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A Humbling experience
by Gemma Nadine Topham
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A Humbling Experience - Philippines

I think I will have to start by saying thank you for all the prayer cover we must have had while we were in the Philippines, it was very much appreciated, needed and felt. We all know that we must have had a lot of prayer cover because there were so many things that could have gone wrong, but they didnít. So thank you!

I had an awesome time in the Philippines! We saw the power of God working beautifully in all the people that we met and every situation we were in. Sometimes things that we had planned didnít happen, just as there were times where we ended up doing things that we hadnít prepared for at all. However, everything was in Godís plan and He obviously knew what He was doing.

We had the humbling experience of visiting some of the poorest people in their homes; their homes being tiny, one room, shanty type huts made out of tin, wood and mud. They had next to nothing, but not one of the people we met moaned about the conditions they were living in. In every home we were greeted with a smile and a place to sit down whilst they stood. We listened whilst one lady told us how happy she was to know Jesus, even though only a year had passed since both her husband and child had died, not 6 months apart.

We are always moaning in England about trivial things like windows being dirty, the carpet not being the colour that we would like it, having double geography on a Monday afternoon, too much or too little sugar in our coffee and having to walk the 20 minutes to work rather than getting a lift in a warm car. These people that invited us into their homes had next to nothing, yet they always had a smile on their faces and not once did they moan. I never met anyone with a Ďpoor meí or Ďbadly done toí attitude. The most humbling thing about these people is that they donít go to Church out of some kind of hope and to ask for what they donít have. Their Churches are buzzing with praise and thanksgiving for what God has done or is doing in their lives, full of worship for the blessings they have received.

If you ever want to know what it's like to be famous, go to a school in the slum areas of the Philippines and get out of your car! Youíll be swamped with children just wanting to get near you. We even had children climbing over walls just so they could get near us, but if you said hello to them they were extremely shy, but so happy that you spoke to them. When we were looking around the school it was like being in a zoo because we were being watched all the time; children crammed up against windows just so they could get a look at us. Yet when we started talking to the 70+ children who were crammed into a small classroom, it was silent. They were so desperate just to hear what we had to say. Again our hearts were touched with how genuinely happy the children seemed to be.

It was when we went to visit one of the public hospitals that I suddenly felt a little bit out of my depth, and I didnít see how I was going to make anyone feel better. The feeling got worse when we saw the state of the childrenís wards, where if there werenít 2 to a bed then there were 3 even 4 children to a bed. I started praying and then realised that the devil was obviously feeling threatened by the work we had already done in Godís name, and the last thing he wanted us to do was to bring peoplesí spirits up by telling them about Jesus. I still felt helpless but it just seemed that all the children and their parents wanted was someone to keep them company, to listen or just to sit and pray for them. We left the hospital feeling Godís strength and healing and again, amazingly enough, we saw smiles.

It was almost as if every time we worked hard and put all our trust into God, that He would reward us with showing us the beauty of His creation. We spent the night on a desert Island that took 20 minutes to walk around, while on this Island we witnessed new -born turtles making their way back to the Ocean. Not only did we swim in a fresh water lake in the mountains that was inhabited by monkeys but we went snorkelling in the south China/Philippine Sea which was just awesome! We saw hundreds of ĎFinding Nemosí, otherwise known as clown fish and many other brightly coloured fish that I don't know the names of, and a World War 2 Japanese fighter plane! :-)

While we were out there we met some wonderful people who made sure that we were well looked after, nothing was too much trouble. Miriam, who was from Quebec in Canada, joined us in the second week and instantly became part of the team; I am pretty sure that her perspective of English people has dramatically changed after spending the week with a bunch of nutters!

I have been so blessed with an incredible time, and I am so happy that I decided to go. Charlotte, Laura, Duncan and Steve were all amazing people to be with for 2 weeks. Not once did any of us fall out or even get a tiny bit annoyed with each other. They were definitely all the right people to be on the team, we just clicked and worked together so well, and it would not have been the same without any of them. I did things that at the beginning of the trip I would never have had the guts to do. I was so scared about giving my testimony to about 300 school children, the thought made me feel sick. By the end of the trip I volunteered and was quite happy to give my testimony in the middle of a very busy market town. God was of course brilliant, but He had put together an amazing team for me to be with for 2 weeks; I am so proud to have been a part of it. However all the credit for what we achieved and what we learned, goes to our powerful, mighty and loving Father.

All praise to Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

By Gemma Topham

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