Our recent missions trip to Polilio was amazing! This post is a continuation of “Come Walk With Me” – 1.
I will include some selected pictures with this report to help you see some of what I am talking about, as well as read about it. I hope this helps you feel kinda like you were there with us! Although I had hoped to write a dialogue with you on a day-to-day basis, that was difficult for me to accomplish this time. My personal computer stopped working a few days after our arrival there at our missions base in Patnanungan, and I was involved with such a spin of activity that I will just need to summarize some of the trip highlights below, as follows…
I counted up how many services we participated in, which included a baptism service, special children’s Jesus film showing and feeding time, daily group devotions and morning sessions, along with evening services and Sunday morning/evening services — it added up to 21 meetings! That number does not even include the all-day Worship Retreat we had on Saturday, plus visitation and evangelism in the homes…!
It became like a camp meeting, with people sometimes participating not only in the evening services, but in the morning sessions as well!
We saw the Lord do some amazing things in the hearts and lives of people! There were so many testimonies that in our final service the testimony time extended to to around 2 to 2 1/2 hours in the thanksgiving time — that followed the approximately 1 hour Sunday evening service we already had together!
We arrived at our missions base on June 3, in time for us to participate in the regular, Friday evening prayer meeting.
We were met with a warm reception. We were delighted with the thoughtful, welcoming preparations for our time there by the resident BTTI ministry team. They had the grounds looking beautiful, like a park. They had even written the slogan “I LOVE BTTI” in the grass, in the way it had been trimmed and cut. They prepared a nice meal for us upon arrival. We were so blessed!
One of the first things we did was plant the banana trees we brought along. We continue to develop sources of potential income generating projects at the base. There are also several fish ponds there now.
Wonderful Service Times
It was a great weekend, reconnecting and visiting with the brothers and sisters there. We had some wonderful services both in the morning and in the evening on Sunday.
It was encouraging to see some who had previously discontinued fellowship join with us in the services!
Searching for lost sheep
Sunday morning before the service, I went with one of our teammates to visit several homes, and extend invitations to come to the services. One of the families lived quite a long distance away. Of course we were only walking, so it was very time-consuming, but we persisted until we finally reached their house. In fact, we only reached their house shortly before our service was to start and then we had to return the long back. As we headed back along the road we came, a motorcycle came alongside us. When we asked him for a ride, we were delighted to find out that he was going to our service, too! He was a new Christian who had just recently begun attending the services. PTL! What a blessing! The Lord provided for us! We were able to catch a ride back, and get back there just as the service began!
Some might wonder what we were doing out there walking along the roadway – getting hot, dusty and sweaty before the service when we were the ones ministering that morning… Well, ministry isn’t just about preaching a message in a service. It is also about seeking lost sheep, and helping bring them back to fellowship. You can have a wonderful message, but if the sheep aren’t there to hear it, it isn’t very effective! I was so blessed when those we visited and invited actually showed up at the service! In the last home we went to, even with such short notice, the lady still came to the service! PTL!
Sunday wasn’t much of a rest day for us. We were busy bees in the work of the Lord!
However, having a rest day break is Scriptural, and very important! We try to have our regular rest day on Monday’s.
We were able arrange for a boat to take us to nearby Jomalig Island for a special outing with our team. It is a very beautiful, popular island, with golden sandy beaches and gorgeous tropical waters. It was hard to stop taking pictures, because everywhere you looked was so picturesque!
On the way, we stopped by the provincial book keeping office where one of our local pastoral team works. As we asked for them to allow her to join us on our special trip, we were delighted when the supervisor graciously granted her that favor! PTL! God is good!
Free Resort Stopover
We got to the island, and were about to unload from the boat when a representative from the nearby resort came and said that we could not stop there without them charging us a fee, and showing a card (which we didn’t have). We certainly didn’t want to pay a fee per head for just enjoying a stop there at the beach. I went ashore and checked with their supervisor. He gave us a welcome to go ahead and stop there for free, and was also willing for us to utilize one of their ‘kubo’ huts along the beach for having our picnic in the shade, and roam around their beautifully landscaped, park-like facilities. What a blessing! PTL!
