Bundles of power lines hanging in the sky
Broken concrete roads
Brightly colored houses standing squished up against gray ones.
Cinder blocks for walls and tin roofs speckled with dust
This was the scene set for me as I arrived at my church site in Quezon City, with the lingering question: Could this (or a place like this) ever be my home?
In the days that followed, I was welcomed into a new culture. My Filipino church family was eager to teach my Trek partner and I the language and to share the food with us. Everything was wonderful at first and then I got sick with stomach pains and increasing fatigue, my homesickness grew.
“I can’t eat another fish!”
“Ugh. Rice again?”
It wasn’t until I had my first Sprite here that a realization hit. It wasn’t necessarily the food that missed or my family and friends back home that made me feel homesick. It was the lack of the comfortable and familiar. Home is home because it is familiar to me.
Could the Philippines ever be that for me?
The more I ponder that question I can’t help but wonder what home means to the people I have met over the last few weeks. I am at a girl’s camp this week with Onesimo, the organization that my team has been partnering with. The organization seeks to help at-risk youth in the slum communities around Metro Manila. As the days unfolded my team was privileged to hear the girls’ stories. For many of them, home is not a safe place. They have been sexually abused or battered by their own parents, uncles, aunts and other family members. However they have come to find a home with Christ in Onesimo. They have staff and spiritual sisters that treat them like family as well as a physical place to live.
The youth at the church site I started out at are a part of a two-year program to study the Word and prepare for the workforce. They have made the church their home. They sleep on the floor of the sanctuary and eat meals on the first floor. They have left their homes for financial reasons or their families will not even allow them to return or it is not safe for them. They have been forced to create a new home.
And here I am with my idea of “home” being challenged. Many have been forced out of their familiar because of safety or finances and others have chosen the unfamiliar to experience Christ and make a better life for themselves. Am I willing to give up my “home” in a similar way in order to follow Christ more? Can I take on the three meals of rice with joy? Can I let go of my familiar comforts? My food, my couch, and the people I am used to?
Can I trust Christ to provide a home for me wherever I go?
I am happy to say that I have already started becoming more comfortable here and I know I will miss the Philippines when I leave. God has shown himself to be the Provider and I cannot wait to see what He has next for us.