Greetings From Mindoro!
A shout went up from the Tawbuid believers as the church wall crashed to the ground. A string of young men, who had been pulling a rope attached to the top of the wall, stumbled as the rope suddenly went slack.
It was a sad day in Balangabong. The beautiful Adventist church which a generous Korean believer had sponsored nearly 15 years ago was now rubble. But it was a relief as well. The contractor who had built the church had used sand mixed with dirt, and too little cement. When the torrential rains of typhoons came, the dirt in the concrete softened up, and the walls began to crumble. Several people had been hit in the head during church as chunks of concrete fell from the walls.
Everyone agreed, the church desperately needed to be rebuilt, and rebuilt right. Because of communication challenges, the fundraising was announced in the Adventist Frontiers magazine several months before I was able get an article published. You, the supporters of the Tawbuid, were so faithful and generous that even before I had explained, the funds were already fully raised!
Praise the Lord, and thank you so much to each of you who contributed! Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and from all of the Tawbuid believers!
The old church has now been demolished, and the site of the new one graded and prepared. All we are waiting for is my contractor to find enough masons to start work. By the time we were ready to start, almost every mason on the island was already locked into contracts for the duration of the dry season. Just yesterday, however, I was informed that by the end of May we should be able to start, and the contractor is committed to working even through rainy season. This time we will build the church right, and it should last well past our lifetimes.
In other news, we just finished Mangyan camp meeting. This began as the Alangan camp meeting which my parents started just for the believers from the Alangan tribe. We have switched to the general term, "Mangyan," however as other tribes from our island have joined the fellowship. This year we had Seventh-day Adventist believers from 4 tribes participate, with well over 900 in attendance. This is only a fraction of the total number of believers, as many had obligations which kept them from coming. God has brought us a long way since my family first arrived 24 years ago!
The Leadership/Missions Training has been growing as well. We now have nearly 50 students from 4 tribes involved. More than anything else, this training program is responsible for the growth of our work into other nearby Mangyan tribes. When my family started working among the Alangan in 1994, there were almost no believers among any of the Mangyan tribes. Now, in partnership with the various district pastors on the island, we have beachheads among the Buhid and Hanunoo tribes, as well as established and growing work among the Alangan and Tawbuid.
Back to training, the graduates of last year's class are now teaching what they learned to the new students. They teach in teams of two, and those who are not teaching meet separately with me for more advanced study.
My wife and daughter are finishing up their school year at the Adventist University of the Philippines, and are looking forward to coming home for a few weeks before summer school starts. I never believed my Dad, growing up, but it's true, I've been putting on a few pounds here and there since I got married. You won't hear me complaining though!
I will be in the US this summer from July to October. I will be teaching at AFM's Summer Institute of Frontier Missions, and then continuing on with my furlough afterward. I hope to have speaking appointments posted in the not too distant future. Hopefully I will be able to meet and talk with many of you while I'm there!
Once again, thank you so much for your interest, prayers, and support of the work among the Tawbuid, and the other Mangyan tribes which are now starting to be reached as well! May God richly bless you!