Thursday, February 21, 2013
Greetings from Dumaguete City, Philippines
Our journey here took about 45 hours from the time we left the parking lot of Westmoreland Baptist Church in Huntington, WV at 5:30 AM on Monday. Our flights from Cincinnati to Detroit, and from Detroit to Nagoya, Japan, and Manila were on time and as pleasant as that long a flight can be. We arrived in Manila just before Midnight on Tuesday night and met up with Randy and Brenda. They had traveled separately on another airline and had taken a much different route. They arrived in Manila about 30 minutes prior to our arrival.
After collecting our luggage (thank God and Delta that it arrived with us!) we cleared customs, exchanged some money for Filipino currency, and took the airport shuttle bus to Terminal 3 for our domestic connections to Dumaguete via Cebu Pacific airlines.
Our flight to Dumaguete was scheduled to depart at 7:50 AM, so that gave us time to walk around some - a very pleasant thing to do after such a long plane trip - and get a bite to eat. We were able to freshen up a bit, change clothes and prepare for our arrival in the "City of Gentle People". By the time our boarding call came at Gate 117, we were extremely tired, but ready to finish the last leg of our journey. The boarding of the 737 was complete and we sat back ready to back away from the gate, but it didn't happen. Someone on the other side of the plane said, "They're taking the luggage off the plane!" and subsequently the pilot came on the sound system to explain that the flight had been cancelled due to severe weather en route to and around Negros Oriental. We were instructed to claim our luggage on carousel number 6 in the lower level of the airport and then proceed to the re booking area of Cebu Pacific ticketing area on level 3.
Try to imagine 160+ people - mostly pushing carts piled high with luggage - trying to board two elevators at the same time!
To make a longer story short, the re booking experience caused us to have to re check the luggage. New boarding passes were prepared for each passenger and we were told that the flight would begin boarding at 1:20 pm for a 1:50 departure. The next 5 hours was probably the hardest of the trip. Exhaustion began to sit in and it was only possible to cat nap in the crowded gate area.
I should take a moment here to thank Darrell Clark for his assistance during the re booking process. We were able to connect with Darrell over Facebook, while in line at the ticket counter. He, in turn, contacted Pastor Josue Cadiao by phone. Josue was waiting in the rain with a group of about 15 others to meet us at the Dumaguete Airport. Darrell was able to communicate to Josue the situation and the approximate arrival time for our rescheduled flight. Thank you, Darrell, for your assistance!
The long, two day journey was worthwhile as soon as we saw the smiling faces of our dear Filipino pastors and their wives and other church members.
The fellowship was sweet and after many handshakes and hugs, they transported us here by easy ride to the Bethel Guest House.
We will meet at 9:00 am (about 20 minutes from now) for today's activities, which will include our combined team meeting, worship, and itinerary planning for the next 11 days of ministry here.
I will try to post here from time to time to keep our families and friends updated on our activities here, abnd what the Lord is up to in this place 13 time zones away from our homes.
Please keep us in your prayers and join us in asking God to make us a conduit of His Grace!