* A Day Of Fellowship

The men from the area groups had a meeting Monday.  They set it for Monday because it was a national holiday.  Not everyone could make it, as some ended up not getting the holiday.  But the Bereans and some men from Batasan Hills came and they had a profitable meeting.  Daniel spoke on Reformed church government, and Rev. Smit led a question hour.

The Q&A Period

Conversation During Coffee Break

Since the men were meeting, Tricia and I decided we would try to have a ladies' fellowship as well.  We had about 22 ladies altogether at Smit's house so it was a nice crowd.  We had lunch together.  Tricia and I made chicken adobo, banana bread and poppy seed muffins.  Quite a few of the ladies brought quite a bit of food too, so we did not go hungry!  There was a fish dish (fish cooked in coconut milk), a noodle dish, soup, rice, mangoes and more.  We had a devotion time and did some visiting.  Someone mentioned a game called "A trip to Jerusalem" (we know it as musical chairs) so we had fun playing a round of that.

Lunch Time

"A Trip To Jerusalem"

The Musician for our Game

They all wanted to see the Kleyn's place so we also made a trip over here.  We have a tree out front with makopa fruit on it.  Since the fruit is strange to us, and since someone said that not many people eat it, and since someone else told us you have to watch out for the grubs in the fruit, we hadn't even tried it.  Well .... that supplied a second round of fun for the ladies.  They swarmed the tree, my ladder was outside in a matter of minutes and they were picking the fruit.  I gave them plastic bags to take it home in and then also vinegar and salt so they could eat some right away.  They enjoyed looking through the house too.  Some of the young people were climbing our mango tree to get some mangos.  But there were a lot of red ants on the tree, so they soon gave up on it.

Picking Makopa Fruit

I have notes with tagalog words taped up all around the house,which they had fun reading.  One of the girls that came taped up some of her own Tagalog phrases for us.  They were all about eating balot - the fertilized duck egg! :-)  I served them some pop and they sat and chatted for a half hour or so before we headed back to the Smit's place.

Group Picture - Some Had Left Already

All in all it was a fun day and it was a great time for the ladies from the two groups to get to know each other. We'll have to do it again sometime.


* A Land Of Rice

We're certainly not experts at rice farming.  But we do get to see plenty of it taking place on our trips to Gabaldon.  Rice fields (paddies) just about all the way there and back.  Thought we'd share some of the beautiful sights with you.  We'll let the pictures tell the story.

A Paddy Being Prepared With A Rototiller

"Philippine Tractors" At Work

Carabao Pulling A Single Row Plow

A "Tractor" Taking A Well Earned Rest

Cooling Off

Mud.....Wonderful Mud

Egrets In The Paddies

The Finished Product Being Dried

Just About Ready To Eat

On The Dinner Plate .... Delicious!

* Sunday in the First Reformed Church of Bulacan

We were up before 6 and left home just before 7. The trip went fine, though we had a delay. We were held up for a little while in Prenza, where there was a market (palengke) along the main road that runs through town. There was a jeepney in front of us loaded with people. After staying in one place for a while, the people riding the jeepney must have realized they could walk faster. Pretty soon all the passengers were climbing off, and sure enough, they were soon lost up ahead in the crowd. All of this wasn't so bad. It was just that we weren't familiar with the route yet and didn’t know how much further we had to go. As a result we were a little worried we would be late. We also missed a turn off. Daniel was just starting to wonder if we were right, when a motor cyclist pulled up next to us and knocked on our window. It was one of the deacon’s from the Bulacan church. He had been watching out for us and chased us down when he saw us go past. Daniel was very glad to see him and we made it to the church in plenty of time. We took pictures of all the corners on the way, so that we can recognize them for next time.

The Motorbike We Followed - Bro. Reden

Pastor Flores taught a catechism class first for the children in Tagalog. All ages of children were there and the adults sat in as well.  The pastor has translated the PR Essentials in Reformed Doctrine catechism book into Tagalog and was using that.  He taught Lesson 3 on God's Essence and Names.

Pastor Flores Teaching Essentials Class

Most of the church service was conducted in Tagalog.  They have a small booklet of some of our Psalter numbers which have been translated, so we sang out of that.  (I notcied that several of the creeds were translated in the back of the booklet, too - Chalcedon, Nicene and Apostle's.)  It was a thrill to sing the familiar Psalter numbers with these saints in their language.  Daniel preached on the letter to the church at Ephesus at Pastor Flores' request.  The people had a printout of the sermon outline in Tagalog as well as English.  They do understand English well.

At The Front Door Of Their Church Building

After a few minutes break Daniel gave a speech on what consitutes a Reformed church.  In the future, instead of a class he's going to preach another sermon.  Normally they have services at 9 and 5 with a class beforehand each time. But they are going to do the two services consecutively on the Sundays that we come (the first Sunday of the month). They were open to the idea of Daniel preaching on the Heidelberg Catechism, so he will do that once each time.

