Missionary Journeys: Bukidnon, Mount Apo

The pictures in this post are from the members of our congregation, from their recent preaching trips up into the mountains, but they are not necessarily in correct order and don’t necessarily match up with the text.  I get place names mixed up- but they depict recent missionary journeys by people I know and respect.

While here in the Philippines we attend a congregation of about 100 members, of whom at least half a dozen are preachers. All the preaching and teaching is largely in Visaya, with occasional jaunts into English depending on who is doing the preaching (one of the  oldest of the members speaks Ilocano and English better than he does Visaya, so he usually preaches in about a 70/30 English Bisaya mix.

Setting out on a missionary journey

They have so many preachers because they are very evangelistic.  Many weekends they and some of the other members are traveling to small villages of indigenous peoples up in the mountains- places that are only accessible by motorbike, or by motorcycle for a while and then walking for a few KM.  They have open air meetings by the riverside, and baptize in the river immediately afterwards.

Recently they heard an appeal from a group of young believers who want to build a meeting place so they can meet together even in the rain- because rainy season is no joke.  It’s raining as I type this, and my husband and I cannot have a normal conversation in normal tones and still hear each other. We have to raise our voices considerably.

This is the sort of church building they need forty dollars to build.

Anyway, this little baby church needs 40 dollars to build their shelter.  They have the wood.  They need the forty dollars to hire two wood-cutters who have chainsaws and to pay for the gas for the chainsaw.

This group meets in Malikongkong.  Another meets in Tambobong. Another meets in a place called Kadili. There are other names I have forgotten or am afraid of misspelling.  The names are unfamiliar to me, exotic, exciting.

One place they went, they left Davao the night before and rode their motorcycles as far as they could, and then stopped to spend the night with some other Christians.  The next morning they had to leave their motorcycles behind and walk the rest of the way- the walk took 3 hours, and they crossed the same river 6 times before they arrived to visit and encourage a new group of believers.

Another place they went because members of a rebel camp invited them, and I believe a couple of them accepted the gospel, and are anxious for our friends to return and teach them again.

In addition to the money for gas, they also are striving to get Bibles to all of these groups- there are no bookstores in the mountain villages they have visited.  We have given them about 50 Bibles in Bisaya to share, but they need more.

One of the places they preached is so high in the mountains they told me they could see their breath in the morning.  This is a novel experience for Davaoenos, where the temperature is between around 85 and 100F all year round, and even on chilly nights it is rarely below 75 (yes, I am now cold at 75, but I’ll get over it).   They said the cold wasn’t so bad, except they had gotten so dirty in their journeys they had to shower, and the showers there aren’t heated, so it was pretty painful.

They said that while they had to walk a couple hours from the riverside where they had baptisms back up into the village where the people live, they thought that the locals would have made the journey in half the time on their own, but the city dudes slowed them down and the locals accommodated their pace.

That reminds me of something interesting I realized here and meant to share: river-front property in 3rd world conditions is not prime or valuable. It’s scary.Insurance is limited, as are rescue operations.   In Davao proper, the poorest hovels are by the river, often little more than shanties.  In the mountains, where heavy rains and occasional earthquakes cause flooding and mudslides on a regular basis, the people live a safer distance from the river.

Safety, however, may not be perceived precisely the same way I see it.  If I understand my friends properly, people ride their motorcycles across this bridge:

One of the young men in his twenties, married, father of one, was telling me about the bridge and how exciting it was. His English is very good, but when I said, “Exciting? That is not the word I would use,” he thought I was giving him a free English lesson.
“Oh, that’s wrong? What is the word you would say?” He asked.

I told him, “Terrifying,” and he laughed.

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