26 November 2008

My First Kalipay Trip (Day 2)

My First Kalipay Trip (Day 2)
“I’m weak and spent but the Lord sustains me, Therefore I move on, all for God’s Glory”
My personal reflection on the trip
By Gary Idulza

Up in the mountains, it never crossed my mind that the “cold mountain air of Gingoog City can sting”. It stung me, waking up an hour earlier before the struck of midnight. For a moment I thought I was sleeping inside a huge freezer, I frantically rubbed my hands on my feet and arms. Then I scrambled for my backpack and insulated myself with more thick clothes. By now the winds were chilling and howling, it was a good thing for us that we slept in a house with four walls. Not so with some of our colleagues from Iligan City and province of Iloilo. They slept in the traditional houses of the Higaonons, where there are no walls and only a roof and elevated flooring. Everybody had a good night 10+ hours of sleep, even me. The sleep we took refreshed our body and now was the time that we must refresh our spirit with the Word of God.

Due to the lack of light (there’s no electricity for miles from us) some proceeded to boiling the water for a hot refreshing coffee for our numb body. We groped a bit in the dark doing our chores and the flashlight from our cell phones were the only source of light besides the occasional lights made by the fireflies patrolling the area. At the break of dawn, I fetched water for cooking and washing dishes. As everybody gathered around and there was enough light to read the letters of our Bibles. Kuya Bernie, our Senior Pastor let me read a chapter in Psalms. As we heard and “digested” the Word of God, it reminded us that we are here to serve our brethren, and that all things belong to the One who created all things, we are just stewards, Ate Babes also added insights on what we heard. Then everybody prayed to God for fair weather the rest of the day. By now we were going to continue building the catchments’ basin, but first we have to eat our breakfast meal and of boiled eggs and home maid stew. We also gave some to our neighboring families there. But as it turned out they also cooked extra sweet potatoes for us and we were much delighted by the offer.

The sands that was carried days earlier were way to few; so we gathered sands in the vicinity of the nearest waterfalls from our site, which we traversed coming to the site. Kuya Bernie led some of us to gather more sands and we made several trips through occasionally muddy and wet trail to amass enough sands for our project. We often stop ones in every trip up to our site to catch our breath, for the wet sands were bearably heavy though one of us did carry a half full sack of sands (it’s not me!) every trip we took. There were two little kids that took turns on escorting us every trip carrying, sometimes carrying the spade used to pile up the sands near the waterfalls (talk about child labor). Almost often I only hear my heavy breathing but as I stop to catch my breath I would occasionally hear these kids singing. During the last trip of gathering the sands, as we stopped to catch our breath, we heard burst of gunfire not too far from the trail. It seemed that it was just only a mound above us, and we discussed what it was, who fired it and how near it was. One of us jokingly said that it was just a carpenter banging a piece galvanized iron sheet for roofing, but we were determined to finish our project and no amount of gunfire will hinder our resolve. When we entered the project site, it was already abuzz with what the gunfire might be. And our fellow Higaonon brethrens were already coming in with the rest of the hollowed blocks and cements that was not carried yesterday. By now the sun was nearing its zenith and so was our belly ready for lunch. Our meal was made out of fresh produce from the garden below, steaming hot rice and dried fish (yummy!!!).
We then continued on the project which was nearing completion due to the fair weather, excellent camaraderie and Providence. Sometimes we got distracted from our work by the occasional passing of people carrying big fruits from their own farms, some carried marang (a kind of fruit in between a jackfruit and durian). Wendy and Hazel (our cooks) took turns on taking pictures for the documentary ands eavesdropping ones in a while on our work if it is already finished. Everybody in the area surrounding the project was already anticipating the finish and is eagerly excited that there is now a catchments’ basin for their drinking water and watering their gardens. We finished our work at around four in the afternoon, and then pack our bags for our homeward journey.

Close to three dozen people were mobilized to help in the construction of the catchments’ basin, this project ones the water starts to flow would help Higaonon brethrens living and farming within the vicinity of the project. Everybody helped, even little kids collected stones for the project. The women cooked, washed dishes and clothes and even collected vegetables from their gardens for our meals, that is not to include that they did carry considerable materials for the project when we first went up to the mountain site. Everybody was elated when we announced that the project is already finished and joy was very evident in everybody’s faces. God’s mighty hand was upon us every step of the way; As Kuya Bernie always points out to us “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack anything”. Amen to that. Even the bursts of gunfire that we heard a while ago were just a thing of the pass. Sweat and mud did not hamper our spirits for in our hearts God’s faithfulness was aflame.

After the last instruction was given to Datu Basa, we then proceeded to go down from the site to Purok 6 of Barangay Kalipay. Along the way we were chased by a sudden downpour of rain. And it took us just a little over and hour to get back to Brother Boy Sin-ingan’s home, which was our first stop at Barangay Kalipay. Everyone was amazed that it only took us half the time to get down the mountain than to go up it. As night was fast approaching we cooked for thirty plus people with only three small cans of sardines, a handful of aubergines and the ever reliable dried fish. The meal we prepared was just the right amount, everybody’s tummy were full and even a little left over. What a miracle!!!

As everybody settled for the night we chatted on the events that transpired earlier we found out that those bursts of gunfire was a salute to militia that was laid to rest there at the top of the mountain where we were earlier in the day. Brother Boy Sin-ingan’s home was jam-packed with warm bodies as we crammed our selves to sleep. Brother Jun of Iloilo was beside me as I personally reflected on our journey. The Lord sustained me; every step of the way the Lord’s Hand was upon me pushing me to go further even though I was way past my limit. As I lay on the floor, I was now drowning to sleep content that one my weakest point, God carried me.