Monday, November 14, 2016

Taking Action

My heart weighs heavy these days. I wish I could say it’s just because of the election, but it’s been weighing heavy for a while now, the reality of the world does that to you.

Amongst all the wonderful advice I was given before coming to the Philippines, there’s really only one that echoes my everyday reality.. 

“You’re going to go, and you’re heart is going to break open, and God will be there to pick up the pieces.”

Welp. Step one down. God, where are you?

I find it hard to talk to God these days. Yelling is easy. But it doesn't help. It doesn't help the fact that the last typhoon completely destroyed my host family’s organic garden, a garden used to train other farmers about the benefits of organic farming. Or that the typhoons destroyed thousands and thousands of kilos of crops and flooded roads all over northern Luzon and destroyed homes but the world or even the Philippine government doesn’t seem to care care. Yelling doesn't change the fact that I met a strong young woman who was run over by a police van during a peaceful protest. It doesn't help my white guilt that makes me desperately miss warm showers, air conditioning, and my nice comfy bed back home. Or the fact that the President of the Philippines has mercilessly and unjustly killed over 3,000 people in a war against drugs. And it doesn't help with the fact that I was someone who used to pride myself on my ability to form connections with people but over here I am struggling badly to connect with this country and its people. 

Side note: When you have those dramatic movie moments where you’re walking the 40 minute walk through the mountains to town trying to outrun the sunset after a terrible week and all of a sudden it starts pouring rain and you forgot your umbrella (the ONE THING you’re supposed to have with you at all times in the Philippines) and you’ve just freaking had it so you stop and yell at God and the universe in the pouring rain wondering why they've turned against you, you don’t get an answer. In fact, you kinda feel really stupid for thinking that if you yelled at God dramatically in the rain your life would transform into a a classic hollywood chick flick and someone (preferably a hot guy in flannel with messy hair and a glorious beard who just happens to be your soulmate) would show up and then a montage of your perfect life together would start.

But it’s okay, God is good, the world is beautiful, the sun will shine, God’s got this. 

…..ummm no?

Let’s face reality and call that what it really is: an excuse. An excuse to sit back and hide in our privilege and do nothing while the world sinks deeper and deeper into poverty, corruption, separation, and hate.

Gonna throw another quote your way that again echoes my daily reality.

“You have not heard the Word of God until you have taken action because of it.”

If you had thrown this quote my way a year ago or even four months ago, I would have said something like, “Oh yeah, I totally get it.” Spoiler alert: I didn't get it. The Word of God requires action. It requires more than a solid attendance and donation at church every Sunday. It requires you to wake up and realize that it’s not God’s job to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth, it’s our job, and it’s time we acted upon it. 

Now I’m not saying we all have to just up and move somewhere crazy like, oh maybe, the Philippines, to act upon the word of God. I think this recent election showed there’s plenty of love needed to be spread back home. I am just begging that we wake up and realize that we should be ashamed of the reality of this world that God entrusted to us. We sat back and thought just because sunsets are occasionally really pretty it balances out the fact that we live in a world where children are taken out of school and forced into child labor?

Please believe me when I say I am writing this probably more to myself than anyone else. The realization of my lack of action prior to coming here haunts my thoughts, but I needed that wake up call. Right now, I’m mad. I’m mad at God, the universe, America, The Philippines, life, and the way it always works out the bad things happen to good people. But the anger, for me, is turning into action. Action that will hopefully help me find much needed peace in my life, and God willing, be a helpful step in my part towards bringing the Kingdom of God to Earth. 

To end, I’ll share a story (the number of stories I have from my two and half months here is quite ridiculous). A week after the last typhoon, I returned to my home in Sagada for the first time since the typhoon (I was evacuated to Manila to wait out the typhoon there). I already knew it was going to be a long journey, traveling in general in the Philippines is always an adventure. I got to the bus station at around 10:30 and found I couldn't get a bus until 1. One o'clock finally rolls around and I get on the crammed bus and find my seat, only to be kicked off the bus moments later because there were two buses leaving at one even though the sign only said one bus and I was on the second bus (The lack of information relayed here alone is enough to make me go insane). So I get on the second bus and find my seat, which is unfortunately the seat where the bus wheels are underneath which means there is no leg room which is really a disaster when you’re 5’10” living in the Philippines where the average height is like 5 foot so already a normal seat doesn't have leg room. Six long, claustrophobic hours later we are about an hour away when I discover that a typhoon flooded a bridge so we have to get off the bus, rock hop across a river (not a creek, a river) in the dark and then catch a jeepney for the rest of the journey. I would love to say I was surprised or shocked at this realization that I was currently rock hopping across a river in the dark with a weeks worth of luggage, but honestly, just another day in the Philippines. A total of nine, long, crazy hours later and I finally see my beautiful little house in the cozy mountains. As I walked the final stretch towards my house, the silence and stillness of the countryside took over and I stopped and looked up. I got lucky that night and the sky was crystal clear (that never happens) and the stars were out and boy were they shining. I looked up to see a sky alive and dancing. The dust of the milky way was visible and for a moment, just a quick moment, it felt like this peacefulness, this beauty, maybe it could last forever. 

I’m taking action for those moments; moments where peace, beauty, and brightly shining light, overcome darkness. I’ve got to believe if those moments can still happen in a world where people have to rock hop home because the government won’t help heal and rebuild after natural disasters, maybe if we fight hard enough, they can last forever. 


  1. You are already so wise. Sending love from Virginia (and my year in Congo) to encourage and support and strengthen you. I don't know why it's the hard parts of life that seem to be necessary to change us and thereby the world, but in my life it's true. Blessings on you!

  2. Thanks for your wonderful writing. Very glad your aunt Anna shared it with us. I salute your courage and your determination. Take care.

  3. Katheryn, you simply wow me. Can you feel God working in you? Because He is, and you are His hands and feet.