|Philippine Mission Report October/November 2007 |
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
MONDAY 15 THRU WEDNESDAY 17 OCTOBER
Woke up early this morning with eager anticipation of getting on the way to the Philippines! I feel like I am better organized this trip than ever before, having nearly everything already packed; and even having my wife’s (who is going with me for the second time since I have been making these trips!) things already packed. I have also taken care of everything that needs to be taken care of, like bills, except for a couple of last minute ones that I did not have the statements yet. I have moved all the pot plants together around a sprinkler system, so all our son, Joel, will need to do is turn on a switch, and turn it off. So I really do not have much to do before leaving for the airport. Just need to run to Tomball to pick up the money I have asked the bank to have ready for me; and then go to the MoneyGram place to wire some of it to Bro. Adelmo Obien, one of the pastors I work with in the islands. I am really feeling good about the day!
So Dorothy and I get up; get dressed; and while she is getting the last few things of hers packed, I take care of the two bills I need to make arrangements to pay; then make my trip to Tomball. I am back home by 11:00, and we eat lunch about noon. After this I get the car packed, and we are ready to go. Our flight is scheduled to take off at 7:00 P.M, so it is our plan to leave home about 2:00 P.M.; go by Joel and Madel’s to leave some things; and then go by our grandson’s apartment to leave some clothes Dorothy has for him; and then to the airport. Actually, we are to leave our grandson’s apartment, and go to Demontrond Automotive. Over a month before, I took our van in for the fifty thousand mile service; and while they were servicing the car, the mechanic dropped a bolt down in the engine, unknown to him. When he started the car up, it ruined the engine. So for the past month and more we have been driving a Volvo sports type car they have loaned us. So we need to return this car, and they are to drive us to the airport; and when we get back, they will pay for a taxi to bring us from the airport to Demontrond. This even worked out perfect, as Joel was going to have to take off work otherwise to take us to the airport; and again to pick us up.
All goes just as we planned it, leaving right at 2:00 P.M.: and it begins to rain just as we are leaving. Good! It has been very dry for several weeks now, so the rain is coming at exactly the right time! We won’t be concerned about the grass, or the flower beds! As we drive towards Joel and Madel’s, the rain gets a little harder, but no indication of any extreme downpour. Reaching Joel and Madel’s place, we pull in behind their town house; get the things we need to leave there in the house; say goodbye to Madel, and the two little ones; and then we are on our way again. I am even more excited now, and anxious, to get to the airport; and when I drove out of the drive from in back of the row of town houses, into the street in front, I drove right into deep water! In the short time it has been raining, the street is flooded; and we only get a few feet until the low to the ground Volvo drowns out! Now what do we do? We notice that water is beginning to seep into the car itself. I decide the only thing to do is get out, and try to push it. So I take off my shoes; roll up my pants legs; and open the door. Now water pours into the car! Besides that, I can’t get the car into neutral, so there is no way I can push it.
It is still raining, so I wade on to the parking lot of a strip center we are next to, and make a call to Demontrond, asking them to send a wrecker. In the meantime, Dorothy has gotten out of the car, and made her way to the porch where I am; and where it is dry. After several tries I finally get Demontrond, and they promise to send a wrecker right away. While we wait for the wrecker, we see other cars drowned out. We also watch as big trucks and buses plow through the water, each time watching the Volvo rise and fall according to the waves. What is happening to our suitcases we don’t know: we only hope they are not in water!
We wait for what seemed like an eternity, and finally we see a wrecker pull up on the parking lot; but he does not make any attempt to do anything. Is this our wrecker? I wait for several minutes, and he still does nothing. So I decide to go see if he came for us. I walk over to the wrecker in the rain, and sure enough he is for us -- but he informs me doesn’t want to get wet, and intends to wait until the water goes down. I tell him we just might be here all night, if that is the case! I go back to the porch, and call Demontrond again; and while I am making this call, the wrecker driver begins to position his wrecker. He says there is something in the trunk of the car he needs in order to hook on to the car, and so will have to unload all our suitcases. So once again I wade out into the street, and get the first two suitcases to carry them to the porch. The water is deep, and I can’t see where I am stepping; and as I make my way, I trip on something, falling flat in the water, with the suitcases falling into the water, too! I retrieve them as quickly as I can, and get them to the dry porch. Then go back to get the others. Needless to say, by this time I am drenched; the suitcases are wet; and we don’t know what the condition of the contents is. So much for the perfect day, and perfect planning!!!
The driver drags the car up on the back of the wrecker; we load out things back into the car; and we get in the wrecker with him, going to Demontrond. Immediately upon arriving, I get some dry clothes, and a towel I have brought along, and use their restroom to change. I put the wet clothes into a plastic bag, and put them in one of the suitcases so we can dry them when we get to the Philippines. Although the bottom of Dorothy’s skirt is wet, she does not think it enough to change. So, as soon as this is done, the service manager for Demontrond gets a car, and we are off to the airport. We were supposed to be at the airport at 5:00 P.M., but it is already about 5:30 when we leave Demontrond. Then the service manager, being new to this area, does not know exactly how to get to the airport, and passes up the exit; so we have to go out of the way in getting to the airport. However, we make it just after 6:00 P.M.; and even then it does not take us long to get checked in.
By this time, though, Dorothy is hungry; and although our plane is scheduled to begin loading any time, we go to a fast food place, and she orders a hamburger, fries, and a drink; and I order myself a drink. I keep rushing her to eat, which she does not appreciate; but I am concerned lest on top of everything else, we might miss our flight. As it turns out the plane is delayed, and we have plenty of time!
I must admit that at this point, I am wondering that if all things work together for the good of those who love God, just how this is going to accomplish that purpose. What was the purpose of our Lord and Saviour? I know that if it works for our good, it must be for our salvation, but how? In my fleshly mind it would be much better if this had not happened -- especially since it would appear that it is going to cost us the deductible on our car insurance; and all I can think about is how this money could be used to relieve some of the suffering of our brethren in the islands and/or be useful to the preaching of the gospel message we are to bring! It seems to me it is enough of a struggle every day trying to meet these needs, without this added burden! This weighed on my mind and heart all the way over, and for at least a couple of days thereafter; and I had to be in much prayer for my Lord to make my heart right!
The rest of the trip over was without incident. We changed planes at Los Angeles; and as we flew over the pacific, we suddenly found ourselves going from Oct. 15 to Oct. 17 as we crossed the international date line. We changed planes again in Taipei; afterward arriving at Manila about 10:00 A.M. on Wednesday, Oct. 17. Getting off the plane, we immediately collect our suitcases, and get a taxi to take us to the Airport Hotel, which is very near to the airport; and where I have made reservations over the internet. However, upon arriving there, we find they have given our room away. Nothing to do but try to find another. I first think we will return to the airport, where there is a desk especially for hotel clerks; but our driver insists he knows another hotel near by. So I consent for him to take us there; but when we get there, I don’t like either the appearance of the hotel, or the surrounding neighborhood. There is a little travel agent office here, and the taxi driver insists on trying to find us a hotel we will be satisfied with. I realize at this point that he is working with this hotel and/or the travel agent, and probably gets a little commission.
This process takes some 30 or so minutes, and Dorothy is getting very nervous. She did not like the idea of going with the taxi driver in the first place; and she gets very suspicious when it takes him so long -- especially in this kind of neighborhood. After waiting for some time, I finally get out of the car to go see what is going on. I go inside, and they tell me they have contacted The Atrium Hotel, and they have a room. (We find out later from Bro. Rey Monceller that this is the holiday season for All Souls Day coming up on Oct. 30 and 31. The entire holiday covers about two weeks; and this is going to affect us again the next day.)
I agree to this, and we go back to the car to find that Dorothy has locked all the doors. We get back in, and are soon at the hotel. This hotel is in a 25 story building, with the lobby on the 15th floor; and the room will be on the 20th floor. Since Dorothy usually prefers to be on the ground floor even in two story motels, I thought she might object; but she doesn’t, and we find the room very comfortable. So we unload our suitcases; I pay the driver; and we spend the rest of the afternoon washing and drying the clothes we were wearing that got wet, and checking to see if there was anything else that got wet. Thankfully, the only suitcases that were affected by water was my carry-on bag, and the suitcase that I had packed full of booklets for the conference at Pagadian. These were the two I had when I fell into the water; and there was a little water got in each one, but not enough to damage anything. I just emptied them out, and the contents easily dried over night.
Besides the above, I contact Bro. Rey Monceller to make arrangements for the time he will come tomorrow so we can get our plane tickets for the rest of the trip. Everything we need is right at us, there being a shopping mall in the same building as the hotel, where we can eat, plus the hotel having a restaurant. So the day(s) closes peacefully!
“For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” Romans 11:34-36
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
THURSDAY 18 OCTOBER
FIRST FULL DAY IN THE ISLANDS
After spending a relaxing and restful afternoon; and evening; yesterday, today began quite the same way. We got up around 6:00 A.M.; got dressed; and went down to the hotel restaurant, where we enjoyed a very leisurely breakfast of eggs, hash browns, several pieces of bacon, jelly, toast, and drink -- all for a total of about $5.00 each.
After breakfast, we go back to the room, where we have agreed to meet Bro. Monceller (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Rey.) at 9:00 to go out to get plane tickets for the domestic flights; and to get some money exchanged. Bro. Rey arrives at about 10:15, having been delayed by traffic, and not knowing exactly where our hotel is located.
When he arrives, we spend a few minutes in greetings, and planning how to proceed. Since there is a money changer in the mall; which is located in the same building as the hotel; we decide this is as good a place as any to make the exchange. So we first do this, then go out on the street to get a taxi. There is a taxi unloading some people at the door, so Bro. Rey asks if he is available. The driver points to a young woman as the one who is his next fare; but she is very kind to tell the driver to let us take the taxi.
So we get in, and Bro. Rey tells the driver to take us the the Philippine Airlines office at the domestic airport. The driver then get into a conversation with Bro. Rey, telling him that the country is in the beginning of the “All Souls Day Holiday”; and that most of the flights are fully booked. Besides, he says the wait at the PAL office would be extremely long -- a fact that experience has taught is beyond doubt! He suggests we go instead to an “express” ticket office; and instead of taking Philippine Airlines, we take Cebu Pacific. To this Bro. Rey agrees, after confirming with us that Cebu Pacific is acceptable.
Arriving at the “express” office, sure enough we are the only ones there; so we begin to tell the clerk what tickets we want; and find out that very few flights are still available; and that no flights are available from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu City, Cebu; or from Cagayan de Oro to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. They then decide that maybe Asian Spirit (An island hopper.) might have some space. So they begin to try to contact Asian Spirit; but at far as I know, they never succeeded -- not that it mattered in the end.
After about 30 minutes we have finally been able to get enough information to determine that we are going to have to get tickets to Cagayan de Oro for Monday; and tickets from Tagbilaran back to Manila for Nov. 3; and hope we can get on a boat at Cagayan de Oro in order to get to Tagbilaran City, Bohol on Oct. 31. So the clerk begins to write up the tickets, but tells us then that they can only take cash, and no credit cards. Especially since the tickets are much higher at this time than I have planned on, I do not have enough cash on me; and besides, I have not brought along enough cash to cover plane tickets. The clerk agrees to call her boss to see if he will allow her to take my credit card; but when she does, he refuses. So I tell Bro. Rey that we will just have to go the Philippine Airline office, and wait as long as possible.
Getting back into the taxi; which has been waiting; the driver tells Bro. Rey that he knows of another “express” office near by; and we agree to go there. Upon arriving, he goes in first to see if they will take a credit card. He returns to inform us that they will, so we get out, and go in. Basically, we go through the very same routine as at the first place, but they finally get all the information they need. At this point the main person in the office asks if it will be agreeable for her to get the tickets printed, and then bring them to our hotel for payment. It seems they do not have the equipment here to swipe the credit card, and we will need to go to another place to do this. I agree, and we leave going back to the hotel.
Arriving there, we go to a restaurant in the mall for lunch; after which Bro. Rey departs for home; and Dorothy and I return to our room. (Our original plans were to use the van we have rented to take us around to take care of today’s business; and after this was done, to go on to Pangasinin this afternoon for tomorrow’s conference. However, Manila is trying to do something to cut down on traffic, and has implemented a program whereby vehicles with certain license plate numbers cannot be on the street on certain days. Our van has fallen into that category today, so we first have to use a taxi instead of the van to do our business; and then we will also need to stay another night at this hotel, going on to Pangasinin early in the morning.) Getting back to our room, Dorothy and I are relaxing -- and enjoying it! -- until about 4:30. At this time I am beginning to wonder when (and if) the woman from the ticket office is going to show up. She has given me her card, so I begin to try to call. After being unsuccessful for about 20 minutes, I call Bro. Rey to see if he can get in touch with her -- especially since if there is any problem, he will be much better able to converse with her in their language. Bro. Rey tells he will take care of it, and call me back. Now the relaxing is over, and we are anxious to find out if we are going to get our tickets! Besides this, Dorothy is about to freak out thinking we might need to go out to some unknown place, with a complete stranger. I try to assure her it will be alright, but to no avail!
We wait for some time, and finally Bro. Rey calls to tell us they have changed their minds, and will not take my credit card after all! Not only are they not going to accept my card, but evidently they had no intention of letting us know! Now what do we do? I must confess that at hearing this, I am furious! My dear Bro. Rey calms me, and tells me he will get on the internet, and see if he can get tickets reserved for us on Philippine Airlines. So we leave it at that; and all Dorothy and I can do is wait -- but at least she will not need to worry about going out with the stranger!
About 10:30 P.M. Bro. Rey calls to tell us he has been successful in reserving our tickets; but my next question is how will we retrieve them since the ticket office has long been closed tonight, and we will be leaving for Pangasinin long before they open in the morning. Bro. Rey says he will send someone for them tomorrow, either his wife, or Sis. Edna, one of the church members. The next question is how will we pay for them, since no one else can use my credit card? It is decided that the only thing to do is for Bro. Rey to use the money I have sent to him through our ATM account, for the expenses of the conferences in Taytay, to pay for the tickets; and I will reimburse him as soon as I can get the cash. Most of this day’s efforts end up being a total washout; and I still have to pay cash for the tickets! The day has had much frustration in it -- one more test to see if I (we) can really rest in the promise that all things work together for our good. I trust that it is so, as these things have once more driven me to confession, and prayer!!!
