October 2022 Updates

Here are a few highlights of what is just finished, is finishing, is starting, or in the near future. Well… I guess that pretty much covers it.

Just Finished: We had a great visit with Chaplain Renato and Dr. Joy Eustaquio. They serve God in Bocaue, Bulacan. They have a center there (“The Chaplain’s Office”) that is involved in Corporate Chaplaincy, Hospital Chaplaincy, and problems with eyesight (‘low vision’). Chaplain Renato is a supervisee of Chaplain Celia, and has been a friend or partner of Bukal Life Care for many years. This last Sunday, he shared a short inspirational message on corporate chaplaincy and ministry for the CPO group.

Is Finishing: We are entering the final leg of our online Clinical Pastoral Orientation (CPO). This group of 8 with Chaplain Celia have been meeting on Sundays online for several weeks. The second weekend of October, they will all gather IRL (‘in real life’) for their final meeting, and celebration.

Is Starting. Groups of Chaplains Vo and Lyn are just starting CPE groups. Chaplain Vo’s group with working with a local ministry named KABSAT (by the way the word “kabsat” is Ilocano for “friend”) and is doing much of their practical ministry in the cancer center of Baguio General Hospital.

In the Near Future. On October 15. the Munsons were asked to join a training involving Childhood Trauma. Chaplain Celia will be one of the resource speakers for this.

Also in the near future we should have our Bukal Life Journal done. It is pretty much complete now. Just waiting on some corrections on one article. Hope to have good news soon.

Good Recent Films on Grief Counseling

There are few good movies on counseling. In the past, I have looked up movies that are focused on counseling or psychotherapy. For the most part, I found those rather disappointing. Often if one looked for an Internet list of movies on counseling, at the top of the list is Good Will Hunting. I watched the movie and felt that there were many good things about it. There is a lot of good things about that movie, but I don’t really see it as an example of good counseling.

Upon reflection of it, I think it may be a cultural issue. I live in the Philippines and that is where we do counseling. The movie takes place in the United States, and boy but does it feel like it. The main character, Matt Damon, is encouraged to not only be differentiated, but to literally disconnect from all of his social network and leave without even acknowledging those relationships. It almost sounds more like malpractice than good counseling. In the Philippines, a healthy person may need to redefine their relationships and boundaries, but they would not be seen as healthy if they simply dumped everything and ran (rode) away.

However, there are a couple of good movies I have seen lately that I think are better examples of counseling— especially in the context of loss. I won’t give a full review here. You can watch them yourselves.

#1. Worth. This movie stars Michael Keaton, and deals with the US government payments to the families of victims of the 9/11 tragedy. There is no professional counseling in this movie. However, as the movie moves forward, the people involved with working on this program learn that they have to listen to the stories and focus on the struggles and pain of the loved ones who must live on rather than focusing on money. It definitely shows not only what to do, but what not to do. It is a valuable watch.

#2. The Starling. Unlike the first movie, this is a comedy. Well, it is more of a dark comedy. The main couple (played by Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd) suffer the loss of a child. One of them becomes institutionalized and receives counseling there. The other has to try to hold things together at home, but also does receive counseling through a support group and later by a veterinarian (it actually kind of makes sense in the movie). Both of them work their way slowly through grief. The process seems pretty believable with no trite realizations or answers. Perhaps one of the best features of the movie is that the counseling was… a bit uncertain. Both the husband and wife questioned whether their counselors were competent. Counseling is not really about showing off one’s awesome skills but helping their clients grow and soon not need them. As such, the fact that the counselees question their counselors’ skills is not bad. The fact that both of them grew through the experience, and eventually found they could support each other instead of relying on their counselors, suggests a level of competence. (To be fair, if I remember correctly, Matt Damon, in Good Will Hunting also learned to doubt the competence of Robin Williams, his counselor. In some forms of care, like paradoxical psychotherapy, the goal is to intentionally try to make the client doubt the competence or even sanity of their therapist. )

Thanks Canada, from “The Art of Pastoral Care”

Our book, “The Art of Pastoral Care” has been used for Intro to Pastoral Care and Counseling, as well as Clinical Pastoral Orientation and Clinical Pastoral Education classes here in the Philippines. Not surprisingly, the largest number of this book have been given or sold here in the Philippines.

Strangely, the second largest number of this book purchased has been Canada. Not sure why. Upon doing a bit of searching, it seems that there are a couple of Christian colleges using that book as a textbook for Intro to PC&C. That is great.

We have been asked to teach a Pastoral Care course for Bible college students in the US sometime in the next few months. It will be interesting to see for ourselves how the book works for a “Western” audience.

