Please look far enough down this letter to see a list of how God answerred prayers in many ways.
Dear PAMI friends and relatives,
Ben, Pam, and I are back from our 3 week visit to the Philippines and have so much to share about PAMI and our ministry and adventures there. Although we got back on March 27, I’ve been holding off on sending post-trip email until having several posts ready to view on The PAMI Post. Please click on the following link to see over a dozen posts filled with a lot of pictures, video, and commentary about our trip.
I plan to keep adding to it, so keep checking it from time to time for new posts.
By the way, our dear friend Werner has also been posting the following log of our trip, including excerpts from Facebook posts made by Pam or me, and even route maps:
(if the wrong thing pops up, can also just click “stories” and “pam ben and mike” on the left side of wernermeybaum.blogspot.com)
We are also willing to share slides, video, and stories with churches or groups that want a presentation. This will probably include Emmaus Lutheran in Bloomington, Prairie Hill E. Free in Eden Prairie, Plymouth Creek Christian Church, The Table, Sitting in a Circle, and others.
We very much appreciate everyone who prayed for us or gave financially towards ministry expenses. Although we covered our own airfare, there was about $4000 of extra expenses used for blessing PAMI worker families and the ministry during our visit, with about half of that covered by gifts designated for “team visit.” Although we distributed a number of extra items while there, including a nice guitar, we’d also like to send funds for more guitars and other things now that we’re back. Furthermore, some Filipino workers could use sponsorship to do full-time ministry at $75 per month or EBI students could use sponsorship at $30 per month. If you want to help with PAMI ministry expenses, just make out checks to PAMI and mail to: PAMI, P.O. Box 201444, Bloomington, MN 55420-6444. You can also donate via credit card or Paypal on the donate tab of our website (www.pamimission.org/donate). Whatever means you use to donate, a tax-deductible receipt will be returned to you.
We feel your prayers really made a difference. We praise God for the following:
– Although predicted to arrive earlier, a big snowfall didn’t hit Minneapolis until immediately after our plane left–enough to cause a snow day closing of schools the next day. But all 5 legs of our flights from Minneapolis to Legazpi were on-time. Even the sequester budget cuts didn’t seem to slow airport security or air traffic control like I thought they could.
– Both us and our luggage made it safely all the way there. We only missed the last leg (from Chicago to Minneapolis) on the way back, when it didn’t matter because we just caught the next flight 1 1/2 hours later and had a free breakfast in the lounge in the meantime.
– Made it through customs with no problems. The Philippine customs agent just gave a big smile and waved us through after opening Pam’s bag and seeing a snorkel sitting on top.
– All 3 balikbayan boxes sent ahead of time arrived in safe condition at EBI before we did.
– Even though I caught a slight cold a few days before the trip, it never got too bad (even with not enough sleep), and was virtually gone within our first week there. I am always amazed at how God seems to give me more strength and stamina than normal–to stay up late, get up early, and keep going without much rest. Although I got exhausted and collapsed on the bed each night due to such a busy schedule and being constantly hot and sweating, sitting or sleeping with a fan pointed at me made it more bearable, and I woke up each day fairly refreshed. It’s only after being back in the U.S. that Pam and I have had colds again.
– Overall, we stayed pretty healthy, except for all three of us getting digestively sick just one day after we first arrived in Bulan (the night of March 15). We weren’t hungry for supper, breakfast, and lunch, and were making quick trips to the bathroom (CR) all that night. We were very thankful that diarrhea attacks didn’t happen while on a crowded jeepney (Immodium and chewable Pepto-Bismol helped). We figure it was something we drank or ate the day before in Bulusan. And lest one assumes it was just our weak American stomachs, even our traveling companion Pastor Gumer was sick that night. Of all the places to get sick for a day, Bulan wasn’t too bad, since Letty Fulo took good care of us, having experience knowing American comfort foods by having lived with my uncle and aunt Norval and Ardelle Thorud many years ago.
– Even though it rained a few times, it seemed to only rain hard when it didn’t matter (like at night). There were a couple outdoor Kids Times and an outdoor film showing where rain looked imminent (with lightning or thunder in the distance), but we were still able to finish okay.
– It was so nice to have Ben & Pam with me this trip. They are so fun, musical, energetic, expressive, positive, flexible, and full of grace & love. They helped balance out my down-to-business and analytical focus. While they were the ones mainly handling the Kids Times and hanging out with people, I was able to have many discussions with the pastors and workers about long-term mission goals, strategies for developing healthy churches, how to move towards self-support, and budget matters.