“There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.” Prov. 21:30
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
FRIDAY 19 OCTOBER
SECOND FULL DAY
After getting the plane ticket fiasco settled, (Although I will not be completely satisfied until the tickets are in our hands! Experience has taught me that anything can go wrong -- especially here!) we get to bed around 9:00 P.M.; and although Dorothy slept most of the afternoon so that we wondered if she would be able to sleep at night, after we turned out the lights, it took her about two minutes to be sound asleep; and I was asleep shortly there after! The night before, the air conditioner kept turning off, and I would then have to get up to turn it back on. I got up 4 or 5 times during the night to do this; and last night twice -- but after the second time, I just left it off until we got up at 1:00 A.M. to get ready for the day.
Bro. Rey was to come to our hotel at 3:00 A.M., so at 2:30 I went down to the lobby to check out, and found Bro. Rey and Bro. Rolando Mendoza (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Rolando.) waiting. (Later I found out they had been there since 1:00 a.m., not having slept at all!) As soon as I check out, we load us, and our suitcases, into the waiting van. There are six grownups, plus all our suitcases, plus two large sacks of booklets and tracts, so every available space is utilized. Dorothy says she now knows how sardines feel!
After leaving the hotel, we drive for about an hour, meeting another group; in another van; at Bulacan, north of Manila. Here we are told to trade places with some of those in this second van. This second van is air conditioned; and I suppose they were just being considerate of us! However, there are eight of us in this van, plus suitcases; so we are just as cramped. Nevertheless, the traffic this early in the morning is light, and we arrive at the meeting place (Where Jezus Leeft -- Jesus Lives -- church meets.) for the conference about 7:30.
Greetings are made with all who are already there, after which breakfast is served. Then we go to check into our rooms, which turns out to be a beautiful resort. (Would have been nice to spend some leisure time, but only had a few minutes to look around.) As soon as we get our suitcases in the room, Dorothy and I return to the meeting place, while Bro. Rey and Bro. Rolando stay behind. Arriving back at the meeting place, we visit with many of the people as they arrive. The meeting was to have started no later than 9:00 A.M., but at this time Bro. Rey and Bro. Rolando have not come from the resort. They finally come a few minutes before 10:00, and the meeting is immediately opened with prayer, and one song.
Bro. Rey begins the preaching with the subject of The Sovereignty of God. I am pleased and blessed with the message, but as usual the congregation is mostly quite. Then after Bro. Rey, I preach on the topic of Total Depravity. I have been praying about the messages since first planning this trip -- and more often and more fervently the nearer the time came: and know that many of you were praying, too! Our Lord very graciously answered, (Dorothy later said she had never heard me preach like that.), and the people give every evidence they are hearing, and being blessed. However, there are some who it is evident are not very happy -- there nearly always is! Dorothy is observing the reactions, and tells me she is sure several are under much conviction. I preach for about an hour and twenty minutes; until 12:20; after which we take a lunch break.
We enjoyed a delicious meal, and fellowship, until 1:30 when we resume with another prayer and song. Then Bro. Rolando preaches on Unconditional Election. We then take a few minutes break, and Bro. Roland resumes with Limited Atonement. The preaching of this brother has been a tremendous blessing to me the last two trips, and now today has c continued! God is blessing more and more with godly, well qualified men to work with me! As usual, the farther we get into the doctrines, the more lively and receptive the people become. Still, there are evident skeptics!
After Bro. Rolando finishes this subject, we take another short break. Upon resuming, Bro. Rey informs me that I should finish with both subjects of Irresistible Grace, and Preservation of the Saints. I preach mostly on Irresistible Grace, concluding with a short message on Preservation of the Saints. Most of the people give every evidence of being truly blessed, voicing their feelings with amens, and clapping of hands. Later, my wife for the second time today, gives strong approval of the message. Two times approval from my wife! Wow!
The message is about an hour an a half, after which supper is served.; and shortly we go to our rooms for the night. We go to bed at 8:30, having had a long and tiring day -- but a most blessed one!!! “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. “Isa. 40:28-31.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SATURDAY 20 OCTOBER
THIRD FULL DAY
This day begins at 4:00 A.M. (Actually I woke up at 3:00, and Dorothy is awake at 4:00.) as we are by this time both wide awake. We get ready; and I spend the time, before the brothers come for us, writing up our Daily Diary, while Dorothy is reading. Around 7:00, our van driver comes to the door; and we think he has come to take us to the meeting place. I also did not realize the time, so we asked him to come back in about 30 minutes; but shortly after he leaves, Bro. Rey comes to tell us the driver has brought breakfast to their room, and we are to join them.
After breakfast, Dorothy and I walk around the resort complex, taking a few pictures. The van driver shows up again shortly before 8:00, and takes Dorothy and me to the meeting place. Bro. Rey and Bro. Rolando are to follow later. At the meeting place we mingle and visit among those already there (Many of them spent the night in some vacant rooms in the building, which formerly was a restaurant.), while we wait for the meeting to begin. We are wondering how many of those from yesterday will come back today.
As we wait, a few at a time come in until by 9:00 nearly everyone has returned, and the place is full. (It is rice harvest time, and a very few are employed in this. We are also told that many more would have attended but for this reason. Nevertheless, there are about 100 or more in attendance.) Just a few minutes after 9:00 the meeting actually begins. (Oh, I forgot to mention that while waiting for the meeting to officially begin, Bro. Rolando and I have a discussion with four of the men. Very profitable, as indicated in the expression of one, “Yes, now I get it!”)
We open again with prayer and song. Then Bro. Rolando gives a presentation comparing the Calvinistic doctrine with the Arminian doctrine. This takes about 30 minutes, and then the meeting is opened up for questions from the floor. This lasts until about 11:00. Thanks be to God that once more He provides answers which are clear; and which appear to satisfy those who ask. During the coarse of the questioning, it actually provides a chance to preach approximately another hour, in increments of 10 to 20 minutes each.
With the questions having come to an end, they call on me to close with a message of my choosing. I begin with James 4:14-17, showing the will of man being opposed to God’s; and the will of man coming from pride. The object of the message being that the purpose of the doctrines of grace is to break this pride, in order to exalt God.
The message was, from all appearances, very well received. After this message, we have lunch; fellowship with the people for some time; and finally get away at about 2:30, leaving many of the people expressing a desire for us to return.
Once again our van, as well as the other one, is packed to the hilt; and this time of day the traffic is very heavy, especially through the towns. We did have a few miles when we were on toll roads that we could travel at a good, and consistent, rate of speed. We finally get back to Bulacan, where we switched vans yesterday, and changed back again. From this point the traffic is horrible, (The only expression I have for it!), and we move at a snail’s pace most of the time, if we move at all. Dorothy has not only been very tired from the start, but in pain from indigestion, plus trying to find a comfortable position for her bad leg. After five and a half to six hours of this, we finally reach our hotel; get checked in; and bid the others a good night.
Dorothy takes a shower, while I begin writing the “diary”; and as soon as she gets through, she falls into bed, and is asleep almost immediately. I finish writing at 10:30, then get to bed at 11:00. It doesn’t take long for me to fall asleep, either! It has been a long, and extremely tiring, day; but we have both agreed a most blessed and rewarding and successful one!!!
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” 2.Corin. 2:14.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SUNDAY 21 OCTOBER
FOURTH FULL DAY
I set my alarm last night to wake us at 6:30 this morning, but I was awake by 4:30; and Dorothy wakes up at 5:00. I had just been lying still, not wanting to wake her. When she wakes at 5:00, she says she needs to get up at 6:00, and then goes back to sleep. I continue to lie in bed, and just before 6:00 she wakes up again. This time we both get up, and get ready. We are having services today with Sovereign Grace Church of Taytay, Manila; the church we established in 2001 with Bro. Rey as the pastor.
After getting ready, we go down to the hotel restaurant for the complimentary breakfast. I talked to our son, Joel, back home this morning; and he informed me there had been a bomb set off in a shopping mall in the Makati district of Manila; the district adjoining the one where we were when we first arrived. While we await breakfast to be served, we read the newspaper account. The bombing occurred the day after we arrived, and more bombings are threatened. Nine people were for sure killed; two more were missing; and about 100 injured.
After eating, we go back to the room; and shortly Bro. Rey comes, along with his wife; two teenage children; and Sis. Edna Jinon, the first member of the church other than the Moncellers. (Sis. Edna has been one of not only the most loyal, but zealous, members of this church, or any other church, that I have ever known! She, and her three daughters, are a great blessing to the church -- and to me!) We go then to the place of worship, which is a structure that we have supplied the funds to build (P90,000.00, or about $2,000.00.), and which was being completed even the day we arrived in the islands. It is built on a piece of property dedicated by another member of the church, known by me as Sis. Eilene, and her husband. Another wonderful blessing, as they had planned to sell the property, but changed their minds in view of the need of the church!
When we arrive, several of the people are already present, so we immediately begin greetings and fellowship. More and more keep coming, until by the time services begin, not only are the 50 or so chairs in the building proper filled, (The building has three complete walls, and one partial wall facing the pulpit area; the building being approx. 35 feet long, and 20 feet wide; with the pulpit being placed in the center of the long wall.), and at least that many more on the outside of the partial wall, facing the pulpit. Many of them are children from the surrounding area, (Which consists of living quarters joined wall to wall along what is more an alley way, than a street.), and there are also several adults who attend for the first time.
The services begin with prayer, and then several hymns. Then Bro. Rey opens up for testimonies. Then a couple more songs, and Bro. Rey calls on me to preach. We are to baptize five this afternoon, and the Lord has laid on my heart Ps. 116:15. After reading the text, I use my wedding ring, and than a “precious” three month old baby girl, to illustrate the term “precious”; afterward comparing the preciousness to Jesus, as the Son of God; then going on to show how the death of Jesus was precious to the Father; and then to show how, and why, our death in Christ is precious.
Bro. Rey translated as I preached; and for whatever reason, he had some difficulty doing so; which hindered the consistent flow of the message. Nevertheless, our God is able to bring strength out of weakness, and I am confident that the content was “precious”; and it is evident that many were blessed -- and we trust many more we knew not of!
After the message, songs were sung; offering taken; then Bro. Rey calls on me to lead in a prayer of dedication of the building. Another hymn is then sung; and then the closing prayer. After this, a fellowship meal was served. This time of fellowship continues until around 2:30, after which we proceed to the place of the baptism, which is a swimming pool belonging to an acquaintance of one of the members. As soon as we arrive, I change clothes. We then all gather around for the reading of the scripture, and prayer. The candidates consist of three women, and two young men. One of the women is 76 years old, and we are told she goes around all the time rejoicing in what she has found! Another is a young woman who suffered a stroke in 2004. She is still partially paralyzed on her left side. She, and her 5 year old daughter, are dependent on her mother for their livelihood; and in spite of the fact that the mother is Catholic; persecutes the daughter; is very much opposed to the baptism; yet Jennifer is very much rejoicing in her new found faith! Praise to our Almighty God!
After these services, we continue in a time of fellowship, during which the owner of the place is introduced. He is a Japanese man of 62 years, having moved here in 1975. He is curious about the baptism; and his questions give Bro. Rey and me a chance to witness to him. I don’t know what will come of it, but thank God for the opportunity!
A few minutes after 5:00 we leave to go back to our hotel. The early morning traffic was once again light, but the evening traffic is also once again “horrible”! It takes us over two hours to get to the hotel. Here we part company; Dorothy and me going to our room, and the others going on to their respective places. It has been another tiring day, but also a rejoicing one!
“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Rev. 22:17.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
MONDAY 22 OCTOBER
FIFTH FULL DAY
After getting showers, and getting our things together, we got to bed last night at 10:00. Our flight to Cagayan de Oro, on the island of Mindanao, was scheduled to depart at 5:10 A.M., so I set the alarm for 2:00. We cannot get to sleep, though, because there are a lot of young students of some sort on our floor who are making a lot of noise. After some time of this going on, Dorothy calls the desk, and asks them to quite them down, which they promise to do. However, nothing happens, and the noise continues. Dorothy calls the desk three more times within the next 30 or 40 minutes, but still nothing happens until I finally talk to the desk person on the last call. By the time the noise is under control, it is around midnight; so we got at best two hours of restful sleep before the alarm went off.
At 2:10 we get up; get ready; get a bell boy to get our suitcases; and meet Bro. Rey downstairs. After checking out, we get two taxis, (With our suitcases, and Bro. Rey’s, plus the boxes of booklets and tracts we are taking, we cannot get it all in one taxi.), with Bro. Rey in one, and us in the other. The traffic is light, so we reach the airport at 3:30. Not many people in the terminal, so we get right through the check point; and when we get to the ticket counter, we are the only ones there -- all the others must have gotten there before us, for our plane is full.
After the check in, we eat a light breakfast; and soon board the plane. The flight is an hour and 20 minutes without incident. We are met at the Cagayan de Oro terminal by some of the brethren; and after loading all our suitcases and boxes, we literally squeeze into the vehicle; and after about a 30 minute drive, arrive at our hotel, called “Good News Traveler’s Inn”. It takes only a few minutes to get checked in, and get to our room. Immediately, Dorothy changes into something to sleep in; gets into bed; and falls right to sleep until noon. Our air conditioner power goes off, but she is so sound asleep that she hardly knows that people have come to fix the problem! The day is then spent very leisurely in writing; reading; resting. We tried to get the local news. A young man with the hotel told us there had been an explosion that morning in Cagayan de Oro. According to him, it was thought to have been caused by faulty electrical installation; but we thought since we had the time, we would check it out. However, we could never find a local station speaking English.
At 8:00 P.M. we both decided we were tired of doing little or nothing, and would just go to bed for a good night’s rest. So I set the alarm for 6:00 A.M., for a 7:00 A.M. check out from the hotel. The plan was to go to the meeting place at 7:00; and since it is a room above a restaurant, take breakfast there. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:00 in the morning.
