By Mark Jantzi
Not everybody wants to read a 4 or 5 line summary of a two week visit. I like a little more detail and I thought some of you might like it also. Maybe this way you can get a taste of actually being on the trip with us. When Rita and I left the Philippines on April 9th, I didn’t really intend to return so quickly. But when I found out that a visit was being planned, I knew of the Spirit that I should come also. So on Wednesday, June 26th I left Albany, NY and flew to Atlanta, where I met Bro. George Herrig. From there we boarded Delta’s big 747 and made the 12 hour flight to Japan and from there a continuing 4 hour flight to Manila, Philippines. Is it okay if I mention again how brutal these long trips are on our bodies, since we basically cannot really sleep and we end up missing a full night’s sleep (I even found that to be difficult when I was 20 years old)? Once landed, we went quickly through the passport control, baggage collection and customs and it is now about 11:00 PM.
So having that we would have only about 4 or 5 hours to sleep, we decided to see if we could go directly to the domestic airport terminal and be there for our 6:00 AM flight to Butuan. We boarded a shuttle bus and got off at Terminal 2. When we tried to enter we were told we had the wrong terminal, so we went back out to the street and hired a taxi to take us to Terminal 3. It seemed like a very long ride; but it turned out to be the right terminal. George and I entered the outer waiting area of the terminal and discovered that we could not check in until 4 AM; so we looked around for a place to wait. People were lying about in various clusters on the floor. We found a row of seats and I decided to try getting horizontal; but that didn’t last more than 15 minutes, since each individual seat is curved to fit the human sitting-point and they are also made of steel. Then I attempted the floor (hard, not carpeted and cold). Even with padding from clothes in my suitcase, that lasted no more than ½ hour. It is now the wee hours of Friday morning (they are 12 hours ahead of NY time), and need I say that we were very tired, so we just wait it out while George starts ministering to some of the US men coming to visit their Philippine wives. About 3 AM I decided to explore this great cavern of a building and this took me to the second floor of what appeared to be like a balcony from the distant opposite place we had been waiting. There I found all kinds of shops (food and other goods) open all night long. As I was walking along, I asked someone if there wasn’t a lounge somewhere nearby. They said, “Yes, right here.” It was a small quiet room with what looked like 6-8 bed-like cushioned lounge “chairs” (quite horizontal); they could be rented by the hour or 5 hours for 450 Pesos (about $10). If I ever do this again, I’m going to find this “lounge” and take the deal.
So around 4 AM we checked in and paid the excess luggage fees to Philippine Airlines ($215 for 62 kg (137 #) excess between George and me). It was not the personal baggage that was the main problem; but we were bringing heavy interlinear bibles, computers for the school and brethren and a box of clothing for little children. About 6 AM we finally boarded our flight to Butuan, arriving about 8. Now, the brethren were not there to pick us up; so I went to call them on my Philippine cell phone I had used two months earlier; it wouldn’t work because my minutes were expired. So with the help of an airport worker, we made the call and got our pickup and delivery to the Karaga Hotel.
After checking in, we went downstairs for our 11 AM breakfast. Bro Ramer came to visit us at the table quite unexpectedly. When we looked outside it was raining torrentially and the wind was blowing and bending the palm trees. Bro Ramer said it was a typhoon. When I went to look it up on the internet, it showed a large tropical depression just to the east of where we were. It is good that we came when we did or the airplane would not have been able to land. So we slept an hour or two on real beds and I got up and looked outside. It had stopped raining; but the hotel employees were shoveling water from the entrance. So I decided to make a run for it; I took my cell phone to a little shop about 3 blocks away and with some difficulty we loaded 30 days of calling and texting privileges.
After a roller-coaster night of sleep and awake between George and me, we managed to rise the next morning and were taken to the two elder’s meetings at the school. Eight of the known nine elders were at the meeting with a couple of the wives. George brought a word for the morning meeting in one of the new rooms we had created upstairs. Then we were served a lunch downstairs. After this I presented the King James bibles that came in the large shipping box sent to the school. The brethren were most eager to receive this quality gift. I also presented the three large interlinear bibles and distributed them to the children’s school, to the bible school and to Bro Nelson. After this, I brought a word on the integrity of the inspired and written word of God. The last thing we did at this meeting was to bring out the box of children’s clothes that Sister Luanne had sent with me. When we broke up a few minutes later, not one piece was unclaimed. Let me say that I am so blessed to see the foundation of a genuine move of God among these men who desire to hear and walk in the truth. Their maturity is developing day by day. We all agreed to have another similar elder’s meeting next Saturday at the same location.
