A Filippino Snow Day


Turns out, I came to the Philippines smack in the middle of typhoon season.

Typhoons create the Filipino equivalent of a snow day. Manila, in all of her gritty and overwhelming grandeur, completely shut down for the day. Schools cancelled all classes, and most offices didn’t open. From my 34th floor apartment, I could see cars attempting to slog through the roads turned into rivers.

I spent the day working from my bed while nibbling on the meager provisions of almonds, oatmeal, and chips that I managed to scavenge from the market on the bottom floor of the apartment complex. I’m proud to say that the first pages of the book I’m here to write were written while I and two other HOPE staff members huddled around a candle after the power went out.

Somehow, the typhoon was one of the most precious gifts that God’s given me in a long time. For whatever reason, I’ve experienced some extreme culture shock since I came here. Or maybe it’s just jet leg. Or when-did-life-start-moving-so-fast shock. Either way, I spent the first three days of being here in fog I couldn’t snap out of.

I’m here in the Philippines to write a book about HOPE’s partner organization, the Center for Community Transformation. Since I was approached about the project in June, I’ve thought about it with a mixture of confidence and awe. I was shocked that someone of my age and limited (or, let’s be real, nonexistent) experience would be offered such an incredible opportunity. But I had this inexplicable confidence that I could do this, and I could do it well. 

That confidence evaporated in the Filipino humidity the moment my Chacos hit Asian soil. Suddenly, I felt wildly unqualified for this job. Who the heck thought this was a good idea? I asked myself over and over again as I tried to navigate the massive crowds of people who are darker and shorter than me. I felt like a kid pretending to be this writer/missionary/development worker role I’ve fallen into.

 I woke up Friday morning praying, “Lord, I am beyond overwhelmed. You’re going to have to carry me through this one.” And BOOM. The Lord gave me a day to sit and be still, to breathe  and have a break from all things foreign.

You know what I love about the Lord? (well…there are a lot of things. But here’s what I love most about Him today). He’s constantly choosing people who are too young, too inexperienced, too naive. And He’s constantly calling us to things that we can’t do without Him.

And on occasion, when my heart is overwhelmed, He creates an eye in the middle of a literal storm for my soul to breathe. 

“From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” -Psalm 61:2-3


#Philippines #Development #HOPEInternational #Christianity #Manila #missions #Writing

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Sarah Ann Schultz

writer + editor + dad jokes aficionado