A disjointed rambling on some of our activities in Olongapo

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Cinema 4 at HOYTS, Forest Hill Shopping Centre...

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Apologies for the long break between updates. I've been writing blog posts but never seem to get them finished, then something new happens and they need to be updated and the cycle continues. This post covers the past couple of weeks and is rather disjoined because I wrote different paragraphs on different days.

Well we've had our second weekend in Olongapo. Most of us went to the big market to have a look around. I finally got to take a trike, it's great fun until you realise your life depends on the ability of your driver to avoid everyone else on the roads. There doesn't seem to be a true system here. I originally thought "might is right" applied but it seems that pedestrians are always safe and give way is really just whatever happens - if you're cheeky you can go quickly.

The market was certainly the biggest I've seen in Olongapo, but the things they sell are all so similar. I did buy a t-shirt though for about NZ$6. It's a large and it's not designed for a western-heighted body, but it'll be fine so long as it doesn't shrink much in the wash.

We also found the local movie theatre and took some time out to watch Inception, which was well worth the $3 we paid to see it. After that we went to the nice pizza place for coffee (I had Hot Chocolate, I'm trying to limit my coffee intake).

We went to church twice this Sunday. The girls did a dance in the morning and they were so good they got asked back in the evening. I'm still clearing my photo backlog, so it may be a while before I get the video up online.

It's Tuesday night and we've had a hectic two days. Monday we went to an orphanage/old persons home in the morning and split into 3 teams - one for infants, one for kids and one for the old people. I was in the kids group and I'm so glad I was. We walked in to some kids in cots and others running around. I wasn't sure where to start until David smiled at one of the girls in a cot and she started bawling her eyes out. I only later found out this was the reason. I spent 10 minutes trying to calm her down just by talking caringly to her and rubbing her back, but I wasn't having any luck. I decided to pray for her and she stopped crying literally 2-3 seconds after I'd finished praying.

I think her name was April because that's what was written on her bottle but I never got this confirmed. She was very cute once she stopped crying and I just feel blessed to have been able to give her some love, some physical contact and for the chance to pray into her life and pray blessings on her and all the kids there.

We have been working on the book and we're slowly getting things together. We have a deadline tomorrow which I hope we will hit - we're supposed to have all our raw materials collected - this is stats, pictures, interviews, the works. I've started stepping up into an organisation role and nobody has objected so I'm going to run with it.

The other new thing we've been doing has been bar ministry in Barreto, a Barangay (district) of Olongapo. This is not new for the base but it has been for some of us, including me. We have been going to Baretto which has a road of bars there. We went to 2 bars on Monday - Firefly and Midnight Rambler. At Firefly we met Marissa and Juliana and played a bit of pool. I was quite nervous (as you no doubt guessed, I'm not great around new people) and conversation was a bit awkward but they had a pool table, which I'm very glad for. We ended up leaving that bar after a while (for our own good, Sarah had managed to annoy the owner of this bar at his other bar so we decided moving on was prudent).

We went into Midnight Riders and found a lovely bar inside. I was still nervous about talking to people but after I had ordered my drink, Kathy, one of the girls from the base who was looking after us, came over and said they wanted to talk to me, which I wasn't expecting. (I should preface this by saying the people here like white skin, pointy noses and the fact our eyes are coloured). The girls in Midnight were all dressed in the same tight green dresses that were cut very high on the legs in an attempt to please visitors to the bar. These girls are employed to be company for visitors. Many of the bars on the strip offer more than company but the manager of this bar insists you can't get sex there and I believe her.

I spent the evening talking mostly to Ashley - a lovely girl my age who has been working at the bar for 3 weeks. I also met Meah who was a little bit more flirty but less than I was prepared for. The girls in this bar don't have to be available to sleep with the guys (in other bars that's their job description) but I also don't believe there's anything stopping them if they want to make extra money and the best way to do that is get the guys interested. We chatted for a while and then we went home.

Tuesday we went back to the same bar and met up with the same girls, plus some new ones, including Cheena, Faith and Apple, all very unique. Cheena started off with the whole please the customer routine and I got a kiss on each cheek in the first few minutes and Dave got a kiss too. I must say all I can so to react to this is laugh and smile. Once she realised we weren't usual customers the act vanished and she got oddly quiet.

It turns out a lot of the girls in the bar are quite shy. Cheena and Ashley have told me they're shy and Apple has shown it. It's not something I ever expected to find, I thought they'd be more outgoing to be working in the bars but it just goes to highlight that these girls aren't working where they want. Cheena wants to be a cook.

I think Apple is the most interesting girl in the bar - she's a born again Christian and has been for 3 years. She works in the bar to support herself and her 5 year old son and she's not alone - Ashley has a 4 year old boy. I was saddened to hear that Apple's church started judging her when they found out she worked in a bar. I know Apple doesn't want to be in this job but she's very short of options. I'm praying that she is able to find another job where she doesn't have to dress up and work from 6pm to 2am every day.

We invited the girls to a beach day on Thursday. 5 girls came from our bar and about 8 (plus kids) from the other two groups came. We had fun, played games, swam (which I think was a bad idea, we were told the water was clean but we were all getting nibbled by some things we couldn't see when we were in the water) and ate a good lunch. Virge talked a bit about YWAM, the Olongapo base and about her life, but this was really just a chance to give the girls some fun, because they work every day and have so much responsibility that they don't get the chance to go out and have fun very much - I found this out by asking girls "What do you do for fun?" and they struggle to answer as if they don't understand what fun is. We had a really good time of just hanging out and having fun, relaxing and showing the girls there's more in life than work - and they no doubt enjoyed it because they arranged to come see us on Friday at the base.

On Friday we again just hung out and had fun. We played a couple of games and were able to pray for a couple of the girls - Alma who actually requested prayer (we hadn't suggested it) and Ashley who is going back to Manila for 2 weeks to see her family (including her 4 year old son). They have said they'd come back about 3 times now and each time it's fallen through. I hope we get to see them again and pray for them all before we leave.

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This page contains a single entry by crimson published on July 30, 2010 8:40 PM.

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