White Container on a Mountain

January 17th, 2012

Why is a 20’ sea container sitting on top of a remote Philippine mountain?

Why is Laymen Ministries Philippines so excited about the meaning of this sea container?

 

It all started 15 years ago when Allen and Maritess Branson started Laymen Ministries’ work with the illiterate, animist, Irayan (Mangyan) natives of Occidental Mindoro, Philippines. They soon discovered the importance of education and opened a school for the native children.

13 years ago, my wife Moni and I joined Laymen Ministries Philippines. We too have remained convicted of the dire need for education.

Today, God has blessed and challenged us with 4 elementary schools and 1 high school, exclusively for these marginalized natives. Now we have almost 200 serious students in our schools.

 

 

 


Our ultimate goal is to lift up Jesus by our daily example, as we teach hygiene, nutrition, basic reading and writing to ALL native children. While we desire to uplift all students, we are also looking for those motivated, qualified students that have the burning desire to get a quality education and become the missionaries to their own people.

This is the reason we have the container on top of the mountain. God has allowed us to own 75 acres of remote property, yet only 15 km from the nearest town. Much of the property is rough and steep, but there are building sites, gardening sites and we already have a well on the property. There is also a site for a 100’ tower , which will support our wind generator. A sweet Christian couple from California donated the 10 KW wind generator and built all the controls and batteries inside the container. In addition, they are flying in on Jan. 6 to erect the tower and connect the system. As an additional bonus, realizing that we have sporadic winds, but abundant sunshine, the system will be jointly powered by solar and wind.

 

As the high school site will be totally off grid, we are deeply grateful for God’s children in the U.S. who donated not just 1, but 4 containers of practical items for the high school and also for our elementary schools. The following is only a partial listing of donated items: Champion Juicer, Magic Mill, the kitchen sink, paint, ladders, wheelbarrows , scaffolding, portable generators, Mason Ball jars for canning, garden tools, mechanic tools, John Deere Skid Steer, Bobcat Mini-excavator, 70 boxes of Christian books, bed sheets, and WOW! 50 lbs of Pinto beans! God and His family are indeed GOOD!

Another exciting event on the Spring calendar is the arrival of a Swiss Fly and Build Team, for an evangelistic series and the beginning of construction of one of the high school buildings.

 

 

 

We continue to solicit your prayers and financial support for God’s work here in Occidental Mindoro!

Your Fellow Servants,
Jim and Moni Webb

A Powerful God We Serve

November 18th, 2011

Venus VeloriaWe have a powerful God that we serve that’s the distinct difference between us, missionary teachers, and the public school teachers. It’s not good to say, but we have more integrity and love for God than they. In this experience that I’m going to tell, they, the public school teachers, saw something in us that they are lack and want to have.

In just recently, we had celebrated the “Buwan nang Wika”, where KESI, Katutubo Schools Inc., and the public school merged together to make a program and to present it. They were the ones who came to us and begged to join. We’ve been praying for that true to happen, because they were our enemies. They had been robbing our students ever since and accepting our dropouts even if the students dropped in the middle of the school year. So, we were surprised and happy at the same time. We gladly welcomed them. We tried not to think that they have a hidden agenda for joining. We accepted them like our long time friends.

The time of presentation came. We hardly had time to practice, but our students did their best. Our school’s presentation was very different from theirs. Our students were lively and gay, while their students were dull and serious. I believe students reflect the teacher’s mood and spirit. Jesus brings us joy so deep that others don’t understand. Our school is really an excel school because, we have the joy of being a Christian, so much, different from the worldly joy. Our presentations were 100% better.

In basketball league, our school’s team is always winning. Our students are not that strong and big but their Master Coach is strong. They pray before the game, and they follow what the Master Coach says. Now, they are one of the teams who will compete for the championship.

The villagers are watching us. They are in awe because we have a powerful God that we serve. No matter what other teams do, our God will make us win if it is His will, and only for His glory, not ours.

