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 incredible 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.
To Illustrate how busy and willing to serve Fr. Joe is, here are some Day of departure events:
- – 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
So the trip seemed to be off to a kind of bumpy start, but not really, God had it all under control!