Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Joan's story

It might seem to be a bit late to be giving you a story from the 2nd batch/session of PAFCOE, but a good story is never "too late!"

Joan Buncad
The following OJT Report is from Joan Buncad, a graduate from the last session of PAFCOE, who together with a previous PAFCOE graduate, Joefer Soliman, conducted a one-month evangelistic series in a town in northern Mindanao, the big island in the south. She conducted the evangelistic meetings for the children, while Joefer conducted one for the adults. Joan begins by telling of their travels from Iloilo City to their site.

We arrived at the airport more than one hour before our flight. First, we went to the cargo office to ship our heavy stuff by air-freight, but cargo processing took so long that we finally left Joefer to finish the process and payments, while Jasper and I rushed to check in our checked baggage [Jasper was another PAFCOE student also traveling to Mindanao for an OJT meeting at a different site]. It was now just 15 minutes before the flight! However, we couldn’t check-in because Joefer was not yet done with processing our cargo.

Ten minutes before our flight, the counter staff checked us in without the ID and without Joefer! Our excess baggage fee is supposed to be 2,000+ pesos, but we only paid 750 pesos because the agent was in such a hurry to get us checked in and allowed us to hand carry some of our luggage.

After paying our terminal fee, Joefer came running. Over the airport intercom, we heard the announcement, “Calling Mss. Joan Buncad and company... Calling Mss. Joan Buncad and company—please proceed to gate 2......” Three times we heard the announcement. We raced to our gate, and boarded the plane just before they closed the doors. We were the last ones to board! Praise the Lord for all His providences and goodness! He allowed the delay and long process in cargo for us to be able to pay less in our baggage!

After spending the night in Cagayan de Oro [the airport in northern Mindanao], we left the next morning at 6 am by bus, heading to our site. When we arrived at the town where our OJT meeting was to be held, I was expecting someone to be waiting for us at the bus terminal to pick us up. What a disappointment! We waited for 30 min in the bus/van terminal. Finally, an elder driving a motorcycle pulled up. Without any smile or expression of friendliness, he asked us if were the ones the district Pastor had agreed to conduct the evangelistic meeting. When he saw our luggage, without a word he sped away!

Again we waited, all the while trying to reach the local pastor by phone or text. After about 10 minutes, the same unfriendly elder returned, this time with a truck. He took us to the church which we discovered was very close to the bus terminal! If only we had known how close we were, we would not have needed to wait for nearly an hour at the terminal. It reminded me of the text, “Knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” James 1:3.

Meeting the church board, members and missionaries
The first Sabbath when we talked with the church board, there was a bit of resistance and prejudice. But when they saw the quality of the presentation, they became more supportive and respective. We
began Sunday evening with a four-night revival series for the church, ending with a communion service during the midweek prayer meeting. Then we started the Revelations of Prophecy seminar on Friday evening, Nov 9.

When I opened the box of children’s crafts that had been shipped, I wondered how I could finish all the work of cutting and organizing. But praise God, He sent some of trained missionaries to help out in the meetings! We really enjoyed working with them.

With regards to our food, it was overwhelming! The church gave us 800-1,200 pesos weekly for food, but we could only buy 250-300 pesos worth of vegetables in a week! Besides that, the church members brought us fruits, vegetables, rice cakes, bread, and other foods from their work and businesses. Still others gave us money. We praise God for all the providences and the cooperation of church members in the work of evangelism!

The local church had planned for us to stay in the house at the back of the church. I was so disappointed because there is only one bed in the house, and a missionary couple was already using it! I had expected that since this is a big church, they would provide us a house to stay in. Again, my patience was tested!

The first night, one of the church members invited us to sleep at their house. They took pity on us since Joefer was supposed to sleep in the church which is open on both sides, and at night and it’s actually cold! He could have also stayed at the church school, but we had no sleeping gear. Anyway, God provided us a comfortable place. We loved it there. Not too big and very simple! Brother Edgar and his wife Lorie have been happily married for 10 years, but they don’t have any children. They were so hospitable and kind, and also responsible church members, happily serving God in the church. They became our loyal helpers during the seminar, for the whole four weeks. They even cooked for us, we sometimes we took turns cooking for them!

