February/March 2013: The Philippines

28 FEBRUARY – 20 MARCH, 2013

And so here we are again, this time on route to the Philippines. I had to cancel my last scheduled trip there (November 2012) cause I just could not walk – my hip needed to be replaced. And God, being good and gracious, provided for that to take place and in such a way (anterior method) that my right hip was replaced (total) at noon on one day and I walked out without a cane or crutch 40 hours later (about the same number of hours it takes to get here to Lutheran Theological Seminary, Baguio, Philippines from Brooklyn Park, MN).

This trip is a little different structurally – there are two other pastors with me and they will be here a little longer than most trips. Most of these trips are two weeks in teaching length. This one is 21 days in total. And, this time there are two courses being taught.

So I have with me the Revs. Dean Bell and James Anthony. Jim is a former member of my former congregation (I got to ordain him) – I have known him since August of 1974. Dean I have known for some 25 years as he and I have both been pastors in Minnesota during that time (me a lot longer). Dean is also on the Board of Directors of The CLEF.

From the schedule below you can see the two courses. Bell has the Catechisms (Large and Small) and Anthony the Augsburg Confession. And yes, unlike PLI we do not tell them that we are forcing any subject on the LCP – this was requested of The CLEF and we sought out these two who are more than capable to teach the subject matters.

I’m putting in a link to the web site of the city we are in – Baguio. Check it out.

We got here through Seattle – then Tokyo and then Manila. All went well – prayers answered – the rides were very smoooooooooooth. Me happy ’bout that!

We were met in Manila and then driven by the rental car driver who obeyed the Manila driving motto – “Do it unto them before they do it to you.” And we actually made the trip from the airport to the bus station in only an hour – in heavy traffic. Revs. A & B had white knuckles and prayed without ceasing. And there was more to come – and they knew not! I take joy in little things!

The website gives a little more detail relative to the three roads to Baguio – two are very dangerous – the third comes and goes to the lowlands and is not too issued. They are because they are carved out of the sides of mountains and the drop offs are up to a 1,000 feet. Traveling at night is a little helpful as passengers don’t see the sever cliffs, landslides and just how close the wheels get to the edge (like 2 ft around hairpin curves with big Greyhound type busses and big 18 wheel tractor trailer trucks passing each other at 30 mph head on with only 6 in between them). There are no “normal” rearview mirrors – they would not last 2 miles as they would be knocked off by oncoming traffic. Want to come with me to Baguio?

I think that Dean once went to Denver and Jim went to the so-called “Holy Land.” They ain’t been like anywhere this is! I like Baguio but not the to and fro.

The ride on the bus is 250 km (approx 155 miles) from Manila. We start at sea level and end up at 5,280 ft (one mile) in the city of Baguio – population 302,000 or so. It is a 5.5 – 6 hour ride.

Our bus left the terminal 30 minutes late and the driver seemed bent on making that up. Starting out at 12.47 am helped – you could not see the 100s of near misses nor could you see the 500 – 1000 ft drop offs only inches away. The first time I came on the bus I almost died of fright. When it rains (like every day) the road becomes slippery from the vehicle engine oils and is very dangerous. Read the descriptions of the roads on the posted web site.

We arrived after 5.45 minutes. There was a “water closet” on the bus – both A & B used it – I don’t know how B did it – he is not a slight man and the WC is not big – makes airplane toilets look huge. And, the curves and leanings and the shifting and braking of the bus were enough to make you puke let alone try to walk and go down steps and then un-drink!

Anyway – more on the Saturday and Sunday and Monday specifics next time. What follows may jump the time sequence – well it does – but I’m sending it anyway. It concerns several conversations over the past couple of weeks and since here on Sat – Tues.

That said – I still have one last set of notes (I can’t find) from last week when having left Ghana.

