Squad Goals

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These girls are the kind of girls I want in my pack. They are loyal, joyful, faithful, present, encouraging, good listeners, willing, able, loads of fun, and very good at laughing. :)

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The last night in Navotas, I was showing them some of my pictures from Haiti. (Two of the girls are nurses waiting to take boards.) I showed them the picture of my big-headed baby and Krissa, very nonchalantly, says, "Oh yeah, that's hydrocephalus." They have a good grasp of a lot of medical needs that I am only just learning about.

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Sometimes I catch a whiff of the Navotas smell here in the States. Not very often at all, mind you. Its so bad! But when I do, I almost love it. It reminds me of a place that I want to be.

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When I go to Navotas, I feel like I have to sacrifice most of my comforts-- hot shower, nice bed, quiet rooms and conversations, driving my car, etc. It only took me one day or so to get used to bucket showers, sleeping on mats in the heat with the sound of traffic all night, and riding fuming motos.

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Good friends check each other for lice. :) And lots of other things.

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All these girls have amazing voices. I wish they could record an album so that I could hear their voices daily from home.

Hazel

Hazel daaaaaarling. I met Hazel on my previous trip. She lives close to a mall with good souvenir shopping so our team met up with her last year. 

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Hazel is a small person with a huge heart to serve her own people. I was amazed as she was telling me that as much as she wants to spend time in the States, she knows God has called her to stay in the Philippines and put that dream on hold. That's so hard, girl. You inspire me to take a step back from my own dreams and ask God to do with them what He will, even if it means taking a different path. 

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Hazel wanted to pray for us as a team, standing outside Tender Bobs (restaurant). With laying on of her hands, she prayed life and peace over us. One of my teammates commented later that she wished we in the States could pray more like Hazel, so full of passion and longing for Christ. 

All photos by Jake Hixon

All photos by Jake Hixon

Hazel does get to see one of her dreams realized. She is going to South Korea this summer on a mission trip. I'm so excited to see what God does with this little lady. She sure is special. 

the sweetest of loves

Three days back on US soil and my jet lag game is strong. 

I feel like I have all these feelings and thoughts to communicate but it's all been coming out in tears. (Thanks to all my friends that have let me meltdown on them this weekend.) So here's a piece of my heart. 

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Scrolling through my photos from the Philippines trip, I keep stopping at this one. That shade of green will probably always remind me of Navotas. 

Tricia is a piece of the Navotas community that I am missing so much. On my first trip to Navotas, she came and found me in a crowd of Filipinos and wanted me to hold her, without ever having met me before or knowing me. She's let me hold her ever since. I'm not a mother so I don't know the feeling of a child wanting me like a mother, but I imagine this to be close to that. 

 

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She does little things that make me feel. She will always lay her head on my shoulder and every once in a while, look up and in my eyes, touch my face, make sure it's still me, and then lay her head back down.  

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She doesn't like the camera so it's been hard to get good pictures of her, but that's ok.  

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The morning that we said goodbye to the Navotas church, I turn around and see someone else holding her. I can't lie, it hurt a little bit. She let me hug her right before I got in the van to leave. The sweetest of hugs.  

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I hope I can hold you again someday.  

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Stories

Let's visit 2 Navotas families.  

I just love this picture! HAHA!  

I just love this picture! HAHA!  

This first family lives in an actual house near the river. They have 3 kids and 2 parents. The family has one scholar, a daughter. Our team went in to bless them and give them a bag of food.

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We chatted with them (Pastor William is interpreting) and asked how we could pray for them. Mom tells us how her son doesn't eat or drink and when she took him to the doctor, he gave her antibiotics for tonsillitis.

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 We looked in his mouth and his tonsils are huge. He needs them removed stat before he can't breathe anymore. The nurses on our team prayed healing over him. Mom is tearful and she was still tearful when I saw her later that night. She doesn't have money to take him to a doctor or have his tonsils removed.

"Is there anything else we can do?" He pointed to Ryan and said he wanted a picture with him! So cute.  

"Is there anything else we can do?" He pointed to Ryan and said he wanted a picture with him! So cute.  

This is exactly the type of situation where kids die because they can't get the medical attention they need. The doctor visit would cost $6 US.  Not sure what the cost of surgery would be. Working on that...

Passing out candy to cuties on the bridge  

Passing out candy to cuties on the bridge  

Second family LITERALLY lives under the bridge.  This is a new family to me, I never realized anyone lived under the actual bridge. 

