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Family trip: Dumaguete 2017

4 Jun

While we were unloading our luggages upon arriving in the airport, Eugene said that he left his backpack in GCF (where we came from). It contained his laptop which contained his sermon notes so without second thoughts, he went back.

The funny thing is, while Eugene was locking up our luggages and was about to book an Uber, we saw two friends on their way to Batangas and he jokingly asked them if they would like to drive us to the airport. They obliged. And so Eugene was happy to have gotten a free ride to the airport… only to actually pay double the taxi fare later on because of the bag he accidentally left.

The first agenda of our trip… Eugene preaching at Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC).

Not only did Eugene left his backpack. When our luggages were weighed when we checked-in for our flight, we exceeded our baggage allowance for the plane ride. Ha! I somehow got a feeling we would actually be doing so, inspite of packing as lightly as I could, bringing clothes less than the number of days we would be staying in Dumaguete.

Reunited with Gran’ma Maya.

Eugene readily obliged to pay PhP 800 as penalty for exceeding 4 kg beyond our luggage weight limit. I, however, was not willing to ‘dispose’ that amount so I tried to negotiate with the airline crew and asked if we could forego it. ‘Di tumalab yung charm ko. Tsk! (Minsan daw kasi nadadaan sa pakiusap, ‘pag maayos yung pag-request mo). To avoid paying the penalty, we just hand carried Eugene’s luggage.

And that’s how our trip started… we haven’t even left Manila yet and I was feeling stressed already. I was just so thankful that we went to the airport early so Eugene had enough time to get his bag and travel back to the airport. And also that it was a Saturday so traffic was relatively light. Imagine if we didn’t leave home early and if it was a weekday. And imagine if Eugene didn’t make it back to the airport on time. I was also thankful that Eugene’s luggage was small enough to be hand carried.

Eugene preached on ‘Encountering Jesus’ on the Sunday morning before the start of the youth camp.

Ministry

We traveled to Dumaguete because Eugene served as speaker in the youth camp of Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC), a church attended mostly by Chinese in Eugene’s hometown. Pastor Thomas Sioson, their Youth Pastor who was Eugene’s classmate (in high school as well as in college in Silliman), invited him to talk to their youth on ‘rising above the label of being a mellenial’, the theme for DCC’s 4th summer camp held from May 21 to 26 in Camp Seasite in Banilad, Dumaguete.

Lunch with Elder Emmanuel Ho after Eugene preached. We are very grateful for Elder Emmanuel because he has extended a lot of effort in accommodating us during the camp.

Before the camp started, Eugene also preached in DCC the following morning after our arrival. The camp officially started after DCC’s Worship Service that Sunday, in the afternoon, and Eugene had his first speaking session that evening.

We had a blessed time serving and ministering in Dumaguete. It is always good to go to a church and meet new people you share the same faith with. Though Eugene already knows a few people in DCC or at least some faces are familiar with him since Dumaguete is just a small town that it’d not be unusual to meet people you know in small get togethers.

Eugene giving the message on the second night of the camp.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” –Colossians 3:1-3

This was the theme verse of the camp. In addition to Eugene’s exposition on this Bible verse on the first night, he talked about the life of Jonah for the rest of the sessions. There were about 60 campers who went to the camp. I am sorry to say, though, that we had very limited interaction with them. I, however, would say that they were receptive of the messages and were very honest in sharing their struggles and in asking questions.

The theme of the camp.

Camp culture

Unlike our youth camps in our church where we have plenary sessions in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, the sessions in DCC’s youth camp were held only in the evening. I couldn’t actually believe when, before the camp, Eugene said he was speaking and, therefore, would go to the camp site only in the evening. I kept asking him if he’s sure with such arrangement and if he wouldn’t be needed in the camp during the day because I’m used to having our speakers present with us for the whole duration when we have our youth camp in our church.

Lunch with a DCC member’s family at Dong Juan.

It turned out such schedule worked for us. It afforded us time to relax during the day and we were not pressured to wake up early and be in a hurry to eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning… a very difficult ordeal when you have a baby. Haha. And even though the sessions were scheduled from 8 to 9 PM, it was not tiring at all as we were rested during the day. After each session, we were immediately brought back to the hotel (which is just a five-minute drive away) so we were not out nor didn’t stay up late either. If there is one thing we were thankful to do in Dumaguete, it was to catch up with sleep and relax and slow down a bit.

