If you've received an email from me, you have seen the following quote:
"The world cannot always understand one's profession of faith, but it can understand service." --Ian MacLaren
On Saturday, my family and I went on one of the best day trips since living in the Philippines. We met some of the most amazing people living in an amazing corner of the world doing an amazing job. What motivates them? The love of JESUS!
Before moving here, I was given the name of a couple here that we needed to meet. I conversed with this couple via email for a few months. Finally, they planned a trip to Manila to pick up supplies and we arranged to meet one another. So, in mid-January, I finally met Jim and Moni Webb. My Fondren friends should know who I'm talking about. They were two of the most passionate, friendly, humble people I've ever met. Dwayne wasn't with me when we met but I told him I was really interested in visiting them.
For a little background, Jim and Moni are an older couple who donated financially to missionary work for most of their lives. After retirement, they were asked to go to the Philippines for 6-9 months to assist with work there. They've been here almost 10 years now and live in Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. They live and work with the indigenous Filipino people and most of you probably have no idea who I'm talking about. The Filipinos that we are familiar with are mostly descendants of Chinese or Malay immigrants to the Philippines. The indigenous group of people are much darker and smaller. They have been pushed farther and farther away from the cities here; many have to live in the mountainous terrain which offers a much harder way of life. These people have been purposely left out in terms of education, employment, technological advances, etc. Their life span is about 30 years shorter than the average Filipino.
To get to Mamburao, we had to ride by car about 2 hours to Batangas, then ride by ferry for 2 1/2 hours to Abra de Ilog in Occidental Mindoro, then another 45 minute ride to Mamburao. This just got us to Jim and Moni's house. To get to the villages they serve would have taken either a 6 hour hike or another boat ride.
Last year, they built a huge house that serves as an administrative building for the missionary work, a dormitory for the transitioning missionaries, provides jobs for the villagers, has a garden for food, and is basically a place where the villagers know they can get help or feel loved or anything else that's necessary. They have taught basic hygiene like bathing, brushing teeth, proper disposal of feces (ugh, I know), eating healthier, proper rest, and probably much more. They have instilled the importance of education which proved to be difficult because these people weren't allowed to learn and didn't really understand the importance. So far, they have built 3 elementary school and have plans to build a high school.
Most of the missionaries are very young people from the Philippines, American, and Australia. They have the most colorful stories to tell. They have the maturity of people twice their ages. Most of all, they possess such humility and love that it's almost tangible.
So, this all led Dwayne and I to question ourselves. How do I serve? What more can I do? We used to do a lot more like feeding the homeless, working in food banks, donating time. Now, we primarily donate money but it doesn't offer the same satisfaction as when we donate ourselves. Granted, money is definitely necessary because it allows the work to grow but we can do more than that. When our children were born, it definitely slowed us. You can't take them everywhere and there's not always a babysitter available. I believe God has been showing me ways that we can serve with them. The main thing that keeps coming to mind is visiting the elderly in nursing homes. So many have been forgotten and abandoned. I know my babies can bring a smile to their faces and I'm sure the elderly will bring a smile to ours as well. This is something I plan to begin next month when we go back home.
Now, I ask you all. What do you do? How do you make a difference? If you don't now, I'm not trying to pass judgment because I'm not doing much myself. But, I do ask that you think about it because there are so many people in our own cities that need our love.
As always, here are pictures.
This couple are missionaries. He was telling us an interesting story about the 6 hour hike to take a little girl to a doctor. During the hike, they were literally covered by leeches.