Nightly Meeting
Every night during the meeting, we had a consistent team, helping with the equipment, registration, and row hosting. Of course there were some nights that we started late because the participants were not informed or forgot their parts. For example, the first night—for me, I think it was the worst.

In our pre-meeting practice before opening night, we explained everything and all agreed that they clearly understood what to do. However, opening night, all our helpers came late! We didn’t know who to call on to set up the equipment, and worst of all, even the prayer team didn’t come on time! The second night we still started late, but there were a lot of improvements.

My favorite night was the fifth night. The topic was about the Second Coming. After praying as a team in the children’s program, I was about to say, “Good evening children” when the lights suddenly went off! I praised the Lord that night, that I had 2 netbooks with me. One was borrowed from a friend in Iloilo and the other is the one that I used nightly in the meeting which was owned by one of missionaries. I used one netbook as a monitor for the children and the other I used for my notes. It really went well. The children even finished their crafts in the light from the netbooks. It was amazing!

Since we ended our children’s program early that night, I was able to peek in on the adult meeting. The crowd sat in absolute silence [a rare thing in the Philippines] attentively focused on what was been said. Joefer looked funny as I saw his face glowing in the light of his laptop, and wearing a headlamp to read the Bible. The most amazing thing happened after the meeting ended. We gathered for prayer as a team, and as we were praying, suddenly the lights came back on! From then on, I heard from the brethren and guests that there is an enemy who is angry and unhappy in what we are doing. The church members began to pray a lot, as they say that the meeting is really God’s work. Praise God for allowing that blackout!

One old lady told me one night, “Ma’am Joan, I invited a non-SDA neighbor girl last night. After the meeting, I asked her how it was. She told me that she likes you because you just keep on smiling. She said that she loves to hear the stories and wants to learn more about Jesus. Now she always wants to attend the meeting.”

When I called for the children to come back on the final Thursday for clearing visits in preparation for baptism, that same old lady doubted that the children really understood enough of our doctrines to be baptized. She was especially concerned when she learned that four of the children requesting baptism were her neighbors. This elderly woman decided to attend the clearing visits herself to see if the children were ready, and she was amazed at how much the children understood and even Scriptures they had memorized.
Our 7 year old neighbor, Hazel Heart, the daughter of the head elder is one of my five smartest students in nightly meetings, with only two absences during the entire month. Her father told me one time, “PAFCOE really has provided a wonderful training. Just imagine, my daughter is now reminding me to always choose Jesus. She’s always telling me what she is learning from the stories. It’s really amazing! The impact of this program is great for their little minds. My daughter always wants to hurry up and get ready to go to the nightly meeting!”

Another 7 year old smart girl, Davie Mae, the daughter of the district Pastor, also was a great witness of God’s power. Her mom told me, “When she saw her father watching TV and talking about Pacquiao [world-famous Filipino boxing champion], she told us, ‘Isn’t the message in the seminar enough to make you want to change?’”

Krislyn, an 11 year old girl, and her sister Meirevonne, were baptized together at the end of the meeting. They talked to me about their non-SDA father and lukewarm mother. We visited their house and their mother was so happy that her children understood the Bible doctrines and the love of Jesus. They were just sad that the father, due to his work, didn’t have an opportunity to attend the meeting. He actually wants to be with his family in going to church and wants to be baptized. But so far, no one has had an opportunity to study with him. He is happy about his daughter’s invitation to study with them and would love to share to their dad what they’ve learned when he’s at home. I’m praying that this dad will give up his work on the Sabbath and accept Jesus as his personal Saviour. His sweet, lovely daughters, by God’s grace will be a great witness to the family.

By God’s sustaining power, everlasting arms, far reaching mercy, never ending grace, and unfathomable love, 29 souls were baptized. Eleven of them were children from the children’s evangelistic program!
There are more than 10 other children who really want to get baptized, but their parents won’t allow it. About half of the children baptized, have one non-Adventist parent.