Anyway, it is great that the book is finding use outside of the Philippines. We are looking into writing a book on Pastoral Theology as a follow-on to “The Art of Pastoral Care” and our other book, “Dynamics in Pastoral Care,” and finding that people are using our other books and benefiting from them certain encourages us to invest time in the research and writing.

The book is available at a number of places online (both paperback and e-book). But in honor of Canada, I will give a Canadian link.

September Updates

  1. CPO. Chaplain Celia is supervising Clinical Pastoral Orientation with young leaders of a church in Caloocan City. So far 3 weeks done with 6 more to go.
  2. CPE Both Chaplains Vo and Lyn will be starting online CPE groups towards the end of September. Both are expected to be online.
  3. PC club. Our office is on the campus of PBTS. The student council opened up interest clubs. In that, one our our trainees set up a Pastoral Care Club. It their activity but we are excited about this group. They are using the office and we assist as we can.
  4. Congratulations. Last month Chaplain Lyn earned her status of Diplomate Supervisor. This month, she has taken on the role of Chaplain at a school in Cebu. Also, her plans are to establish a counseling and training center in Cebu— ” Atiman Life Care Center.” We join in prayer that this will come to pass soon.
  5. It looks like Chaplain Celia will be participating as a speaker for a seminar on pastoral care and childhood trauma. The date is Sept. 17. More info to follow.
Sunday CPO

Missions Conference Visit

We tend to emphasize our work with clinical pastoral training and to a lesser extent, pastoral counseling. But there are other things we do as well. One of these is Missionary Member Care (MMC). Actually, we are partnered with OSB, a missionary sending organization in the Philippines to provide MMC services. We also partner with Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in their 555 program as part of their work in supporting Filipino missionaries while home.

August 16-18, 2022, OSB had their National Missions Conference in Koronadal City. Two from Bukal were able to attend to represent our organization. It was a great time and exciting to see how radically the Philippine church is revisioning it’s role in the world… embracing it’s role as a mission senders.

Our greeting in the conference program.

August 2022 Updates

Leaving the Pandemic behind, things have gotten a bit busy.

August 2. We had the Commissioning for our Mid-year half unit.

Above: Supervisors Celia and Vo with Trainees: Thao, Joeseph, Bhab, Jezza, Peter, Charlemagne, Mark, Jonas, Al, Ceasar, and Karlo.

August 7. Started CPO online with a ministry group in Manila. This will continue for the next 7 weeks.

“Prayerwatch” CPO Group

August 16-18. Bob and Celia Munson are representing Bukal Life Care, especially work in Missionary Member Care, in the National Missions Conference of One Sending Body (2022)

Late August. We are anticipating leading a training in Crisis Defusing in Baguio. This is with an NGO that works with schoolchildren. More info when that happens.

Other things going on such as a PC club (not founded by us, but by one of our trainees… and we hope to assist) here at PBTS. Also, making good progress on our Bukal Life Journal. We are at around 30 pages. Hope to finish before October.

Congratulations to Chaplain Lyn!

On July 30, 2022, Chaplain Merlita (“Lyn”) Montecastro had her board for Diplomate of Pastoral Supervision with CPSP-PHILIPPINES. For several years Chaplain Lyn has served as a Chaplain and Supervisor-in-Training with Bukal. Chaplain Celia served as her Supervisor.

Successful in passing her board, we look forward to seeing what is ahead for her.

Missionary Member Care

We spend a great deal of time and energy training up Pastoral Counselors and Clinical Chaplains via CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) and CPO (Clinical Pastoral Orientation). Sometimes it dominates our activities that we fail to note that we do other things as well.

One of those is Missionary Member Care. We focus on counseling for those involved with missionary work. Occasionally, we work with missionaries who are from other countries serving in the Philippines. Far more commonly, we work with Filipino missionaries serving in other countries— in short-term, medium-term, or long-term work.

The group we work most commonly with (although not the only one) is OSB (One Sending Body). Some of us will be attending their annual missions conference in Koronodal City this August (2022). This will be the first time in several years that a representative from our group was able to attend the annual gathering.

Additionally, we have been investing a fair bit of time in training missionaries to be competent in pastoral counseling. In some cases, they intend to us that as part of their ministry in their target population. However, some are intentionally being trained in hopes of providing member care services for fellow missionaries.

Missionary member care has not been taken all that seriously in Southeast Asia. Back 8 or 9 years ago, our group led a training in basic missionary member care principles. Our host, while introducing us, noted that what we were going to be teaching was “controversial.” This was not because of host disagreed with our topic. Rather, it was because our host knew that some of the hearers would be tempted to react negatively. I had been to trainings where problems in the lives of missionaries was seen as a moral failing or on some level “being weak.” Could that be the problem? Of course, but when one assumes that is always the answer, problems will never get solved.

Looking forward to finding new opportunities to support more missionaries in Asia.