12 planes in 10 days: To the Philippines and back again

About once a year I get the chance to go and visit one of our outreach teams and do what we call a "Pastoral visit". The basic idea is to go and visit one of our DTS outreach teams to encourage the leaders as well as the students halfway through the outreach. In the last couple years, I have been able to visit teams in Mexico City, Panama and Guatemala. This was extra special though because I was able to visit a team that was in Cebu, Philippines where Dori and I had led an outreach team ourselves about 15 months ago.

Ever since we left the Philippines, there has always been this sense that we would go back and it was just a matter of time.

Welcome home YWAM Cebu

As I got off plane number 6 after a solid 50 hours of travel, I found myself on a familiar taxi ride back to YWAM Cebu. Upon arrival, everything was just about the way I remembered it, the staff were up early making breakfast for the 3 teams who were there. So I went up to my room, had a shower, came down to breakfast and greeted the team. Then I was greeted by a familiar face. It was Kuya Joel, the base director with a smile from ear to ear saying "Welcome home brother!".

Back to Bogo

When we were in the Philippines in 2013, Typhoon Haiyan decimated the Central Visayas region including the city of Tacloban and parts of Northern Cebu like Bogo City. I remember traveling from Cebu to Bogo and literally seeing coconut trees that had pierced other coconut trees because of the violent winds. Trees with their entire root systems had been pulled out of the ground like common weeds. Homes, schools and all kinds of buildings had been ripped apart or left in piles of rubble that went on for hours and hours as we drove with nothing else to look at.

This time on that same drive, I had to look carefully for the coconut trees, most of them had been cut down and now line the road as piles of coconut lumber. There are many homes who have utilized it as fencing for the front of their homes. Some homes have been rebuilt, other roofs obviously patched and life for the most part has gone on.

From relief to development

While we were in Bogo and chatting with one of our team leaders, Juliette... I realized that 15 months earlier we were in this very city doing relief work. A few months after that we sent another team to the Philippines and they were helping to clear rubble from homes in Bogo. And now this team would be a part of making bricks that will build 150 homes for residents of Bogo. It was an awesome realization, to know that our outreach didn't just hand out food, we made a connection that would allow us to be a part of the lives of the community of Bogo and do things that will have lasting impact for years to come.