[This blog has since moved to bybethanyjae.com. Head on over to check it out, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… x]
Lot’s of things happened today, the main being the Women’s Prison and seeing the venue for the ADORE Philippines Conference!
The Women’s Prison.
Nothing can really prepare you for it. Not because it’s a hard place to be, but because of the love and warmth that expels from the women, the guards and the whole atmosphere – you can’t help but feel it.
Walking into the women’s prison you are greeted by the guards. Instead of them looking you up and down and searching you to make sure that you’re not bringing in anything inappropriate, they smile at you, say a big hello and welcome you into the area where the women are.
After being seated and introduced to everyone, the beautiful ladies sing us a song. The lyrics are all about being comforted by the Father, and to not be sad because the Father is there. The beautiful tune that erupted from that place was…there’s no way to describe it because it leaves you speechless. Some were crying as they sung it, and others had a big smile on their face. But whatever emotion they were feeling, the song that they were singing was sung from the pit of their stomach out of the conviction of who their God is.
From then, Rochelle, Angie, Jac and Roxy sung ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ and ‘Your Grace Still Amazes Me’. The ladies clapped their hands, had big smiles on their faces and erupted with praise when finished.
Ps Lou shared a short Word on how God will never leave you or forsake you, and to be strong. Ps Michele also then spoke a short Word on how far, wide, long and deep the love of the Father is. And Lana encouraged the ladies tremendously.
From then we broke into small groups – one ENJOY team member with 2-4 women. This was fantastic because we were able to talk to the women, ask them questions about their families, life, and pray for them.
One of the ladies in my group had been in jail for 8 years because of drug trafficking. She was a total sweetheart! She kept laughing and because she couldn’t speak English fully, she had Ning (one of the super NLCC team members) translate for her. She said that she’s laughing not because she’s being rude but because she’s so happy to have us all here. That we’re from a place so far away and yet we’re here with them. She was very, very grateful and made sure that she showed it by hugging you, holding your hand, smiling a lot and just wanting to be around you.
Another girl in my group was 22 years of age. She had been in the prison for 6 months for drug trafficking as well. She has two children – 2 months old and 4 years old. And it just so happened that today was her last day in jail because her case was finished. Wow! So she was seriously overjoyed!
We were then able to see where they sleep. It’s only a small area, but they’ve made it homely. The women sleep in bunkers – some on the ground, some have to climb up high to reach their bed. But the thing that stood out was how proud they were of their space. They loved their tiny area and were so excited about being able to show it off.
After spending a mere hour and a half with them, it was time to leave! A blessing exchange occurred there as connections were made and seeds were sown into both their lives and our lives.
It was a definitely a moment that no one will forget and that everyone will have their own stories to tell about.
Coming back to the hotel for a rest, we then took off to lunch at Café Ayo’s where Ps Viv and Lana tasted their first spring roll since arriving in the Philippines. No need to explain what it looked or tasted like, except to say that they were quiet throughout the whole meal 🙂
From Café Ayo’s we took a quick trip to the NLCC church. It’s amazing because despite being nations apart, their mission statement is on par with ENJOY’s. It’s interesting because even though the environment in which people can live is so different to ours in Australia, when people have a common passion for Jesus, everyone’s mandate becomes unified.
“We have: A city to touch, nation to reach, a world to change… all of us together making a difference”
Anyway, Rochelle and Angie stayed back there to rehearse with them ready for the ADORE Conference, while the rest of us took off to see the venue!
The ADORE Conference Venue
The venue where the conference is being held is going to be stunning! At the moment there is A LOT of work being done on it with 72 construction workers painting, building, and doing whatever else needs to be done. When looking at it, it’s kind of like, umm is this going to be ready by Friday!? But the answer is yes, of course it is because it has to be!
But a part from the venue being absolutely stunning, the thing that sets it apart is the absolutely beautiful view!!! When you walk out of the auditorium, the sand, waves, and palm trees immediately greet you – and we were all blown away by it! It felt like you were on a desert island, rather than in Tacloban. But it is seriously a phenomenal venue and we’re all even more excited about the conference! Oh and the delegate bags that all the attendees are getting are unreal! The team over here organising this conference have gone above and beyond in every possible way. These women are going to leave feeling ridiculous blessed!
So, to leave you here are some snaps of the venue for you to ADORE…
Random things learned:
– a lot of the streets don’t have street signs (just an observation from places we’ve been, could be totally wrong though!)
– they serve their chicken parmigiana with rice