Baguio Feast Site
Baguio City was once again one of the three Feast sites of the United Church of God in the Philippines. For the eighth consecutive year now, the United Church of God’s Festival of Tabernacles was held at the conference hall of the “Ang Ating Tahanan” grounds of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines located along South Drive in Baguio City.
The Feast started out with our traditional Opening Night Service on the evening of October 13 with the opening night message given by the pastor for the Baguio and Dagupan City churches, Mr. Eriz Dizon. We were expecting a moderately higher attendance of about 130 for this year but we were pleasantly surprised to see the number exceeding our expectations as the attendance grew from 133 on the first day and reached its highest on the fifth day of the Feast at 167! This was the highest attendance we ever had since we started keeping the Feast in Baguio City beginning in 2001.
Quite a number of those keeping the Feast with us for the first time turned up at the Baguio Festival site. Some were new people attending the Feast for the first time and some were from our former association.
We have been blessed with a good number of overseas brethren as well who enjoyed the Feast with us as they joined us in attending the services and the other activities we have prepared.
This year, we had two visiting ministers who kept the Feast with us. Mr. & Mrs. Lloyd Teetaert, our elder from Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, kept the entire Feast with us in Baguio City together with their son, Robert and daughter-in-law Synnove, to our delight. Mr. and Mrs. Jim Franks later on joined us for the last three days of the Feast after they have been to Davao City and Iloilo City, the other two Feast sites here in the Philippines.
Daily morning services were held with afternoon services on the first day and on the Last Great Day. On the weekly Sabbath during the Feast, in addition to the morning services, Mr. Teetaert gave a Bible study in the afternoon. Every day, the brethren had the opportunity to enjoy lunch and extended fellowship together after the morning services.
This year’s Festival Video entitled “Our Heritage of Faith” featuring our roots which started with the early Church that first kept the Feast of Tabernacles 75 years ago in 1933 with Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong, brought tears to a lot of the brethren’s eyes. Many were touched by what the earlier Church had to go through just so they can obey God in keeping His Festival.
The Festival Show this year was held early and we had it immediately on the second day of the Feast. The show featured Filipino folk songs and folk dances from the different regions of the country. One of the main attractions was the popular Filipino folk dance called the “Tinikling” where the Teetaerts were given the opportunity to try the dance and where they tried to weave in and out of the two clapping bamboo poles avoiding them so their feet do not get caught! Lively native Filipino music was likewise performed by our “Rondalla” group composed of a small number of brethren playing the native stringed instrument similar to the mandolin called “banduria” and “octavina” and accompanied by a guitar and bamboo sticks and a short pole for percussions.
Because it rained most of the time in the afternoon, our Festival activities were held mostly indoors but hardly anyone was bothered by the rains as all enjoyed the activities participated by the young and old alike, as well as the whole family. Among the other Festival activities were the Youth Day and Family Day, as well as the Seniors’ Night where for the third year, the teens and young adults organized themselves to come up with a program and serve a special dinner for our seniors. Robert and Synnove Teetaert served as emcees during the program. There was also a film showing and a “videoke” in the evening after the Family Day on the sixth day of the Feast.
With all the good fellowship, memorable enjoyment and spiritually inspiring messages we were blessed with during this Feast, everyone present, young and old alike, felt they experienced a greater degree of unity among the brethren in this Festival site. Indeed, the just concluded Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day stood out as the best so far in many years.
—Reported by Rey Evasco
Iloilo Feast Site
One hundred twelve brethren from the Visayas area of the Philippines plus foreign guests from the United States and Australia convened in this year’s Feast of Tabernacles at the beautiful Punta Villa Resort in Iloilo.
The celebration began on the evening of October 13 for the opening night service. This was followed by a joyous atmosphere that was very pronounced as the brethren enjoyed the fellowship, the various activities for the whole family, dining together for meals, and the spiritual food that recharged everyone’s spiritual batteries during the eight days of the Feast.
