Mercy House

Mercy House

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Welcome to TEENSSERVE!

We are Anthony and Nikki Esquivel, field missionaries serving in The Philippines, are excited to announce the launch of a new aspect of our ministry here  called TEENSSERVE!! This ministry was born out of necessity.  We have been contacted numerous times by parents hoping their teens can come work with us for a short-term mission trip.  Here is our answer to this need!

 TEENSSERVE is a place where teens  can come to
experience hands-on service in The Philippines while living with our family and serving alongside us.

We are serving in Silang, Cavite (about 30 miles south of Manila, Philippines).  Our primary ministry is a residential care home for street children under 13 years old called "Mercy House". We also serve in ministries out in our community.   Teens serving with us will have the opportunity to visit local orphanages and work with street kids as well as serving in our residential care education center.

We have prepared a question and answer section below but please feel free to email us with any specific case-scenario questions or anything we may have left out.

We look forward to the opportunity to serve your family as your teens serve the Lord here, in The Philippines.

Q   and A:

1.  Is travel to and in The Philippines safe?
Travel carries with it inherent risks.   The Philippines is no different from any other travel destination in that way.  There are risks of illness and injury that are simply a part of this experience.  We will do our best to ensure the safety of all of our guests but certainly can not promise that no unforeseen events will take place.   That being said, we live here in The Philippines along with our own seven children who range in age from 23 down to 6.  We have not experienced any significant illnesses or injuries here.   We have access to good medical care if needed and will train your teen in safe practices when he/she is with us.   Aside from that, we cover each day in prayer and trust that The Lord has a plan for all of our family members and visitors.  We pray that plan does not include illness or injury.

2. How much does it cost to participate in TEENSSERVE?
Each traveler is responsible for his/her flight into and out of Manila.  The cost of airline tickets can run from $800-$1600 US for a coach seat.  The variables include: airline chosen, dates of travel and willingness to encounter layovers.   Booking tickets is the responsibility of the family.   Each visitor will pay $20 USD per day while in The Philippines.  This is to cover the cost of lodging, three meals a day and transportation to ministry sites and tourist attractions.   Spending money brought along should be limited to no more than $200 US per week but, truthfully, $40/week should suffice.  Our visitors may want to buy gifts to bring back home and we can help them do this inexpensively.

3.  How long should my teen plan to stay?
We suggest a one-week minimum due to jet lag and just the time needed to acclimate to such a drastic change.  Aside from that bit of advice, the amount of time is up to you.  It takes about 26 hours to arrive in Manila from most US starting points.

4. Can our youth group come together as a mission trip?
We prefer to limit the size of a group of visitors to no more than 7 at a time.  In order to provide an authentic on-the-field experience, we  want to be able to give plenty of time and attention to each visitor.

5. Is TEENSSERVE affiliated with any denomination?
No.  We are simply Bible-believing Christians who are doctrinally reformed and believe the Bible is true as written, cover to cover.
We adhere to the tenants of The Nicene Creed:
We will strive to make sure the focus of conversation and daily devotions stays on the sharing of the Gospel  with the lost and to principles related to living on the mission field.   Other "gray areas" of the faith will be redirected to parents and/or the teens own church leadership.

6. What kind of teens are allowed to participate?
It is our heart's desire that any teen who has expressed an interest in exploring foreign missions, orphan care or life in a third-world country be allowed to join us.  We are NOT, however, equipped to handle teens who have significant emotional needs.  If your child needs to visit a developing country in order to "appreciate what he has", we are not the ministry for you.  Appreciation of his life  may very well occur as an outpouring of serving here but should not be the primary reason for the trip.
Likewise, teens will be briefed upon arrival regarding our expectations.  There is to be no "dating" or "flirting" type behaviors while they serve here.  If they happen to strike up a friendship with a teen of the opposite sex, parents can set boundaries on that when they are back home.  While they are on the field with us, boy/girl pairs will not be permitted to spend time alone, go on "dates" or sit up late at night talking.   These can be harmless interactions  but can also become emotionally charged quickly and derail the original intent of the visit - to serve the poor, lost and orphaned.
We have wrestled with this next point at length.   Does your teen need to be a Believer in order to participate in TEENSSERVE?
The short answer is "no".   If your teen has not yet committed his/her life to Christ but exhibits the willingness to serve and the ability to obey the rules set up by TEENSSERVE, he/she is welcome.   We do ask that you let us know your teen is likely not a Believer as we can assure you, we will pray for and and work with him/her from that angle.

