Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Day 3

June 9

We got to sleep in today. The first time in may days. Today we were taking the train to see The Church of the Black Nazarene. Because we were a big group they brought some of the men from the tough guys(martial arts) ministry to escort us down there. The first train we got on was packed. They warned us against being nice and said if it's time to get on the train you best be gettin on or you'll get left. Not something that I wanted to experience so as soon as the doors opened I was pushing and shoving. We ended up taking two trains to get there.

We got off the train and this was our first sight. The market that we would have to walk through to get to the church. We go the "keep your purse in front of you and hold on to all valuables" talk again and we were off.

It's a little frustrating trying to show what Manila was like in pictures. In this one it looks like a nice market. Let me assure you it wasn't. The filth and the smells mixed together were terrible. The people, they were just everywhere. And nothing says tourist like being a large group that are much lighter skinned than everyone else. We actually had a guy following us from the train station, through the market and to the church. Thankfully we had the tough guys with us. Vincent watched him for a few minutes and finally talked to him and told him to leave.
Here is the church of the black Nazarene. There are said to be three churches in manila that have the most power and this is one of them. People will come here and spend all day praying to and touching the idols that are set up around the church.

There are various merchants around the church that sell candles and idols as well as palm and tarot card readers. Witchcraft and voodoo is nothing new, however, the priests from the church will come out and bless these evil things and after you buy something, an idol or even a black candle to put a curse on someone, you can take it to the priest and they will bless it again. It's no wonder this world is so lost.

We walked around the back of the church where there are four idols, three of Jesus and one of Mary. There were a few people praying so earnestly. And to what? A man made image that can do nothing for them. It is heart breaking to watch.
It is a little hard to see in this picture but if you look close you can see that Jesus hand and face are lighter color. That is from all the people touching him and praying to him. They believe if you touch the idol your prayers are more likely to be answered.

The inside of the church.

Directly across from Jesus is this statue of Mary. You only have to look at the picture to see how desperate this man is and he is praying to something that can give him nothing.

Back outside the church we were told we get to ride trikes back to the train station. These trikes held seven people each. Eight if you include the driver.

We had six people hanging on the outside of ours and one inside. There were four of us on one seat trying to hold on. Because we were in the market we didn't go as fast as they go on the open road but let me assure you these guys are nuts!

We made it back safely and ate lunch at the mall. Chrisanna and I decided to head to the market and see what we could find. We didn't have a lot of time but we stretched it to the last possible second. We both bought a 'LeSportsac' purse and because we took so long deciding and bartering we ended up having to run halfway back to the hotel. We were supposed to leave to do our first community rally and even though the bus was there no one was on it so we had just enough time to use the bathroom and throw some more deodorant on. A much needed thing in this climate.

The rallies are held at covered outdoor basketball courts called barangay halls. We set out with one of the Filipino team members (ours was Pastor Lito) to hand out fliers and invite people to come. We stayed out for half an hour then he needed to get back to help out. As soon as we were back people started coming. They seemed to be mostly children up to about 13 or 14 years old. They love having their pictures taken so they can see it on the camera so I spent probably 45 minutes taking pictures of kids. That's a lot of pictures.

The rallies usually include a dance by their hip hop ministry (they are only slightly better than the BABC dancers. ha!), a demonstration by the tough guys ministry (in the picture he is chopping through four large chunks of ice) a drama and a short message.
An excerpt from my journal--"I have no idea how many people accepted Christ but many heard of him and what He can do in their lives. That alone was worth coming all of this way for."
Even in the few days we have been here the team from Greg's church has been such a blessing to me. They work their tails off and never complain. They see the big picture. They know that their service every night brings new people into the kingdom. All their hard work is worth it. And one day in heaven they will be greatly rewarded. And they will deserve it.
Dinner was Yellow Cab pizza. I was exhausted and had only enough energy to walk around the mall a little then go back to the hotel and watch people swim. It was a good day.

1 comment:

Dionna said...

Loving your pictures and recaps so far.