The brethren were touched by the messages given by various speakers covering the inspiring subject of the coming thousand-year rule of Jesus Christ, the second resurrection, and the great beyond when the government of God will rule the universe. We were also very fortunate to have the presence of Mr. Jim Franks (and his wife, Sharron) visiting for the Feast as the guest speaker for the Philippine brethren.
Various uplifting activities were held in the afternoons except for the Sabbaths. Activities like the Family Day and the Youth Day were especially enjoyed by all the brethren. Games, camaraderie and food were much appreciated. The Entertainment Night was a highlight when the youths presented different talents.
So far, this year is one of the most significant and fruitful Feasts as five people committed themselves to follow and obey God for the rest of their lives through baptism.
The sad and emotional part of the Feast came when everyone must leave and return to their respective places. Everyone is looking forward to next year’s Feast.
—Reported by Florante Siopan
Davao Feast Site
The Davao Festival site hosted about 400 attendees, including 15 overseas guests from the US and one from Indonesia. Mr. Jim Franks, Operations Manager for Ministerial Services, was our guest speaker for the first two days of the Feast, before he and his wife, Sharron proceeded to the two other Philippine sites in Iloilo and Baguio.
Beginning with the opening night service featuring the Festival video, “Our Heritage of Faith,” the momentum of powerful and inspiring messages continued to encourage and edify the brethren to the last day. God blessed us with good weather, beautiful creative arrangements of fresh flowers every day, and warm and joy-filled camaraderie and fellowshipping among brethren—young and old—in the serene atmosphere of the camp.
Afternoon activities included tours, livelihood workshops, varied games for children, bonding activities for youths and singles, a relaxing Seniors’ Social, an enjoyable family sports day with a sampling of Davao City’s fruits, as well as an informative Bible Q&A on the Sabbath afternoon conducted by Festival coordinator Edmond Macaraeg.
Evening activities included Fellowship Night, a lecture for Church leaders by Mr. Jim Franks, the colorful and entertaining Variety Show, and a church leaders’ dinner in appreciation for their help in serving the 18 active congregations in Mindanao. For the second time, we also had Practical Christianity sessions on three evenings conducted by Mr. Macaraeg, with each evening devoted to varied groups—married couples, young adults, and teens.
Due to some donations from several unnamed brethren, we had special blessings such as free daily lunch and dinner for everyone, three roasted calves served on the first and last day, breakfast food items distributed to all families and individuals, and used clothing plus gift items for children and adults alike.
Some highlights included the blessing of 12 infants whose parents live in remote regions, as well as the baptisms of six individuals: Hannah Boy Lim (Davao), Americo Ballerda (Davao), Dan Tonog (Kidapawan), Mesaila Presbitero (Butuan), Stella Mae Cambare (Cagayan de Oro), and Diana Gepanaga (Mati).
In summary, the inspiring messages, the fun-filled activities, and the warm family atmosphere created an inviting foretaste of the coming Kingdom of God, when all mankind will be at one.
—Reported by Daniel Macaraeg
Semporna, Sabah Feast Site
The small group of the United Church of God members living in Sabah—the palm-oil-rich eastern state of Malaysia—joyously celebrated the 2008 Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day for eight precious and wonderful days.
The memorable celebration and its festivities were held in two different locations in Semporna, a quiet and peaceful town located in the state of Sabah, Malaysia.
One location of our Feast site was the church hall where our regular Sabbath services are held. The hall was used for five days of the Feast. A local restaurant in the area provided our lunch. This arrangement provided our brethren with ample time to fellowship.
For the first and last days of the Feast and also the weekly Sabbath, we held services in a hall beside the sea. The hall is owned and managed by Semporna Holiday Resort and Restaurant and the location was perfect for the occasion. The resort which is just seven kilometers from the church hall also provided lunch.
Our highest attendance was 23—eleven adults, nine youths and three children. Unfortunately, two families from nearby towns were unable to join us for the Feast.
On the third day of the Feast, the brethren enjoyed our Youth Day outing to Tawau Zoo, 106 kilometers away from the Feast site. The youths were stunned and thrilled to see giant crocodiles and dreadful snakes of all sizes. The zoo is also home to many beautiful and exotic birds and mammals. The outing ended by visiting one of the church member’s homes. The member had given birth to a baby boy on the second day of the Feast.
