Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Oh, Say But I'm Glad"

I am so thankful for "markers" in my life when God taught me valuable truths. My favorite Thanksgiving celebration was just such a day, when I saw a life spilling over with gratitude. Today I want to share that memory from my journal on November 28, 2001 ...

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, 12 of us climbed into the 4 wheel drive and drove an hour through muddy rice flats and jungle mountains. We passed through remote areas where nipa huts gave shelter to chickens, pigs, and children. They were woven from banana leaves and bamboo. Curious eyes rose from their rice planting or raking to watch us pass. We arrived in the village of Tumarabang, a collection of little huts on dirt lanes. People gathered around the turquoise cement church building waiting for us.

We quickly used the outhouse, using an old plastic oil bottle to pour water into the metal bowl, and then we made our way past the pig and chicken pens, into the church building. We were greeted by sounds of "Oh, Say But I'm Glad." Sitting on the second wooden bench up front, I immediately felt our bodies sticking together as Jacob whispered, "Mommy, I'm so hot." An elderly lady behind us handed me a damp paper book of hymns, reinforced by cellophane and lots of scotch tape. We sang and prayed in the local dialect.

The pastor was father to 9 children, and his wife played the wet sounding organ with a wide smile. He spoke from Acts 27. I was able to gather that he was challenging us about being thankful in all times, even as the Philippines is in economic depression, and then something about "the Americans." I wondered what he said, but my mind wandered back to the enthusiastic singing of "Oh, say but I'm glad." It became more poignant as the day wore on.

Gracious people welcomed us to the courtyard where the community well was pulled up & down by children near an orchid garden. Women set up low tables in a cement building as two men carried a roasted pig on a long pole, wrapped in banana leaves. They had killed a pig for us.

As preparations were made, Jacob ran off with a group of boys who showed him the village goats and the coastline beyond the coconut trees, just past piles of discarded coconut shells. JoHanna was riveted to the baby chick pen and new puppy roaming between the legs of the girls. She passed out Thanksgiving stickers to all of the village children (and some of the women).

The pastor's wife invited me up the short ladder into her nipa home. I sat in a bamboo chair and studied the walls woven of grass, the floor of bamboo strips, and the open windows looking out on goats and chickens and dirt courtyard. "Oh, say but I'm glad."

They brought us into the room full of pots of rice and noodles, with bowls of roasted pig and dishes I knew from my reading we weren't ready to eat! They seated us on the pastor's "porch" as they brought more food.

JoHanna and Jacob had a wonderful day in Tumarbung. We took our Dramamine for the ride home, and we began our goodbyes. It was a humbling day.

"Oh, say but I'm glad."

The next day, the same pastor drove his small motorcycle many miles to attend a Bible class at the Hospital compound. He was late in arriving and had to stay the night. You see, he stayed to help his people plant their fields of rice. The rice didn't sprout until that morning, and it had to be planted. Pastor Pedro and his wife are a wonderful example of faithful laborers in the Field. Pray for them.

As we returned to Manila on Tuesday morning, we were met with the congestion, pollution, trash, and masses of people. There isn't any new word of possible housing. Our shipment of "things" hasn't been heard of yet. "Oh, say but I'm glad."

We're so glad for our time in Palawan, not just for the adventure in what is known as the "Last Frontier of the Philippines," but for another leg in the adventure with our Savior.

From the Philippines, "Oh, say but we're glad,"
Julie for all 4

~ Nov. 28, 2001

1 COMMENTS ~ Click here to leave a COMMENT:

Heidi Pocketbook said...

"Be glad in all circumstances". Something we all need to remember.

Hope you have a good Thanksgiving with all the family ☺