The Sabbath in Davao

Saturday, July 13, 2013
Davao, Mindanao, Philippines
What a great day this has been! Church services were at 2:00 PM at a rented hotel ballroom that would accomodate the combined service for about 140 or so people. I believe that there are about 65 in the Davao congregation, however, today brethren were invited and encouraged to come from the other outlying Mindanao churches.  

One couple, the Valdez's came by motorcycle four hours to be here . Others came by various forms of transport including the colorful and creative jeepnies. I have some photos of the jeepnies. I have never seen anything quite like these creative expressions for public transport. As mentioned yesterday, they evolved from all the thousands of jeeps left behind by the Americans after World War II and converted to public transport. Then they were enlarged and turned into a kind of mini-bus. No two seem to be alike and some are very decorated and they are always jammed full! In the heat and humidity it's probably an extremely close experience.  
I have a restful Sabbath morning. I think over what I'll be speaking about and pray. My prayers are increasingly about the people in the church. The words of the Apostle Paul are far more meaningful when at the beginning of most letters he states that he thanked God for the faith of the people in the new Christian congregations and prayed for them always. As I have been developing that habit, I find it enjoyable to think of the various people I meet and first thank God for their transforming faith, which is the greatest miracle of all to asking God to grant them His grace and peace Paul also mentions at the beginning of his letters whether to churches or individuals.  

I don't seem to feel jet-lagged. I was able to sleep more than usual on the long flights over and arriving in the evening always gets you going in the right direction as you get quickly accustomed to the time change. I am 12 time zones removed from Eastern Daylight time. So, it's easy to know exactly what time it is back home....the same number but the AM or PM is different. I was able to speak to Bev on Skype. It was more clear than sometimes what we have as domestic phone service :) in Cincinnati.

I wear my formal barong today. This is the way to go. It is so comfortable. No tight collars or ties. Or jackets! Why do people do this to one another?! The Filipinos do it right. I look in the mirror and think I look a little funny and strange because everything fits so loose, but I'm sure that I'll be OK....and am quickly assured when I meet people say that I look good . I'm mumbling to myself the words of the TV commercial for I believe Men's Wearhouse "you'll love the way you look."  

Ed Macaraeg picks Earl and me up at 1 PM and offer we go to the church service venue about 20 minutes away. Traffic is busy, but it amazingly flows smoothly. New lanes are created as there is need. If a road has 3 lanes and the traffic is heavy, a fourth lane is created by the collective drivers. Like birds in a one knows exactly who decides where the flock goes, but it it is with the traffic. It is so smooth and people are patient...very little honking...very courteous. In other culture there would be incessant honking. It is more courteous than in the US which is ahead of most places in the world. Enough about traffic.

We arrived at service about 45 minutes early. I'll be not only speaking today but playing the hymns for services. Daniel Macaraeg will be song-leader . They normally don't have a piano player, but today they brought the Clavinova that is use for the Festivals and it's great to play.  

Before services I met one person after another. As mentioned, the Valdez couple came 4 hours by motorcycle with her riding behind him. I just can't imagine being hung on to for four hours.  

It is monsoon season and there is intermittent rain through the day.  

Many of the people are already seated....even though it's 40 minutes to the start of services. There is a respectful gentleness in the people that is so pleasant. I meet the other Macaraegs such as Charles and his wife along with David. David's wife is in the United States and he is working on emigrating to the USA.  

Several of the brethren work at the local church office in Davao. I'm really looking forward to spending time at the office which is scheduled for Monday . I would like to see what each person does in the media, incoming and outgoing mail and everything else.      

I meet Norelyn (not sure about the spelling). She is a young woman with three small children. In a tragic motorcycle accident her husband was killed about a month ago.  

For services Earl Roemer spoke first and then I followed. I spoke about the vision for the Church using the first chapter of the book of Colossians as the outline. The Apostle Paul spoke about some important guiding concepts about his pastoral practice and what he envisioned to be the outcomes, some of which were already realized. He thanked God for them and their faith which resulted in love for one another because of the hope that was in them because of the word that they had heard. That continues in their good work, obeying God and bearing fruit, which is conversion. There's quite a bit in that chapter and I like to cast the vision as not mine, but the one that is set for us already to model .

After services we took pictures. And we took pictures....and more pictures! I have not seen a church were more pictures were taken. We took group shots of families, of congregations of me and children and other combos that could become limitless. We all had a good time doing this. 

Earl Roemer got me a map of the Philippines and drew out in greater detail where people are from which I really appreciated. I love looking at maps and found the Mindanao area interesting for its size and description of terrain of mountains yet quite a bit of agricultural land.  

Sunset is much earlier than back home in where I live in the US. It gets dark by 6 pm. We're closer to the equator and the days are more equal in daylight throughout the year. 

There were some nice snacks after services consisting of various items made from rice that I had not experienced before . Nice. 

I was also given a box of bars made of durian....which I will save to bring to my Bev....we'll experience them together. 

In the evening Earl and I along with the Macaraeg's and newer elder Merlito Tonog along with his wife Venicia went out to dinner. It was a very enjoyable time as I got to know the Tonog's better. Both were very dignified and pleasant and we talked a lot with one another through the evening. He oversees a congregation about 3 hours away and they drove home after we had dinner. 

An exciting day comes to an end. Tomorrow we go to two prisons about an hour away and will visit two of our brethren who are incarcerated. Stay tuned....