Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Memorial Day Remembrance: 8,000 Miles Away

Memorial Day was our first major U.S. holiday that wasn't celebrated here in the Philippines. Thankfully though, we were still able to reflect and remember in a unique way. On Memorial Day, we had to travel several hours away to the Bataan Peninsula because Rina was involved in the debut of a pastor's niece. Unknown to us, on our way back home at around 10:00pm, we passed by a monument honoring the U.S. and Filipino soldiers who defended the Bataan Peninsula and were later involved in the Bataan Death March. Thanks to my father's careful training of stopping at every historical marker, I quickly got out of the car and was able to take some pictures. I was imagining our local parade and the subsequent march to the cemetery back home, but then in our own way, some 8,000 miles away, we were still able to participate in Memorial Day. -God Bless-

-Ptr. Matt and Rina
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Youth Camp: Calauan, Laguna, Philippines

Last week we had the opportunity to go to a Word of Life youth camp south of Manila in Calauan, Laguna. Rina, myself, and 9 of our church members were able to attend. After a 4-5 hour bus ride, we arrived on Tuesday morning. The surrounding area was very beautiful. The camp is located in a mountainous region and it was full of lush, green vegetation. There were lots and lots of buko(coconut) trees. The facilities were also very nice. The major attractions included a swimming pool, cafeteria, basketball court, snack shack, an auditorium, a big soccer field, and a small amphitheatre. There were around 8 or 9 two-story dormitories and each building had 4 rooms with each room having 8 bunk beds. Unfortunately, they did not have ac in those rooms. They only had 1 or 2 fans to blow the 90 degree air around. Fortunately, Rina and I were able to stay with another pastor and his family in an air conditioned room separate from the dormitories. It was a blessing because due to the humidity, Rina's asthma was starting to act up.

The theme of the camp was based off Romans 12:1, Youth: A Living Sacrifice. There were four teams: the spotless lambs, clean oxen, pure turtle doves, and unblemished rams(1st place, yeah!). There was a lot of great preaching (70% Tagalog, 30% English), singing, and peformances. Some of the featured speakers were
Dr. Ed Laurena, Dr. Jericho Samson, Ptr. Jeremias Solomon (very, very funny), Ptr. Gerald Mateo, Ptr. Arnel Supan, Ptr. Carlos Darlucio, and Evangelist Dax Baardi (who at the end of camp got an award for the longest preaching - 2 hours and 15 minutes).

There was a detailed and busy itinerary for each day. Each morning we began by having a group Bible study/devotional at 6am. I was able to be the main speaker for the devotional on Wednesday morning. Following the devotional was breakfast at 7. Speaking of food, all of the food at the camp was excellent. Lunch and dinner were all-you-can-eat, and they served the food to you waiter style rather then in a buffet line. You just had to raise your hand when your serving platter was empty. I definitely left every meal very full. After breakfast there was a combination of team building and preaching from 8:30-12. That was followed by lunch at 12 and then sports activites and games from 1-6. After that it was dinner time and more eating at 7. We then concluded the schedule with our main preaching session from 7:30-10. After the preaching there was a dedication. Some of our young people made decisions to "make their lives a living sacrifice."It was all a very busy, yet very rewarding experience. I am very thankful that our church was able to attend. Lord willing, we will be back again next year. -God Bless-

-Ptr. Matt and Rina
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