Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend - Baguio/Manila

On Friday we jumped aboard a bus which took us from Manila to Baguio.  It was quite the experience for those of us from the U.S.  We may have spent more time on the wrong side of the road than the right side as we passed jeepneys and pedicabs, with oncoming traffic just missing us as we swerved back in.  It was great!  While Manila is at sea-level, Baguio is up in the mountains.  The road up winds with some tight twists and turns, but it's incredibly beautiful passing rice fields and mountain vistas.

Pastor Abel and Dionelle were waiting to pick us up from the bus terminal, and drove us to the AJ Pension House, where we'll stay for the next couple days.  

At 7:00, we met up at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, where the seminary students had prepared an awesome Filipino meal for us.  There are six total students, four of which are on vicarage, and two (Dionelle and Jestoni) are on-site taking classes in their second year of five.  There are currently 98 congregations in the LCP, with only 30 pastors available to serve.  Many take on multiple parishes, but there's an obvious need for pastors - a concern that the seminary and LCP are praying God guides them through.  Upon graduation, the average pastor in the Philippines earns 65-80 US dollars a month.  That's not enough to support an entire family, so one of Sean Harlow's major jobs here is to promote grassroots microfinancing, where pastors and their families can take out a $500 loan to start up a small business by which to support their families.  What incredible faith these men have.  They have such passion and joy for the Gospel that shows in all they do.

Saturday was spent seeing some of the sights in Baguio, touring the seminary, and sitting down with Pastor James, the president of the LCP for a dinner that his wife prepared for us.  He's such a generous and caring man, and we were humbled to spend some time with him.

Main Seminary building
 Jestoni, Dionelle, Pastor Abel
At President James' house (in the red shirt)

Sunday morning was spent worshiping at St. Stephen Lutheran Church.  It was such a powerful and moving church service.  They welcomed us graciously and we felt right at home.

Monday's plans are to sneak in some last minute souvenier shopping, as well as head back to CCS for a few hours in the afternoon.  Then at 4:30 Tuesday morning we're off to the airport for the flight home!  I'd continue to update the blog up until that point, but my international power converter just popped loudly and started I'm done charging my computer until I return back to the U.S.  I'll put up some more pictures upon return.  Thank you all for keeping this team in your prayers, and for blessing us with your thoughts.  The Lutheran Church in the Philippines has incredibly strong leadership, and a wonderful mission field.  The harvest is ripe and God's going to do great things here.  From Trinity Lutheran Church to all of you in the Philippines, God's greatest blessings!  You've been so kind and shared so much love with us these past 11 days.  What a life changing experience, and know that as we leave we leave behind a small part of our hearts with you.  Salamat Po!  Thank you very much!

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