One of the Filipinos told the joke "You've heard of the Red Sea? Now you've seen the Black River." Ugh! 

One of the Filipinos told the joke "You've heard of the Red Sea? Now you've seen the Black River." Ugh! 

This family is a Gramma and Grandpa (pictured on the "bed"), a daughter who is 9 months pregnant with her 5th child, and her 3 living children. She is 22 years old. Her 4th child died.  

Us looking at the "house" 

Us looking at the "house" 

The family frequently evacuates when the water level rises. Which is basically every time it rains. It's POURED twice since we've been here.  

Water bed? 

Water bed? 

I asked where the mom is going to give birth. Apparently she's had all 4 of her children right here.  

The kitchen. Filipino standing room only. 

The kitchen. Filipino standing room only. 

They have lived here for NINETEEN YEARS.  

Sleeping room.  

Sleeping room.  

Pretty humbling to peer into this home. This is probably the worst one I've seen. Oh the smell. Can you imagine birthing your babies and raising them in this wet hole?  

Annabelle's kitchen.  

Annabelle's kitchen.  

Many families have kitchens in the street. Both of these ladies were immediately cooking the rice that we gave them in the food bags. They thanked us, saying otherwise they'd have nothing to feed their kids for lunch. 

This lady's kitchen.  

This lady's kitchen.  

Each family's situation has the ability to break your heart. But if you gave them a nice house with a stocked pantry and fixed all thier problems, would they still have this contagious joy and unhindered love? I don't know...I think they have something that we, isolated up in our mansions, can't have. 

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Have to think about that some more.  

Navotas on foot

Today I cried.  

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Today we purchased, portioned, and distributed bags of food to families of scholars in Navotas (scholars are the kids that Rev22 church send to school). In all honesty, I slightly dread this part because the process of visiting homes is: fitting into tight, dirty, stinky spaces (plus it rained today so add WET to that list).  

Approximately 75 bags of food. This bag can feed an entire family for a week.  

Approximately 75 bags of food. This bag can feed an entire family for a week.  

We loaded about 30 bags into backpacks and ventured out with Pastor and his wife for the afternoon.  

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Street kids surround me. "HEY! What's your name?" Over and over.   Maybe they won't try to hold my hand this ti....nope. Oh well.  I kinda like it. 

 
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The first house we visit is the size of a twin bed and 9 people live in it. It's a shack that extends out into the street.  

A typical Navotas house near the river. This house has a bedroom upstairs. Many do not.  

A typical Navotas house near the river. This house has a bedroom upstairs. Many do not.  

Moving forward, we get to the homes of families I know, Andreana (my interpreter during clinic) and Carmen.

Navotas dogs...ugh.  

Navotas dogs...ugh.  

Sitting in Andreana's house, we prayed for her and her mom and sister. I put my arm on her and leaned against her and the weight of how much I care about her fell on me. I haven't known her very long and have only seen her twice in my life now but I love her like a sister and I love that I DO love her! I'm so blessed to just waltz into this community and be received by such deep respect, admiration and love. Sniff. 

Each time a food bag was passed out, the mom and kids would join our entourage  

Each time a food bag was passed out, the mom and kids would join our entourage  

I'm already emotional when we get to Carmen's house down the street. Carmen has a 4 year old daughter Tricia Mae, whom I deeply love (she might have some developmental delays). We get into Carmen's house and she has a poster on the wall with all our names on it. I sit on the bench and pull Tricia into my lap. Pastor tells us how Carmen works so hard to make about $2 US a day selling bleach and garlic. Her husband is an abusive drunk and her father is sick and needs money for medicine. She is struggling. She is crying. Christina prays for her and we all start crying. Carmen is such a wonderful, dedicated, hard-working mother. She doesn't deserve all this. 

Tricia is sitting on Carmen's lap.  

Tricia is sitting on Carmen's lap.  

The community of this church and Navotas is so incredibly RICH that I can't describe it without weeping. I think about having to go back my community at home. It's so isolating in comparison. In this moment, I would trade every last toilet seat to keep this raw community close to my heart.  

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It's actually really selfish. I want to keep what I feel when I'm with them. It's true what they say about these darn mission trips. They give you more than you can ever give to them.  

We're just here for those fans.  

We're just here for those fans.  

One more adorable chubby baby for the road.  

One more adorable chubby baby for the road.