Thursday, Nov. 6 (9 p.m. Pacific time)
Thursday has been a 37-hour day so far as Derek and I flew back to the United States and back in time. We regained our lost Wednesday from last week when we crossed these same time zones going the other direction. So much was accomplished in such a short time. Praise God for all that He did with and through us.
Before leaving Manila on Thursday, Ace and I discussed the future of Mission: Philippines. Tentatively, the C4C Philippines Chapter is looking at a possible week-long survey trip to Tacadang and surrounding villages in January 2009. The goal is to measure the spiritual climate in the mountains of the Benguet province, particularly in Tacadang, Les Eng and Dalipey.
A sign on the trail welcoming foot traffic in the Cordillera mountains near Tacadang.
Work will continue throughout 2009, building to another Evangelic Expedition in September after the third annual Asia Pacific Adventure Ministry conference in Manila.
Ace will also continue the excellent work he is doing building C4C Philippines, which has grown to more than 50 members in a little over a year. This chapter meets every other week for Bible study and outings. It was a great encouragement to me to meet many of these brothers and sisters in Christ who are excited to serve the Lord through our unique ministry. Many new friendships were formed and it was difficult to say “until next time” at the airport.
Thursday, Nov. 6 (1:30 a.m. local time)
I was privileged to share my testimony and the HIStory of Climbing For Christ with 12 members and four friends of C4C Philippines last evening at Ace's church in the Manila subdivision of Las Pinas City. Each of the members has been involved with chapter events and meetings since C4C Philippines was organized a year ago. They are a blessing to me and the ministry of Climbing For Christ.
We focused on missions and the calling of C4C — to go where other missionaries cannot or will not. These brothers and sisters (Ace, Jhun, AA, Rhea, Meliza, Pat, Arthur, Rommel, Jasmin, Thots, Jason and Jherwyn) understand the vision and are focused on growing His kingdom here and to the ends of the earth.
Derek and I will begin traveling back to the States tonight. We carry with us the joy and encouragement of our Filipino family of believers. May they continue to shine His light for all to see.
“Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” — 1 Corinthians 9:16 (NLT)
Wednesday, Nov. 5 (12:30 a.m. local time)
Tuesday was another long travel day, starting with our group waking up in Kibungan before 4 a.m. to catch the 5 a.m. bus to Baguio. We were on the “school bus” for a while as children boarded at stops along the way to get to school farther down the valley. The first bus took five hours and after eating and visiting the public market and park in Baguio, we caught our second bus back to Manila. This was a 6½-hour ride.
The team — an excellent group that the Lord wove together — began to break up before the drive to Manila. First, we left translator Danny and nurse Mariz in Baguio, where they live. Then we dropped John, Vince, Richard and Doc Cecil on the outskirts of Manila. That left Derek, Ace, Jade, Jhun and me to return to the starting point at the Manila bus station. We were riding the Victory Liner, which we thought was appropriate. We reached our destination in the city by late evening.
Mission: Philippines team photo in front of the school in Tacadang: (from left to right, top row) Mariz, Vince and Jade; (middle row) Gary, Danny, Richard, Jhun, and guide Charl; (bottom row) Derek, Doc Cecil, Ace, tourism worker Dianne, and Jon.
We have only begun to talk about all the work that will be done in Tacadang and other villages in the mountains near Kibungan in 2009. More will be discussed today as we look forward to a C4C Philippines Chapter meeting Wednesday evening and the opportunity for fellowship with more members in this beautiful country.
(Note: We just added a few photos from the past week. More to come.)
Monday, Nov. 3 (6:30 p.m. local time)
Jade, left to right, Danny and Richard descending from Tacadang.
We trekked a different (longer) route out of Tacadang. Some team members returned in eight hours (with an hour of relaxing at the river after more than 3,000 vertical feet of steep descent and hot 80-degree sun). The rest of the team arrived about two hours later. We are back at the missionary house in Kibungan tonight.
Before leaving Tacadang, we prayed for the village and the work that God has begun in the people there. During our Sunday evening debrief, when each member of the team expressed thanks for experiencing such a powerful time, Pastor Derek said: “We were on holy ground today. Angels were rejoicing.” We prayed they will continue to celebrate and watch over the hearts of new believers in Tacadang. May God’s kingdom continue to grow.
“...Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” — Luke 10:20
Sunday, Nov. 2 ( 7 p.m. local time)
“If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” — Luke 9:23
Pastor Henry Guylabo read Matthew 7:13-14 and talked about the difficult road to Tacadang. That set up perfectly the verse the Lord gave me (Luke 9:23) and my sharing of taking up the cross. I left the comfort of a newspaper career to serve the Lord full time, which brought me here today. What an amazing life journey.
Pastor Henry, left, seated next to Danny in the UCCP church.
We started the day worshiping at the local United Church of Christ in the Philippines. Fifteen families attend the UCCP church. Derek and I both delivered messages of encouragement to about 50 of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Team member Danny translated for us in the native language. We then went back to Tacadang Proper (about 20 minutes away), where we had slept overnight in the school’s first grade classroom. The people were waiting for our community worship and distribution of clothing and school and medical supplies. The Roman Catholic Church (St. Paul) allowed us to use their building, but we had too many people to get into the church, so we preached outdoors.
The Holy Spirit gave Derek and me a different message to deliver here. I told the crowd we were bringing them physical blessing from God, but something more important would be them returning blessing to Him. You bless God by believing in Him and loving Him. There are about 1,500 people in Tacadang (an estimated 500 families). Since there are only 15 families at Pastor Henry’s church and fewer believers at the Catholic Church, Tacadang is mostly lost.
Derek followed my prayer that we would spend eternity in heaven with these people by sharing the mesage of salvation. He closed by asking any who would like to accept Christ as Savior to come forward to pray with us. About 30 people accepted Jesus into their lives. We know we are not here to save souls, but to make disciples, so we will continue to work with the local church to grow the body of believers in ths remote village.
Pastor Derek, right, prays for Tacadang villagers who desired Jesus.
After worship, Ace and the C4C Philippines team distributed all the supplies that were brought here. Nurse Mariz (the only medical person who didn’t back out on this difficult trip) handed out vitamins and medicines. She and other team members surveyed the many health concerns. Ace also collected more requests in Tacadang and other neighboring villages (some another 6 hours of trekking away) for future deliveries. Tacadang and the Kibungan area mountain villages will be an ongoing mission for Climbing For Christ, specifically C4C Philippines. It was again humbling to see God touching so many in a thought-to-be unreachable location. We are blessed to take up the cross and serve the God of the possible.