I enjoyed the sights and took lots of pictures. Everywhere I looked was so beautiful and picturesque!. As I turned from the shoreline to go up an embankment there near the beach to join our team who were gathered in the shade of the nipa hut, I inadvertently got a big hit on my head with a piece of driftwood that was head-level. The resort had erected some exotic white driftwood near their entrance. One of the protruding limbs was probably 3-4 inches narrowing down to a point. It gave me a good knock in the forehead right above my left eye that was quite painful. I am so THANKFUL that I didn’t catch the point of it in my eye, and get my eye poked out! It hit my forehead right above my eye, and glanced off, only scratching me and giving me a good bruise. I’ll take a bruise any day, compared to getting poked in the eye! Literally, it was better than “getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick” like my Uncle would often say… 🙂 (See pic below).
I was delighted to find out that it was ‘Blue Marlin’ season there. There are some deep sea areas nearby that make good fishing. I had been hoping to find a ‘Blue Marlin’ someone had caught to take back with us to our camp to help with our food supply needs. ‘Blue Marlin’ are some of the best fish to eat I‘ve ever found, and can be purchased quite cheaply there in the islands where they are found. As we investigated, we were able to find one that had been caught the previous day and been kept in a cooler so it was still fresh. Even with the head off, it weighed over 20 lbs! It provided a lot of good food for us, and we were also able to share some of it with those who came to the weekend ‘Worship Retreat’. PTL!
A Wet cell phone
At another beach I walking along, enthralled with the beauty of it all – the tropical, clear waters and white, golden sandy beach. I kept stopping to take pictures. I saw an area that had a black stony area. Realizing it would make a great contrast, and stunning picture with the golden beach and tropical waters I stepped on the rock to get a close-up picture of the waves and the rock. Then it happened–so-o suddenly! All of a sudden my feet went out from underneath me almost like I had stepped on grease, and I went for a slippery skid and tumbled right into the water! I had my cell phone in hand, and as I recovered from the fall, my heart sank as I realized my phone had gotten wet – wet with salt water! Not being sure if it would still run, we tried to dry it out as best we could and headed for home. No more pictures that day! I was just thankful to be ok – with only a good bruise on my elbow that hit the rock and not anything major that a bandage on a cut finger couldn’t help – thankful that there were no broken bones, and that everything was basically ok! God is good!
I looked at the bottom of my flip-flops later, and that seemed to be part of my problem! (It’s always nice to have something if not someone to blame! 🙂 They are so worn that most of the tread was worn off, so they are down to smooth, slippery rubber. I had previously had my water socks on. The water socks had good tread and would probably have been fine. However, when they got wet and uncomfortably filled with sand a little earlier, since I wasn’t out in the water at the time, I had taken them off and switched over to my flip-flops. Big mistake! I’m not too old to learn a few important things along the way about what to do and what not do…! 🙂
The good news is that my cell phone did recover! It seemed miraculous to us! After getting wet in the ocean, the people there said phones generally always stop working! Mine DIDN’T!! It was amazing! We dried it out as best we could, left it in front of a fan overnight, put it out in the sun, even in rice to help draw out any moisture. After 3 days or so, when we tried to start it up, it worked! And it still works fine. My files and pictures are undamaged! PTL!
A Great team
I’m so thankful for our 8 member team! It seemed like a dream team! They were all so cooperative and helpful, and involved at a heart level! When I asked one of the new ones who had never been on a mission trip before how he liked it, he said he “loved every hour, minute, and second of his time there”! PTL!
June 8 (Here’s a sample day from my journal…)
Today started around 5:30 a.m. – time to rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory 🙂
It’s another beautiful day to be alive! It gorgeous here. We are located right at a beautiful white, sandy tropical beach front. The whole property used to be jungle, with no developments or buildings. Now there are several buildings nestled in among coconut trees, plantings and grass. The ocean frontage area looks like beautiful park!
6:00 to 7:00 is time for personal devotions. At 7 a.m. the team gathers to pray, and share insights and impressions from the Lord during our early morning personal devotional time. We break for an hour around 8:15 for breakfast, and return again at 9:15 for another hour together of sharing and exhortations. We had a special time of prayer asking for revival and restoration of some of the members of the church here. We discuss missions assignments for visitation targets up and down the coastline, split into teams, and go then go out to visit and evangelize.
