July 11 |  July 12 |  July 13  |  July 14  |  July 15  |  July 16  |  July 17  |  July 18  |  July 19
July 20 
|  July 21  |  July 22  |  July 23  |  July 24  |  July 25  |  July 26  |  July 27
*Sentences in blue correspond to pictures immediately following each report.

Friday, July 11
We flew from LA and arrived in Manila after about 14 hours, at about 4 AM, in plenty of time to catch our flight to Cebu that leaves at 7. Actually, PAL changed our flights by canceling our original flight which should have left at 6 AM and put us on a new flight leaving about an hour later. 18 of us are here and we had a minor problem leaving LA. Fortunately, all the parents of the minors were there to sign the release forms for them to travel, but it took a long time to check all 18 of us in. By the time we cleared security and got to the departure gate, it was almost time to leave. Besides the families, Eugene and Kaitlin were there as were Connie and Jee Hyae, who were with us last year in Mexico. Judy and Leo blessed us when we left by providing each team member with a goodie bag of snacks and Connie also brought several bags of candy (as if we weren't hyper enough). Such love demonstrated by action!

Our luggage was checked through to Cebu but we easily cleared customs in Cebu, although we went through immigration in Manila. We were met by Pastor Daniel Wong, brother Alex, and two vans from TLCC (The Living Christian Church). We stopped at Jollybee for breakfast, met up with David and Norma Nhan, (Norma was intern children Director at FECG), and stopped at TLCC to meet their other pastors. Marshall met the wife of Pastor Pradhan, who turned out to be a lady he went to fellowship with over 50 years ago at Cebu Gospel Church. Her sister also was there, a choir member from the days Marshall's father directed the choir here. We checked in to Golden Peak, our hotel here and ten minutes’ walk from TLCC. Lunch was delivered here by brother Carlos' catering, a much better balanced meal with mixed veggies, chicken, rice and a banana. Norma then delivered some fried spring roll bananas and mochi, covered with coconut and sesame desert. By this time, Eugene, Joyce and Bethany arrived from Hong Kong, so praise God, our team is complete. The Internet is very slow and unreliable here. A lot of the time, there is no connection.

We met at 4 PM in the hotel restaurant to briefly go over the schedule for the next few days and shared about how God prepared us for tour. We then sang a little, and then went to our respective rooms to spend some quiet time and prepare our devotions. We met for dinner and shared our devotions. Except for the Hong Kong group, we were quite tired from jet lag so we all retired early.

Vision team ready to leave LAX

Vision with TLCC pastors and support members and OMF missionaries David and Norma Nhan

Saturday, July 11
Met for breakfast at 7 in the hotel restaurant (breakfast is included as part of our room rate, about $11.50 per person per night). A few of us woke early (3-4 AM) due to jet lag, but God's mercies are new every morning. Breakfast is good: a buffet with fresh fruit (papaya, pineapple and watermelon), congee, garlic rice, chicken (goes great with congee or rice), corn beef hash, bread, a chef who will scramble or fry eggs for us, and pineapple juice, probably the best meal for the day. After breakfast, we walked to church to do our devotions. Their sound man came to do a sound check in preparation for Sunday worship. Found out Internet at the church seems to be much more reliable than the hotel, so I will be sending reports whenever I can.

After devotions, a few went on a prayer walk around the church. It turns out TLCC is renting their property from Marshall's old boyhood friend Ephraim Liuson. So some of us went to visit the house Marshall grew up in from the mid 1950's until he left in 1960 and Marshall's parents continued to live in until they emigrated to the US (just around the next block) and sold it to one of Marshall's cousin, Betty Cobunpue. The house will be torn down shortly but there is still a ministry being done at that place, training living skills to young men, teaching them to build furniture as well as have them learn art, make art from recycled material, and music.

Those of us, led by Diana and Ray, who went on a prayer walk around the church, noticed the poverty and unsanitary living conditions of the people living nearby. We prayed as a group for opportunities to share God's love and for salvation for the people of Cebu. We walked by our hotel and prayed that we would show God's love to everyone we encountered as we would be staying at this hotel most of the time we are on tour. Right then, a group of young children approached us to beg for money. It was a heart breaking situation for our group because we were told to ignore the children and not give them anything. One of our students felt so sad because he grew up in the Philippines and felt like he could have been one of those kids. We came back to the church, praying that God would give us wisdom and clarity for how to reach them and show love to people we encountered, despite language, cultural and social status barriers. We then met up with Chris from OM and Randy from TLCC who will leading us in small groups of 4 to 5 different children ministries OM is doing in the nearby area.