On the sixth day of the Feast, we held our Family Day at Pocas Beach where we enjoyed swimming in the warm, clear water of the sea.
As we came to the last and final day of the Feast, the brethren in Sabah considered the 2008 Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day a joyous and a memorable occasion. They were spiritually blessed and happy as they gradually learned the significance of the observance of the Feast. They are looking forward to the day when what the Feast portrays becomes a reality.
—Reported by Raul Villacote
Singapore Feast Site
Many brethren in this region of Southeast Asia meet for services just once a year. So the Feast is a very special time for catching up with friends and meeting international brethren. They share life experiences and become spiritually rejuvenated for another year before returning to their scattered areas. Eating, laughing and fellowshipping—sometimes late into the night—is truly a highlight of the Singapore site. And this year was no exception.
Forty-five brethren from several nations enjoyed the quiet tropical atmosphere of the Orchid Country Club in northern Singapore. Attendees from Australia, East Timor, Hong Kong, New Zealand and the United States joined local brethren from Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Services were conducted in English at the Club, a modern facility featuring colonial architecture, well-manicured golf courses, and gorgeous orchids. Most of the brethren stayed at the Feast venue itself, sharing meals with tranquil lake views and much fellowship throughout the Feast.
Activities included three group banquets and trips to various attractions including Little India, China Town, Arab Street, the Botanical Gardens, Singapore Zoo & the Night Safari.
Singapore brethren also led an evening walking tour through historical areas surrounding the Singapore River, now a major tourist area and the central financial district of Singapore. The Singapore River was an important early site for Southeast Asian and British commercial shipping and trade. Singapore remains a major seaport and world financial hub.
Encouraging messages by visiting minister Jim Servidio and other speakers focused on the reality of the coming Kingdom of God, God’s creative power, and His clear purpose for all mankind throughout history and into the future.
—Reported by Jeff Caudle
Sri Lanka Feast Site
Thirty-two smiling, happy brethren from eight countries met in the conference room at the Induruwa Beach Resort, shortly after sunset on Monday, October 13, to begin the Feast of Tabernacles.
There were brethren from Australia, the Bahamas, Jordan, Kuwait, USA, United Kingdom, Singapore, and Sri Lanka, making it a truly international site. Doug Horchak, pastor from Texas began the meeting by welcoming brethren to the 2008 Feast. He led the group in a rousing song service. It was followed by each head of household introducing his family and giving comments relating to experiences in observing past Feasts.
Kingsley Mather made some comments and asked God’s blessing on the Sri Lanka site and sites around the world. He also asked God’s blessing on the evening meal.
The first service was held at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, October 14 and the group sang lustily. The setting was millennial at the Induruwa Beach Resort which is on the south west coast of the island. The site experienced some rain but no activities had to be cancelled. The high attendance was recorded on the First Holy Day, October 14, and was 32.
Doug Horchak, Mark Wine, and Kingsley Mather gave brethren breathtaking views of the Kingdom of God through uplifting and stimulating sermons. The congregation was also inspired by sermonettes given by Zach Smith and Lee Van Ausdle and uplifting special music from local and visiting brethren. Mr. Rodney Vanheer, a local representative did a great job in organizing the site and arranging an array of enjoyable activities. It was a true family Feast with all brethren staying at the same hotel and having all meals together.
Group activities included a tour of Galle, the city that was settled by the Dutch. We were also treated to a talent show where a variety of items were presented by young and old alike. The young children performed remarkably.
The five Youth Corps volunteers that are serving in Jordan were extremely excited to attend their first services since they moved to Jordan two months ago.
A special highlight took place on the Last Day of the Feast of Tabernacles when Randy and Umesha Hook were baptized. This means we now have the beginning of a congregation in Kuwait.
It was truly a great Feast and everyone was sad when the time came to say goodbye.
—Reported by Kingsley Mather