Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Day is dawning on our last full day here in Dumaguete. The long journey home begins tomorrow when our Philippine Air Lines flight departs for Manila at 2:45 PM (that’s a quarter to 3:00AM Wed. night/Thurs. morning back home). Our departure from Negros was moved up one day due to Philippine Air Lines cancellation of the Friday flight upon which we previously held reservations. This will require an overnight stay in Manila. As far as we know, the remaining flights will all be on schedule for our return – with the New Orleans team arriving home very late on Friday night, and Joey and I returning to Tri State Airport around 10:30 on Saturday morning.
Today is basically a free day for our team until the scheduled outdoor crusade at 5:00 PM. This is a very welcome occurrence, since we began intensive activities here the night we arrived. On past trips we have always had a day of rest before the mission activities started. We did not have that luxury on this go around. The entire team is exhausted, especially after the last two day’s activities.
Billy Cox and Bobby Wood have worked like borrowed mules for the past two days, constructing an entrance canopy at Pastor Valdez’ New Life Church in Upper Batinguel. The project was 95 percent finished when the heavy rain washed out their activity yesterday afternoon. Billy indicates that only one piece of the metal roofing remains to be installed on the 24 foot wide structure, The necessary materials are there on site, and Dave Valdez (along with James Enclonar and other men of the church) will be able to complete the work with no problem. Billy and Bobby not only built a structure, but also a great relationship with Pastor Valdez’ son Dave, who worked along side them and spent some extra time with them, taking them for lunch to some really nice local places.
Please pray for Dave Valdez and his wife Michelle and son Genesis David. Michelle and the 8 year old boy are in California, where she is working in a dental office while holding down two other part time jobs. It is not unusual in Filipino families to have family members working in other countries to provide financial support for their families. Dave has graduated from nursing school and will soon test for his board certification. He is praying that is visa will be approved and he will be able to join them in America soon. As it is right now, they are only able to see one another once per year. I just cannot imagine how tough that must be on them all.
The Seminar, while not hard physical labor, was still exhausting. Both of the Seminar days began for Jay and I around 6:00 AM and did not end until 6:00 PM. Getting ready for the classes required a good bit of set up each day, and attendees began arriving as early as 7:30 each morning. Daniel, Amanda, and Janna took care of registration and provided worship music in the morning and afternoon sessions. These young people are tremendously talented and have a great spirit to serve. The girls also provided unofficial child care for a beautiful little boy whose parents attended both days of the seminar.
Joey Spurgeon, with video camera always in hand, split time doing several tasks during the seminar. Joe did everything from filming, to running the sound, to running the power point slides for the sessions that Robby Pearson and I taught. Joey is also most valuable as a team member who connects with the Filipino people. He is especially gifted in regard to children and youth ministry. He has been a valuable asset to this team in everything from house to house evangelism to the crusade activities. He preached one night in Bais City and 28 people responded with decisions to accept Christ.
Jay’s morning sessions in the seminar, dealt with Bible study, text selection, exegesis, and sermon preparation and delivery. The pastors in attendance soaked it up like a sponge. Some have had some Bible school or a little seminary experience, but most have very limited formal Bible education. I wish each of you could have seen the intensity with which they listened and took notes.
My two afternoon sessions included lessons on the Characteristics of an Effective Leader on Monday, and Developing Leaders Through Discipleship on Tuesday. These were also well received by everyone in attendance. Robby Pearson’s two personal evangelism sessions on Casting the Net and Drawing the Net were simply outstanding. Robby is a likeable guy with a sharp sense of humor and an infectious laugh. For those of you who may be NASCAR fans, you might be interested in knowing that Robby’s father and grandfather were both drivers. In fact, his grandfather, David Pearson, was the top rival to superstar Richard Petty, back in the day.
Bethel Guest House was the perfect venue for this event. Their central location and reputation as “THE CONFERENCE CENTER” in Dumaguete lent an immediate air of credence to the event. Most of these pastors and their wives live in the most humble of dwellings and rarely have opportunity to be treated as special as they were here at Bethel Guest House. It was a real treat for them to spend two days in these comfortable surroundings, and it was fulfilling for us to be able to “pamper” them a bit.
I could go on and on about the seminar, but suffice it to say that I believe it may have been two of the most valuable days we have ever spent here. The other activities were important as well, but this was a special time of intensive training for the men who are on the firing line here all the time. The 71 in attendance were most appreciative of the event and many voiced their hopes that we might be able to do another seminar in the future.
Every attendee extended their gratitude for the free opportunity to learn and to have fellowship with one another. No one went away empty handed as nearly $1,000 worth of Bibles, Bible Reference books and other printed aids were distributed to everyone in attendance. Many shed tears of joy. I was most touched by a lady named Muffett Villiagas who is the wife of Pastor Andrew Villiagas. Muffett is a very talented lady who is a local radio and television personality and also writes a column for the Negros Chronicle newspaper here in Dumaguete. She is fighting a battle with cancer very similar to my own. Her prognosis is uncertain and she is pretty weak, yet she managed to attend most all of the sessions. On Tuesday afternoon she called me aside and gave me a plastic bag that contained seven small framed water color pictures that she had painted. She wanted each of our seminar team members to have one as a token of her appreciation for what we were trying to do here in Dumaguete. I cherish that little picture.
Thank you for helping us – both prayerfully and financially – to bless these precious people.
May God bless you!