I just got back late last night from another mission trip to the Polillio Islands. It was quite the trip! I will share some of it with you, in this report. These reports continue in response to some of you that are showing interest to know more about what is going on, and what the mission field here is really like… This may be the last report for awhile. I know they take time to read, and even longer to write – while other urgent matters need attention. However, the Lord is worthy of praise, even though it can be time-consuming! That, my friends, is what this report is designed to do – give Him praise in the islands…
This focuses on some highlights from the last 10-day mission trip. This is a “life-as-it-really-is-around-here” type report. It’s written in such a way that hopefully some of you can kind of feel like you’ve “been here”, come along, and done it too, vicariously…
November 6 (Saturday)
Here we go… Launch trip driving from Tarlac early a.m. (needed to arise 3 a.m. – my companion coming from Moriones had to get up at 2 a.m. to come to Tarlac – we left here shortly after 4 a.m.). Drove through Manila and Laguna to the Real (eastern port town), arriving there around 10/10:30 a.m.
When we arrived in Real to catch the boat, we experienced some confusion. Where we normally catch boat transport, we were told that boat was going to another island, and they directed us down the beach to another port area. As we arrived, the boat there was almost ready to depart. We barely had time to unload our things, and park the car. I came running back to the docked boat barely in time to hop aboard before it was moving on out… Whew!
I was so tired, I found a floor to lay on, and slept for several hours or so until we reached the island. However, to our dismay – we found the boat was at another island, and not the right one! It was “Poblacion” (main city) alright, but not the right one… Poblacion – Polillio Island, and not Poblacion – Patnanungan! Hmmm… That boat was not going to Poblacion, Patnanungan… It had reached its final destination. What were we to do?! Traveling on a limited budget, we decided to try to save a little money (around $50) and instead of hiring another boat to take us directly, which would be too expensive – we took tricycle transportation across Polillio to the other side of the island and caught another boat from there to our destination. So, with all of our luggage and a big 50 gal empty barrel container we had brought along, besides a metal water tank, and a metal footlocker type storage bin, we hired a tricycle and motorcycle to take us and our things across the island, which must have taken several hours or so, part of the time traveling through rain… It was quite an interesting way to get a grand tour of the island, I must say! 🙂 I needed to switch from the tricycle to the motorcycle part way there, because I was sitting so cramped, and kept banging my head on the low roof as we went over rough road. The motorcycle ride was much nicer, even if more exposed to rain… We finally made it to the other side of the island, through the muddy terrain, and streams of waters. PTL!
Faced With A New Challenge
Now we were faced with a new challenge. When we found a boat and operator, he wanted to take advantage of our predicament, and charge us too much to take us where we needed to go! We needed to stall until they were willing to be more reasonable…
With night time approaching, we finally headed out in the boat across the sea towards our destination, be-draggled and wet, going into the night without much light (a flashlight that was used sparingly)…
However, instead of taking us to our mission base in Norte like we expected, they wanted to go to a nearby fishing village and drop us off there instead. They were afraid of getting into shallow water and rocks in the dark, and destroying their prop. Only when we threatened not to pay them until they took us, along with all of our stuff to where we were paying them to take us, were they finally and reluctantly willing to take us all the way there, even if the rest of the way was mostly hand propelled instead of using their motor. We arrived there safely around 7:30 p.m…. Whew! What a trip!! Was I ever thankful to make it there! Being able to get some sleep on the floor in our unfurnished loft at our mission base church site after such an exhausting trip was a most welcome blessing!
November 7 (Sunday)
I was not feeling too well in the morning, so my companion ministered at the morning service down the beach, in Inusukan. As we shared the Word and testimonies of praise about our adventures at the afternoon service at our mission base in Norte, I was able to sincerely tell the congregation that all the things we went through getting there were nothing compared to the joy of being with them at that service, and I really meant it! They were very appreciative!
Hungry For The Word
We spent around 3 hours or so in the evening visiting a key couple in our fellowship group at Norte. The Lord seemed to help remove some of their confusion regarding some basic issues of concern. Now they are hungry and eager for a regular weekly Bible study in their home, and we excitedly extended our trip a bit to help start it, this week! Hallelujah! The whole trip was worth it just for this progress, if nothing else…
Blinking Stars On The Move
I enjoyed prayer walking the beach this evening, under brightly lit, clear, starry skies. I like to watch for falling stars out in the islands, away from the smoggy air that hides them on the mainland. Many of them can be seen at times. Tonight I was fascinated with firefly’s flitting around in the trees near the beach, their unique light blending in with the starry heavens, and making it look like awesome, bright, blinking stars on the move…
I was reminded that the Lord makes his ministers “flaming fire”. I was also reminded of God’s promises to Abraham about his desendents being more than the stars in the heavens, and the sand upon the seashore…
We are the seed of Abraham, and those promises include us, and our children! We continue to believe for multitudes in heaven worshiping Jesus forever because of the influence of our lives, and also our teammates, as we faithfully serve the Lord together!
