Harbour International Ministries (HIM) 8th World conference for Port Chaplains and Missionaries
During last month we had the opportunity to return to the Philippines to attend the 8th World Conference in Cordova Cebu. In truth we had not planned to go this time, they occur every three years. They are a great opportunity to network with like-minded Chaplains and Missionaries engaged in the same work and Ministry. Below are a number of pictures out of the 350 that we took while we were away. We hope that they give you a small glimpse of what it is like where we were located.
The first thing that hits you is the heat, you soon realise the clothes you wore from the UK are not suitable. We stay in an economy Islands Stay Hotel – £18 not bad for a double room. The next day we are picked up by Paul Petersen who has made arrangements for us to be taken to the resort location were the conference will be held.
This is on Mactan Island Cordova; the other obvious thing is the contradiction of wealth and poverty so prevalent in the Philippines. Where we stay is very nice, but outside not 50 yds. from the main driveway is the reality – of which we are not unmindful!
The conference lasts for 4 days, and it is good to meet up with a number of colleagues. There are about 65 of us from a number of countries,
The main sessions are taken by Pastor Eyriche Cortez who I have known for a couple of years, he is also the contact for the Aid Relief that we took.
One of the highlights of the conference is to visit a Maritime school within Cebu University. Here are the future seafarers Officers and ratings – it is a well-appointed establishment.
But as you leave the establishment, directly opposite the University you are again confronted with a different outlook. Such is the Philippines!
The second highlight is preaching at the Shalom Christian Centre. Here Pastor Romy and his wife Grace and their team have the responsibility for educating over 400 sponsored children from Compassion. We meet a number of the congregation who are either the wives of seafarers or are seafarers themselves, and we are asked to pray for them.
Leaving Cebu on the last day of the conference we are so pleased to see Walter Bandoy – who has just signed off from his ship in Antwerp. Some of you may remember how Walter was badly injured here in the Liverpool about 4 years ago. We have been friends ever since. He wanted to catch us before we left for Manila, we are disappointed that we do not have time to go and meet his family.
We catch the flight to Manila and our friends Nina Sanchez and her son Kim meet us at the airport. Sadly Nina’s husband Ramon is still at sea, but rings us from Angola to catch up, what a nice gesture. We stay at their condominium ‘The Grand Towers’ on the 23rd Floor. We spent most of the day with Nina and Kim as we waited to be picked up by Tito and his wife Carmen to take us up to Malasique in Pangisanan.
This would be a long trip about 5 hours by car – but it was good to catch up with our friends as we waited for them to arrive. We arrived quite late at Malasique where Tito and Carmen live. We have been here before back in 2011 so we knew what to expect, very hot and humid. The next day we had arranged to go up to see Peter Santos in Lingayen about 40 minutes from Tito’s house.
What a joy to finally see Peter after nearly 5 years, and what a great welcome he and his wife Paz gave us too. Catching up with Peter was great he was able to give us an update on his medical situation. But it was a joy meeting his family too, and he was keen to know if I had brought him any of the scripture resources that I had promised. I had marked his Emmaus course so was able to give him his certificate and go through some of the answers with him. Later we were shown around Peter’s house and land; some of the fish on the table were caught from his own pond.Being a cook he disappeared for a while to prepare all the food we were about to eat.
It was sad to say goodbye but it had been a great day spending it with the family, one of those events that will remain with you for ever. We headed back to Tito’s house to spend our last night before we caught the coach back to Manila the next day. We were so grateful for Tito and Carmen’s generosity and kind hospitality – what a blessing! While we had been at Tito’s I had received some email correspondence from another seafarer who I had met about a year ago.
Clen Munar had come into Liverpool and he was a Christian. He wondered if we could meet up as he was in Manila to renew is documentation before looking to join another vessel. This again was another opportunity to see a seafarer, who I had not met for a while. When he came he brought his cousin Roy with him so we went to a nearby coffee shop and spent a couple of hours catching up.
Again we were grateful to God that these opportunities were presented to us to catch up with old friendships.
The next morning we were leaving early Nina and Kim picked us up and we were heading home. It seemed to be over so quickly but again it was one of those memorable trips. The two things that were impressed upon me was the very tangible sense of God’s presence with us. And the way everything did literally dovetail together with all the connections with people and places – we were truly thankful to God for his kindness and mercy.