Recently I read that there are currently four major ongoing epidemics that have originated in Asia: Coronavirus, Swine Flu, Swine Fever and SARS. So, we (George Herrig and I, Mark Jantzi) are traveling to Asia amid much publicity about Coronavirus from China. Cruise ships are being quarantined that have visited China and many airlines are canceling service to China. Although we are not traveling to China, we are visiting Philippines, which is in the Far East. I have determined that I will stand on the word of God from Psalm 91, especially verse 10: There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
The 12 ½ hour flight from Detroit to Narita, Japan was the first that we began to notice the difference in travel due to the Coronavirus; this flight being only about half filled; we were not at all crowded in our seats. There might have been one in five wearing face masks on the flight. When we landed in Narita, Japan we were all scanned at a distance by a thermal monitor as we ascended the jetway. I believe that 100% of the airport/airline employees in Japan were wearing face masks. The 4-hour flight from Japan to Manila, Philippines however was nearly full, mostly Filipino people of whom about 30% were wearing masks. The fear was apparently not as bad among Filipinos as the Japanese. Both the Manila airport and the Butuan airport had signs up inviting people to “bathe” their shoes to prevent African Swine Fever. And when we arrived in Butuan every passenger was manually and personally scanned thermally but no one else was wearing masks in the airport. In the city of Butuan, the wearing of masks became very rare.
We were met by Merlinda, Lito, Edmar and Medlyn who escorted us to the Go Hotel where we were staying again. The hotel is attached to the Robinson Mall which has a major food supermarket, a couple of banks and a number of restaurants, 3 or 4 which serve food compatible with our western preferences. I arrived feeling very tired; the long flight seemed to take a lot of energy out of me, since I ate and drank as little as possible.
By Friday morning after a long sleep, I believe that God had given new life and I was hungry. George and I went to breakfast in the mall. We traveled to the KMM School for a couple of hours after breakfast and laid out our plans for school business and set our schedule in order. Then we returned to the hotel for supper.
On Saturday, the 22nd we began the ministry of the word to the people. We had two meetings at the school among the elders and their families. I spoke in the morning on how the enemy will eventually destroy the church systems and after lunch George spoke on the “University of Christ”. Brother Ben was there with his wife and fellowship; Lito with Daisy and Crystal, Alan and wife Rosalia, Edmar and wife Medlyn along with several young couples/families from up North. Edmar is working as a construction foreman in a distant (5 hours by bus) city and gets home once a month; Medlyn remains in Jabonga but visits him every fortnight between. He preaches the kingdom message in the churches where he works, saying that they have given him an open door. What was recently their home on the main highway in Jabonga has become their fellowship worship center. Their residential domicile home is back in the old building where the fellowship first met on the side street. Other young men take oversight of the meeting in Jabonga in Edmar’s absence.
As of this first weekend, the weather is pleasantly cool with no rain in sight. There are a number of changes coming to the city. Butuan is getting a new mall, between the Guisano Mall and downtown, planned to be larger than the other two malls. Guisano is building a huge parking garage in the back. Ampayon is also getting a mall (“All Home” by name) on the main highway, but when we visited it, we found that it is not really a mall, but a very large store: combining “Home Depot”, appliances, electronics and furniture. Merlinda has moved from Mermalade to her Camella apartment. Lito has moved into his new home behind the church building. It seems to be a time of changes.
On Sunday morning, we were taken a little way out of the city to Brother Lito’s fellowship. I spoke on how desirable it is to be under God’s favor and gave illustrations of women from the word, especially Ruth. It was a meeting of a good spirit. In the afternoon meeting at the KMMS, George spoke on “What is a Christian” to a goodly crowd. All of the school staff and teachers were in attendance. After the message, a salvation invitation was given; one young mother and three 8th grade girls responded. Here again is the evidence of this school bringing more souls into the kingdom of God. Others also responded to the prayer to rededicate their lives for a closer walk with our Lord Jesus.
On Monday morning, George and I went early to the KMMS to speak with the children. At the first session, George met with all of the youngest ones, K-3. He began by asking the little ones many questions about the bible, from Genesis to Revelation. I was so pleased to witness the response of these children, evidence that they are being taught the basics of the bible. Some children were shy about raising their hand to answer, but enough were responding that we could see that the message is there. I spoke with the older ones, grades 4-8. I likewise probed them with questions and was satisfied that the basics of the message of the bible is there. I went on to speak more on the history of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Then I began some basics of teaching them the spiritual meaning of some words. We plan to continue with this again on Wednesday morning.
Tuesday was a holiday in the Philippines; it was a day we had no scheduled meetings. The weather had begun to change, bringing occasional showers and an increase of humidity. And yet, we kept busy most of the day. We had lunch at Merlinda’s house, along with Lito and Crystal. Then we visited the local print shop to see about printing “The Pattern” in Cebuano. We later got a complete sample copy; it looked really nice, we had to make only one minor adjustment before we began printing more copies. Back at the hotel in George’s room, we assembled many gift bags for the staff and students of KMMS, a regular packing factory.
The following day, we returned again to the school to continue the teaching that George and I had begun with the KMMS children. Again, we found them with the knowledge of the Bible appropriate for their age level. George gave a lesson on the Fruit of the Spirit and I gave my hour with the upper grades teaching the meaning of spiritual words in the Bible. At the close of each session, we passed out gift packages to each student.
After a lunch with the staff, we met with all of the teachers and enquired about the teaching material that they had been using for the Bible curriculum. The material is mostly intact among the lower grades; but additional material may be needed for the upper grades.