So now it is Sunday morning, June 30. We rise from our beds at about 6 AM and seek the Lord’s favor and guidance for the day, have breakfast at the hotel and then are picked up by the van at about 9 o’clock. We will be ministering at the two local fellowships today: at Bro Lito’s in the morning and at the children’s school with Bro Allan in the afternoon. We do not wish to go far out of town today because the Czech brethren will be landing at the airport at 1:30 PM; so I bring the word at the morning meeting and afterwards we are fed a lunch. This is a rather small fellowship. Four of the elders are in attendance today and Bro Edmar is our interpreter. After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a short rest.
The afternoon meeting was held at the children’s school, not in the building (as the elder’s meeting on Saturday) but in the front yard. This yard used to be covered by a blue tarp held and strung up by thin ropes and did a partial job of keeping some rain out; but now this space is covered by a metal roof over a new wooden frame. This is one of the many improvements made in the school which were finished after Rita and I left here in April. George brought the message to the group of school staff, mothers, children and a few others from the community. I estimate there were about 75 souls in the audience. At about 3 PM the van arrived with the Czech brethren (Martin, Roman and their daughters Kristyna and Petra). It was a good time and it was a good spirit. But we know that the devil is always looking for an opportunity to bring division and eventual destruction.
On Monday and Tuesday we had set aside to go up to the Bible School. There were to be two meetings each day with the school serving us all a midday lunch. I spoke the first day about the Unseen Kingdom of God and then George spoke on The School of Christ. It was somewhat of a rainy day and there were times we could hear the heavy rain on the metal roofs. All-in-all we are in agreement that there is a very good receptive spirit here, the young people being very open to the word we are bringing. There are nine new (first year) students and we had saved 9 new King James bibles from the box which had been sent by ship to the children’s school and had arrived only a few days before our arrival. Every one of these students had their bibles open and many were volunteering to read for us.
At the end of the first day, on Monday evening, we went with Edmar and Medlyn back to Butuan and selected a quality Singer sewing machine for the Bible school and then we also went to a nearby hardware store and purchased a welding machine for them. Their curriculum has been revised since last year to be more “end-time kingdom” oriented (no longer church – pastor – leadership training oriented) and also to include a vocational training segment of classes (preparing these young people for jobs in the “real world”). We delivered these machines to the bible school the next morning to the delight of many. Two of the young teachers are certified to instruct on these, as well as Brother Edmar. Brothers Roman and Martin brought the message on this second day (Tuesday).
Wednesday was a day to stay in Butuan. The Czech brethren went down to the children’s school to help them with their bookkeeping methods and to check things out for them. I stayed at the hotel as I had expected to meet with Ruben, a bible man from Ilagan, a city west of here. I spent the morning with brother Nelson and helped him set up his “new” computer. Brother Nelson has agreed to translate The Pattern into Cebuano and the computer needed a good bit of initiating. My not being a geek, I finally got Martin to help after lunch. Nevertheless, I had a good time of fellowship with Brother Nelson. Later that afternoon George and I had a good visit with Brother Bebe.
We had no more finished with Brother Nelson when we learned that Brother Ruben and his party had come to the hotel. He is with a group of Bible Baptist church leaders who have translated the entire King James bible into the Cebuano language. They have a larger parallel (Cebuano/English) edition which is available now for $18. We bought four copies for the local elders to examine. They are currently in the process of reprinting the smaller hard cover edition (which goes for $8.50) and will be available in about six months. The other bible which we had previously purchased is no longer in print or available. I am of the belief that this bible is about as close to the real thing that we are going to find. It seems that they have been extremely faithful to the original King James, and have not even attempted to correct any of its “errors” as we might see them. I would say that we should be prepared to commit to a certain number of these bibles. Does anyone want to be a part of this?
