Riding the carabao video almost viral

Our more-than-memorable trip to the Philippines last June produced lots of photos and videos. The video of some of our team members riding a carabao has gotten far more web traffic than any of the other videos.

It might be a stretch to call it viral, but compared to our other videos it almost is. The carabao video has almost 5,000 views. Our report video has 182 views.


More work at the island church

The island church where we spent our first few days looks like a friendly place to visit now.

Thanks to the friendships Cindy Gayer made with some of the women on our Philippines trip – and to Facebook – we have some photos to share some further work.

These photos show the completion of the entry to Life Mission Baptist Church and the fence that guards it. The church members were just starting this project during our last day on their tiny island.

Thanks to Jenecel Ciudad Macoco for sharing these photos with us.

– Jeff


Our final Philippines report video

We had a great turnout Sunday night for our report to the congregation. Thank you to everyone who came.

Below is the highlight video we showed at the beginning of the service.

Also, Mike Standish is leading the teens on a trip to Thailand. They gave a preview of their trip Sunday night by sharing some of the skits they will be doing as part of their ministry. They leave Thursday, July 3. Be sure to follow their blog at graceradiatethailand.wordpress.com.

Where we were in the Philippines

I’ve had questions about where we were exactly in the Philippines. I wasn’t able to map this while on the trip because of time constraints and the typically slow Internet connections we had.

The map below gives you a rough idea. Google maps doesn’t have quite the detail of places in this area of the Philippines that we are used to when we look up places in the U.S. So I wasn’t able to pinpoint each place.

Here are the steps of our journey:

  1. We flew in from the north out of Manila and landed at the airport in Roxas City on the north side of the island of Panay.
  2. We traveled southeast to President Roxas and remained in this area while we worked at the island church. The island, I assume, is somewhere out in the harbor you see just to the north of President Roxas.
  3. Maribert Inland Resort is where we stayed. We would drive into President Roxas and meet the canoes that took us to the island. This is also where we ministered and were fed supper at Fundamental Baptist Church.
  4. Our next long trek was following the road back northwest and then down the coast to the Valderrama area. In this region we stayed at a place on the beach and worked and ministered inland at the river church and the mountain church.
  5. Next, was our trip to Iloilo City to catch a plane back to Manila.

Note: Click View Larger Map to get a better look


Come see our team report Sunday at 6 p.m. at Grace Baptist

If you want to see and hear more about our trip to the Philippines, be sure to be at Grace Baptist Church this Sunday night, June 29. God blessed our time there, and we want to share with you a glimpse of what happened.

We will have a presentation at 6 p.m. that begins with a video (so don’t be late) followed by some testimonies. Also, a preview of the youth trip to Thailand is on the schedule.

We hope you can be there and share in this special time.

Video: Riding a carabao

On one of our early days in Capiz some of our team members went carabao (pronounced cara-bough) riding before we left on our work day. I wanted to post this video a week ago, but upload speeds were so slow that I never had a big enough window of time to do so. And watch for a couple of appearances by Polycarp, the mascot for our children’s ministries.

Home, sweet home

The world travelers are home. We landed in Dayton Monday evening at 7:40, five minutes ahead of schedule … one last blessing to our two-week odyssey to the Philippines and back.

We were greeted by family members and a few other Grace Baptist friends. It was wonderful to see them all waiting for us as close as TSA would let them. After greeting our loved ones, many of us shared hearty handshakes and hugs as we said good-bye for the first time in two weeks. Not all of us knew each other well or at all, but some lasting friendships were formed on the other side of the world. You get to know people well when you live with them.

What an incredible two weeks of blessing we had. There is so much more to tell than can be told in a blog. We all have our own stories, so ask us about the trip when you see us.

By now I suspect all have made it home, told a few stories, shared gifts and are looking forward to a night in their own beds if they aren’t fast asleep there already. As usual, I’m probably the last one up getting something ready for the blog. Now it’s time for me to turn out the light before I start dozing off at the keyboard (mmmmmmmm … that’s for you, Lynn).

Unpacking? That can wait till whenever we happen to wake up tomorrow.

– Jeff

Homeward bound

By Jeff Gilbert

The beginning of the end of our trip is just about completed. We leave for the Manila airport at 4 a.m. Monday morning. We arrive in Dayton at 7:45 p.m. Monday. If only it really was a 16-hour day. With the time change, it’s really a 28-hour day.

Our Sunday morning view from the pew.

Our Sunday morning view from the pew.

Pastor Brian is introduced to congregation.

Pastor Brian is introduced to the congregation.

Our journey began in two vans to Iloilo City to catch a flight to Manila complete with a shortcut on a bumpy gravel road. We’re just glad we weren’t in a Jeepney.

We had lunch at a Filipino restaurant and said good-bye to Pastor Trimar. We flew an hour to Manila and went in search of American food before leaving the airport. Shakey’s Pizza never tasted so good.

Then it was off to our accommodations at the New Tribes Mission compound. They left the light on for us and had clean, comfortable rooms ready. We slept well, enjoyed hot showers, had breakfast (including cereal) and got a ride to church through the crowded streets of this metro area that is home to 22 million people.

We attended First Baptist Church of Manila, which was founded in 1928. It was the first Baptist church founded by ABWE in the Philippines. Brian preached out of Colossians 1 about the preeminence of Christ and we sang from a hymnal. Then we had lunch with some of the church leaders.

After church, we did a little souvenir shopping, then returned to New Tribes Mission. We spent several minutes trying to get someone to let us in through the gate. Then we realized we had extra keys on the ring with our room keys. They worked.

Now we are waiting on orders of hamburgers and fries to arrive from a burger place.

One more night’s sleep (well, most of one) and we start the journey home.

