This exciting update was written by my brother, Michael. Sadly the camera was forgotten, so there are no pictures to add to the report.
05-23-12, Wednesday. Ring, ring, ring! Time to get up. Yawning, I looked at my watch. How I wished I could roll over, go back to sleep, and simply forget about the events of the day. But I needed the time to prepare for my talk at the Adventist Youth Survival Camp. With great effort, I forced myself out of my cozy bed. Then I knelt down and spent personal time with my heavenly Father pleading for strength and wisdom to make this talk valuable and applicable to the youth. Next, I set to work preparing my talk for the survival camp attempting to survive myself. God gave me the essential wisdom to prepare the talk and His Spirit taught me that morning. I prepared a fascinating talk outlining the history of the great controversy from the fall of Lucifer to the flood. About 7:30, the pastor came and brought me my “sermon”—notes prepared by the church. It was very exciting to get the sermon notes just a little while before I was supposed to preach! We were supposed to leave for the camp at 7:30 a.m. I gulped down a sandwich, swallowed a mango (well, I actually cut it up first!), drank a carton of soy milk and cleaned up in less than 15 minutes.
But why the rush? Pastor Milore, who was supposed take me to the youth camp on his motorcycle, had a flat tire on his motorcycle and was not ready at 7:30. At around 8:30, after a prayer for safety, we mounted the motorcycle, fastened our helmets, and we were off!
At about 9:00, we arrived safely at the place where we had to park. We parked the motorcycle, and together with our tour guide, we followed the riverbed for a couple of kilometers. Finally, we ascended a steep hill right to the youth camp—it was already 9:30! About 60 youth greeted me with shy stares. A couple of them were brave enough to come shake my hand. Finally, it was decided that I would speak at 1:00 because I had arrive too late for the early meeting. But this, too, was good because it gave me time to prepare. At the appointed time, I preached for an hour, did a review, and gave prizes to those who answered my questions. Afterward, we ate lunch. Lunch consisted of rice, cooked greens and vegetables, and a few bananas. They invited me to try out a Filipino specialty—young bamboo shoots preserved in a form of vinegar. It was interesting, indeed! After lunch, we returned to San Jose. Thanks to God’s protection, we arrived home safely.
05-24-12, Thursday. 5:00 AM. It was time to prepare to speak again at the survival camp. This time I would do part two of the great controversy. Since I had the lecture mostly prepared already, I did not have to get up so early. After studying, praying, and again grabbing a quick bite to eat, we left about 8:00. Finally, we arrived at the place where we parked. We wandered up the mountains trying to find the camp by ourselves, this time without a guide. Finally, after prayer, the Lord helped us find our way up to the youth camp (which is at a remote area in the mountains). I spoke again for another hour on the sanctuary and salvation and the final movements in the great controversy showing the youth how they could have confidence that our church is the true church, a movement raised up by God in response to prophecy. At the end, I did my quiz, gave prizes, and finished. Then, we proceeded to lunch where they wanted me to try their famous “bamboo soup”—a “soup” made from the shoots of young bamboo plants with coconut milk. It was actually quite delicious!
The trip home was the most adventurous trip I had ever experienced. Rather than walk back to where the motorcycle was parked, we decided to ride a caribou (native term for water buffalo). The native assured me that I would not ride on the actual caribou but rather on a chariot. “A chariot?” I remarked, “How can you get a chariot up here? Surely it would get stuck.” “No,” the native replied, “this chariot is wheel-less.” Still puzzled, I waited with Pastor Milore for the “chariot” to arrive. Soon along came a huge caribou pulling a hand-made contraption which was termed “chariot” by the natives (a caribou is another name for a water buffalo). It was really just a seat set up on poles. Well, we jumped on the wheel-less cart, the driver alerted the animal that it was time to move, and we lurched forward. The caribou was certainly in no hurry and walked very slowly. Up and down back and forth the pastor and I were jostled roughly, almost sliding off at times. We rode up over large rocks, down into the water, and sideways on hills, somehow managing to stay aboard. Finally, the pastor and I arrived back at the motorcycle.
We mounted the motorcycle, put our helmets on, and prayed for safety. We had not gone too far before the rear tire suddenly blew out. Fortunately, we had not been driving very fast. I praised the Lord that we were not injured by the blowout. We hopped off the motorcycle and pushed it down the highway for a few hundred meters until we found a house by the side of the road where we could temporarily park. Angry black storm clouds were also gathering in the sky at this time, and I knew it would likely soon rain. But we knew that “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord” (Rom. 8:28). We believed and claimed this promise.
While the pastor rode away with a tricycle driver to buy a new tire (a tricycle is the public means of transportation in the smaller cities of the Philippines), I sat down on a chair outside the house under the eaves of the roof hoping it would not start pouring. I waited around some time trying to read a book I had brought with me. Not too much later Pastor Milore came back on a tricycle, we put the tire back on, and were ready to go again. But before we left, we gave two Great Controversy books away, one to the tricycle driver who helped the pastor get the tire and put it on, and the other to the family who let us stay on their property. We know those books are silent messengers of truth. Truly, all thing work together for good. After doing some errands, we arrived home at the San Jose Church safely, thanks to God.
05-25-12, Friday. This was a memorable day for me. That night I was to preach the seal of God and the mark of the beast. Then we decided we would try something new—we would preach the meeting together. It went over quite well, and we may do it again before the end of the seminar. It seemed to keep people’s attention better.
05-26-12, Sabbath. The electricity was off for the entire morning—maybe they were trying to fix something in the power company. We couldn’t just let the devil win, so what did we do? My father preached the morning meeting without PA. What an experience! At least, the people were able to hear the message. Fortunately, the power came back on before the evening meeting, but then it poured right before the nightly meeting which was on the true church. Before the meeting, the rain quit, but as expected, our attendance was way down. It then picked back up last night when we talked about Babylon.
05-27-12, Sunday. Today I went with a church elder on visitation. I was a little bit unsure of what to say, but God blessed and helped me remember what to say. I encouraged the people and prayed for them and they were glad. Most of my visits took only a few minutes but one of them took more than half an hour. I always try to encourage everyone to a closer walk with God. We finished our visitation about 10:30 that same morning.
Keep the PAFCOE students in prayer as we wind down to the close of some 20+ seminars. Pray that Jesus Christ would defeat the devil in this great controversy and many miracles and changed lives can be witnessed. We are looking forward to hearing the testimonies from the various student seminar sites and sharing them with you. Stay tuned to the blog for future updates!
So long for now,
Your penman in Christ,
Michael L. Hargreaves