The setting: Happy Freds, a bar on the Dumaguette main boulevard,with the ubiquitous name of JP Rizal. Popular hip hop blares, and the wi-fi signal is strong.
I’m here in Negros for my second trip to the main communities of UU’s, and to attend a three day UU Ministers meeting in Nabinlod. We leave at 7am tommorow by bus and then will take a motorcycle up dirt roads into the mountainous village.
Living and ministering here in the Philippines has been so amazing. It has been so amazing that I am exhausted and deeply grateful for the support and guidance from my wonderful partner and my excellent internship committee (despite the committee members stretching across 15 time zones). It has been overwhelming to be doing ministry oh so full time, taking on responsibilities, feeling expectations, providing and yes, performing ministry with such regularity and in such a specific context, that it is another one of those transformative drink from the fire hydrant experiences. There is more here than I can imagine, and ultimately handle as one human spirit. But I’m still on my feet, and feeling balanced, but it has been rocky.
Last week I had a second bout of illness. Nothing serious (I’ve already visited someone in the hospital recovering from the nasty and dangerous dengue fever) but still a gentle reminder from nature, god, whatever, that not only am I adjusting to a ministerial role, to new traffic behaviors, but to the food, environment, and the impact on my physical self. Oh my it is so difficult being a vegetarian here! This afternoon I ordered what looked like a nice garlic fettucine alfredo that said ‘with sausage’, and said in three languages (Cebuano, English and Taglog) "no mean, hold the meat, only vegetables, i can’t eat meat", and still received a plateful of sausage infested pasta. ARRGG. At P36, about 75 cents, I wasn’t going to argue, but the nice lady saw my pained expression, realized that I had said "no meat", and gave me my money back.
Thus this evening, as I prepare for 3 days in rural Negros with little access to foods that would become meals that I would eat and be healthy and happy of spirit, and given that I don’t have time to cook and meet for their 14 hour days of UU Ministers Retreat, I spent this evening cooking at my place – the UU Church here in Dumaguette where they’ve built a small guest room. It was really wonderful making BBQ Tofu and Vege Curry. It was my first major meal prep in awhile, and I miss the daily routine of cooking that is my constant in the USA. Funny side story, my partner and I pretty much cook seperate meals. She is meat loving, but we often do it together. It is a nice dance in the kitchen together. Okay anyway, I’m packed and ready to go with some yummy food, a bag of PBJ, dried fruits and nuts, and plenty of distilled water. Bring it on!
Lastly, it has been hard to get posts up on my blog, not because of the limited access, which really is quite good both here in Dumaguette and in Quezon City/Metro Manila where I have wi-fi at my house (set up by yours truly). No, it is that I have so much I want to say, but am in the midst of deep processing like all the time. Processing with my partner, with a few folks back in the states, with my colleagues here, in my dreams, my reflection, my writing to my intern committee. I feel tired trying to write here in this state. I’m adjusting better, such is life.