the day was in a church on the outskirts of the city. It was a little chaotic but went well. It was great to see so many teenage leaders at that church.
Dave opened up the day again. God is the God of the whole globe. We all serve the same God. Being in Operation Christmas Child is not a cruise ship, it’s a battle ship. The battle is real. God made the world and it was good. Then the devil came and took it, squatters rights. We’re taking it back. It rightly belongs to the God we serve. Again, Dave always has a good word!
We were able to attend The Greatest Journey lesson one in a church that’s in a really, really poor part of town. It was a packed house! These are by far the poorest kids we’ve encountered so far, this place was pretty bad. We needed a police escort.
Today we want to Bohol, an island near Cebu. The first distribution was great. They had a cool kids program prepared. They were really appreciative and they fed us all. Great food and great coconuts.
Second distribution wasn’t as organized as the first. But the pastor and some of his leadership team sang a worship song in English for us, How Great Thou Art. We were really appreciative that they took their time and energy to learn a worship song in another language for us. Unfortunately, there were more kids there than we expected and not everyone got a shoebox. I guess we need to pack more! And yes, that’s a church that was destroyed by an earthquake!
We came back on an awesome sunset boat ride. I sat at the back of the boat outside with a few friends. It was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Absolutely beautiful. It was like the world stood still during that time. We came back and had a good dinner and cultural show with everyone. Cool dancers and drummers.
The above is a Filipino dessert called Halo Halo.
Today was my favorite day. We attended a TGJ graduation. 29 kids were beaming with joy as they graduated and received their certificates from the Mid South Regional Director Amy Johnson. It was my favorite time because these kids were excited not because they received something (although there’s nothing wrong with that!), they were excited because they gave something. They gave their time and energy. They completed 12 lessons and then, graduated. It was also an awesome time of speaking with the Pastor afterward and hearing his heart for ministry in the Philippines.
With that we concluded our trip, and got ready to head out that evening. Cebu to Seoul to Atlanta to Charlotte, then the drive up to Boone. The week was exhausting but totally worth it.