Philippines Mission Trip 2017

 

Day One

We were invited to attend one of the Novena masses for the Santo Nino Feast Day coming up to January 12th. What we were astounded by was the mass of people that attend this mass, for the Basilica holds 11 masses every day of the year.  Each mass can hold 15,000.  Wow!  As we arrived we we were escorted not knowing where our destination was within the crowds. We soon realized we were given seats on the altar area!  What a blessing to see all the faithful people celebrating Santo Nino.

 

We  visited a small village chapel in the evening in which the local villagers came to listen to Deacon Steve give a message of hope and healing.  We were introduced to our sponsor’s community, by  Glenda Antonio of Spring Rain Global and Fr. Victor of Santo Nino Basilica.

 

 

Deacon Steve

Praise be our God and Savior, who has sent the five of us to minister to His people, many of which are the poorest of the poorest in the Philippines.

After an uneventful flight,  praise God, we were met the airport and had dinner with our hosts Glenda Miro Antonio from Spring Rain and Fr. Victor of Santo Nino Basilica.

All of us were mesmerized by the mass we attended at the Basilica Santo Nino.  There was nearly two thousand people at the Mass  standing in the rain.  Most had statues of Santo Nino in their hands and were excited to be there!  I was blessed to proclaim the Gospel, administer Communion and bless the people with holy water at the end of Mass. It is hard to explain how amazing it was to see the faith and excitement of the people!

In the evening,I gave a teaching and healing service in a small village outside the city of Cebu.  The people were hungry for God’s word and enthusiastic about receiving healing pray from us.  After the event we’re treated to an incredible dinner, which is the standard for all of our meals.  The Filipino people are kind, generous and loving!

Antonia

Today reminded me of my parent’s home town fiesta celebrations but on a more bigger magnitude! Such devotion, such faith, such love for God. Not even the rain prevented the people from coming…faithfully they stood in mass with umbrella in hand! Cebu City stands united for Santo Nino.

Dennis

It was an awesome day in the Philippines!  The heavenly garden of Our Lord.  The vibrant spirituality of the people really shined throughout this day, especicially at the mass with their participation, love and reverance.  The Filipino’s faithfulness challenged me to look deeper inward and seek a deeper walk with the Lord..

Lourdes

Dancing in the rain of faith with the child of Jesus, el Santo Niño. We gathered at the Basilica of El Niño to celebrate one of the 11 masses they have every day for the El Santo Niño Festivities. Deacon Steve reading the Gospel with at least 12 priests, deacons, and religious on the altar; in front of thousands of  Filipinos. To our surprise, because God is so good, the Spirit  Filled Hearts team were directed by Glenda (our host) to a seat beside by the altar, a privileged and an invitation to reflect on all of those who were standing in the rain, with their umbrellas open. An invitation to keep our umbrellas up side down, to catch all of the blessings of love, innocence, and humility, showered by Baby Jesus to the faithful FIlipinos! Thank you Jesus!

Katie

Beside the honor of viewing the mass at the Basilica of Santo Nino, I was in awe of God’s outpouring of love and blessings upon His faithful Filipino people.  The spiritually and faithfulness of the people standing in the pouring rain during mass is a testimony of their love of God.  A joyful moment for me was witnessing and participating in the joyful song of Santon Nino and everyone waving their hands in honor of Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Day Two

Deacon Steve

This day has been one of the most incredible in my life, and certainly in the history of Spirit Filled Hearts Ministry.

We were blessed to celebrate Mass at Santo Nino Parish which is in one of the most impoverished areas of Cebu.  The poverty is almost overwhelming to see.   Yet…the people are amazing!  They packed the church and were loud and enthusiastic, screaming “Viva Senor Santo Nino,” and thrusting their arms into the air, praising God!

After the Mass we had our healing service, in which everyone came up for prayer.  Those who had been prayed over, in many cases, were so enthusiastic, that they told their friends and neighbors what was happening and brought them to the church.  We began to realize that the seemingly unending line was due to the many in the street coming in to be prayed over.  Praise God, now and forever!