“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Mark 6:31.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
TUESDAY 23 OCTOBER
SIXTH FULL DAY
As I write this, it is 6:00 A.M. on this 23rd day of October. As I stated in the previous day’s diary, we went to bed last night at 8:00; and it did not take long for either of us to go to sleep. I woke up some time later, and was trying to see the clock as what time it was when Dorothy also wakes up, and asked me what time it was. I told her it was 3:30. So she went back to sleep, and I lay there in meditation and prayer. Some time later Dorothy got up, and started her process of getting ready. I don’t know how long she spent doing this, but it was quite a while. She was in the bath, not having turned on any room lights; but having finished, she came over to the bed where I was still lying; and now light from the bath room made it possible to see the clock clearly -- which told us it was three in the morning! We were both shocked, but had a good laugh at ourselves because we were both so sure it was much later than it actually was! She stayed up, and I continued to lie in bed. The next time I looked, it was 3:30 -- the time I told her it was when we first woke up! She then laid back down, and went to sleep. At 4:20 I checked the time again; and then at 5:00 I got up, having laid in bed as long as I could.
At 5:00 then, while I was getting ready, she turns on the T.V., but still can find no local news. So when I finish getting ready, she turns the T.V. off; and while I am writing, she reads. Then at 6:40 we decide to tell the others we are ready, in case they want to leave a few minutes early. I call their room, but get no answer. I go to the room, but no one is there. So I start downstairs, and meet Bro. Rey coming to get us. So we get our things downstairs; check out; and then proceed to the meeting place. Before we get there, though, we need to pick up Bro. Dexter Malud (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Dexter.), who has come from Digos last night by bus.
Having gotten Bro. Dexter, we go to the meeting place, and begin greetings. The meeting officially begins at 8:30 with singing and prayer. By the time the preaching begins, there are somewhat over 40 adult people, and a few children. This is more than I had expected here.
The first presentation is by Bro. Dexter; and is an introduction to the “Tulip Doctrine” by way of giving the history of The Council of Dort, as an answer to Arminius’s Five Points denouncing the doctrine of predestination. Bro. Dexter is an able preacher, who knows his subject well. It seems to be received well, but there is little enthusiasm shown.
After Bro. Dexter, Bro. Rey preaches on Total Depravity, giving what I consider an excellent presentation on the subject. Once again there seems to be an acceptance, but there is not the expected “Amens” and/or the clapping of hands that so often accompanies when these people feel really blessed. Under these circumstances it sometimes is difficult to know just how you are coming across! (Oh, on the way to the meeting this morning, Bro. Rey said one of his seminary students, that has consistently opposed these doctrines, sent him a text message this morning saying that after the conference at Pangasinin he now understands. Thanks be unto our Lord -- again!)
When Bro. Rey is through, Bro. Tacatani preaches on Unconditional Election. The message is good, (This is only the second year that Bro. Tacatani has been a part of our team of preachers, but he has grown quickly in knowledge, and ability.), and the people are considerably more responsive. However, since these people know Bro. Tacatani well, it is not easy to determine whether their response is from real appreciation of the message.
Next Bro. Joshua Gubal (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Joshua.) preaches on the doctrine of Limited Atonement. Once again the people are pretty familiar with Bro. Joshua; and while I certainly do not want to take anything away from a good message, the same is true with Bro. Joshua, as it was with Bro. Tacatini.
After Bro. Joshua’s message we break for lunch, and some good fellowship. The meal is served by the restaurant below the meeting place; and while it is just basic food, (As usual, the center piece is rice.), yet it is very well prepared, and well enjoyed!
Up to this point nothing has been said to me about what I will be expected to do; but just before we resume, Bro. Joshua comes to tell me I am expected to finish the meeting by preaching on Irresistible Grace, and Preservation of the Saints. So after a song, and prayer, I begin by establishing the almighty power of God in the minds of the people; then His sovereignty; then proceed to show how His almighty act of love in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is irresistible to His blood bought bride. This leads us into the preservation of the saints -- the bride -- because of the same power of His love! As the message progresses, the people begin to respond in the hoped for way; and although there are a few who have questions afterward, by the time the message ends, there is no doubt as to whether or not the majority is greatly blessed! Once again thanks be to the God and Saviour of His beloved saints!
The meeting comes to an end with the people sending us on our way rejoicing. The going is slow, but we finally reach Valencia City at 7:45, where we are to spend the night. We first stop to eat a bite; (A decent meal for six people cost the equivalent of about $9.00 here.) then go to our hotel. It is now 9:50 as I finish; and we will need to be up by 5:00 A.M. for a 6:00 A.M. departure for San Fernando, a mountain village some 35 miles north of Valencia City -- and what will take close to two hours to drive due to the road conditions. May our God of all mercy and grace be glorified again tomorrow is my only prayer!
“Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” Psalm 70:4 - 71:1.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
WEDNESDAY 24 OCTOBER
SEVENTH FULL DAY
It has been a very blessed, and rewarding day! So much so that Dorothy for the first time has said she is glad she came! Up until today, she has been O.K. with the trip, but today has been different! And I am reminded of what the apostle has said, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
We were to leave the hotel by 6:00 this morning; so before going to bed at a few minutes after 10:00, I set the alarm for 5:00. I have woke to check the time twice before finally getting up at 4:30; and Dorothy is also awake by this time. We got ready for the day; and we are all in the van, and on the way to San Fernando shortly before 6:00. It takes about an hour and a half over rough gravel roads; and when we get there, we go past the church building a ways down the road to a house which we will learn later belongs to some relatives of Bro. Tacatani. Here we visit before, during, and after breakfast, until it is time to go back to the church building to begin the conference.; but instead of going in the van, we decide to walk. Bro. Rey walks with us; and we take a few pictures of interesting things along the way. One was a woman with a basket of as beautiful vegetables as you will ever see; and we were wishing we could buy some. Instead, I took a picture of her with the vegetables, and gave her P50.00. The look on her face said, “You just made my day!”
After arriving at the church building, we visit among the people who are there, until the meeting begins at 9:00. A prayer is offered; introductions are made; and then Bro. Dexter does his usual excellent introduction of the doctrines we are preaching. (One of those present today is a Southern Baptist pastor in San Fernando, who is a friend of Bro. Tacatani. Bro. Tacatani told us at breakfast that he had invited this man, telling him he could learn from these Pentecostals what Baptist doctrine once was, and ought to be again. We all had a good laugh at this. Now, as I said in my diary of the trip this year in April, these are Pentecostals mostly in name only, as they do not believe in tongues, or miracle healing, and so forth. They do clap hands when singing, many times.)
When Bro. Dexter is through, Bro. Rey preaches on Depravity, having an excellent presentation on this subject; and the people are very attentive, as well as appreciative! When he is through, there are a couple of men who have questions -- not antagonistic questions, but rather serious questions of clarification. For once the brothers handle their questions without calling on me; and it is evident those who raised the questions are completely satisfied. This is such a blessing for two reasons: first, because our Lord opens the hearts of the inquirers to receive the answers; and second because I think it is another indication of the growth of the brothers God has given to work with me.
By this time it is about 12:30, so we break for lunch, and resume about an hour later with Bro. Tacatani calling on me to preach. Since the doctrine of Limited Atonement is next in order, I know they expect me to preach on this doctrine. Up to this point no one has told me which doctrine I will cover, but since the brothers are enjoying such success in preaching on the doctrines per se, I have already decided that what ever it falls to me to preach on, that I will spend only a short time on the doctrine itself, and rather preach on a related subject.
I begin by addressing the subject of hyper-Calvinism. (I had heard this mentioned a couple of times today, one time being during a discussion on other subjects during lunch.) I then proceeded to show the necessity of one being able to both lay down his life, and then take it up again, in order to accomplish our salvation -- which no mere mortal can do! I then did spend a few minutes on Limited Atonement, illustrating how righteous we would feel if we gave our lives for our brother, without considering anyone else; and then asking if we had a right to charge God with unrighteousness for doing the same. I then began with Gen. 9:24-27 to show the predestinated plan of salvation through the ages through the prophecy of Noah regarding his three sons. The people give much evidence of being very blessed with this message; and even Dorothy said that though she has heard it before, yet she was blessed by the message as never before. Our God is good!
After this Bro. Joshua preaches on Irresistible Grace; and Bro. Dexter closes out with Preservation of the Saints. Both are excellent messages, but I am particularly blessed and impressed with Bro. Dexter’s message. By the end of this message, the whole place is filled with expressions of joy and praise! People at home may not be enthused with these doctrines, but these people are!!! I never question “if” any more, just how much!
After saying goodbye to most, we load into the van, along with some others who live in San Fernando. One is the Southern Baptist friend of Bro. Tacatani; and when he gets out at his church building, he expresses his joy by proclaiming that he is changing the name of this church; and then gives Bro. Tacatani a very enthusiastic “high-five”! Not one doubts about how he felt!!!
There is also another brother from San Fernando, along with his wife, with us. I had talked with him, and Bro. Joshua, this morning before services began. He was explaining how he was trying to teach Bible to as many of the young adults as he could, along with teaching them some secular subjects to try to equip them to cope with things necessary for success in livelihood. He asked me to come by their place after the close of the meeting to see the facilities, and perhaps get a better feel for what they are trying to accomplish. His work is presently being supported (To some degree.) by “Overseas Missionary Fellowship”, but they are saying they will no longer support the work after December.
I know he is looking for someone else to help them; and although I don’t know how I can possibly help, I agree to go by his place anyway. It is an encouragement to these people just to know someone cares enough to take a few minutes to visit with them. When we get there, we first walk about 300 yards through a rice paddy to a rather large building; but it is evident right away that it is in very poor condition. He shows me through, and not only is it in very poor condition, I see very little of things necessary for teaching and/or study. This is another case where they are desperately trying to do something with nothing!
I ask several questions, including how many students they have; and how much support is received. He says they have 10 students, with P17,000.00 per month support (About $400.00) with which to buy supplies; maintain the place; and feed the students, along with his family. He tells me their budget for food is P500.00 (About $12.00) per person, per month! I do believe his is a worthy cause, but all I can do is promise to include them in prayer; and as we left, I gave him P2,000.00.
Leaving here, we go by the place of Bro. Pedong, as he wants to express his thanks for some help we have given him. We then head back to Valencia City, (Which seemed like it took twice as long as it did this morning! By this time it is dark, and we are very tired.) Arriving in Valencia, we first eat supper, then go to the hotel. Here we are joined by Bro. Adel Obien (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Adel.), who has come from Cebu City, Cebu. Also with us now is Bro. Tacatani’s wife, and a teenage girl, who is a relative. They are headed back to the Tacatani home in Panabo, and intend to ride with us in the van. First, though, they will need a place to sleep; and there is no way they can all sleep in the one room the brothers had last night, so I make arrangements for a room for Bro. Tacatani, his wife, and the girl. We then all go to our rooms, after agreeing to leave in the morning at 6:00 to go to General Santos City, an all day journey. As I finish this diary, it is 9:40, and time for a shower, and bed. Another long and tiring day, but a most wonderful one!!!
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2.Corin. 10:3-5.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
THURSDAY 25 OCTOBER
EIGHTH FULL DAY
Most of this day was spent in traveling from Valencia City, in the North Central part of Mindanao, to General Santos City in the far Southern tip of Mindanao. However, we made several stops along the way.
I went to bed last night at 10:00, after writing up the diary for the day, and taking a shower. Dorothy was completely exhausted by the time we got into our hotel room. When we arrived back at Valencia City from San Fernando last night, before going to the hotel we ate supper; so it was around 7:30 when we got back to our room; and as soon as Dorothy could take a shower, she went straight to bed, and to sleep. She never even knew when I went to bed! I set the alarm for 5:00 A.M., but after waking up twice (again), Dorothy and I both wake up at 4:30, and get up. All of us were ready by 6:00, and checked out and started on our way. All of us that is, except Bro. Tacatani’s wife, and the teen age girl relative. There is no way we can all get in the van, so I gave them enough money to ride the bus, and eat along the way.
After leaving the hotel, we drive for about 45 minutes, stopping for breakfast at a little restaurant the brothers know. This takes about 30 minutes, after which we continue on our journey. We are soon in the mountains; and having come though here several times before, I ask Bro. Joshua to stop at an overlook at the top of one of the highest peaks. From here we have a wonderful view of the country side. So we take a few pictures; buy some bananas from a little Pilipino girl; then continue on our way.
We drive for about another 30 minutes to the Conservative Baptist Seminary, which Bro. Joshua was in charge of for some 15 years before embracing the Doctrines of Grace. We stop to look around, Bro. Joshua showing me all the building projects he over-saw, and worked on. It is a beautiful place, and makes us appreciate all the more the grace it took for Bro. Joshua to leave this organization in order to embrace the truth of God’s word!
Leaving here, we do not stop again until we almost reach Digos. Before we reach Digos, it is lunch time, so we stop to eat at another little restaurant, where I have eaten before. We then go on to Digos, the place of Bro. Dexter’s home, and church. Sis. Velasco; an elderly Chinese saint; has been suffering for some time with Lukemia; and Bro. Dexter had sent me word saying she was praying that she would live until she could see me once more. So we go to her house, but are told that she is in the hospital. So we go to the hospital. Here we find her, along with two of her grand-daughters who are sitting with her. I bend over her bed, and we hug each other. She tell me how weak she is; and how tired she feels. In spite of this, it is a blessing to see her smiling, and to hear her testimony.
We visit for some time, and then they want me to pray with her. Bro. Dexter and I kneel down by her bed; and as I hold her hand, I pray. After the prayer, we get up; and immediately she begins to sit up, greatly surprising all of us! Bro. Dexter steadies her a little, and she sits up on the side of the bed, seemingly having found some renewed strength and energy! We visit a time longer, then take our leave, with her still sitting up on the side of the bed. We promise to see her again on Saturday; our Lord willing; when we return to Digos for the conference to be held here. As we leave, she is smiling, and thanking us for coming. What a blessing it is to minister to the true saints of God, even -- and maybe especially -- in their dying days!
