I am sitting at the gate waiting to board an airplane to leave a country that I love once again.

Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport is of course packed with people at 6:30am. It’s no different from the rest of the country. For the past week everywhere I’ve been there have been lots of people. The Filipino smile is one that I have come to cherish. It is always welcoming. The hospitality of the people has treated me well this week, and as I leave them today, God is reminding me of His faithfulness. Allow me to share some of it with you:

Psalm 66 has been the theme of the week for me – Verse 5 says “Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.” I spent the week reading, meditating, and praying through this psalm. It has been a great reminder that God’s faithfulness has been, and will be, the foundation of the Ang Bahay Parola (ABP) homes for children that have been neglected or abused and living on the streets.

Peace Home Celebrates 10 years – After a 6 hour flight delay in Tokyo, 4 hours of which was sitting on the runway in the plane, I arrived in Manila at 2:30am. I made it to my hotel and in the bed at 3:30am to somewhat sleep for about an hour. I was picked up at 5:00am to drive to the “Takbo Parola” Road Race celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the girls home. Even though I was exhausted after 35 hours of travel, it was such a great joy to be with the kids and staff to celebrate. 10 years of God’s faithfulness to the girls is definitely a reason to celebrate. The Lord has moved in a great way over the years to bring girls from darkness into light, from difficult situations into God’s Family, and from despair to hope. God’s faithfulness was first and foremost at the celebration, but we also ran, ate good food, laughed, and got to visit with girls who once used to be in the home.

Grace Home Celebrates 14 years – The first year I came to The Philippines was in 2002 with a group of high school students. I was a rookie youth pastor at the time and did not understand short term missions at all. Along the way we’ve made a ton of mistakes, and still do, but God is gracious to work and He will build His Kingdom. He gives us the privilege to watch and participate in His work. One of the things He showed us on that first trip was the beginning construction of a home specifically for young boys who would be rescued from the street life of drugs and poverty. 14 years later I got to participate in a board of directors meeting at that same home. What a joy to see God’s faithfulness to Grace Home and the many boys who have grown up there!

Living in Grace Staff Retreat – This is the third time we have had a staff retreat for the ABP workers and each time we have focused on a different aspect of grace in the Christian life. First, in 2015, we spent 3 days on the message of the gospel. In 2016 we focused on our identity in Christ. This year we spent our time together understanding what it means to live in grace as a faithful servant of Jesus. It was a great time of fellowship, rest, restoration, and tons of fun… especially the game Guesstures!

A Visit to Holiness – I don’t always get to visit Holiness in Jesus Christian Church, but this trip I was able to worship there on Sunday. Every time I get the privilege to go, I am always overwhelmed by God’s faithfulness to this sweet congregation. God is doing so many things in and through this church that I am constantly reminded “the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.” Please pray for the Lord to raise up more pastors to lead the many church plants without pastors in this area.

Even though I leave this country for now, I will be back, Lord willing. The trip home is bittersweet. I leave people that I love, but I return to people that I love… in different ways of course. And from what I understand about Atlanta right now, I won’t have to worry about sweating all day!

Dee Hammond