Greetings from the Philippines……where it is hot, hot, hot and dry! Between the dry season climate and the long hours of concentration on the details of translation checking – plus Bob using his “weekends” for teaching opportunities (i.e. instead of resting his body and mind!)……we are w-e-a-r-i-n-g d-o-w-n!
However, the BLESSINGS of the ministry such as the privilege of helping to put ALL of God’s Word into the language of these people, the multiple opportunities God has given for Bob to instruct and encourage these past months, plus the privilege of seeing first-hand how God has worked through the years to bring many to Christ outweigh the present difficulties! My, that almost sounds like one of the Psalms we are checking!!
Speaking of Psalms, on Thursday, April 14, we finished Psalm 31! We have a long way to go but 31 chapters in 7 days of checking is not bad! Just as a reminder, since we arrived here in late January, we have completed checking Song of Solomon, 1 and 2 Chronicles and put a few days of work into Isaiah, to re-work some (extra) difficult passages and insert footnotes where needed. We also took a week in March to mentor Sarah, one of our Kalanguya consultants-in-training, while she checked 1 Chronicles for the neighboring Ibaloi Translation Team. Now we are working on checking the book of Psalms. Our translators have done a magnificent job of putting the sometimes hard to understand but poetic sentences into understandable Kalanguya. We are so happy with their work and thank the Lord for their gifts in translating.
ON THE WEEKENDS, we have been to 7 tribal churches where Bob has taught, also a Women’s Conference and a Men’s Workshop this weekend! So if you’re looking for Bob at any time, you will find him at the Translation Table or at his desk here in our little “apartment”, studying for the next time he is to speak! It has been rather hectic…..and as I said in my first paragraph, we are wearing down!
Let me give you a rundown of last weekend! After a week of translation checking, Bob sat down on Friday evening to prepare for a Saturday morning message to the Women’s Fellowship about prayer and how God works through His people as we pray according to His will. We had a glorious Saturday morning as we saw old friends from villages we haven’t been to in years: The daughter of a lady from the first village where we lived in 1967 (probably she’s about 55 now) that we thought at first was her mother……ladies whose faces we recognized but have forgotten names! It was such a treat to listen to their testimonies, their reminiscences, and just be blessed by how the Lord has brought people into our paths (us and fellow missionaries) over the years who have passed the message on to others, and these folks are so faithful in their following of the Lord. It is rather surreal to have people come up to you that you think you’ve never seen before and have them tell you, “I’m a believer from Nalay-an/Laylaya”…or… “you treated me for a sickness when I was a little girl” or some such thing. We were sort of in a daze that morning as we sat and listened to these ladies…….tears in our eyes and so much thanks in our hearts for all the time spent among these people. Makes one feel rather famous when many of a tribe of 50,000 people have met you and remember you from one time or another – or have some other connection with you because you’ve been around so long, you know their mother, father or even their grandparent!!
We heard that morning that a dear Kalanguya friend (Bible teacher) was in ICU up at the hospital near us. So Saturday afternoon, we drove up to the hospital to see him and his family. His wife said, “Seeing Bob made Arsenio happy!” Bob sat and talked with him a while as I listened. Such dear people these are.
On Sunday morning, Bob had been asked to speak in town here at a local church where mostly Kalanguya tribal people attend. We’d never been there before but what a blessing to meet those folks and encourage this young pastor in his ministry! One young lady introduced herself to us – she was also from the village in the mountains where we lived way back in 1967! And she knew some of the old people we knew! It always amazes us how God uses us to reach some who then reach out to others!!
On Sunday afternoon Bob made a 2nd trip back to the hospital. (I stayed home to get some rest – I must admit to not having Bob’s stamina!) While there visiting with the family of our friend, Bob found out our sick friend was to have been teaching at a Bible Study in outreach ministry that night! He took a couple of the young folks to show him the way to that village, and of course…..”Uncle Bob, why don’t you teach tonight?’’
Bob sent Judy a couple of phone messages via the tribal folks (he didn’t have his phone with him) so she wouldn’t worry about why he was late…..and stayed to teach! While there he was introduced to a very old lady who was being tenderly cared for by the others at the Bible study. They asked her, “Do you know who this is?” Her response? YES, she had come to our village many years ago for medical treatment – she remembered!
It’s heartwarming to say the least to see these folks we have in some way or another had some interaction with that is remembered and appreciated and is perhaps even the reason why today, they know the Lord and are trusting in HIM alone for their salvation! We are humbled to know God has used us in this way and it surely makes the years, the struggles, and the work all worthwhile!!