From here we continue on to Padada, where we stop by for about 30 minutes to see Bro. Miranda, a pastor I have not seen for almost two years. They are surprised to see us; and we enjoy the brief time we have to spend with them. Taking our leave from there, we go on to Malungon, where we are to meet Bro. Chavit, pastor of our church in the mountains near Malungon. One of his members has donated a lot on which they hope to construct a house for worship for a new congregation. Bro. Chavit wants us to meet the member who has donated the lot. Arriving at Malungon, we pick up Bro. Chavit; proceed to the house of the member, and visit there about 20 minutes. We then continue on to our final destination of General Santos City, arriving there about 5:30.
I have told Bro. Joshua that I do not want to stay at the hotel where we generally stay, thinking that Dorothy will not be able to rest there. Last April, my room was infested with roaches; and all through the night I kept feeling bites, so that I myself hardly got any rest. I don’t mind so much this kind of condition for myself, but I know Dorothy is going to have to have her rest, if she is going to make the entire trip without getting sick. So we look for another hotel, and find The Royale Hotel. However, when we check for rooms, there is only one available. So Bro. Joshua secures it for Dorothy and me; and the rest go to find another place -- actually ending up at our usual hotel. (Actually, if Dorothy was not with me, I would have preferred that hotel simply for the price!) The irony is that about 30 minutes or so after the others left, the desk of the Royale called our room to say they now realized they do have another room available! Too late!
Dorothy and I get our things arranged in the room; a man comes with some towels; and then we go down to the lobby, and then out to buy a phone card; and to check on some eating places in front of the hotel. We get the phone card, but decide we will go back to the hotel restaurant to eat. I ordered a T-bone steak, with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, and a good sized bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup. (We have found that the Pilipinos make some mouth watering Cream of Asparagus, and Cream of Mushroom soups!) Dorothy orders grilled fish, also with steamed vegetables, potatoes, and soup. We both order iced tea. All this for only P457.00, or about $10.60.
Going back to our room, we take showers; Dorothy watches the news for awhile, and then decides sleep is better. I first write up today’s expenditures; and then write up today’s diary. It is now 9:25 as I finish; and I, too, am ready to get some rest. Although we have had no formal services today, yet it has been a full one; and a very long, and tiring, drive!
“I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.” 1.Corin. 16:15-16.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
FRIDAY 26 OCTOBER
NINTH FULL DAY
Got to bed right at 10:00 last night (Dorothy had already been sleeping for some time.), setting the alarm for 5:00. No trouble getting to sleep. Woke up three times, though, to check the time; finally getting up at 4:45. Shaved, and took a quick shower; and then got Dorothy up to get ready. Don’t know for sure what time the others will come, but aim for 6:00, so Dorothy will need to get stirring. While she is getting ready, I call Bro. Joshua to see when they will come. He tells me they will eat breakfast first, then go by Bro. Arnie Gamilong’s place (Hereafter referred to as Bro. Arnie.) to check on some things concerning today’s conference, as he is the host pastor. This suits us great, as we have a slip from the hotel for complimentary buffet breakfast; and since the restaurant does not open until 6:00, this will give us ample time.
By 6:10 Dorothy is ready., and we go down to eat. When we go into the restaurant, there is only one person there. Then as we are getting our food, another comes in; and by the time we sit down, they are coming in one right after the other. I guess it is just coincidence, but we notice this happening quite often. We finish a very good breakfast; and shortly after getting back to our room, Bro. Joshua calls from the lobby. I get a bell boy for our things, and we load up, and are on our way to the conference site.
To get to the conference site, we drive for 10 or 12 miles west of General Santos, and then turn north on a dirt road. We are not long on this road when we find ourselves in the midst of The Dole Pineapple Plantation. We drive through this for about four miles, finally coming to the conference site; which Bro. Arnie, and the brethren who fellowship with him, has named “Camp Higher Ground”. It is aptly named as it is in the mountains. We haven’t really realized it, but all the while we are going through the pineapple plantation, we have been going up; and now as we get out of the van, we are looking back down, with mountains on three sides. The countryside round about is beautiful; peaceful; and a wonderful cool breeze is blowing. The conference site consists of a tin roof building, with a complete wall behind where a lectern stands, with the three other walls only rising from the ground about three and a half feet. The walls are of woven bamboo; and the floor is dirt; and there are two rows of “benches” made by splitting large bamboo, and then nailing the two pieces to a bamboo frame. (They have no back; and I am really concerned as to how Dorothy will make it through the day with her bad leg; and she soon voices the same concern. I am very thankful to say that she did remarkably well, thanks be to God’s grace, and the strength He gives -- especially as we need it!) Besides the building in which we have the services, there are several other make shift buildings for sleeping, and cooking. The site is periodically used by the fellowship of churches Bro. Arnie is associated with for youth camps, and other church related events. They hope to later add to it enough to accommodate the Bible students they are instructing; and while the conference is in progress, Bro. Arnie introduces a young pastor, and announces that he is going to begin holding regular church services here.
This being such a remote place (This is the reason for holding the conference here, instead of in General Santos where we usually do: many of the pastors who are here have a problem getting into General Santos; and have not been able to do so the last two times we have been in General Santos; and have made a special request to have the meeting here today.) many of the people are late arriving, so the meeting gets under way about 9:30 with prayer, and two hymns. The hymns are written on large pages, which are hung over a chalk board in order for the people to be able to read them. I said earlier that there was a cool breeze blowing, and now the breeze has increased in intensity so that the pages of the hymns have to be held to keep them from blowing away.
After these hymns, there is a brief time of introductions, and greetings; and then Bro. Dexter gives his usual well done presentation of the introduction to the doctrines of grace. The people listen intently, but with little response. Then Bro. Arnie preaches on the doctrine of Total Depravity. I was very thankful for the evident growth of this brother; not only in knowledge, but in confidence! Having finished, he calls on Bro. Rey to present the doctrine of Unconditional Election. Once again I am thankful that nearly every time I hear these men, I can perceive that they are growing, as they are using more and more scriptures, with better interpretations!
When Bro. Rey finishes, it is time for lunch. At this point I again have not been informed what part I will have, but now Bro. Arnie tells me that I will be first after lunch. We are served a very well prepared meal; and as we are eating, Bro. Dexter comes to tell me they are expecting me to cover the other three points in the afternoon session. I have already been praying about what God would have me preach, but now I pray even more!
After lunch, there is song and prayer. Then I am called to preach. I can only say that this was another time I felt so great liberty, the message flowing from one thought to another for two plus hours; and if the expressions of the people were any indication -- both during and after the message -- then the people were thoroughly blessed! One more time my Lord is faithful to Himself, and to His poor people!
The meeting then formally ends with several prayers. After we adjourn, there is still much joy being expressed so that it takes another 30 minutes or so before we can get away. We are heading back to Digos for the night, where the next conference will be held tomorrow. Our driver for this trip is very slow, so that it takes three hours and 45 minutes to get back to Digos. We are supposed to stay at Arnaldo’s Hotel, where I have stayed the past several times I have been in Digos. We need two rooms, (One small one for Dorothy and me; and a “family” room for the five brothers who are now with us.), but they tell us they only have one room to accommodate three people.
After some discussion, we get them to call the Crisbell Hotel, where I stayed the first few times I was in Digos. It is a better class of hotel, but about twice the rates. While the girl is calling, the manager of Arnaldo’s suddenly announces that she can get another room. We are thankful, and agree to take them. The two rooms cost P1550.00 a day, or about $35.00 together. They are not the greatest, but they are at least clean. They also have a small restaurant where we can eat supper after getting our things to our rooms. Seven of us eat all we want, and more, for P710.00, or about $16.50.
As we finish eating, Bro. Joshua tells me he has gotten a text message from his wife asking him to come home to help with some problems, one being that some of the mountain village pastors have already arrived for the Sunday meeting -- two days before time! When these pastors do this, (and they do it quite often!), the Gubals have to provide them food (Which Sis. Conchita has to cook.) and a place to sleep. Sis. Conchita has already recently suffered a mild stroke; and besides this, she has her brother, and his wife, taking care of them, as he has also recently suffered a stroke which has left him paralyzed on one side. There is no way I can express the thanks I have for the love which God has put into the hearts of these people to minister to the needs of their brethren! The Gubals, and the Maluds, especially since they are constantly being visited by the extremely poor village pastors trying to get help for their needs. So I give Bro. Joshua money to get home on, and then back to Digos. He will go home tonight, and expects to be back some time tomorrow morning.
After supper we go back to our room, where Dorothy gets into her night clothes, and goes to sleep. I first make a list of our day’s expenses, and then write up today’s diary. It is 10:55 as I finish, and I am really ready for some rest!
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isa. 55:11-13.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SATURDAY 27 OCTOBER
TENTH FULL DAY
Today begins as usual, except we did not get up until 6:00; and I did not rest well. The “mattress” is only about an inch and a half thick, and so old that the foam has no firmness; the pillow is small, and very lumpy. Dorothy says she slept fairly well; and every time I was awake, she seemed to be sleeping.
At 6:00 we get up, and get ready for the day. By 7:00 we are ready for breakfast. I go to get the others, and we all eat at the hotel restaurant -- six of us eat for P510.00, or about $12.00 -- and these were not continental breakfasts. We enjoy a leisurely, and good, meal; and a good time of fellowship discussing some Biblical questions. At 8:20 we load our things in the van, and go to the meeting place, which is a small, plain, room at a little restaurant, used as a place for groups of people.
When we arrive, there are maybe six other people besides those of us holding the conference; but more begin to trickle in soon. Bro. Dexter says some will be late arriving due to the fact that it is the last day before election, and they have something to do with the political process before they come. We were to begin at 8:30, but actually wait until a few minutes after 9:00 to begin with prayer and singing. By the time we do begin, there are about 20 people present.
After the prayer and singing, Bro. Dexter begins with the introduction to the doctrines; and while he is making his presentation, more people come, finally numbering more than 40 -- and completely filling the room! These people are very reserved, but seem to be very attentive. Bro. Dexter’s wife; Sis. Elly; tells us after the conference that all the pastors (19) are new to the doctrines.
After Bro. Dexter, Bro. Rey preaches on Total Depravity. I am surprised that he does not use any notes, as this is the first time he has preached without them. I must say that it seemed to me that his message had more of a sense of sincerity, as though he was preaching from the heart. While he is preaching, though, the restaurant people begin serving refreshments; and I am very disappointed that this seems to be a distraction from what I consider to be a most excellent message; and the most necessary of all these doctrines: for once a person well understands depravity, he will have little trouble with the rest. If a person ever truly sees the effects of depravity, he will understand why unconditional election is an absolute necessity; why not only is God just, but glorified, in limiting the atonement as far as numbers are concerned ( but not in power to the elect!); and easily see why grace is irresistible; and can easily see that if God has loved us in our sin, He can never cast us away in the righteousness of Christ. Also, because of the distraction of the refreshments, it is difficult to judge what is being received by the people. I will try to make a note of this, and ask the brothers who are responsible for hosting these meetings to not do this any more.
Bro. Dexter has told me before the meeting begins that I would have the two subjects of Unconditional Election, and Limited Atonement; and that he wanted me to include the message showing the predestinated plan for the gospel down through the ages, as is shown by the prophecy concerning Noah’s three sons in Gen. 9:24-27; the message that was so well received by the people at San Fernando. The message lasts about one and a half hours; and although there are “amens” from time to time, yet the people for the most part are quite. However, from the intensity of their attention; and the expressions of their faces; I am confident that we are succeeding in reaching them.
We then break for lunch, during which several do express their appreciation individually; and this is good to hear. We have a good lunch; which includes a roasted pig; and good fellowship. We resume at 1:30 with Bro. Joshua preaching on Irresistible Grace. While he is preaching, Bro. Dexter takes me to get some money exchanged, as this will be my last chance until Monday; and I am afraid I will run out of Pesos before then.
When we get back, Bro. Joshua is still preaching; and once again I am both surprised, and pleased, that he is preaching without notes; and as with Bro. Rey, his message comes across much more like he really believes what he is preaching; as from the heart. (I will put a note in here to the effect that he must really believe what he preaches, as will become evident from his testimony when we get to the report of the conference at Carmen, Bohol.) The people remain very attentive, but do not express themselves much. It is not until Bro. Dexter is half way through the last doctrine of Preservation that they finally begin to show evidences of joy in what they are hearing.
By the time Bro. Dexter is through, though, it is very evident the messages have touched their hearts! Immediately after he ends his message, he gives a chance for questions. One man has a question, which Bro. Joshua quickly gives a Biblical answer. This same man then has a follow up question for clarification, after which he seems to be completely satisfied. Another man then states that although he began with many questions, now he has none -- to which general consent is voiced. (This is a common occurrence!) A third man then wants to know if they need to change the name of their church in order to fellowship with us. This also is a common question, to which it is always explained that all that is necessary to fellowship with us is to love the truth! So the conference once again ends with much joy and harmony, as people begin to depart for their homes!
One note here: there is a pastor attending this meeting that was at one time a friend and co-worker with Bro. Tacatani. He parted company with Bro. Tacatani some 20 years before, without Bro. Tacatani ever knowing why; and they had not seen each other until today. Through this conference; and the doctrines which he received here, (He was the one asking what was necessary in order to fellowship with us.), the two of them have been reunited in fellowship. The providence of our Lord is truly wonderful, and amazing!!!
We are scheduled to go from Digos to Panabo tonight; but before we do, I want to go by to see Sis. Velasco one more time. She is now at home, so Bro. Dexter and I go to the house; and when we enter the room, she immediately sits up. We are amazed at how much stronger she appears; and she tells us she can even walk a little! We visit with her for a while, and then pray with her again. I may never see her again on earth, but she has been a blessing while I have known her! Thank God for His beautiful people!
We then go back to pick up Dorothy, who has stayed to visit with Sis. Elly. We say our goodbye to Sis. Elly and Bro. Dexter, (He needs to be at their church in the morning, but will rejoin us in the afternoon.), then get on our way. We make two more stops to visit a few minutes before getting to Panabo about 8:30. We then eat supper, being joined at a little restaurant by Bro. Joshua’s wife; Sis. Conchita; and Sis. Lillian, who is a member of the church in Panabo.
