By Mark Jantzi
Sister Merlinda reminded us today, it was 2008 that we first visited the Philippines; so, this would be the beginning of our eleventh year of ministry here. The team this year, besides myself, includes Brother George Herrig and the Asbills: Brother Burt and Sister Nancy. We all gathered in Atlanta on Tuesday morning of February 13. From there it was the usual very long (14 hour) flight to Japan that tracked 400 miles south of the North Pole (about 100 miles north of the northern shore of Alaska). The flight then tracked south over eastern Russia (the Kamchatka area of Siberia). Incidentally, the return flight tracked south of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. It was cloudy so there were no touristy views from the airplane. After Japan, there was the usual 4-hour flight to Manila. Of course, we were glad to sleep horizontally at the hotel in Manila before continuing our journey to Butuan the next day. That flight happened to be delayed for nearly two hours, and we were told that the newly active Philippine volcano had something to do with the delayed flight.
After settling in to the hotel in Butuan City on Thursday, we had a meal and a good rest. We started the next morning with a visit to the KMM School where we delivered many gifts for the children and staff, having traveled with extra luggage. The gifts included much new children’s clothing from the Dubuque fellowship. Also children’s reading books, brought from New York, were added to the school library to encourage reading and to build their English skills. Sister Nancy brought a drama teaching to the children at both the morning and afternoon sessions, which was followed by Brother Burt teaching the children some bible basics (bible stories).
Saturday the 17th was the second day that we went to the KMM School, where we had two meetings, not with children, but with about 20 regional fellowship leaders and their wives, that we have been working with over the years. I spoke at the first meeting on having a hunger and thirst for the word of God. Brother George spoke at the second meeting on the word of Jesus being our only master.
On Sunday, we were able to travel to Brother Lito’s fellowship where I spoke at the morning meeting on having a changed appetite for the higher things of the Spirit. After our lunch at the hotel, we went to the KMM School where Brother Burt preached on the dispensation of the fullness of time to a very full “room” of students, parents, teachers and other visitors from this and nearby communities.
Monday begins three days of “conference” meetings at the Karaga Hotel. Since the other brethren are attending to other urgent business, I am the main speaker at these meetings, two each day. The first day, I spoke on Possessing Your Promised Land and Feeding on the Life of Christ. On Tuesday, I spoke on the Mother of Harlots and the City of Babylon which will soon fall. On Wednesday, I taught on the Practice of Priestcraft and the Queen of Heaven. Those attending this conference represent the local fellowships that are affiliated with us, Brothers Ben, Lito and the KMM School gathering; but mostly the young people who come from the Jabonga area, now married couples with families, who were formerly part of Brother Edmar and Sister Medlyn’s bible school. There are between 20 and 35 adults attending, plus about 10 babies and young children. They were very attentive to the word and participated freely. I believe the word is finding very good soil among this crowd, and I would say that it is well worth our time and expense to preach this gospel of the kingdom to these people. These young couples are beginning to be scattered somewhat from their “home base” of Jabonga and are ministering the word in other locations.
Thursday was a day spent accomplishing certain business for the school, in particular among the banks, including settling a smooth method of paying all employees with a debit card instead of dispensing cash to everyone (these folks simply do not have checking accounts). Friday was spent at the KMM School with students and the staff. We consider it a very productive day and one in which we saw God’s intervention in answering many of our prayers. Nancy and I interviewed all of the new teachers and got good updated profiles. On Saturday, we men took an open side multi-cab to the school to meet with the landlord and his family, to discuss the leasing of the 3rd floor of the building, in which we have been using the first floor. It looks like a reasonable deal for a small additional cost and will give us flexibility to add other grades in the future. It rained all day Saturday, and needless to say, everything was wet.
Sunday afternoon will be our last meeting at the KMM School in the outdoor covered “auditorium”. Nancy did a flannel-graph teaching for the children and Brother Burt gave the final message to a full house crowd, “The Presence of God”. All of the school staff was present (yes, 100% of the teachers). After the word was given, one set of parents came forward to dedicate their young son to the Lord; we all prayed with them. And then after the meeting, we were overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and appreciation from the people, especially the teachers. I could not help but think of how Paul was blessed by the brethren when he bade them farewell and began the course of events that would take him to Rome.
Again, I hear from many of you that have been faithfully supporting us in prayer and other resources. May God bless you, each and every one.