7. Raising support for the trip:
Most teens do not have thousands of dollars at their disposal.  If this is true of yours, listen up!  Your teen will need to raise support for his/her trip to The Philippines.   We strongly encourage parents not to hand this trip to their teen but to have the teen actively participate in fund raising.
If you are active in your local church, that is the place to start.  Have your teen write letters of support to leadership and committed members.  We are happy to send a sample support letter upon request but it is only a template and should be customized to be true of your teen.
In addition to support letters, consider yard sales, car washes, babysitting, selling personal items, holding a fundraising dinner or any other creative gathering where your teen has a gift or skill as a great way to raise support.
If your donors desire a tax receipt, donations should be filtered through your local church.  TEENSSERVE is not, at this time, able to shoulder the responsibility of handling and managing the finances of our visitors.  We prefer to keep that stateside. The daily stipend of $20 USD per day that each teen will contribute can be brought along on the trip in the form of a check made out to "Anthony Esquivel". If you prefer to settle that amount prior to travel, please email us for information on how to do that.

8. What are parental responsibilities in preparation for the trip?
There is an application to fill out along with some consent forms and a waiver to be signed( by teens over  18 or the legal guardian of any teen under 18)
Talk to your teen's physician regarding any needed vaccinations.  Your doctor may wish to give your teen anti-malarials to bring with him/her although malaria is not overly common in the areas where we serve.
Help your teen pack LIGHT!  There is a washer and dryer at your teen's disposal and there is no need to bring a large amount of clothing.  Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are our usual fare.  A pair of jeans and sweatshirt for nights (it can get cool here, believe it or not) and something to wear to church (jeans are fine but closed shoes are better than flip flops) are all that is needed.  A bathing suit may be included just in case.  All clothing should be modest and no "short shorts" or tight shirts will be allowed.  This is a modest culture.  No jewelery other than simple earrings should be worn so your teen is not a target for "snatching".  Crimes here tend to be non-violent and committed for monetary gain. We hear very little of random shootings, sexual assaults, senseless acts of violence, etc.
 There is a local market near us where flip flops can be purchased for about $1.50 US,  t-shirts for about $2 US and medications (including antibiotics) for $1-$10 US.    We are very blessed to have almost anything we might need just a short distance away.  If your teen is on regular medications for allergies, etc. please be sure to send enough for the duration of the visit with some extra "just in case".

9. Internet
There is internet in our home, where your teen will be living.  It is slow and not super reliable.  Your teen will be able to email or contact you through social media.  We also have an American telephone number that can be used for emergencies (919)238-7394 but it often serves as an answering service on which you would leave a message and it would be retrieved later.   We don't generally hear it ring or are out when it does. If your teen has had issues being trustworthy on the internet, we need to know this before the visit. Bringing expensive electronics is not advisable.

10.  What are the sleeping/living arrangements?  
Teens will be sleeping segregated by gender.  There is a "boy room" with bunk beds and a "girl room" with bunk beds.
If there are more than four boys or more than four girls visiting at one time, there are fold-out floor mats that we can offer.
Our own kids find them comfortable and they are used by many of the locals as their only bed. 
There is a shared bathroom, just like in any home.  Visitors will help with light chores (washing their own dishes, keeping their bed areas neat, cleaning the shared bathroom once per week, etc).  This is a nice-sized regular family home and runs as such.
It is a 2-story and the stairs are plentiful.  Please contact us for questions if your teen has mobility impairments of any kind.
Our home does not have heating or air conditioning.  Most people find the temperatures comfortable. Each room is equipped with an electric fan.
We do have a friendly small dog who lives inside so, if you have pet allergies, take note.

We hope the 10 questions/answers above have been helpful in painting a picture of the process and accommodations for your teen. If you have any additional questions, please email them to: 

Send us an email to get started on reserving the dates for your visit or to secure application, consent and waiver forms. 

You can read more about our family and ministry on our website: HERE