CAMP POINT, Ill. — Steve Keppner and his son, Jake, are taking father-and-son bonding to a new level – and distance.

The Keppners will be part of a 10-person mission trip this month, a two-week sojourn of more than 8,000 miles that will take them to the Philippines.

Steve and Jake, along with their pastor, the Rev. Cecilia Granadosin, a native of the Philippines, will be representing the Columbus and Mount Sterling United Methodist churches.

Jake, a 16-year-old high school junior, first became interested in the trip last year when he heard about it at a church function. His father soon knew his son was determined to make the pilgrimage, which will see the Methodist group help build a community center on Palawan, which lies between the South China and the Sulu seas.

“I couldn’t let him go alone,” Steve said.

Jake, although eager to be part of such an adventure, also knows that the time with his father will be extremely special.

“I really appreciate my dad for doing this with me,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people from a different country and seeing how they live. I hope I can appreciate what we have (in this country).”

Palawan is in the southeast part of the islands and is known for its striking landscapes.

“This is considered one of the most beautiful areas of the world,” Granadosin said. “Much of it is untouched.”

Steve said he and Jake are the first members from the tiny rural west-central Illinois church to be part of such a mission trip.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “I’m sure this experience will change our perspectives.”

Steve also is looking forward to sharing the venture with his son.

“Jake likes adventure, but he is a very quiet and respectful kid,” Steve said.

Granadosin, who pastors at both the Columbus and Mount Sterling churches, has nothing but praise for Jake.

“He assists with the children’s ministries and helps take care of the parsonage,” she said.

The Keppners, who live in Coatsburg, have been longtime members of the Columbus church and appreciate the family atmosphere found there, Steve said.

“A lot of Sundays, we might only have about 12 people in attendance,” he said.

The rest of the mission trip participants will come from a United Methodist Church in the Rushville-Industry area, which is pastored by the Rev. Steve Granadosin, Cecilia’s husband. The Columbus, Mount Sterling and Rushville-Industry churches are all part of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, which is providing financial assistance for the trip through a $10,000 grant. A $5,000 grant from the Fellheimer Foundation in Macomb also is helping.

There have been few problems working out the details of the mammoth journey.

“We started planning about six months ago, and things have just worked out,” Cecilia Granadosin said.

Especially for a father and his son.