And now a few thoughts on a group of conversations:

I was trying to be nice while talking to one of the course attendees. I called the liberal USA group that wants to (in my opinion) end Confessional type congregational administration and the Office of the Holy Ministry and replace it with secular business principles and church growth theology and worship – “froth on a beer – not much there and usually is in the way.” That group calls itself “PLI”, and that is to stand for pastoral leadership institute. It is the stuff the former LCMS president sought to force on the whole of the synod. Well just mentioning them evoked the following from the attendee:

PLI – they were here recently and they bring their stuff from the USA and try to make us like them when they know nothing about the Philippines and the LCP. Their stuff is not for us and I hear many there do not accept it. They came with a program to tell us how to run the congregations like business managers, making pastors into CEO, not pastors, they use the word “leadership” but it is not, and then they decided we needed to know how to have marriages. We do not need that. We need what you and CLEF and Glory of Christ have brought good Confessional teachings and courses on the Bible and our Book of Concord and preaching and true Lutheran worship. The faithful teaching of the Gospel by your groups have brought us back to a unity in the LCP, not anyone telling us how to be business leaders running congregations or how to have a good marriage. (that was a summary of my notes)

And, I would hasten to add that while the above is only one conversation – the same sentiment and even the same words have been spoken a dozen times by a dozen different men.

About 25 years ago there was a severe split in the LCP. That division was often ugly and mean. You might remember that one time when I was here I witnessed and photographed one of those times – a time when the state authorities were sent in with guns to evict a group of babies in a day care who were using a piece of contested property. (Uncle Eddie was with me on that trip – he remodeled the LCP President’s parsonage – I left him here and I went on to teach for 10 days in Sri Lanka. I stopped on the way back and picked him up.)

No PLI junk on so called “Leadership” could or would fix the division. But we Confessional Lutherans do know what does – the Gospel of our God Jesus. So we (you who have supported The CLEF) have been here teaching and teaching and teaching the Gospel – and it is God who brings forgiveness and heals division. Since 2005 Glory of Christ has been sending pastors and layfolk to do what the LCP has requested – the LCP knowing their needs and The CLEF and GoC responding to them as brothers and sisters in Christ. And now very recently the division has been overcome and they have joined together again. They do not need outside do goobers – stay away! (yes I know how to spell)

I’ll add a piece I sent to you about a year ago on them – I’m adding it for the benefit of our new email folk.

And now another topic ….

…. that brings me to the question – again – about the use of the term, “missionary” – the true meaning of “mission” and to whom it belongs and such – but even more the use of / or the application of the term to (usually White folk from the USA) men, women, children, lay or ordained or “commissioned”. Seriously, “missionary”? The members of the LCP are equals with us in the sight of God. The pastors are equals with LCMS clergy by our joint declaration of fellowship – so what is the “missionary” thing about.

See, I grew up in Papua New Guinea. My father was a missionary as there was no Lutheran church body. He was a pastor to 14 congregations – at once! A short time later he was mostly referred to as an “evangelistic missionary”. I remembered being confused on account of the fact that we had many more different missionary types – agricultural, educational, medical, mechanical, construction … But then the congregations of the Enga people formed a church body, Good News Lutheran Church and then as time went by they joined in fellowship with the LCMS (equals in every way) and yet we still use terms that were more appropriate 50 years ago – we still sent “missionaries” to PNG! Seems more than just a little condescending – in my opinion.

Take The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana. They, The ELCG, have sent “missionaries” to nearly every West African nation and Uganda and started churches and soon they became church bodies. Yet the LCMS sends “missionaries” to the ELCG (church body) that sends “missionaries”! That is what happens when “The MISSION” no longer is God’s and everyone is a missionary and everyone has a mission – then there are no missionaries.

Therefore – Pray for The LCP, The CLEF, The LCMS, your family, congregation, pastor. And thank you for your faithful and continual support. Without you The CLEF

So there. Venting is therapeutic.

Thank you for all your support. Without you our work together – you and The CLEF — does not happen. With the LCP we have some 10 translation and publication projects. I hope to get three of them to the printers while here! Pray for me.