Greetings and God bless each of you today.
It is now Saturday afternoon (June 25) here in Butuan and we are all doing well here by the grace of God.
We had arrived in Manila safely on Wednesday evening and had a much needed rest after two days from our travels. On early Thursday afternoon we traveled by plane to Butuan where a good number of brethren met us at the airport. We were especially humbled by some of the brethren traveling over 2 hours just to greet us. From there we went to the Hotel Karaga where our stay and seminar will be held. After checking in we had time of fellowship with the brethren before they left for their homes in the evening time.
On Friday we spent the day at the KMM School. This was their second week into their new school year so it was a very busy time for everyone. We spent the day with Brother Mark Jantzi giving health and hygienic teachings in each of the classes. Sister Nancy Asbill conducted four interviews with the older students while Brother Burt Asbill and I did administrative work with Marissa the principal, Cherry our Administrator and Allan our Guidance Counselor. We had a very good and fruitful day of work at the school. The school is growing not only in numbers (197 children) but most importantly in its quality of teaching and molding the children to become productive children of God in a very dark world. We marveled at the overall operations at the school and the dedication of our school staff. They are doing an excellent job and we do appreciate both our Administrator Cherry and our Principal Marissa whose oversight has brought such an orderly and smooth running school operations to pass. We are blessed. We also had a wonderful time of lunch and fellowship with the staff during the noon time.
To those of you that have sponsored children please be assured that your children are getting the best education (both naturally and spiritually) from the offerings that you have given. These children (from the poorest of the poor) are being redeemed from lives that would otherwise put them on the street or at best would have fallen through the cracks of humanity that would have put their level of schooling on a very sub-par level. In each of the grades a number of them are on the honor roll and the vast majority of our students maintain at least a level of 80 percentile. That is almost unheard of when you realize the students social and living conditions from our perspective are to say the least are very difficult. This has also produced a major change in the parents as well (of whom many have given their lives to the Lord), who are actively involved with the school to see that their children excel in their attendance and studies. It has been so wonderful to see many of these children grow in the past 5 to 6 years from Kindergarten all the way up to the current 6th grade level. They are maturing into many fine young men and women for the Kingdom of God.
Today, Saturday is our only open day so we have taken advantage of it for a much needed rest. It seems it takes several days for our bodies to adjust to the time changes. We are having some good fellowship with Sister Merlinda today as well.
Tomorrow, Sunday we will visit a fellowship outside of Butuan City in the morning and return for the fellowship meeting at the KMM School in the afternoon.
Starting on Monday, we will host a four day seminar in the Hotel Karaga Conference Hall with the students (both current and former) and faculty from the Bible School in Jabonga. There will be other brethren in attendance as well; we expect 40 people to attend this conference. Please pray for these upcoming meetings and that God’s presence and anointing be in our midst.
We will return again on the next Friday to the KMM School where we plan to have some biblical teachings in the morning and afternoon for the children.
Saturday will consist of two meetings with the various elders, their wives and brethren and our last day on Sunday will have two meetings (one at the KMM School as well).
We do thank each of you for your prayers and intercessions on behalf of the team that has come and for what God wants to accomplish here among His people. Our hope and aim is that by the time we leave here, we will have a good report of the presence of God that will touch many and make a lasting change in the lives of all of us. And, we know it is also not only for us here but for all the brethren that stand with us at home and abroad to see the will of God accomplished here in the Philippines.
God bless you,
The above report by Brother George is an excellent description of the school that we are overseeing and the first several days of our stay here in Butuan City. When we returned to the hotel Saturday night it was raining and they were scooping water out of the hotel entrance to the lobby already. I am hoping this does not develop into the kind of major flood that we had here several years ago.
Now, let me start with the Sunday meetings. In the morning, we were taken by the hired van to the fellowship of Brother Ben. It is nearly an hour’s drive one way, half of which is on unpaved and muddy roads. As we look at the many flat, water filled fields that are now being prepared for the planting of rice, we behold the beauty of the Lord’s great creation. We had a good meeting in the tiny building that was very full of brethren. After Sister Nancy brought a teaching for children, I then brought a word on Living in Favor with God.
The afternoon meeting was held at the KMM School. It was a blessing to be able to meet in the new “auditorium”, which is really an open space under a metal roof, with a stony gravel floor (soon to be made into a level concrete pad). The new light metal sound barriers on the street side now seem to be having a good effect of baffling some of the traffic sounds. There were 100 chairs set out that were all full and there must have been 125 souls in attendance. Sister Nancy again brought a children’s word on “Kindness”, followed by a good word from Brother George regarding Praise. At the end of the meeting, we were given an amazing surprise, a gift to the “missionaries” of a table full of native fruits, dare I say a cornucopia. This was surely an outpouring of gratitude made by sacrifice and is surely more than we can use. Much of this will be shared tomorrow at the seminar to be held here at the hotel.
