Arriving in Manila

I’m in the Philippines this week, connecting with Deaconess Sandra Rhein and SE Asia Regional Director Rev. Charles Ferry to meet with the leadership of the Lutheran Church in the Philippines (LCP). Deaconess Rhein and I arrived Sunday evening and were graciously met at the airport by our driver – President Rev. Antonio Reyes! He took us to our hotel and then to dinner afterwards and was every bit the attentive host one could hope for. In a city as huge, bustling and diverse as Manila, this was a much-appreciated act of pastoral care.

Pastor Ferry arrived Monday evening and President Reyes again took us – along with John Plagens, who has a lifetime of experience and service in the Philippines and Japan – to dinner.

Today we headed north. Five hours north, and once again President Reyes drove us – along with Deaconess Charity, who heads up a major LCP education initiative – in his own car. He had other visitations to make even further north, but wanted to connect us with the Dean of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Baguio City, Philippines. This is the only English-language, fully Lutheran seminary in Southeast Asia and it’s located in the gorgeous highlands. This means for the first time in a LONG time I got to enjoy cool weather! It reminded me a great deal of Camp Aloma in Prescott, Arizona, where the campus ministry I was involved with for many years used to go for retreats.

Here we discussed opportunities to partner with and support the LCP in restarting and reinvigorating their Deaconess program. It seems I’ll have the opportunity to return at the end of May to represent the LCMS at the seminary graduation. Additionally, plans are in the works for me to return in August for two weeks to do an intensive seminar(s) on topic(s) yet to be determined. I gotta admit, I won’t be reluctant to return to such a peaceful, beautiful place!

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