MEMORIES FROM THE PHILIPPINES – GETTING ACCLIMATED

 

 

 

The furniture was sold, the possessions we kept were placed in metal barrels to be stored, and the luggage was packed.  It was now time to leave for the airport.  Do I dare share this?  Well, since confession is good for the soul, I guess I will.  We missed our flight, “Oh me!”  What can I say,  except, “Oh me”?  We waited at the airport for the next flight out.  Praise God! We were blessed to get it, but we had seats in the very back row.  You know the ones that don’t recline?  That’s the price you pay for not being ready on time. It was a long flight, and we were already exhausted from all the preparation to leave the country.  Praise God, we were on the plane to the mission field at last!

We were met at the airport in Manila by a Filipino minister.  This was my first time in Asia and it was HOT and HUMID!  My husband had previously come to the Philippines  to spy out the land.  Pastor wanted us to go to Baguio City first, so we might get acclimated to the culture and pray for guidance as to  where the Lord wanted us to start a church and Bible School.   Baguio City, located on the island of Luzon, is a cooler place in the Philippines as it is located in the mountains and it was a good place to ease us more comfortably into the country.  It was of course very different from America.  One of the first things I remember about our first days in Baguio was awaking to a very strong smell of cooking garlic in the air.  It seems folks  were  up very early while still dark outside and cooking breakfast.

There were a lot of hills in Baguio and the weather was cool but damp.  In fact, it was even chilly at times.  We mainly walked wherever we were going. Taxi fare was expensive and was to be used sparingly.  A funny thing to be mentioned here  regarding the various times we had to go to the immigration office in Manila to deal with our visas.  You had two choices of buses.  One was the air conditioned bus, which of course was more expensive,  but it was freezing inside and the music was always blasting!  Or you could take the bus that didn’t have air conditioning, windows open, but very crowded with not only people but with cargo and animals also.  What would you choose?  Then once in Manila, we would take a taxi to immigration.  That was wild to say the least!  You haven’t seen a traffic jam until you’ve been to Manila.  One taxi driver to our astonishment even drove over and onto the sidewalk in order to get around the vehicles ahead of him!

Mindanao was in my husband’s heart, so that is where we went to start God’s work.  Different people we met tried to discourage us from settling in Cagayan de Oro City.  We were told to go to Cebu where the housing was nicer.  Well, we weren’t there for a nice house, although later, the Lord blessed us with a nice apartment in a beautiful location.  The Lord has always blessed us, no sad stories here.  Upon arriving in Cagayan de Oro a Chinese Christian and his  Filipino wife extended their hospitality to us and we stayed in their home till we we found a place of our own.  We will always be grateful for Sonny and Julie Lim.

The Philippine islands are an archipelago of over 7,000 islands lying about 500 mi (805 km) off the southeast coast of Asia. The overall land area is comparable to that of Arizona. Only about 7% of the islands are larger than one square mile, and only one-third have names.  In  2011 the estimated population was a staggering 94 -101 million people. There are 8 main dialects from about 175 dialects.   Tagalog and English however are considered to be the main languages.

You can see how being a new missionary in the Philippines could be somewhat daunting.  After finding a place to live, and getting some necessary household goods, the next thing on the agenda was to get a building for church.  My husband and Brother M., our Filipino interpreter and co-worker, scoured the city for a suitable place.  My husband wanted an attractive building, easily accessible with good exposure.  He wanted something that could be used for a church and a school, at least to start with.  What they found was a native style A-frame  building that met this criteria.  The Lord had definitely answered prayer.  Brother M. was constantly talking about the building being in the heart of the city, in an excellent location.  He liked to tell how my husband would not be satisfied with just any old place.  He was amazed how the Lord provided such a prime place to have church.  It was on a busy jeepney route, easily accessible and people knew where it was located.  It was right on the corner of Ramon Chavez and Corrales, a free-standing building next door to the Hotel Mindanao.  My husband and brother  made the pulpit area very attractive with native mats on the wall like wall paper.  We were pleased! The Lord had blessed and answered our prayers.  Here is picture of the outside of the church.

A couple came to our church who taught at Kung Hua Chinese School, where our son attended.  The wife’s father had some property he wanted to donate for the Bible School.  It was in a rather remote area called Santiago and was not close to any large city. Therefore it was deemed unsuitable for a Bible school since the students needed  to be close to a city in order to find jobs.  This elderly gentlemen had previously been the mayor of his barrio.  On one occasion we were on our way to Surigao del Sur and stopped in Santiago to visit.  It just so happened that this gentlemen had gotten married that day and was having his wedding reception.  He graciously invited us to the festivities. I saw an elderly Manobo woman elegantly dressed and thought to myself, “this must be the blushing bride!”  Momentarily he said, “Pastor meet my wife.”  Imagine our surprise when this seventy something year old gentlemen introduced us to his shy 17 year old wife!”  Brother  M. laughingly said, “Oh, old caribao eats young grass!” A funny memory from those early days.  (The Manobo are several people groups who inhabit the Island of Mindanao and can be traced back to the early Malay peoples, who came from Southeast Asia. In later years, we had a young Manobo man that came to the Bible School.)

The Lord was gracious, and we give Him all the glory for His goodness to us in a foreign land.  We generally found the people lovely and very hospitable.  It is difficult to really explain all that the Lord did for us in those days.  Lord willing, I will share more experiences in upcoming posts.  I will close with this song for world missions simply entitled “Go”.

Bless You till next time.

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