Venus Veloria

Challenges and Blessings

July 22nd, 2011

It was June 3, 2001 when my family settled in our new village, Sulong Ipil.
Located in the outskirts of Mamburao, the Katutubo living in their village are different in many ways from the two other villages where we served before.

Mae and Boying Celestre

Mae Celestre and her housband Boying - Missionaries for LMP in Sulong Ipil

Challenge number 1: There are at least three Christian denominations of different churches that exist in the village. They all have worship on Sundays and most of the villagers attend one of them. It will cost some money for my family to attend Sabbath worship in the Mamburao Seventh-day Adventist Church, so we made up our mind to have Sabbath worship at school. For the first two Sabbaths my family spent Sabbath reading religious books and studying the Bible. In the afternoon, we visited the villagers, especially the homes of our students and tried to become acquainted with and befriend them. We prayed that God will help us find ways on how we can start Sabbath worship in our school.

Blessing number 1: It was June 18, 2011 when 17 children, students and non-students came to school (at least 30 minutes earlier than the time I told them to come) to listen to Bible stories and learn new songs. This was our first Sabbath worship with the children. They enjoyed the stories and songs and stayed with us for more than two hours. The next Saturday, June 25, 2011, children came again to have Sabbath worship with us. I am so glad that God made a way for us to serve Him and worship Him. Truly, the kingdom of God is for the children!

Village of Sulong-IpilChildren of Sulong-IpilSchool of Sulong-Ipil

Challenge number 2:  Visiting the village to be acquainted with the people is not enough.  I prayed for more opportunities to make relationships or friendships with the villagers, especially the mothers.  It didn’t take a long time to wait, for God answered my prayer in an amazing way.

 

Blessing number 1: I was able to make an arrangement with the Katutubo BHW (Baranagy Health Worker) to include me in the list of pregnant women in the barrio.  On June 22, we went to the Barangay Health Center to have the monthly pre-natal check-up.  In the Center, each of us was given a bag, a mosquito net (treated to keep mosquitoes and malaria away), and a mother and child booklet, which was written I English.  The midwife felt hopeless, because she didn’t have the time to explain the booklet’s content to the pregnant women.  I was then promoted to volunteer to explain the content

to the pregnant women from my village.  Relieved, the midwife gave me permission.  I immediately made an appointment with the BHW to gather the women on Saturday afternoon, June 25, at the school.  I enjoyed the meeting with those eight pregnant women and Percy, the BHW.  I am so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to meet them and open a friendship with them.  I can see that God is working.  Surely, He will make a way so that His message of salvation will make its way to the hearts of our villagers in Sulong Ipil.

 

Other Blessings:  There is an abundant supply of vegetables and fruits from the garden.  For almost three week, we enjoyed eggplant, camote tops or young leaves, squash – fruit and flowers, malungay, papaya, banana, some mangoes, kalamansi, chaya and santol.  God provided us with an almost one- week supply of rain-water when He sent the typhoons Egay and Falcon.  Our water supply comes from a deep well, which needs to be pumped manually to get water.  We truly appreciate God’s faithfulness and blessings every day.

 

There is a lot of work to be done in our village.  Please continue to pray for us that we will be a shining light and a blessing to the people in this place.  May God use us as His instrument to bring our villagers to Jesus’ feet.

Czarina Mae F. Celestre

Missionary/Teacher in Sulong Ipil, Occidental Mindoro

Another Success for God’s Kingdom

June 22nd, 2010

One of several being baptized and other joining by profession of faith.

 

By Louie Benitez, Prison Ministry Worker in Sablayan

Mr. Abelardo Bacolor is a prison guard from Muntinlupa or the so called National Bilibid Prison.  He was transferred to Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm.  He was branded as the “bad boy” among the employees of the prison.  One day, he was invited by one of our inmate brethren in San Isidro sub-prison to attend the following Sabbath worship program.  When the Sabbath came, everyone was delighted to see his presence, though he was too quiet and observing.  It became a big encouragement for the inmates to have him as a regular visitor during the Sabbath service.  Sometimes he was called to participate in the program, and there was gladness as he expressed words of encouragement.

