Thanksgiving in the Philippines

The only downside of being in Manila right now is that we had to miss Thanksgiving. Not a tragedy, but still a little sad since it's one of my favorite holidays. But duty calls, so no Thanksgiving for our little group of Americans temporarily exiled 13 time zones away from the Mayflower's port.

Or so we thought. Thursday was a day of surprises for us.

Thanksgiving in ManilaAfter a relaxing breakfast with Fetan, our regional director, and his wife Dell, we headed out to Grace Christian College (formerly known as Grace Christian Schools).

In Manila, travel is not measured in miles or kilometers but in hours. Every intersection feels like a scrambled jigsaw puzzle that eventually clicks together one piece at a time. Not for the faint-hearted, but thanks to our fearless van driver we eventually arrived.

To call it a warm welcome could be one of the great understatements of the modern era. After hugs from the school's director, Dr. James Tan, and his wife Judith, we began a long tour of this incredible school.

James' mother, a widowed single mother of seven, founded Grace with no money and plenty of faith. Sixty-four years later, more than 3,000 students receive great academic training from an uncompromising Christian perspective in a fully Chinese/English bilingual context. The majority of students don't come from Christian homes, but by the time they leave about 80% of the kids and many of their families are committed Christ followers.

As we visited each age group, we were greeted by literally thousands of students cheering and waving from layers of balconies outside myriads of classrooms. In our country, celebrations like this are reserved for rock stars or Super Bowl champions. Though a bit awkward, we received this outpouring of love for what it was. Grace loves Walk Thru the Bible, and leverages what we create like few other ministries anywhere in the world.

This email can't begin to describe all we experienced. My one scheduled speaking opportunity turned into three: one with staff, one with 300 soon-to-be graduates, and one with the school's leadership team. In each context, God gave me just the right passage to share and quickly melted away all cultural and generational barriers. The response of each group was palpable and genuine.

We have so much to be thankful for! The only thing missing was turkey, cranberry sauce, and a piece of pumpkin pie. Until we sat down for lunch with Dr. At and his leadership team. Somewhere they found a turkey - I even got to help the caterer carve it! Turkey is a rare bird here in the Philippines, and most of our hosts had never had it or our traditional side dishes.

There's a reason Filipinos are known for their hospitality. We experienced their outpouring of love in every assembly, classroom, conversation, and detail during our six hour tour. More than anything, we experienced Grace - both the school and the spiritual reality.

It is hard to believe we had to travel halfway around the world to experience our best Thanksgiving ever! I hope your celebration was meaningful too. Thank you so much for continuing to pray for our team here.

Today is devoted to meetings, rest, and prep time for the Detour live event tomorrow. The registration count is now up to 5,200.

If Saturday turns out to be anything like Thursday, we may just have to celebrate Thanksgiving all over again!

Phil Tuttle
Walk Thru the Bible

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