Thursday is the 4th of July. The Czech brethren again went down to the school to do their business; the daughters are filming the children with video and camera. George and I did a little shopping for some school equipment in the local computer stores. We also found time to visit with Brother Rudy, one of the “new” elders. After lunch, the other brethren went with the van to pick up some of the things needed for the school office to function more effectively. When they got back, Br. George and I went with the van out to the edge of the city to see Br. Eric, the man who had formerly supplied the bibles and who had gotten quite crippled in a motorcycle accident about 6 months ago. We gave him a gift which someone from the States had sent him and then we prayed for him. He told us that he had once been completely without hope and that he believes that God had really touched him when we prayed. We have invited him to come to the next elder’s meeting at the children’s school this Saturday; we will be picking him up. He is still using the crutches we brought him from the States.
The close of the day brought a special treat. The hotel has been in the stage of preparation for a wedding most of the week. We found out that it was going to be one of the owner’s sons from Arizona that would marry a Philippine woman. To my surprise we were actually invited to the wedding. “You are practically family,” one of the other sons said to me. It was a beautiful Christian wedding. A judge did the actual ceremony and it was blessed by a Nepalese pastor (Bro. Pradham) living and ministering in Cebu for over 36 years. It is through this man that Philip (the groom) was saved 18 years ago. Many of this family are saved; they have given us much favor over the years; let us remember to pray for them.
So Friday was a ministry to the (children’s) school. Roman and Martin have already spent two rather full days doing audit of the financial records and now are coming for a third day. They are teaching the bookkeeper new methods, spreadsheets (such as Microsoft Excel) and getting their office equipment updated to handle the work load, to make her job easier and to make the records more accurate. This includes a new printer/scanner/copier machine and a few such improvements. In the afternoon, a meeting was called in front of the building for all of the staff, parents and children in which all were exhorted to defend the school, speaking well of it in the community. After this, we prayed a special blessing on each segment of the school population.
Saturday was the day set aside for the two elders meetings, both to be held in the upstairs room at the school, just as the last Saturday. Three of our expected elders did not make the meeting; but then there were three new men who attended today, along with two of the elder’s wives. So along with us six ministry team, the little room was quite filled. It would seem that Satan did not want this meeting to take place: 1) a “jeepney” load of three elders had a flat tire with no spare and did not arrive until noon, and 2) Another man was stopped by traffic police on his motorcycle and never made the meeting at all. Martin shared on “Perfection unto Sonship” and Roman shared on “The True Body of Christ”, followed by a short exhortation by George on spiritual warfare. After the meeting, we set a tentative date for the annual conference next year [late week of February (21st) thru first week of March (9th)], announced the progress we have made on the new bible project and set tomorrow’s meeting schedule. We had special prayer for Eric, the injured former bible man (Bible League) whom we had brought to the meeting and is walking with his new crutches. We also had prayer for Bro. Nelson, who announced that he will be moving to the Island of Leyte very soon. He will also soon begin translating the Pattern into the Cebuano language and the Bible School students will be editing the text. It was a full and fruitful day and it is a joy to see the unity and the growth among the elders.
Sunday would be the last full day of ministry. We started out by going to a meeting at Brother Augusto’s fellowship which would be held at Bro Bebe’s mother’s house. We brought our six of the ministry team plus four more Philippine guests, nearly filling the small house. Augusto runs a “tight ship” of a fellowship, insisting we start by the clock. I was given the opportunity to bring the word. I felt a great liberty of the Spirit and I spoke on the sons of God, as his now and future habitation, the manifestation of which creation is awaiting. Martin then gave a brief testimony. I was surprised, when after the meeting closed, five young people came forward and wanted to be born again, two of them being Catholic girls. We were given an excellent lunch in the house before we left.
The afternoon meeting was then back at the school in Ampayon. George spoke on the bride of Christ being made ready for his coming. Then after a flurry of last minute attention to school issues and details, we had finished all that we came here to do. I can truthfully say, that much good was accomplished, much good seed being sown from which we expect much good fruit. On Monday, we all fly to Manila and begin what will be a full two day journey to return to our homes, our wives and families, who have been faithfully petitioning the Lord in our behalf. And we are so well aware that the family of God has also faithfully kept us in prayer and given us full support; for this we want to thank each and every one. May God bless you as partakers of His divine nature.