I decided to pose this question at several of the meetings. I expected and received the common responses such as "I will have free time as a result of being more efficient" or " "I will get a promotion when my boss sees me getting more done" but I was surprised and unprepared for some of the responses that involved bringing families back together - it's not the typical response I hear in the states.
It was then that I peeled back another layer of the onion to understand some of the needs and hurts of the Filipino people. In the United States, we see many Filipino workers in all professions from Doctors, to Nurses, to technical professions to manual labor. I always assumed that these people came to the Unites States with their families to create a better life for their families, as so many immigrants have done throughout the history of the U.S.
It never occurred to me that many of the Filipino workers that I see in the U.S. (or that people see all around the world) have left their family at home, in the Philippines. Ouch. That's got to be hard. The pastor explained to me that a very big export of the Philippines is in labor - not only in the call centers that we have trouble with in the U.S. but also in physical exports - people - to be the workforce in other countries. Apparently, the Philippine government encourages this because they bring in considerably more revenue from exported workers than they would make in their own country. At the same time, it's splitting up families in a nation that values the family and has historically has a very close sense of family. I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach. All of a sudden, the conference and its significance took on a whole new meaning for me. It was no longer about technology or productivity, but about people and families.
[I like to use Jason Womack's "So that" phrase in describing outcomes. Here goes...]
For these people in the room with me, sharing what wild success might look like to them, people who attend would learn new skills that might enable them to get (or keep) a job, so that they could move up he worker pay scale, so that, they could return home or stay home, so that, they could be with their families so that they could have a better quality of life than they do now. (And that was only one of the answers shared! I'll have to consider the others in a future post.)
Wow! That's a huge responsibility and certainly more than I signed on for when I accepted the contract to present. At the same time, it answers a question in my mind as to why God would open a door for me to travel to the other side of the world to speak. I hope that, working with several talented individuals, I can bring value to the people of Manila and truly serve them so that they can achieve these and other dreams shared in the room today. It is certainly something I will be praying about daily as I prepare to return in November.