We leave the restaurant a few minutes after 9:00 to go to the little “resort” where I always stay when in Panabo; and where Bro. Joshua has rooms reserved. As I finish writing this, it is 12:00 midnight; and Dorothy has already had a shower, and has been sound asleep for some 45 minutes. Another day in which our God and Saviour has greatly honored His word in the hearts of His people is ending, and another is beginning: my prayer is that He will continue to bless to the praise of His glorious name!!!
“Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.” Zep. 3:8-9.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SUNDAY 28 OCTOBER
ELEVENTH FULL DAY
By the time I finished with yesterday’s diary, and got to bed, it was 12:20 this morning; and although I was in bed, I still do not have a message for today. I have been thinking, and praying, about it for two days. Night before last I thought I had the message, but yesterday it was gone. Yesterday I considered preaching on Heb. 12:26-28, but could get no peace about this text. Thought about going to one of the outlines in my Bible, but could get no peace with that idea either. Too tired to think, so I just commit it to my Lord, and I am soon asleep.
Slept well until 3:00, when I woke up, and checked the time. I then went back to sleep. (Dorothy woke up a couple of times -- once too cold, and once too hot. They gave us two sheets for the bed, but neither of them was large enough to even cover the entire surface of the mattress, much less to be able to tuck in around the mattress. We did the only thing we could, using one to spread on the mattress, and the other to cover up with. They are very thin, though; and the only way it would cover both of us was if we were right next to one another. I had pajamas on; and Dorothy only had a short gown, so she mostly used the “cover”. Nevertheless, she woke up once complaining of being cold, so I got up and turned the air conditioner off; then later she woke up again, complaining of being too hot, so I got up and turned it back on.) I then woke up a little before 5:00; and as I meditated on what to preach, a message began to form in my mind and heart; a message on the family of God, beginning with Eph. 3:15. This settled the question.
Got up at 5:45 to get ready so I would have a little more time to look up some verses, and meditate on them, before going to the church services where Bro. Joshua is the pastor. I let Dorothy sleep until I was almost ready, as she is getting very tired; and I knew that today was going to be long and very tiring. She gets up at 6:30; and while she gets ready, I study.
At 7:30 our van comes for us; and we then go to a little diner in Panabo (The Do Dine In) for breakfast. Since services are to begin at 9:00, we are able to enjoy another leisure breakfast; and since this place is only a few blocks from the church meeting place, we have time to eat, and still get to the services (Which is also on the same lot as Bro. Joshua’s house.) well before time to begin. When we arrive, there are already quite a few people there, (Actually, many of them have been there for two days, as stated earlier in the diary.) and we begin the greetings.
One family (Dad, mother, son, daughter) is there who are Americans; originally from southern Missouri; he being a medical missionary. Bro. Joshua’s son; JoJo; has known and worked with him (Dr. Sam Evans) for several years; and the past couple of years Bro. Joshua has been helping to coordinate his work among many of the tribal people. Bro. Joshua wanted me to meet him last April, but our schedule would not allow it. So when they found out we would be there today, they decided to attend the services. He has been in the islands for six years; and she and the children for five. From visiting with them today; and from the testimony of Bro. Joshua; there is no doubt but that they have a great compassion for these poor tribal people; and we are very thankful for what they are providing! We very much enjoyed our time with the whole family; and it seems Dorothy and Sherry especially hit it off with one another.
The services actually begin after 9:00 with singing and prayer; and then announcements; acknowledgements; and introductions. Then more singing and prayer. Then Bro. Joshua calls me to preach. I know more people have been coming while we were visiting, but when I get up, I am surprised to see not only the building full, but as many more outside. The message lasts for over an hour, and I trust from the people’s reactions that once more they were blessed; and although I did not feel as much liberty as I would have liked, Dr. Evens wife told me later that Dr. Evans told her it was the best sermon he had ever heard on the subject. Our God is faithful!
After the message there is more singing; and there are five members of the church who have birthdays in October, and they are recognized. Then another song, and prayer; and then dismissal.
The noon meal is then served, along with much enjoyment of fellowship. We get to visit with the Evans family as we eat; and after eating, Dorothy continues to visit with them until they leave. The people want to visit with me, though; so I excuse myself. From that time until we leave at 2:15, I visit with the people, listening to the problems of many of them -- as well as accepting their thanks for the things we have done to help them. One that I especially visit is Bro. Donding, a native village pastor, and the brother of Sis. Gubal; who I have mentioned before. He, and his wife, have been with the Gubals now for several weeks as he tries to recover from the stroke. He has made some improvement, but still has a long way to go.
We would like to have stayed longer, but we still have facing us at least an eight hour trip back to Cagayan de Oro today. We finally make our way to the van, leaving at 2:15. We arrive at Cagayan de Oro at 10:30. It has been another long, and tiring, day -- the most tiring being the eight hour and fifteen minute drive from Panabo to Cagayan de Oro. (But there scarcely is any other kind of day!)
It is now 25 minutes after midnight as I finish writing this diary; and time now for me to try to get a few hours rest. Dorothy has once more been sound asleep for the past hour or more. We will need to leave here in the morning at 7:00, our Lord willing, with about a five hour drive (or more) to Pagadian, our next conference place. I am scheduled to preach there tomorrow afternoon; and I think again Tuesday morning.
“To the chief Musician upon Neginah, A Psalm of David. Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.” Psalm 61:1-4.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
MONDAY 29 OCTOBER
TWELFTH FULL DAY
Having gotten to bed this morning at 12:30 A.M., and getting up once to get extra cover (No thermostat in the room.), I am awake at 5:00, but do not get up until 5:30. By this time Dorothy is awake, and gets up to begin getting ready. We are ready, and gone from the hotel by 7:00, stopping for breakfast about an hour down the road; stopping twice more -- once for restroom, and once for fuel -- before getting to Pagadian about 1:30 in the afternoon; turning what was supposed to be a five hour trip into a six and a half hour trip.
By this time, everyone is hungry, so before we try to get a hotel, we get something to eat. We then go to a nearby hotel; check the rooms; and decide this is the best place to stay. So we get checked in, and are supposed to “rest” before going to the meeting place at 4:30. However, I decide instead to write up our expenses for the day; and then to write up as much of today’s diary as I can, so I will not have so much to do after services tonight. (I am now scheduled to preach at 6:00 P.M. tonight.) Just as well I do not try to rest, (Dorothy has tried, but has just a couple of minutes ago given up, as it is already nearly 4:00, and she needs to do some things before going.), as first the front desk calls to say I owe an extra P100.00; Bro. Adel comes to inform me what time we are to leave for the meeting place; and then Bro. Albiso -- the host pastor -- comes.
I meet Bro. Albiso at the front desk; and after greetings, I take him upstairs to meet Bro. Adel, who first introduced me to Bro. Albiso two years ago when I preached to a gathering of pastors at the place of his church in Bulacan, Luzon; north of Manila. After getting the two of them together, I go back to our room, after agreeing that they will come at 4:30. Getting back to the room, I did lie down for a few minutes for quiet meditation. (On the way today, Dorothy was saying she would be glad to get to the hotel, and relax. My thought was, “I will only be able to relax after next Sunday’s services, when we walk into our hotel room, and lock the door.) It is a very few minutes, and they are knocking at the door. They come in, and we visit a few minutes while Dorothy finishes getting ready. We then go down to the van, where Bro. Joshua is already waiting. Bro. Dexter, and Bro. Rey, are both not feeling well, so they are not going with us tonight; but Bro. Tacatani is not here, so Bro. Adel goes to find him. Through all this, it is 4:45 before we actually leave; and instead of the meeting place being about 5 miles as thought, it turns out to be about 11 miles.
After one stop on the way for Bro. Albiso to pick up some drinks, and bread rolls, we get to the meeting place about 5:45. I was told I would be preaching at 6:00; and we thought we would be returning to the hotel reasonably early. However, things seldom work the way we think; or at least the way I think; and today is no exception! Instead of straightway beginning the service, we are first taken to the house of Bro. Albiso’s daughter, a short walk from the meeting place. Here we visit with the family first; and then with two preachers; for 45 minutes, or so.
We finally go back to the meeting place, where the services are beginning with prayer. After the prayer, we are ushered up on the platform behind the pulpit to some chairs. Then there is singing and prayer ; introductions and recognitions; and then more singing before I am called to preach. It is almost 8:00 when I begin, with Bro. Adel translating. I never like to preach this way, as it is impossible most of the time to maintain continuity of thought; and rhythm; but sometimes it is necessary; and as long as my Lord uses it, taking the message to the hearers, that is all that counts. After all, I am not here for the pleasure, except as it is pleasing to be used of God!
The message lasts about one and a half hours; and at first the congregation seems to me to be especially cold and distant (I would estimate at least 150 people present.), as though I was someone invading their territory. However, they gradually warm up, and about two-thirds way through, I see what I believe to be some understanding in the faces of many.
After the message, there is another song while an offering is being received. We finally close with prayer and doxology at about 9:50, after which we begin to make our way slowly to the van, shaking hands with almost everyone present. I think this is good, as I believe I got a better feel for how the message was received. There were many warm handshakes, bright smiles, and bright eyes; but there were some that sure seemed to be hesitant, and not so friendly: and there were some who seem, at least at this point, to be indifferent -- but these seem to be mostly teenagers.
Making it to the door, we find a light rain falling. Bro. Albiso is concerned about Dorothy, and has sent his daughter to find an umbrella; and although Dorothy assures him this is all unnecessary, he insists on us waiting for her to return. Dorothy is very tired, but tries to wait patiently so as not to offend his kind thought, (At the beginning of services, Bro. Albiso seemed insistent that Dorothy needed to say a few words of encouragement to the ladies, which almost gave Dorothy heart failure: she is not one to do much public speaking! I figure Bro. Adel must have said something to him, though, because he never called on her. Or maybe it was because the services were going too long.) After some time without the daughter coming, we finally just tell him she will be fine, and start to the van. We haven’t gone far, though, and here she came.
We go the rest of the way under the umbrella; load up; and finally are on the way back to the hotel. Before going to the hotel, though, Bro. Albiso (Who is with us, and is going to stay in one of the rooms with the pastors who are traveling with us.), insists that we need to eat. Thankfully there is a little eating place just a few doors down from the hotel, so we stop in there to eat.
This really only takes about 25 minutes, since there are not many there this time of evening. Having already eaten at the house of Bro. Albiso’s daughter, Dorothy and I eat very light. After we finish eating, we go directly to the hotel. It is quite evident that everyone is very tired, as it is no trouble separating from the others, as they seem just as anxious as we are to get to their rooms!
As I finish writing this, it is five minutes after midnight. Dorothy has been asleep for about 20 minutes, as it took her probably at least two minutes to fall asleep! Now it is my turn!
“In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Eccl. 11:6.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
TUESDAY 30 OCTOBER
THIRTEENTH FULL DAY
After getting to bed at 12:15 this morning, I slept until 5:00; and Dorothy slept until 6:00. All the long days, and the conditions she is under ,(Especially since there is seldom ever a comfortable place to sit during the daily services; and even the seat in the van becomes pretty uncomfortable in a short time, as there is little padding.), is quickly wearing on her, and I am getting concerned. There is really little I can do, though, at this point. I had planned the trip so we would finish up here at Pagadian this afternoon about 3:00, so we could drive back to Cagayan de Oro, to arrive there about 8:00 P.M. in order to get a good rest through the night. My plans were to then take a plane Wednesday to Cebu City, on the island of Cebu; and then go directly to the boat dock and take a fast boat on over to Bohol. This would have put us at Tagbilaran City, Bohol in the middle of the afternoon. There would then be the rest of the afternoon to relax before resuming activities on Thursday.
Those plans went awry at the beginning when we could not get plane tickets from Cagayan de Oro over to Cebu City. All flights were already booked due to the “All Saints Day” holidays -- a big thing on these islands! Tried also to just get tickets on one of the “puddle jumpers”, but to no avail. So we had no alternative but to trust that we could get tickets on a boat from Cagayan de Oro over to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. We also could not get boat tickets until we get to Cagayan de Oro from Pagadian. So the plans changed to spending Tuesday night in Cagayan de Oro, and taking the boat across to Tagbilaran City on Wednesday morning. I found out in Panabo, though, that the boats only sail at night, so now we need to leave Pagadian today in time to get back to Cagayan de Oro to buy tickets, and make the sailing at 7:00 at night.
The plan for today then is breakfast at 7:00; leave for the meeting at 8:00; begin the meeting at 8:30; I preach until 10:00; eat lunch at 10:15; leave for Cagayan de Oro at 11:00. So we meet in the hotel restaurant for breakfast; and I can tell right away there is going to be trouble keeping this schedule, as not only are the pastors not in any hurry, but the waiter is so slow you would have to look twice to make sure he was moving! Bro. Adel went and found a menu so we could at least start deciding what to order! So I am getting somewhat exasperated; and by the time breakfast is over, and we get back to our room for our bags, my wife is getting exasperated with me! She doesn’t think I need to be pushing the pastors. She isn’t the one, though, who is expected to preach through the last three points of these doctrines of grace, and do it so as to cover them in such a way that will be both understandable, and comprehensive! I am wanting all the time I can get!!!
When we do get started, it is 8:05. Not so bad you say? But I know these people; and besides the driver being so slow, they have to stop to get bottles of mineral water. I have told Bro. Adel that I am making him responsible to see that we keep to our schedule; and he understands me pretty well, and usually follows through when I give him specific instructions. Usually we do not have any deadlines as we do today, so I am content to follow their schedules -- which is that things happen when they happen; or in other words, “In Pilipino Time”!
So Bro. Adel keeps after Bro. Albiso, and services begin right at 8:40 with prayer and singing. Normally they would sing for 20 or 30 minutes, but Bro. Albiso cuts this short so I can begin by 8:55. My Lord is so gracious to direct the message; and in one hour and ten minutes I am satisfied by the expressions of the people that they have understood, and have been blessed. I can never get over how hungry these people are for the Word; and how receptive they are to truth! As proof that they were truly blessed, they take up an offering to help with the expenses of our work!