We broke up into five groups of four people each to go join 5 different OM ministries among the children in the squatter's slum (Makro, Opao, Looc). There were children in each location ranging from a dozen to over 60 kids, mostly young elementary school age although one group were pre-teen to teens. They were led by OM volunteers, some on short term and others who grew up in the slums and transformed by Jesus to return as teachers and leaders. We helped out as we could, some sang even though there may not have been 4 parts, but we mostly played with the children. In a small way, seeing some of the OM volunteers gave us hope for the future of these children which had pricked our conscience earlier in the day during the prayer walk. After returning to the church, we debriefed our experiences, ate dinner and returned to our hotel, tired even though we really only did a half day's ministry.
Small group of Vision members with OM volunteers and poor children at Makro


Sunday, July 13
- Most of us went to bed early, before 9 PM, and everyone seemed to be in good health and spirits this morning. After breakfast, we walked to TLCC and shared our thoughts from the daily devotions until service started at 9:30. We sang two songs after Pastor Daniel's message on being grateful to God, "When the Saints", followed by Hannah's testimony, and "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus". A few of us stayed for the prayer meeting that followed while the rest of the group fellowshipped with their members. We then stayed for a delicious lunch hosted by the Deacons and Elders, since they had a board meeting at 1 PM. We walked back to our hotel to rest, taking a lot of left overs with us to supplement our meals.

We walked back to TLCC to leave at 3 to go to TacAn, a location up on the mountains where there is a settlement of refugees from last year's typhoon. Three young people, William, Jam, and Victoria from TLCC along with four OM volunteers led us there (we met them yesterday too). We were met by an OM couple who has been doing good work in this village of at least 50 young children, dozens of older elementary, high school, and families in a thriving wilderness community.
We sang in front of the school house a cappella for about 20 minutes, Andrew and Hannah did the heart skit, and then spent the next one and a half hours playing with the children, walking around the village, and being amazed at how God has touched this community. We returned at six to our hotel to shower and clean up to enjoy a fine dinner at our hotel hosted by Jessilyn Uy, Katie's parents' friend. Unfortunately, Jessilyn was ill but Katie's aunt and her husband joined us. The highlight of the meal was lechon, along with other dishes. We then debriefed our day and ended with several kids praying for one another.

Vision singing at TacAn

Performing the Heart Skit for villagers at TacAn


Monday, July 14 - Samantha is feeling better this morning but Tim is feeling sick. Fewer of us are meeting for breakfast early, which might mean we are getting over jet lag, or we are all tired. We met for devotions at the hotel with Diana and Ray leading after Eugene and Katie led us in a few minutes of worship. After devotion, we decided to leave Tim and Rachel at the hotel since both seemed to be running a fever. We also left Joyce and Gentle back as both seemed to be lightheaded. Ray and Josh went to buy fruit at Ayala market and through God's graciousness, were given rides to and from the market by Katie's aunt and Alex (so they did not have to lug all that fruit back). Crystal 's mosquito bites are getting infected, so Pastor Pradhan's wife, Maria (Marshall's acquaintance from the fifties) took Crystal to the ER to see a doctor. Crystal returned with some drug prescriptions. We went to TLCC, practiced our skits, ate lunch, finishing some of the leftovers and proceeded to go to CFA (Christ for Asia), a ministry started by a German couple missionaries about 25 years ago. We picked up Rachel and Joyce who seemed much better after their rest but Tim is not doing well. We received an orientation, and it turns out only about 7 of us can help each afternoon to prepare and go feed children, mainly squatters. CFA also has an orphanage for abused and orphan children and schooling for these kids so the seven today also helped do some teaching. The rest of us returned to our hotel to get sone rest and walked back to church to eat dinner. We ate the mangos Ray and Josh bought, which were amazing! Sweet, juicy, plump, and no fibers like those we buy in LA.

The seven who served today, Diana, Meghan, Crystal, Katie, Jayme, and Allison, joined Joel from TLCC to cook and teach at CFA, and then go to serve the street children who live at the street market. We joined them in singing and dancing in VBS songs, taught a short Bible Study, and played games with the children. The children were very excited to have us.