I also visited those bed ridden in their homes, which were very impoverished, yet the people were always smiling and joyful.

That afternoon was equally incredible.  We were brought to the Cebu City Jail which had up to 4,000 inmates.  There, I gave a teaching and healing service.  It was a incredible!  I, with the Spirit Filled Hearts team helping me, prayed over nearly a thousand inmates with sacramental oil and giving them words of encouragement.  We poured the love of Jesus into their hearts and souls.  Many were transformed, which in turn, transformed us!  Praise God!

Antonia

Wow, it is only the second day but yet I feel that I have been blessed many times over.  This morning we visited a Don Bosco/Salesian church “Santo Nino Parish Church”.  The people were so faithful and had such a deep hunger for God.  Just when we thought that the line was getting shorter, the Lord brought more of his children to receive a special blessing. The good news is spreading like fire.

The hospitality is beyond this world. We are treated with such love.

We got to visit the Cebu city jail and what a transformation. The men were no longer the same…right before my eyes, hearts were being healed and men in bondage were being set free.

It has been a blessing to be used by God! I am so glad that I said yes to God!

Continue to pray for us. There is still much to do!

Lourdes

So many God moments, simply being instruments of God during these day, being part of such a faithful community were people were hungry for healing. I learnt how priest June was not just a priest but a leader, a servant of God, touching every family of his community with his love and service.

We were able to have the honor of praying over all of these people, the HolySpirit was there and we didn’t just give but received the healing for simply saying yes and learning from people who every day accept and embrace what they have without questioning their future.

It was amazing to see the transformation of the inmates who hoped for a change of heart and to embrace not condemnation but the love of Christ even in the midst of despair.

Thank you Jesus, because during this day I have seen the most poor being the most humble, and trusting. My question was how come in our country we have so much in material goods, and some of us, including myself doubt about God providing for the future. The more I see the hope and transformation appear through their eyes, the more my heart transforms knowing how much more Jesus continues to mold me and us through His Spirit.

With love from the Phillipinnes,
Lourdes

Dennis

What a privilege it was to start our day with at a local parish mass that end with a healing service for about for 500 people. They were hungry for Christ and his touch. And I believe they received it.

Afterward we went to a nearby prison in the mountain area. Initially, it was a frightening experience. There were over 3,900 inmates with somber distraught faces.  After we had been there for a while though I could see how their hearts were touched and changed.  I especially saw the transformation as the inmates were being were being prayed over by Deacon Steve along with the support of all the team members behind him. It was such a “Spirit  Filled Heart” humbling experience—I will never forget it. Thank you Lord!

Katie

As we entered the Stanto Nino Parish  in Pasil, Cebu with the parish priest Fr. June, I was astounded by the many people filling the church on a weekday.  The people had beautiful welcoming smiles, a great sign of encouragement!  I loved to make eye contact with these loving eyes of Christ.  Deacon Steve gave an encouraging homily to all the parishioners and I could see they were receiving the Good News, “Jesus loves you!”  After mass, the healing service was powerful. The faithful people were hungry for the touch from God.  The Holy Spirit was in full force!  After the mass attendees received their prayer time from us, they went out to the streets and called to their friends.  In essence it felt like we prayed over the whole village,  kept coming down the church aisle!  The crowd was amazing!  Later, father June told us that the news of the mass and healing service will spread like wild fire and the whole town will be talking about what happened.  What happened?  Jesus is the healer and the people felt Him through our prayers.

At the Cebu City Jail I was intrigued with the location of it being in the hillside.  We rolled up to the gates and were escorted by the guards.  The jail contains about 4,000 detainees and I got the sense that we were walking into a low security jail.  However, there were some prisoners who had the privilege to walk freely about the property.  The security guards, the chaplain and some of the prisoners showed us to the chapel.  I truly felt the Lord’s presence and protection of holy angels and Saints because there’s nothing quite like experiencing being in a small chapel with 100 inmates and then about 900-1,000 curious inmates outside the chapel peering in.

