Tuesday December 27th, 2011:
We set out at 5:30am from our home, a good hour later than we’d planned due to my alarms going off undetected. It turned out we still waited ten or so minutes to board our flight. We arrived to Manila 15 minutes early and only had about an hour layover there. During that time we fit in a few slices of pizza and some ice cream while I made acquaintance with a guy from Niagara Falls, USA. He told me that Manila was a place where you could find any and everything under the sun. His ecstatic face sobered in expression when I mentioned my reason for coming to the Philippines, to preach the Word. He was still favorable to the idea of shooting me an email, though I’ve yet to catch an incoming email from him. We hopped on the puddle-jumper to Laoag (Ilocano for ‘light’) and met up with a waiting Mr. Dante Aguinaldo shortly after our landing. He drove us to lunch first and then to their accomodating home and showed us where we’d be staying for the next two weeks. I am truly thankful for Ms. Beatitude’s gracious attitude this entire time, who has been bunked up in her sister’s room while we occupy hers. The news that Mr. Jay, as he’s affectionately termed here in IN (Ilocos Notre), would not be able to make it was met with mixed sentiment on my part. Firstly, I really looked forward to hearing him speak and having the increased frequency of conversing with him. On the other hand, his absence gave me the elevated responsibilty of speaking in the camp, bearing the theme “Building up and fortifying the saints to holy living.”
Wednesday December 28th, 2011:
The first day of the camp was an opportunity for Spring to be introduced to Mr. Jun Macusi and scores of other family in Christ here. Of course, Matthew received a fair amount of attention and shared his abundant personality with many a local. We were the only Americans to be blessed by the camp this year. My first spot on the schedule had me sharing with the youth, to which much of the camp’s energies were directed. They are the upcoming generation after all and for them to remain faithful to following the teaching of the Lord in their lives so far is critical for the church here to thrive. After dinner, I was also able to share a message with the adults about God’s building as brought out in the Scriptures.
Thursday December 29th, 2011:
The last day of the camp lent itself to some welcomed surprises. I shared an encouragement about being ‘raised up,’ regarding Christ and His exaltation and subsequently the theme of the saints following suit with symbols such as the wave offering being a foreshadow. The brethren joined me in singing Love Lifted Me, which is why that song comprised the entirety of last week’s post. After lunch, two planned speakers were unable to show, so a quick switch of speaking engagements allotted me another chance to impart God’s Word to the souls present. It was based on a Bible study put together by Mr. Jeff Hostetter on the character trait of generosity as fully expressed in Jesus. The offering of God’s given resources on our part was a main element, exhorting the body’s finances, energy and time to be expended for the growth of the kingdom. As for evening festivities, we enjoyed a friendly singing competition after I was able to encourage the young folk with a presentation I’ve mentioned before on Chinese characters and their relation to a number of Bible stories from the first eleven chapters of the Good Book. The singing was a true highlight and closing of the camp, creating memories for months, if not years, to come.
Friday December 30th, 2011:
The school had to be readied and cleaned for the following Monday’s return to classes. With a number of us helping out the work went swiftly and stressfree. Brother Rommel and his wife Ellen shared their musical talent with us, singing along to the gutiar I brought from China that was gifted to Ms. Danteninia, as her 14th birthday was the day we arrived. Later in the afternoon, the Aguinaldo’s took us to a UNESCO World Heritage site in Paoay, a church building bearing the name San Augustin.
Saturday December 31st, 2011:
It was this day we were able to join the Macusi family for lunch in Dingras. Mr. Jun Macusi is the long time contact (almost 10 years now) of Mr. Jay Wilson. I learned a good deal of his history firsthand for once and appreciated the time our families were able to mingle.
Sunday January 1st, 2012:
This Lord’s Day I was given the opportunity to share a message of encouragement in the Batac assembly, as well as Sarat. This is very similar to the route we ran last year when I was just here for Sat and Sun. The Sarat saints meet in the home of brother Crispin Ganir. I made the acquaintance of a gentleman there this time around who once practice devout catholicism but now professed to be a Muslim. We conversed in snippets, as Matthew stole my attention from time to time.
Monday January 2nd, 2012:
The first day of school after the holiday. I taught and English class from 8am-9:30am and then Music class from 10am-11:30am. The contrast was stark and welcomed. Instead of fifty kids in a class, I had three the first day. The next day that number doubled to the usual maximum. Many kids were still under the impression that it was still a holiday since the public school had yet to commence.In the evening there was a Bible study at Ms. Nita’s house. She’d traveled the US, even in the area where Spring was able to go, around Seattle. I’d prepared some notes on the typology of Christ’s blood found in a few examples in the Old Testament. As I connected it to the remission of sins in the new, I was able to show that immersion was the mode of that contact with His blood, leading the rest of the study down the road of what we must do to be saved. She admitted to being able to see it more clearly now, praise God, causing a renewed desire to become baptized, as she now knew her Catholic sprinkling was never valid.
Tuesday January 3rd, 2012:
Another day at the school, much like the day before but more kids. Also like the day before, we had a Bible study in the evening. This time I presented some of the same material as the night before, but more along the lines of baptism typology, mentioning the Jordan and Red Sea crossings, Naaman’s healing and the bronze laver. We spent a bit more time on the tabernacle than the night before.
