Philippines Trip - Pictures
Jun 07, 2013
On May 21, 2013 I began my trip to the Philippines via San Francisco, California and Taipei, Taiwan. The flight across the Pacific took over 13 hours and was the most grueling part of the trip. There were five of us that went on this mission trip, but only three of us were on the same flight. The others came via Japan, and we met together in Manila.
Here is a picture from the H20 Hotel, named to reflect its waterfront location.
Manila is on the northern island of Luzon. From Manila the next day we took a 2-hour flight to General Santos, or "Gensan," as it is commonly called. The city is in the southern part of the island of Mindanao, "Land of Promise," or The Promised Land. This is the island where I spent nine years of my childhood, but I was unable to go to Zamboanga, where I went to grade school. Perhaps the next trip we might go there, but the Philippine government does not recommend it for Americans, as the city is in a hotbed of insurgent activity.
We got settled in a hotel and then were driven to the first church where we David and I ministered at a Pastors Conference. The entrance to the church grounds had a big sign on it advertising David and me. My picture is the one on the right, which is hard to see in the photo, as I took it while the car was moving. Even so, it was obvious that we were being billed as celebrities from America.
The praise and worship team at the church in Gensan was borrowed from another church about two hours' drive away in the town of Maitum. The five of us all went there after this first week end conference. I will say more about that group shortly.
The streets of Gensan had more pedicabs (or "tricycles") than any other vehicle. These are the main form of public transportation for the average person who wants to go anywhere that is fairly close. For longer distances, they would have to take an open-air bus or a taxi. The pedicabs, however, cost just 8 pesos, or about 20 cents (US). They are a motor scooter with a cab on the side, and they might go about 20 mph at full speed.
I had the pleasure of such a ride a few times. They always let me sit in the front where there is more room, since it would have been a tight squeeze to sit in the back. The back fits at least 4 Filipinos, but only about 2 Americans at best. I have seen eight people (with children) packed into these, with some riding on the back of the motor scooter.
In addition, many people ride motorcycles, so that they can ride the center lines and move up when the traffic is stopped. It appears that they put center lines in the road to mark the motor cycle lanes.
The dark blue pedicab was waiting for a car wash at an open-air garage where I was waiting one day. (My host was getting his starter fixed.) So I was able to take a close-up picture of it.
On the first Sunday that I was in Gensan (May 26), I spoke at a nearby church with about 100 members. The pastor interpreted. I spoke on the patriarchs in Genesis and how Noah's flood prophesied of the flood of the Holy Spirit that is yet to cover the earth. I also gave them a basic teaching on gematria and the meaning of numbers in Scripture.
This was new to all of them. It appears that such things are unknown in the Philippines, but they are quite interested in it. I concentrated on the number 3168, which is the numeric value of "Lord Jesus Christ." Likewise, when you add up the numeric values of all the patriarchs from Adam to Japheth, you come to 3168. They were also surprised to learn that Solomon's temple had a perimeter of 3168 inches, as its entire structure points to the Lord Jesus Christ.
From my seat in the front row of the church, I was able to turn partially and take a picture of the people on the other side.
As we left, I took this picture of the outside of the church. As you can see, it has "nipa" walls, which provide inexpensive air conditioning. Behind me was a rice paddy. The temperature each day (unless it rains) is about 95 degrees with about 98% humidity. On a rainy day it can get down to 85 degrees, where your sweat keeps you cool.
The next Tuesday we drove to Maitum about two hours' drive East along the southern coast of Mindanao. Along the way is a resort where foreigners come to do snorkling or fishing. The security guard allowed us to go in to see it, and I took the opportunity to take some pictures.
This is Felipe and Eden Lumanta. Felipe is the pastor of the church in Maitum where we stayed the second week. His wife teaches in the elementary school attached to their house. They took very good care of us during our stay, giving us rice and mango three times a day,
along with fish, chicken, papaya, and other things. The food brought back old memories from my childhood. The fresh fruit, picked ripe, was the one thing that I have missed most.
Here are their three children: Fritz Darien, Sunshine, and Shen. I had opportunity to talk to Fritz on Sunday afternoon (June 2) for a couple of hours. He had Bible questions, and he was inspired to start studying my website to get a better understanding of Scripture, especially of the law.
Sunshine (middle) is 26, and she runs the elementary school and trains the worship team. The school started with one class (either pre-school or first grade, I can't recall), and each year they have added another grade level. They now have five grades and are up to about 130 students. They will soon need to build a high school.
