Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Greetings from Mindoro!

I'm sending out a separate update this time asking for your help praying for
our well drilling project. I also wanted to update you on the church
planting side of the work, though, thus two e-mails this time.

Five church members and I spent the first half of this week in the village
of Pusog. You may remember that Pusog is the new village that we have been
working to plant a church in. Our missionary in Pusog is Ida. She is one
of our most active members despite the fact that her husband is in prison
and she is left alone to raise their 6 children. She volunteered to go to
Pusog as a missionary, and moved there about two weeks ago. We agreed as a
church to spend the first half of this week in Pusog to build a house for
Ida, and minister however else we could.

Monday morning, the people of Pusog met us on our way in with a dangerously
advanced tuberculosis patient. They asked me if I would take them in the
truck to the health center in the nearest Filipino village of Ligaya. I
sent my bag on with the rest of my people, forgetting that everything I had
was in the bag, cell phone, books, cash. When we got to Ligaya, they said
that no one was in at the center and to take the patient to the nearest town
of Sablayan. I took them on into Sablayan, and we spent about 3 hours
fighting through layer after layer of bureaucracy only to be told to come
back tomorrow. The people asked me to stop by and pick up some supplies for
them on the way back, so we ended up getting home after dark. It was quite
a day, and I was pretty hungry by the time it was over, but they were sure
happy and grateful for my help. (I'm sorry, I don't know how the patient is
at the moment. I assume that her relatives went back to the health center
the next day to pick up her medicines, but I was unable to determine for
sure before we left).

The rest of the week I pulled teeth and treated patients while the rest
built Ida's house. We had to be very careful what we said. Several
powerful leaders in the village are very opposed to us, and especially to
our converting their people. Yesterday morning one walked right into our
house, sat down, and started interrogating us as to what we were really
doing there. Speaking of a delicate matter that directly and quickly is
very counter cultural, and indicates quite a bit of agitation on his part.

Ida is originally from Pusog. She has land and relatives there, and she has
been using that as her cover. She wants to re-clear her land, and make sure
it doesn't get taken by others. She also wants to live closer to her
relatives. Both of these statements are completely true. It is also true,
though, that no one else would have been let into the village for any other

Working here is rather like working in a closed country, like one of the
project in the magazine that uses generic pictures and pseudonyms to project
the missionary's identity. We have to always have some other legitimate
reason for being in a village, other than evangelism. Our evangelism has to
be done in secret with people who show receptivity and friendliness. When
we first started working in Pusog, we would pass the village and stay with
our contact in his mountain farm, far above the village. Those who were
interested would come and visit us and ask us questions. I feel like I'm
always walking a thin moral line. I never lie (I never say anything
untrue), but we have to be very careful of how much we do say. We also have
to be careful that the cover is legitimate, that our public reason for being
in a village is true.

The good news is that two families and two young men already want to become
Seventh-day Adventists. They have stopped working on the Sabbath, and Ida
hopes to start holding simple, quiet worship services in her house this

One of the interests is a pastor from another denomination. He asked right
away to start working with our Personal Ministries team to reach the
highlanders. He plans to join the next expedition to the interior starting
November 30.

Sandy and his wife Ilene are also doing well in the village of Layaban. I
think that I have already mentioned that his daughter's illness, which was
his cover for getting into Layaban, has improved dramatically. After more
than a year of lying in bed, refusing to talk or eat, she is now up and
about. She accompanies her parents everywhere they go, and is physically
strong again.

Sandy and his wife's strength is making friends, and slowly pulling them in.
They are definitely soil preparation people. They have difficulty actively
teaching people the Bible, and asking for decisions. But they are great for
beginning the work in a place like Layaban where almost everyone is dead-set
against Christianity in any form. They have befriended the village captain,
and several other important people, and feel confident of not getting kicked
out any time soon. They are living in a house that is about 5 feet wide by
6 feet long, with a dirt porch added on. They hope to build their own house
soon, and start holding church in it.

Please keep these two villages, and their missionaries, in your prayers.
Human and spiritual opposition is strong. Slow but steady progress is being
made, though.

I am very tired. By God's great mercy my health has held. Though I have
had a cold for nearly a month now, yet I have only been bed-ridden once this
year. However, you may have noticed that my writing lately, both here and
in the magazine, has been choppy, irregular, and not very creative. I
apologize. I try to balance life as best I know how, but sometimes I have
to let something slip. I apologize that sometimes it has been my writing
that has slipped. I will continue to push forward as best I know how, and
as God leads. Thank you so, so much for your support in this work! May God
richly bless you!
Greetings from Mindoro!

It's been a while since I've been home to write to you. The news here is
that the well is dead. Of all the problems that I have faced here since
starting to work for the Tawbuid, next to convincing my people to evangelize
their fellow Tawbuid, the next most impossible problem I've faced is water.
Since I arrived here I have been struggling to procure a source of reliable,
clean water. It started with PVC hose and a decrepit water system built by
the Catholic church years ago. The case was hopeless, and so I tried to
capture a spring and install a new system. The owner of the spring and the
village captain would not permit the project.

Next I tried hiring a well driller. The driller only got 20 feet, hit our
quartz and marble rocks and gave up (and cheated my out of several thousand
pesos) Next I tried digging a well. After several attempts, and one near
fatality, I stopped the digging. Next I tried pounding a well (a common
technique here). It was a kind of desperate last attempt, doomed before it

Then last year, glory of glories, a well drill capable of drilling through
hard rocks was donated. We hired a local operator to guide us through our
first well and teach us, and then got started. We drilled for over a month.
During that month we ran into more problems than I knew could be invented by
any intelligent mind. Finally we hit water. The operator installed the
casing and pump, and we started using the well. To spare you a lot of
technical well drilling details, the system broke in less than a week.

This happened just as I was getting ready to attend Part 2 Training last
March, and then return to the States for furlough. When I got back, one of
my first projects was to fix the well. We found that the operator that we
had hired had installed a number of components wrongly (or at least not the
way we do wells in the States). We pulled his equipment out, and started
opening the borehole again.
Again we ran into more problems that I thought possible for a human to
experience. Again, we drilled for a month. When we were within one day of
finishing the project, the end of our bit broke off inside the casing in
such a way that we cannot possibly use the hole or casing anymore.

I talked to my supervisor and asked his advice. He asked me to try one more
time. He also asked me to enlist your help. I admit that I am no expert
well driller. But even when we did have an expert here, it was painfully
clear that the devil did NOT want this project to succeed. In fact, he has
made every attempt to get clean reliable water a miserable failure. I can't
fathom why this is such a big deal to him. It clearly is, though, so we
must not back down or give in.

Next week (the last week of November) we plan to begin drilling again. We
will start a brand new borehole. In the last couple of weeks of down time I
have procured some equipment that hopefully will help prevent much of the
trouble that we previously had. But I know that without God's protection
the devil can still find a way to stop this project from succeeding. I
don't know if we can afford, in either time or money, to do this again.

I want to ask for your help. Please, will you pray that this next attempt
at drilling a well will succeed, according to God's will. Please pray for
Satan to be bound, and for nothing to interfere. Please pray for our
safety, and for the equipment to not break. And most of all, please pray
for God to be glorified in this work.

Thank you!