I find myself at the mid-point of my trip here—and it’s been a very full agenda so far. The Worship & Arts Class I’m teaching is half over, the all-day Worship Team Workshop was well attended, I’ve visited three different church services, and we also squeezed in a trip to Naga to visit a BCCL satellite location. I’ve also been able to experience a “pedi-cab” ride (basically an old Stingray-style bike with a hooded sidecar welded on), a “tricycle” ride (a small motorcycle with sidecar), and a whole host of Filipino dishes and desserts. Details below.
College Group Tonight, I was the guest speaker at the Fifth Anniversary Celebration of YHB (Yeshua Heart Beat), which is a relatively large college group associated with the Albay Bible Community Church. (My topic was “Abiding in God’s Love” From John 15.) There’s an explosion going on among the young people here. There are over 100 students regularly involved in the ABC youth ministry. Engineering, architecture, business, education, and medical students—and they are involved, aware, and alive in Christ. I see them as being among the next generation of Christian leaders here in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Philippines economy can’t support all the grads coming out of their schools, and many of them are having to take lesser jobs outside of their fields of education. It was exciting being with them and sharing in their joy and passion and fun!
Filipino Worship This morning, I visited Jesus First Christian Ministries, where I experienced an entire worship service in Tagalog. Songs, Scripture, sermon, and even offering was given in Tagalog. Amazingly, I was able to follow along pretty well (due to the occasional word I could pick up, plus the PowerPoint that was in English), and I was even able to sing along with most songs. As we sang, I could picture my home church, Oak Hills, half-way across the world, worshiping as well. It was a very cool thought.
Worship Team Workshop The BCCL rented a large hall right in one of the provincial government buildings in Old Albay for this all-day event, which meant that we were worshiping at one of the seats of local government. (How weird is that!) During this workshop, I lectured briefly about the importance of the worship team, the roles of each of the instruments of the worship team, and then taught them a bunch of songs. Specifically, I took volunteers from the crowd to form a worship band, then taught them one of the newer worship songs. I did this about five times, with different groups each time. I think this was helpful, as they learned new songs to bring back to their congregations, and I was able to show them how I run a rehearsal and put the different elements of the band together. I also took the time to teach worship concepts in the midst of it all too.
The best thing about this workshop was when Mayette Ativo-Bueno (BCCL Director) told me during the break that the teams I was working with were formed with people that had never even met before. She was quick to jump on that, and before the end of the day, she had brought together the worship leaders from all the different churches and formed a twice-a-month gathering for them. Yeah!
Naga Friday, we took a field trip to the city of Naga, which is about two hours drive from Legaspi. BCCL does satellite classes there and has plans to put a facility in the city, to increase their visibility. It’s exciting to see BCCL extend their influence and continue to make a difference in this region.
• When I took the pedi-cab, it was raining like crazy. Mayette and I piled into the cab, and the driver, a man in his sixties wearing shorts and flip-flops, began pedaling us vigorously down the street. I felt like telling the man, “That’s okay, let me pedal for you.” Except that he was in better shape than I was. FYI, the cab drive cost us 20 pesos, or not quite fifty cents.
• It’s amazing what the musicians here are able to play and do with the equipment they have. Our drummers and guitarists would be appalled by the condition of the instruments and sound systems, which don’t age well in this humidity and heat (which is another way of saying that all of us instrumentalists need to be a lot more thankful for what we’ve got!). I have made a mental note to come back next time with a brick of drumsticks and a bag full of tuners and guitar strings.
• The Filipinos love their cameras—especially the young people. I am finding photos of me popping up all over Facebook!
• Today, I missed Justin’s birthday. So I miss him. And on Tuesday, I’ll be missing Valentine’s Day with Debbie and the girls. I’ll have to make it up to them somehow.
• I can’t let a blog go without talking about food somehow. One of the foods that I ate recently was lugaw, a soup made of rice and chicken with hint of ginger. I remember my Mom used to make it for us when we were sick (kind of like chicken soup). It tasted great, and brought back lots of memories, but I couldn’t get over the fact that here, this warm soup is considered a mid-meal snack. I’m also quite bummed that I can’t try one of the desserts of my childhood, halo-halo, because it is made from ice (which I’ve been warned to stay away from).
[Top photo: I lead and instruct different musicians at the Worship Team Workshop. That was a blast! Second photo: They start them young early here. The god son of Pastor Tony Bueno, of Jesus First Christian Ministries, can’t keep from whacking away with the drumsticks. Third photo: Another photo of the crowd from the Worship Team Workshop. Fourth photo: I have a late lunch with BCCL Director, Mayette, along with her husband, Pastor Tony. Bottom photo: This is the “tricycle” ride I took back to the apartment. This was truly an adventure for me, as it splashed and splayed through an extremely rainy morning.]