Tuesday, July 15 - Tim seems much better, but Rachel is sicker and Meghan seems to be coming down with something as well. This morning, Eugene, Joyce, Gentle, Bethany, Hannah and Andrew went to tutor at the OM ALC. The ALC is an alternative learning center for young men and women who were not able to finish high school. There were about 27 students there. One of the ladies leading the Bible lesson is a "graduate" of CFA, so thank God for good fruit from these ministries to the poor. The six and Marshall sang "Jesus, Name Above All Names" and Eugene's arrangement of "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" to start the program. Then they broke into small groups to be tutored in English and Math. When the Bible lesson began at the OM ALC, Marshall returned with Pastor Daniel to the hotel and church.

The rest of the team who remained at our hotel brought their clothes to the laundromat next door. It has been raining intermittently all day, but we were able to walk to church for lunch. Alex met us there and brought us some sansrival for dessert. What a treat! We also ate mangosteen and rambutan which we bought yesterday to make sure we have enough fruit and veggies in our diet. Since it was raining, the church van dropped us off at the hotel and took Ray, Josh, Samantha, Katherine, Terry and Israel to CFA where they will help prepare the dinner and teach the children in the orphanage before going to the feeding site.

At 3:30, the ALC team returned after teaching for 5-6 hours (lunch was delivered to them), a little tired but enthusiastic. They all want to go back but others in the team also want a chance to go. Both Rachel and Meghan are not getting better but Tim continues to recover, and Crystal's reaction to her bites even with the medication is not noticeably improving. Many of the team members have joined Hannah in praying for the sick members and are using some of their free time (since only small groups are ministering from our team at any one time) in worshipping. We ate dinner earlier because Katie, Crystal, Jayme and Allison left at 6:30 to a different site with OM to feed other homeless children. The CFA team today went to a distant location (about 45 minutes’ drive away) but returned by 7:30 to eat dinner and shared a little of their joy in serving these street smart children. The OM team returned at 9 PM after spending time assisting the OM volunteers.

Sharing and feeding poor with CFA

Wednesday, July 16 - Thank God, Rachel, Meghan and Tim are much better this morning but Bethany seems to have caught whatever is going around so she stayed back at the hotel. Crystal's bites are getting a little better too. Today was supposed to be our "big" outreach to the high school students at PCGS (Philippines Christian Gospel School, also known as Kian Kee, when Marshall went there for junior high), but the Cebu governor closed all the schools today due to Typhoon Glenda, which is hitting Manila and just giving us some rain, but we all are learning again that God's ways are not our ways and we must submit our plans to His. We spent about an hour worshipping and confessing as a whole group, and as I write this, we are praying in pairs. We are not sure if feeding the children this evening has also been cancelled, but we are enjoying our time with the Lord and with each other now.

David and Norma Nhan dropped by and we asked them to share about their ministry here. They are reaching out to mainland Chinese, mainly business persons and finding very hard ground, for these people are fairly wealthy and very focused on making money. But these people have seen the difference in David and Norma and curious why they act differently from their normal colleagues. The Nhans are also working with the very poor mountain tribe people, on a different end of the money spectrum, who are attracted by the gifts (usually food) and not the spiritual matters. Beggars have sprung up in the last ten years in Cebu and materialism gotten worse. We prayed for the Nhans and they also prayed for us. It was a fruitful time together. We then did a practice session of praying for someone (who we didn't know for our eyes were closed) as an exercise of listening to God. Many of the prayers were right on and encouraged us to listen to God when we pray. So we missed our concert performance but had a great time instead.

After lunch, Eugene, Andrew, Israel, Gentle, Joyce and Hannah went with Joel to CFA to prepare for tonight's homeless children feeding (which was not cancelled because the typhoon has passed and it was not even raining anymore). The rest of us stayed at the church to work through the skits we hope to do at PGCS elementary classes tomorrow (God willing) and to sort through the clothing and toys brother Carlos brought for TLCC to bring to Barili. Samantha's mom had also asked her sewing club make some girl clothes which we will add to the stack. Brother Alex showed up with another surprise for us, a huge crate full of just picked mangosteen which he had airfreight from the island of Zamboanga in Mindanao, about 150 miles away. The quality of these fruits was outstanding. We returned to our hotel. Bethany seems better but Jayme was tired so she went to sleep early. David and Norma dropped by during dinner time to bring us some homemade dessert, a rice pudding with sweet glazing on top (don't remember the name). The CFA team returned about 7:30 and we turned in early since we have to leave early tomorrow to go to the children at PCGS.


