Double Nose Bleed and God’s Glory: Reflections of a 2 Week OFW(C)

Oct. 23, 2019 | Joseph Buela

Jordan STM 2018

My Team (san ba to?)

It’s been a year since we returned from our short-term mission trip in Mafraq, Jordan, my first trip outside the country.

I’ll describe this trip as a crazy one, with double nose bleed (you’ll find out what I mean later) happening, a no shower December, I mean four days without – (eew!), and friendships that I will treasure forever. Hope I’ll be able to bless you as I share the things that the Lord has taught me and my teammates during this two-week walk in the Jurassic park yet life changing trip. I know I can make a self-help book out of all the realizations and dramas because it’s just too many, that’s why the following that I’m going to share are just the things that continuously resonate in me throughout this year.

God’s provision is never late nor early

As most of you are aware, for this trip to happen, we must raise support financially to cover the costs. The first few weeks of raising support was tough since I wasn’t meeting our individual targets, it was frustrating because I felt like nothing’s happening with my efforts and I felt like just dropping from my team.

But when I was just thinking of ways on how to get out of this did the Lord surprised me. One day, when I was in a café, I received a pledge from a ministry partner which made my financial support to spike from 30% to 70%, just the amount that each of us needed to secure our flights. As I write this, I’m reminded of a lyrics from a song that says “even when I don’t feel it, you’re working,” but as I reflect on this experience I can say that “even when I’m not working, you’re working” because I was just like chilling there in the café reading and praying to God because I really don’t know what to do anymore. This was really a humbling experience since God taught me again not to be dependent on myself.

This wouldn’t be also possible with the people around which leads to my second realization –

Mafraq Market

Selfie sa Palengke/Grocery?

In missions, interdependence is crucial

Before that major increase in support happened, I already communicated to my team that I’m planning not to continue anymore, that they give me 1 week before I decide.

I frequently joked about myself being a “strong and independent men” since I’m that person who doesn’t ask for help as much as I can. The thought that I might be burdensome to my teammates because they have to carry me – the only one that’s lagging behind, is also why I’m thinking of not proceeding.

But what I appreciate about my teammates is that they didn’t just encourage me to go through, they even helped me by their continuous update which added an extra push, they even referred some people that might potentially support me financially. My take home from this? Missions, and life in general is about teamwork. I must be willing to sacrifice convenience (as my teammates exhibited) because ministry is about people, and people are messy. I admit I like working alone because I don’t have to think about other people, but this experience just allowed me to encounter the joys of playing as a team – I don’t have to do it ALL alone.

Girls for our team

Here's our version of Miss Universe. In order from left to right: Joanne (My teammate), Ali (USA), Pau (Another teammate), and Nermin (Egypt)

Christianity is an international movement, embrace differences

I’ll say that the experience is totally new. I didn’t expect that there would be other teams that are going to stay with us in the church that was hosting us, teams that are from different continents (yes, I mean it, 3 continents as far as I know). Since one of our tasks was to do visits to Syrian refugee families, we’re always being reshuffled allowing us to pair with team members from other teams. I’ve encountered people from different Christian traditions, but most of them are from the evangelical side that’s why it’s really amusing to observe the similarities in our Christianese (not using this term in a negative way) language. This experienced allowed me to observe how people from other background practices their faith, from they way they pray and communicate, and I just realized that despite the differences brought by our regions and our history, the universal message of Christianity, the death and resurrection of Christ , and the salvation that it brought through faith and repentance is so simple that it unites us easily. This helped me to be more open and accepting of people from different backgrounds who have the same faith as mine, and to appreciate church history more, for these people that I encounter are the living relics (sorry I can’t think of other terms haha) of church history that I’ve been reading only in books. Of course, I’m also a relic of church history too, but they’re just nearer the region where Christianity started lol.

With this setup, we also have our regular prayer time with all the other teams back then where we were encouraged to pray out loud in our own language (this is where we realized just how hard it is to pray in straight Tagalog, sorry Jose Rizal we just disappointed you we broke down and prayed in Taglish). It’s just interesting what my teammate Joanne realized through the experience. It felt like a mini version of John’s vision in Revelation when he saw “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,” (Rev. 7:9 NIV), and I’m like oh yeah amazing isn’t it?

