Tag Archives: tribal

Jesus in His Eyes

I’m having a problem with my right eye and it’s making it almost impossible to continue long stints at the computer. It requires surgery next week, but more on that later. I’ll be sharing phenomenal updates from our co-workers until my eye heals enough to get back to blogging.

So, the eyes have it this month. I’ve been given permission to share this wonderful update from NTMA Pilot Joel Davis posted after he flew into our village. A link to his blog is at the bottom so be sure to check it for more.

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We have all had times when you met someone or even saw them at a distance and without a word spoken, you could see Jesus living through them. These are two of the older guys in one of the tribal villages that I fly to on a regular basis.  Today I flew this guy in the blue bandana out and before we left our missionary snapped this photo of these two guys and sent it to me and it struck me….the stark contrast between these two guys’ eyes.

The one in the red bandana is a respected chief in this tribe, a solid believer and he is also becoming a friend of mine.  He always greets me when I land and even took me and my family out to one of his farms for a tribal picnic the last time I stayed there.  Our missionary told me that the guy in the blue bandana is still an animist, still lives in fear of the spirits, and so far has not accepted the truth of the Gospel. I am always so encouraged when I land in each of our tribal locations and look around and see Jesus all around me in the eyes of my brothers and sisters.  The Gospel has truly changed these tiny little corners of the earth and you can see it even in the eyes of those around us. It is always so evident to me that Christ lives in and through them but even more so when I see the eyes of those that don’t have the Light.  Please keep praying for the Gospel to keep flooding these dark corners of the earth and drawing people into the Light.

Under His Wings,

Joel

Link to Davis Photo Journalhttp://blogs.ntm.org/joel-davis/2012/12/12/davis-photo-journal-jesus-in-his-eyes/


Gold Fever

Worthless

Gold Fever has hit our beautiful jungle home. During our visit we missed so many faces and when we asked about them, almost every answer was the same. “Mining.” It seems someone has persuaded them to pan for gold and they would purchase it from them. The fear is that they do not receive the true price for all that difficult, dangerous work as they have no means of learning the true value of the market.

Already we know of accidents because of landslides around the mining areas. One young man had to have three surgeries for his mangled legs after such a landslide where he was mining during the season of heavy rainfall. We learned whole patches of farming land stripped away and upturned with water from high powered pressure hoses. It’s a matter of time when their efforts will cost a life. Tragic.

But these concerns are not the most tragic. Our enemy is very clever and full of lies. Families were split apart because of the gold quest. Ancient rain forest is changed forever. It gets worse. The meeting house was half empty. Youth are drawn away from the weekly Bible lessons. Focus has shifted from what God is doing in their minds and hearts to what can gold do for me? It’s the classic, “Forsaking the best for the least.”

Most tragic is the bright and shiny is blinding them from the truly precious treasure of knowing Christ. We are reminded of verses found in Job 22: 23-25 and the entire chapter of Job 28. We are praying this Word for them. Please join us in this ministry of prayer.

We also learned our dear friend, Amay Ubinu is gone from our village. No, not mining. He is home. His treasure and mansion is lasting forever.

Home with the Lord

All the troubles of this worldly life completely incomparable to the eternal life he is already enjoying. He never has to drag trees from the jungle for his firewood! Amay Ubinu can rest. We miss him here. We are full of joy knowing we will see him again. We praise the Lord he learned the truth found in Philippians 3:7-8.

Please pray that wisdom will be sought from God’s Word over the false promises of the gold merchants. Pray for the Banwaon church leaders’ to teach boldly and that hearers will take the truth deep into their understanding and return to the Lord. Pray for those struggling even today with the temptation of this world’s riches trying to decide what is best over what is less.

Priceless


Last Visit into the Jungle (Goodbyes)

Amay Disi prayed for our flight.

The day came for our last flight out of the village before home assignment.

Silently the group moved to the landing and waited on the plane. The time had come. It was time to say good-bye.

Amay Disi, the main Bible teacher, prayed a sweet prayer for our flight.

Tears flowed.

We thank God that He gave us that time with the Banwaon. We thank God for the way He makes us all family. We thank God for allowing us to get back into the village together before we head to America. It’s a standing prayer that He might allow us to return.

Please pray for the Banwaon believers as they continue growing in the Lord and sharing the Gospel all throughout the jungle. Pray that the young ones who never worshiped the evil spirits catch the urgency of their parents’ and grandparents’ who easily remember the bondage, fear and lies of the evil one. Pray for the translation of the Banwaon Bible and for our partners, the Castelijn’s, and the tribal translators, Amay Duduy, Amay Isil, and Amay Tim, as they strive to finish the New Testament.

Pray for us as we make the adjustments back to America. We know there will be moments feeling dreadful loss mingled with the incredible joy of being back with dear family and friends in the States. We are already aware of feeling out of sync in our own culture as our home nation has changed so much.

We are changed.

Our pilot, Joel, was kind enough to take photos and give us these to remember and share. We have to grab a kleenex when we look at them. (Be glad there is no audio!)