We did, however, go to the camp site in the morning twice. One was just to visit and see what the kids are up to during the day. Even though their plenary sessions were held in the evenings, they were still loaded during the day as they had activities, workshops, and trainings, e.g., the kids were taught how to do inductive bible studies as one of their training-workshops.

They also have what we in our church call love notes just like we do in our youth camps. Here they write messages to fellow campers as well as to the staff.

The second time we went to the camp in the morning was for a Q&A session. This was a session where the campers asked anything they wanted to the speaker (Eugene) and boy were their questions deep! Of course there were the usual questions on love and courtship and Christianity but I (nor Eugene, I suppose) did not expect the campers to ask about predestination, election, free will, Calvinism, and the like. Seriously! I was already an adult when I started to ask about those things. I didn’t even know anything about Calvinism until I was over 25 years old. The campers who asked about these things? They were just high school and college students!

Two campers playing with our little one.

Not only that, after the session, (some of) the boys couldn’t seem to have enough of their questions answered that they had an extended session with Eugene in an informal small group setting. I asked Eugene what did these boys ask. He just said the usual stuff about love and courtship. The session kasi was bitin. Eugene’s answers to the questions raised during the Q&A were long kaya only a few were asked. I think there are a lot of questions still lined up but the one-hour time allotted for it was already up. Anyway, I think an exclusive Q&A session is a very good idea to include in a camp as it would be a fun and learning session for everyone.

The elders and leaders of DCC were very much involved, too. They visited the camp and were present during the plenary sessions. Actually, during the Worship Service in their church before the camp started, it was announced that their prayer meeting for that week was cancelled as the members were encouraged to attend the camp instead. Parents also visited their kids. Back in 2014, Eugene has also been invited as a speaker in a youth camp (of a Chinese christian church, too) in Cebu and I remember that their pastor and leaders and parents of the campers visited and attended the plenary sessions of the camp, too.

This is the camp site which is interestingly called “Camp Seasite” in Banilad, Dumaguete. It’s not far from the town proper, just a few minutes drive.

The camp site is a single-storey structure mainly made of bamboo and nipa and is located beside a beach and a mangrove. The session hall, dining hall, and sleeping quarters are all located within the same building and are non-airconditioned. I even saw a tuko (monitor lizard) one time when we were there. A total of six kids occupy a room. The campers themselves served their meals and washed their dishes. It reminded me when I went to IVCF’s month-long Kawayan Camp way back in 2001 where we slept in kubos and also did the dishes.

Some of the campers washing the dishes after a meal.

Now, if there’s one thing that DCC’s and our church’s youth have in common, it’s the music and how they have their praise and worship time. The songs, the band, the dim lights, they were exactly the same Eugene actually said he felt like he was home.

The camp started on Sunday afternoon and ended on Friday morning. Eugene spoke in a total of five plenary sessions plus the Q&A during the six-day long youth camp.

Our little one (LO) playing with Pastor Thomas’ little one. Our LO loves to hug other babies.

Vacation

The rest of our stay in Dumaguete is the vacation part. We mostly spent the rest of our time hanging out and dining out with Eugene’s family. (And motorbiking around town… because it is something we wouldn’t dare do in Metro Manila). We wanted to go to Negros Occidental to visit Eugene’s only surviving aunt (on his father’s side) to let her see our little one (LO). And also to make a side trip to Bacolod but we were not able to do so. Sad. We also didn’t, even for a day or half, go to a beach! Too bad, I thought our LO would be able to go to the beach for the first time. Sayang. I could only console myself and say, “next time.”

During the Q&A session on the 5th day of the camp.

I also celebrated my 37th birthday in Dumaguete. There wasn’t anything special we did, we (with Eugene’s family) just had dinner at Lantaw, the most famous restaurant in Dumaguete right now, I think, as it is always full regardless of the day or time. The place is already big so imagine when I say it is full. There must be more than 150 persons dining all at the same time. My birthday was on a Monday and when we went there we had to wait for quite some time as we were 15th in line.

