Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 VBS

This past week was a very busy, yet exciting time at our church. We held our annual Vacation Bible School for children ages 3-12. We divided the children into 4 age brackets and developed a rotating schedule. This year, the main theme of our VBS was Creation. We had a great turnout! On Monday we had 146 kids, Tuesday 141, Wednesday 136, Thursday 129, and on Friday we held a VBS graduation and encouraged the children to invite their parents. About 15 parents came to the graduation.

We started the program at 8:30am (some kids arrived as early as 7:30am) and we ended at 11:00am. For the first 30 minutes we had our opening ceremonies and our singing time (led by Rina), then the classes were dismissed and they rotated to each of the 5 different stations that were set up for them. There was craft time, game time, Bible lesson time, memory verse time, and the all important snack time. When all of this was finished we gathered again in the auditorium and gave out awards.

We thank the Lord for the blessing of a successful VBS!

-Ptr. Matt & Rina-

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

2 Prayer Requests

I would just like to ask everyone for their prayers for two things that are coming up.

1. Our church is having our VBS (Vacation Bible School) this coming week. Can you please pray that everything will run smoothly and that many children will come, hear, and accept the Gospel.

2. Rina and I are scheduled to have an appointment with the Philippine Immigration Department on Tuesday morning around 9:00am. Can you please pray that all details will be worked out concerning our VISA and that we will be granted the proper VISA for our work here in the Philippines.

Thank you for your prayers and God Bless.

-Ptr. Matt & Rina-
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Thoughts about Holy Week in the Philippines

This was my first time being in the Philippines during what is known as "Holy Week". The Philippines is a very religious country with the majority of Filipinos being Roman Catholic. The area where we are missionaries is full of tradition during Holy Week. I have read and heard about some of the different religious rituals that take place, but to see them first hand was quite an experience.

One of the things I was able to briefly observe was the extreme form of what is known as Penitensya, the Filipino term for Penance. I saw a total of about 7 men that were carrying crosses made of bamboo or wood walking in their bare feet headed toward different churches to give their prayers. This was done in the middle of the day in 90 degree weather! I also saw several men whipping themselves with a collection of small bamboo sticks tied to a rope. These men were also doing their Penitensya in the form of flagellation.

Another tradition that I observed was the town processional that dramatizes, via parade floats, the sacrifice or passion of Christ, His acceptance by Mary, and many different Catholic saints. We passed a processional in which there were over 75 floats involved, each one was decorated and themed according to whatever devotion a person belonged. Flowers, lights, music, and candles all accompanied these colorful, life-like floats during the processional.

Finally, during our church service on Good Friday, there was another processional that took place. While we were in the middle of our prayer time, I heard some slow, sad music playing in the distance. As the music grew louder and the procession came closer, I saw hundreds of people with candles following a float that consisted of a statue of Jesus lying in a clear glass coffin. For me it was strange to see people outside our church in such a mournful, funeral-like state as they commemorated the death of Christ, while at the same time inside our church I had just finished talking about the hope that the cross brings.

"But this Man (Jesus Christ), after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God." Hebrews 10:12

-Ptr. Matt & Rina-
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Our Easter Service

We had a wonderful Easter Sunday at our church. I am thankful for the faithful people who attended our service. I'm thankful for all of the kids who had a great time during children's church. I am thankful for the new visitors who came and were able to hear the Gospel. Mostly though, I am thankful for the hope and joy the message of Easter brings.

-Ptr. Matt & Rina-
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Friday, April 2, 2010

"Holy Week" 2010

This is just a short video clip showing some of the different things we have seen so far this week. Hopefully it will give you a taste of how they celebrate "Holy Week" here in the Philippines. I will write in more detail about our experiences following Easter.

-Ptr. Matt & Rina-
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