As we prayed over the men I felt joyful know God was healing and transforming them. Praise G!

Day Four

Deacon Steve

In the morning we gave a presentation to the board of Spring Rain Global, our host and partner in the Philippines.  There we met many of the key Catholic leaders from Manila and Cebu.  They are anxious to further partner with us in many areas, especially with the poor and children.

We had a Mass and Healing Service at Robinson’s Galleria to honor the opening display of the Sto. Nino Chapel and Campus.

Very powerful healing session. Many were touched and healed. They were not used to someone who believed in the miracles and healing power of Jesus! Praise God! They were very moved including one of the Priests who said it is positively changing his life!

Dennis

After another great breakfast, we spend the morning and part of the afternoon with Spring Rain Philanthropic Development Office directors meeting.  Deacon Steve game a very dynamic and inspiring presentation on the 10 step development process. This insight will help the PDOs in their efforts to raise the Philanthropic finances they so urgently need and deserve.

Later on we attended mass which ended with another Healing Service. It has been truly amazing 2 witness the Filipino peoples holiness, charisma, reverence, and trust, —which calls and challenges us to a deeper level of Catholic spirituality.

We were blessed to attend the Spring Rain Philanthropic  Development  Oranization Conference.  I was one of the keynote speakers on how to build advocacy with donors.  There were forty-three parishes and religious organizations that attended.  This includes leaders of the Church in both Manila and Cebu.

These religious leaders work with children, orphans, schools and the poorest of the poor.  By helping them we are indirectly assisting their efforts with many disenfranchised children and adults.

The response was phenomenal!   There were many who would like us to help them organize their development process so that they can do more to build the body of Christ.

We have been introduced to an individual who is the Catholic laity leader of Nigeria.  He was so impressed and moved by us, he has invited us to envangelize thousands of people in Nigeria this year!

Lourdes

We were introduced to the board of Spring Rain. We got into a conference center we’re Glenda and Father Victor will be presenting us to the board to build our partnership. It was exciting to experience so many priests and sisters gathering to make a difference in the Filipino community. They started with a prayer and presented us and their board and Deacon Steve Greco presented the gift of 5,000 to be distributed to the different schools, orphanages, and convents as well as asilos or homes of the elder. They also presented the Spring Rain choir and their vision and we had an open dialogue about these beautiful international partnership. The idea of being part of these amazing organization who is so close to those in need, was for me a miracle.

After the presentation we went to the mall and bought some gifts for the Filipino people and our family and friends. Then we gathered and continued our journey to change and then be part of a dinner offered by one of the main donors.

It was a beautiful restaurant and we were able to share with some priests and the donors a little about who we were and stood for Christ as the Spirit Filled Hearts team. The food was delicious! Wow, the chicken BBQ was to die for and the ribs were so good that I was thinking, maybe this week of action in faith will not be  the time for fasting! I guess Jesus was right when he told the Pharisees there will be time for fasting later but at that moment the disciples were with Jesus, and difficult moments would come when the sacrifices would need to be made. I though to myself, that will be the Gospel during the healing mass at the Senor Santo Niño Basilica, we needed to accept the generosity of the Filipino community and saying no to their invitation is not an act of grace. Maybe it was a great justification but I know that sharing the food in community with love was what Jesus did and sharing with them felt so amazing! Thank you Jesus for this day!

Day Five

Deacon Steve

The Fluvial procession of the Santo Nino Feast celebration  was held in the early morning.  We were on our way at three AM with the Spring Rain Global Development Officers.  It was so exciting to see hundreds of boats decorated boats with the faithful celebrating and praising God, Santo Nino.  We had Mass on board a boat, followed by our Spirit Filled Hearts praying for healing for all the passengers.  It was very powerful!

A few hours later we participated in the Santo Nino Processional walk with millions singing, praying the Rosary, and playing of instruments as away of expressing their devotion to Santo Nino.  It was awesome!