They served us lunch. We had rice, longenesia (a type of sweet sausage which is very good) and tomatoes, a chicken dish with pineapple and potato in it, a bean dish and bananas. It was masarap (delicious).

Getting The Table Set For Lunch

I visited with Pastor Flores's wife Roseanne quite a bit and the deacon's wives also and some of the other ladies, and Daniel had quite a bit of time to talk things over with Pastor Flores.

Chatting With Roseanne Flores

Chatting With Pastor John Flores

All in all we really enjoyed the day.  We were thrilled with the Tagalog Psalms and catechism book.  And also their obvious enthusiasm and hunger (children too) for the Reformed truth.

Some Of The Children

Traffic was agreeable on the way home so we could make it in time to go to the Berean PRC's second service at 3:30. We didn't get home until after 6. Our Sunday's sure are going to be different from now on!

* Our First Weekend in Gabaldon

After a few weeks of settling in and getting a feel for what the work is here, our schedule of visiting different churches or fellowships on the various Sundays of the month has started. We had our first run at it this past weekend with a trip to the All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship in Gabaldon. This is the group where Brother Vernon Ibe was working for a few years before he went to the states to study in the PR Seminary. We will be traveling to Gabaldon every second and fifth (when there is one) Sundays of the month. We were excited about the trip and the work!

All of Grace Protestant Reformed Fellowship Building in Gabaldon

We left Saturday morning at about 6:30. It took us about 3 ½ hours to get to Cabanatuan where we would be staying for the weekend. We checked into the Microtel there, relaxed for a little while, and then headed off again for the rest of the trip to Gabaldon. We wanted to touch base with the people there to make some final arrangements for Sunday. We saw Liwanag Evangelista. She and her husband, Lando, and three children (Danstan, Jiro, and Princess) live next door to the church. Lando was busy working in the fields, so we visited with her for a while before heading on our way again.

Sunday morning we were going to eat our complimentary breakfast at the hotel at 7. But after some calculations decided time constraints wouldn't allow for that, since we had to be in Gabaldon by 8:30. Just as well we decided against it. It took us over an hour to get to Gabaldon. I had taken granola bars, raisins and dried fruit along so that served well for our breakfast. The length of the trip could have been partly because I was driving. I'm still a little hesitant, especially when going through more populated areas. I'm never sure what might be suddenly on the road ahead: a child, a chicken, a carabao, a tricycle, or whatever.  So, slow is the way to go in my book!

Catechism Class for the Children

The first thing on the agenda for the day was catechism for the children. There were about 10 children there ranging from maybe 4 to 13. Daniel taught them the first lesson in the catechism book for beginners - on Creation. They each had a paper with the lesson in Tagalog. Daniel read the question in Tagalog and they all responded together with the Tagalog answer. Then he taught the lesson (in English) about creation and how it shows God’s power. The children were all very quiet and attentive.

Junely and Daisy

The Two Youngest Catechumens

Next was the worship service. They all had the bulletin in English (next time maybe it will be translated?) and the sermon was printed out as well in both English and Tagalog. Brother Rod Bongat from the Berean church had translated the sermon for Daniel. We followed the order of worship of the Bereans (which is the same as in the PR congregations). The singing (from the Psalter) and prayers were all in English.

Then came the challenge! Reading the sermon in Tagalog! It was on the Pharisee and the Publican in the temple. Daniel did a good job and made it through (although he joked afterwards about wishing he had the gift of tongues. :~)). He had the English printed next to the Tagalog and could glance at it as he went, so he at least knew what he was reading about! We could all follow along on our copies. I wondered how it would go to listen, but it worked well. I could read the English as he went and then follow the Tagalog somewhat as well. Hopefully it helps us with learning the language!

Wearing a Formal Filipino Barong

After a 5 or 10 minute break the adult class started. Daniel is going to lead them through the Heidelberg Catechism, and he did an introduction to that. He talked about the purpose and reason for creeds and about the layout and general content of the HC. He talked slowly, because it was all in English. They all had an outline in English of what he was saying. Again they seemed very attentive and seemed to understand it. At least one of the men was nodding his head a lot of the time.

They had some Bibles (Tagalog) but we brought along a few more for them. Next time they would like us to bring some copies of the Tagalog translation of the Three Forms of Unity. They can use them in the class and for personal use.

All in all it was an exciting and enjoyable weekend. We enjoyed the start in getting to know the people, even though there is somewhat of a language barrier. I came away a little frustrated with myself for not using the Tagalog I do know. I will have to make more of an effort next time. Maybe think ahead of time of some words, questions, and phrases I can use.

We are looking forward to our next trip there on the 14th of February. Maybe then we can tell you about the beautiful scenery on the way to and surrounding Gabaldon.

View Behind the Church Building