Wednesday, we woke up at 3:45am
to prepare to load into our vehicle in order to get to the airport and check-in in time for our flight to Cauayan Airport. Felipe Cariaga and Philip Dumawa were kind enough to drive us there. Check-in went smooth and we got off on time, arriving just a little earlier than scheduled. Edward and Arnolfo were there, at Cauayan, waiting to pick us up and carry us to the Bible study center in Ramon.
The location of the Bible study center here is in Ramon, near the Matagan river. The building is about three years old, and has rooms for visiting individuals, like us, to stay in. The surroundings are rural, and beautiful. However, not so rural that we do not have 4-5 bars of 3g cell service most of the time. In fact, no matter how rural it has appeared to us at times that we are, the cell service has always been, unexpectedly, excellent.
Since we have been here, we have been able to go and visit some members of congregations near this area. We were able to visit with some from the Ubao congregation, which is just a year old, and their hospitality was tremendous. We also visited the Potia church of Christ. There, we pulled up chairs in a semi-circle around sister Caring (you’ll find her small frame in the middle of one of the photos below). She moistened our eyes as she told us of the birth of her faith, and how she became a Christian while in Saudi Arabia.
What a powerful woman we found there in that place, and we understand from Ken that her influence has been exceptional. They were so gracious to us as hosts. The wife of J.R., the preacher there left on a motorcycle to go and buy sliced bread so that we could share some with the soy coffee they had brewed. Even now, it make my eyes well up at the though that they sacrificed more for the sharing of that meal than they should have on us – but everywhere we have turned we have encountered this sort of hospitality from the brethren here.
On Thursday afternoon
, we traveled about an hour to Dafun, where Edward and Bing’s daughter Sharon Kay (together with her cousin Penilin) helps to manage a Bible study center near the college there. While we visited, Dick Baguioen
came over to join us. At 5:30
we hosted a class there in the center with 29 of us in attendance together. Ken introduced our topic of “Jesus has a blessing for your future, your present, and your past." Clint started us off by covering the blessings of our future. Next, Jake and Luke both spoke on the blessing Jesus has for our present. Then, I finished our class, which was about an hour to an hour and a half long total, speaking about the blessing He has for our past. Following this, we shared in a meal together and visited for quite a while before piling back into the vehicles and traveling back to Ramon for the night. There, we found the day had caught up with all of us, but we sat in the kitchen for quite a while in spite of that sharing thoughts, and laughing with one another. I especially enjoyed watching Arnolfo teach Luke some of the Ilocano dialect.
This morning, Friday, was a slow morning. I think Edward knew we would need it before the teen gathering which begins here tonight. Bryan, Clint, and I traveled with Edward and Bing to the market in Ramon to be with them while they bought the needed supplies of food. If you are picturing HEB or Kroger, think again – this was nothing remotely like that at all. About sundown, a big rain storm blew in which delayed the arrival of some of the groups coming here. At dinner, just after the amen, the lights went out, and it was pitch black. Ken said perhaps it was God reminding us again that we weren’t in charge after all. Thankfully, they came back on about 20 minutes later.
Now, a large gathering of teens is here, and the activities begin in earnest tomorrow. Kevin who is also here from Cebu will speak tomorrow, and Luke and Jake are to play a role in team building and fun.
I will close with some photos from the last couple of days here, with a thankful heart of what we have been able to share in so far.
Luke celebrating that his checked bag weighed less than mine (barely)
The ride to the plane; we loaded on the tarmac
The descent near Cauayan
Edward’s youngest daughter looking out near the Magat Dam
Some brothers and sisters at Potia (sister Caring in front of Ken)
With the workers who are spreading the Gospel at Ubao
Bulalo (ox knee soup)
Edward and Ken catching up
The class at the Bible study center in Dafun
Luke teaching in Dafun
Smoked fish selection at the market in Ramon