(By: Bro Gerard & Sis. Rhea Fernandez and Bro. Ruben Badon)
Dark clouds hovered and there was a heavy downpour a day before; drops of rain cooled the summer heat in the afternoon of opening day, the threat of smashing the camps with rain drifted on the 2nd and 3rd day, but all those sceneries were simply ONE WAY of God’s Might because the Incredible becomes Indelible during the PYC Youth Camp in Sto. Niño Parish, Municipality of Mabinay, Province of Negros Oriental.
Yes..!!! Seven Hundred Forty-Seven (747) registered Campers welcomed the annual Summer Youth Camp event. They came in their natural selves, without the kind of neither urban complexities nor the worries and fears of city-life realities. Yes, they shouted naturally declaring the theme: “Choose Life, Choose Right, Choose Christ!” as it emblazoned their hearts with fervor and energy. Campers aging 12 to 30 years of age were under the guardianship of their Zone or Chapel leaders.
The CFC-FFL Dumaguete District encompassing the Provinces of Negros Oriental and Siquijor, headed by District Servant, Bro. Terly Pacaña, was commissioned by the Parish Priest, Rev. Fr. Ireneo “Dodong” Ruiz, to undertake this year’s youth camp in collaboration with his Parish Youth Council (PYC). CFC-FFL Couples, Singles & Youth from Zamboanguita, Sibulan, and the cities of Dumaguete, Tanjay, & Bais, came in droves plus the five (5) SFL-FTWs and YFL-Mission Volunteers from Manila. As pre-arranged, the first day was handled by the PYC Coordinators while the 2nd and 3rd days were administered /conducted by CFC-FFL.
On Day 1, campers registered early to hurriedly finish their zones or “Kapilya” Tents/Camps – numbering to sixty-seven (67), most of which were made of bamboo and coconut leaves adorned with curtains and some native materials. Others brought modern-day tents. Everybody was busy doing all the necessary preparations that opened up with a 10 o’clock Holy Mass. Father “Dodong”, the spiritual engineer of Sto. Niño Mabinay Parish, audibly pronounced and explained the role of every camper in the light of the theme – “Choose Life, Choose Right, Choose Christ”- in relation to the day’s Gospel. By 12 noon, campers helped in their food preparation for lunch. At 2:00 pm, Campers assembled inside the Parish Church for the opening program and orientation. Bro. Ruben Badon, the District Coordinator of CFC-SFL, joined the opening program and defined the role of CFC-FFL in the PYC Summer Youth Camp. By 3:00 pm, the Campers went back to their respective tents and prepared their “Yells and Slogans” for the program presentation at the parish church grounds after the 4:00 pm parade around the municipality’s commercial district and back to the parish church. Day 1 (April 27, 2012) ended with a boisterous show by every Zone/Chapel of their respective yells and slogans followed by a feast-like dinner with a “happy birthday song” to the CFC-FFL District Servant, Bro. Terly, who celebrated his birthday on the same date.
On April 28, 2012, Day 2 of the camp, a more promising day ahead was set before the campers to enjoy and to learn from. The CFC–FFL servants have been given this wonderful opportunity to carry out God’s plan for the campers. Spiritually-nourishing talks were delivered to the campers to feast their hearts on. The day started with a morning prayer, exercise and a sumptuous meal. The first talk, God’s Love, was delivered by the ever so kind Fr. Dodong. The campers were awed by God’s revelation of His love to all. The campers were all ears as he delivered the talk with so much vigor and conviction. After the talk, the campers were divided into two groups: the Junior Campers and the Senior Campers. They, too, have separate venues: Church and Social Hall, respectively. Once in their unique venues, they were kept entertained and awed by how the Lord God’s mercy and miracle work in their lives by the different talks delivered by the CFC-FFL servant leaders and the FTWs and Mission Volunteers from Manila. A few of the campers shared their own personal encounter with God as the talks progressed in the youth camp. General reconciliation and absolution instead of individual confession was availed of by the campers before the Baptism talk. It was a momentous activity that brought everyone to the realization of one’s own sins and that God called us to repent and be cleansed before Him. It was, indeed, a day filled with God’s grace, maneuvered by the Holy Spirit and inspired by Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrificial love.
In the evening of the same day, an Entertainment Night was held. It was a night of pure fun and joy. A showcase of God-given talents highlighted the evening of the camp. Presentations from various Zones were amazing and brought us all to a night with Christ. As the clock ticked at 11:00 pm, all campers retreated to their respective camps for a good night sleep and ready for the finale event of the next day.
The last day of the camp, Day 3, was yet another day to cherish in the lives of the campers. An early morning ‘mass bath’ was sponsored by the Mabinay Fire Department. Campers had the time of their lives when they took a bath together with friends from the gigantic shower of the Fire Truck. After the campers showered, dressed and ate, the final day of the camp took its course. After all the talks have been delivered, a Praisefest was enjoyed and heavenly experienced by the Junior and Senior Campers together. They had an awesome manifestation of God’s grace they received over the youth camp. Another exciting activity that day also was the ‘Fiesta sa Bayan lunch’ where each camp served meals outside their tents. It was superb since all you have to do is visit the tents and fill your plates with varied foods. Then, you can eat to your heart’s content. After lunch, the camp was culminated by the celebration of the Holy Mass where Fr Dodong heartily thanked all the participants-campers and the service teams coming from the PYC and the CFC-FFL community, among others, numbering no less than 100 servants. Yes, the last day of the camp seemed to be the saddest of all since campers needed to say goodbye to hellos. Campers had to leave the camp and went on to their separate ways. However, in the very corner of the campers’ hearts, they knew that the youth camp is only the beginning in living and loving God. And that wherever they go, the more they become committed to choose Life, choose Right and choose Christ in their lives.
The Mabinay PYC Youth Camp, where the CFC–FFL was called to serve, has been more than just an encounter with young believers of God but an avenue to share God’s amazing grace and power. The event has been a total blessing to the CFC–FFL Family for it has been the community’s thrust to evangelize people, young and old alike, to come before God and to know and to love and serve Him MORE.
In this year’s Youth Camp, never did God allow any obstacles to hinder this beautiful and Spirit-filled event to happen. He charged everyone with zest and commitment. He made sure workers were sent to his vineyard. As agreed beforehand with the Parish Priest and the PYC, the campers will not be automatically considered as members of CFC-FFL Community after undergoing the talks of the YFL-Youth Camp & SFL-CLS. Invitation was done during and after the last talk. In spite of the short time given for this invite as everybody was rushing to dismantle their tents and preparing to go home, about 14% was able to fill-up the Info Sheets to signify their intention to join CFC-SFL & YFL. Sixty-nine (69) Junior Campers expressed their interest to join YFL, while thirty-one (31) Senior campers signed in for SFL. This is just the first 100 campers enlightened to join CFC-SFL & -YFL, as the Singles and the Youth will be going back to Mabinay to give others another opportunity to enlist their intention to join our Community.
Despite the initial number, we have already made a big difference, and surely God is greatly pleased of these workings in His vineyard. Truly, this experience has brought us joy in bearing fruits and giving back all the glories to Him. May God be praised!