Jan-Feb 2013 Trip to the Philippines!
Greetings from Taiwan!
I, Jeff, have just returned from a trip to the Philippines. It was a great trip despite getting sick and an unexpected dunk in the ocean (complete with my backpack). But the seminars all went well and it was great to see our friends in the Philippines again.
The first seminar was in Cebu City. This was my second time in Cebu. It’s a really beautiful area, with clear skies and clear water: the unspoiled Philippines. The pastor, Noel Centino, was one of my students years ago in Manila. The schedule was a little crazy because of the Sinulog festival that was being held the weekend I arrived. This is a huge festival. Four million people were in town to attend it. It’s in memory of the coming of Magellan to the Philippines, which took place there in Cebu.
I spoke in the Saturday service at the main church and the Sunday service in one of the branch churches (in Lapu-lapu). The main church was not accessible that morning because of the Sinulog festival parade that went right past their location.
After that, we went "island hopping." Unfortunately I was not prepared for this, and had brought no clothes to change into. Nor did I adjust the things I was carrying in my bag as I would normally do for an outing like this.
We drove to the end of the island, past a large stone monument at the place Magellan had been killed by the local natives. The first dock we went to had no boats available, so we went to another less well-appointed place. It was low tide, so we were going to have to walk out to the boat through chest-deep water. I took everything out of my pockets and put it in my backpack, which I planned to hold over my head. At the last moment, somebody got the idea to ferry us out to the boat in a tiny plastic "banana boat" which is really built for one person. A couple of the ladies (or girls--I never really saw who was already in the boat) got in, and then the pastor called me to join them.
At first, I sat in the middle of the boat, which was fine, but then one of the guys pushing the boat got me to move to the front "for balance." Of course, this meant it was less balanced. Then they started to push us out toward the boat, but the guys pushing were not holding the boat securely, and instead of pushing straight out so the boat would slice through the waves, they slanted the boat, which in a matter of moments was hit by a wave and overturned. I was spilled into the water, complete with my Sunday best clothes and my backpack.
I stood up as quickly as possible, and lifted my bag out of the water. It's a good thing I did, or there would have been more damage. Then I walked the rest of the way to the boat. When I got on the boat, I started checking my bag to see how bad the situation was. At first it didn't look nearly as bad as I feared. My Bible didn't look wet, although moisture had clearly gotten in. But as it turned out, water had gotten into the lower part of the bag. This was enough to destroy my older USB drive, my son Johnny's phone (that I was borrowing), and the battery charger for the camera. All my papers, including my Bible, were soaked on the lower inch or two. I dried everything off as best I could in the circumstances, and anxiously waited to get home so I could check everything out in more detail. The island-hopping trip was actually very beautiful, but it was hard for me to relax and enjoy it. Fortunately I had a backup USB which did not get wet.
I wasn’t the only one to face difficulties on this adventure. On the return trip, the waves picked up. The boat smashed into several waves, sending spray up on the boat. When we arrived at the pier, it was now high tide, so we didn't have to walk through the water again. But because of the waves, it was very difficult to dock at the pier. The tip of the boat was pressed up against the pier, where a couple of the crew members tried to hold the tip of the boat near the stairs so we could get off. But the boat would jerk around wildly with every wave. A couple of people got flipped off headfirst into the water while they were trying to get off. Fortunately the injuries were minor. But one or two cellphones, including a brand new one, were lost in the water. The crew tried diving into the water to find them for a while (and maybe other things--I wasn't really clear about what else had been lost).
After that dramatic start, the rest of the week went quite smoothly. I did the Jewish Roots seminar in the mornings, mostly for pastors, and the Jesus of Nazareth seminar in the evenings. This was a good opportunity to get to know some of the pastors in the area. In fact, I was invited and spoke in other churches that weekend.
On Monday, I flew to Manila and spent the week in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, the town where we used to live, teaching in the church there. The topic was “Jacob to Moses”: a more detailed version of part of our Great Discoveries of the Bible seminar.
Bro. Onie, who used to translate for me, is doing much better after his stroke. He gets around on his own now and has more use of his right arm. I also stopped to pray for one of the church members, Genalyn, who is facing ongoing chemotherapy for an advanced stage cancer. Please pray for her. The high cost of the chemo is very difficult for the family.
The next week, I was in Manila for a seminar sponsored by Amy Martinez. The original plan was that I was going to stay in an unfurnished condo. But at the last moment, a couple whose family ministers in the Victory Fellowship churches agreed to put me up. The seminar that week, held in Quezon City, was the Jewish Roots of Christianity. Although the turnout was less than they were hoping, the group attending was very interested, and included some pastors.
On the weekend, I returned to Sta. Rosa, Laguna, to teach in the church associated with the school where our son David went for a while to kindergarten (J-10). At that time they had about 150 students in the school. Now they have almost a thousand! The school is just two lots away from where we lived in Sta. Rosa for seven years. It was nice to meet this group and see the things that God is doing through them.
The next week I was in Makati for another seminar sponsored by Amy Martinez, this time a Revelation seminar. By that time, I had developed a cold and was taking antibiotics. My voice was quite hoarse, but not bad enough to prevent me from completing the seminar. There was quite a bit of interest in this seminar, and the crowd increased in size each night. It was a very enjoyable seminar.
If you’ve heard our Revelation seminar, you know that we place a great deal of emphasis on the “Signs in the Heavens” that Jesus said would be the signs of his return (Matt. 24:29). So it was amazing that the next day after the seminar a large meteor exploded over Russia injuring more than a thousand people: a sign of things to come.
Now I’m home, still a little sick, and start teaching at school again tomorrow. There were some challenges this trip, but overall it was a great blessing.
Thank you again so much for your prayers and your support that make these missions trips possible.
All the best in Messiah Jesus,
Jeff & Karen Harrison
and David and John
Please pray with us:
1) Praise for a successful seminar outreach in the Philippines!
2) Pray that God would continue to open doors for us to share the gospel in our teaching jobs in Taiwan, both in and out of the classroom. This includes Jeff’s classes at Asia University and his class at Glad Tidings Bible College. Karen continues to teach kids and share the Bible at Jackson Five English school.
3) Pray, too, for the other doors of ministry that God has opened to us in Taiwan. This includes the Israel fellowship and the youth missions service in Nantou.
4) Pray that our Revelation book available on Amazon.com will reach many with the Bible-interpreting-Bible message. (For more info see our web site at www.totheends.com and go to the Bookstore page.)
5) Pray for Tammie in her job in Washington, D.C., David in his Chinese classes, and Johnny in his homeschool and Chinese classes.
6) Please pray for health and safety.
7) Pray for Taiwan and the Philippines to be reached with the gospel!
Thanks for your prayers!