MEANS Retreat 2015


Called to Serve

  1. PRAY. That God will be glorified in our midst; for His presence and power of the Holy Spirit and that all will come back refreshed, encouraged to continue in serving the Lord.
  2.  Safe travel and protection – We will all be traveling from different states: California, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Pray for good travel weather.
  3.  Speaker David Salstrom – retired missionary who served for 37 years in the Philippines as teacher at Febias College of Bible and Asian Theological Seminary. He will be teaching on Philippians 2:1-11
  4.  Bible Study Leaders   – Wisdom and new insight from the Word – Philippians 2:1-11. The BS leaders are: Amy, Grace, Paul, and Gilda
  5.  Media persons – Rob and Hannah. Bong – that there will be no problems in using technology
  6.  Praise and Worship Coordinators– Ramon, Grace, JD and Yuri
  7.  Children’s Retreat – Elma and Hannah – Creativity to make each lesson alive and interesting. For the children to come to know Jesus Christ in a personal way.
  8.  Logistics Coordinators – Lea and Christine – little details to make our stay fun and relaxing
  9.  Retreat Coordinators – Carmena, Lina, Grace and Ramon
  10.  MEANS Board meeting –. Wisdom for Lina as she leads the board meeting. For new vision in the ministry.

Retreat Information:  28th Annual Retreat

Theme: Called to Serve

Date: September 5,6,7

Venue:  Cedar Valley Retreat Center, Wi

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Gleanings: MEANS Retreat 2014


BE Bold. Take Risk.

Each year we have our annual retreat to be refreshed and nourished.   It is interesting to discover that the flavor of each retreat is different. God the Holy Spirit works in various ways to meet what we need most in every retreat. This year, many of us were again blessed. I am sharing my impressions and have requested some to share their experiences at the retreat. The snippets are designed to give you a glimpse of our small community as we make memories together at the MEANS annual retreat each year.


Amy and Elma

Amy and Elma

“Two days before the retreat, I was resigned to the fact that my health condition will not allow me to go. But God, in His perfect timing, graced me with some healing the day before and I was glad I made it to the retreat. Aside from the physical rest and relaxation that I experienced, I was blessed spiritually and encouraged as I connected and reconnected with other volunteers who have gone through difficult circumstances and yet were able to rejoice in those circumstances. I got to know more people intimately through a small group bible study as we realized that we have the same struggles in raising families, in our walk with God and the ministry God has involved us in. Another story that stood out for me was the one that Paul, my husband, shared during our Monday devotions about being poor and yet being rich before God. It encourages me to be faithful in my giving and to give joyfully as one that God has entrusted with His resources.” Elma Samuelson, Global Volunteer, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Next Generation volunteers

Next Generation volunteers

This past retreat we had a lot of time for fellowship with each other. If there is one thing that I realized about MEAN volunteers, it would be that, collectively, we are a family, an inter-generational family. The wide range of ages allows each to share wisdom, stories from the past, and learned lessons. At the retreat, the young and the old were able to catch up with each other and strengthen relationships at deeper level than what can be done over lunch or during a short break at a MEANS workday. The most important thing that makes MEANS volunteers a family is the support given to everyone. We celebrate together, we mourn together, we pray together, and we can go through anything together.Anna Borromeo, volunteer, student at Il Math and Science Academy (IMSA), Aurora, Il


It was a great joy connecting with everyone at MEANS and hearing about how the Lord is moving among many of the ministries that MEANS is supporting in the Philippines! I learned that our fears keep us from taking risks for the Lord and I have been challenged to be more diligent to make more sacrifices to invest in His Kingdom, to be more courageous in being obedient to Him, and to be more trustful of His provision and providence in my life (Hebrews 11:6) Paul Samuelson, Global Volunteer, Grand Rapids, Michigan


