I am happy to be home from the Philippines; but at the same time, I enjoyed the visit tremendously and was not actually anxious to return home. The Lord abundantly blessed this last trip in more ways than I can even fathom. I have many rich and precious experiences I would like to share as I have time. I have been asked by several to write about some of my accounts. As I have more time, I hope to do just that.
I am still rejoicing at the sight of Eld. Constacio Tejada who suffered a stroke in September. At the time, I thought I might not ever see him on this earth again. I also thought he might not preach again. Initially, he could not speak, walk, or move his right side. When I saw him at his home, I had a hard time stopping my weeping. It was a joyous reunion. It was amazing to see how he had hung bamboo poles from his ceiling to use as handrails through the middle of his rooms. His bed had been moved into the living area of the house. He is now able to stand and even walk a little with the aid of an assistant and a cane. His speech is very good and clear. He began preaching again the first Sunday in December. The muddy footpath to the church which is located on the side of a mountain (hill) is treacherous and I had difficulty climbing it without falling. But he slowly ascended the slippery, steep path with the aid of a deacon on either side and with me behind him. I almost fell and brought him down with me. What a tragedy it would have been for a younger able-bodied American to have caused this dear saint to have fallen and encountered further injury. The Lord has certainly answered many prayers and blessed this dear brother with strength, healing grace, and a wonderful gift to preach. On previous trips, Elder Const. Tejada served as one of my human guardians, chauffeurs, and body guard. I joked that I had an armed guard – in fact I had a two armed guard. But I am thankful to know we had the same Guardian in our Protecting Heavenly Father. My life is much richer because of my past experiences with this dear brother. May the Lord bless him to be used for many years to come.
While at Bro. Const’s home, others preacher also visited. One of these was Elder Angel Batulan (not pronounced like the heavenly being). He is 82 and the oldest Filipino preachers I have ever met. He and Elder Const Tejada both leaned on their staffs as they sat together and worshipped and fellowshipped. I was made to think of the passage in Heb 11:21. Bro. Angel first said that he wished I could visit his church, then he sadly stated that he would not have me come there. You see, he lives in one of the most dangerous areas of the PI for Americans. It is the area where kidnappings for ransom are commonplace, especially for American visitors or workers (like teachers or preachers). This area was not far from where we were, and it was close enough for him to come on the back of a motorcycle to the safer area that we were visiting. He went on to explain that he would not have me come to his church and risk being harmed or kidnapped. He said he could not live with himself if he caused me such harm by coercing me to visit him there. When we departed, he climbed on the back of a motorcycle owned by another preacher or deacon. I thought it odd to see an 82 year old man riding on the back of a motorcycle with a walking stick in his hand and no helmet. The terrain they traverse by motorcycle is treacherous enough to walk on and I certainly would not want to ride a motorcycle on it. I wondered, how many other preachers I know would make the sacrifices these men do and risk their lives on a regular basis to worship God and serve His precious children. Please do not be offended, I am not meaning to criticize anyone. Many of you may make equally risky sacrifices to serve God.
During this visit, Bro. Angel asked me for a cell phone. Although he lives in a very dangerous area, he has no phone or other means of communicating with others in distant places. When he is able to speak with someone, he must borrow a cell phone. It was a great blessing to be able to fulfill his request, and it cost me very little in the PI. I thought of the comparison of the paper that I sacrificed vs. the great sacrifices that these dear servants regularly make. There was no real comparison. I also could not have lived with myself if I had denied him this small request and then he got into danger and had no way of contacting others. What a blessing it was to see the face of this dear saint when I fulfilled his request. I hope this doesn’t sound boastful, as I want to share my experiences and truly say it was much more blessed to give than to receive. I am thankful to the Lord for His abundant provision and blessing me to be able to share just a little, while receiving much greater spiritual blessings in return.
I will have to admit that I was tempted to give him my old phone and keep the new one for myself. Then, I considered the fact that I use this Filipino Cell Phone only once or twice a year for a few days. It was more than sufficient for me. So I gave him the newer, nicer one and kept the old one for myself. Later, on the trip I lost the old phone. I was glad that I had given him the better phone. Had I kept the new one, it would have been lost anyway. I have seen Bro. Angel on every visit to the PI. I always enjoy my time with him. He is not much over 4-1/2 feet tall. Every year I wonder if this will be the last time I will see him. So far, I have been blessed to see him again, and he is always smiling and seems as spry as the year before. I know that will not always be the case, but I am thankful for each occasion with him.
I hope to share more experiences later.