We are back safe and sound. Thank you all so much for your prayers. We know without a doubt that God was guiding our trip every day and protecting us from harm despite the worst flooding in Manila since 2009.
Our trip was fruitful beyond what we could have thought. It was all God, and we give Him the glory. Here’s the summary of how we’ve seen His hand in it all:
We did connect in with IJM’s regional director for all of Southeast Asia, the director of aftercare for the Philippines, and one other local field director. The meetings went better than we could have thought, and the staff is very excited for our passion and our ministry. It was clear from all three meetings where the greatest long-term need for more aftercare facilities is. The IJM staff also said they are happy to offer their consultation with every aspect of aftercare, will help us get started, and will connect us with other local organizations that are already working in the Philippines.
We also had the opportunity to provide dental screenings at two orphanages and bring the children toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, toys, and love.
A huge miracle came on Saturday when we found out that the high school youth group from CA that was staying in the same guest house as us was partnering with a local church/organization that day to do a medical/dental outreach to one of the most impoverished communities in the area. Saturday was one of the two days that we had no plan at all, so we were able to go. When we showed up, we asked the local accompanying dentist if they had brought enough supplies for one more dentist, to which they replied yes—that they had been expecting the CA group to bring 2 dentists all along. So, Jeremy was able to pull lots of teeth for Jesus! Later we learned that it had never been in the youth group’s plan to bring more than one dentist. Cool how the Lord worked that out. The day had God’s hand all over it, and it was a great reminder of what He can do when we lay our plans and agendas aside and just seek out His plan for us.
As mentioned above, there was a natural disaster in Manila when they received well over a months’ worth of rainfall in a 24-hour period. Over half the city was flooded, and 62 people died. God protected us by having us stay at a place that was elevated enough that it did not flood or keep us from being able to leave. The day after the worst of the storm had passed (although it continually rained on and off every day), we were scheduled to fly to another island for one of our most important meetings of the entire trip. Our prayers were answered in a big way as we were able to fly there, back, and finally back home to the US with only a few minor delays.
Throughout our trip, we were blessed to have a tremendous amount of help from our friends who have been serving in the Philippines full time for about three years now (and are far more in touch with the people and culture than we are). What a gift it was to spend time learning from them and growing our friendship.
The power of prayer was evident throughout the trip but especially as we walked through one of the more dangerous areas of the region on Saturday in the dark with only a flashlight. As we drove into the area that morning (not knowing it was a particularly dangerous place), Sarah suddenly felt a clear sense of peace and protection, and knew that someone was praying for us (about 8:00 pm Friday night US time). On our walk through the slums, we were accompanied by a male pastor and the other male dentist from CA, but there was a moment of confusion in the darkness and Sarah unknowingly got a bit ahead of the group. She was approached by two men on either side of her, but they were deterred when Jeremy (followed by the other two) caught up and greeted them. We only later discovered that this area was one of the biggest hubs for criminal activity in the city. Praise God for watching over us!
Once again, thank you so much for your prayer and support.