Thursday, July 17
We woke up early to go to PCGS, not far away but terrible traffic congestion getting there. Everyone was at breakfast, but we decided to let Meghan stay behind and recover. Bethany is still congested and Eugene did not sleep well last night. We got to PGCS by 7:30 and warmed up for a few minutes before the fourth to sixth grade students came in at 8. We sang several songs, Israel shared his testimony, followed by the balloon (forgiveness) skit. Diana took this theme and gave a short message on how Joseph forgave his brothers. A handful of the students indicated their desire to accept Christ following the message. After the older students left, the first to third graders came in (the room sits about 120 or so). These younger ones were even more energetic and raucous. We did a similar program but substituted some new songs and Raymond gave the message instead of Diana and Andrew shared his testimony. Most of these children followed Ray in the prayer to accept Christ. Since our program to the high schoolers yesterday was cancelled, the school asked us to come back next week so we rescheduled to go there next Thursday, even though this will cut into our planned debriefing time. We just have to trust God and debrief whenever we can. We returned to TLCC, Eugene and Bethany returned to the hotel to rest more while we practiced our skits, ate lunch, practiced the hearing God prayers, and had our devotions.

After devotions, we returned to our hotel to get some rest. Marshall went to visit some long-time family friends who came to pick him up. One is an almost 91 year old who still sings in the choir. He visited his wife at their home and also went to visit this man's 96 year old sister, Marshall's mother's best friend, who has not been able to talk since her stroke 18 years ago. But she is still joyful in the Lord with no complaints about her affliction, an example of finishing the race well. Marshall returned to the hotel to join the group catered dinner, rejecting an invitation to go have a sumptuous meal with these friends. Ray, Diana and Josh left to attend the young adult fellowship at TLCC. They shared, answered a lot of questions and instead of returning at 9:30, stayed till about 10:30, but returned praising God for being able to minister to these young adults.

Vision at PCGS

Friday, July 18
This morning, everyone seemed better except Eugene, who stayed back while the rest of us went to House of Hope, a rehabilitation home which ministers to addicts. It is located on Mactan Island, near the airport. We joined about 25 of them in their worship, and we presented a full program starting with "Holy Is He". There was an out of tune piano and an electronic keyboard, but after a couple of songs, we sang a cappella because those instruments were so bad. Crystal and Josh gave powerful testimonies, and we did our new skit, "Distracted from God", which depicts how many things in the world keep us from a genuine relationship with Jesus. During the skit, Marshall told Diana she is to speak next and Diana said she was not prepared to talk. Nevertheless, she gave a spirit inspired 12 minute impromptu message in which she incorporated the theme of the skit with her own testimony. After Vision sang "Yes, Lord, Yes" as a challenge, Marshall invited the audience to come forward and members of Vision would pray for them. While reluctant, one man came forward, and we eventually had a chance to pray for about 5 of the members there.

We left and went to have our three hours of R&R, rest and recreation, at Tambuli, a resort right on the beach with both pools and beach, shade and sun. Carlos accompanied us and apparently paid our entrance fee of 200 pesos a person (less than $5 or maybe he got a special discount). He then went back to get our lunch while we swam, played in the water, and relaxed. Alex also came bring drinks, fruit and cold mangos! Brother Alex has been spoiling us, besides the mangosteen, he has also been bringing bananas and mangos.
We left a little after 2 PM, swinging by Magellan's tomb, which is now a shrine since he died in a battle with the local natives led by Lapulapu, now the name of the town here. We returned to the hotel to clean up and get ready for the youth meeting this evening at TLCC.

We met with about 25 young people ranging from pre-teens to college age tonight at TLCC. Rachel led an icebreaker game which all enjoyed, Eugene (now recovered) led worship with Katie, Josh, Hannah and Rachel. We sang our full program with Joyce, Rachel and Tim giving challenging testimonies, performed the Distracted from God skit and Diana gave her last message on tour (since she and Ray leave tomorrow to return to LA). Praise God, two young people indicated their desire to accept Christ for the first time in their lives. We then had ministry time and almost everyone came to receive prayer.

Tomorrow, we leave early to minister at Glory Reborn, a ministry for pregnant young mothers introduced through Hannah's friend. Then we drive to Barili, a few hours south where TLCC has a ministry ongoing to typhoon victims. It is unlikely we will have Internet there, so do not expect any reports until after we return Monday night (early Monday LA time).

