Sunday, April 29, 2012


I went to 4 different churches this morning.  I am sure there were more to choose from, but I had no idea behind what walls or down which alleys in this very crowded part of Manila. I went first to a church at the Pasay Adventist Academy.  I think that it was actually one of the churches associated with the Pasay Adventist Church, but with services in Tagalog rather than English.  From there I went to the Pasay Adventist Church.  It was in English, but was so full, with standing room only.  So, I moved on to the Manila Adventist Medical Center Hospital Church.  I was unfortunate enough to make my entrance during the midst of the Lesson Study.  Teachers lost their followers as everyone seemed to turn to look at and wonder about me.  I asked what time the worship service started.  She (the hostess who had welcomed me) said at 9:00.  It was now 9:30.  So I asked if this was Sabbath School.  She stated that it was.  I asked if it was worship service.  She said it was.  I asked what time Sabbath School began, she said 9:00.  Then I asked when the next service was.  She said 9:00.  I told her I'd come back then.  She did require that I sign the guestbook before I left.  I then went to the college church.  There were about 6 people there.  Each seemed to be engaged in something other than Sabbath School.  I asked the person who greeted me, what time the Sabbath School began.  He said 9:00.  Wondering about time zones between the two buildings, I headed back to the Pasay Adventist Church. I kind of hovered until Sabbath School ended.  By now there must have been 200 people standing in the back.  I was among them, and when persons who had attended the early service began to take their leave, I found a good spot in the back with leg room and an excellent view. A gentleman named Eufe Tantia welcomed everyone to church.  I could listen to him speak all day long.  He had such a kind and professional manner.  His announcements were dignified and clear.  He read the names of visitors who were to stand.  My name, not having been registered, was not read.  For this I was thankful.  The name of a lady was read.  It was not a Filipino name, but sounded very much as if were a name from Africa.  A lady appearing to be from Africa stood.  But the kind man making the announcements was not looking to where she was standing.  Then I noticed that two other women, who were Filipino stood.  He looked at and welcomed them.  I realized that two blocks away at the Hospital church my name was being read, and that maybe there were persons who had stolen my identity and were standing to a warm welcome. The service was very worshipful.  A child named Princess Joy Hernandez had the children's story.  Her excellent English was exceeded only by her perfect inflection and poise as she told a flawless Children's story about Jesus calming the storm.  The music was most uplifting and then one Joel Mazo preached the morning sermon on the "Grace Generation" The theme of his sermon was the beatitudes.  He dwelt for a long time on those who hunger and thirst.  And at the close of the sermon, in this quiet, air-conditioned sanctuary full of reverent worshippers in the heart of the noisy city, we waited to leave, as we had been instructed during the time of announcements. When I left, I asked one of the deacons where I might find the fellowship lunch.  The bulletin stated that it would be at "the U-room classes 7, 8 & 9.  The deacon (I know that he was a deacon, they all wore matching lavender shirts with the distinctive cut of Filipino good attire), said that he didn't know, but it would be no doubt in the back.   In-the-back became somewhat of a challenge, as the building goes through the center of 3 blocks.  One can exit out the right and through the North Philippine Union Conference office complex, coming out on a street 2 blocks distant across the street from the Hospital.  Or, straight back through the Academy, coming out on yet another street, a very busy street, a block away.  I went for the Academy.  There I saw a young fellow with a walkie talkie.  Wrongly I assumed he was one assigned to help solve problems and guide wanderers.  I asked him where I might find the fellowship lunch.  This seemed to strike a responsive chord in him.  He said there was none, stood immediately and walked away.   I then saw a group of older women.  Of course, they would know.  I asked.  They told me to go to Classroom # 1.  They pointed at the door and I headed straight there.  When I opened the door, I found the young walkie talkie carrier standing there with a plate full of food.  He assured me I was in the wrong place and coming to the door, said in good English, which I had previously kindly decided he did not understand, to go to the Old People's Room.  I deduced by these instructions that I needed to find a mirror and get a look at why I was deemed unfeedable and old. I soon found a sign that looked like that of a restroom.  Sure enough.  It was marked CR (comfort room) and notice was posted at the door that it was closed. I returned to the sanctuary and found a woman sitting there.  I asked her where I might find U-rooms 7, 8 and 9.  She told me they were in the upstairs of the church.  I was to go out the side door and up stairs located there.  I began to salivate.  But just as I got to the side door, a man in a lavender shirt locked it.  I looked assertive.  He told me that all doors were being locked and that I should hurry to the last remaining open door, as the final moments were upon me. At last I found the stairs and made my way to the top.  There was a door... Locked. I did stop and ask several other persons who were eating some rather nice looking lunches where I might find the fellowship lunch.  None of them could give me any information. I have looked at the bulletin again.  It says that next week, May 5 - "Fellowship lunch at the U-room classes 10, 11 & 12".  I have my doubts. I decided to come back to the guest room and get some Pesos and find a place to get some lunch.  Near the building, I met Elder Rajagukguk from Indonesia.  He was just putting some serving dishes in the trunk of his car.  "Did you get lunch?" he queried.  I told him no.  He said, "Next time you must come to the Hospital Church.  We have a potluck there right after church."  I then met a young fellow I had never seen in my life.  "Douglas Martin?" he asked.  I answered in affirmative and astonishment.  He introduced himself as a Simanjuntak from Indonesia whose father I had known. I also think my name was read as a guest and head taken due note. He too told me that I had missed a good potluck.  I determined in my heart to keep close to the Indonesians on my next visit to the Philippines.  I passed the College group who had finished church now and were getting ready for lunch.  They had stacks of styrofoam lunch boxes, which I glanced at, but got some looks of warning from those standing guard.  I moved on to my room, grabbed pesos and headed down the street.  There were Adventists everywhere.  Half of the businesses were closed, but a number of persons just having finished church were entering one little place that advertised nourishment.  I followed.  For $2.50, I got 5 plastic bags filled with soupy foods and rice.  I took them back to my room which is Air Conditioned, and felt blessed, having hungered and thirsted and about to be filled. I will send the address of the hospital church to anyone interested.

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