Dear Family and Friends,
Howdy! Thank you, thank you for all your prayers for the Summer Meeting! We had an incredible turnout. Considering that many of the churches and Christians were still struggling from the earthquake that happened in our neck of the woods the first of Feb., we were not sure who would be able to attend. The Ayungon Church of Christ, in the town next to Calag Calag, where our place is located, was hosting for the very first time. Richard had offered our place as the venue. We have close to 2.5 acres on the beach. This was the 26th Summer Meeting, it was held April 5-8. We had 480 adults and 80 children register. People came from seven differnet islands: Negros, Cebu, Leyte, Bohol, Masbate, Siquijor, and Mindanao. We think the folks present represented 40 different congregations. We were blessed with no rain during the days, and only light rain 2 nights. The turnout was amazing. I never thought I would see close to 600 people singing, praying, fellowshipping, playing and eating inside our property. The whole Summer Meeting is run by donations, there is no registration fee to attend. Members of the host church, and surrounding churches in Negros plan all year long what they will donate to help make it a success--rather it be cash gifts from individuals or churches, 100 lbs. bags of rice, pigs, goats, vegetables, tarps to make tents, firewood, and many other things. The theme this year was "Unity in the Church of Christ", and to me, the cooperation that the churches share in making the Summer Meeting a reality each year-- is a true example of unity in action!
We have attached a short video that shares the good news about the Summer Meeting--that 14 young people made their choice to obey the Gospel and were baptized. The video was done quickly by Richard's brother, Orwen. His video says 12 were baptized, but he didn't know two more came to Richard that last night they were swimming in the ocean in the full moonlight, and asked to be baptized. Orwen will be making another video that shows more details of the camp, which are a sight to see. You might be wondering how did we feed close to 600 people 10 meals and 6 snacks? How many pigs and goats took their last walks when they entered our gates? Where did everybody sleep? How do you cook 100lbs of rice over an open fire? Orwen took a lot of great pictures...he and Richard will try and get the second video done this week.
Our Filipino brethren are just amazing when it comes to planning and handling crowds. The ladies would cook all day, and the men would work all night butchering and preparing the meat for the next day. It was something to see, sitting in class the second day, and see brothers arrive from the mountains walking their pigs or goats over to the kitchen area. To see men carry the largest trash can I ever seen-- and it be full of cooked rice, that they would refill again, and again each meal. The noise of 600 people standing patiently in three lines for food. 5:30am devotional each morning! People sitting 3 & 4 people deep on wooden plank benches we built outside the pavilion for lectures and classes. We had only 72 song books for the group to share, but that didn't slow them down...Filipinos love to sing. Friday and Sat. nights, after the preaching, different churches took turns getting up and singing to the group, or doing a skit, or reciting memory verses. Sat.night we had a big bonfire down on the beach after the baptisms--more than half of the group was young people- they sang, and recited ballads and poems until the wee hours. The only major problem we had, were bathroom problems! We had added 3 new bathrooms, and renovated 4--doubling the number of flushing toilets & showers on the place. We had to pray that the 3 septic tanks would not overflow.
We had lectures and group classes in the morning, and then the afternoons were free for recreation and sports. We had groups playing basketball on two courts, volleyball down by the beach, kids playing soccer & badminton. Older people playing chess and checkers. Poor Grant--he walked around trying to find someone to play football with him. He had a few takers. We also had lively hood classes in the afternoon. Richard and Ryan shared about making noodles they call miki here, they made about 30 lbs. in the class, which was used for breakfast the next morning. Also had brothers sharing about goat raising, and organic farming, and worm dirt. Never a dull moment! Activities going on all over the place.
I am glad we were able to help host the event. There were moments when I wasn't sure my Hollywood was going to survive me wanting to pinch him in a bad way! There was just so much to get done in a month's time since we got back, and on top of dealing with the after effects of the earthquake. We could not have gotten things ready without the help of the guys in the Seyer Training Center, Brother Satur, and Brother Danny. It really was a big team effort to get everything done. I am so thankful for Ryan & Jun Mark, who helped hunt for things I needed that was packed away in storage. Everyday, we were all looking for something. We have boxes, crates, and furniture stored all over the property. The guys have moved most of them at least twice since moving to Negros.
I have been writing this letter up in the food court here at the mall in Dumaguete while Richard and Danny have been out buying a chainsaw to help with earthquake relief-- too help members cut down trees to use in rebuilding. Finding the woods for rebuilding is the hardest part right now. Now that the Summer Meeting is over, we will focus on helping members and churches with materials to rebuild. We are also planning to host a small new members seminar for the young Christians that were baptized at the Summer Meeting next Monday. We are also having graduation from the Seyer Training Center this coming Sat. We butchered Grant's pig, Charlotte, for the graduation. Grant says he is going to eat a sandwich that day. Well, must stop for now, almost out of battery and want to get this sent while I have free Wi-fi. Please pray for the 14 new Christians. Please pray for young men graduating from the Seyer Training Center. Please pray for us, and we try our best to help our brethren and churches rebuild. Please pray for our three kids, as we struggle to get school finished with all the things going on around us. Thank you all for the part you play in partnering and helping us with the work God has given us to do here! We love and miss you all!
Becky, Richard, and kids