Well, week #1 is winding down. Can't quite believe that.
God supports everything. He loves everyone. His anger burns against the wicked, yet He longs that none should perish.
Even the smug, wolfish men entering the bars and grabbing any girl they choose.
Yes… last night I was there in the lions' den. Every Thursday night I will be (Thursday morning for you guys), so please: each Thursday morning from now until I return, I beg of you to intercede for me, for the YWAM team, and for the girls we meet up with and hang out with.
We go "bar"-hopping (bar: AKA strip joints, peep shows, brothels). There are countless numbers of them along this one strip just outside Olongapo towards Subic Bay where the Americans used to have their army base (hence the HUGE prostitution issue). Each bar has a few eye-candy girls out front cat-calling people to come inside, as well as a beefy looking guy to show who's boss — for patrons and for the girls. Our barriers are these men — "managers", "owners" — and the women pimps or "Mama Sans". Because the atmosphere is more resort-based, it is more laid back than in other areas I've been in, so most manager, owners and Mama Sans don't mind YWAM coming and encouraging the girls. It's good business, right? Makes them look good. That surprised me. Usually, taking the time up of any girl (or boy) cut into profits, but there are so many that taking up the time of one doesn't break the bank… makes the girl feel good… makes her a better worker… ugh, the logic. No matter. It gets us in. YWAM has established an amazing and godly rapport with the girls down in Subic Bay — a testimony to how God is creating transformation.
So we go in, chat up girls we encounter, play pool, and then invite them for lunch at the YWAM base the next day (Friday morning for me, Thursday evening for you) — and we share the Gospel, this safe haven community for girls longing to escape and how there's education, skills training, and… FAMILY. Last night we had commitments from 5 girls who wanted to come. Please pray that Christ would move in them to see that He has so much more for them… that He LOVES them… that by coming here could mean a totally new creation in them.
While many of the girls appeared to be over 18, and even in their late 20s, some of them couldn't have been more than 11 or 12… I know some Asian girls can look a lot younger than their age belies, but truly… just little girls forced into day-glo green bikinis, twirling around poles, and pleasing rich white men in their 40s and 50s. I could have thrown up.
Pray too I'd keep my cool. Men have NO right to exploit these women! There are so many more factors at play here, I know, but men have the choice to be ruled by Christ and not by their lust. Yet last night, as I was playing pool with "Lola", I had to fight to quell the indignation and rage against these men paying for the used of these girls' bodies… and laughing about it. They are "the least" too… Jesus wants them too. Jesus doesn't want them to perish. Yet when a grabby Australian comes at me for a good time, my instinct is to grab him by his crotch, squeeze and whisper: "You have NO authority here!"… just being honest (edited my words too as they were heading towards profanity). I wanted him to suffer like he was making others' suffer. It would have done no good. I held my temper, smiled, waved farewell and walked away. Hmmm… that did something. Some of these men are not used to having women walk away on them. They get want they want, when they want it. Oh God, that you would break this pride and greed!
I'd better go… the girls who are curious about us will arrive soon and we need to get ready. I've been told that most times it will take them coming a few times before those who choose to commit to the Tamar Community stay but still… planted seeds in the midst of a tropical monsoon of darkness, lust and poverty.
In the meantime… some more rules and lessons surviving the Philippines:
1. Don't believe anyone who says that there are NO mosquitoes during winter season. The bites on your arms and legs will prove them wrong.
2. Yes, the Philippines have THRIFT stores which they keep fastidiously neat!!!! They will allow travelers without checked luggage to find cheap clothes. 😀
3. Pineapple, mango, bananas… never from Extra Foods. Either straight from the tree or bought from a fruit vendor who picked them straight from the tree the same day. double 😀 The taste is incomparable to what we get in Canada (imagine the difference between domestic strawberries, and the little wild strawberries that are SO worth waiting for!)
4. Don't begin anything you cannot finish: when you act as jungle gym for one child, you will become the play thing for ALL the children unceasingly until they are finished with you… which is never.
5. No matter where you go in the world, if you sneeze in small rapid-fire sneezes, they will be the laughing topic of conversation for days, months, YEARS to come. Get used to it.