That evening we  participated in one of the most incredible events of our lives.  Well over 10 thousand people attended the Mass Celebration both inside the Basilica and streamed out into the streets of Cebu.  I was able to participate as a Deacon.  At the end of the Mass , some of the priests and deacons were able to hold and dance with the the statue of Santo Nino.  I was one of the blessed ones!  The people were singing, dancing and thrusting their arms into the air!  After the Mass Celebration the Basilica put on a grand display of fireworks for all the faithful.  It was was a joyous display of our love of Jesus!

Dennis

I can’t believe how privileged we are to join our Filipino brothers and sisters on the parade of boats to honor Santo Nino. SPirates Filled Hearts Minisstr held a healing Service after the mass on the boat. It was a very beautiful, grace filled experience for starting our day by getting up shortly after 2am. God is good all the time! He even gave us the energy to walk the parade route and attend mass at the Santo Nino Basicilia.

Lourdes

We woke up at 2:10 am and rushed down to the lobby to meet with our guide Glenda and all. Then we waited for the rest of the people in front of a pharmacist. God is amazing since I needed some Bonine so I would not get dizzy on the fluvial, a parade of boats to honor the Santo Nino! We were inside of the boat by 5:30 am and left the dock by 6:00 pm! What an experience of faith and love to the Infant Child of Jesus. Every one of the boats had a mass and procession to celebrate this day. We also had a testimony session about the miracles of Santo Nino and a healing session! My eyes were filled with so much joy from seeing the faith of these people who suffer much, but never lost their hope! After that we came back to the hotel changed and walked to the main procession to the Basilica, where everyone was doing the rosary while walking four miles with their images of Santo Nino. The crowd would not stop praying and praising the Santo Nino with the songs dedicated to him. By the end of the walk we ended in the Santo. Nino Basilica where a special mass was celebrated. How many pilgrims, I don’t know but the crowd was magnificent. People came from all the islands around Cebu to celebrate! The roads were filled, the hotels were completely booked, the town was so crowded with people. I don’t have words to express the beauty of the Eucharistic Procession and mass. The fireworks after the Santo Nino song and petitions made for everyone of the people that as a Church or individually people would pray through the song and would raise the Santo Nino and dance with him. Deacon Steve was able to dance with the Santo Nino and some of the priests that were in the altar.

What an amazing gift and honor to be here during these tradition and faithful procession to celebrate the infant Jesus and their devotion to Him. I know angels were singing of happiness in heaven for the miracles that these town would be blessed with for being faithful to their faith and tradition of el Senor Santo Niño!

Antonia

We started with the boat procession which included so many other boats and ships! We celebrated mass on the boat and had the privilege of praying for those on the boat. Then the walk procession began which was not just around the block…it was a walk for about four miles with over 800k people participating. I continue to be amazed by the people’s reverence because the rain and heat did not deter them.

The city united to make this a blessed day.

Finally the celebration of the mass with fireworks to follow…what a spectacular show!

The day is not over because the streets continue to remained blocked so the young and old have block party celebrations! What a full day of lifting up and celebrating Santo Nino! What a blessed day!

Day Six

Deacon Steve

We left the hotel day early on the actual Feast Day of Santo Nino.  To say there were a lot of people would be an understatement!  Our wonderful and incredible hosts, Fr. Victor and Glenda Antonio, had to walk a half mile just to meet us at our hotel.  All the roads were closed to traffic to prepare for the ” dancing in the streets celebration” that day and night.

We were blessed to lead a Mass and healing service at the Augustinian Sisters of Augustine Monastary.  I gave the homily on becoming child like in our faith.  There were many in attendance that we prayed over and many were healed by Jesus.  The sisters are cloistered and I was permitted to pray over them individually in a separate area.  I was pleased that several of them, including the Mother Superior were slain in the Spirit!

That evening we had another incredible Mass celebrating Santo Nino Basilica.  Once again there were over ten thousand in attendance!  This time however I was the only Deacon assisting in the Mass.  I felt honored and blessed.  At the end of the Mass I was once again blessed to dance with the statue of Santo Nino!

Lourdes

The next day is the fiesta day! The entire day the streets were closed and people would dress in colorful costumes to dance and compete throughout the day. Our van could not even pass through to pick us up. We would go to the Church of St. Rita at Takisha were we would celebrate mass with the sisters and have lunch with them. We also visited the order of Saint Augustine school for the priests and saw their school campus and sat down to pray at their chapel. Beautiful gardens filled with the scent of nature mixed with the aroma of prayer, fervent and devoted prayer!

We continued to share a lunch together in peace while Father Victor took a mini nap! After leaving the intentions of all of those who helped me be here being an instrument of God, I pursued to leave the peace and tranquility of the cloistered sisters who dedicate their life to pray for the world. Then we tasted the flavor of Halo Halo ice cream! A bowl of colorful ice cream with coconut, corn flakes, and much more!

We then went to celebrate the Fiesta Mass of Senor Santo Nino, at the Basilica where we were astonished by the amount of faith and prayer and the beautiful and colorful celebration of the Infant Child of Jesus! Thank you Jesus for allowing me and us as the Spirit Filled Hearts to see and smell the taste of the infant child of Jesus!

After the mass we had to walk through the streets where the vendors would sell everything you can imagine, and where the reality of poverty struck my heart. Even in the midst of despair, and poverty no one had lost their smile and hope. How come in the midst of material goods so many are depressed and sad about not having something else in our country? How come I sometimes think I’m in a difficult situation when I see these people pouring their hearts and souls to the Lord without nothing to stand, without shelter or food? I think of the virtues of the Gospel of St. Matthew 5:3-10 the beatitudes which give comfort to those in need, to the poor, to the sick. It made me ponder and reflect on how much more challenging will be for those who have more resources to get into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Antonia

It is Santo Nino Day…Viva Santo Nino… Pit Senor!

Everything is leading to this day! The anticipation and excitement is overwhelming!

It was a blessed day of worshipping and praising God!

The reverence of the people continues to tug at my heart. I just want to hug them all.

Day Seven

Deacon Steve

Words cannot describe how blessed we were to be chosen by the Lord to attend the Mass and lead the healing service at the Basilica Santo Nino.  There were over a thousand in attendance, holding their Santo Nino Statues and thirsting for the love of Jesus.

I was blessed to give the homily focusing on how much God loves us and how He wants to heal us.

After the Mass the five of us went out to the area where the people were standing and poured out the love and healing of Senor Santo Nino to the many souls in attendance.

I am positive that there was many hearings and the people were transformed by the love of Christ.  Words cannot express the impact it had on all of us.

After the Mass, the celebrant Fr. Victor Gonzaga came up to me very excited.  During the service I had called out of  a healing of a man considering suicide; after the healing service had been completed a man came to Fr. Victor and said that he was that man and had been healed by Senor Santo Nino!

We are so blessed! No one can out do God’s love, generosity and healing!  As an additional note, Fr. Victor himself, said his life has changed as a result of our being here this week!

Antonia

It is the big day…the healing service at the Basilica of Santo Nino!

What a humbling and profound experience. I got to individually pray over so many people. It was an experience that words cannot describe. I felt the Lord’s presence in such a powerful way. My heart was softened in such a way that I felt I was floating. All those people were transformed in front of my eyes. I was very moved to the point of tears which as my family knows I do not do very often.

This trip has transformed me in such a profound way! I am not returning the same!

Dennis

We are so very blest. After the mass in the Basilica of Sto Nino, the We led a Healing Service for over a thousand people. What a miracle. What an honor. What a privilege to serve our church and the Filipino community this way. Words alone are not enough to explain this to all of you. We are so so very blest. Thank You—Father, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit and Mother Mary too for your love, help and intersession.

