Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Weekend in Saclit

In the jeepney awaiting our departure
This weekend, Adriana and I accompanied our friend Pastor Steve to the village of Saclit.  Although a tropical storm had brought a lot of rain over the previous days, we were fortunate that the road was not blocked by landslides.

But travel is always an adventure.  Not long after leaving Bontoc, we had our first tire change - both front tires.  One tire was flat.  The tread was peeling off of the other.  But honestly, I was not so sure its replacement was much better.
The first tire
The replacement
Tire change in the mountains
It was not long before we had to stop again and put the first tire back on.

You may have noticed the rocks on the right of the picture.  That is from a landslide.  All along the way, the road varies from 1 to 2 lanes due to interferences from rocks above or collapse of the road below.
Adriana of the Cordillera Mountains
The rest of the way, there was the additional noise from the tire as the tread peeled off.  But we made it - well mostly.  Bald tires work okay on flat, paved roads.  But the rain had made the road up the mountain to Saclit muddy.  Bald tires and a full load of people made it impossible for the jeepney to complete the trip to the top of the mountain.
She go no mo'
Adriana and I were both glad to walk the rest of the way.  The driver tried hard to make it, but a few times we slipped and slid to the edge of the road.  It's very steep and a long way down.  Besides, we had been riding for a couple of hours already.

Enough about travel.  Our purpose for the weekend was not to write about getting there, but about being there.
Entering the "City Gate"
Saclit is at the top of a mountain.  Once the road ends you still need to hike up the trail.  Some of it has stairs like you see above.  I found out this weekend that its location was chosen in large part due to the history of tribal wars.  The latest incident related to these wars was as recent as 2004.  The location of Saclit provides clear view of anyone who might be trying to attack.  This provided a very defensible location to farm and raise your family.

We stayed at the home of Alex and Megela and their family.  In the evening, people gathered at at their home for a Bible study.  Together we talked about what we can learn about people, about God, and about the relationship between the two from the story of Bartimaeus.  The discussion was good, but once again I was wishing I knew enough Ilocano to understand the conversation without a translator.  About 10:00 pm the conversation died down and we went to bed.

In the morning, as we prepared for church, the family went about their chores.  One of which is feeding the pigs.  In the picture below, 8 year old Amy is pounding the pig food in the corner of the house.  Behind her you can see the banana tree stalks which are chopped and added to the food garbage before being pounded in the wooden mortar and pestle.

Preparing pig food
After the pigs were fed, I had the opportunity to sit with the many children who had gathered at the house.  We listened to the recordings of the Read Aloud Bible Stories as we sat on the back porch.  Many people of all ages stopped to listen to a story or two as they were either on their way somewhere or came out of curiosity to see what was happening.  You can see in the picture that the houses are very close together, so all of the neighbors could hear what was going on.

When we finished the stories that were recorded in Ilocano, I read the remaining stories in English.  Some understood more than others, but we had to go through all of the stories a couple of times before they would let me leave to go to the church building.
Read Aloud Bible Stories
While Saturday was a hike UP, Sunday was a hike DOWN.  The home we stayed in is near the top of the village and the church is further down.  As we walked, Adriana and I drew a lot of attention since not many foreigners make it to Saclit.
Walking to church
The church service in Saclit does not have a specific starting time.  As people gather, Pastor Steve leads worship.  As people hear the the singing, they come to the church.  Eventually, it is decided that it is time to study God's Word.  Pastor Steve had some things on his heart that he wanted to share before inviting me to share.

Much like the Bible study the evening before, we read from the Bible and talked about what we can learn from the story.  This time we talked about Zaccheus.  In both settings, we also listened to the Read Aloud Bible Stories.  This was helpful to more than just the children who were there.  Many of the people in Saclit are illiterate and as such are oral learners.  Hearing the story as it is written in the Bible and hearing it repeated with the illustrations from the book makes it easier for them to retain.  When Pastor Steve and I were talking about it later, he expressed how much he appreciated the teachings and felt the way we presented these Bible stories will make it so that people will think about them when they are alone - working in the fields or lying in their beds at night.  Isn't that what we should all be doing with God's Word?

After the service ended, many people stayed at the church to talk.  Adriana and I were warmly welcomed and asked to come again.  The people emphasized how much they appreciated our coming and would like very much for our whole family to come.  People brought food for us to eat for lunch, although they were too shy to sit and eat with us.

We enjoyed their company so much that we were too late to catch the bus.  Since there is no vehicle that leaves from the top of the mountain in the afternoon, we needed to hike down to the highway to catch a ride.  Adriana was not feeling well much of the weekend and the rain made the shortcut too slippery and dangerous - it is shorter, but much steeper than the road.  Together, these made our trip down take longer - besides the fact that we left late.

We were able to catch a ride with an overloaded jeepney for part of the trip.  It was full of people from a nearby village who had been at the river all night.  A person from that place had drown when he was crossing the river and the storm surge swept him away.  All along the river there were people taking turns watching to recover the body.  We crowded in with them until they turned off the main road to return to their village.

After waiting a while along the road, another vehicle came along.  If you have never ridden in the mountains in the bed of a dump truck, the picture below gives you an idea of what it looks like.  It was a blessing that there was room for Adriana to ride in the front and that he took us all the way to Bontoc.
Hitchin' a ride
Pastor Steve and I rode in the back and were glad it was just a light rain.
Pastor Steve


  1. Thanks again for the updates! I read them all, although some a few months late. :)

  2. It is our privilege to share our experiences with others. It is our delight to get encouraging comments from those who read them.

  3. Hi to the Author of this blog, I forgot your name and sorry for that...I remember you sharing God's word inside the jeepney with those folk ...that was a great work!!!! I thank God for you and your dedication in reaching out my most beloved birth place, May God prosper all the works you have started and will bloom into a garden of souls gathered under HIS feet praising HIM forever... I know how hard to penetrate that place but with God, nothing is impossible! Keep climbing up those mountains because there lies your trophies in winning that race God had given you.... My heart is overwhelming with joy knowing that someone from a distance went up to that place sharing the LOVE Of God..... God Bless you all who labor in that ministry and may the people will come to know HIM seriously and faithfully.....

    1. Ilalay, my name is Tom. It is an honor to be able to take God's life-changing Word to places like Saclit. Thank you for your kind words of encouragement and continue to pray for God's Spirit to touch hearts and change lives in that place. If you would like to see the post on our blog about the trip we met in the jeepney, go to the post in March, 2012 entitled "Light in Saclit" or you can paste the following into your browser: http://garden-of-grace.blogspot.com/2012/03/light-in-saclit.html


  4. Great job sir. Thanks for visiting our place.Pastor Steve is just an awesome man of God. May god bless you and Adriana with more than enough.