Chaplain Jamie, representing the Sound of Life and her ministry, Compassionate Reach International, will be ministering in the Philippines until late January. Her goal is to bring psychological and spiritual care and trauma education to victims and caregivers. We’ll be bringing you her updates as we receive them.
One week from today I will be boarding a plan to Manila, and 36 hours after that, leaving for the airport and my return trip home. Today is the first day I have felt truly ready to go home, and perhaps that is why I didn’t have peace until I extended my stay. If I had left last week I think I would have felt I should have remained, but now I know my time here is winding down, my good-byes getting ready to be said, my work completing, and my de-briefings with individuals slowing down. I am stepping back from the work outside the clinic, to be a support system in subtle ways to those around me. An ear when needed, a de-briefing when necessary, a cook, sweeper, sorter, or any other function that can be found helpful. I always tell students that a Chaplains job is to give a “cup of cold water in [His] name” and that takes on many, varied, forms.
I have received so many thank-you’s from the people here for the work I have done. My co-worker Bryan told me that I am known in the community, and people have commented how pleased they were that I went to find the work – the ones that needed help, that I didn’t wait for them to come to me. I have prayed with over 200 people in the last 3 weeks, done about 50 personal debriefings, and eight group debriefings. I also taught about 80 elementary school teachers how to help each other by validating their stressors, as well as work with the children. It has been a full few weeks and it’s not over yet. I only find myself ready to leave because my life is not here – my life is in the U.S. with my husband and family and it’s them I miss now.
The pain that is here, combined with the great joy and strength the Filipino people show in the midst of crisis, has changed my life forever and I hope I can return soon and continue the work which has only begun. Surely the Lord is in this place and shows himself strong in those who call upon His great name, and the NGO’s who serve in His name to the least of these. Where is God in suffering? He is in the face of each thankful survivor, each glass of water (or water filter) given in His name, each child’s laughter, each community member lending a hand to their neighbors, in the Mercy in Action midwives and primary caretakers who serve selflessly to help alleviate suffering; and I like to think, in myself in some small way, trying to love, and educate, and show I care in the name of Jesus, one life at a time. There are many starfish on the beaches here, but if one life is changed by His love, it has all been worth it. God holds it all in His marvelous hands.