Vision at House of Hope

At Magellan memorial, statue of Lapulapu in background

Vision with TLCC youth group

Saturday, July 19 - We checked out of our hotel and met at TLCC so we could leave at 8 AM for Glory Reborn.
We met Hillary, a young woman in her very early thirties who started this ministry eleven years ago after coming to Cebu a couple of years earlier on a short term mission with training as a midwife. In these short years, after delivering a baby in their (her husband and her) bedroom from a pregnant woman she had just met, God has expanded her ministry so they were able to rent several adjacent apartments so that now, they have a full pregnancy clinic with ultrasound to birthing to post-partum care, all for free to whoever needs it; slave trade pregnancies (working with IJM), squatter mothers, and even some middle class mothers who do not appreciate the public hospitals. Their staff includes several midwives and volunteer doctors and they can do everything except C-sections. They live by faith and God has chosen to grow their work so they will be moving from these rentals to their own facility in 2016. They have delivered over 3000 babies in these years, all by word of mouth. Hillary's dream is for Glory Reborn to become a full hospital able to do C-section surgeries and handle HIV pregnancies in the future. Today, they were celebrating their eleventh anniversary as well as those who gave birth to babies in the last month. Three women shared their testimonies and thanks, we sang for about a half hour with Katie sharing her testimony and Ray challenged the audience of about fifty to commit themselves to Jesus. About five or so accepted this gift of life, praise God. We then drove to Barili, but stopped at Talisay for lunch, enjoying the Talisay lechon, supposedly unique in the Philippines. It was quite good, not as salty as the lechon we had last Sunday, and continued to Barili.

Barili is only fifty some kilometers from Cebu but it took us close to two hours even on Saturday to drive this short distance due to traffic. Barili is higher up in the mountains, a beautiful location, lush and green. It was raining heavily when we arrived, so we could not do any ministry. We are escorted by brother Carlos, a Deacon from TLCC, and his wife, whose business is food catering and the one providing all our meals in Cebu. We checked in to the Shamrock, a simple hotel that made Golden Peak look luxurious in comparison. All seven guys are in one large room, and the eleven girls in four rooms with Marshall in his own room. We thank God that everyone has recovered enough to travel and we did not need to leave anyone behind in Cebu. It was raining very hard so we could not do any planned ministry, so after resting, we met at 4 PM to about 6 to catch up on our group devotions and debrief the last few days of ministry. We ate our box lunches for dinner and our kids a good bonding time together.

Hillary briefing Vision at Glory Reborn


Sunday, July 20
– We ate breakfast at the Shamrock, which is an open pay-as-you-choose buffet where lots of tour buses stop for bathroom breaks and to buy snacks and left at 8:15 to go to the Barili Christian Fellowship, a mountain church. We left Andrew at the hotel since he was not feeling too well. Only one family was there for the morning Bible study, which Pastor Dan, the local leader led using Eph. 6:5-8.
We then prayed for this family; the lady had four children and her husband is a fisherman so he was absent. Her brother is a motorcycle driver, that is, he gives passengers rides on his motorcycle to earn a living. At least half the group paid for a ride and got to see more of the hillside. They all came back excited about the thrill of riding as passengers on a motorbike. We then did our morning devotion at the church since no one else was there. We went to lunch and returned before 1:30 for the regular church service which starts at 2 PM. Pastor Dan met with the children from 1:30 to 2 and service started about 2:15, with about 20 adults and maybe 15 youths. Josh led worship, followed by Pastor Dan's sermon taken from Rom. 1:1-6. After the 40 minute sermon, Vision sang and shared for 30 minutes, and as we sang, more children came in so there were maybe 50-60 people there. Eugene and Allison shared their testimonies about being immersed in God's love and how accepting Christ changed her life; we did the Heart Skit with Eugene substituting for Andrew. We then closed with "Yes, Lord, Yes" and Marshall gave an invitation. Praise God, about 5 (all older youth and adults) indicated their desire to accept Christ for the first time. Pastor Dan later confirmed that they had been coming to his Bible study but had not yet become believers until today. We returned to the Shamrock about 5 and then it started to rain heavily again. We left for pizza at 7, got back around 8:30 and prepared for bed.

Praying for family at Barili


Monday, July 21
- We were supposed to go to a public school near the church, but Pastor Dan had apparently not been able to schedule us. At 8:30, he walked up to the school to contact the principal, but the principal was not there, so we returned to the hotel. We used the time to do more listening prayer and then did our daily devotion. We are waiting for one more van to come here from Cebu so we can load our luggage in this third van. Even though it seemed like a wasted day, we are learning that in God's economy, nothing is wasted.