One of our teams went so far they didn’t return for close to 5 hours. My visitation team made strategic contacts in 3 homes. We had great times of fellowship, loving and blessing the people, and renewing relationships with friends and spiritual family members of long standing.
Returning back to the base, we found our building all locked up. We thought they were going to leave a back door or something open for us, since we didn’t we didn’t have a key. They seemed to think we could figure something out to get in anyway. I was stuck outside for a while, but finally the pastors son came and knew how to break into the building without a key. In the meantime I had a good conversation with a young man who came by who is considering becoming a pastor. He is asking to be baptized this week while we are here, so I was able to help him understand the significance of it better. PTL!
By the time I got into building I was tired and rested for a while. One of the team cooked some of the Blue Marlon that we got on our trip yesterday. It was so delicious, and it was so beautiful sitting on our deck overlooking the beautiful ocean landscape! I’ll do my best to share it with you! (see pics below 🙂
Evening service went well. It is going to be a very busy week with services every night Tues –Friday, morning sessions, all day Worship Retreat on Saturday and 2 services on Sunday, along with visitation and evangelism contacts, and a baptism time after the morning service on Sunday.
June 12 (Sun)
We just finished up our all day Worship Retreat yesterday (Saturday). We saw the Lord move mightily, and pour out His Spirit! There were some special testimonies of life-change and blessing!
More about the Worship Retreat
Our Worship Retreat time was a great time. Along with times of praise of worship, and personally waiting upon the Lord, there were some teaching sessions. The teaching sessions included “Worship in the Word”; “Why We Worship the Way We Do” (Biblically); “Intercessory Worship”; “Worship in Spirit and Truth (Importance of the Holy Spirit)… I was amazed as one of our team (16 year old girl) shared the “Intercessory Worship” session. It was her 1st time, and she shared the teaching like a veteran missionary!
After the teaching about Holy Spirit it was exciting to see the Holy Spirit move in a beautiful way, and many experienced a special work of the Holy Spirit in their life! Some testified to being filled with the Holy Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.
An unusual occurrence happened during one of the afternoon times of worship. The worship leader heard angelic voices(like a choir) joining with us as we were worshiping. He looked around to see where it was coming from. He said it was beautiful! They were singing in another language. It inspired him to jump and dance for joy!
Some new ones attended, and were blessed. One was a sister of one of the members who wasn’t yet a Christian. Two young men were nephews of J (I will call him “J” for anonymity).
While evangelizing house-to-house, one of our teams stopped by J’s house. From his outward appearance J didn’t seem to be someone who would be likely to be interested in the gospel. However, as the gospel was shared with him, J showed great interest. He wanted to pray to receive the Lord, and he also wanted a Bible. Come to find out, he said that our daughter Teresa had given him a Bible years ago, but he had lost it when it had been destroyed, and he was so excited to get another one. A few days later, when I followed up with him there at his house and once again shared a Bible study highlighting the gospel message he seemed so excited. There were times when he would chuckle with delight as he read the verses because he recognized that what he was reading was so-o good! He said he wanted his whole family to hear about it, and encouraged his nephews to attend the Worship Retreat the next day even though he personally had some work complications so was unable to attend. He also showed interest in getting baptized! PTL!
We had many amazing experiences, day after day! As mentioned, Tuesday through Friday we had morning teaching sessions and evening services.
Sunday we had morning and evening services, with a baptismal service after the morning service in the ocean. It is a season where there are many stinging jelly-fish in the ocean, but we were able to have the baptismal with no painful stings! PTL!
There were so many testimonies of praise and thanksgiving that our thanksgiving time at the end of the service was 2-2 ½ hours long (after the approx. 1 hour service that we already had)!
One of the men attending the services was a man from a far place up the shoreline (approx. a 1 hour walk away). He was the first to come for the service Sunday morning (he got there 1 hour early). He stayed all day, participated in the testimony time, and didn’t leave early before it was finished. He still lingered during the happy, joyful fellowship time following the service, and headed back out into the dark night to walk home (after 10 p.m. that evening). Amazing!
