Today has been so fun! I believe God brought me all the way across the world because He knew I would feel like giving up and being here I cannot give up and go home. I’m thankful for that. I spent last night in prayer, both as I fell asleep and when I woke this morning. I got up early to go with Daryl and Tracey to the radio station where Daryl was supposed to preach. However, when we got there we found out the radio station was closed because of the local election. Nonetheless I enjoyed visiting with two college students from the church, Diane and Hannah. We talked about the wildlife of the Philippines and the animals used for agriculture. It was right up my alley!
We returned to Bagasbas early and had a lot of time this morning to visit with the children. When we arrived this morning, the shyness of the little ones was gone. They ran to greet us and hug us and ask us to play with them. It was wonderful!
Eric had decided to sleep at the camp last night. I prayed for his safety as I went to bed last night and when we arrived he was full of stories of how the people that stayed slept everywhere. On tables and benches. On tops of cars and in hammocks. They told him they sleep off the ground because at night the big snakes come out, but he didn’t see any snakes. He is very adventurous and I’m glad he got to have that extra time with the kiddos here.
After breakfast we had preaching by Pastor Sean Watson. What an encouragement he has been to me here! I cannot even begin to tell you how I have been changed, released, and unburdened since I’ve arrived. It took until today for God to finally break through the walls completely. It feels good to surrender to Him!
Preaching was followed by the award ceremony for the campers from their competitions. The children were so excited to receive their team’s prizes, which consisted of large bags containing small food and toiletry items. The parents were given Bibles as well as other small items as prizes for their participation as well.
Fifteen children were saved during the course of the 3-day camp! Fourteen older children committed to join Pastor Avel’s Bible Baptist Seminary, where they will study different courses to learn more about God, become preachers and workers in the church.
We proceeded to walk the short distance to the ocean and had a wonderful baptism ceremony for the newly saved children. Praise the Lord! The ocean was a bit cloudy. We were so thankful for good cloud cover during this ceremony, too, because it kept the temperature down and us pale white girls from burning.
When we returned we ate lunch and as we sat in the little gazebo a thunderstorm rolled in, unleashing a torrent of cooling rain. Eric and Matthew were the first to dash into the rain and soon the little children were playing in the new lake formed in the middle of the
school grounds. Tracey and I at first were worried about getting wet because we didn’t know what the plans were and if we would be able to return for dry clothes. But she looked at me and said, “We said we’d have fun, right?” We laid down our phones and dashed into the rain with the little ones, playing chase, ball, splashing each other, and laughing like crazy. Several of the older children came out to play volleyball with Matthew, Eric, Tracey, and I. Avel’s son Jun also played. I love volleyball and I am not sure why I’ve let it be so many years since I’ve played. I am so glad we put our reservations and concerns aside and decided to play. It will be one of my most treasured memories from here.
Tracey has been such a wonderful sister to have with me. She has listened to my fears
and prayer requests and encouraged me in a mighty way! I am so thankful she came!
When the rain stopped we waited for a long time to return to the hotel while Pastor Bernie returned chairs to the Mother Church (that’s what they call the first Biyanihan Baptist Church here in Daet because there are so many branches of the church now). Eric visited with the teens while Matthew, Jenny, Bill, and Chris chatted. It was a relaxing way to spend the midday.
We showered (which was much needed after the mud and grass and rain), rested, and then went out for dinner at a local restaurant called Shakey’s Pizza with Pastor Avel and Melody and their son Jun and his wife, Chona. I felt privileged to sit next to Jun and get to know him better. He is so funny! I find that I really admire the Filipino people’s ability to simply be themselves and not worry if they are what someone thinks they should be. The food was delicious and we ate a TON of it. Chona, Tracey, and I gave Jun a hard time about his marathon of food and told him to “pace himself.” But the great thing about these people is they tease each other in such good fun that no one is offended. It’s wonderful. We should learn to do that!
After a wonderful dinner filled with much laughter we went next door to the grocery and bought things for tomorrow. Melody teased me saying, “More candy? Always more and more candy!” But I can’t help it, I want to take a treat to the children for Sunday school tomorrow.
I leaned fully on God last night. I was completely alone and He was the only one to lean on. And He brought me through to bless me with an amazing day that I will never forget. I can’t wait to get home and see my children, but I will miss these children like they were my own. Their laughter is intoxicating, their smiles infectious, and their love inspiring.
Oh! There was an earthquake here today. I didn’t get to feel it because we were driving home from the camp, but Tracey, Daryl, and Sean were in the hotel and said the walls and beds shook. Pastor Bernie said it is not uncommon to have them because of the volcanic activity. Goodness gracious! I kind of wish I could have felt it just to say that I knew what an earthquake was like, but Tracey said it was scary so maybe I’m kind of glad I didn’t!
I’m so looking forward to church tomorrow and the children’s festival. Good night!
P.S.—There is a rooster here who has been perching on different balconies around the hotel and crowing at all hours of the daylight. Tracey texted me during siesta today and said, “If that rooster doesn’t stop crowing, he’s going to be dinner!” hahaha!
P.P.S–Saying goodbye wasn’t easy!