Since we were not sure what time we would return to Cebu, nothing was scheduled. We checked back to Golden Peak a little after 2 PM, got into our rooms to settle down and everyone except Marshall went to the big Ayala mall to do some gift stopping. They also bought dinner at the mall, sandwiches or pizza and returned to the hotel at about 7:30. During this time, I, Marshall had time to reflect about Barili. We spent almost three days going there and coming back and, as it turned out, just to attend their Sunday service and sing for a few minutes, since we could not do the other planned events. Of course, a few people came to know Christ as savior, and who can put a price tag on the value of a soul? I was greatly encouraged by the Daily Bread devotional for Sunday, the passage from Zech. 4:10a "for who has despised the day of small things?", and especially this paragraph: "God doesn’t call us to find fulfillment in the amount of work we do for Him, or the number of people who are a part of that work, but in faithfully doing our work for His sake. Serving our great God with His strength in a small way is not a stepping-stone to greatness—it is greatness." Of course, the lighter schedule is also God's mercy and provision to enable Marshall to have the energy to do what he needs to do.


Tuesday, July 22
- Today, Eugene, Tim, Rachel, Jayme, Meghan and Allison went to tutor at the OM ALC. We have found these young men and women to be motivated, hardworking students who are so eager to learn. Everyone is in reasonably good health. Katherine and Bethany have some congestion and Andrew is quite well. Meanwhile, the rest of the group is doing their laundry. Hannah felt called to give a message to the high school students at PCGS on Thursday so she is busy praying and preparing (this is because the Shings left Saturday after Glory Reborn) so please spend the next two days praying for Hannah's first sermon. We met at TLCC to eat our lunch (lunch was also delivered to the ALC) and then we did our group devotions. After devotions, we fixed some of the note problems in a couple of our songs and most of the group returned to the hotel. The OM ALC group returned around 3:45, having spent almost 7 hours tutoring. Gentle, Israel, Bethany, Samantha and Joyce volunteered to go feed the poor with OM (like last Tuesday). Tomorrow, we asked the hotel to open their restaurant at 5:45 AM as we will leave at 6:30 for a long van ride to northern Cebu Island which is one of last year's typhoon affected area. We will be gone all day so the next report will be either late Wednesday night or Thursday. Pray for this long day trip into northern Cebu.


Wednesday, July 23
- We were supposed to leave at 6:30 AM (the restaurant opened at 5:45 for us) but we did not get members from TLCC joining us until about 7:30. We drove in two rented vans plus two SUV's belonging to church members (Pastor Daniel Wong with about a dozen of their members plus David and Norma) to Tabogon, about 85 km north of Cebu City, and with traffic, took us almost 3 hours to get there (and 3 hours back). As soon as we got there, we met up with Pastor Joe (Joel's father) and Pastor Chris and saw about 40 people waiting in the church for us, but instead of joining them, we went to the high school around the corner to sing. Tabogon is a beautiful community, lush, green, overlooking the sea, and devastated by typhoon Yolanda last year. The roofs of all the school buildings were blown off, so one can only imagine the damage to the natives' nipa huts, but we found a warm and welcoming group at the schools and church, God's Grace showing forth. We sang to about a hundred high school kids, Katherine shared her testimony, and we did the heart skit. What was great was the high school kids chanting as Andrew went through the motions "...give your heart to God", so they really got it. They gave us some aluminum sealed snacks and sodas, then we hurried to the elementary school next door and sang to maybe a hundred children, with Gentle and Samantha giving their testimonies, and our doing the heart skit again. We finally walked back to the church just before noon. All the people were still waiting for us, so we sang a few songs for them, starting with "In His Time", reminding them that even in a disaster, God still loves them and in God's time, He will redeem the situation. They fed us a locally cooked lunch, chicken (free range), soup, pancit, and lots of bananas and mangos. After lunch, we drove to the nearby beach, where there is a walkway bridge across the river and a beautiful bay where Pastor Chris baptizes the new believers. We sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" to the TLCC members and left to return to the city, getting back at 5 PM. We ate dinner at the hotel, then did our devotions. Tomorrow, we will sing for the PCGS high school kids which was cancelled last week due to the storm, and go to STAC, a therapeutic center for handicapped people introduced by Lillibeth Say in the afternoon. During the ride, Marshall was texted by his cousin, Betty Cobunpue, who wanted Vision to go minister tomorrow night at a caring center for the poor. This unexpected opening is a new door for us, as Betty is Catholic, so perhaps God wants to use us to do some bridge building to the Catholics. Please pray for this new opportunity.

Early last week, when Tim was sick, he went downstairs to the hotel restaurant and actually blacked out coming back when he was in the elevator. We did not want to alarm anyone in LA until we are sure he is perfectly fine (which he had been for a week now), and after devotions tonight, most of the team members took one of our songs, "Good News, the Chariot's Comin'", and modified the words to "Big News, Tim Has Fainted (in the Elevator)", and serenaded him with the song.