Wednesday January 4th, 2012:
Our day begun about 3:30 in the morning with Matthew tossing his cookies, though we only really gave him juice. It was called Island Apple and the small cylinder of a can it was in may have had a dusty, dirty and therefore diseaesed top. Either that or the ice cubes from the ice tea from the day before was tainted, but in that case the girls didn’t get sick. I did have a bit of a stomach ache and I imbibed both beverages. When we gave him milk after the first signs of upset, his system let that go as well. At least one more time what went down came up, so we made the decision to give the hospital a shot.In turn, Matthew received more than one shot during his day-long and overnight stay. Attitudes are always an important part of these situations and thankfully I was in a third-world country that allowed me to be more at ease with the expense that we migth accrue, especially since the first stop was the emergency room area. Dante suggested we stop there first, as the results in connecting with a caregiver were a bit more immediate. The saints were wonderful during this time, lending their tender mercies, spending their loving time and expending their caring energy by coming to visit us and helping lil Matthew out, mainly by cheering him up. The intervenous intrusion in his hand was probably the biggest discomfort for him. He had little energy, so sleeping took up much of his day and night. Mom took night duty by his side, which is not uncommon. I laid on the chair-convert-to-a-cot contraption until the wee hours, where I then took my turn comforting him while Spring fetched breakfast at Jollibees via tricycle. I find her extremely adaptable in foreign cultures, much like myself. The Lord supplied me a more-than-suitable help-meet.
Thursday January 5th, 2012:
After breakfast, the real battle was working with the nurses to disengage the IV line, as we took it upon ourselves to deny the 2nd bottle. For one, it was much more Dextrose water than the Chinese doctors usually administered, and second, the amount of time it took would run us over into another day of hospital stay. Third, I wanted our little guys hand to be free from tether. Finally, they unleashed him, but the tape and needle stayed on so that they could still use it for injecting antibiotics. One of these moments of injection occured when mom was away and Matthew had a visible uncomfortable experience with it. The doctor said the sensation was an itching under the skin and our little boy made his feelings of dislike known. Eventually, we were able to check out of there, but not before meeting the soul that God sent us there for in the first place. Her name was Bless, a native of Batac but living in Hong Kong. Apparently, she visits Shenzhen quite frequently. She attends services at a few places in HK that have catchy names, and even expressed interest in coming to our assembly. Her daughter Precious had the same thing going on with her as Matthew, so the Lord provided common ground right off the bat. Spring spent a good portion of the morning chatting it up with her and they exchanged contact info. The day before, we noticed that none of the private rooms seemed occupied (I should say my wife noticed) and that we were the only ones in one. Strangely enough, all those rooms filled up and Bless and her family had to camp out in the hall. Otherwise, the chances of meeting her would have been slim. As we vacated our room, they were able to occupy it and not before we honored the Great Physician in prayer to hold up Precious in His sight, that she also might have a speedy recovery like our little tyke. Dante was also able to get her local details, that he also might be able to reach her with the true gospel of the glory of Christ in the future. Please pray for this soul to be drawn closer to our King.
Friday January 6th, 2012:
This started out as a normal school day again for me, teaching the 6th graders (who I’d learned had been praying for our little buddy in his time of suffering). After break, it was music class with grades 4-6. In the afternoon, Spring wanted to make a trip to Laoag. Since it was her birthday (according to the lunar calendar), I figured that would work out. I just knew we had to be back about 5pm. Once we reached the capital of Ilocos Norte, our search for a mall led us to a supermarket called Savemore. We moved on from there to San Nicolas by trike and hit up Robinson’s for one of the important items we were searching for. During the camp, we’d met brother Rommel and his family (wife Ellen and 2 kids). Mr. Doty had helped him purchase a sidecar for his motorcycle a few years back and we noticed how well he took to the guitar I brought along with me, so we sought for a gift with six strings to give him. We found one that seem a reasonable enough buy and went to the McDo’s (how Filipinos call the golden arches) across the street. We were quickly approaching five, so I persuaded some local into contacting brother Dante and when I spoke to him, he said 6pm was the set time for going to the guest house they’d rented for the evening. The group who let me use their phone (3 boys, 2 girls) rode with us on the bus back to Batac and two of the boys came with us to the party. When we got to the door of the house just up the road from the Aguinaldos, Spring began to catch on. Something about all the voices inside, but not one light on in the house kind of gave it away. We had a wonderful night of festivities with several of the saints who came, including brother Rommel and his family.
Saturday January 7th, 2012:
The next morning we continued the birthday bash at a beach resort with a swimming pool and karaoke just across from the breaking waves of the South China Sea. Of course, we swam, sang and walked along the shore to further celebrate (according to the solar calendar this time). In the evening, we spent our time in the same place until the Vivit family departed via tricycle (with their son, daughter and guitar in the sidecar) to Cabugao.
Sunday January 8th, 2012:
Thankfully, I had a message about being joyful to share with the morning assembly in Batac and again in Sarat. The gentleman of the muslim faith once again attended and I made sure to stress the distinction of full forgiveness of sins in Christiaity, of which Protestantism and Catholicism were mere perversions. Much of the emphasis was on the Spirit that has been gifted us. I’ll try to upload this message and others from family camp here, though it may take time converting the files. In the evening, we visited a small group of disciples in Currymao and caught the sunset over the ocean.
Monday January 9th, 2012:
Today I assisted Miss Rose with her kindergarten class and had a good time playing songs and learning their’s. At the end of 90 minutes though, I was beginning to feel as though my resources for what is normally a 20-30 minute class once a week being tapped. The final music class ended with a baker’s dozen of songs, 12 honoring God and one betrayer (Hokey Pokey). In the afternoon, Miss Spring had her first teeth cleaning thanks to brother Macusi’s daughter in Dingras who is a dentist. I figured it would be a good time for me to get one in, too, since I’ve not so fond a impression of the Chinese dentists.
Tuesday January 10th, 2012:
This was the final English class at the Living Rock Christian Academy for this time around. Dante returned me to his home around 10am and we were able to finish packing for our return trip back to China. They took us to the airport in Laoag and our last photo before boarding is below:
Thanks for your patience with my ramblings. I pray these posts will continue to be an encouragement to whomever may still tune in.