Missions Exposure Trip to Marinduque Part 2

The 2010 Missions Exposure Trip team

It’s now a month since the 2010 Missions Exposure Trip to Marinduque. I struggled finding time to write the second part of my post because of the many transition activities I went through these past weeks. I am now working full time for a campus ministry in the University of the Philippines so I had to fix my schedule and work description. Though it’s difficult to explain what I’m actually doing, I figured that people understood my job when I told them I’m a “Church Worker” or a “Campus Missionary.”

But this post is not about my work yet; I’ll write a separate article on that. This is the second installment of our Missions Trip to Marinduque.

We spent roughly three days in Boac, the province’s capital. On our third day, several members from UP bid us farewell. They had to cut their trip short for various reasons. Many of them were working alumni so they had to go back lest they be absent from their jobs. Others were students who still had final or removal exams waiting for them in UP. Still others had flight schedules to catch.

All in all, five members from UP sailed back to Manila on our last night in Boac. Though we’re less in number for our next missions stop, we remained just as enthusiastic. The absence of four UPians gave our brothers and sisters from the Southern Luzon State University a chance to step up in leadership.

Myko and Randy minutes before the praise and worship
Around that time, Randy and Ate Tess already took charge of all praise and worship activities with the help of Living Word Christian Fellowship’s talented members. In the next couple of days, they led pastors, youth workers, students and churches in worshipping the Lord through songs and music in the remaining activities of our trip.

But before starting the second leg of our Missions Exposure Trip, we grabbed the opportunity to rest and enjoy one another’s company. Pastor Paul from LWCF arranged for us a day in one of Sta. Cruz’s scenic waterfalls.

I’m not a fan of swimming and water having spent most of my childhood years near the sea, but to say that our rest and recreation site was alluring is an understatement. Water plunged around 20 feet (assuming that my journalistic computations are correct) from its source and wound down four levels. The crystal-clear water was freezing the first time one took a dip in the pool. There were also fingerlings and small shrimp-like creatures that fastened themselves on the skin of swimmers. They made tingling sensations between the fingers and on the palm, as if nibbling softly on one’s dead skin.

Praise God for the hearty meal!
We chose to stay at the top-most basin which was never developed, retaining its natural feel and look. The jagged boulders covered with moss gave a rustic feel to the setting. After a hearty meal of grilled fish and pork, squid, steamed crabs and unlimited rice, we all went our own ways. Most of the ladies swam in the second-level pool which was designed for tourists. The floor was leveled and several stairs were carved out of the rocks around the basin, making it look like a “natural” swimming pool.

They played water "cartwheel," taking turns floating and then tugging their fellow missionaries around the pool. I wanted to join the group but my inclusion made their number odd. The members should sum up to an even number because the cartwheel required alternating “floaters” and “tuggers.” Regardless of the consequences, I joined the fun.

True enough, the rhythm was broken and soon we found ourselves giggling at our failure to sustain a decent cartwheel. Only Badeth seemed unscathed. Because of her small frame, she managed to float effortlessly with or without a tugger.

The men stayed in the top-most basin and enjoyed diving from the waterfall. I personally disagreed with what they were doing, but because they seemed to enjoy it, I just joined Ate Tess in interceding for the adventurous but often careless members of the team. Praise God because no one got hurt!

But in an ironic turn of events, one of the ladies swimming in the “safer” second-level pool sustained a cut on her foot. Marvee was happily dabbling in the water when she stepped on a sharp stone that pierced her skin. It wasn’t a deep wound, but it was enough to cause minor bleeding. This did not stop the fun, however, as the team—including Marvee—proceeded to enjoy the remainder of the RnR, gobbling puto, chips, biscuits, lanzones and other local rice cakes from Marinduque.

After the merienda, several of our team took one last dip in the second pool before bidding farewell to the relaxing waterfall at Sta. Cruz. The second part of our Missions Exposure Trip was about to begin.

It was our fifth day in the missions field and we had so much to do. One of our teammates described this day, saying, “In the first few days we were so relaxed. Now I can feel the pressure of the work!”

The Marinduque trip was indeed more relaxed than the previous Missions Trips I had joined. “It was like a camp rather than a missions trip,” another teammate commented. I had to agree with her in some ways. There were times I longed for the help of other older and much more experienced brothers and sisters from the fellowship to spread the task of leading and heading the Missions Trip. Despite all these, however, was the reminder that the success of the event depended solely on our Great God. It was a lesson on dependence and obedience once again.