So yup we experienced double nose bleed, from being thankful that the bag of English that I brought was more than enough (while my thinking pattern is in Tagalog), to being amazed at our Arabic speaking friends, well it’s good I only heard our European fellows speaking in English since it might escalate to triple nose bleed if I heard them in their native languages, but I think it would be lovely to hear them speak in their mother tongue too. This scene just made me wonder how much more it will feel like when I’m already with that multitude of people from every tribes standing before God’s glory, I don’t know, but again, it’s AMAZING!

Kids after school (taken by my teammate, well I don't own all the pictures here, it was all taken by them)

Missions is totally different (and hard) on this part of the world

During our daily house visits we were assigned to a local volunteer who’s the one talking to the families and who serves as our translator as well. Fortunately, I’m assigned most of the time to David, an American local volunteer whose notable for being a hard-working house visitor (any better term for this?), who will visit as many houses as our time permits. I’m still a fanboy because of his fluency in Arabic.

Because we’re always together, I’ve got to ask questions such as how they share the gospel and how they disciple. I learned that the way they share is totally different to the evangelical-ish way that I grew up with (kala mo naman lumaki sa CCF haha). They don’t start with slapping bible verses as we can easily do here because of our background. What made me admired them the most is when David talked about how it isn’t easy for the people there to be discipled (as you know – background), that it even take years for them to see people understand the Gospel because it really isn’t that easy for the people there to turn away from their inherited faith. Their perseverance to Matthew 28:19 people is truly admirable.

This trip just took my respect for foreign missionaries (insert David) to the next level. I say that they’re really “rockstars,” but not that celebrated because we weren’t really that exposed to the things that they’re doing since they’re far from our reach, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to work alongside one and see a fragment of their legwork for the Kingdom. It’s just so surreal because I’ve been dreaming before of becoming one. - ooopss! we never know. But at least, this experience gave me a “life in the day of a missionary” if it was just a vlog, but hey it’s me experiencing it in person, thank you Lord!

I should be more thankful (me witnessing the refugee crisis in person) and I should pray for them

What are you going to do if you see your dreams being shattered right in front of you? How will you respond? These are just some of the questions that rings in my mind whenever I hear firsthand stories from refugee families themselves, stories such as losing their loved ones in which it seems like they’ve gotten over because they tell in such a way like it’s just a normal family narrative, hearing bomb explosions, crossing the desert, leaving their properties, and many more stories of them fleeing for their lives. But what amazes me is seeing them right on that very moment, a product of resiliency, and though future is uncertain they’re courageously going through this life. Seeing this situation is a call for me to remember these people in prayer and hope that may they find not only material blessings but also the blessings of knowing Christ.

This encounter made me all the more reflective of how I respond to what life brings, to constantly check my gratitude meter by remembering those blessings from God that I usually take for granted, and to live in the moment trusting God that I’ll also make it through the day by his grace as he always did.

What I shared are just some of the few experiences and lessons that I learned, truly, God didn’t disappoint, and this trip has blessed my life for eternity, not just with those realizations but with friends that I will treasure forever (like bury underground not to see again haha! Hello team, labyu!). Thank you team for the nights of silliness, kababawan and katatawanan, you made this exhausting trip a fun one for me, so blessed that you’re my teammates and for accepting me kahit ang jologs ko. Congrats to us for surviving and making it home even though we got sick on the last day dahil sa food poisoning (naniniwala parin ako na yan ang nangyari haha).

Mara and Buela

That's not a shot from an Animal Planet show, that's Mara (My now kelan ka mamamarried teammate) playing around with my smooth and silky hair

To my ministry partners who supported me financially and held the ropes, I’m eternally grateful to each one of you for trusting me and answering God’s call in your lives. Your sacrifices and moral support really saved me in those frustrating moments of our preparation.

To Nim, Pao and CCF Beyond – I’m honored to be part of this and thank you for allowing me to do so. You all rock! And all your efforts are greatly appreciated.

I would love to share some photos of our encounters from the people there, the families in our house visits, the kids that we taught and played with in the schools, but for security reason we’re avoiding to do so. Kaya pasensya na mga dayoff lang namin as OFW(c) (Overseas Filipino Worker for Christ yan, nagpapauso na naman ako) ang maseshare ko.

Petra Jordan

Our team in Petra last year greeting you a
"Merry Christmas and a
Christ Filled 2019!"

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