After the service closes, we go immediately to the house of Bro. Albiso’s daughter, where she and a friend have prepared a very delicious meal. We eat, and fellowship, for about 30 minutes, and then load up to go. We actually get away at 10:45, with Bro. Albiso going with us as far as Osamiz -- and we really needed to leave the meeting place at this time as it is a good 15 to 20 minutes farther to Cagayan de Oro. Our boat is to sail at 7:00, so I calculate -- according to our previous travel time -- that we will need every minute we can get in order to make it in time.
So we start out, with our driver taking his own good time. I hold my peace for about 30 minutes thinking he will soon speed up; but when he creeps at about five miles an hour up a long hill, I not so subtly suggest that we are not going to make Cagayan de Oro in time at the rate he is driving. Bro. Joshua; who is responsible for hiring this driver; and Bro. Tacatani tell me the reason he is so slow is because the van is loaded so heavy it doesn’t have enough power. Nevertheless, Bro. Joshua speaks to the driver, and from then on our increase in rate of travel improves remarkably!
The brothers all try to assure me that we will make Cagayan de Oro in plenty of time, anyway; but as I indicated before, I didn’t start coming over here just yesterday! I not only know how many things are subject to go wrong, but I also know they are not very good at planning ahead, so will very likely need to make some stops before we actually get to the docks. I also remember that Bro. Adel and I took a boat from here to Cebu City last year; and it took the better part of an hour just to buy the tickets. They also suggest that we might spend the night in Cagayan de Oro tonight, and then take the boat across Wednesday night; but I nix that idea, once again not wanting to take any chances on something going wrong.
Bro. Joshua has calculated it will take four and a half hours to Cagayan; but even with the driver increasing speed, it takes five hours and fifteen minutes; and then sure enough they need to find a bank. Also, I have intended to purchase the tickets with my credit card again; but just to make sure, I inquire if they will take one, (Especially after the fiasco trying to get plane tickets at Manila!), and get a negative answer. So in order to be sure to have enough cash, we also have to find a money changer.
By the time we get to the docks, it is 5:45. Upon arriving, Bro. Adel and I go straight to the ticket window; and since we were the second ones at the window, it only takes about 20 minutes to get the tickets. (Several others come to the window right after we do; and if we had not been there when we were, it would have taken no telling how long!) We then go back to where the others are waiting; get two porters to take our things, and go into the terminal. Since we ate lunch so early, everyone is hungry; so we go to a little fast food place in the terminal to get a quick bite to eat. We then board the boat. On the boat Bro. Adel and I took last year, we had private, and relatively comfortable, air conditioned bunks, (The trip across is approximately 12 hours.), and I was told this would be the same. However, when we board I find out the private bunks are all taken (Again because of the holiday travelers.), so we will have open bunks, (There are about three hundred to each deck.), and no air conditioning. It is close; hot; and muggy! The bunks have bare, plastic covered, mattresses.
After boarding, we visit among ourselves until the ship sails. By then Dorothy is really exhausted, so lies down and shortly goes to sleep. Bro. Dexter has a boil, and has not felt well for the last two days, and immediately lies down, too. One by one the brothers lie down; and by 8:00 I am the only one left up, so I decide I may as well lie down, too. I laid there for about ten minutes, but it is so hot I don’t feel like sleeping at all. I also know how badly Dorothy needs the rest, so I decide to try to make her as comfortable as possible. So I take my writing pad, and fan her until it begins to cool down a little, a few minutes after 10:00.
Shortly after 10:00 I do lie down, bringing this day to an end. Oh, but remember that the brothers wanted to stay tonight at Cagayan de Oro, and take the Wednesday night boat? Well, when Bro. Adel and I went to get the tickets for tonight’s sailing, we found out there was no Wednesday night sailing! They have two sailings each week to Tagbilaran -- one on Tuesday, and one on Thursday! If we had stayed over night in Cagayan de Oro, we would have had to either wait until Thursday night to sail, or take a boat to Cebu City on Wednesday night, than take another boat from Cebu to Tagbilaran, thus adding considerably to the cost; plus messing up our entire schedule for Bohol! God’s providence is great!
“The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD.” Prov. 16:33.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
WEDNESDAY 31 OCTOBER
FOURTEENTH FULL DAY
After lying down last night a few minutes after 10:00, slept off and on until 4:00. Got up, and a few minutes later the others began to get up, one by one. Dorothy gets up around 5:00; and as we get up, we do what we can to “get ready”. We talk among ourselves, and soon we hear an announcement over the P.A. system to the hands on the ship to get ready for the landing. We were scheduled to dock at 7:00 A.M., but we are arriving early -- so much the better!
As we are coming into port, we all go the side of the ship; and I take a few pictures. As we near the dock, two small boats approach the ship, one with a man and woman, with two small children; the other just a woman, and a little baby; the baby on her lap, as she paddles the little boat. These people have come to the ship to dive for money. As coins are thrown from the ship (twice someone threw paper bills), they dive to retrieve it. Particularly interesting was the woman who, as she approached the ship, laid the baby down in the boat; and as she would dive, and get back in the boat, the poor baby was getting more and more water on it, until by the time we were ready to disembark, it was undoubtedly soaking wet! The poor thing cried almost the entire time -- but we calculated that the mother had a pretty good pay day!
As soon as the ship is docked, we get a porter to take our bags; and then after reaching the dock, find a vehicle capable of carrying both us, and our bags. Bro. Adel negotiates a price of P150.00 to carry us to the Christcent Ville Pension House, where I like to stay if they have available rooms. I am hoping they will today, as their rates are reasonable, and the rooms are clean. When we get there, Bro. Adel checks, and they are able to accommodate us.
We get checked in about 7:00 A.M., and then everyone is ready to eat breakfast. The pastors do not want to eat in the small restaurant in the Pension House, and instead want to eat at a restaurant down the street. (They want fish, and there is no fish being served at the Pension House restaurant.) So we walk down the street, only to find that restaurant closed. So they decide they will go back to a place near the docks, and begin to hail some tricycles to take us. Dorothy does not want to ride the tricycle, so we decide to let the others go to the docks, and we walk back to the Pension House; and get a breakfast of two eggs; two pieces of toast; four slices of bacon; butter and marmalade; banana; and coffee for just a few cents over $2.00. (Actually, I got tea, as I do not drink coffee!)
After breakfast, the pastors go different directions, mostly to visit relatives; and some to visit friends. Bro. Dexter is still not feeling very well, though better; and goes to their room (All five are in the same room.) to rest.
Dorothy and I go to our room, where we both first take a very needed, and refreshing, shower. Then she begins to sort through our things, and gets some of her clothes, and washes them in the bathroom lavatory; hanging some of them on the shower rod, and putting a couple of pieces near the air conditioner, to dry. Since I could not write up yesterday’s diary on the ship last night, while she does her laundry, I write up the diary.
By the time I finish the diary, it is about 12:30. Dorothy wants to go to the mall; about two blocks away; and see if she can find some small gifts to take back home. So we walk to the mall, first finding a pizza hut, and having lunch. We then shop for the next two or so hours, until she is tired, and wants to go back to the Pension House.
Upon reaching the Pension House, the desk clerk informs us we have visitors on our floor. When we go up, we find Sis. Aurelia Dabatos; her dad; and her children. (Her husband, Bro. Marlon Dabatos, was killed in a bicycle accident a few years back, so she is a widow. We have helped support her, and the family, ever since.) We visit with them for a while, then they leave for home. We will see them again at Saturday’s meeting here in Tagbilaran. Normally they would go with us tomorrow to the Mumar’s, but this trip we will not return to Tagbilaran until Friday evening, because we have a conference scheduled at Carmen, just near to Bilar, where the Mumar’s live; so we will stay at a hotel in Carmen.
After they leave, Dorothy wants a light supper, so I order from the small restaurant in the Pension House. When they bring it up, she eats supper, and I snack on some things we have packed from home. We then get ready for bed; I take care of my record keeping; and then we lie down to watch T.V. for awhile. However, it is not long until Dorothy is sound asleep; and by shortly after 9:00, I am ready to sleep, and turn the T.V. off. The day comes to a close without us having had the rest we expected, but all in all it has been an enjoyable one!
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
THURSDAY 1 NOVEMBER
FIFTEENTH FULL DAY
Today has certainly been another very enjoyable; and I trust profitable; day. Woke up for good a little after 5:00 this morning; and got up about 5:45 to get ready. Dorothy is up a few minutes later. I had invited Bro. Boloron and wife; and Bro. Mario and wife; to eat breakfast with us at the Pension House; and they were to be here at 7:00, meeting us in the lobby/restaurant.
After I am ready, and while waiting for Dorothy to get ready, I write up part of yesterday’s diary. At about 6:50 the phone rings, and it is Bro. Boloron informing me they are waiting. So as soon as Dorothy finishes, we go down. We meet Bro. Boloron and wife, Sis. Nenen, along with another pastor (Whose name I have forgotten.). Bro. Omila has not yet arrived. We sit down anyway at a table, and begin to look over the menu. Dorothy and I already know what we will order; and it does not take long for the other three to order. Then as we wait, Bro. Omila arrives, but says his wife had to stay home with the children. He then orders breakfast; and as we eat; and for about thirty minutes after we finish; we enjoy a good time of fellowship. At about 8:15 our van driver for the next two days (Who is the brother of our Pilipino daughter-in-law, Madel.) arrives.
We then begin to get our things from the rooms to load in the van; but before we do, it is decided that Bro. and Sis. Boloron; Bro. and Sis. Omila; Bro. Tinampay (A pastor I just met last April.);and the pastor whose name I have forgotten; will take a bus tomorrow to Carmen in order to attend the conference there. So I give them P1,000.00 for their bus fare to Carmen, and then back to Tagbilaran; after which they depart for home.
We then depart for the Mumar’s, at Bilar. We are going up the mountain, when we suddenly come upon a long line of cars stopped in the road. We immediately suspect there has been an accident, which proves to be so. An 18 wheeler is going up the mountain, and a bus is coming down; and in one of the curves, they get too close, and the mirror of the bus is knocked off. The damage is estimated at about P300.00, but neither driver will admit wrong. The police are there; and they draw a diagram of the accident scene, and then ask a Japanese man with a camera to take pictures, to be provided in case of a court trial. We spend about 30 or 40 minutes here; and all over P300.00, or $7.00. The people on the bus even offered to take up a collection to pay for the damage if the bus driver would just go on -- but to no avail!
The road is completely blocked so that not even a motorcycle can get through, so there is a long line of vehicles in both directions. The police make the bus driver back up, leaving an opening between the two vehicles; and it is not long until we are on our way again. (This delay does give me a chance to take some pictures in a place I have traveled through many times, but have never had a chance to get pictures. We are in the middle of the Tarsier Monkey National Reserve; and the forest is beautiful! This monkey is found no where else in the world, except in this small reserve, on this small island.
After leaving the accident, we stop in Bilar, before going to the Mumar’s, to buy some food supplies to take to the Mumar family. We buy a 50 kilo bag of rice (about 110#); 5 kilos of fresh pork (Our health food inspectors would have a heart attack, as the meat is lying on an open counter, with no refrigeration; and they are constantly trying to keep the flies shooed away!); 10 bottles of water; a case of two liter cokes; some vegetables; and some spice foods like shallots, calamansis, garlic, and so forth; some cooking oil; and some soy sauce. When we get through, I am wondering how we are going to get all this up the mountain to the Mumar’s place, especially the rice. When we get to the head of the foot path leading to the Mumar’s, though, there are several men waiting there, and they carried it all. One small man, who looked like he could not weigh much more than the sack of rice, put that bag on his head, and beat all of us to the house!
When we get to the house, (After walking up the mountain for a half mile or so.), we find not only the Mumars, but several of their neighbors, as well as several village pastors from nearby places. We enjoy about an hour before Sis. Mumar; along with help from some other women; serves a bountiful meal.
The last time I visited the Mumars, I came without my Bible, not expecting to preach. So when I knew we would be visiting, I wrote Bro. Mumar that I would preach this time, if he wanted me to. So shortly after lunch, we go to the meeting place -- which is a place exactly on top of the mountain peak. The building consists of some poles set in the ground, with a wooden frame on which to put corrugated iron for a roof. The benches are just pieces of wood, with legs to hold them up; and with no backs. It takes us about 15 minutes to climb up the peak; and after everyone is up, services begin with song and prayer lead by Bro. Mumar; then several testimonies; and afterward I preach on Sovereign Grace, and Responsibility, beginning with Mark 7:1-13. The emphasis of the message was that elective grace makes us more responsible, not less; and showed this through the practical exhortations such as found in the text. The message seemed to be well received; and I trust was especially good for the pastors.
After going back down, we visit for a while longer before taking our leave, and going on toward Carmen where we will spend the night. We stop at one of the sites where you can overlook what is called The Chocolate Hills; an unusual formation of many high, steep peaks in this area. They remind me of Hershey Kisses dotted over the area! We got out of the van, and I went up one of the peaks that they have made a pathway to the top, so you can see the surrounding country side. (Dorothy says she is just too tired, after climbing the peak at the Mumar’s!) I take some pictures of the surrounding area; and when I am through, I go back down, expecting to go on to Carmen; but when I get back down, the others are unloading our things; and I find out this is where we are staying tonight. There is a hotel here, called The Chocolate Hills Hotel.
We are taken immediately to our room, where we enjoy a refreshing shower (It has been very humid today, causing a lot of perspiring!); after which we enjoy a very pleasant light supper with the pastors traveling with us, plus Bro. Epefinio Tacatani’s brother, pastor Ronnie Tacatani, and our driver, Jhun Mumar. We then say goodnight; go to our room; and Dorothy immediately goes to bed; and almost immediately to sleep. I take care of writing down the days expenses, and then writing up today’s diary. As I finish, it is almost 9:30; and for all practical purposes the day is over -- but with many blessings today; and much more hoped for tomorrow!
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” Deu. 11:11-12.
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Isa. 2:2-4.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
FRIDAY 2 NOVEMBER
SIXTEENTH FULL DAY
After getting to bed last night about 10:00, I slept well until 1:15; and then dozed off and on until 5:30. The main thing is that Dorothy has gotten a good night’s sleep, and wakes up feeling much more rested. No doubt she would be tired again by the end of the day, but at least she began being rested. She will not get completely rested now until we are home, as the day to day activity takes it’s toll. As for me, although I am somewhat feeling the effects, yet this has been a relatively easy trip for me, as I have had much more rest than usual.
