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By Nicole Becerra
For The Sentinel 

A Goldendale music teacher's sojourn abroad

 


After four months of volunteer mission service in the Philippines, I am glad to be back home in Goldendale. Having recently graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor’s of music in piano performance, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching piano and flute to children in Cordova, Cebu, but before I go any further, I should probably explain what brought me there.

Last year about a month before graduation, I made a prayer request at church, asking people to pray for guidance as I graduate and seek the Lord’s leading in my life. A missionary couple spoke at church that day, heard my prayer request, and asked if I would consider teaching music at their school/orphanage in Thailand. Completely shocked, I agreed to pray about it, and continued emailing the couple with further questions.

Sometime later my dad suggested that perhaps I should go to the Philippines with our family friend, Patricia Robinson, before potentially going to Thailand. Pat had gone on a mission trip there a year ago, and was planning to go back in a few months. She thought it was a great idea, and said I was welcome to join her. Unsure of what to do, I prayed and said, “Lord, you know I don’t have money for a trip like this. If this is what you want me to do, I trust that you will provide the necessary funds.” Friends from church began donating toward my mission trip shortly thereafter, and before I knew it, I had exactly what I needed for my airfare.

Connie Kaylor, whom Pat and I had never met also volunteered to join us. I was a little nervous about having a stranger along, but the Lord reminded me of all the various roommate situations I have been in throughout my five years of college, and this would be no different. At first I was in denial. My parents would talk about the trip, and I would say, “I’m not going anywhere! I don’t even have my birth certificate yet, and until I get that, I can’t even apply for a passport.” When both finally came a couple months before my departure, reality hit and I said, “Oh dear. This is really happening!”

Although I dearly miss my Filipino friends, I still keep in touch with them, and look forward to teaching piano and flute here in Goldendale. Those interested in piano or flute lessons are welcome to contact me at 509-773-5815 to schedule a free trial lesson.

Between getting stranded and nearly running out of gas during my travels, there is plenty more I could say about my adventures in the Philippines, but I think these stories are best told through the newsletters I sent out. The following is the first, in a series of 19. There are more to come, so please stay tuned for more stories.

Written Saturday, November 25, 2017

Dear friends,

I hope you all are doing well, and had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

After 16 hours of flying, my traveling companions Pat, Connie, and I finally landed in Cebu, Philippines on November 24, 2017. Today was our first Sabbath (Saturday) here, and we visited the Bang-Bang Seventh Day Adventist Church. The service was mostly in the native language of Cebuano, but most of the people we have met speak English quite well. The youth are very active in their church, leading the music, prayer meetings and engaging in community outreach. Our desire is to help them in their outreach efforts as much as possible. And as a musician, my desire is to help them reach hearts through music. I expected to experience some major culture shock upon arriving, but surprisingly I haven’t.

Some observations thus far:

• Jackfruit is interesting (it’s not bad, but my traveling companions like it more than I do).

• It’s okay to feel hot and sticky all the time; it kind of comes with the territory.

• Cassava is pretty good.

• Roosters don’t just crow in the morning.

• I don’t have to have all the comforts of home to be happy.

• What we consider necessities are other people’s luxuries.

• Driving around here is kind of crazy. In the Philippines the roads are narrow, there are no crosswalks, very few traffic lights (unless you’re in the city), tailgating is normal, motorcycles weave through traffic, and people drive all over the road. It is not uncommon to see a three-lane road with four lines of cars, or to ride with taxi drivers that completely ignore stop signs.

I will have to sign off for now. Thank you so much for your prayers!

Blessings,

Nicole

 

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