Elementary school children at Tabogon

Vision enjoying hanging bridge near Tabogon village

Thursday, July 24
We left at 7:30 to PCGS. Traffic was surprisingly light so we had plenty of time to warm up. Jayme and Eugene shared their testimonies, we did the "Distracted from God" skit and Hannah gave a good message to about 300 students. A couple indicated their desire to accept Christ. Hannah also gave a second invitation to follow Christ (be a disciple) and almost everyone responded! Thank God. PCGS gave us a generous gift when we left. We returned to TLCC to rest and do our devotions. After lunch, we went to STAC (Stimulation and Therapeutic Activity Center) in Lapulapu. They met in the Mactan Gym for this event and had planned a program in which several of their handicapped students danced or sang. As we started our program, it started to rain very heavily, so much so that the sound of the rain on the corrugated roof drowned out almost all the singing. It felt like spiritual warfare, so we prayed for the rain to ease up. Almost immediately, the rain slowed so we could continue our program of songs and testimonies by Terry and Bethany. But the rain picked up again in the middle of Bethany's testimony, but she had a microphone to assist her (while they had only 3 mikes total so it was ineffective when we sing). Andrew and Hannah did the Heart Skit, and we closed, but invited those wanting prayer to come forward. At least 40 people came up with their children for prayer. At this writing, we did not have a chance to debrief so I don't know if there were any miraculous healing or not. We then went to Bakas Palad Social Center that Marshall's cousin Betty had set up. We sang to at least a hundred children and adults (mostly women). Meghan and Katie shared their testimonies and we did the Heart Skit again. We then heard about their work and also hard two testimonies from a lady and a man who shared about the love and support they received from this center. It is quite impressive as this man talked about his hard life from living on the streets to his becoming the security guard, baker, and sound man at Bakas Palad (BP). We ate a simple boxed carton that BP sells for fifteen pesos to raise money; rice mixed with meat and veggies, simple but well balanced and actually tasty. We donated 1000 pesos to BP from Vision. It has been a long day when we returned to the hotel about 8:30. Israel is feeling sick, but we are only debriefing all day tomorrow until the TLCC prayer meeting in the evening that we are leading.

Vision at PCGS high school meeting listening to Hannah

Vision with deaf high school students who danced at STAC festivities

Friday, July 25 - We walked to TLCC and spent a few minute talking about the ministries yesterday afternoon and evening. We were quite touched by the handicapped ministry, which was started by some Christians, but now funded by the government, but with the same very evangelical staff (like they started the meeting with prayer). During our ministry time, we did not see any instantaneous healing, but some felt heat in their affected areas, several wept as we prayed for them, and one father wept freely when his son was being prayed for. Pastor Daniel talked further with him in Tagalog. We were all also impressed with the joy and cleanliness of BP, and the unity and love shown by the volunteers there. It is hard to find theological differences when we could sense the care and love all around us.

After a short devotion time, we started our debriefing with each person sharing what impacted them the most on this trip. It is interesting how different ministries struck the different members of the team. Many mentioned the feeding of the poor, others the OM ministry to the poor both spiritually and physically, still others the pregnancy clinic, or the handicapped rehabilitation work. We just praise God that there are so many doing so much ministry, not only in Cebu, but all over the world. We realized the truth of Jesus' words in John 14:12, "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father." We spent the next six hours or so sharing what we wanted to bring back home and assigned accountability partners for these resolutions. Tonight, we will join the youth fellowship for an hour, then lead the TLCC prayer meeting. Tomorrow, weather permitting, 14 of us will go to Bohol, leaving Cebu at 6:30 AM. Eugene, Joyce and Bethany will leave the hotel at 3 AM to return to Hong Kong on the 6:20 AM flight, and Tim and Andrew at 4 PM to return to LA via Manila.