– By the Grace of God, we were able to stick fairly close to the tentative trip schedule listed in the Feb 19th PAMI email or Feb 25th PAMI Post entitled “Short Term Mission Trip.” During our 3 weeks in the Philippines, we went to 10 major towns in the provinces of Sorsogon and Northern Samar and conducted a 30 – 90 minute Kids Time 16 times, with a total attendance of about 750.
– In addition to conducting Kids Times, we also had the privilege to share in the following ways:
· were twice on the radio (once in Irosin and once in Allen)
· at the EBI graduation I was the guest speaker and Ben & Pam sang
· In Bulan, I shared a few words at the group baptism, I was the guest speaker and Ben & Pam sang at the Sunday service, and the three of us led an all afternoon youth gathering
· at the Irosin church Sunday service Ben & Pam both spoke and sang
– In light of administrative changes made last year when our former field director Pastor Chito Mendizabal passed away, it was nice to find the mission operating fairly good. Pastor Virgilio Fulo is doing well at being the new overall field director, Sister Ofel Mendizabal is doing well at heading Emmaus Bible Institute, Brother PaulJethro Mendizabal is doing well at bookkeeping, and Pastor Gumer is doing well at being a new partition head of a group of five churches.
– It was encouraging to pastor families, workers, students, and church members for us to visit EBI and most of the 12 PAMI churches, and to visit outreaches and homes. Spending face-to-face time together shows that we love and care. It also gave people an opportunity to share thoughts or concerns, and hospitality to us. It was a time of mutual enlightenment and blessing.
– Even though not at EBI very much due to visiting different towns, at least we had the last 1 1/2 days at EBI to wrap up loose ends. I was able to talk to a prominent Christian Chinese businesswoman in Sorsogon City about potentially donating land for the Irosin church. I talked over some financial and computer things with a few people. And I discussed with two of the new graduates (Sister Lea and Brother Marlon) how we’d like to add them as workers, helping with Compassion and EBI for now.
– We were also surprised during that last 1 1/2 days at EBI to learn of a Campus Crusade team from Manila being in Sorsogon during Holy Week to conduct the first phase of a workshop entitled Training for Trainers (T4T), designed to help people better do evangelism and start churches. Since they also promote “Jesus” film showings, they were very interested to have Pastor Lorenzo mention about E2E at the workshop to all the pastors of different churches/missions attending. A Campus Crusade team plans to come back in June.
– After taking an overnight bus ride to Manila with Pastor Randy and Pastor Lorenzo coming along, God orchestrated a very productive time for our last day in the Philippines. We were able to meet with people from three different Christian organizations that day, without having to go very far from the Cubao bus station. In the morning we spent a couple hours in the office of Action International Street Impact Team, and got tips about Feed My Starving Children meals, Alternative Learning System, Child Evangelism Fellowship, and discounted literature for pastors. In the afternoon we were able to meet at the Wycliffe SIL Mission Guest House with Pastor Darwin Bayani of Vernacular Video Ministries and Pastor Raymond Francisco & Pastor Rey Lazo of Philippine Bible Society/Faith Comes By Hearing. Pastor Darwin gave us some Tagalog dubbed Bible based video DVDs to augment our “Jesus” film showings, and proposed an ongoing partnership. Pastor Raymond and Pastor Rey gave us 320 free pocket-sized Tagalog New Testaments to augment E2E, and proposed bringing Tagalog audio Bible Proclaimers to EBI within the next couple months. In fact, Pastors Darwin, Raymond, and Rey may all drive down to EBI together, perhaps by May.
Overall, it was a very good visit. There was an amazing amount of ministry, discussions, and experiences packed into 21 days in the Philippines. After getting about 5 hours sleep Sunday night (during the last night at EBI with last minute wrap up), not very good sleep Monday night on the 12-hour overnight bus ride to Manila (with all the jostles, bumps, and weaves), and not very good sleep Tuesday night (during our 24 hours of plane travel home), we got pretty zonked. But after a couple nights of 11 hours of sleep, I pretty much physicallay re-cooped except for getting another small cold. Then comes catching up on things back home (family time and taxes), culture shock, reflective pondering, and praying for what should come next. Please join with me in praying that God uses this visit as a springboard of healthy new progress for both the mission and our personal walks of faith. Thanks for your interest and partnership.
Through the wondrous grace of Jesus,
PAMI volunteer president