November 8 (Monday)
I’ve been impressed with one of the men here in Norte. He is reading through the Bible for the 4th time already this year (I think he’s in Ezekiel already)! He sometimes reads it up to 6 hours, daily!
My companion on this mission trip has read the N.Test. 10 times already this year, as well as 12 times (every month) last year, as well. He has been enjoying it so much, and notices that it has produced so much growth, that he wants to continue this habit for the rest of his life!
Another brother in our Moriones fellowship often as is his habit, gets up around 3:00 a.m. to read and have devotions for 2-3 hours. He is a slow reader, but he is also on his 2nd time through the Bible, planning to finish the whole Bible 2 times this year (This is his 3rd year of doing this – which means he is on his 6th time reading the whole Bible in 3 years! Hallelujah!)
Kinda puts some of the rest of us to shame… May we be inspired by their good examples, and be blessed!
Slick Jungle Trails Were Too Muddy
This morning we tried to go to an outreach area on the other side of the island (Busdak) by motorcycle and invite them to gather for a service tomorrow (we were not able to make it there on Sunday). We plan to stop by there (Tues.) on our way to Katikian for a Pastor’s Association gathering. However, the slick jungle trails were too muddy! After having to push the motorcycle through the mud uphill, and knowing that we had such a long ways to go with a lot more of that before us, the motorcycle becoming more of a liability than an asset along with a flat tire problem, we reluctantly turned around – mission not accomplished!
Let’s Get A Horse
However, we had met someone along the way who was supposed to pass along the news regarding the meeting scheduled for tomorrow there at Busdak. Our assistant/companion laughingly and longingly shared our mutual desire/vision for getting a horse someday… (horses seem to be a more dependable, popular transportation method over rugged, muddy, slick jungle trails). I told him, “ok, you be the horse – I’ll be the rider”! We didn’t get very far with that idea, for some reason 🙁 :)! We retrieved his motorcycle from the bushes along the trail where it had been hidden and went back.
We needed to get a new carb for our boat motor and have it installed, to get it ready for our trip to the other side of the island tomorrow.
We visited in 6 homes, with good times of fellowship and prayerful encouragement.
November 9 (Tuesday)
We headed out for the other side of the island in our BTTI “Love” boat :), through the rain, rough and stormy seas, and sometimes dangerous currents. We needed to stopover on an island we passed by, to bail water out of the boat, and take down the cover-tarp roof protection for safety reasons in the wind.
The Boat Would Not Start
We finally arrived at Busdak late in the afternoon. It was pouring down rain, but we had a short meeting with several of the baptized believers there, and then tried to leave for a nearby island (Katikian) where I was scheduled to be the guest speaker for the evening evangelistic service, followed by a pastor’s association gathering time. To our dismay, the motor on our boat would not start! It didn’t even have signs of life! From the heavy rains, it may have gotten some water in the carb when the operator failed to cover the exhaust pipe, or the spark plug just plugged and fouled…
Trials!!! What’s Next?
Whatever the case, we finally had to get another boat to tow us to our destination at the next island, in the dark, getting there around 2 hours late, after the meeting was already over! On our way there, the motor on the boat towing us stopped (needed to clean sea plants from prop). Then it stopped again (this time it overheated and needed more water in the radiator). I was beginning to wonder what in the world was going to happen next…?! It only stopped one more time (again to clear sea plants) – and we finally made it there. No big deal… Whew!
All Things Work Together For Good
We heard later from some of the local people that it was probably good that we were towed there in the dark, because those waters can be dangerous at night without light, tangling with obstacles – with danger of capsizing, as had been experienced by some that I talked with. PTL! All things work together for good…
Extending The Mission Trip
However, I had not been able to fulfill my ministry obligation tonight. Many unbelievers had gathered to hear my message, and it was a lost opportunity… I felt obliged to volunteer to come back next Sunday (even if it meant extending the mission trip another 3-4 days) as they expressed the desire for me to do so.
We stayed overnight in the pastors home, along with other pastors and leaders attending the pastors association gathering.
November 10 (Wednesday)
Needed to arise 3:45 a.m. for Dawn Prayer 4-6 a.m. Shared some Word exhortation, and prayer encouragement together.
After the motor was repaired, we left that morning to return, and had not gone far when our boat prop tangled with a mainline rope for seaweed plantation, and needed repair again! We finally managed to make it to Guinagayen, but experienced difficulty finding needful tools and the part to repair, so needed to go back to Katikian, where the part was located to repair the prop and drive-line. While I was waiting in the boat, my companion got out and sat on the beach, but soon discovered he had sat in something dreadful, and had to go wash in the ocean…
Who was Jonah?
Finally, we were on our way again, through rough waters and heavy rains. It seemed too much like a roller-coaster, with big waves, and our little boat bobbing over them like a cork… There were times on this trip we playfully tried to figure out who was “Jonah” ?! 🙂
CR or UCR?
