Thursday, November 03, 2005

Day Three in the Land of Smiles

Last evening Pastors Val and Joemarie and I had noodles and chicken (my favourite) at Chow King. Then we headed for the service at Ilo Ilo Foursquare Church.

Wow! What an inspiration to worship with these enthusiastic pastors and leaders. It seems that the more people suffer, the closer they are to God.

We watched a great DVD which covered an informal tour of several of the surrounding island churches. The team traveled for two weeks by homemade catamarans, motorcycles, trucks and foot to reach some of the remote villages. These pastors (which are here at the Conference) live on $300 to $500 pesos a month—that’s $6 to $10 CDN. No wonder they are thrilled to receive our bags of collected hotel shampoos and soaps! The service was long (about four hours) but inspiring.

By midnight I hit the pillow and asked for a wake up call for 8:30. I woke up at what I thought was 6:00 showered, dressed and went to the lobby for a cup of Nescafe (only instant here), but all was in darkness. I asked the sleeping clerk when the cafĂ© opened—that’s when I realized it was only 4:30 a.m. Somehow I’d got the time changes confused.

At least I had a good length of time to prepare for my day. Breakfast was fish, lumpio, rice, eggs and fresh papaya. Delicious!

I loved our two morning sessions. Every morning and evening I give the pastors a ten question quiz (very obscure questions) on what I said the previous session. Then I give out dozens of Cadbury chocolate bars and my books as gifts. I’m amazed how well they remember the answers.

For example, I told a story the day before about a runner from Tanzania in the 1990 Mexico City Olympics. One question was, “What was his name?” The answer, which some remembered, was John Akwara. We also shipped a box of used Christian books a couple of months ago. Nora gives away the books as prizes for various things and they are tickled to receive a free book.

Our church paid for Life Purpose books as well as workbooks for every registered pastor. They are so grateful. We also supplied the money (amazingly our Sunday School children raised $1500) for food for the pastors. (I’ll upload pictures later.) They are fed three good balanced meals a day for about 50¢ each. Keep in mind that the average salary of a worker (store clerk, hotel maid, doorman or other unskilled worker) is 175 pesos a day (that’s about $3.50 CDN). No wonder one spouse often works in another country to send money home for the family. Even so, almost all (except for the poorest 25%) parents send their children to three or four years of college after they graduate from grade 10.

Tonight I continue teaching Life Purpose. To end the last morning session, where I spoke about how God loves to give each of us free gifts, I surprised the pastors by pulling out a couple of hundred small chocolate bars (like we give to trick or treaters on Halloween). I threw them to the crowd and they went wild trying to catch one.

After a crazy couple of minutes, where everyone was laughing and shouting, I stopped the groups and said, “Now, remember God gives us gifts so that we can give them away.” With that the pastors knew what was coming. “Now give your chocolate bar you’ve been given to someone else.” They did it with great joy and laughter!

I’m headed back to Manila tomorrow afternoon to meet with President Val and Sally Chavez—then off to China. I wish I could write more about my China visit, but cannot, so I’ll pick up the story next week when I return to Manila and off to Davao.


Images from the Philippines:

Isn't she cute?

What a sweet, sweet sound


Sarah C said...

I was reading the book by Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit, and found a story that made me think of you Barry. You may have seen or read this story before. Here it is:

"Some time ago a man took his worn New Testament to a book-binder to bind it with a fine Morocco leather cover and to print "New Testament" on the edge in gold leaf letters. At the appointed time he returned to find his New Testament beautifully bound. The bookbinder had one apology, however: 'I did not have small enough type in my shop to print out fully the words on the edge so I abbreviated them.' Looking on the edge of his Book, the man saw - T.N.T. He said, "This is true! It is God's dynamite."

So I continued to read on and I thought, if the Bible is God's dynamite then Barry just lights the fuse every time he teaches. So I have two words for you, "KA BOOM!"

All the Best Barry,
Sarah Clayton

chocolate b said...

Hi Pastor Barry,
first of all to clarify this weblog name is one that came from my daughters accoutn somewhere else and now it seems that this is the name we have. That is okay, we love chocolate!!
Many prayers and blessings to you while you are there.
Wow! what an exciting and fulfilling time.
Peter and I are thinking of you.
yes, may the Holy Spirit continually give life to the words you speak as you spread God's truths and teach while you are there.
may you be continually blessed and filled to overflowing as they worship there.
We pray blessings be upon Susan while you are away too.
Peter and Deborah