Trash Mountain Project’s Equip Philippines Tour

This was an incredible trip…one of the best I’ve ever taken. It was the perfect mix of the mission and the people I went with. Throughout the videos, you’ve seen these guys and I’ve probably talked about them. Let me give you the quick rundown.

The Trash Mountain Crew

Brett Durbin: Executive Director of Trash Mountain Project. He’s the founder and heartbeat behind the team. He’s a beast of a man with an equally big heart. His famous saying – “Don’t ever pray a prayer you are not willing to be an answer to.”

Timm Collins: Discipleship Pastor for Trash Mountain Project. He is an encourager. He must have said this a million times over the week to the Filipino pastors – “what you do is the most important thing on the planet. Keep going. You are our heroes.” For some that would mean empty praise but not for Timm. He means every word. You can see it in his eyes. He’s the perfect fit for Trash Mountain as they expand their ministry in this area.

Jon Demeo: Media/Creative Arts/Publicity/Whatever Else They Need Him To Do for TMP. Jon is at heart a story teller. He’s the guy with the camera. We had a lot of fun trying to figure out shots and angles and creative ways to film without getting arrested or beat up. He is also the one that consistently stole my phone. Paybacks are coming.

John “Greek” Kazakalis: Director of Southeast Asia for Trash Mountain. John is a little spider monkey of energy. He is responsible for coordinating with the local pastors and local Trash Mountain director, Rick for this entire trip. He speaks like a jillion languages and loves butchering late ’90’s worship songs.

The Rest of Us

Tim Wilson: Pastor at Lighthouse Bible Church, Topeka. Tim and I competed for the Biggest Cut-Up Award. He beat me pretty handedly at it. Half the time we had no idea he was joking around which made the moment even funnier. But beyond the humor, he is a bundle of curiosity. He loves asking questions and learning which makes him a great teacher. Tim is a living example of what it means to take the Word seriously but not yourself.

Tim Bullington: Pastor at Church on the Way, Dundee, Florida. Tim is a hulk of man with a voice to follow it. He’s also another Alabama fan – so you know he’s alright! Roll Tide. Tim was “the outsider” of the trip – the only one not from Topeka. That lasted all of about 25 minutes. We first met him in the Detroit airport and ate lunch with him there before we got on the plane to Manilla. There are two things you know about Tim fairly quickly – he loves his family and he has a huge heart for the lost. Fun guy to hang around with, glad to know this brother in Christ.

Dave Henry: Pastor at New Community Christian Church in Salina, KS. Dave is a gifted communicator and a gentle spirit. Smart as all get out as well. His talk was about empowering servant leaders – reminded me of my mentor and good friend Gene Wilkes in so many ways.

Bill Horn: Worship Arts Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church, Topeka. It’s not going to surprise many that Bill is a talented musician and singer. He has a deep understanding of worship, one that is much larger than just song and the arts. He has a huge sense of humor as well. I resonated deeply with his talk at the conference that gathered worship (church service) is only worship when it is a shared, community activity. If it’s not shared, it’s performance.

Joe Hodgson: Pastor at Imago Dei Church, North Topeka. My cohort in crime when it came to the videos. Joe is the easiest going guy of the bunch. And that’s saying something as we were all pretty easy going. Huge, tender heart. Always up for an adventure. He spoke on the marks of a disciple. I’m excited for his church in North Topeka.

There wasn’t an ego or diva on the trip, nor was there a complainer. There wasn’t a weak link on the trip – every guy was both incredible competent AND easy to get along with. Each one had spots to step up and lead in and the rest would follow. It’s rare to go on a mission trip and not have somebody that rubs somebody else the wrong way. Especially when you have this many leaders. But it worked. I’m humbled to have these guys as friends now.

The mission for the trip was twofold. First, to see the work TMP was doing through 4 local churches inside 4 trash dump communities (Smoky Mountain, Tanza 1, Payatas, and San Mateo) and discover how our church could potentially partner in these places. We each came away with some specific ways we could partner. On this front – the trip was a huge success.

The second mission was to help train and encourage the Filipino pastors and leaders who minister in these areas. This was a huge success as well. The conference of course was awesome and we received some incredible feedback on it but I think it was the spending time in each of the trash dumps that made the most difference. We walked and prayed, ate and laughed with each of the ministries in these places. We walked around and in the trash and coal factories. We listened to their stories, we hugged on kids and prayed with families in their homes.

The title “Pastor” in these communities commands respect. I could see it as we walked through these communities. The first looks were always one of suspect or even anger as they saw this line of large, white, American pastors. Then they’d see the community pastor with us. And it became smiles.

The reason this is true is because of these men and women who stay in the dumps to tell the forgotten of the forgotten about Jesus. And they feed children. And they push education. They care.

I’m not exactly sure what the next step is for me and Western Hills. Still praying and processing that but I want to go back in the fall with some others. Maybe some of you who are reading this will go with me?

TMP Equip Philippines Posts:

Pre-trip – Going To Philippines
Pretrip – Holy Dread
Day 1 – In route to Manilla
Day 2 – Tanza 1 (Pastor Joemar) & San Mateo (Pastor Stanley)
Day 3 – Smoky Mountain (Pastor Nixon & Pastora Cora)
Day 4 – Payatas (Marivick)
Day 5 – Conference Day
Day 6 – Worshipping in JCC in the Valley and Vista Wesley
Day 7 – Danarak Falls & Market
Coming Home…

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