Saturday, 12 April 2008


N.B. Written at City of Springs Hotel, Los Spanios.

It's getting late, and we have been up since 4.30am. Today has been a long day, travelling to the bay - getting a boat across to the Island and then getting a horse up to the crater of the volcano. It was an exciting morning, but now most of the others have gone to bed and I am left (once again) to contemplate the meaning of life.

England. What a thought, what a privilege! It has definitely been a life-changing experience, these last few weeks - but I suppose the art of that is that life has not ended. It has only just begun, and new things are now in motion, which perhaps weren't always before. New friendships are blossoming that wouldn't have had a chance to, had I never been on this trip. I am so grateful to those who have made it possible, and I want to pass that love on with a new zest for life that I have never experienced before. How long it will last is as long as I keep my head focused on what God is telling me to do - where He is telling me to go, and the small ways in which I can have a real impact on the people I meet.

Life is about the small things - a smile, a hug, a story - and although we only remember some of the huge moments in life - sometimes we need to recognise those small moments of hope and glory that occur every day - in lives all over this world. I imagine my life this moment as a blank sheet of paper - God has forgotten the messiness of yesterday - and is waiting for me to get up, so that he can develop me into the work of art He created me to be. We all need only step up to the easel so that He can begin His work. God doesn't use complete pieces to work with - He moulds together all the broken pieces of our lives so that what is made is unique and beautiful.

He is a great God who provides a wonderful world for us to live in, we just need to learn to appreciate it more. Us ourselves are magnificently created, perfect in the loving eyes of the Father. I look up at the stars sometimes and I just can't take it in - the extreme vastness of God that cannot be described, although many have tried. And then I also see the extreme poverty of those living in Payatas, Dacutan or Tatalon, and I think, "Wow. Where is God in that?"

But He is there, hard though it may be for me to understand it. And He also goes with me as I visit, and as I build relationships with His children. God is so incredibly complex really. And He's got it all in hand, hard though it may be sometimes for me to see it - and as I say goodbye to this wonderful country tomorrow, I have no doubt that I will feel a sadness and a loneliness in my heart. But through whatever emotions and heartache I experience over the next few weeks and months, I will remember that God is close to the brokenhearted - and to those who mourn and love His lost children.

God knows the pain of being separated from His beloved, the injustice of suffering for something you do not deserve. And really - no matter how my life turns out - these people will continue to be the beautiful people they are. They are Filipino's. And they are awesome.

* * *

Sunday 13th April
5:00pm - Fly from Manila (Philippines) to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).
11:50pm - Fly from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Heathrow (UK).

Monday 14th April
Arrive in the UK - 5:50am (local time)


N.B. At Bulakan.

I am increasingly unable to sleep, desperately fighting the urge to close my eyes as the night draws on. I am scared, not wanting to relive the things I saw at Payatas yesterday. But there is another part of me that hopes desperately that I will never forget the things I saw, because I know that as long as I do remember them, my hearts stays secure to this place, my motives in life remain grounded in God's word, and God's hope for these people. It amazes me: the passion in their hearts to serve the God who has materially given them so little. But of course, without these "things" to cling to, to rely on - they can only cling to God, and treasure those things that are unseen. They live lives so much closer to Jesus than what I could ever achieve.

Tomorrow will be the last day in the Philippines. But I am so glad to have been here, so glad to have met these people. Because I know my life will be so much better because of it. And I will never forget the people I have met, the lives that have been changed. The ideas and opportunities that I have had, the love that I have been shown, the stories and experiences that have been shared, and not forgetting the ways I have been able to grow and to heal. To let go of things that I was previously unable to let go. The small ways in which God has challenged and reminded me of how I should be. I know that life is full of ups and downs. But maybe now I also appreciate the way that it's okay to have good and bad days - maybe even go so far as to say that its healthier sometimes.

So life goes on, and tomorrow I return to England. And maybe even close a chapter of my life. But thats okay - because a new one is just beginning. Another new adventure is starting!

Thursday, 10 April 2008


Look down where those battered shoes lay
Ruined remains of a life, now rotting on the rubbish heap
They once ran down muddy paths
In and out of makeshift huts and houses
And now they lay, abandoned.
Tattered and torn.

Look down where that battered dress lay
Ruined remains of a life, now rotting on the rubbish heap
It once danced on a concrete platform
In and out of many laughing children
And now it lays, abandoned.
Tattered and torn.

Look down at where that body lay
Shameless excuse of life, on the rotting rubbish heap
She scavenged this place for something to sell
In and out of toxic rivers
And now she sleeps here, abandoned.
Hope tattered and torn.

Look down at the house where that baby lay
A new life, where poverty reigns
He will live and die in this place
Just like so many before him.
Innocent now, as he lays, new born.
In muddy rags, tattered and torn.


