Saturday, September 3, 2016

Greetings from Mindoro!

Today, history was made for the Tawbuid. Today, the very first Tawbuid
medical worker conducted her very first mobile clinic in the highlands on
her own.

One of my very highest priorities has always been sustainability of all
aspects of this project. Early on I made a choice that I wouldn't do
anything that the Tawbuid could not or would not do. This has limited the
ways that I could help the Tawbuid. I have seen so many wonderful mission
projects crumble into non-existance after the missionary left, however, that
I felt it was a necessary limitation in order to help guarantee that I would
leave a lasting improvement in the Tawbuid people's way of life.

My most glaring inconsistency regarding this ideal has been my medical work.
I never advertised that I knew how to treat illnesses. I never asked to
treat anyone. But when someone is suffering, and there is no other help, I
cannot stand by and watch. God blessed far beyond my limited knowledge, and
soon word got around that people who came to me for treatment recovered. I
had people coming to me from three tribes to be treated. Sometimes they
traveled days to get to me.

My popularity slacked off after a while as people realized that I would not
simply push pills at every ache and pain, but taught people to live
healthfully, and also insisted on natural treatments whenever possible.
However as those who would follow my teaching consistently got well, even
when the established medical authorities in town were not able to cure them,
my reputation returned. I also had opportunities, several times, to work
with medical doctors and dentists from America and different parts of the
Philippines. All very graciously supported me and allowed me to work beside
them on their mobile clinics to our area. By so doing, they lent much
greater credibility to my own medical work.

My medical work has also been vital to our church planting, which is the
first and central goal of my being here. Every new village we have entered,
every highlander we have contacted, we have entered and contacted with the
aid of medicine. Wherever the gospel has gone, relief of people's
sicknesses has gone first.

However I was always troubled because it seemed that my medical work was
unsustainable. From the beginning I insisted on using natural and locally
available remedies as much as possible. The manufactured medicines that I
did use were chosen from among the least expensive and most readily
available. Some medical procedures that I could do I chose not to as I knew
they could not be done by a Tawbuid medical worker, if there ever would be

I frequently talked to Tawbuid about learning to treat diseases themselves.
I asked individuals who showed promise to come and learn from me. When I
taught health classes, I recruited the brightest students to work with me.
I talked to the Tawbuid leaders about opening the old abandoned clinic
building that the German government built in the village years ago but which
had never been used. But every attempt failed. No one would consistently
attend classes I taught or worked along side me. Finally I gave up. I
decided that this was one branch of my work which would die with me when I

And then God began to work. One day a Christian Filipino doctor and a
visiting German Christian walked up to my front porch. I had no idea that
anyone was scheduled to come, but they were there to hold a mobile clinic,
and had brought boxes of medicines with them. The Filipino doctor heard
that I operated a clinic out of a room next to the church, and he wanted to
see it. He was sufficiently impressed that he asked me to work beside him
as he treated people that afternoon.

All that afternoon I saw patients right alongside the doctor, and the next
day I pulled teeth while the doctor saw the remaining patients. He was
impressed, and saw an opportunity to improve both his and my ability to help
the Tawbuid. He approached the tribal elders, and asked them for permission
to open the old clinic building and to make me medical director. I chipped
in with my two cents worth about training Tawbuid healthcare workers to run
the clinic themselves one day. The elders, out of respect for the doctor,
agreed to let us open the clinic under my direction on condition that the
whole tribe would be served, not just our village. They were also flattered
and pleased by my desire to teach their own people to treat diseases and run
the clinic. The doctor came back a few weeks later with a carpenter and
supplies, and the clinic was officially opened. We were started.

I still didn't have anyone to teach, however. The clinic still couldn't
last any longer than I was here unless I could pass on my knowledge to
someone else. God had that all worked out too. One of our Adventist
believers approached me and asked me to teach her about health. I gladly
agreed, and to my joy a whole room full of people showed up to learn. Most
of them dropped out over time, but two months later, three Tawbuid ladies
graduated from my class and began their apprenticeship in the clinic.

Which brings us back to today. One of my three students is Jenevi, the wife
of one of our Tawbuid missionaries. She is intelligent and has learned
quickly. Two weeks ago, a team from our church visited one of our highland
contacts, and they asked for medicine. The highlanders would not tolerate
me coming into the area. Jenevi has progressed so far in her
apprenticeship, though, that I asked her if she would like to go and conduct
the mobile clinic with our missionary team.

It was with a full heart that I trudged up to the clinic, early this
morning. I helped Jenevi pick out medicines that she knows how to use, and
would likely be needed. After a few reminders, I prayed over her, praising
God for letting me see this day, and asking His blessing, guidance, and
protection over her and the team. And then they set off.

I have tears in my eyes as I write this. I'm not usually a very emotional
person, but I've been through a lot to see this day. How little have I
suffered for the Tawbuid, though, compared with Jesus. Jesus, thank you for
what you have done to bring these Tawbuid out of darkness and into the light
of your life. Glory to your name!