Borromeo Family

Growing up, I was always excited to attend the annual MEANS Retreat. At 21-years-old, this still holds true today. The annual retreat has always been a time to make great memories filled with food, fun, and fellowship. For me, this year’s retreat was a time of reflection – a time to sit back in awe and wonder of all the blessings that God has provided. During the retreat I heard numerous stories about how MEANS came to be and how God has continued to equip MEANS with supportive donors, exceptional leaders, and dedicated volunteers. Listening to these stories was a perfectly timed reminder that despite my uncertainty with my future plans, God’s plan for me is certain, and if it His will then there is always a way. Once again, the 2014 MEANS Retreat was another retreat filled with great memories; I can’t wait to see what the next retreat has in store! Kate Borromeo, MEANS volunteer , student at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

The retreat place is a bit far from where I live. However, the place is beautiful and those who attended to us are all very friendly. I enjoyed that a lot. It is inspiring to meet people who have donated their 3rd Saturday of every month for decades to volunteer for the MEANS ministry. I also like seeing the video interviews of the MEANS recipients and missionaries. At my first retreat, five years ago, I saw the greetings of Elpis missionary in Maesot, Thailand to the MEANS family and I ended up visiting them two years later. I plan to go back this winter.   It was nice to see the video about other MEANS ministry partners at this year’s retreat.          Steve Dykehouse, MEANS friend and donor from   Adrian, Michigan

I echo most of the comments from attendees that Cedar Valley Retreat Center in Wisconsin is very ideal for our retreat. From all the MEANS retreats I have attended so far, I can say that this latest has provided volunteers greater opportunity to take on leadership, planning and execution. I was thrilled to see Rampi Hontanosas and Hannah Mooi leading the group in one of the sessions. I was encouraged to see greater visibility of the Rochas in the program, and also the folk dance presentation from Grace, Myla, Kate and Anna with Gilda Panaligan’s coaching. I like the materials provided in the retreat; 1) the milestones of faithful service.- it is encouraging to see the years of service for  each volunteer; 2) MEANS core values – it is important for volunteers to be always reminded of these values; 3) ECFA’s seven standards of Responsible Stewardship – another valuable material for MEANS. Providing these materials regularly sends a message that these are important to the culture of MEANS. Overall, I believe the retreat was a success. For me, it provided a venue for spiritual refreshment and renewal. I look forward for this every year. Amy Javelosa – Rio, MEANS Board Secretary, Hayward, California

 MEANS Retreat – Postscript from Lina Padilla, MEANS Board Chair

imageIt was Friday noon.   I was finishing some work so I could leave the office at 1:00 p.m. to go to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I wanted to be there on time with Carmena to pick up Amy Javelosa Rio, MEANS board member, who was   arriving from San Francisco at 4 p.m. that day. From O’Hare we planned to drive to Cedar Valley Retreat Center for the annual MEANS retreat from August 29-September 1, 2014. The retreat is a once a year event where MEANS volunteers gather together to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday routine at work and at home.   The MEANS families of volunteers are looking forward to this yearly event. At the retreat, we planned to have some concentrated time to fellowship with one another, talk and assess the ministry of MEANS, pray and worship together, listen to our invited speaker, study the bible, play together, plan for our next ministry strategy, and have our board meeting. Some of our global volunteers (those who live outside Illinois) from Michigan, Wisconsin and California planned to join us, too. This time, we were expecting Frank, a guest of Steve Dykehouse, who came all the way from Spandau, Germany, to join us.

After many months of living under stress at work and at home,   I was ready to go. When Carmena, Amy and I arrived that Friday evening at Cedar Valley Retreat House, in Wisconsin, a sense of peace came over me.   I was again reminded of how beautiful and peaceful the place is. I knew as soon as we arrived that God’s presence will be manifested in our midst that weekend.