There are a lot of souls to be followed up. There is just not enough time, and workers are lacking. Truly the harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Let’s pray for more laborers, and I am one who is willing to be sent
Joan receiving her diploma after graduating from PAFCOE.
Joan Buncad was indeed willing to be sent. Since graduating from PAFCOE, she has accepted a call to work for the East Timor Mission Conference as a Bible Worker, and to train local church members in witnessing. On April 22, Joan left the Philippines for Timor Leste to fulfill her call to mission service.

Monday, May 20, 2013

OJT trials...

Here is an update that my Dad wrote recently:

Dear Family & friends:                                                                                               May 9, 2013

Last night while I was preaching at our evangelistic site, my phone vibrated.  After the meeting was over and the guests gone, I checked my messages and read the following from one of our PAFCOE students, preaching at another site:

“Saturday night my AVR (automatic voltage regulator) burned and Joy’s computer was not working [Joy is the PAFCOE student conducting the children’s meetings].  Tonight I was in the city for printing, and the car overheated and would not start, so I had to return to my site by bus.  Then the electricity went off 20 minutes into the program, and it was still off when the meeting finished.  The enemy is mad for the last two topics, but God helped us all the way!”

Several of our other sites reported problems on the same night.  Michael our son, had a very large UFI (unidentified-flying-insect) come sailing into the large church where he is preaching, creating a flying distraction as it buzzed over people’s heads.  What was the topic last night?  Spiritualism!  In a very real sense here, we know that we are not “wrestling with flesh and blood...” (Eph. 6:12). 

Currently, our PAFCOE students and staff are conducting forty evangelistic meetings throughout the Philippines, with just over two weeks left of their one-month seminars.  This is OJT (on-the-job-training) time!  For the past three months, we have had 37 students at our school in Manila, and 12 at the one in Iloilo.  In Manila, we even had the privilege of having Pastor Doug Batchelor, president of Amazing Facts ministries, join us for ten days the end of March.  You can read more about that on our blog -  http://www.pafcoe.blogspot.com/

Our family is currently conducting evangelistic meetings in Bacolod City, on Negros Island which is in the central part of the Philippine archipelago.    We have two sites here in the city, and a student from Africa is at a third site about a half-hour away.  Between the three sites, we have nearly a thousand people attending!  For Michael, this is his third evangelistic meeting, and largest attendance.  On weekends, he often has over 500 attending.  This is an Adventist “center” with hospital, nearby college, etc., so we have many members coming, but still a large group of guests as well. 

We are almost half-way through the 4-week series.  May 25th is our scheduled baptism in the various OJT sites, and then, we return to Manila for PAFCOE graduation on May 28th.  We’re looking forward to sharing with you the exciting reports and stories that our students will be bringing back for graduation later this month.  Until then, “Salamat” (Thank you) for your prayers and support!

Your friends,

Pastor Lowell & family & the PAFCOE staff

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

25 Happy Years Together! :-)

On May 1, 2013, our parents celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary!

25 years of being happy married!

25 years of following God's leading in their lives.

25 years of being missionaries in many countries around the world.

25 years of watching God work in and through them to many others.

25 years of forming (and still forming, with God's help) a Christ-centered family.

This poem is dedicated to them and given on their anniversary:

Today, of all days, is a time to reflect
On times gone by, and those still to come yet.
You both deserve medals for a service so long,
Though it's fairly obvious that you sing the same song. 

All those years ago, you committed to each other
Became a unity together, not just a friend or lover.
And still you'll say the same today and say it to the end -
The reason you survived is that you married your best friend.

Well, congratulations to you both, on getting it so right,
On filling your life with love, laughter and delight,
On never becoming "normal" - always appreciating what you've got
Never tiring of each other, or veering from the plot.

Twenty-five years is quite a stretch, but one thinks it's fair to say
That you'll be holding hands together forever and today.
Happy Silver Anniversary; it's true you've had many before,
But you're congratulated on reaching so far and wished so many more!

Still happily married!

Thank you for being such godly, caring parents! 

May God continue to bless you with many more years together! :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

March 30, 2013

The few days (from March 20-31) that Pastor Doug and his family were with us here in the Philippines flew by much quicker than we liked. Days were filled with classes with our students in the mornings, appointments with important people, and the evening meeting every night at the Quezon Memorial Circle.

