We took a wonderful trip this past weekend. It involved an inter island jaunt here in the land of 7,107 islands. Our destination was Cebu the second largest city in the Philippines. It was certainly a very worthwhile and enjoyable experience. The occasion was our first Circuit Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Traveling here in the Philippines can be quite the adventure. Our destination as I mentioned was the city of Cebu on the island of Cebu. Cebu is perhaps only 300 kilometers give or take from our home in Roxas City. Our apartment (current home) is only 3 kilometers from the airport however there are no direct flights from Roxas City to Cebu. We therefore had to take a bus ride to the airport in Iloilo City. It is a short distance of 100 kilometers or one third the overall distance we needed to travel. We have taken this bus route many times over the years when visiting family.
Since arriving here in January I have made the round trip once and Eden quite a few times visiting her parents in Legennes outside Iloilo. We had yet to take Reez on the trip as it is a little different than a 100 kilometer bus trip in the States. The ride is always an adventure. Experiences include a 3 to 3 1/2 hours jouney to cover 100 kilometes (62 miles). Add bus breakdowns, flooded roads, the never ending road repairs (needed or not), non stop rain and the various slow moving transportation methods used locally and you have quite the adventure.
Well this was Reez’s first trip and he and the bus performed admirably. No breakdowns, rain or floods. Of course the road repairs and interesting road traffic including cows, chickens, dogs and goats kept the trip at 3 hours. As for Reez he really enjoyed the trip. He was so well behaved and really enjoyed watching the country side roll by and all the interesting people.
Next was the cab ride from the bus terminal to the airport. Reez loves to ride in cars as he sits in his dad’s lap and puts his forehead against the window gazing at the sights. By the way the cab ride to the airport from the terminal to the airport cost twice the bus fair.
Once we arrived at the airport check in was a breeze and we enjoyed lunch. A short wait and we boarded our plane after a good shock to my system. Now I have flown since I was about 4 or 5 years old except for about a 10 or 15 year period where I refused to fly because i was deathly scared of flying. To set matters straight I am still scared to death of flying but the love of my life caused me to face my fears and now I am flying when the need arises. Back to the story, we walk down the stairs at the boarding gate, walk out on the tarmac to the plane which by the way is a normal routine around these parts and lo and behold what is waiting for us but a prop plane. Yeah a plane with two propellers. Something I have not set foot in since probably the sixties and it was small by today’s standards anyway. Well after calming my fears once again we had an uneventful flight and landed in Cebu 35 minutes after takeoff. Remember now the first third of the trip took 3 hours and now the last two thirds of the trip lasted 35 minutes. You gotta love traveling in the Philippines.
We stayed at a nice hotel and had some good food. Sure was nice not to cook and clean for a few days. We all enjoyed the break and spending time together without the normal household chores.
However the highlight of the journey that I spent so much time detailing was the spiritual food that Jehovah provided at the 2013 Circuit Assembly. The spiritual food was based on the theme “Safeguard your mind”. As always our God knows exactly what we need at the right time and this assembly was no exception. We just recently switched from the local language congregation to the English group and it was certainly so uplifting to hear so many talks in english. It really is true we learn and understand so much better when it is our own language. I think Eden really enjoyed it also as her dialect is different from our local dialect.
Now for those that are interested being in the English Group in this branch is different then being in a foreign language congregation in the States. Here we are labeled as english but we serve as the Foreign Language group. We are currently preaching and teaching all the speak english including Americans, Canadians, Germans, Australians, Dutch and any other english speaking individual. Then we are conversing with Koreans, Chinese (mandarin) and Punjabi (Indian). As there are no groups for these ones the responsibility is ours to distribute written material to them in their language. In fact a recent Bible study was started by a Filipino member of our group with a Punjabi. It should prove to be interesting. We are certainly excited about the work ahead.
We attended the assembly with our friends the Azarraga family. Ely is one of two elders in our English Group. He has become a friend and we really enjoyed spending time with them including our ride home together from Iloilo forgoing the bus adventure this time. He really has his hands full as one of only two elders in our group, a wife whose kidneys do not work and a daughter born without sight. But what a happy family. The other family and five single brothers and sisters in our group were unable to attend most likely due to financial constraints.