Special Children’s Outreach
A children’s version of the Jesus film was shown Sunday afternoon to the children as well, with games, and a feeding time. They had a wonderful time! Many children attended.
Running to Service
After the Sunday evening service started, I was amazed to see a group of young people running up the path to the service. They had got there a little late. We try to train the people with punctual starts with the services. Regardless of whether everyone is there or not, we try to joyfully start. As they got to our mission base, they quickly climbed out of the tricycle that transported them there. Realizing that the service had already begun without them, they enthusiastically and apologetically rushed up the hill to join us. It seemed they felt they were really missing out. What a sight! It was amazing!
That’s the way it should always be, shouldn’t it? Services should be exhilarating in the presence of the Lord, and we shouldn’t want to miss out on anything the Lord has in store for us as we meet with Him. When we love Jesus, the love songs of praise and worship we sing to Him together can be some of the most special part of our times together, and we should always want to be there to participate in everything that happens together!
Several people reported seeing visions during times of praise and worship.
One was given a flaming torch in vision that had the word joy, and saw himself in something like a graduation robe with the ends of the sachet draped around the neck having the words “joy” and “love”.
Another reported seeing an open heavens, with angels dancing and rejoicing with us. One of the angels was waving a banner. They said the banner was white, and on a golden pole. It was being waved back and forth with the word “victory” written across it in red. That was actually what we experienced together. Our time there was blessed with times of great joy and celebration!
The pastors family had been involved already for many years in ministry by now. One night the Lord seemed to Sovereignly and prophetically lead us to officially and publicly ordain the pastor and his wife into the ministry. It was a precious, Spirit-led time of rejoicing, and a very memorable experience.
The pastor and his family were feeling quite discouraged. However, they were restored and revived during our visit there. It was an amazing time of revival and healing for many. The Lord moved in a mighty way and backsliders came back to the Lord; some received the Holy Spirit; some came to the Lord; hurts were healed; heaviness was lifted; joy was restored; bitternesses overcome; love, forgiveness, friendship, and communication contacts renewed; etc. It was an amazing time! Not just physical miracles, but many things that seemed miraculous internally – in their hearts and minds, by the Spirit of the Lord! It was awesome!
One lady was telling me that she had lost interest and stopped serving the Lord and reading her Bible, this year. She joyfully came back to the Lord, and said she experienced freedom from bitterness and healing of hurts in her heart. She said “it’s all gone, now”. Her unsaved sister also joined her in coming to several of the meetings, and enjoyed it. Another lady also told me that her attitudes of bitterness and un-forgiveness were gone, the heaviness in her heart lifted, and she was set free! PTL!
Jack Swartwood’s devotional books
My brother-in-law, Jack Swartwood has written quite a number of devotional books. We have duplicated some of them here in the PI, to share. Although we accidentally left the box of books we had duplicated to distribute to people there when we needed to reshuffle our things when our vehicle broke down, we still had some copies along at least for our team to use. These books were very inspirational, used mightily by the Lord! They were a great contribution to our focus on God’s Word, and assisted in helping bring revival and restoration. We had 7 different books along with us that we shared with the team as personal devotional guides, and they are all great! Several of the books that were highlights and especially helpful were: “The Eyes of My Heart Are Focused on God” (All eyes and ears for Jesus); and Overflowing with Life-Joy (Finding abundant happiness with Jesus).; and “Divine Love in All It’s Varied Expressions” (The Fruit of the Holy Spirit). If you don’t have these books yet, we would highly recommend that you get them. They are powerful books, and Word-centered!
A young man who joined with our team also was with us part of the way as we returned to Tarlac. He was in tears to leave. He said his life will never be the same after that week! He said he felt like a “new creation”. It was definitely a time of transformation for many, and a wonderful experience for our team!
I’m not sure if I have ever seen lobsters like the ones on the fishing boat with us as we were heading back to the mainland (see pic below). These were huge — approximately several feet long, and so beautiful!
TO BE CONTINUED
I am out of time to report more on our mission trip right now. Please be looking for “Come Walk With Me” (Cont) – 3 as we continue exciting, fresh reports of our missions trip to Polilio Island… 🙂