Since Brother Abel was in charge of this group on Saturdays and during weekly meetings, every time he shared something with me about Mr. Bacolor, my heart was bubbling with joy and praise to the Lord.  We put him on our prayer list, praying that some day he would accept Jesus as his personal Savior.

For about a year Mr. Bacolor attended the Sabbath worship and studied the Bible with our inmate brethren.  His heart was moved by the Holy Spirit.  Mr. Bacolor has now sealed his decision to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Savior through a “Profession of Faith” ceremony.  The district pastor officiated at the solemn program witnessed by prison personnel and inmates.  We can say that it was another milestone and remarkable moment in our prison ministry, that a prison guard be a part in the great harvest of precious souls.

Rough Seas

June 22nd, 2010

By Mechel Cubil, Missionary Teacher in the remote village of Pinagbayanan

The vacation was over and it was time to go back to the village where I’m working for Christ.  My parents were very worried because of the strong wind.  They suggested that I should hike over the mountain.  They didn’t know that I was also worried.  I was praying that the ocean would be calm.  I returned to the mission headquarters with fear in my heart.  The day came that we needed to go to the village.  I was expecting big waves and strong winds.  But, God is really good; the sea was very calm and peaceful.  I appreciated the beauty of God’s creation.

We traveled calmly until we reached Binuangan.  Then I saw the big waves and I felt the strong winds.  “Wow!  This is what I feared,” I said.  My heart pumped very fast.  Ironically I enjoyed the waves.  I screamed every time the waves splashed over the boat and got me wet.  It was like riding on a roller coaster.  Actually we were having a lot of fun inside the boat.  We were all getting wet except Ma’am Mhae and Sir Joe.  They were sitting on the front of the boat and not getting wet.  To make it fair, Kuya Mario gave us a bowl to get water to splash water on them.  Ma’am Celestre tried to get water, but the strong waters got the bowl she was holding.  We laughed and laughed even though we were wet and felt cold.  I really enjoyed that trip.  I didn’t even notice that we were near our destination.  I thank God that we arrived safely and most of all that He helped me overcome my fear of the big waves.

God is really good!  Now I can enjoy traveling by sea without fear because I know that He will always help me.

Unselfish Service

June 22nd, 2010

By Mae Celestre, Missionary Teacher in the remote village of Pinagbayanan

Arjay is one of Ma’am Mechel’s students in Kinder.  He was diagnosed with streptococcus that caused him to be absent for almost the first week of 2010.  Ma’am Mechel took pity on him because he became so thin due to lack of nutrition.  He was not able to eat.  Ma’am Mechel then asked help from the team and with Tito Jim’s advice we decided to treat him with Amoxicillin for five days.  We could not trust him to take his medication religiously, nor could we trust his closest family to administer it, so, Ma’am Mechel and Ma’am Mhae volunteered themselves to do the job.  Every morning and afternoon, Arjay went to their house to take his medicine.  The two ladies prepared food for him to eat before he took his medicine.

The unselfish service came every night.  Between 9 and 10 o’clock every night these two ladies would wear their jackets, take any available umbrella and flashlight, and walk into the dark stormy night just to give Arjay his medicine.  The weather really tested their patience for after the medication, our nights became more fair and calm.  With prayers, love, and patience, Arjay became well.  He is back in school.  He is very thankful to God and to his teacher, Ma’am Mechel, who loves her students.  I believe it is God’s love to us that helps us love other people.

Peace Is with God

June 22nd, 2010

By Neng Betoya, Missionary Teacher in the remote village of Agbalite

People are hungry for peace and love.  Some people spend a lot of money to have peace and security in this false world.  People think that money and power give them assurance and peace of heart and mind.  Others go elsewhere to escape from the cruelty of this world and live in the country just to have peace of mind.  A safe place is not a guarantee of peace either.  It is only through God that we can achieve peace because He is the only One who has peace and is able to give it to us.