During the retreat, I was tremendously blessed to witness the dedication and commitment of the MEANS volunteers to serve Him. I cannot but praised the Lord to see all of them working together in love and unity, helping each other, no matter how daunting the tasks were. I was overjoyed to see bigger children taking care of the smaller ones; looking after them, playing together despite their age gaps. It was refreshing! The participation of the MEANS volunteers in taking more responsibilities in running the retreat was a definite proof that all of us in MEANS were putting into action the theme of the retreat which was “Be Bold. Take Risks.”

The morning devotions led by Paul Samuelson, from Grand Rapids, encouraged us and prepared us in our prayer time. The message and bible study on Nehemiah reminded me to be bold and take risk – at whatever challenge I will be facing with God’s enabling grace. On the last night of the retreat, I chatted with some of the MEANS volunteers who were still awake after our fun night. Unexpectedly, it turned out to be a sharing of stories of how each one became a volunteer of MEANS…and how God orchestrated all the events that would lead them to be involved in MEANS. I said to myself…”we need more times like these to allow God to show us His workings. Sharing stories like that will open our eyes to see God’s hand in every detail of the MEANS story.

One of the highlights for me was the surprise party that the MEANS volunteers gave.   It was a blast! To listen to what each one had to say about me humbled me. And I quietly prayed….”thank you Lord, to you belong all the glory and honor.” I was glad to see ministry partners greeting me through a video tape that was put together by Rampi Hontanosas, our It volunteer. I cannot thank God enough for Rampi, who took the time and effort to create a video for their surprise party for me.

Thank you so much my MEANS family. I am tremendously proud of you all. You give me great joy.


Typhoon Haiyan Recovery Initiatives at MEANS

Give the gift of HOPE. These are the MEANS initiatives to help children heal and recover from the trauma  caused by Typhoon Haiyan. These initiatives will empower  our ministry partners in the Philippines  to enable them   demonstrate Jesus’ compassion for the children.

Small Steps. Big Impact. Great Rewards.

ImageFeed Projects – This is a fun day event for the children living in the disaster area.  There will be storytelling, games, clowning and other fun activities. The children will be served nacks and lunch. A string backpack containing   bath soap, face towel, toothbrush, toothpaste and comb will be distributed to the children. They can also use the string backpack as school bag. These string backpacks are made locally by mothers affected by the tyhoon. ImageRead to Grow Project – to provide books to the local libraries in the communities we serve that are affected by the typhoon.  Many school books were damaged.  MEANS will give books and help  established  reading centers in the community for children. A Read-to-Grow Reading Center is a safe place for underprivileged and traumatized children and young adults to go to.    Reading these books will open their  minds to the reality of God’s love, His presence in the world and will teach them good Christian values. The children story books are written by Filipino authors and printed  by OMF Literature Publishers  in the  Philippines.

Solar Radios Project – The radio is  fixed tuned to DYVS (West Visayas)  – a local Christian radio station  managed by Far East Broadcasting Company, International.  FEBC  shares the love of God through the air. Programs are broadcasted using the local dialect  of the people where the station is based . Listening to variety of programs that are offered, including bible teaching, Christian music,  local news , etc. in  their own   dialect  will help  typhoon survivors  not to feel isolated  and in their emotional recovery.  Solar radio broadcasts can reach rural and far flung areas, which are otherwise unreachable, because of  infrastructure damaged due to  Typhoon Haiyan.

ImageFlip Flops –  Flip-flops (rubber slippers) will help protect children’s feet from rough terrain, infection, and soil-based diseases. Some soil-based diseases not only cause physical symptoms, but create cognitive impairment too, crippling a child’s long-term potential. The children’s feet are usually neglected by relief workers because   primary needs are met first before other needs. Flip Flops – are less expensive to purchase in the Philippines but at the same time not a priority to most people in   poor communities. The Flip Flops are purchased locally. We believe that purchasing local goods will help generate income and help the local economy, as well.

 Our local ministry partners have the information, the network , the capacity, and the volunteers to help in the implementation of MEANS projects and distribution of donations in kind to typhoon survivors.