I praise God for He directed our programs despite the many uncertainties that came our way, and in the process taught us all to trust and obey.

Everything was set for our day five Pastors’ Conference. We were asked to lead the praise and worship, and we assigned this to Randy, Ate Tess and Myko. Three of our teammates from UP also volunteered as back up singers—Mark, Ate My and Gay. The team practiced all night and also in the first hours of the morning.

At the start of the conference, I whispered to Kuya Oslek, “Did Pastor Paul ask anyone to share a testimony?”

He replied, “As far as I know, he only asked us to lead the praise and worship.”

I nodded my affirmation, but deep inside thought, “I hope he doesn’t call for an impromptu sharing.”

Everything went smoothly. There were minor glitches in the praise and worship, but these didn’t matter because everyone’s heart was poured out to the Living God. After all, a praise and worship is not a performance but an offering to the Lord.

The church where we were staying burst into joyful noise as everyone in the hall joined the singing. Hands were raised, eyes were closed and voices cried out to God, giving Him the worship He alone deserved.

Kuya Caloy gave the message for the event. But a few minutes before he spoke, I received a message from Pastor Paul, requesting me to share my conversion story. Deep down I felt this was coming. I wasn’t afraid of the crowd nor was I ashamed of my testimony but I preferred being alerted in advance to have ample time for preparation. But I remembered Paul who exhorted Timothy saying, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season…”

I wasn’t about to give a sermon, but I knew that the power of my testimony depended on the spiritual truths God taught me along the way. So I whispered to Kuya Oslek once more, “Please pray for me. I was asked to share my testimony after the praise and worship.” He readily laid his hands on my shoulder and started praying. I could no longer remember Kuya Oslek’s exact words but I know he asked the Lord to speak through me and to teach me to depend on Him alone.

The next thing I knew, I was again facing a sea of faces. I was sharing my testimony without notes. Words were rushing out of my mouth, but my heart was continuously praying, “Lord, may the glory be Yours alone, not mine.” I saw mixed emotions on the faces of the visitors. I was encouraged by the smiles and the nods of affirmation. My eyes shied away from the poker-faced and bored.

Then I ended as I did in Boac with Philippians 3:7-8 “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

Once more, I testify to the truth that the power of words is nothing if not for the Spirit of God who convicts the hearts of listeners. I don’t know how God used my conversion story, but I am confident that He used it for His glory.

After my impromptu testimony, Kuya Caloy proceeded in exhorting the pastors and church workers who attended our conference. He focused on unity and continuity. He said the best way for the churches to reach the whole of Marinduque is through combined efforts of prayer, evangelism and discipleship led by the Holy Spirit.

He also encouraged the pastors to help one another, the bigger and more capable churches aiding the smaller and starting fellowships in the more remote areas of the island. Kuya Caloy’s message is true not only for Marinduque but for the whole of the church. While he spoke, I remembered the different Christian Organizations and churches in UP and hoped that one day we could also work together to win the campus for Christ.

There is still division inside the church and among churches for various reasons, a few of which involved membership and minor practices. I pray that one day, we will learn to focus on our unifying thread—Jesus Christ—and be truly one just as Jesus envisioned us to be.

After the message, the team worked together to distribute the gifts Kuya Caloy brought for the pastors and Church workers in the area. Earlier, he received a container with 800 boxes of clothes, toys, Christian books and literature which he intended to share to as many churches as possible.

We grouped the boxes with similar contents and lined them for easier distribution. The visitors took turns in choosing their desired items from the boxes. As ushers, we helped control the crowd to make the process smoother and more organized. It sounded easy but it wasn’t. We praise God, however, because the group was not unruly. I actually enjoyed helping the pastors’ wives pick good Sunday School books and materials.

While I retreated from the ushering team to get cold drinks, I saw the need of the churches in the province. I felt that we who are more blessed needed to move out of our Jerusalem and our comfort zones to reach out to all corners of our country and the world. It’s sad to realize that in the province, Christian workers lacked good books and trainings while we in the cities took these for granted.

Before rejoining our team, I asked God to instill in every DCFer and LWCFer the passion to continue radiating the cause of Christ not only in the centers but all over, even in the most neglected peripheries of our country.

Watch out for the last installment.
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