OJ Palawan 2016: Make His Love Well-Known

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Operation Jabez is an annual medical and evangelical mission trip organized by Agape Rural Health Program and Agape Christian Fellowship of UP College of Medicine. When I was invited to join the OJ 2016, I immediately prayed for it and the Lord inspired me to join the mission trip. I am excited to go out of the campus and join the mission trip. This is my fifth evangelical mission trip but this is my first medical mission. My Christian organization in UP Diliman: UP Dormitories Christian Fellowship conducts an annual mission exposure trip. I was the head of UP DCF Mission Exposure Trip to Sorsogon in 2012. I was also able to join the MET in Quezon Province last 2013. I also joined Philippines Beach Mission in Pundaquit, Zambales last 2015 and 2016. Although I attended several mission trips, every mission trip has its own lesson to learn, insights to gain and the Lord has His unique revelations every mission trip. I am thankful to my titos and titas in Dubai who supported me financially for this mission trip. Thank you to Tita Liezel, Tita Bek, Tita Agang, Tito Jeff, Tito Daw and Tito Topher for their help.

I praise God for letting me experience OJ Palawan 2016. Few weeks before OJ, I am still asking the Lord if I will continue with OJ because I still have personal concerns that I have to settle with the Lord. I am kinda hesitant about joining OJ but I have already booked my plane ticket for the mission trip. I praise God for the counsel from a Kuya in Agape who encouraged me to still join OJ because the Lord will really use this experience in teaching me a lot of things and helping me deal with the challenges that I am going through. So I decided to join the OJ this year and I had no regrets in joining the trip.

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Dra. Ding Miguel, head of OJ Palawan 2016

Palawan is an endemic province for malaria, a parasitic disease cause by Plasmodium falciparum and transmitted by mosquitoes. We have to take doxycycline as prophylaxis to protect us from the disease. Dra. Ding Miguel led the OJ Palawan 2016 Team. She is a practicing internist at Puerto Princesa, Palawan and a graduate of UPCM. She is Ate Jab's mom. I learned a lot about missions and community health service from Tita Ding. She inspired me to really go to places, to the ends of the Philippines to give physical and spiritual healing. I was inspired by Tita Ding's dedication in giving service to the poor and needy through the Agape Rural Health Program.

Before our flight to Palawan, I was thinking about the things that I can contribute to the medical mission since I am still a first year medical student back then, I  still don't know much about clinical care, I don't know how to circumcise etc. I was asking the Lord if I will be useful during the mission trip. And then the Lord encouraged me through His Words in the Bible to just go and join the trip and He will equip me with the things that I need for the trip. Since I already joined several mission trips before, I am familiar with different ways of sharing the Gospel to the public. I was able to use it during the mission trip especially the use of magic tricks to get the attention children before sharing the Gospel. I praise God for this opportunity to be used in the furtherance of His kingdom in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. 

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OJ Palawan 2016 Team sorting the medicines that will be used for the medical and dental mission

We arrived in Puerto Princesa on June 1, 2016. Our first day was devoted to arrival and sorting of medicines for the medical  and dental mission. The actual medical mission started on June 2. We started our day with a devotion and prayer time led by Kuya Marvin. The team was then divided to two groups and our group was assigned to Binduyan.

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Clar and I sharing the Gospel to the patients while waiting for their consultation

The barangay health workers already prepared the place for us. They already got the vital signs of some of the patients. We gathered the patients first and we conducted public health lecture about soer eyes or conjunctivitis. After that we shared the Gospel to the patients. I used the wordless book in sharing the Gospel to the patients. I praise God for the active participation and attention of the patients to the message that I shared. After sharing the Gospel, I prayed for all of them that they may grow more in their relationship with Jesus and that may they truly accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

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Tita Ding, Kura A, Kuya Marvin, Kuya Ithran, Ate Kat and Ate AJ seeing patients for consultation

After sharing the Gospel, the consultants started their clinics. The team was divided in different stations. There were members stationed in the pharmacy and there were members stationed the laboratory. During the consultation hours, we gathered the kids playing in the area and shared the Gospel to them. They were very responsive and they really listened to the message that we shared. I also showed them some magic tricks which they enjoyed. I and Clar were assigned to share the Gospel to those who haven't heard it during the mass Gospel sharing. After the first day of medical and dental mission, we went back to Puerto Princesa and ate at the famous Ka Lui Restaurant. We went back to Ate Jab's house to fix all the medicines and our personal things that we will bring for the medical mission in Banbanan and Minapla.

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OJ 2016 Team on their way to Brgy Banbanan via boat

We woke up early on June 3 because we have to leave early from Puerto Princesa. We travelled for around 3 hours before we reached Taytay, Palawan. We have to ride a boat to reach the next barangay for medical and dental mission. It took us around thirty minutes to reach barangay Banbanan. Upon arrival the barangay captain asked us to eat first in her house. We unloaded our things at the barangay hall then we went to Kap's house to eat lunch. She prepared a lot of food for the whole team. It was like a feast actually. After eating we went back to the barangay hall to set up the clinics. There are a lot of people waiting for us outside the barangay hall. They were all waiting for us since morning.

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OJ Palawan 2016 Team ready to devour the food prepared by Kap

I was assigned to the tuli mission for that day. Ate Jab taught me how to circumcise patients. She demonstrated the procedures, how to check if the patient is ready for circumcision, the aseptic techniques, how to cut and how to suture. It was very challenging at first and it took me around thirty minutes to finish circumcising my first patient. Later on, I learned how to do things quickly. During that moment, I realized that although doing surgery is exciting, it's super tiring and energy-draining. I realized how strong surgeons are because they can stand long hours of performing surgeries. I guess if your motivation is to save a patient from death, you can really endure almost anything: sleepless nights, pain and loss of energy. After circumcising several patients, I asked Sheena to replace me in doing the circumcision. I taught her all the things that I have learned from Ate Jab and she was able to circumcise the rest of the patients during that day. 