All too soon, March 30, our last Sabbath of his time here arrived. It was a bright, sunny day with only a few clouds lazily drifting by.  The day started early with our team and us arriving at the Amoranto Sports Complex at 7:15 am. There we joined the many other helpers who were busily preparing for the day's events.

We rented the Sports Complex because we were unable to find anything else available for a good price and that could accommodate the large influx of people we were expecting for that last Sabbath. It was an old stadium that would be able to seat up to 40,000 people, if necessary - though we weren't expecting that many!

I was very surprised at how early the people starting coming! Everyone was running around, doing last-minute things to make sure everything was ready for the starting time of 8:00 am. A number of different choirs were scheduled to sing and they were changing into their choir uniforms and practicing their songs.
One of the many choirs.

At last everything was ready and promptly at 8:00, the service began with several beautiful choir pieces. The main part of the Sabbath School program was the PAFCOE promotion led by Kevin, our outreach coordinator.

During this promotion, 3 of our graduates shared their testimonies of how God had blessed them in coming to PAFCOE, how He had provided all their tuition and needs and what they had been doing since their graduation. These are their pictures and a little about them:

 Maya - she was a 2nd session graduate who came to PAFCOE from the LIGHT training school and had no way to pay for her tuition. Yet she stepped out in faith and came anyways, and about halfway through the session, she found a sponsor who paid it all, praise God! When she went out for her OJT, she had some amazing experiences in seeing how God could overrule the devil's plans to stop the work of God and since her graduation last year, she had done several more evangelistic meetings and been very successful in her work for the Lord.

Joefer - he was a 1st session graduate who also came to PAFCOE without knowing where his tuition would come from. But praise God, by the time he graduated, his whole tuition bill was gone!  Though he had been a Bible worker, yet he still appreciated learning more tips and techniques for making his work for God more effective. During his OJT, he reported that while out visiting, preparing people for baptism, there was heavy rain in his area.  He knew that whenever there was heavy rain, the house that they were staying in, flooded.  He and his wife remembered that the two borrowed projectors they were using for the children’s and adult meetings were both sitting on the floor in different parts of the house.  Earnestly they prayed that God would work a miracle, and save the projectors from getting wet.  Upon returning to the house after their visits, they found the water was ankle deep in some places, but when they picked up the projectors, they found them completely dry, and the flour under them also completely dry!  After recovering the projectors, they proceeded to mop up 50 buckets of water from the rest of the floor!  God still works miracles today! Since his graduation last year, he has continued doing Bible studies and has been teaching others how to work for God.

Romelyn - she is a current student from this session and yet another of our many students who also came without her own way to pay for her tuition. Yet again, God covered everything she needed while being here. For about a year, she had been wanting to come to PAFCOE and praying about it and finally God worked everything out in His way and currently she is doing her OJT right now.

After their amazing testimonies, the children we had been working with came on stage and sang several of their favorite Scripture songs, including the whole 10 Commandments for the audience. Most of them were just street children, but all knew the songs very well and sang enthusiastically!

Then the Conference President gave a short sermon to close the Sabbath School and the church service started with a mass choir of several churches combining to sing the music. And what lovely music it was! Filipinos really know how to sing!

Before Pastor Doug's sermon, Dad had the privilege of introducing him to the audience.

Pastor Doug gave a very inspiring message about Mary Magdelene and shared how God can transform anyone into His likeness.

The stadium was very full! Though we don't know the exact number, most people estimate that around 7,000+ people were there! Several of the churches in the area closed their doors and posted signs that their service would be in the Amoranto Stadium that Sabbath.

After the service, everyone ate their lunch and gathered at the nearby swimming pool for the baptism. We praise God for the 143 precious souls who were baptized and added to the kingdom of God!

To end the Sabbath, Pastor Doug did one last sermon on heaven and inspired everyone to be ready to be taken there with Jesus very soon! After the closing remarks, many hundreds of people came to take pictures with Pastor Doug and his family and our family too.

And about 6:00 pm, everyone was gone, everything was packed up and put away and we praise God for what He did during that memorial Sabbath of March 30!

To see more pictures of Pastor Doug's time here in the Philippines, click here