Experiencing unconditional love
Sophomore Joshua Daniel has more than memories from his Jan Term trip to the Philippines
– he also has a godson.
The religion and philosophy major from Franklin said he had some expectations
of what he would gain during his time in the Philippines, but he got a whole lot
"I was expecting to do service," he says. "And I was expecting to work with kids
and to have one-on-one relationships with them, but I wasn't expecting how powerful
that would be."
During the group's visit to Gilead Center in Manila, a place that houses and educates
orphans, Joshua was introduced to a 12-year-old, ironically also named Josh.
He says he bonded with young Josh while they worked in the center's garden.
"We were in charge of planting the okra. We got to the end of the row and we had
seeds left. But when I tried to give the leftover seeds back, I was told that we
had to plant them all."
Originally they had been told to plant the seeds five inches apart, but Joshua
had an idea of what to do with the remaining seeds.
"I told Josh that where I'm from, we just put the seeds down in a row (with no
spaces between)," he says. "So he drew another line in the dirt and I came along
behind him to put in the seeds. We then covered them up and watered them. It was
during this time that I learned about Josh."
The youngster's parents were killed in Typhoon Haidan (Yolanda) last November.
His grandfather was taking care of him, but one morning when Josh woke up, his
grandfather was gone. Josh was alone.
"So the Gilead Center took him in," says Joshua. "They give these children an
opportunity to go to school and to further their education. Josh was the only child
I talked to who has a plan for his life – he wants to be an engineer. That really
The center also gives the orphans a chance to be adopted.
"This is very special," says Joshua. "Because so many of these children were not
born in hospitals, there are no government records of them at all. No birth certificates.
But if a child is baptized, his baptism certificate becomes his legal document
and makes him eligible for adoption."
The night after Joshua and Josh became friends, Joshua learned that one
of the orphans was to be baptized the next day.
"It was Josh," he says. "Because he and I had bonded, I was asked if I wanted
to be his godfather. The certificate required an adult's signature, so that's why
I was asked."
He says he knew he couldn't say no.
"This was an opportunity to help this young man know that all the adults in his
life are not going to go away, that there are people in his life who love him and
care for him. Even if I'm not there with him physically, he is still in my thoughts
and prayers, and we still communicate."
Not surprisingly, Joshua already knows where he will be going next Jan Term.
"We're going back to the Philippines," he says. "This time we will be able to
spend more time with the children at Gilead. That place had the biggest impact
on me, and I know I can have a positive impact on others there. I can't wait to
Joshua says he has always known he would go into the ministry. He will be licensed
to preach on the last Sunday in April, and he says he's looking forward to sharing
some of the things he's learned during his travels.
"I came back with a new understanding that we talk, but we don't speak; we eat
but we don't dine; we feel but we don't touch; and we care but we don't love.
"While we were in the Philippines, we experienced unconditional love from everyone
– and it made us understand that we have a lot to learn about real love and service."