After getting dressed, Dorothy and I walk around the grounds, taking some more pictures of the view; and also of the beautiful flowers. We then go to the hotel restaurant, finding the others beginning to gather there. We all eat a leisurely breakfast, very much enjoying the fellowship, as well as the food. When we are through, I call for the bill; and they ask me if they can just add the room bill to the restaurant bill, to be paid all at the same time. I agree to this, and it takes about 30 minutes for them to complete putting the figures together, and bringing the bill to me. I expected it though, as almost all these transactions are done the old fashioned way, by hand.
We leave for the meeting at 8:30. The meeting place is only about 15 minutes from the hotel. We arrive at the meeting place, and begin greetings. The meeting begins about 9:30 (This is one of the few places that have air conditioning, but the meeting was delayed because they were trying to get it to run.) with song and prayer; and then introductions. Then Bro. Dexter introduces the doctrines with his usual graceful, but frank, way -- in spite of the fact that he is still quite sick, and weak. After Bro. Dexter, Bro. Rey preaches on Depravity; and then Bro. Joshua preaches on Unconditional Election. Both of them, for whatever reason, revert back to depending on notes; and it seems to me it leaves something to be desired. It may be, though, that it is just that there is so little positive reaction from the gathering; and before Bro. Joshua is through, one man gets up with an objection.
When Bro. Joshua is finished, it is 12:30; and we break for lunch. I am really wondering how many will return for the afternoon session; and I really expect the objector to be gone. As we eat; and afterward while we wait to begin; I am in much silent prayer for God to rescue these services.
About 1:30 Bro. Tacatani calls the meeting to order, beginning again with song and prayer. Bro. Joshua is then asked to preach on the doctrine of Limited Atonement. In the message that he preaches, he testifies of his own initial experience with these doctrines. He was one of the 54 pastors that attended the second conference in which I was involved in May of 1999. This conference was a three day conference, held at Dauis Baptist Church, on the island of Dauis; a very small island which is joined to Bohol by a bridge. His testimony was that when he came to that conference he already had twenty-two questions he had written down questioning this doctrinal position; but by the end of the three days, when the question and answer session was opened, he had none. Instead of questions, he was now fully convinced -- so much so that he left the General Baptist, with which he had been affiliated for many years, even for 15 of those years as head of their seminary on the island of Mindanao. (This was the first time this was known to me!)
During the lunch break, Bro. Joshua told me that he would be taking the doctrine of Limited Atonement, after which I would be called on to preach the last two points of Irresistible Grace, and Preservation of the Saints. While I have been silently praying for God to rescue the meeting, I have also been fervently praying as to how to proceed when it is my turn to preach. At this point it is my distinct feeling that the success or failure of this meeting will be determined by the message on these last two points.
According to His great mercy and grace; and according to His divine purpose; my Lord once again answered my prayers -- as He so often does with regards to the preaching here in these islands! I began with a review of the first three doctrines, in order to tie them in with the last two. Next, I bring in the sovereign, almighty power of God to carry out His eternal plan and purpose. Having done this, I then address the last two doctrines. Later I told Dorothy how blessed it is to see the change that comes over the faces of people; and the way they just come alive in every way; when these truths become clear to them, and they begin to relate them to their hearts! As I preach, the farther along we get, the more I see this metamorphosis taking place! I am reminded of the illustration of how the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly!
After I am through, questions are called for; but there are only two simple questions, which Bro. Joshua quickly answers. Instead of questions, once again there is joy! (Even the objector now has no objections; and even offers his hand to me as we are leaving.) I cannot tell how thankful I am, as well as relieved!
We are then dismissed; and as we make our way to the van, there are many well wishes! When we do finally get to the van, I realize we are going to have an extra passenger for at least part of the way back to Tagbilaran. This is not unusual; in fact, it is very much expected, as we can often save some of these people a little money on transportation by dropping them off on our way. The surprise is that it is the big Filipino pastor who played the guitar at the beginning of the services in the morning; and lead the singing at the beginning of the services in the afternoon. He sat right in front of me as I preached, and all the time I wondered how he was taking these doctrines. He really had not given much indication that he was particularly pleased. However, as we went along the way, my question was answered. At one point he asked me if I was familiar with the song “Amazing Grace”; to which I assured him I was very familiar with it. He then began to sing a couple of verses. Then Dorothy suggested that we ought to all sing it; so the three of us began, and then one by one the others joined in. Then just before he left us at his home town, he just made the remark, “Today I have been filled with sovereign grace!” What a blessed way to end this day!!!
We arrive back at the Christcent Ville Pension House about 7:00; and after getting our rooms, the pastors go out to eat. Dorothy and I stay, and eat at the Pension House restaurant. Before we do, though, I am told I have visitors downstairs. So I first go down to meet them. Sis. Aurelia Dabatos has brought two pastors, along with their wives, to meet me. We visit for about 30 minutes or so; and after assuring me they would be at the meeting tomorrow at Burgos Street Church, they take their leave. So I go back upstairs. Dorothy is so tired, she did not go down with me to meet them; and she does not want to go down to eat, and then have to climb the stairs again. So I go back down, and order a light meal, to be brought to our room.
Tomorrow will be the last day we will have for the five pastors to be with us, so I have asked to meet with them in their room tonight. So after eating, I go to their room. We discuss some issues; mainly concerning the pastors; until about 9:30. I then go back to our room. I have not finished my diary for the day, but decide it can wait until the next day. So I get into my pajamas, and go to bed, once again giving thanks to God for His faithfulness, goodness, and blessings -- and immediately turn to thinking about a message for the next day. I had already been thinking about using the text, “What Is Man That Thou Art Mindful Of Him”, and begin to meditate on this text. However, the last verses of Heb. 12 pop into my mind; and as I think on them, an outline of a message forms in my mind; and I am confident I have the message. After this, I am soon asleep.
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1.Corin. 2:9-16.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SATURDAY 3 NOVEMBER
SEVENTEENTH FULL DAY
Dorothy and I both woke up two or three times last night. I don’t know if I was waking her, or her me. Then the alarm goes off, and I get up thinking it is 6:00; but when I look, it is only 5:00. Somehow the alarm got moved from 6:00, (Where I had it set for the past several days.), to 5:00. I feel somewhat tired, so I decide to go back to bed. I can’t sleep, though; and about 5:15 Dorothy gets up, and starts getting ready for the day, while I lie in bed again going over today’s sermon in my mind. Then at 5:30 I get up.
We are both ready by 6:30; and after I make a couple of trips down the hall to coordinate today’s movements with the pastors, Dorothy and I go down to eat. Soon after, the others come down to go out to eat. They like different types of fish for breakfast, along with rice; and the little pension house restaurant does not serve either.
After eating, we go back to the room to get packed up, as we will check out this morning. Before we do, I get permission from the desk clerk for us to leave our bags in an out of the way place in the lobby until we can return for them around 2:00 this afternoon. She agrees to this, (I have done this before.), and sends a young man up to bring our bags down.
By the time this is done, Bro. Mario Omila; who owns one of the tricycles; is there to take us to Burgos Street Church. He first takes Dorothy; me; and Bro. Adel; then returns to the Pension House for the other three. (Bro. Tacatani has already left us this morning to accompany his brother; Bro. Ronnie Tacatani; to Cebu City on the island of Cebu. Bro. Ronnie has asked Bro. Epefinio to preach on Sunday at a church there. Bro. Ronnie wants us to have a conference there the next time I am in the islands.) So while Bro. Omila goes for the three, we visit with those who are already present.
As we visit, more are coming; and even though some more are expected, at 9:45 Bro. Boloron starts the meeting anyway with a song, and prayer. We sing three more songs, and by then the place is full, with a few on the outside of the door. (The walls are solid only part way up, with the top portion being only large mesh wire, so those outside can hear well.) I then preach for about an hour and a half on the text mentioned in yesterday’s diary, with Bro. Boloron doing the translating. The sermon basically concerned the surety of the trials of God’s people; the assurance of His power to bring us through them; warning about those who would preach otherwise; and the purpose of the trials.
The people express joy in the message; and afterward express thanks while lunch is being served. (Immediately after the message, Bro. Dexter, and Bro. Joshua, take their leave to start for home. So we hug each other, and say our goodbyes.) During lunch, we visit with a few of the pastors we have known here on this island for several years. Then after lunch, Bro. Boloron comes to ask me if I will have time to talk with several of the pastors we have just now met. It is about 12:30, and we do not have to leave until 2:00, so I gladly agree. So we sit down in a circle, and they begin to ask questions. I have a most blessed time with these men for the next hour or so, until it is time to go: and they must have been blessed by the sermon, as they all want me to come and preach at their church! I just wish I had the time! God willing for me to come back, I will plan to spend more time on Bohol than I have the past few years.
Leaving Burgos Street Church, we go back to the Pension House; exchange some money; get our things; and go to the airport. After getting checked into the terminal, we take some seats; and as Dorothy, Bro. Rey, and I, talk, someone leads two blind men in who will play and sing, taking donations from the people waiting for the next flight. To our surprise, Dorothy and I knew one of these men. I first met him about four years ago at Bro. Miro’s church, here in Tagbilaran. He, his wife, and then seven year old daughter, sang at those services; and March a year ago they sang again here at Burgos Street Church, when Dorothy was with me. Just got to talk to him very briefly, but it was good to see him again.
The flight back to Manila was smooth; and soon after landing we are on our way across town. We go to the Contemporary Hotel, and Bro. Rey goes to his place near by. It is now 10:00 P.M. as I finish this diary, and I am ready for some rest. Dorothy went straight to bed as soon as she could after arriving; and she went right to sleep. She woke up once complaining of being cold; but after I covered her, has been sleeping soundly. We now are down to one last meeting tomorrow with Bro. Rolando Mendoza, and his church; and it is time, as Dorothy has had about all she can take without getting sick. I am thankful I have scheduled one complete 24 hour day between tomorrow, and the day we leave Manila for her to rest. I trust it will be enough to get us back home; but I am confident she will then crash for a few days!
“He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Ps. 147:10-11.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
SUNDAY 4 NOVEMBER
EIGHTEENTH FULL DAY
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” Eph.. 3:20-21. What a blessed; joyful; rewarding day this has been! We can only know the reality of these verses through experience -- which is what we get as we minister in these islands!
After getting to bed shortly after 10:00 last night, I slept soundly until somewhere around midnight, when Dorothy got up for the first of several times before the time we needed to get ready for the day. She began having stomach cramps, and diarrhea. From then until about 6:30, neither of us got much sleep or rest. I am thankful she slept well the first part of the night! We couldn’t figure out why she was suddenly having this problem -- until it dawned on me that at lunch yesterday, instead of drinking the orange soda they brought her, she asked for a glass of water. I was pretty sure this was the cause; and Bro. Rey confirmed it later today when he said he had also asked for water; but when told that they had no bottled (purified) water, he took a soda instead, as he himself was afraid to drink the local water. For a while we were afraid that Dorothy would have to stay at the hotel; but once again our Lord answered prayer; and things settled down. She went the rest of the day without any problem!
Bro. Rey came for us this morning a few minutes after 8:00; and we take a cab to the meeting place of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, pastored by Bro. Rolando Mendoza. This is the first time I have been to his church, even though he has been with us to take part in the preaching duties for the last three times previous that I have been here. I not only love this man very much, but very much appreciate and respect him for his knowledge and ability to preach. Added to this is his humbleness -- all of which commends him to my heart! (I will have more to say about Bro. Mendoza, and several others, in a separate letter I intend to send out after this diary.)
After bringing us to this meeting place, Bro. Rey then goes to have services at the church he pastors. We are greeted here very warmly, as we are introduced to the people. We visit with one, then another, until the services begin at about 9:30. We begin with prayer, and hymns; and all the while, more people are coming, until the place is full. I seldom ever remember to do an actual count, but as I picture the scene in my mind, there had to be between 60 and 70 present. After prayer, and hymns, because this is Thanksgiving Day celebrating the fourth anniversary of the church, one of the men gives a brief history of the church. (Later in the day, I get a much more detailed account as we are eating lunch.) We then sing another hymn, (Printed in a simple program, prepared for the occasion.), and then Bro. Rolando calls on me.
I have chosen Micah 7:18-20 for my text. I have had this text on my mind and heart for several days now, being confident this is the right message. The thought of the sermon is that there is none like our God, in that there is none other everlasting; almighty; sovereign; and none other that can claim that they alone are love; truth; grace; mercy; and all the many other attributes that only our God is! All this then leads us to who is his heritage, and what great things He does toward us -- which only He can do, since it is against Him only that we sin!
There is absolutely no doubt but that the people are much blessed by God, as their testimony confirmed during and after lunch; which is served after closing with another couple of hymns, and prayer. I had been told before services began that visitors were expected, but it is only after services that I realize about half of those present are visitors. Among the visitors is one woman who has been in Australia for the past year, having returned just this week, when someone invited her to the services. Present also is three people with whom one of the men of the church has been having Bible study on Thursday evenings. Only my Lord knows what His purpose is, or how they will ultimately be affected, but I have the satisfaction of knowing that they heard a gospel message; and that He made His presence known to all!
The lunch was prepared by the ladies of the church, being excellent in every respect! While eating, we commented on the excellency of the meal; and before I began the afternoon sermon, (I didn’t know until I opened the program this morning that I was to preach twice today.), that their cooks were as good as our East Texas cooks -- which, as I told them, is quite a compliment coming from me! As we eat, we are busy visiting; and when we are through eating, several of the men gather around our table, and begin plying me with questions. (Dorothy stays for awhile; and I don’t know just when, but I realize some time during the conversation that she is with a group of the women, who are also asking her many questions. She tells me later that one of the things they want to know is how we met, and what were the first two words I spoke to her. Ha!) This question; answer; discussion goes on continuously until 3:00, when Bro. Mendoza calls the meeting to order again. Many from the morning have departed, and some others have come -- mainly Bro. Rey, and members from his congregation.