I had a student who made me so frustrated one day.  I shouldn’t have felt that way because this work is not mine, it’s God’s.  Humanly speaking, sometimes we don’t have peace because we lack faith and we also take things into our own hands.  I experienced this when this student (Bimboy) stole money and the cell phone of Sir Ding.  He has stolen many times before, and it wasn’t only money, but also things from other people.  When he got Sir Ding’s money and cell phone, I started to get frustrated.  Many times this kid has been advised, directed, comforted, and loved by us here, hoping that he would change, but he gets worse.  It is really obvious that no man on earth has the ability and capacity to change the human heart.  It is only Christ.  I realized when I felt the frustration and disappointment, that I took everything in my own hands, that I gave credit to myself.  What a shame on me!  I forgot that everything is under God’s control.  I forgot that I have a mighty and powerful God who created everything.  Why should I feel discouraged?  This work is not mine, it’s Gods.  When I thought about these things, the picture of Benjie’s face was visualized.  Then I started to appreciate the other side of the story.

When we found that Bimboy was missing that day we immediately suspected that he was the thief.  Joel also told us his suspicion of Bimboy when he stayed with him for quite some time.  When we heard this, our suspicion grew bigger.  Sir Ding decided to look for Bimboy in Kalansan, the nearby village.  Benjie and Albert, some of our students, saw him there before the flag ceremony on that day.  Benjie saw Bimboy and started to chase him, but Bimboy ran away when he saw Benjie.  When Benjie caught Bimboy, he started a conversation with him, and even comforted him along the way.  Bimboy was so furious at him.  He wanted to hit Benjie, but Benjie embraced him and said, “You are my friend, I can help you if you have a problem.  Don’t be tempted by Satan, just focus on God.”

Bimboy said, “Leave me alone.  I want to go to hell!”

Benjie still continued in convincing Bimboy to come back and confess, but Bimboy was so narrow and girded by his own will.  Bimboy had already closed his mind and didn’t accept any words of enlightenment from Benjie.  Bimboy continued walking, but Benjie didn’t stop following him.  It came to a point that Bimboy started to feel annoyed because of Benjie’s presence and intervention.  He started to threaten Benjie, but still Benjie followed him until Bimboy reached San Pablo, a village near Paluan. 

Bimboy and Benjie didn’t know that the teachers had already reported the incident to the police and the barangay officials in Paluan.  The barangay officials were already on the highway waiting for Bimboy to arrive.  When Bimboy arrived, one official approached him and confiscated his bag.  There they found the stolen money and other things which belonged to other people.  One of the barangay officials happened to be Bimboy’s relative.  When he saw the evidence, he immediately hit Bimboy’s face and chest, but Benjie covered Bimboy and defended him.

Bimboy slept at the prison that day.  The following day, Sir Ding and Ma’am Dada went there with Jimmy, the tribal police here in Agbalite.  They went there to get Bimboy.  The police in Paluan released Bimboy and turned him over to the officials of the tribe to receive the tribal punishment.  Bimboy was put in stocks for twenty hours and received eight beatings from the tribal mayor.

This story reminds me of God’s patience toward us.  God chases us, talks to us, defends us, encourages us, and comforts us every day like what Benjie did to Bimboy.  God never surrenders when He sees that there is still hope.  Though we always exchange Him for our own pleasure, desire, and wants, like Bimboy, He is always there ready to pull us away from the decoys of Satan.  God doesn’t want us to be hurt.  He is long suffering, but His patience has its limits.  At the end, when we will not listen, we will suffer the consequences of our doings.  As long as there is hope, let us initiate patience.

After the incident, I had a talk with Benjie and I asked him if he felt any fear toward Bimboy when he chased him on the mountain.  Was he scared that Bimboy and his family might take revenge for his intervention in the problem.  Benjie said, “No ma’am, I am very much at peace with God.”

“Thou will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”  Isaiah 26:3

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