Greetings from Mindoro!
Thank you so much for your prayers! By God’s grace I am writing this from the Batangan village of Balangabong!
God is able to work more powerfully in response to His children’s prayers, and I could tell that there were many prayers going up for the Batangan as I began my move, Thursday, March 1. Previously, every time that there has been a big development with the project, there has been some sort of attack. As I packed, said goodbye to my family in Pandarukan, and started South, I was braced for something to happen. Nothing did.
I arrived at the trail head late in the evening with Delpin and Soosing, the two Alangan who had volunteered to go down with me and help me move. I found that no one seemed to know that I was coming. Delpin went ahead to see if there was anyone who could help carry some of my junk up the mountain, but he arrived back reporting that there was no one who could help.
“Oh boy, here we go again,” I thought to myself. “Here I’ve packed up my house in Pandarukan and traveled halfway across the island, and now we’re going to have a repeat of Tamisan. We’ll finally get my stuff up there only to find that they’ve called an impromptu meeting to tell us that they’ve changed their minds and we’ll have to go.”
As we started up the mountain, though, in the falling dusk, we heard whooping off in the distance, and a few minutes later the leaders of the church appeared, panting from running all the way from their mountain farm. “We’re so sorry!” they said. “We knew you were coming, but we were delayed upriver. Don’t worry, everything is fine and we’re thrilled that you are here.”
Praise God, and thank you for your prayers!
Friday night, after vespers, and after everyone went home, I went back to the church and spent quite a while worshiping and praying for these people and my ministry. I found out later that at that very time, back in Pandarukan, Ramon’s son Dipi became so sick that Ramon and several others took him to the district hospital. Several other children in the village became sick at the same time, including two of Standing's children. It seems that if he couldn’t get at me, the Devil was going to get at whoever he could.
Despite the commotion in Pandarukan, several Alangan showed up Sunday morning to help build my new house and get to know their Batangan brothers. I took a quick break this morning to write this, and as I type one team of people is thatching the roof while another is splitting bamboo for the floor. Within a week or two I should be able to move in!
As soon as the house is done I will be able to give myself wholeheartedly to language learning. It is such a blessing already knowing Tagalog. Because of this I have been able to immediately communicate at about a 3 on a scale of 1-5. Tagalog is not their heart language, however, and we both struggle to express ourselves sometimes. I long to speak Batangan proficiently. As we walk upriver to cut posts, or sit on my rafters thatching the roof, I collect words, phrases, and sentences, and am working on making a Batangan-Alangan-Tagalog-English dictionary. I already have half a notebook worth of words and phrases waiting to be entered into my Excel template.
God is very good! I am finally among my people. The language and culture in this lowland Batangan village has become quite mixed with the lowland Filipinos, but it is my start (there are several elders who know the true Batangan ways, and I intend to tap them heavily). Thank you so much for your prayers and support! The work has finally begun! Please continue to pray, though, remembering the Alangan as well. Also please pray that God will give me wisdom and will guide my tongue. I keenly feel my lack of wisdom. Thank you!
In His Service,