It’s our third day in Iloilo City now and it’s been a thrill. We are not surrounded by stunning view or calm water. Instead, we are surrounded by inspiring and beautiful people. More than anything, this time in Iloilo is special because we get to interact with bible school students and pastors who are on fire for Jesus. To be honest, it’s very intimidating for me here. One of the pastors, Pastor Veron, she preaches with power through a lot of screaming and pointing directly at you. When she prays for you, she’ll lay her hand on your head that will get you to fall down by pushing you a little bit. The church I come from is slightly more conservative so this is very new for me. Regardless, it’s always good to be taken out of your comfort zone when you’re challenged but you know that God is stirring something inside of you.
I shared that particular experience with my friend here in the Philippines because I didn’t understand it. She explained to me the spiritual encounter in it and when it happened to her. She said when the pastor laid his hand on her forehead, she felt her knees go completely numb like they’ve been broken off. She said when she fell backwards and fell on her back, it didn’t her at all. I guess I have yet to experience that kind of spiritual encounter that’s why it surprised me.
Yesterday, we went to a women’s prison. Yes, a prison with 109 females. There were 5 cells. Each one lacked bed space for the amount of women that contained them. Coming in, Nikka and I were nervous. We didn’t know the reason for them being there and it scared us. When we ministered, they listened so intently and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. It was amazing. We took pictures with them after and they even showed us inside the prison cell. They were very kind and that gave us relief.
Let me share the bible students’ life here. Six days a week, they have bible school from 9am to noon. They take a lunch break until 3pm and that’s when they pray for 2 hours until 5pm. Once 6pm hits, they have a service called Revival Meeting that goes on until 8pm. I forgot to mention that they wake up at designated times in the night to pray together. On Fridays, they pray from 10pm until morning at 6am. And on Sundays, they have multiple services. It looks to me like bible military. It takes patience and disciple I’m sure. Our friend Frelyn told us that they once fasted for six days. They drank broth and that was it. I commend them so much for everything they do. That must be physically exhausting too and yet in our church in Canada, a 2-hour service is already hard to sit through for a lot people. I’m seriously learning so much from people here.
The mission has been done for about a week and a half now. I’ve been spending time in my hometown since it finished. I still have some memories left from our time in Iloilo City that I’ve yet to mention so I’d like to share them now.
The following day after ministering to the women’s jail ministry, we went to two other men’s prisons in an island caled Guimaras. We made the trip around noon and took a 20-minute boat ride to get there. Mind you, the sea was a tad windy, like a storm was starting to come in but we pushed through our mission. Once we got to Guimaras, a jail truck had come to pick us up. You know, the ones they use to transport inmates in. Talk about experience and thrill right? I added that to the list of other transportation modes we used in the entire mission trip. We got to the jail and ministered to the inmates. We shared about the love of Jesus that knows no bounds and the spiritual freedom that only comes from accepting Him. We gave out bibles that were written in their dialect and even distributed food to them. It was such an awesome experience that I’ll never forget. We headed to another jail shortly after and shared again. I even bought a coin purse as a souvenir from one of the inmates.
It was really dark out by the time we finished. When we were driving back to the Port, a very heavy storm came in and there were also no streetlights. There we were, in a jail truck, driving in pitched darkness surrounded by trees, thunderstorm, lighting, and pouring rain. Oh, and with no other cars on the road but us. I’d also like to add that we decided to sit on a little bench on the edge of the truck where we got extremely soaked. The 40minute-something ride to the Port consisted of a lot of praying and just silence from us. Usually, we’re loud and crazy but in that moment, we were just quiet. The drive was already difficult but we were thinking about the boat ride back to our homes. If it was raining ridiculously hard, we could only imagine how crazy the sea was.
We got to the Port safely and thanked our amazing police officer driver for getting us there. Now, we were about to hop on a boat ride that I imagined to be as shaky as a rollercoaster. We got on the boat and my heart got nervous. I was praying because I needed God’s reassurance that He held that boat and would take us to our destination safely. At the same time, I felt at peace because I knew He was with us. As expected, the boat went up and down through giant waves. Titanic was on my mind and I was also thinking about all the times I should’ve learned how to swim. We all know that swimming is one of those staple skills you should have and I finally realized that “Yup, sounds about right”. Also, there were like 10 life jackets for at least 30 passengers. So I guess the system of use is based on who gets to dibs them. Low-key, I was eyeing the one closest to me just in case ahah. Of course, we got to our destination safely but I would never forget the spiritual, physical and mental exercise of that experience.
Just a couple of days after, we wrapped our time in Iloilo City and our mission trip overall. It was such a rewarding time. I felt revived, humbled, spiritually fed, renewed, and grateful. As a bonus, I also gained a few extra pounds J We got dropped off at the airport by our lovely friends and family. I call them family because they are that to us. Unexpectedly, we cried at the gate. A lot. Just writing this post makes me miss them so much. We all grew friendships and familial relationships with them and it sure wasn’t easy to say goodbye. That wrapped our mission trip, two full blessed and amazing weeks that I will forever be thankful for.