N.B. I look back at what I wrote yesterday, and so much of it resounds even stronger with me today. I have no words to describe the depth to which my heart sunk as I walked around the "houses" that stand so close to the dump. The smell only grounded the images of poverty deeper into my mind.

Today I have experienced a range of emotions - guilt, hopelessness, mourning - but now I can only feel angry. At myself. Angry for all the times I cried about how rubbish my life was. Angry at all the times I wished I had more money - or complained I was hungry or tired. Angry at the years I wasted in school not doing anything. Angry that I live in a country where so much goes to waste. Angry that I have waited so long to do something. Angry that there are so many who have the power to do something and don't.

And yet, somewhere amongst all that, somewhere through the silence of the night, there is a small voice that whispers through the cloud to me. A voice that says, "What now?"

Wednesday, 9 April 2008


Today has been exhausting - but has allowed me to reach the conclusion that nothing will ever surprise me again. I have seen poverty and human degradation to the point that it makes me sick. It tears at my heart. And yet I have also seen a heart fulfilled, alive with the passion of Christ, the love for a life like Jesus. Smiles that warm my heart.

Today we were building at Payatas Youth Center - a place where a simple few square feet of concrete satisfies them. How much do we take for granted in a world when so much is surplass? It's ridiculous. I am so angry at so many things now - righteously angry at what I cannot change. I have been feeling so emotionally drained, and having dreams about falling which keep waking me up.

How can this life be so? That I should have so much, and others so little? That the world should carry on as if these people do not matter?

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


N.B. Arrived in Manila. Current location: Mall of Asia. (Apologies for the Jargon.)

I'm fairly tired, but becoming accustomed to the idea of spending my last week in the Philippines in Manila, Luzon. I enjoyed the last week, and was sad to leave Negros, but each ending brings a new beginning - and I have no reason not to believe that this week in Manila will be every bit as good as last week on Negros. Life is a journey, you know? You have to travel it to get the real experience. And I know sometimes it's scary, and sometimes it's hard, but at other times it's just brilliant!

The small things in life overwhelm me sometimes to the point of tears. But that's life, you know - you have to go with the flow and get on with what life throws at you. You cannot dwell on what is past, though the shadows sometimes creep up on you, you must live for the moment, the ever present Spirit that moves within you, stirring up emotions that make you cry and laugh and want to get out and fight the world! Fight the injustice! Heal the sick and feed the hungry - love the children that are the Children of God, love the children who don't know they are! That's what living life is about. Being a change in the world. Being different to every selfish Westerner that fails to look into these peoples eyes - like the frail beings that we once were. What other duties in life are there?

Life is short, we are a mere breath in the eternal lifespan of God, and if we blink, if we take our eyes from Him, even if just for a second, we could miss out on the most amazing thing to happen in all history of man. So we cannot afford to spare one moment complaining about circumstances beyond our control. God's got it in hand you know - He can do anything and everything that He wishes to!

Saying that, I myself have wasted many a long night fretting over who I was and where my destiny lay - the future is an awfully scary place, and so too, the past: a graveyard of living skeletons that are ready to drag any unsuspecting victim to join them in the shadows. That is why we must be alert to the workings of the evil one, and not allow him to get a foothold in our lives.

We must surround ourselves in humble grace, and love for our neighbours (that is those we come into contact with each day) so that we do not become beings of a selfish nature, but rather, beings of light and hope for those in dark existence, Bearers of the life that comes from a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, a faith that is alive and burning, spreading like wildfire among our family, friends and those whom we meet, those whom God has sent our way so that they might be saved!

And of course, none of us are perfect. That is why we must all keep our eyes on the goal, the Mighty Saviour who redeems us in the darkness and brings us out into the light!

Sunday, 6 April 2008


What is the art of a smile? How powerful is it to look someone in the eyes and find nothing but understanding and love? What would people really see if they looked in my eyes? It has been such a long time since I allowed anyone the chance to see. But as I looked in Jo's eyes - that's all I saw. A desire to understand and to love.

"I want so much to open your eyes'
Cause I need you to look into mine
Tell me that you'll open your eyes"
Open Your Eyes - Snow Patrol


The sky shines blue over a clear water sea, waves lapping at the shore, boats hovering off the sand. Coral is rough beneath my feet. The sun is still young in the sky, and casts long shadows down the beach to tease the water. The world is stirring, waiters setting and clearing tables, a family plays football down on the beach, gradually the holiday hermits emerge from their rooms to eat breakfast. In the east, there dawns a new adventure, a day just learning to walk, ideas growing and churning. And yet, God knows them all, intricately and wholly, how they begin and how they will end. Just like He sees me, and every thought that passes briefly through my mind, every pain that convulses through my body, every sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. The Father feels it all.

