It's time for an update!
Fourth quarter has finally arrived!!! So many people are beginning to pack up, sell things, figure out living arrangements, and sign contracts for the upcoming year and it's a bittersweet season. One thing that has kept a smile on my face has been my Friday night dates. (Don't get too excited...) I was invited a few weeks ago to come to a home for young girls who've been rescued from abusive situations and/or human trafficking. I wasn't sure what to expect the first time, but it didn't take long to fall in love with all 29 of these girls. The woman who runs the house is Josie and she calls her girls her "angels," which is how the house got the name "Josie's Angels" or JAZ. Going to JAZ every week to sing and hang out with these girls has been the highlight of my week every week for a month now.
I wish I could bring each one of you to experience their joy, smiles, and hugs the moment we walk in the door. I wish you could hear the volume these girls sing at, even if the song is in their second language. I wish you could see the ways they teach each other new words, phrases, and jokes. I wish you could be there to laugh at us and with us when we (adults) try to learn tagalog with them because even the one of us who's had Tagalog classes makes a fool of himself on a regular basis. I wish you could experience the sincerity and trust that's conveyed when their little arms wrap themselves around your waist and they thank you for coming just to spend time with them.
But since I can't do any of those things, I thought I'd post a video of the girls singing one of their favorite songs:
It is highly emotional to hear these girls sing so loudly about a God who is greater, stronger, and higher than any other; a God who moves mountains, who will never leave, and whose grace is abundant. Currently, their favorite chorus is in the song "Our God" by Chris Tomlin which says, "And if our God is for us, then who can ever stop us? If our God is for us, what can stand against?" To hear the strength of their voices is a miracle 29 times over because every one of them was in a dark, sin-filled place. To hear them proclaim that NOTHING can stand in their way now because God is on their side is an inexpressible joy. God has rescued every one of them from the literal pits of Hell and all they want to do is sing loudly and laugh with their sisters.
I know that my calling to the Philippines was for Faith Academy, but I can't help but think that God has undoubtedly placed these little girls in my life as another source of encouragement. Josie appreciates any adult that comes to help her and her girls, but I think every single adult who has interacted with the girls would echo the thank you at double the volume. It's been probably the most enriching experience of my time here so far.
If you'd like to learn more about Josie's ministry, here is the link: http://server1.charityadvantageservers.com/client/Kids_International_M_ZEFFAQ/jas_home0.aspx These girls all need sponsors for their education and living expenses. If you're in a position to give, please consider this ministry.
I'll be home in roughly 68 days, but you can bet that every Friday or Saturday night between now and then, I'll be hanging out with Josie's Angels.