All in all, we had a blessed and meaningful time of ministry in Dumaguete and also with family. It is always a joy to serve and minister to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and we praise and thank God for the opportunity. We didn’t plan nor expect this trip so it was a blessing to go home to Eugene’s hometown and be with his family.

Hubby with his friend Pastor Thomas who invited Eugene to serve as the speaker for their youth camp.

We are very grateful to DCC and to their leaders and members for the very warm welcome and generous treatment we have received from them. We are very sorry we cannot remember your names but we would like to thank everyone who has hosted us for lunch or dinner and for the accommodation and transportation provided for us. Thank you especially to Elder Emmanuel Ho who has extended the most effort to accommodate us.

After the Q&A, the boys still had a lot of questions that they had an informal extended session with Eugene afterwards.

Of course, all these wouldn’t have been possible if not for the invitation of their Youth Pastor so to Pastor Thomas, thank you! Thank you for inviting us and for giving us the opportunity to serve and minister to your church.

We give God the glory.

Here are some more photos during our trip:

Dinner with another member’s family at Mooon Cafe. There was another member who hosted us for dinner but we were not able to take a picture with them.

On the last night of the camp, the campers washed each other’s feet as part of their Dedication Night.

Group picture with all the campers.

These boys took a selfie when I gave them my camera and asked one of them to take a picture of us with Pastor Thomas, his family, and Elder Emmanuel.

With Pastor Thomas and his wife and Elder Emmanuel. This was taken on our last night in camp after Eugene gave the final message and the challenge to the campers.

I bugged Eugene to take a photo with the banner bearing his name but he refused.

With Elder Emmanuel and his wife. This was taken on the last day of camp when they fetched us from the hotel to drive us to the house where we lived for the rest of our stay in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Gabby’s.

Lunch with Eugene’s family at Mooon Cafe after the Worship Service in First Baptist Church on the second Sunday we were in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Lantaw on my birthday.

Eating streetfood at the Boulevard, the road overlooking the sea.

Connect wedding: Alex and Ray Marie

19 May

Here comes the bride. Ray’s smile reflected her joy when she walked down the aisle to meet her groom, Alex.

It was an honor for Eugene and me to serve again as secondary (cord) sponsors in a wedding. It was our second time and it was also in a wedding of a couple who both serve in the Connect Ministry of GCF.

Exchange of vows. The wedding was officiated by Pastor Sam Rendal and was held in the chapel of GCF in Ortigas.

Though I am not very familiar with Alex and Ray’s story, I was really touched with their vows when they wedded last May 8 in Greenhills Christian Fellowship. They were really heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and I’ve already heard different kinds of vows. It is the highlight in a wedding and the vows usually reflect the personalities of the couple getting married.

Can’t contain their excitement. This is just right before Alex and Ray were pronounced as husband and wife.

There are vows that narrates the couples love story… there are those that are full of humor… there are also vows that mention certain traits of the bride or groom which the husband- or wife-to-be promises to accept and submit to… and there are those that are impromptu, no kodigo at all… some are long… and some are cheesy and mushy.

Caption of the video above: The first kiss.

Alex and Ray’s vows were short, sweet, and simple… I would say straight to the point, nevertheless very sincere and heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings (as I’ve just said) and I can’t remember being seriously touched as much as like this time.

Photo session after the ceremony.

Alex and Ray did mention how God has worked to bring them together and how they are God’s answers to each other’s prayers. And in their words you could sense that they are devoted to serve and honor God through their marriage.

Selfie/Groufie with the newly weds right after the ceremony.

Sharing just a few more pictures of the event. 

Caption of the video above: The recessional.

We clanged our glasses non-stop so the newly weds would kiss again and again. Haha.

The traditional cake cutting ceremony.

And now a family picture with our little one.

We are praying for God’s blessings for both of you and in your marriage.

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

Dumaguete-Cebu ministry/vacation/reunion

11 Apr

It was a very tight-scheduled trip. As usual, our reason for travelling is ministry (Eugene had invitations for speaking/preaching engagements) and we just fit in the vacation part in between. Still, I thank God because if it were not for such opportunities, we might not have found a reason to go home to hubby’s hometown eh it’s been four long years since I last have been to Dumaguete I miss it so badly. Continue reading

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