Thank you to all the ministry sites and presbyteries who have extended invitations for me to share my travels in person over the past year. There are official links between the United Church of Canada head office and numerous sectors in the Philippines but it is always a good thing to build grass-roots linkages as well.
1. A natural link might be for the "your" United Church to partner with a similar congregation with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.
Just returned to Manila from an intense week in the southern area, which is rich agricultural land - bananas, coconuts, mangoes, sugar cane and fields of rice paddies, worked hard by farmers. Visited churches, schools, homes, met with families and groups of women, with Indigenous people and farmers, with those who will be affected by potential changes being imposed, with Muslim women and men in leadership, and participated in a solidarity night for one community and another evening at a rally to honor slain priest Father Pops.
As the convention opened in Batac City, in the northern end of the Philippines, I had the honor of bringing greetings from the Moderator and myself to a historic church filled with clerical collars and liturgical dancers, all present to participate in a 3 hour service of worship. A little town rich with history, motor scooters, and for 4 days, a lot of church people. The key note speaker was Rev.
The roosters begin about 4 am, telling the world to get up, even though it's dark outside, and shortly after that is heard the sound of sweeping, as each store is responsible for the street in front of their establishment. By 7 am, the trucks collecting the swept garbage are circulating, and things looks fresh for another day. The weather is warm and sunny - so that's why I needed an umbrella!
14 hours and 48 minutes took me to Hong Kong, sitting between a Chinese grandmother who was technically challenged every time she wanted to change the movie channel, and a young Filipino woman anxious to be returning home for a month after 7 years of separation from her family. Five movies and two meals later, I had a stop which was extended 75 minutes before the 2 hour flight to Manila, arriving after 17 hours in the air but 13 hours ahead of all I had left behind - I had literally spent the whole of November 17 crossing over the top of the world.
As I sit at Pearson Airport in Toronto awaiting my flight aboard Cathay Pacific to Manila via Hong Kong, I know that I am in for the adventure of my life and am honored to have been asked. I am also leaving behind all those who I love dearly - precious children and a grandchild on the way, my faithful 4-legged walking companion Tyler (please guys, keep him walking while I'm gone!), my office team in Montreal and Ottawa who are always ready to help, and many cherished friends and colleagues. Thank you for the love, support and prayers offered to me to sustain me on this trip.