Thursday, February 10, 2011

Faith Comes By Hearing

The weekend in Can-eo and Chapyosen was fantastic! Soon after arriving in Can-eo, we walked to the house of one of the church elders, Delfin, who has been leading the outreach to Chapyosen. There I presented him with a Proclaimer and taught him and Pastor Rudy how to use it. I wanted the device to be a tool presented by the elders of Can-eo to be used by the church in Chapyosen – not a gadget from the Americano.
Delfin and Pastor Rudy getting familiar with the Proclaimer controls

Then we began the long hike to Chapyosen. Fortunately, the weather was pleasant and the path was not muddy. It took us about an hour.
A flat portion of the trail to Chapyosen

Upon crossing the river on the footbridge, we climbed a steep hill to the edge of the village. In the space used to press the sugar cane, we stopped to pray for our time in the village. Pastor Rudy suggested that John 3 would be a good passage for us to use to introduce the Proclaimer to the people.

We gathered under someone’s home, most of us lining the perimeter between the stilts that held the house above our heads. The weaving projects had been rolled up and pushed aside, but several wooden frames polished with age that the ladies use when they weave using backstrap looms were scattered about the dusty concrete floor.
The meeting place

In addition to the 17 adult residents, many children wandered in and out during the gathering. Several of the mothers had babies in their arms or tied on their backs with sarangs. One young girl had a length of the beautiful red, black, and white fabric that is woven in the village tied about her, supporting a younger sibling.

After a few introductions were made, a sip of sugar cane wine was offered to Pastor Rudy. He explained to me that refusal would have been insulting to the people and that he would not have been welcome to return. It smelled very strong and I was just as happy to not have been offered a taste.

When the Proclaimer was turned on, everyone was thoroughly attentive. Even the children who had stayed with the adults were still while the voices spoke the story of Nicodemus’s encounter with Jesus in the Ilocano language. In the common story-telling method here, the passage was played a second time to ensure everyone heard it.
Delfin holding the Proclaimer as it played through the story of John 3

Listening to the story...

After the story was told, there was not much talk about the Proclaimer. Instead, there was an intense discussion, mostly involving the old women, about Jehovah and Lumawig (the name of the local spirit-god). Because I don’t know the language, I could not understand all that was said. But after Pastor Rudy and Delfin answered questions, the people seemed to be much more comfortable with the discussion.

Apparently they are interested in continuing to learn about God – the true God. They discussed who would be the one to care for the Proclaimer between meetings. They were concerned about the children damaging it and being able to operate it. They decided an old man with no children in his house would be the one to keep it at his place. A lady with several children is to be the operator, although Delfin demonstrated how to use it in front of all present. Chapyosen is a remote village with no electricity so gadgets we consider simple can be somewhat intimidating to these people. I was glad that even with the discussion about Lumawig the people desired to use the Proclaimer so they could continue to hear the Gospel. It was also an encouraging sign that they welcomed us back.
Delfin with the man who would care for the Proclaimer and the lady, Espirita, who was designated by the group to operate it.

Before we left, we took some group photos. When I went to sit with the group, I was going to stand at the back but was told to sit near the front in the middle. As I was sitting down, an elderly lady, Hananio, put both arms around me. I wish I could have understood her words, but her smile and unusual display of affection said a lot to me. Even as I write this, I cannot help but smile at the memory of it.
Thomas with the new church in Chapyosen

Back in Can-eo Sunday morning, Lisa and the girls arrived with an outreach team from YWAM Baguio’s Family Ministry School. The team was scheduled to present about marriage and family life during the service and a seminar after lunch. Even after only a day away, I was so glad to see my 5 ladies. The girls were excited to be in Can-eo again. Before we left in the evening, they had found some of their friends and had taken team members to some of their favorite places.
At the end of the church service at Can-eo Station Church, I presented another Proclaimer to Pastor Rudy. He in turn, presented the Proclaimer to Johnny. Johnny is an elder of the church who lives in the sitio of Fangkeg, one of the 4 sitios that make up Can-eo. Fangkeg is the most distant sitio from the church and is a difficult walk in the dark or in the rain. We hope to encourage Bible studies with those who cannot or may not yet be willing to make the hike to the church to learn about following Jesus.
Presenting a Proclaimer to Pastor Rudy at Can-eo Station Church

Pastor Rudy explaining the Proclaimer to the congregation

Pastor Rudy instructing Johnny how to use the Proclaimer