Death of a Pastor. . .

June 23, 2008

We were about to end the Men’s Conference last Saturday when a colleague showed me an sms on his phone. One of our elder pastors in Southern Luzon died from a cardiac arrest early that morning. Ptr. David Oloya has passed on.

I was on the phone giving instructions to my wife who was at that time having car problems, when the Area Superintendent in Southern Luzon approached me and shared some very recent events with Ptr. Dave. He said that last June 16, Pastor Dave celebrated his 77th birthday. The church leaders gathered around him and presented to him a birthday cake (it was his first bday cake) and he blew the candles. The Superintendent said “he was a picture of perfect happiness” at that time. It turned out to be a wonderful birthday gift, a wonderful time with people who loved him, a wonderful time to honor the man of God because he was about to go home.

In 2004, Ptr Dave was sent to Kerala, India to teach at a livelihood center there as part of the denominational missionary efforts. I still remember him sitting with us inside the office of the national director as we were waiting for the send-off ceremonies downstairs. I was part of the Missions Board at that time and part of the sending ceremonies would be to ask some questions we would like to ask our missionaries before they take off. I remember asking him why in his old age would he want to go overseas to become a short-term missionary?

Ptr. Dave was quiet for awhile and then slowly opened his hands before me and said ” Pag tinitignan ko nga ang mga kamay ko na kulubot na… tinatanong ko nga ang God kung may magagamit pa ba Siya sa mga kamay na ito? Ang sabi ko sa Panginoon – gamitin lang Niya ang mga kamay na ito ng naaayon sa kanyang kagustuhan…” (When I look at my wrinkled hands, I could not help but ask the Lord if He could still use these hands? I told the Lord to use these hands according to His purpose and will…”)

What he said 4 years ago never left me. I can still picture him infront of me with his wrinkled hands open before my eyes. I was asked to say the prayer at the send-off ceremonies. There were no dry eyes in that conference hall that afternoon. God in His abounding grace and mercy, has deemed to send 2 senior citizens to India so that through their skills, the gospel will be preached.

Ptr. Dave Oloya is now with the Father. He has faithfully served the Lord for 30 years.

Thank you Lord for the life of Ptr Dave. Thank You for your life that has been made manifest in His. Thank you for the impact that his life had on the people, communities, churches and outreaches that he did. Thank you for loving him and sustaining him throughout his physical life. We have been blessed by who he has become.

I am looking at my hands as I type this and the same prayer is being formed in my lips.

“Lord, I also open my hands and wonder how you could use these. Use these hands according to your will and purpose in my life…. Thank you for the privilege of participating in your Kingdom work. Our efforts are puny and we make a lot of mistakes. But I realize now that we do not need to worry too much about the results because it is not about us, it is all about YOU. ”

In Jesus’ name.

AMEN.

PS. Ptr Dave – I will see you in heaven. The next time I see you and you open your hands, I will see how glorious your hands have become.

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My Philippine Airlines flight was more than an hour delayed…. it seems like they are back to their infamous PAL tag (Philippine Airlines … er… Plane Always Late…)

 Before boarding the plane, we heard the announcement requesting for 7 volunteers because they overbooked the flight. This brought back memories when I volunteered back in Dec of 1997 when my Northwest Airlines flight from Kansai, Japan was also overbooked bound to Manila.  It was nice to stay in a hotel for free – and be given $400 for your “sacrifice”.

 PAL tried to do the same thing – but the offer wasn’t as tempting, so to speak, and besides my schedule for this short visit was packed.

 The plane was supposed to leave at 8AM… but we arrive in Puerto Princesa at 10:30AM… because the plane left at about 9:30AM.  It was just amazing how we tolerate these inconveniences.  PAL did not offer even cold water to the passengers as we waited and waited…

 I sat next to an old Japanese man.  He slept most of the time. I tried to sleep as well but there were some Koreans talking and I could not sleep because of the volume of their voices.  When we saw the Honda Bay and I peered into the window, the Japanese man next to me tried to start a conversation…”You going home?”  “No… i am here for visit…how about you? “Diving… I go diving…” now that explains the tan and his outdoorsy look… “I dive in Tubbattaha….”… and I thought to myself… “wow….. nice for you to enjoy what we have here… many of us could not even afford to see our own beautiful destinations..”

 Landing at the airport and trying to get your luggage from a much -delayed plane was a nightmare.  There were 2 sporting events back to back in Palawan… a regional sportsfest (just finished) and a national sportsfest (to start next week). But the athletes from different schools have started to arrive…

 All these people converging in a Palawan – yet the airport was being renovated… and so a makeshift arrival area was hurriedly done with a small conveyor belt…(the last time in Dec2006, we had to get our luggage from where they were dropped off, just outside the building…)  and my mind was racing to the following questions:

 Why did they host the national sporting events when these basic requirements are not being met?  How come no one is guiding the flow of the people?  How come it is so chaotic when this place is one of our top destinations? There was clear tohu and bohu  the likes of which I had never experienced in smaller airports around the country…

Anyways… today, the drive to Bahile – was really great.  The highway was really awesome.  Hanjin -made… Koreans ( i thought about the loud passengers ) but what was really nice was the surroundings. the green landscape and the beautiful Honda Bay…. and I remembered how I loved Palawan.

 Back in 2003, I remember walking through the fields for about 2 hours to get to our youth camp… and several hundreds of meters away i could hear the familiar camp yells… I remember the beautiful vistas… what a beautiful place….

 And how can I forget visiting the Sub-terranean river?  One should see the place at least once in his lifetime.  The handiwork of the Lord is seen even under the mountains…. it was a very spiritual experience coming out of the 4Km boatride through the river…

 I love Palawan, despite some of the traveling inconveniences…. it is the destination that matters… I know some would say otherwise.. it is the journey that matters…

 Well, the journey matters as well… but the inconveniences along the journey would be dwarfed into insignificance once we reached our destination.

 Similar to our journey to heaven… our life now matters here and we need to pay critical importance to making our lives count for eternity… but once we reach our heavenly destination, all the inconveniences, all the difficulties, all the problems, all the hardships will soon be forgotten… so now while we are in this journey, do not forget where this journey will eventually take you.

How we make this journey matters, but the destination matters more….