“You may make your plans, but God directs your actions.” Prov. 16:9
Plans were set in motion to go to the Philippines July 5th to surprise everyone in Balangao and my siblings in Dibagat as we planned to do a side trip July 8 to Dibagat and spend the night! These were all set to go, as I made reservations in Manila to fly to Tuguegarao July 8 and then flying by helicopter to Dibagat 8th and on to Natonin the 9th, dedication 10th and return to Tuguegarao 11th and on to Manila! That was simple enough as our colleagues in Manila do fantastic jobs in making reservations for us!!
You have all be praying for this day to come as the BIG DAY OF DEDICATION FOR THE NEW BALANGAO OFFICE YOU ALL HELPED BUILD WAS SCHEDULED FOR JULY 10 IN BALANGAO! My good friends George, I call Uncle G and his wife JoAnn I call aunt Jo were leaving Atlanta the same day July 5th to meet with me in Minneapolis and on to Japan! However, uncle G called me and thought they would just go from Atlanta because it looks impossible to rendezvous in Minneapolis as all flights were showing booked from Atlanta to Minneapolis! So they were going Atlanta and I was going MN and we will meet in Narita Tokyo Japan! I got to the Charlotte airport at 7a.m. on July 5th and it was unusually packed for an early morning departure, but found out many flights were cancelled and delayed that night due to weather problems all over the area. Since I was on a non-revenue flight even though I was high priority on the list, all the paying passengers had priority over me and I was unable to get on a flight on July 5th! All flights were fully booked and no way to make up time. So stayed home and the next day went again and it was wide open. A lady at the Delta counter in Charlotte questioned my 5 month before expiration date on my passport and that I was supposed to have 6 months, but another agent intervened and said I was good to go, so got on to Minneapolis at 10 am July 6. All were looking good, until I was called on the counter for my boarding pass to Narita, Japan! They checked my passport and all the agents were from Japan and they said I could not go because I didn’t have 6 months on my passport. I begged them to check again, and actually there was a clause that said – a Philippine national can go with less than 6 months as long as their passport did not expire on arrival in the Philippines and relatives will be there to meet them. However, they did not consider that one because I held a US passport and that applies to all US passport holders! So, they said they were sorry! They also said they would have been fined $25,000 if they let me go – so instead of arguing some more – I was reminded of the verse in Col. 4:5-6 – “Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” I also have a friend that said – “praying that God will use you for His honor and His glory” while on this trip. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” Prov. 16:3
So I came back home from MN yesterday very disappointed but with peace knowing God had it all planned out – and praying that my attitude was that of Christ and those that I met and talked with yesterday from Delta would have seen the reflection of Christ through my actions!
Of course the hardest one was to share the sad news to my Ina Jo and to uncle G and all those in the Philippines that I was hoping to meet – like missionaries with TAP, my family in Dibagat, colleagues in Manila, new students doing linguistics course and are recipient of the G.R.Roe scholarship fund for Bible translation! All these were more opportunities to be a blessing, but again God had other plans and put a deviation to what I had planned! I like how Brian (New Tribes helicopter pilot in Tuguegarao) put it -- None of this took God by surprise though. Of course the New Tribes helicopter has battery problem so we could not fly to Dibagat anyway on the 8th, and our team had to travel by road to Banaue and on to Natonin, so instead of taking one day – it will take two days to get to Natonin!
My Ina Jo Shetler arrived in Natonin on July 5th, so would appreciate you all praying as they plan the dedication on Sunday July 10. They are going to have one cow and some pigs for the celebration! Uncle G and his wife Jo Ann will arrive Saturday afternoon in Natonin via Banaue along with Andrew and his family driving the HiLux to Natonin as well. A van from Natonin will meet them in Banaue and then take them to Natonin.
Again, each of you who have gone to Natonin – Daryl, Kyle, Brad, Austin, Matt, Robinson, Bob, Linda, Robert V, Rob, John, Isaac, Elden, Andrew and Dave – seen this project from the beginning and its completion – I am grateful to the Lord for you all and your families who let you go – especially Leshia and Jennifer! To you who have given your resources to make it a reality – David, Allie, Tom, Leigh, Ron, Nancy, Darryl, Babs, Del, Tim, Allon, George, JoAnn, Charlie and Marian - I am truly grateful as well, and without any of you this office for the Old Testament team, Majukayong and Mangali NT’s would not have been completed in 3 months and a dedication on Sunday July 10 would have just been a dream! I am also grateful to the Balangao teams – Grace, Joanne, Robyn, Ignacio and all the folks there who have hosted our teams and helped – I am grateful to you all too! To our teams at the MNL office – and guest house – thanks for all your help! Truly this was truly a great team God put together to accomplish His purposes for His glory! I am so grateful to my wife Sandy who always reminds me that this was God’s project and that He will provide as always! She keeps teaching me to TRUST in the Lord with all my heart!!
Finally, I am grateful to my Ina Jo for all the work she has done and given to the Balangao people, and the privilege of helping provide an office for their Balangao Old Testament team and the Majukayong and Mangali NT teams! This is truly His work and we will give Him all the praise for what He is going to do both now and in the future – for the next generation!!
And ----"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:118
Serving Christ together for His honor and glory,
Ps. I hope to see some wonderful pictures on that dedication and Brad will put them on the blog!