Posted by: Admin | March 15, 2015

My First Trip to the Philippines

By Lucy Kotrla

I have always wanted to go to the Philippines; to visit the school, see the children and meet all the brethren I’ve heard so much about. It was several years back that I was in a meeting here in Prague and Brother Burt Asbill had just returned from one of his mission trips. He was giving a report when he suddenly started to speak to the young people. He told us what it was like to be a missionary and that God wanted to use us in a way we could never even imagine. Then he started handing coins to some of us. He would always give a coin to one of the young people and then walk to another one. He said that this coin was like a promise that if we walked with the Lord, God would send us on a mission one day. I remember anxiously waiting if I would also get a coin. And I did. I held it in my hand and prayed that God would teach me to walk in His ways so that one day I could go where He sends me to. Then I looked at the coin carefully. It was 1 Philippine Piso. I then hid the coin in my little box on my shelf to keep it safe there as a small reminder of that which God has prepared for me in the future. A few years passed and here I am looking back at two long weeks which I was able to spend with the brethren in the Philippines – on a mission. 🙂

I travelled with Br Martin Kluson and his daughter Kristyna from Prague through Dubai onto Manila, Philippines, where we met with the rest of the team flying from USA. Then we continued on to Butuan City. There we would be staying in a hotel for the rest of the trip.

When the plane landed in the Philippines, the first thing I noticed was the palms, the sun and the humidity. I was very excited but also rather nervous. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. And so the first few days I was feeling very unsure of myself, never knowing what would be the exactly proper thing to do. In the end, I decided to give it to God and let Him teach me what to do and how to do it. And I found Him faithful as always. As the time went on I started enjoying it more and I was also able to participate more in the things that were being done. I learned that while being in the mission field, it was important to be always ready to help or do whatever was needed.

About the fifth day of our stay in Butuan, we travelled to the Bible School which was about an hour and half drive from our hotel. I used the time to watch the Philippine scenery and take pictures. In the distance I could see beautiful mountains that were quite high. Along the road there were rice plantations and palms everywhere. We crossed a few rivers as well. As for the people living there, I saw mostly small houses made out of nothing but iron and wooden stalks. I’ve heard a lot about the poverty in the Philippines but it was still different to see it for real. I couldn’t help but think how blessed I am for all that I have.

There were not many students in the Bible School. But it was so encouraging to see all the young people there being so enthusiastic about the Word that was being shared, scribbling notes all the time. Although we didn’t have much time to talk with them, they were so grateful to have us there. I enjoyed the time there tremendously.

Another place we went to a few times during our stay in Butuan was, of course, the Children’s School. When I walked in, I couldn’t believe I was finally there. How many pictures of the school have I seen and how many things did I hear about it! And now I was there and could actually “touch it” for real.

Kristyna and I had a few missions we wanted to accomplish during our stay at the school and so we started right away. We brought some materials for the children and did art projects with them. It was so nice to be working with the children and getting to know them more personally. We also brought some test-types to check the children’s eyes and see if they can see clearly or whether they need glasses. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that most of the children had a very good eyesight. We spent two days and a half checking those 145 children. But it never was boring to meet all those little ones and get to know their different personalities. Some children would be very curious and ask lots of questions. Others would just look around with wide eyes and be rather quiet. It was so sweet to see them and be able to talk to all of them. Afterwards Br Martin and Br George took five children with the worst eyesight to a local optician. Three of them got glasses. You should have seen those happy faces when they could finally look at the world and see it clearly!

There were many things I learned while staying in the Philippines. While working with the children and helping in different ways, my eyes opened to a whole new perspective of life. As if I would get to look into a different dimension of what life with God really is about. I also understood many things in a way I never did before. I understood why I learn and study different things. There are so many skills that can be useful on the mission field. And where else would I want to use the gifts that God has given to me? When I looked around I suddenly saw so many needs and I just thought: Who is going to do all this work? Where are the people that God will use to do this? I realized that I was occupied with so many things and spending so much time solving them or thinking about them but it all suddenly seemed so small and unimportant. And I had the desire to do that which God wants me to, because there is nothing more beautiful to do.

The whole trip was a tremendous experience for me. I know that there are things that I will never look at the same way again.

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