The world is alive! Excited shouts are heard up and down the beach. The waves continue as before, throwing starfish and jellyfish up onto the shore. Joyous chatter is exchanged across the breakfast table, some Filipino's clear out the diving boats, some splash around in the water. And me? I sit here, trying desperately to collect my thoughts; my feelings. I am dreadfully confused. Is this aching a distant heartbreak? A longing for those who are now out of reach? Or perhaps just a deepened confusion of things I'll never understand. Although there is one thing I do understand about this aching: it hurts.

I miss Dennis a lot. And not even just because I loved him like a grandfather. But because he represents my inability to hold on to my past. His death reminds me that my home is changing, and I have no control over those things. And no matter how much I try and cling onto those things, I can't. I do not know what 'home' will be like in a few months time, let alone a few years. My life is going in a direction I cannot control, a path I have no say over. And that scares me. What if I am not good enough? What if I am unable to do things properly? People want to know where my life is going, but I feel completely unprepared. I am inadequate, frightened and useless. How can I ever do what the Lord has in store for me?

Saturday, 5 April 2008


N.B. It's amazing really, how anyone can spend time in a place like this and NOT see God. It's astounding, breathtaking. And even hardr to think that it's not going to last. This time will end, just as all things in life end. And then only one thing will remain. Everyone has a choice to make. To be in the world, or of the world.

The sun dazzles on the sea, the boats litter the harbour, bobbing in the gentle waves as they rush to shore. What a beautiful sight! Strangely, I feel horribly lonely, as if life could be so much better. I know I have a lot of things to let go, old grievances that are taking time to wash away. And sometimes as the tide washes one thing away, it leaves behind another. I know my journey is only beginning, and that I have many things to still discover. Wonderful things that the Lord is holding back until I am ready. I just have to wait.

Friday, 4 April 2008


N.B. Written at Sipalay.

Lord, I want to serve you, more than anything else in the world. And I know that choosing to serve you with my life means making sacrifices, letting things go. I know that each day I spend with you I change. I strive to live my life as you taught me through your son, but sometimes I mess up. And sometimes I just let my feelings and emotions get in the way with what is right. Lord, I believe you made me into a wonderful person. But I have to work towards achieving that. And maybe God, I will never achieve it, but to strive towards that is to strive towards you.

To run this race of life will require a fighting spirit, because what we strive towards will be faced with forces of evil, to stop us, to slow us down. And though you have already won the victory over death, we still fight, for the glory of your Kingdom. And we shall not be overcome if we stand, because the battle is yours.

And look how far we have already come. You have fought with me over many issues in my life. Things that I allowed to get a foothold on me. Things that haunt me in the dark of the night, when sleep has evaded me. Lord, my heart shouts a victory cry for the things you have already done. But I am only beginning this part of the journey now. And I have far to go, many more struggles to overcome.


N.B. Written at Sipalay Easy-Diving Resort, Negros.

Do you ever feel that in the grand scheme of things, you are vastly insignificant? That every wave upon the sand is an echo of each moment that is wasted? I laid upon the sand, watching the sun sink lower in the sky, fiery red, knowing that the darkness would close in around me. Halting my breath, I thought briefly of home, now seeming so far away - another world somehow. And this still - a far away place from the villages we experienced yesterday at Dacutan. I feel hollow, a fake. Life here is westernised. There is no hint of poverty, of sickness. Even though here is a strange perception of a world of paradise, my longing is truly to serve the children of this country.

The fireflies dance in the light from the stars, and each memory of this week is washed upon the sand, lapping in my mind. I do not want to leave, cannot bear to pull myself away. Are you somewhere out there Lord? Or do you lay beside me on the sand? I feel so lonely, so void of a force, pulling me home. Is this where I belong? I am lost, a victim of circumstance and emotion, longing for a sense of acceptance like that I felt last night. Will I feel this empty from now on?

Each tear stings greater on my face. Tears of confusion, guilt, uncertainty. Is this life, living? Or Lord, do you hold in your hand a greater love of life that this? Do you hide the knowledge of true life in your eyes, in your son? Is this disease that crawls upon me a sweeping challenge I must overcome? Or is it finally my chance to succomb?

I turn my back to the sea, the darkness. I am fearful of what I may find out there, if I look hard enough: The stars that echo the Voice of God, all-powerful and all-knowing. I am a mere being in his great plan. I am almost nothing. And yet, I must have a purpose on this earth. I must have a fulfillment that I am destined for. I wish I knew. But I must trust in the hands of God, and accept to surrender myself to his will. For there is no way, even if I search for a lifetime, that God will reveal his face to me. I am only a servant. I am not important. After all, in the great scheme of things, I am vastly insignificant.