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Eric and Sheena doing public health lecture and Gospel sharing to the the patient in queue

The medical team went to Kap's house to eat dinner. But the dental team still has a lot of patients. I think they ended their clinic at around 9PM. They were all very tired because they attended to around 150 patients for teeth extraction. It was actually a very blessed experience. It was physically tiring but spiritually refreshing.

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Tita Aque, Marty and Cristelle (The Dental Team) are busy extracting teeth from their patients

Kuya Marvin asked me to lead the devotion for that night since I am part of the prayer and evangelism committee of OJ 2016. After the medical clinic closed, I finished the message that I shared for that night. I asked the Lord in prayer to help me find the best message to share the OJ Team and I was reminded by the basic and fundamental spiritual discipline which is PRAYER. Prayer speaks about the state of our relationship with the Lord. Although it is basic and fundamental, sometimes people take it for granted. So in the message I reminded the whole team that we magnify God in prayer and it is important in missions and evangelism.

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OJ Palawan 2016 Team on our way to 

The next day, the clerks from our team taught the barangay health workers about common diseases in the community such as diabetes and hypertension. They taught them how to monitor patients and what are the preventive measures that they can advise to the people in the community. After the public health lecture and capacity building for BHWs, we packed our things and we headed to the next barangay. We rode a dump truck to the next barangay. We were all holding on tightly to the sides of the truck to avoid falling off the truck because it has no door at the back. It was more than an hour of bumpy ride around the mountain. Praise God because we arrived safely at the next barangay.

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Members of the OJ 2016 after the Fellowship and Testimony Night

We unloaded our things in the barangay hall and started the clinics in the afternoon. There was a miscommunication with the barangay leaders because they were not notified about our arrival and so the community was not advised that there will be medical and dental mission. There were fewer patients from the barangay during our first day of clinic. We finished the clinic early in the afternoon and we spent the rest of the day discussing about different medical conditions with the clerks of the team. We had a small group discussion about different disease such as hyperthyroidism, hypertension, migraine etc. Since this was the last night of the mission trip, I decided to have a fellowship and testimony night. We sang songs of praise and worship, Sheena led the devotion and I facilitated the testimony night. We shared all of the things that we have learned from the mission trip and how God blessed us through this experience and we ended up praying for one another and singing the song "Weave". (Weave, weave, weave us together. Weave us together in unity and love).

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Sunday Fellowship

Because it rained heavily while we were still in that barangay, we cannot go back to the mainland to attend the Sunday service. We decided to just hold a small fellowship in the barangay. I was asked by the team to give the message for the fellowship. At first I was hesitant about it because I only have few hours to prepare. I prayed about it and I accepted the task to preach for the fellowship. We invited the people living near the barangay hall to join us in the fellowship. I talked about the reliability of the Bible and the reason why all of us should read the Holy Scripture. I used different analogies used in the Bible to encourage the people to read it. I shared to the people how the Bible was likened to honey, double-edged sword and a light and lamp. After that I shared the Gospel using the "Paper Cutting Gospel Sharing" that I learned from my friends from Campus Crusade for Christ. I praise God for the wisdom and boldness that He gave me during the preaching of His message.

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OJ Palawan 2016 spends their last two days in El Nido, Palawan doing island hopping

We spent the last two days of the mission trip for rest and recreation. The whole team decided to visit El Nido before going back to Manila. I was hesitant at first to go to El Nido because it was very far from Puerto Princesa and I broke my eyeglasses during the trip. It was really hard to appreaciate the beauty of the place without my eyeglasses. But I was convinced to go to El Nido so what we did, we left Puerto Princesa at night, we arrived in El Nido the next morning, we visited different islands in El Nido the whole day and left El Nido for Puerto Princesa at night. So it was like a one day trip back and forth Puerto Princesa and El Nido. It was very tiring but I enjoyed the trip a lot.

Let me end this blog post with the things that I learned from this mission trip.

  • First, there are a lot of people dying each day without even seeing a doctor. There are also a lot of people dying each day without even hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we have to be reminded that we are Christ's ambassadors here on Earth. We have to realize the urgency of sharing the Gospel to the people around us. 
  • Second, the field of medicine is a bountiful harvestfield for the kingdom of God. Being a medical doctor is a very strategic profession in sharing the Gospel of Christ because doctors see a lot of patients everyday. Agapeeps always say that there are more people entering the doors of the hospital than people entering the doors of the church. Aside from patients, doctors can also share the Gospel to their fellow doctors and other healthcare professionals. 
  • Third, I was reminded of the saying that "God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called". I was hesitant during the first days of OJ because it was a medical mission and as first year medical student, I only know a little about medicine. But God used the gifts that He gave me during the mission trip. 
  • Fourth, God reminded me to value my brothers and sisters in Christ. Being in a community of Christian believers like Agape helped me to always stay rooted in Christ. In times of challenges and whenever I doubt myself, the Agapres and Agates are always there to encourage me and pray for me. I experienced this during the time that I preached for the Sunday fellowship. 
  • Lastly, God is always in control and He is sovereign over all things. He holds everything at the palm of His hands. He reminded me during the trip to always trust Him despite the circumstances. There were several changes that happened during the trip but we saw how God sustained our team during this mission trip. Praise God for His love that endures forever.

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