An Message from Pastor Dan Belonio

Greetings from Jo & I!

Most who follow me on Facebook know Jo & I cut our vacation by 10 days after we heard about COVID-19 last week in Tagum City. What followed was a series of answered prayers! We praise God for each answered prayers. Let me offer 10 praise reports this morning:

1. President Duterte on state tv news, Thursday, March 12 declared Manila Lockdown effective Monday, March 14 and no-one could travel land, sea or air to Manila. We decided after hearing that this was serious and we had to return ASAP home to California immediately. But how?
2. Pastor Jing called a friend and got us a flight Saturday, March 14 on Asia Air at 4:30 am. Our race home began!
3. We waited at 9 am Friday morning to change our schedule at Robinsons Mall for our return flight March 24 with PAL on a direct flight from KAL but God had a better plan. As we were to wait in line, we stepped in a cafe with wi-fi service to see if I could get on Expedia and book a flight with PAL I booked a flight in 10 minutes for Sunday, March 13 a day before Manila Lockdown.
4. We flew out of Davao at 4:30 am Saturday morning with Asia Air checking our temperature before they allowed us onboard. We passed! A kind driver drove us on his Toyota Fortura the 45 minute drive from Tagum to Davao without any traffic to make our flight.
5. We arrived 5:30 am and I called to book a reservation at Manila Hotel and we spent our Sabbath with family per Pastor Jing, Ate Amy & Mom Galang at the lobby of this historic & beautiful hotel. Then a series of quick answered prayers followed next.
6. After breakfast at Aristorcrats, we decided to take our online confirmation to PAL agency in Manila for a written confirmed boarding pass with assigned tickets. Anyone who has travelled on PAL know this is a necessity. We arrived at PAL to find this agency full with people who had the same idea as we did and that was to get out of Dodge City! Including a young Canadian couple who’s travel plans had changed as ours did. Their best friend planned a destination wedding in one of the Visaya islands but due to the pending Manila Lockdown, those wedding plans were cancelled because they could not fly to that island. They made a painful decision to get a return ticket to Vancouver, Canada and guest what? They’d been waiting there for 19 hours! Yes, you read correctly! NINETEEN HOURS!!
9. Then a PAL supervisor read a number outlaid that skipped this couple’s number and he went berserk. He stood up and yelled, “You can’t do that! Why did you skip our number? We’ve been waiting here for 19 hours?” I assessed the dialogue and I joined him in his protest. And this PAL supervisor got back to yesterday’s numbers before going to the set of numbers which included mine.
10. He thanked me for my support and his wife gave him a piece of paper another couple gave them yesterday who chose not to wait overnight before getting served. The number she gave Jo was just 40 numbers after theirs! Right then & there, I realized we might have only a few hours before getting that coveted boarding pass! It was less than 2 hours when we were served and we walked out with a boarding pass and assigned seating!
11. Sunday, March 13 a day before domestic Manila Lockdown, we arrived at the International airport unloaded our luggage and made the mad rush indoors through security and we looked at the long line of almost 100 people ahead of us with many seniors in wheelchairs. I asked why the line was so long and I was told that they were checking temperatures and luggage too! I returned to tell Jo, when she waved in panic that we were in the wrong line! A young porter asked, “Ma’am, where I going?” Jo said, to LA. Porter: “Direct flight, ma’am?” Jo said “No, via Japan!” Porter: “I’ll help you get to the right line!” And as we followed him, we were 2nd in line. There was only one person ahead of us!”
12. We praised God for another answered prayer! As we had our temperature checked and we cleared the airport and waited in a quiet lobby for our PAL flight to Japan. We wondered about the 100 or so others in the direct flight to LAX if they made their flights!
13. The stopover in Japan was only 2 hours and the PAL flight to LAX was half full and so we had an entire row to sleep during the 15 hour flight home.
14. When we landed in LAX, and got our luggage at baggage claim, I expected a long line but there was just our flight and we got through custom without a temperature check and one question was asked from us–“Did you bring meat in?”
15. The next prayer answered was we had no-one to take us home, and while we were waiting for our luggage I made a call to Modern Shuttle who had driven us March 4 and I made friends with the owner of this shuttle service. I explained to him that I had made reservations online in Japan and if he could send a driver to pick us up at LAX. He did send a driver in 30 minutes right from B6 column in front of the Bradley International Airport. Praise God!
16. So for the most part this week, we’ve been self-quarantining at home with the exception of the elusive rice run to 99cents store, Costco, Sam’s Club, local Filipino store, etc…but could not find a sack of rice. But God provided us small bags of rice, bread, soup, and toilet paper to hold us for this past week.
17. Finally, we did our very first E-check for COVID-19 screening over the phone and explained to the doctor that we want a written medical certificate that we were well enough to get back to work. He approved one for Sunday, March 29! Praise God!
18. Except for a response to group text here and there to some ministry leaders, and a video chat with Pastor Lambert, we’ve been pretty quiet and isolated, but a question from Noble if we knew of seniors who needed a grocery run piqued my pastoral conscience. I asked her if she was volunteering and I have yet to get her response.
20. So here is my Faith in Action on this Sabbath, March 14 that as we worship in this unprecedented global COVID-19 crisis, I am offering myself as a conduit to do grocery run for people who do not have family or friends to do this for them. I can find others who will volunteer to do this and I myself starting Monday, March 30 can do the grocery run and deliver food to your homes. Any takers? Or has our God provided for your needs as He has provided for ours, too?
21. Our God is faithful to His promises to provide, heal, forgive, and restore us to our true identity as sons and daughters of the Gracious & Merciful God who is Victorious not only over coronavirus COVID-19, but over our pain and sins, too!

Let’s trust He is still in control, serve one another as we can, and prepare to live with Him past this COVID-19 crisis and into Eternity!
Stay Calm. Trust God. Serve one Another.

In His Name,
For His Fame,
Pastor Dan & Auntie Jo

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *