Dag-ay was a dear friend and one of our best translation assistants. She passed away several years ago. Her story was published in Ethnos360 magazine February 1 2010.
My Grandfather was a powerful witchdoctor in the jungle-covered mountains of northern Mindanao.
He told us, “We have told you never to allow foreigners into our community as they will just bring their foreign ideas. Before you know it, you’ll be wearing hats and shoes like them and that’s not good for you! However, let me tell you something that exists in the cities on the coast. There’s a book that’s there and when someone brings that book here, let me tell you, you must listen for it has the message of eternal life!“
Grandfather knew a lot about the mysteries of this world. He gained this knowledge through the spirits and he would then pass it on to those he was leading.
I don’t know how old I am but I do remember World War II.
When I was not even 10 years old, my father passed away and his sister took me in. But it wasn’t to care for me as a daughter; it was to use me as a slave! I developed a very bad skin condition and was horribly mistreated.
If there was a fierce storm and they wanted me to fetch water, I would have to do it. If they wanted me to carry a heavy load, that’s what I did or pay the consequences. They made me sleep in the dirty kitchen, like a dog.
I remember my mom coming to visit but they hid me away and would not let her see me. They wanted to keep her from seeing my poor condition.
I finally got tired of this treatment and left. I followed the river downstream and I didn’t really know where I was going. I had no change of clothes — I had nothing with me. I just wanted to leave! I didn’t care if I died along the way. I just wanted to get away.
As I traveled people would see me coming in the distance and say, “Who is that child?” They were surprised to see a small girl walking through the forest, especially one that looked so horrible. They recognized me when I got closer to them. They helped me and showed me where to go next to get to my grandparents, my mother and my siblings. It took me less than a day to make the trip. Along the way, people sacrificed chickens for me, putting the blood on me to bless me and protect me.
I got to my grandparent’s place and they took care of me. My mother left after some time and I lived with my grandparents.
When I was a bit older, my grandparents arranged a marriage for me to someone younger than I. He was not really old enough to even think about getting married yet but that’s the way things were back then. We eventually had four children and my husband died when the youngest was 11 or 12 years of age.
After a while, my husband’s parents came to me and said they had found the way of eternal life. I moved to their village to listen to this message.
While I was listening, Salvador, the witch doctor, tried three times to keep me from listening. He was the one responsible for the missionaries living in his village but when he heard their teaching, he rejected it. He said, “Are you going to listen to me or to the outsiders?”
I continued to listen to the teaching and wondered, “Is this really the truth?” Then I realized that this was the fulfillment of what Grandfather had said all those years ago: “People will come with a message. Don’t be concerned if the messenger is an impressive person or not. You just listen to the message because that will tell you how to have eternal life.”
I am so glad I listened, and believed on the One who died to give me eternal life. Salvador died without Christ but I know I have Christ living in me.
There was a time a few years ago when I was really sick and everyone thought I had died. My family washed my body and as they were getting it ready for burial, I revived. I was so upset to still be here! I long for the day when I can be with my Lord in Heaven. This world has no attraction for me whatsoever and I look forward to the day when I am no longer here! In the meantime though, it is my privilege to help where I can to translate God’s book.