Day Eight

Deacon Steve Greco

Another incredible day.   A well kept secret is Marian Shine at Lindogon!  It is amazing!  I was blessed again to assist in the Mass and pray over the people with holy water after the mass was completed.  We also visited the museum and the many statues of the Blessed  Mother.   The Monastary is massive.  It is shaped like a castle and is extremely holy. We strongly recommend you come see it yourselves.  It is called the Monastary of the Holy Eucharist of Lindogon.

That evening were blessed to attend, and I assisted, in a Mass at the new chapel of the Augustinians in San Fernando, Cebu.  We had a healing service after Mass, which was extremely moving.  We had the people of the village come up to be prayed over as families.  It was extremely moving and impactful and they were healed in the name of Jesus!

Katie

During a beautiful Mass at the Monastary of the Holy Eucharist in Lindogon, my senses were overwhelmed by the beauty of our surroundings.  Imagine being in a church that has open archways to the outside which was sourrounded by rustling tees, rain water coming down and birds rejoicing and praising God flying in out of the church.  The beauty of the church and its natural environment brought my soul to the presence of our Lord.  I felt during the Mass I felt the power of God through our Eucharistic prayers and wanted to proclaim to the world that Jesus is with us!

After the Mass we were guided to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lindogon.  We humbly took our shoes off with the hundreds of others.  To walk up to the statue and images of our Lady.  I had never heard of this Marian shrine.  I immediately recognized along the walls of the shrine pictures, letters, wheel chairs, crutches which were sent sent to the Shrine and in glass cases to be testimonial piece of the power of our Lady’s intercession.  The impact of the faithful people of the Philippines is once again is impressed upon my heart.

Later we went to the Chapel of Santo Nino, where we had an open air Mass over looking the green hills and the ocean,celebrated by Father Victor and Deacon Steve gave a great talk to prepare the hearts of the village people of San Fernando.  Then the families came up faithfully to be prayed over by us.  I felt the love of God touching them all.  So beautiful…

Dennis

Wow— another awesome day. It was a long drive to Mother Mary’s shrine in the mountains.  Seeing the facility just blew me away. It was totally overwhelming and indescribable.. After mass we toured the museum which housed all the different statues of our Mother Mary from around the world. More than I could imagine and more than I’ve ever seen at one time in my life. Also, there was wall after wall documenting all the miracles in letters with the evidence of them like: their crutches, braces, walkers etc. On the way back we attended mass at the Spring Rain chapel in San Fernando that ended with a Healing Service for about 150. How blest we were to exerience all of this.

Day Nine

Antonia

Today was another blessed day! We got blessed by Cardinal Vidal. Imagine that I got to visit and pray for him! What a Holy and humble man. It was an honor to be in his presence. I love it that he also speaks Spanish! Our God is awesome…this Servant of God may one day be declared a saint. He has done so much in his lifetime serving the Lord. Praise God.

We visited one of the schools today. The school is just over 50% of capacity because lack of funds. Plus they are in need of expanding their facilities to create a playground and need additional funds to pay there teachers adequately.

We can learn quite a bit from these students and families. They help each other by giving their worn shoes and clothing to their less fortunate school mates. The joy you see in those children is incredible.

Our brothers and sisters need us. We are one body in Christ. We need to help! Will you?

Katie

one of our main goals on this mission was to learn about the schools, the children  and educators of the Philippines.

We were able to witness th beautiful children of Cebu and see how we Spirit Filled Hearts and friends back home can help them spiritually and financially.  For one child  to attend school for one yea coostas about $330/year! Wow!  The teachers make about $250/month.  Coming  from a teaching background I really apppreciate what God has provided for me.

 

We were told that Cardinal Vidal of Cebu usually entertains visitors for about fifteen minutes.  Our friends and host Glenda expressed to us that the cardinal truly enjoyed our company.  We were with him for an hour.  Deacon Steve was able to interview him and each of us were blessed by him. Before leaving Archbishop’s home we were able to pray over him.  It was a beautiful blessing.  Unforgettable!

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