We are heading into the village for our last time before home assignment. It’s even hard to type. We found it difficult to think about and dreaded it for months. Our throats close up and tears spring into our eyes before we attempt to control them.
Our partner, Albert Castelijn, flew into the village today to prepare for their family’s arrival. They’ve just returned after almost three years of extended home assignment in Australia getting their oldest children settled into advanced education. We began preparing for our visit.
Oh how we can learn from our dear brothers and sisters in the jungle!
We were full on working our plan for the flight when both of our computers loudly squawked that we had incoming messages at the exact same time. Chris was out in town so I ran from his computer to mine trying to quiet the noise. It was Albert. He was sending out a message that our friends took up a collection for a Pogsalamat (Thanksgiving) with us before we leave!
The news stunned us and then sent us into a flurry of activity. Suddenly we had to shop and weigh and pack everything they ordered (and then some) for a big celebration. We were on full tilt! All the plans for our original flight changed and another flight added. Chickens needed to be purchased – FAST. A lot of chickens. Chris heaved heavy sacks of rice into the truck to go in the plane with us. All those carefully laid plans quickly brushed aside for a time of joy and thanksgiving with our beloved families in the jungle!
It is overwhelming. This is a difficult time of the year for them yet it was on their hearts to give and celebrate with us. July is in their ‘hungry time’ before harvest in September. Food and funds are at an all time low during these months before harvest. Their expression of love literally fills us up to overflowing.
This is one of the most wonderful things we love about the Philippine people! A big celebration at the last minute? NO PROBLEM!
It was just what we needed to put a smile on our faces. Saying “good-bye” is the most difficult thing for missionaries to do. It seems we are always saying it to family and loved ones and feeling our hearts rend with each loss.
Please pray for us. We know it will be in heaven before we next greet some of these brothers and sisters of the Philippine rainforest. Pray that we are able to express how much they mean to us and how we carry each of them in our hearts no matter where we might live on this earth.
Praise the Lord with us as we trust Him to fill in the gaps, heart to heart, what we cannot express in words.