Saturday, July 26
– We woke up around 4 AM to go eat breakfast at 5 (the hotel kindly opened early just for us) and got picked up at 5:45 to go to the pier and catch the boat to Bohol. Carlos, Tessie, his wife, Pastor Joe and Julie, his wife, Alex and seven more from TLCC also joined us. By the way, Alex became a grandfather for the fourth time yesterday morning! The boat is quite nice and the trip took an hour and ten minutes. We arrived in the town of Tubigon, Bohol, and two vans drove all of us to the Christian Gospel Church where we were served (another) breakfast, (delicious omelet etc.). There was an earthquake of magnitude 7.2 in Bohol last October which damaged many of the structures in town, the pier, buildings, etc. The back of the church collapsed and is just being repaired. We sang a couple of songs to thank the church for hosting us for breakfast.
Pastor Gary is the pastor here and also of a second church started by brother Carlos six years ago in Barangy Bugang, a village about 40 minutes away. Mari is a nanny hired by Carlos and Tessie who comes from this village. Mari was concerned about her patents' salvation which prompted Carlos and members of TLCC to plant a church here. There were about 40 at their service (held on Saturdays since Pastor Gary preaches in Tubigon on Sundays and about 30 children. Worship was entirely in Visayan, but we could feel their passion for The Lord. We sang four songs and Pastor Gary preached from Mark 2 about Jesus healing the paralytic. The church is currently meeting in a bamboo framed structure covered on the top and side with plastic. They are praying to find a piece of land to build a permanent building using prefabbed structures. We learned that starting the church here was very hard, with new believers facing persecution from the Catholic Church, being threatened with refusal for burial in their cemetery, to the children being bribed to not attend their VBS, but the church has grown and they have baptized about fifty believers in the last six years since starting the church. After service, we went to Mari parents' home where we were served local crabs, shrimps, red rice, fresh coconut juice and young coconut meat (which we also had at Basili last weekend). The seafood was outstanding, so firm and fresh! Marshall ate five (smallish) crabs but Josh only ate two, claiming they were too much trouble to eat. After lunch, we were taken to two tourist highlight places in Bohol, Sanbayan Peak and Chocolate Hills located in Carmen, mountain tops where we could view the valleys and even the ocean in Bohol. At Sanbayan we got to see some tarsiers, tiny primates with huge eyes which live in these mountains and also many butterflies in a tented area. We then drove to the hanging bridge at Sipatan, originally made of bamboo but now reinforced with steel cables, but the walkway is still made of woven bamboo which sways with each step we take. We left Sipatan about 4:30 but the road was unpaved for a good portion so it took us almost two hours to drive the 40 or so kilometers back to the pier, but we made it in time to catch the last boat back to Cebu at 6:45. Thank God. We got back to Cebu and brother Alex invited everyone, Vision plus all the TLCC members to a wonderful BBQ dinner. We returned to our hotel to pack and clean up and sleep.

Village church at Barangy Bugang on Bohol Island


Sunday, July 27
– We made last minute arrangements to worship at Cebu Gospel Church where Marshall's parents worshipped for many years, and because of renovations to their sanctuary, are currently meeting at PCGS the High School Chapel. This necessitated some logistical gyrations. Brother Alex (who is such a wonderful example of being a servant) borrowed brother Andrew's van to come to our hotel to pick up our luggage at 8 AM. He also came with his car and a second van to drive us to PCGS before their 9:30 worship service but with enough time for him to attend TLCC's own 9:30 service. Valentine Uy, Marshall's family's long-time friend is inviting the Vision team for lunch at Choi City after the service (he attends Cebu Gospel church) so the borrowed vans and brother Alex and Carlos met us after we ate at the restaurant at 1PM, not only in time to get us to the airport for our flight home, but enabled us to stop at Alex company to change clothes. However, when we got to the airport, we found out our flight to Manila had been cancelled and we were rebooked on PR 2862 leaving at 6 PM, which would get us to Manila with little margin to get on the LA flight. This is probably the last message I will send from the Philippines.

We attended a good service at Cebu Gospel. It was their Sacred Music worship Sunday, so not only did their choir sing (wonderfully), they had a small group of 10 sing "The Power of His Name" and a group of 7 sing "Majesty and Glory". We sang "In His Time" after the message and then "Yes, Lord, Yes". Their music groups are quite good and a joy to listen to.

On a personal note, I have been very blessed to have good health and energy this whole trip. Truly, God's grace covered me the whole trip. Though some were sick at the beginning of tour, they also recognized during debriefing that God was using the illness to teach them to rest in The Lord and that they do not need to be always doing things for God. On the other hand, several members of the team were, like me, in complete good health the whole time, no colds or diarrhea or even loose stomach for which we thank The Lord too.

One potentially significant event occurred yesterday during the Bohol trip. One of the people from TLCC is a middle aged sister who used to conduct the choir at TLCC and trained as a choral conductor at Columbia University. Marshall shared with her that one of Vision's goals is to team with a local youth choir and do ministry together. She also has a heart for such a ministry. Perhaps this is a potential future partnership Vision can do. Pray that we will all be sensitive to God's leading in this matter.