After the visit at the school, we stopped at the local printing shop and ordered 100 copies of the Cebuano Pattern to be printed. We are getting them for only a little over $6 each with a shiny black and white cover. With a little borrowing from here and there we were able to leave enough money to begin the job. We will eventually need more (money and copies) than this; and if any brethren have a burden for this project, get ahold of me (Mark) and I will direct your gifts for this purpose. We should have many of these books printed and ready before we leave this weekend.
On Thursday, we returned to the school and went to each of the nine classrooms. George photographed the students and the teacher of each class. We also interviewed each teacher as to how they were teaching Bible principles. We found that every teacher was teaching the word of God; which is being instilled in the souls of the children. We were able to find most of the books of the Bible curriculum that we established there a few years ago, but will need to add a few here and there to get the program fully implemented again.
The morning started out with showers on our ride from the hotel to the KMM School on Friday; by the time we returned in the late afternoon the roads were very wet with much standing water. We first held a board meeting at the school, followed by a meeting with all of the teaching staff. In both meetings, we told them what our expectations were concerning academics and the teaching of the Bible. Then we heard from them about various issues that we need to address. We have also asked Allan to make a list of “summer” repair and restore projects concerning the building.
Late that afternoon, after we had returned to our hotel, we received the delivery of 100 fully printed copies of “The Pattern” in the Cebuano language. Many thanks to all who had a part in this, plus all who will be helping financially with future printing costs! We took them to the school the next day, Saturday afternoon, and began distribution. I brought the morning message to the elders, speaking on “Having the Mind of Christ”. George brought the afternoon message on “Coming into Spiritual Maturity”, his voice contending with much rain that had begun falling on the metal roof of the “auditorium”. There was much gladness and excitement among those present who were receiving the newly printed Patterns; it seemed that everyone was eagerly reading from the new books.
George and I decided to take a long walk in the mall on Sunday morning. We found two large contemporary type of churches having meetings there; apparently, they rent considerable space from the mall corporation for this purpose. As we were finishing our walk, I heard a man call my name. He came over to us and it was Eric Calo. He is the man that we went out to visit in his little shack some six or more years ago and found him very crippled from a motorcycle accident and unable to walk. I had brought him crutches, prayed for him and asked him to get out of bed and try to walk, which he did with great difficulty. At today’s meeting, there were no crutches in sight and he seems to be walking very well without any assistance. I am trying to get him reconnected with one of our fellowships in the community.
Mid-afternoon on Sunday, we held our last meeting at the KMMS; it has actually become a fellowship in its own way with several elders ministering to them. I spoke on “Jesus Being the Living Water”. George and I actually led them in two of the songs about the Living Water that they did not know. As you might know, music is not our gift, but we all had a joyful time in the goodness of the Lord. After the meeting, there were many clinging to us for photos, hugs and such, especially from the teaching staff; they gave us a genuine loving send-off.
As I finish this narrative back in New York after the long travel home by air, I think back and remember how good the Lord has been to us in keeping us safe and under the shadow of the Almighty; also remembering the goodness of the Lord in bringing His kingdom to this little pocket of believers in the Philippines. A special thanks again goes out to the many who freely give to support this school and those who minister the word. As an extra to this report, I am attaching George’s report to his home fellowship in Dubuque.
Greetings and blessings to each of you this day. It is now Friday evening in which we have completed a week’s worth of work and interaction at the KMM School.
To begin with: Both Mark and I held meetings with the school children on Monday and Wednesday. Mark taught the 4th to 8th grade students in one meeting and I taught the Kindergarten to 3rd grade students in the next. We each had approximately 80 students in our meetings. It was a wonderful experience! We asked them many questions pertaining to the Bible and they seemed to have a good grasp of the Word of God. Mark taught both days on the “Spiritual Meanings” that are in the Word of God and I taught the “Two Greatest Commandments” along with the “Fruit of the Spirit”.
Tuesday, we began to seek out printers to publish the book “The Pattern” which was translated into Cebuano, which is their local language. This work was close to five years in the making with the bible students in Jabonga doing the translation. That afternoon, Merlinda, Mark and myself put together the many items that were brought to give as gifts to all the students. We also purchased toothbrushes locally when we came. All in all, we had over 165 bags each containing pens (5-8 grades), pencils (K-4 grades), two bookmarks, toothbrush, large balloon and a small treat. The graduating 8th graders also received a KJV New Testament. Gifts were also given to all the staff.
On Thursday and Friday, we had administrative days at the school. What does that all involve? We did classroom observations, board meetings with the Principal (Marissa), Administrator (Merlinda), and the Guidance Counselor (Allan), staff meetings with all the teachers and an overall review for summer repairs and reconstruction. Our time also included prayers and counseling with the various staff. We were also blessed to have lunch three times with the staff during the week. And, not to say the least, we greeted and interacted with many of the students. What a joy they are! From the youngest kindergarteners to the oldest 8th graders. Please ask to see some of my pictures for I have many of the staff and the students.
I think that both Mark and I can say we are very pleased with the progress and growth at the KMM School. The teachers, along with the rest of the staff, work together very well. The students respond well to their teachers and are doing well in their studies. We have a very dedicated and wonderful staff. PTL! This made our time of labor here enjoyable as well.
Friday afternoon we received from the printers 100 copies of the new translated Cebuano “Pattern”. We will distribute at least half of them tomorrow, Saturday when we will have two meetings at the school. We have one final meeting on Sunday with the brethren, KMM Staff, parents and children from the school.
Monday begins our trip back home with a flight to Manila. We rest up for the remainder of the day and then return to the airport early Tuesday morning for our Delta flights back to the USA. (Manila to Tokyo, Tokyo to Detroit, then Detroit to Albany and/or Moline).
Overall, it has been an excellent trip. God has kept us safe and healthy and has blessed our time there. Much thanks to all of you that have been praying for us. Your prayers and support are greatly appreciated!
God bless you.