We will never forget the pastors, the kids and the church members.

We will never forget the heat, the food and the transportation.

We never forget the hard work, the evening rests and the laughs.

And we will never forget the smiles and hugs when a child was handed a bracelet or jelly beans or a backpack.

God has blessed us on this trip and we are confident he has used our presence to bless his people here.

But now we’re ready to be home.

See you soon.

Grateful for the work God helped us do

By Jeff Gilbert

Photos by Lynn Howard

Our work, or more precisely, the work God gave us to do in the Philippines is complete. We board a plane bound for Manila on Saturday afternoon wishing we could have done more, knowing we have done what we could and blessed to see the work God is doing in villages in the provinces of Capiz and Antique.

Brianna and Caitlin with more kids. They will miss them all.

Brianna and Caitlin with more kids. They will miss them all.

Nelson wires up the church by the river.

Nelson wires up the church by the river.

The roof over the pastor's residence at the back of the church was almost complete.

The roof over the pastor’s residence at the back of the church was almost complete.

The final day of work saw us put most of the roof over the back of a church, the one we refer to as the river church. This is where the pastor and his wife were living on a mat under a couple sheets of metal when the survey team came.

Probably by now the other regional pastors who came to help have put up the last couple pieces of metal. We would have finished but the rain chased us off. The church still needs some work, but we and the other pastors will leave them with a roof over their head, a ceiling in the sanctuary, electrical upgrades, a shelter for the well and a rebuilt outhouse.

The women spent time at a school today reaching out to even more children, walked a couple miles to another site and spent time at the church with more kids. We come back lighter without the bracelets, jelly beans, puzzles and books that we handed out at schools, churches and to others we had contact with at other unplanned stops.

The Filipinos were grateful for all that was done throughout our 10 days here. Their hospitality was beautiful. And they have a love for Jesus.

Pray that our trip tomorrow to Iloilo City is uneventful, that our flight to Manila is safe and on time, and that we rest well in Manila for about 36 hours before we really start for home.

We will do our best to keep you updated on our progress back to the U.S.

Thank you to everyone, especially our loved ones, for your support and prayers. We look forward to reuniting with you Monday night your time.

Field trip and recovery day

By Jeff Gilbert

Photos by Jeff and Lynn

We are grateful for your prayers for Rob and Brian. I am happy to report that both of them are feeling better and expecting to join us in the field tomorrow.

Walking through rice fields.

Walking through rice fields.

Peter jumping through rice fields.

Peter jumping through rice fields.

The widow's new home under construction.

The widow’s new home under construction.

That's me, not Andre the Giant, and Velma, the widow whose new house we paid for.

That’s me, not Andre the Giant, and Velma, the widow whose new house we paid for.

On of the other huts our money went toward.

On of the other huts our money went toward.

And the other hut we helped build.

And the other hut we helped build.

Speaking of fields, we had a new adventure today in the rice fields. Just when we think we’ve seen and done everything, God blesses us with a new experience. And Pastor Trimar proved to be a great tour guide on our R and R day.

Part of the fundraising for this trip was to send money ahead for the projects. We sent $600 to rebuild a widow’s home, but that turned out to be enough for hers and to do major repairs to the homes of two other families.

On what turned out to be our field trip day, we visited all three. First we went to Velma the widow’s house, then the other two, which were next to each other.

The adventurous part was walking on narrow raised paths between rice fields to get to these homes. Sometimes the path wasn’t all there. At first we had to take what we thought were big steps to cover breaks in the path over mud or shallow water. But the farther we went the more we had to take a step or two through muddy water. Sandals had to be saved when the mud sucked them off feet, helping hands were needed to ford the mini-streams we encountered and our balance was tested on little bridges made of boards and limbs.

But we made it each time and got to see the homes and take pictures. We drive by rice fields every day, so it was fun to walk them. Lynn Howard, who was here 40 years ago to play basketball and later to teach for a year, had already experienced many of the things here us first-timers are. But he had never walked rice fields. And even though his shoes got wet and a brand-new pair of socks got so dirty he pitched them in the trash, he had a blast experiencing something new.

We also stopped at the house of one of the members of Trimar’s church. We had seen her previously at a school where she teaches. We were just supposed to be getting a snack, but she had prepared spaghetti, which we weren’t passing up, the sweetest fresh pineapple I’ve ever tasted and plenty of Coke.

So after trying not fill up, we went to Pastor Trimar’s for lunch. And it was too good to pass up. Filipino hospitality knows no end. The always serve us first. And if there is not enough room for them to sit, they wait till we finish before they sit down to eat.

After visiting the second two homes, we made another food stop. We had heard there was a place to get burgers and fries, so we really wanted to go. The cheeseburgers were different, but good, the fries were good and so was the Mountain Dew. The soft drinks here come in small glass bottles. It reminds us of the days before everything in the U.S. went plastic. It still tastes better in glass.

And after some time in the pool as it rained, then a nice dinner, we had two Euchre tables going in the pavilion. Some nights are hot and muggy, but this one was pleasant.

Friday, our last day of work and ministry, will be spent at the church by the river. We went by there today and saw that the other regional pastors, who are also here to help, had made good progress. They built a shelter for the well, got started on laying blocks for the outhouse, and were close to finishing the ceiling in the church. We expect to work at putting a new bamboo and metal roof on the rear of the building over the room where the pastor and his wife live, doing more work on the outhouse and finishing the electrical upgrade. It was unclear what the children’s ministry will be tomorrow.

Well, it’s 10 p.m. here, the other five men in my room are asleep and the Internet signal is to weak. That means I will be posting this entry early in the morning when I can get to an area with a stronger signal.

It’s been a restful day and now it’s time to sleep.

Tomorrow, we work.