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Last Visit into the Jungle (Making Memories)

God fills our lives with good, no – excellent – gifts. They are almost always about people. Well, the best of them are.

This visit into the jungle was squished between all the arrangements of leaving the beautiful country that has become our second home. It’s no joke how packed our time is before the long flight back to the USA. The countdown is on.

List-making Chris has even made lists for me! We have lists to direct us to other lists so we will hopefully not forget anything which might cause our friends here trouble after we leave. We so want to depart with nothing for them to clean up after us. Lord willing, we will finish all our tasks. We appreciate your prayers with us on that!

Here are just a few snapshots of the memories He gave us among our Banwaon Family and Friends.

Part two:

Visits and around the village:

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Last Visit into the Jungle (Getting There)

God blessed our last visit into the jungle with memories, laughter and a flood of tears.

We spent some of our time making final decisions and totally clearing out the house but the best time spent was visiting and enjoying our family and friends there.

Before the meal, we gathered with some of our closest friends in the meeting-house. Thankfully, our partner Albert Castelijn was there to help us are our deepest expression of thanks and love in their language. We shared that just like God instructed us to ready ourselves to leave home and dear family in the USA to come live among the Banwaon, we continue to follow Him where ever He leads. They replied that even though they will miss us terribly the only right way to live is in obedience to God, our Father. They touched our hearts deeply as they added that we might be separated here on this earth but because of God we can look forward to eternity when we have ONE HOUSE in heaven.

During the Pogsalamat (thanksgiving) celebration twenty-seven chickens, one hundred kilo (220 lbs.) of rice, seventeen kilo (37 1/2 lbs.) of noodles (uncooked) and uncounted cans of fish fed hundreds of people (450 – 500!). God is so good. We shared before that this is a month in their ‘hungry season’ before fall harvest so it was especially nice to see folk that were thinner since our last visit enjoy food and laugh with us one last time before our trip for home assignment.

“Difficult” is not adequate to describe our tearful good-byes. “Heart-wrenching” isn’t either! We eternally thank God for allowing us to be a part of the work He is doing there. We thank Him for each of you that helped us do it. We will always feel family-connected to these people and promised to do all we can to come back and visit.
This is part one of our time there. We took hundreds of photos. Check them out below and in following posts.

Getting There:

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All Choked Up

Difficult goodbyes in the Village

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.


Airstrip Repair — DONE!

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 We are praising the Lord and couldn’t wait to share this news so you can praise Him along with us! Our partners, Albert and Lynne Castelijn sent out this report just now:

Hi everyone,

The time in Ulanguan was amazing. The Lord wonderfully provided in many ways – plenty of workers (even though it’s typically farming season for the Banwaon), tons of good quality stockpiled gravel at a disused logging company quarry about 1 km away, and a truck to haul the nearly 200 tonnes of gravel to the airstrip, along with enough dry weather to make the trip along the old lagging track possible (with a bit of help by building one bridge and a log-lined creek crossing). On top of all that it was a joy to meet with the Banwaon believers and see how they continue to walk with the Lord and reach out with His love (in spite of some real difficulties they are working through).

Probably the best way to summarize the work is to refer to Joel’s list to me which he made after his first survey trip:

  1. Touchdown zone: side slope removed and minimal to no crown. Done. No sideslope, and no crown from 0 – 150’ mark. Then crowning gradually rises from 0” at 150’ mark to 8” at 250’ mark. 8” crown is maintained for the rest of the graveled area ie 250’ – 750’.
  2. Landslide Area: Rrepaired with drainage pipe and packed down and smoothed out and not encroaching on the useable runway. Done. Airstrip now full 40’ wide all the way.
  3. 9% upslope area: sideslope removed and crowned. Done.
  4. Top area by the waiting shed: smoothed out. Done, and 8” crowning to avoid puddles.
  5. Thin packed layer of gravel. Done. It will be interesting to see if erosion is a problem. I have a pile of gravel stockpiled at the side of the airstrip at the 450’ mark for repairs if necessary. There are some areas near the top of the hill which were mostly rocky gravel which didn’t pack down well. I’ve asked the guys to replace this with better gravel, but not sure if they’ll get to it. They are only fairly small patches anyway.
  6. On the grass side of the runway: Two problem areas closer to the top of the hill. Done. We packed river gravel into the dips to level those areas. For those two areas the gravel extends right across the strip to avoid differential braking problems.
  7. On the grass side of the runway: Fill in and smooth out most extreme bumps and dips. Done. Filled in dips with packed river gravel, dug off one bump.
  8. On final approach: bushy green trees above houses cut. Done.
  9. On short final: Cut back hill as close as possible to 50’ from centre of runway. We dug it back as much as we could without encroaching on the school grounds. There was one section left to dig away which I’m hoping they’ll get done in the next 2 weeks. If not, either Chris can get it done, or I can when I return.
  10. On the go around: Trees on the left side of the runway. Done. We cut down about 10 trees there to avoid a steep turn on go around.