The school itself competes academically with about 80 other schools in the region and always comes in first, second, or third. So people have taken notice that it is a quality school. In addition, we all witnessed the students' passion for Christ, something not normally seen here in America. Believe me, when you see children from 5-12 at the altar crying out to God, it makes you realize that these kids could change the country. I will show pictures of the school shortly.
Shen, pictured on the far right above, is 19 and is planning her wedding in November. I am hoping to be able to participate in the wedding, if the Lord permits. The wedding is to take place in Davau, which is the largest city in the Philippines. (Manila is the largest only if you include all the suburban cities.)
The pictures below were taken at the hotel where Shen is planning to be married. I thought the green sentinel was an interesting piece of plant art. The other picture is of the waterfront, taken from a cupola where the minister will stand for the wedding. If it rains on the day of the wedding, the guests can be moved a few yards away to a large pavilion in the hotel courtyard.
While in Maitum, we took a short excursion into the hills above the town. This picture is of a typical coconut grove with banana trees planted below the trees. Sometimes they will plant corn in a coconut grove. When the trees are tall enough to allow a lot of sun to reach the ground, they can utilize this space and get a double crop on the same land. Coconuts are harvested three times a year.
We drove to a small church just over the first hill, built on a small parcel of land donated by the owner of a coconut plantation. They went out to find some choice coconuts, chopped off the ends, and cut a small hole at the top so we could drink the juice directly from the coconut. (Sorry, no straws.)
I love coconut juice, which is from green coconut that is young enough to taste good. It doesn't get any fresher than that. I tried to devise a story about how I was on a mission trip suffering for Jesus, but this really destroyed any credibility I might have with that story.
I then made a request to eat the meat of the coconut also, so they cut it open and gave me a spoon. Young coconut is soft and moist, so it goes down smoothly.
To the left is the little New Life Church where we had our coconut fest.
On the way back to Maitum, I saw a lone carabow (water buffalo) resting, and it allowed me to take its photograph. This is the Philippine ox that the people use to pull plows or carts. They plod along slowly, but they have enough weight and strength to be an efficient tractor on most small farms.
The bamboo cart was sitting outside the church where we enjoyed the coconut. As you can see, it is hand made. Bamboo is very hard wood. Although the logs are hollow, it is often the standard building material for many things, including the floors on small houses.
I took the pictures below in the chapel during one of our meetings. Pictured here are the dancers who are trained by one of the school teachers. They range from about 6 to 12 in age.
Below is a picture of the school taken from the outside. It is the New Life Christian Academy of Maitum, Inc. There are classrooms behind the school going up the hill, which cannot be seen in this picture.
Here is the Filipe and Eden's house, where we stayed for the week. They were kind enough to give up their bedroom so that David, Glenn, and I could sleep in an air conditioned room.
I left Maitum on the morning of June 3 and flew from Gensan to Manila, where I spent the night in the H20 hotel again. Then I got up early, took a cab to the airport and flew from Manila to Taipei, then to Los Angeles, and finally to Minneapolis. I took the photo below from the airport in Taipei, Taiwan just to have a picture from there.
The plane left Taipei at 5:30 p.m. on June 4, and arrived in Los Angeles at 1:30 p.m. the same day after an 11-hour flight. I then arrived in Minneapolis just before midnight.
Discernments about the Philippine Trip
Before I left Minneapolis to go to the Philippines, I received an email from the Philippines from a couple who wanted to attend the meetings. They had been reading my weblogs for many years and wanted to meet me. However, since I was not the one organizing this trip, I did not actually know the contact person in Gensan, nor did I have his telephone number. So I just told them that I would be in General Santos (Gensan) on May 23.
Somehow, they found the church where David and I would be speaking. David spoke first that evening, and then he pointed out a few people to come to the front for prayer and prophecy. Out of the crowd of 300, he called out Norman and Cecile, the couple who had found the meeting place and had flown in from another city. As they passed me on the way to the front of the church, Cecile pointed to her name tag and identified herself quickly as the one who had contacted me.
As it turned out, Norman and Cecile are intercessors in the Philippines and have done a lot of prayer work around the country and even in nearby countries. The next day we were able to spend some time together visiting and sharing. Their calling was obvious, as they have been led in many of the same things that I have done over the years. We had a delightful time together, and the word that David gave them was very appropriate to their calling.
