Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Greetings from Mindanao, Philippines!
Patrick and I arrived safely in Cagayan de Oro from Manila this morning but this is the first opportunity to get in the Internet I've had since Tokyo. So let me catch you up from there. On the flight from Tokyo to Manila we asked for seats on an exit aisle, as we do on every flight. They told us they had seats but they were upstairs! That was the first inclination that we would be on a double-decker plane. What a blessing it was, too! The exit row we were assigned to was about five feet wide ... talk about space! Patrick and I had plenty of leg room plus an empty seat between us ... it couldn't have gotten much better!
We got into Manila sometime after 10:00PM local time and by the time we gathered our luggage and got to the hotel it was well after 11:00PM. We were both bushed from having traveled all day ... we had arrived at DFW at 7:00AM Pineville time and didn't arrive in Manila until 9:00AM the next day Pineville time – 26 hours of travel after having driven from Pineville to Dallas. Needless to say, we were bushed!
We got to bed pretty soon after getting to the room but because our bodies are still on Pineville time, we woke up around 5:00AM local time, well before our alarm was set to go off. So we got ready leisurely and had a wonderful time of prayer and devotion together. Then back to the airport to catch the flight to Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao. (There are over 7,000 islands in the Philippines.) It was neat driving past Manila Bay, which I had heard my dad speak of many times. He almost drowned in Manila Bay when he was a sailor stationed in the Philippines in the 1950's. Had it not been for a Filipino fisherman in a bankaboat, I wouldn't be writing this today!
We arrived in Cagayan de Oro a little ahead of schedule due to a tailwind. Two of the Filipino brothers were on hand to greet us and told us that the third would meet us at the hotel, that his 8-hour ferry ride had turned into 13 hours due to engine troubles. The two that were there to meet us had each traveled over 4 hours via bus from opposite directions. We loaded up in a minivan and headed for town.
The Philippine islands are located close to the equator so the climate is much like Central America and it is very tropical. There are so many things that remind me of Central America – the busy streets, the concrete construction, the contrast of opulent wealth and stark poverty side by side. There are also private security guards at just about every business establishment. In fact, the security guards at the hotel in Manila checked under the taxi with mirrors and we had to walk through a metal detector to get into the hotel!!! (The taxi driver told us it was just for show. :) ) The Filipino brothers told us that Cagayan de Oro is one of the safer cities in the Philippines and it definitely feels that way.
After getting settled in our hotel rooms we met with the brothers for lunch and some “getting to know you” time. Patrick had been corresponding via email with each of them since the first part of the year, but it was good to get to talk face to face. You could sense their excitement that we had arrived and it was a pleasure visiting with them.
After lunch we retired upstairs to our room where we shared the history of Christians Sharing Christ and some background information on Patrick and I and how we got involved in the ministry. We asked them each to share some more in depth background on themselves, especially how they came to be interested in film evangelism and how they found out about CSC. Each shared a similar story of seeing the impact films had and looking on the Internet for a ministry that specialized in it. One of the brothers said that when he found CSC's website he noticed much of our ministry was in Spanish speaking countries and he wondered since the Philippines were originally a Spanish colony if we would be interested in expanding our ministry here. Then Patrick broke out the training manuals and we spent the rest of the afternoon on that and then some wonderful time in prayer together.
By evening we were ready to get out of the room, walk around a bit and get some supper. I had been needing a haircut so I asked if we could find a barbershop and we did. I got a shave and a haircut that even included a shoulder, arm and hand massage, all for $1.30. That was the best $1.30 I think I've ever spent! I fell asleep in the chair, it felt so good! (Of course, jet lag may have had something to do with that!)
We made our way to a Chinese restaurant and enjoyed a good meal together. Walking back to the hotel through the streets was an experience. There are all sorts of vehicles going all sorts of directions, seemingly without much order. One of the common forms of transportation is called a “Jeepney” - the front end looks like a jeep or a WWII vehicle and the back is an open bus. It's one of the cheapest forms of transportation and every one is painted unique to the owner/driver with lots of chrome add-ons. There are also a lot of “tricycles” - motorcycles with an open minibus type attachment welded to the back. They're all over the place.
The boulevard is beautiful with rope-lights in the trees and beautiful light poles. There are lots of people out, vendors, shoppers, people just congregating around. Again, very similar to our experiences in Latin America.
We finally made it back to the hotel and I sat down to write this report. As I write, it is a little after 8:00PM here, a little after 7:00AM there. You are starting your day and we are going to try to get some sleep. Shouldn't be too hard as we are exhausted!
Please pray that tomorrow will have continued success. Patrick and I both bear witness that all three of these brothers are sent by God to be a part of CSC. We need to appoint one of them as the Country Director and we feel we know which one. But we asked them to visit together and pray tonight and that we would discuss it tomorrow. We also need favor from the Lord tomorrow as we will be purchasing a set of equipment for each man: video projector, dvd player, compact sound system, cables and a strong suitcase for all the equipment to be safely protected in. We will also be buying bicycles for two of the brothers. Once we purchase all the equipment then we will have training classes on how to use it. We have two days left here before we head off to Nepal and do it all over again!
That wraps this report up. Thank you for your prayers – we can certainly feel them. Please continue to pray for our strength and stamina and that we can quickly adjust to the time zone difference. We appreciate your support!
P.S. Happy 4th of July! Ours has just ended! ;-)