On the run on Camigun

IMG_3137IMG_3120The plan for Camigun was to go over for their community Christmas party and return on New Years Eve because we had another appointment

Fr. Joe had arranged for all of our meals so we shared many of our meals with the Alvarez family in the house that the community built for FMC for missionaries to use in Camigun. It is a beautiful house made of local woods and bamboo with a wide open porch that also serves as a dining room, living room, and gathering area. What a blessing this house is!


So Saturday we attended an all day event where the surrounding communities that make up Sagay come and have a table and have a group that does some kind of dance and there were judges that decided who was best. Also Fr. Joe had a raffle that would give many prizes(I think it was intended to make no profit) and the top 5 prizes were 2-50kilo sacks of rice(bugas), 2 pigs (baboy), and the grand prize, a calf! Fr. Joe sold over 15,000 tickets a 1 peso each. Each time he has done this the grand prize seems to go to some very needy deserving family. This year it went to the family whose wedding Fr. Joe had rushed home to say the night before!

IMG_3143IMG_3158The next morning at mass was the baptism of Josephine, the Avarez’s families new baby, Lora and I were the Godparents!IMG_3148IMG_3153IMG_3161IMG_3163After mass Fr. Joe had to go celebrate mass for the Fiesta of a little mountain Village and asked us to come. We hiked up while some of the mom’s and young babies were able to be driven. What a beautiful walk and what beautiful, generous people. Like all Filipinos, they love to have guests and share what they have!


Then Fr. took us and some visiting Sisters to the cold Springs IMG_3235IMG_3237and if that was not enough he then took us for a tour of the rest of the island so we could see the active volcano.IMG_3275IMG_3280




Mission with a Mission, Part II (More on Fr. Joe)

          Two years ago we left for our first mission post in the Caribbean and the Alvarez family came to the Philippines. They worked with Fr. Joe for 9 months. We heard many stories of his incredibleIMG_2994 energy and enormous heart and how much they loved him. We have been able to meet with him for short periods of time and he actually met us at the Airport in Cagayan De Oro when we arrived here in the Philippines but we had spent very little quality time with him until he brought us to Camigun. Fr. Joe loves his flock and is so willing so help them and seems he would do anything for his flock. When we missionaries meet him and experience his generosity, it is hard to say “no” to him. So when Fr. Joe came all the way up to Malaybalay(a good 5hrs travel if traffic is perfect or the road is not torn apart, so lets call it 6 to 8 hours) from his parish in Camigun to visit the Alvarez family and then got permission to say mass in their house and then invited both families to come to Camigun for the Christmas celebration one cannot say “no”.  As the time arrived we felt more and more pressure, it was two days after Christmas and our mission here in Malaybalay has been so busy and full that we were kind of hoping the trip would get cancelled. God writes straight with crooked lines and His plans are so above ours….so the trip did not get cancelled.

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To Illustrate how busy and willing to serve Fr. Joe is, here are some Day of departure events:

  • IMG_2986   – Announced ETD 2pm. Filipinos are notoriously late,so probably 3pm, nope Fr. shows up 1hr early (should not have gone to the last minute birthday invite, we left early…Filipinos are so gracious and happy to have visitors, even a family with 10 children, we have so much to learn)

    – planned to arrive in CDO late, and then Alvarez Anniversary Mass  by Fr. Joe, nope before super So at 

    – Fr. Joe is asked to locate water in Malaybalay for a well drilling company, “no problem, drive a vehicle that can carry about 15 people”

    – Accommodations for the night, the Convento in CDO, supper…not sure

                                                                                                                                                                                                         – Fr. takes us to the Priest’s gathering house for a visit and to say mass …. then they feed us all!

     –  Fr. Joe has meeting the next morning so  mid-morning we head to the ferry (2hrs away)    

     – Car Break down and Fr. has to be back in Camigun for a wedding, but has the ferry wait for us (now on a bus) and gets permission for the car to stay at a parish     

      – We arrive in Camigun Fr.’s friends pick us up and within an hour or two he is back and has supper with us before showing us our lodgings.                          IMG_3033










So the trip seemed to be off to a kind of bumpy start, but not really, God had it all under control!

Mission within a Mission

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  Our mission to the Philippines has been very busy so far. When we arrived in Philippines we had expected to be working with the Alvarez family and the Romero family, but two days before leaving the US Sammy Romero informed us that they were returning home about two weeks after we would arrive. This changed all of our ideas about what we would be doing and who we would be working with.Oregon to first week in the Philippines 104 We soon found ourselves saying that we would continue the ministries that the Romero family had been doing.
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Here is Evie’s Birthday Party at the weekly Isla community Bible study.

     Ellie, Maddie, Mia are teaching the kids some games 

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This is the Zone center at Isla where we have some of our ministries, like the Children’s Catechism,                 Men’s Bible study.

      The Alvarez family, who arrived a month earlier, were expecting their 7th child anytime and needed time to settle in, prepare for and recover from the newest addition to their wonderful family. It was a whirlwind those last two weeks, trying to learn everything we could from the Romero’s about people, personalities, stores, ministries, how to do basic things like pay the water, electrical, internet. where to get purified water. All this really gave us a jump start on beginning our ministries here in the Philippines.romeros saying goodbye 027
        this is the last children’s Catechism that the Romero’s held before leaving
    One of the reasons for coming to the Philippines a month after the Alvarez family arrived was so Lora could assist at the birth of their 7th child. Lora has a great desire to become a midwife, as does Abigail. The Lord seems to be blessing this desire as we,were able to assist at two births in two weeks. The birth of the Alvarez baby, Josephine, went really well. Here we are using the only scale we could find to weigh the living w-alvarez and new baby 044new baby.living w-alvarez and new baby 042

Here is Lora at the first birth we attended. This is Ramon’s sister Flora and her new baby.Oregon to first week in the Philippines 125
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   Before the Romero’s left we moved in with the Alvarez family, who have been allowed to stay in house owned by Tito Vic Barretto, who is a member of the ABP community the Mr. Frank and Mrs. Genie helped to start. It is a nice 4 bedroom house with 3 living w-alvarez and new baby 002showers and 3 toilets. Only one of each functioning when we moved in and only 2 toilets functioning, but 3 showers working. This allowed us to be there for Stacie’s labor and delivery. Which happened the day the Romeros left. So as Stacie is in labor we are able to move into the Romero’s house and bring the Alvarez kids over, allowing for a quieter house to labor in.
The intention to tell of our time in Camigun in this post and write about a “Mission in a Mission” but it ended up being an intro to our ministries here…..So here is an intro for the Camigun Blog post coming:

Fr. Joe, a priest with all the energy that the Holy Spirit and unlimited Coke will give. Fr. Joe had an experience of putting off administering the Anointing of the sick for a day, saying something like, I will go in the morning. The person passed away….so Fr. Joe rarely says no. IMG_3377He goes non-stop, well not quite. He says that he gets about 3hrs of sleep. He is always ready to say mass administer sacraments, find water for a Chicken Farm or a small mountain village. Here he is leading us to a mountain chapel where we are able to share with the villagers. He is always planning ways to help people to get on their feet. The water in the mountain village is part of his plan to help them raise fish. Right now they have pretty much one source of income for the families that live up there. It is a fruit called lancones. Fr. Joe is helping them to protect some cocoa trees from worms that ruin the whole crop by simply stapling newspaper around the fruit. Fr. Joe says he likes to get people started and motivated, helping them to learn to walk on their own. “When someone falls we help them up and help them to walk, but I cannot carry them” This “Not afraid to try or to get something started” attitude  has allowed his ministries to be full and fruitful and they keep him on the run!