Monday, June 27 was the first day of what will be a four day seminar to be held here at the Karaga Hotel; we will be having two sessions each day, a morning and an afternoon meeting. In attendance is mostly the students and staff at the bible school from Jabonga, about 30 adults with a few little children, plus a few local brethren. We are told that the road to Jabonga now requires about 1.5 hours traveling, due to much road construction. These brethren led in the praise and worship with a good spirit. Brother Burt brought the first message telling of the Power to Choose to Become Sons of God. I brought the afternoon message looking into the Origin and Function of the Golden Altar. A light midday lunch meal will be served each day.
On Tuesday morning, we looked out to see rain on the street and a dark sky above. So we know that the “rainy season” has not yet ended, and the planting of new rice will continue for awhile. By late afternoon it is dry and sunny. Brother Burt brought the morning message which he calls, “No Freebies”; I heard the straight and narrow way, the death to self and the way to perfection. In the afternoon, Brother George followed up with a teaching about the Network of Satan’s Kingdom, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood…” The thirty something bible school folks then piled in to the two vehicles for the return home again. At sunset (6 PM), we heard the sound of much rain and could see that the heavens had opened up again.
Wednesday is another good day at the hotel seminar. Brother Burt brought the word in the morning session, “Sanctify Yourselves”, an exhortation to prepare ourselves to meet a holy God of eternity. When we had the noon break, there was a steady rain in the street in front of the hotel. I brought the afternoon message: Death at the Golden Altar, which followed not only the missteps of Nadab and Abihu, but also the Korah group of rebels and then King Uzziah’s intrusion into the priesthood at the golden alter and his subsequent leprosy. By evening the rain was gone and the travelers could return in a dry vehicle.
Thursday is the last day of our seminar at the hotel. It has been a good time of meeting with the bible school students and I believe that they are absorbing the message that we are bringing. Again there is a good spirit in praise and worship. I gave the morning message showing the Golden Altar in the Book of Revelation, where the prayers of the martyred saints are affecting the events on earth. Then Brother George brought the final message, Comparing the Spiritual Battle we are in with a championship sports game. After this, Brother Burt led in a prayer of rededication for all of the students. Included in the meetings were also half a dozen local brethren, elders and wives. At sundown there is again a light rain falling.
On Friday, July 1 we spent the day at the school. Sister Nancy gave two bible lesson teachings to the students in the large auditorium, one to the morning students and one to the afternoon students; the second group saw “live” puppets. We also visited Merlinda’s classroom where she intends to teach the German language to Filipino nurses who want jobs in Germany or Switzerland.
Saturday was our day for meeting at the KMM School with the elders that we have been working with. Brother Edmar brought a group from Jabonga and couples from the local area also joined us, about 20 adults plus little children. Brother Burt spoke at the morning and afternoon meetings, comparing the Calling Out of Abraham with what God expects of elders and showing how we are to be living epistles. We then returned to the hotel; by sundown the rain is falling again.
Sunday was our last day of ministry and it had an unusual beginning. I finished talking with my wife, Rita, at about 6 AM (Philippine time) and five minutes later all of the power in the hotel went out. We waited awhile as our rooms got warmer. Then I went down to the front desk to see why the generator did not kick in. The hotel owner showed me the large diesel generator and it would not start, apparently a broken starter; and a mechanic had been called. At 8 AM we had breakfast in a dark dining room and at 10 AM we got in our van and were driven to Brother Lito’s fellowship that meets in the open air, tin roof meeting “hall”. I gave a word on Raising the Children to be Obedient and to Respect the Lord God. After a quick meal, we went back to the hotel for a rest and entered our hot rooms. Five minutes later (thank You, Lord) the area wide blackout ended and we all had power again (and cooling from the A/C). At 3 PM, we went to the KMM School for the afternoon meeting. Sister Nancy and Brother George taught the group some new “action” songs. Then Brother George brought a message on the History and Integrity of the Written Word of God. It was one of the few days that we did not get any rain.
Monday, July 4th. But the overnight made up for the previous day. We had very wet roads, at 7 AM as we left the hotel, the hotel owner driving us to the airport in his own van. From here, we began our long journey that will return us to our homes, more than two full days from now. The Lord has been very good to us and we have been aware of your prayers on several occasions, especially when we needed a touch of healing and restoration in our bodies. When I say “God Bless You,” we mean every word of it, as your sacrifice is mixed with ours in bringing the kingdom of God to all nations.
In the Love of Jesus,
Mark Jantzi and the team
Another report from this mission trip can be found here.