the performance of a lifetime

June 27, 2007

There will no doubt be many postings on this blog regarding my current trip to the Philippines – but today’s may encapsulate one of the most difficult and rewarding aspects of being here.

It is always hard to see socioeconomic disparity.  Growing up in the Salvation Army I was always very aware of the poor.  But over the past couple of days, all of the theoretical knowledge I have had about ‘overseas nations’ has become verified by my own personal experiences.  I have never been in such constant awe in my whole life.

As we drive down street after street we see the small, run down store front businesses, the construction projects with their armed security, the colourful city transit vehicles (owned by private citizens), the nice homes, the slums  and then the scattered posh resort or private school surrounded by large gates and barbed wire (or in one case jagged glass jutting out of the top of the fence…).

Actually my sister’s own experiences in Peru have come flashing through my mind on more than one occasion.  I can’t imagine it would be all that different in many respects.

But today we had the opportunity to stop by an orphanage.  Now my mom and dad wouldn’t have lasted more than five minutes there…I would have had as many as 80 new siblings.   I was concerned as we drove up the bumpy, windy, nauseating road towards the facility.  I was concerned because I didn’t know how I was going to be able to hold it together.  It seemed that we were going to end up in some children’s slum up on a hill in Cebu.  I’m not sure what could be harder than seeing children living in poverty.

But today I was pleasantly surprised.  As we pulled into the orphanage I began to realize that the mission which opened and is currently operating this facility has a policy of making this world – the world of these 80 children – beautiful.  With nicely manicured lawns, vehicles, a school and VERY nice living quarters (very homey), they (the 80 abused, neglected, abandoned children – from infant to 16 years) are living a life they could only have dreamed of.

Actually – it was still difficult.  More than once I staved back tears as I looked into the eyes of some of these orphaned children – – with difficult circumstances.  I was so very thankful that people, somewhere in the world, cared enough to leave the comforts of the western world, and enter into the hurt and devastation of these children.  I won’t lie.  I listened with pride as the caretakers and guides told us of the contributions of fellow Canadians.

Then I heard great news – they have a band program!  I met up with Francis (his mother is a PhD in Music from Australia and teaches in the University of the Philippines) and he is currently responsible to teach these children on (decent) wind and brass instruments!  I had the chance to look as few over and as time allowed did a couple of repairs…then I played a trombone solo for them…very funny!

And then we sang.

“I’m giving him Praise, giving him glory, giving him the honour due his name.
“I’m giving him thanks for the great story – what a privilege to proclaim.
“How my God who reigns on high – set this lowly sinner free.
“It’s the least that I can do after all he’s given to me.

“He’s given me grace (grace amazing)
“He’s given me love (such love)
“He’s given me peace (peace like a river)
“Given me strength to overcome
“He’s given me joy (great joy)
“Greater than my heart could dream of
“And if that’s not enough
“He’s given me a home in heaven above”.

These children, in the midst of difficult circumstances, understand and live out this song to a much greater extent than we do – it’s obvious.  Having lots of stuff just may be more of a curse than we think sometimes.  These missionaries and children were so rich – beyond what we were expecting when we were driving up that windy, bumpy road.  And we left better people just from spending a few moments with them.

We’re not a Christian choir per se.   But I think you would have been hard-pressed to find a single person who would have denied that God is using these people in a profound way to change the lives of these 80 children (well – a lot more than 80…there is a fair amount of turn over after all).

We’ll do a fair number of concerts over the next little while – but this…I think it may have been the performance of a lifetime…


4 Responses to “the performance of a lifetime”

  1. Carolyn said

    Jason, I applaud you for stepping out to take this trip. You referred to the materialistic “stuff” in our lives. The beauty of a trip like this is that the memories and experiences do not tarnish, rust, rot, spoil, break, etc. They cannot be taken away from you and will be forever woven into the fabric of your life and what makes you the person you are and will forever be!!

  2. Sara said

    I’ve never been more excited for you or more jealous of you!
    One thing I have to say… I understand. I completely get it. And I can’t wait to hear all of your stories!!!
    Love you so much!

  3. angela said

    jason –

    sounds life changing.

    grace and peace for the rest of your travels.


  4. Catherine said

    So… that sounds so amazing Jay!!! I have never really desired to travel very far… but you make it really sound worth while… I would have wanted to take all of the kiddies home with me! I am sure… I wouldn’t have wanted to say goodbye! I am really happy that you are having an amazing time! I love you! -Cath

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