Some additional things:

  1. Fill in and smooth out the remainder of the grassy part of the airstrip. We can discuss what more needs to be done when I return in July.
  2. Trees on climbout to avoid making as extreme a right turn on climbout. We cut a lot of trees while I was there, so I didn’t want to tackle this one yet. We can look at it again in July.
  3. Two trees way out on hill affecting airdrops. Done. We actually cut down about 10 trees in that area altogether. Should really help for airdrops (but hopefully we won’t need airdrops anymore).
  4. Short guyabano tree on final approach. Done – cut short. 

Some other things:

  1. Fence at school – we had to build a fence above the steep bank between the road and the school grounds that we dug away. Shouldn’t be an issue for plane I don’t think.
  2. Fence alongside runway – we have built a fence on the left side of the runway at the touchdown area to keep carabao and bikes off the runway. It runs right alongside the runway from 0’ to about 150’, but we put it in the drainage canal to keep it’s height above runway surface a minimum (about 12”-18” above runway surface). The fence then turns away from the runway towards the detachment hill. The start of the fence is my biggest concern because it cuts across the left hand end of the strip (even though it’s over 50 feet before the touchdown marks). You may want this removed – I have told the guys that that part of the fence may need to be removed for flights. We’ll need to come up with a plan for something permanent that is suitable.     
So please continue to pray for the final check out flights before any passengers are allowed to land on our newly repaired strip. God is so good!

It Takes A Team

Repairs Being Made

This is our first look at the repairs on our airstrip and we were delighted that we could see all the work scraping off the grass and leveling the strip well past the little waiting area we lovingly call the ULA International Airport.

We are very grateful to the Lord for:

  • the many folk that gave sacrificially for all the labor costs and supplies for the repairs
  • our partner, that he could arrange his schedule in Australia to come back to the Philippines for the month of April to do the ground work and supervising
  • for safety for the village people working by pick axe, shovel and muscle power in the blistering heat  *Please pray for unhindered work on their farms as this is normally the busiest time for getting the land cleared and burned before planting
  • for our missionary pilot for his expertise in directing the repairs necessary and his willingness to hold flights until he could make the overland trip into the village to assess the situation first hand
  • for safety for Chris to travel the hazardous roads in a borrowed truck (thank you co-workers!) buying supplies and transporting people and those supplies so they could make the trip into the village
  • for all those who remembered to pray for the whole process and continue until the plane safely returns to our village and for the continued work God is doing among the Banwaon

After all, it takes a TEAM!


Ministry In Miles

Most envision a missionary teaching or studying the Bible at a desk surrounded by resource material with a squeaky fan blowing the bugs out of his face.

But sometimes he sits behind the wheel in a hot car barely moving over broken roads. Trip after trip, he sleeps in tiny hotel rooms with limited electricity, cold showers and sketchy food. Sometimes he shops, in scavenger hunt fashion, searching in four different cities ducking in and out of countless, dark, dusty stores that only stock one or two of the 90 needed items to get all the hardware for the airstrip repairs. (There is no one-stop shopping here!)

Chris traveled over 2796 miles (4500 K) in this ministry month. Not the usual miles racked up in the seat of an airplane. Road miles. The slow and painfully bounced, jerked and slammed to a stop kind of miles. ALL OF THEM. Literally.

The national highway that circles northern Mindanao, the island we serve on, is under major repair. Because it is majorly in disrepair. Heavy rains caused the road bed to wash out from under the asphalt surface causing a ‘peanut brittle’ effect. The road works crew then scoops up this brittle road one lane at a time with a bulldozer that tosses it aside while all the traffic uses the ‘free’ lane. And not in servicable sections like you might imagine. This roadworks project covers the entire national highway!

Actual forward 'speed'

V-e-r-y slowly uses the free lane. It is not at all unusual to sit 2 hours while traffic passes in that lane. Over and over again all along those many miles. Why?

Because the national highway is the only roadway that takes you around the island. Why would Chris do all those miles when the road is such a mess? When the driving and sitting all those hours causes leg and back cramps that wake him in the middle of the night? When he would rest at home just one night to turn around and make the painful trip all over again? FOUR TIMES in THREE WEEKS? Why?

Because it pleases God when missionaries work as a team. We share the privilege to serve Him as part of the New Tribes missionary team here on Mindanao, not just partners in the translation team for the Banwaon.

Chris first made that roundtrip in four days to take me and my two friends to the pick-up point for our road trip into the village by motor bike. Then he supply shopped before he came back to pick us up again. Then he slept one night at home and covered the same painful journey adding a day to pick up our partner to make his motor bike trip into the village to repair our condemned airstrip. Then he returned home to sleep two nights in his own bed only to turn around to do the three day trip again and three days back with the New Tribes Mission Aviation pilot who went in to explain the specific details of the repairs needed on the airstrip. All four of those round trips literally fill the three week time frame.

Supply buying and mobilization was Chris’ part of the teamwork needed to complete the repairs on our airstrip.

God knows just how to plug each of us into the team to suit His purpose and plant a church for His Glory.

A short video clip of Chris traveling a section of the national highway. Praise the Lord, the tires stayed round!


Happy Easter


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