We again begin with prayer, and then sing two hymns before I preach, beginning with John 4:31-38; then going through the history of how God has proceeded to take out a people from every people and nation; finally showing how and why this is their time to reap the fields that are here already “white unto harvest”.; and to take courage in that they have every reason to expect an abundant harvest. Once again it amazes me how transparent their faces are, as it is very evident they are seriously considering every point; but the custom of this group is not toward many outward shows of enthusiasm during the service; and it is not until after the service concludes that they express their feelings.
The service concludes about 5:00, after which several group pictures are taken, and the church presents Dorothy and me with a gift of their love, which we open back at the hotel; and which proves to be a picture of people harvesting in a field, the picture having been painted by a member of the church; and even as I write this, it just dawns on me how very exactly the picture fit’s the message of the afternoon! Is this just coincidence, or is it as I will always believe, the providence of our gracious God?
As we are preparing to go, there are so many expressions -- over and over -- of joy and thanksgiving; and hopes for our return, along with tears of mingled joy and sorrow. For myself there are not only tears because we are leaving these beloved ones, but because, as I have begun to realize the last night on Bohol, that the time is fast approaching to once again leave these islands! Will my Lord bring me back again? There are again many more invitations begging us to come than I can begin to fulfill in another trip. Only my Lord knows, but I am already thinking about what is the best way to try to accommodate as many of the invitations as possible.
We finally leave a little after 6:00, walking down this side street for some 300 yards or so to a main street where Bro. Rey; his family; and us, can catch a bus back to the hotel; and Bro. Rey and family back home; which is near the hotel. Five or six of Bro. Rey’s members also go with us to the main street, but they will go on home by Jeepney, since they live only about 3 or 4 miles from here.
We arrive back at the hotel about 7:00, where the Moncellers take their leave to go home, after Bro. Rey, and his son, Aivan, retrieve two boxes of things he has brought back from Panabo. He left these things in our room until a convenient time to take them home. Although Bro. Rey, and his family, moved from Panabo to Digos in 2000; and from Digos to Manila in 2001, yet many of their things remain in both places to this day.
After they leave, Dorothy and I decide to eat a light supper in the hotel restaurant. So we go down, and each order a bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup, consisting of about a cup and a half. (No crackers, since they don’t have them.) Very delicious! Then we finish with a small serving of Vanilla ice cream.
Then back to the room, where we change clothes, and Dorothy reads the paper awhile, and I watch a Hurcule Pirot mystery. She soon tires, and goes to sleep.. After the mystery, I tried to find something else on T.V., but soon decide I am too tired, and turn it off, and go to sleep.
“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come. Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!” Psalms 71:16-19.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
MONDAY 5 NOVEMBER
NINETEENTH FULL DAY
Last night was a much better night in that Dorothy was free from the diarrhea. Nevertheless, I woke up some time after midnight, thinking it is nearing morning. I lie there some time trying to go back to sleep; and some time thinking about the past three weeks, and the work that lies ahead once we get home. This goes on and on, until I finally am tired of being in bed, and get up. When I look at the clock, it says 5:45. I get ready for the day; and by this time, Dorothy is awake. So she gets up; gets ready; and we go down for breakfast just before 7:00.
We eat a leisurely breakfast, then go back to our room. Dorothy wants to do some shopping today; and after shopping, we are to have supper with the Moncellers (Bro. Rey; his wife, Sis. Tess; and their two children, Aivan, and Ayel), and the Mendoza’s (Bro. Rolando; his wife, Sis. Marlyn; and their three teenage daughters, Joanna, Johnna, and Hannah -- not sure of the spelling, but the sound is right). Bro. Rey was to come by for us at 2:00 P.M. to accompany us to the mall. There is a mall just a couple of blocks from our hotel, but Bro. Rey has told Dorothy that he thinks it unsafe for us to walk there by ourselves. I have done it several times by myself, but no use to try to convince Dorothy after Bro. Rey’s comment!
In the meantime, Dorothy reads, or watches T.V.; and I write up yesterday’s diary. I did not write it up last night, since I knew we would have plenty of time today. While I am writing, I also decide it would be best if we started for the mall in time to eat lunch there before continuing. So I call Bro. Rey, and he agrees to come an hour earlier.
Upon Bro. Rey’s arrival, we go directly to the nearby mall; eat at the Jollibee (Like McDonald’s); then spend an hour or so shopping (We also went to a Xerox place in order to make copies of the registration sheet the ladies at Pangasinin had made. I had promised to return it to them.) We then take the elevated rail to another much newer and larger mall. Besides doing some more shopping, we will also eat supper here. We ate here with the Moncellers when Dorothy came with me in 2006. We shop here -- mostly at National Book Store, a huge book store! And while in the book store we run into Bro. Rodrigue Cruz, and his little boy. Bro. Cruz is one of the members of Bro. Mendoza’s church, who we met yesterday. Amazing that out of ten million people in this city, that we should meet someone we know! We shop until about 5:00, and then go to the mall food court. Bro. Rey has told everyone to meet us there. Sis. Tess will be coming from her job as a teacher; their children from college; and the Mendozas from their home.
We find a table at the food court; and while we wait, Bro. Rey asks if we want pizza for supper, indicating that he intends to eat something from one of the fast food places. There is so much noise, though that it would be impossible to visit, so I insist we go to Max’s Restaurant, where we ate when Dorothy was here last. So as soon as Sis. Tess arrives, we go to Max’s. Around 5:30 the Monceller children arrive, and we go ahead and get a table that will accommodate all 11 of us. Then Sis. Tess goes off to get medicine. She has severe arthritis in her hands, plus thyroid problems; and just about all her salary goes to medical bills.
The rest of us visit while we wait for the Mendozas. (Bro. Rey has sent a text message to them telling them where we will be.) I had already grown very fond of Aivan and Ayel; and by now Dorothy has, too. Aivan is a very bright young man, studying computer programming in college; and Ayel is a petite, very cute and sweet young girl, also studying computer science in college. This is Aivan’s third year of college, and Ayel’s first. Aivan has a full scholarship; and Ayel has a 75% scholarship. She would have had a full scholarship, but they changed the rules the year she graduated from high school.
We have expected the Mendozas around 6:00; but since they must depend on Jeepneys for travel; and since they live quite a distance from the mall, it is 7:30 when they arrive. Nevertheless, we have a very enjoyable time, finally leaving the restaurant about 9:00. We bid farewell to the Mendozas with much anticipation of the next time we will meet. Then us, and Bro. Rey and Sis. Tess, go to catch a taxi back to the hotel. Aivan and Ayel will first get some school supplies, then catch the elevated train back home, since it goes very near their home.
Arriving at the hotel, we bid Sis. Tess goodbye, as we will not see her again this trip. We make arrangements with Bro. Rey to come tomorrow to accompany us to the airport, and then Dorothy and I go to our room. It does not take long for either of us to get to bed; and I am sure it did not take long for either of us to be asleep!
“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” 1.Peter 2:17.
PHILIPPINE DIARY OCT./NOV. 2007
TUESDAY 6 NOVEMBER
END OF TRIP
After a good night of rest, I got up at 6:30; and Dorothy got up about 7:00. After eating another leisurely breakfast, we go back to our room; and while she is showering; reading; and watching T.V., I write up the diary for 11-5; and after finishing this, I begin to rearrange and repack our suitcases for the trip home. After finishing this, I decide to take a shower myself, as this will be the last chance until we get home some time Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, I have decided to call Bro. Rey to reschedule our time to depart for the airport. Last night we had agreed he would be at the hotel at 2:30 P.M., but the more I thought about it, the more I am convinced we need to leave by 1:00.
So I try three times to call, but get a busy signal. So I shave and shower, then try again with success. We agree he will come at noon. Noon is checkout time with the hotel, so I will check out, after which the three of us will eat lunch at the hotel restaurant; and then proceed to the airport. When Bro. Rey arrives, I am in the process of checking out; and as soon as I am through, we eat a light lunch consisting of a bowl of Cream of Mushroom soup each, with tea. As we eat, it begins to rain.
After eating, we wait for perhaps 25 minutes until it slacks up, and then go outside to get a taxi. It is still raining lightly, so the hotel doorman gets his boots on; gets an umbrella; and stands out in the street to hail a taxi for us. Many taxis go by that are occupied, but a few stop, but do not want to go so far as the airport. So it takes 20 minutes, or more, to finally get a taxi.
Now we are on our way, though; but have hardly gotten started until it is evident the traffic is very heavy. Also, we are reminded of the way the trip began when we encounter flooding in the street: are we going to end the trip by drowning out the taxi, as we did our car at the beginning? Thankfully, we make it thru the high water, and make pretty good time (With our driver taking advantage of every short cut he knows, like cutting through the drive of a store that is meant for people to pick up packages too large to carry out the front doors.) until we are fairly close to the airport. Then we get into traffic that is move a few feet, and stop; move a few feet and stop; wait a few minutes, move a few feet, and stop. We are in this jamb for 30 to 40 minutes, making the trip to the airport well over an hour. If we had waited until 2:30 to leave the hotel; and had these conditions; then we would have been very rushed! As it was, we made it to the airport really just as we should.
Reaching the terminal, we get our suitcases; bid Bro. Rey goodbye; then enter the terminal. Besides being concerned about the traffic situation, another reason I decided to leave the hotel early was to try to eliminate having to stand in a long line to check in (I have stood in these lines for well over an hour.); and also to try to get there early enough to get seats with better leg room for Dorothy. I thought I had succeeded, as it takes us just a few minutes to get checked in; and the clerk assured me he had sent word ahead to change our seats on the long leg of the flight from Taipei to San Francisco.
Now all we have to do is get through the check points (which goes pretty fast); pay the terminal tax (which is P750.00 for each of us - about $34.00 total.); and then wait to board. While we wait, we decide to eat a snack; and then walk around window shopping. We tire of this fast, so go on to our loading gate. Checking in there, the attendants ask for our boarding passes to Taipei. They take them, saying they are changing our seats, as the clerk at the first check in said. Good! Another hurdle gotten over! However, when I check a few minutes later to see where they put us, I find that all they have done is move us one seat over, so that there will be one isle seat, instead of both of us being in the middle. When I question this, they assure me that is all they can do. All I can do is accept it.
So we go to Taipei, where we have a layover of some four hours. We take our time going through the check-in procedures; window shop again for about 20 minutes; and then go to the loading gate. We wait there until about 20 minutes before boarding time, remarking about how few people are arriving. This is very unusual, as I have never been on one of these flights that was not completely full. Nevertheless, because there are so few arriving, I decide it will be worth asking to see if there are available seats with more leg room. Going to the clerk at the desk, I ask if the flight is fully booked, and find out that it is only 60 percent booked. Upon explaining my reason for asking, they reassign us to row 60, where we will have the entire middle row of the airplane, consisting of four seats. Now Dorothy is able to elevate her bad left leg on the two seats to her left; and during the flight, sleep with her legs stretched out. Our Lord is so good! This leg of the flight is just over 10 hours long.
The flight to San Francisco is without incident; and as I write this, we are in San Francisco, where we have already collected our suitcases; gone through customs; rechecked our suitcases on to Houston; eaten a small pizza (After three weeks in the islands, Dorothy has eaten so much rice she is craving some American food! Now she really understands why I do not want rice on our menu for a while after I return from one of these trips!); and are now waiting for our flight to Houston. Our lay over in San Francisco is about six hours, of which about two hours remain as I write.
Leaving San Francisco on time; and after about a three and a half hours flight; we arrive Houston about 6:00 A.M. on Wednesday, November 7. Our car is still at DeMontrond Automotive; and they have instructed us to take a taxi from the airport to their place, and they will pay for fare. I have no idea how much a taxi will cost in America, since I have not been in one for over forty years. I also do not know if DeMontrond will pay the taxi direct, or reimburse me. I have twenty-six dollars with me; so to be sure, upon finding a taxi, I first ask if they will take a credit card. No, they will not. I then ask how much it will cost, to which they cannot give me an answer. So, to be sure I have enough money, I go back into the terminal, and get some cash out of an ATM machine I saw on the way out.
Having done this, we get in a taxi, and are on our way to DeMontrond. The fare turns out to be $31.00 for a fifteen minute trip; and we get to DeMontrond before anybody is there to pay the fare. So I pay the taxi driver, and submit the bill to the service manager later. Having arrived, we first wait for the service manager to arrive; then we have to wait another 30 minutes or so until the mechanic who has been working on our car arrives. The service manager then comes to tell us that although they have checked out the car several times before today, yet when they started it up to bring it around to us, the check engine light came on. So, they give us another loan car to drive home. (After two days, they call to say our car is ready. However, after picking it up, on the way home the check engine light came on again. I have had it back in twice, and now have to take it back tomorrow -- Nov. 28 -- when they have said they will again give us a loan car until they can determine why the light keeps coming on.)
Leaving DeMontrond, we stop on the way home to eat a McDonald’s breakfast. From there we went straight home, arriving at our place about 9:00 Wednesday morning. The trip is now over, except for the residuals, like unpacking our things, and getting out reports, and doing some other things resulting from the trip. As soon as we get our suitcases in the house, Dorothy goes to bed, and is very soon fast asleep; and sleeps all the rest of the day, and night. I began working at getting things caught up from being gone until about 3:00 in the afternoon, when I decided to relax for a time. I fell asleep, waking up about an hour later. I then thought I would make some phone calls to let some know we were back; but after making one phone call, I decided I was so groggy it probably sounded like I was drunk; so at 5:00 that afternoon I went to bed, and slept until 6:00 Thursday morning. As usual, it took about a week to get oriented back to our normal sleeping/waking hours here.
One final thing. As you will remember, Dorothy drank some water on Saturday, Nov. 3, that caused her to have diarrhea for half that night. Thankfully, she was not bothered with it much until we got back home. However, on Wednesday, the day we returned, she began to have neck pains. On Thursday the pain was so bad we went to the doctor. He diagnosed her with an ecoli infection, and gave her some antibiotics. We went back to the doctor on Friday to get some pain medicine; but I am happy to say that after about a week, the effects pretty well went away. Thanks be to our Lord that the neck pain did not get bad until we got home; for if it had been as bad on the plane as it was Thursday and Friday, we would have been in real trouble!!! Once again, “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Psalm 91:2-7.