One problem, however, was that Cecile had stubbed her little toe and had broken it. This was somewhat painful, but it did not stop her from walking. It occurred to me that in the five-fold ministry of Ephesians 4:11, these callings are represented as fingers on a hand (or toes on a foot). The thumb is the apostle, on down to the teacher, which is the little finger (or toe). The fact that she broke her little toe just before attending the meetings seemed to indicate that she was interceding for me as a Teacher.
After I told her this, she went online and discovered that this type of fracture was called a Jones Fracture.
That seemed to confirm the discernment. It also told me that I must have needed help from intercessors and that this teaching trip carries more significance than meets the eye.
When I got home earlier this week, my weblog manager (David) told me that he had gotten a huge blood blister on his little finger while putting in a garden in the back yard. As another intercessor, he thought that my Philippine trip must have involved planting seeds--as in a garden.
I told him then that in Maitum we stayed in the Garden of Eden, since our hostess' name is Eden. (See her picture earlier.) So it appears that this was about planting the seeds of the word (and the Kingdom) in the Garden of Eden.
Back in Maitum, on Friday night, May 31, I was scheduled to teach, but I felt that David ought to take the session. He delivered a powerful word, which brought many young people to the altar. This was the occasion that impressed me greatly, as I saw the passion that these kids had for Christ. As I observed the scene in front of me, I knew that something was being birthed at that moment.
All five of us believed and agreed that when these children are finished with school, they will enter the business and political world, or perhaps the ministry, as leaders in Mindanao that will affect the whole nation.
As I reflected upon this that night, a picture began to take form. This was Mindanao, a picture of the Promised Land, i.e., the Kingdom. We were in Eden and Felipe's (Philip) house. Philip is one of the prime New Testament examples of the "catching away" (harpazo) in Acts 8:39, which speaks of the second work of Christ and the fulfillment of Tabernacles. (See my CD series on the book of Acts.)
Later, in the middle of the night I awoke with a new insight. The name of the town is Maitum, which means Black Stone. I believe the Lord spoke to me at that moment and said, "This is the birth of the Stone Kingdom as it begins to strike the image on its feet." This added a whole new dimension to the revelation of this trip.
I have felt for many years that the Philippines--and especially Mindanao--would be a beginning point for something in regard to the Kingdom of God. In December of 1997 when I was in northern Mindanao teaching at a Bible school in Cagayan de Oro City, I learned from the pastors there that Mindanao meant "Land of Promise." This confirmed that Mindanao did indeed have a special place in the divine plan, but I had no idea what this meant, or how it might happen.
But the night of May 31, 2013 it all began to make sense. I believe that this little school in Maitum is far more important than it appears to be to most people. I believe that God led the team to go there and receive this revelation in order to establish a relationship with Filipe and Eden and to assist, as we can, in the support of the school. With an increased level of Bible teaching to go along with the work of the Spirit that is already present there, those young students could take the lead in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom to the rest of the nation.
There are many possibilities that I can see, but I will not presume anything at this time. Any such expansion of the ministry and school there would depend upon their vision and leading, as well as how the Father leads us at this end. Right now there are too many unknown factors, but many of you know what is in my heart insofar as the Open Door Ministry is concerned. I believe that God wants me to set up Bible schools around the world wherever there are people who have the calling to take responsibility for such a work in their own country.
Meanwhile, I have been busy writing for many years, in order to have text books and commentaries for such schools. This trip has given me a renewed urgency to finish the commentary on the book of Deuteronomy, which contain the basic laws on which the Kingdom of God is to be built in every nation.
It just might be that Maitum is the first place for such a work to be set up, so that when the children finish grade school and high school, they will be able to go to Bible School if they feel called to do so. With a heightened knowledge of the Kingdom and the laws by which a righteous society must function, the nations can turn to an alternative to the current Babylonian system under which the creation now labors in its bondage.
We have one distinct advantage over other Christian groups. While most others are just holding on and waiting for the Rapture to take them out of here, we are preparing for the Kingdom of God to take over the world. The Stone Kingdom of Daniel 2:35 is already striking the image on its feet, and so we are called to replace that which is being ground to powder. Most of the Church does not have a clear alternative to the current World Order. We too are still searching the Scriptures for many answers, but a good start will be with a system of righteous laws to govern the people.
Dr. Stephen Jones