Of course getting back to the mission base was a major accomplishment, with saltwater-soaked stinky clothes that needed to be washed in the CR (Comfort Room… which at times might more accurately be called the UCR – Uncomfortable room… with dip baths in cold water, etc..)
Shampoo For Clothes
For those of you that have not experienced this kind of life-style, it includes a garbage can container that holds water and a dipper, and a 5 gal bucket to wash and rinse clothes in… I used hair shampoo for clothes washing soap – isn’t that what shampoo is for?!
Every Single Person is Precious
We were exhausted, but needed to head out walking to the previously scheduled new Bible study, followed immediately by a prayer meeting at the mission base which included another approx 3 hours of ministry. We were excited when a new lady attended the Bible study, and wanted to pray to receive the Lord! Praise God for every single person that receives Jesus!
November 11 (Thursday)
Had a strategic meeting with a pastor from a nearby church fellowship nearby, communicating about things that needed to be clarified in our working relationship together.
Companion from Tarlac departed. I extended stay for another 4 days to fulfill some urgent ministry obligations.
November 12 (Friday)
New companion arrived from Tarlac, to assist over the weekend.
November 13 (Saturday)
Met another 2 ½ hours or so with leaders from nearby church fellowship, to promote unified understanding regarding principles that build and encourage, and not destroy…
Left in the afternoon by motorcycle across the island to Tapol, and from there by boat to Guinagayen. We arrived there shortly before the evening service. They had adjusted their weekly worship time from Sunday to Saturday evening so we could meet with them, and minister. We stayed overnight there.
November 14 (Sunday)
We went back to Katikian (a nearby island) to minister at an evangelistic Sunday morning service. A number of unbelievers not only attended, but wanted to pray to receive the Lord! Glory to God!
Returned to Guinagayen to collect our baggage, and head back to our mission base in Norte. One of the men there gifted us with some beautiful shells, and live crabs… Back by boat to Tapol, and then picked up by motorcycles and taken from there (along with all our baggage, bedding, and now shells and crabs) to our afternoon service at Norte.
Rain or Shine
It was pouring down rain as we traveled the muddy jungle trails, with burning eyes and drenched clothes, I thought of the commitment to “rain or shine” faithfulness in ministry… That’s of course quite easy to say, and a little bit more difficult to practice in tropical island ministry, sometimes!!
We barely got there in time for the afternoon service, dripping wet and weary! In fact, the service was a bit delayed due to our arrival in such condition. We got into dry clothes and were right into the next service.
Ministering To The Youth
After the service, my companion ministered especially to the youth who had gathered. That evening we went to the home of some members in the fellowship. We were there for several hours or so…
Small Boat Over Big Waves
A son in the family had attended our LFH Training Center a few years ago. Then, due to financial complications, he had discontinued his training, and was working on another island. However, the Lord has faithfully financially provided for him to continue his studies, now. His father made a major effort to go pick him up (around 14-16 hour round trip by small boat over big waves) and bring him home so that he could go back to Tarlac with us when we return. He was prayerfully challenged, and amazed at God’s special answer to prayer!
November 15 (Monday)
This morning the young man confirmed his personal decision to come back with us to Tarlac, and renew his commitment to be trained for the ministry.
On our way to board the boat, as we returned home, we stopped by the Mayor’s office and had some personal time and prayer with him, which he seemed to appreciate. We also got permission from him for our pastor there in Norte to respond to an invitation given by a High School teacher at Norte to begin training High School students in Christian/moral values.
Hallelujah! It’s an amazing door that has opened to penetrate the High School (various grade levels) with the gospel.
Back To Tarlac City
It was an all-day trip, back to Real by boat, and then from there we retrieved our car at the port, and drove on back to Tarlac City, getting home around midnight. What a joy to be back with family again! It was a long, adventuresome, and fruitful trip!
Here are some of the special highlights you just read about: special safety and the Lord’s help on the trip; visitation and Bible studies; fellowship times; ministry to pastor’s association; time with the mayor; assisting people to receive the Lord; people diligently reading God’s Word; prayer times; student returns to LFH; increased unity and communication among the churches; beautiful shell gifts; open door in nearby High School to share the gospel; and faithful financial provision! The Lord is worthy of abundant praise and thanksgiving!
November 16 (Tuesday)
An additional note, for those of you who may have read “Come walk with me…” #2 Tarlac City, especially regarding the “_SW” testimony, and are wondering what’s happening with her and her children.
We cleared our office at the BTTI church building, and have let her and children use it temporarily, as a place of refuge, trying to help her become established in a new way of living. Some of us spent a good 3 hours or so with her today, addressing issues and urgent things that have needed immediate attention…
We’re not all to heaven yet, obviously… the battle rages, but thanks and praise be to God Almighty who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!