Sunday, October 26, 2014

Man on carabao pulling a sled with fruit and a child in Colonia Divina

Child in sled totally ignoring us trying to take her picture

Sunday, October 26, 2014
At the end of August we attended a special sacrament meeting along with eighteen investigators in Gawahon at the local elementary school.  This area is near Victorias and north of Bacolod up in the mountains.  Yesterday we were invited to a baptism in the river.  Investigators are now accepting the gospel of Jesus Christ!  We have been to wonderful baptisms in rivers before, but I think if I would have known where we would be hiking (in leather shoes that have grown much too big), I may have reconsidered.  I have a little fear of heights but after climbing a bamboo ladder to get to a narrow cement wall that had a twenty foot drop to rocks and water and then climbing down another bamboo ladder I thought, I can do this.  I expected to find a well worn trail, but instead we trekked through green dense foliage and at time rocks (to avoid water).  Okay I made it, but then the challenge came!  We gingerly walked on rocks and boulders in the river to make our way to the baptismal spot—in the middle of the river!  When I found a rock that I felt was secure, I turned around looking where we had come from to realize. .at some point we will be going back! Hmmmmm.
Baptism in middle of river--everyone sitting or standing on a rock
One of the member’s 14-year old granddaughter was baptized and a 70 plus year old man (who held my hand and helped me get back).  The entire service was held at the river.  Hymn books were brought and we sang, there were talks and after the baptisms, the newest members bore their humble testimonies.  I looked around and could never imagine being so blessed to have this experience.
Baptism setting
Business as usual for everyone else--children playing, people washing clothing in the background
Sister Scadlock waves--you can see the ladder, walk across bridge
We had a long day Friday when we started before 6 am and didn’t return home until night.  We visited areas where missionaries don’t often get visits. .Lopez Jaena, Dian-Ay and then Minapasok. We then continued on to areas where roads are often dirt or should I say mud.  
Crude bridge leading 'up the mountain' to Colonia Divina (you guessed it:  Divine Colony)
Shortly after we arrived in the Philippines we traveled to Colonia Divina with another couple.  At that time there were two missionaries in this area and when we visited Church there were around fifty people attending.  Now there are six missionaries and they are holding meetings in Colonia Divina, Alimatoc and Sewahon.   Colonia Divina now has over 100 people regularly coming to Church on Sunday.  
Condition of the roads for much of the trip (our blue truck is brown!)

Our first stop was Sewahon.  There are no street signs or markers, so we would often stop to ask if we are on the right dirt road and feel relived after saying the name of the place we are heading and the kind person smiles and says Oo (yes in Illongo) and points in the direction we are going in ;-).

 The biggest vehicle wins--in this case we backed up 2-300 yards to a clearing
The next two stops were not so easy.  The rain came and a bus broke down in front of us; it is difficult to maneuver on poured concrete roads—only 8-10 feet wide.  And when you are on a single lane road and you meet a sugar cane truck or bus, the smaller vehicle is obligated to backup to an area where they can safely pull aside to allow passage of the bigger vehicle.  The distance required to backup would be as much as a quarter of a mile or so, on a very narrow road that drops off 2-3 feet on each side.  If one were to accidently drop off one of the edges—it would take significant assistance to get out.

The caraboa wins here too--if you look closely you can see the rope stretched from other side of road
As we were slowly driving up a steep muddy hill with growing streams of water because of the heavy rain and no cell service, a large imposing carabao stretched the rope across the road that was keeping him from wandering, making it impossible for us to pass.  He did casually glance at us, but he was not about to move.  We could either try to drive by—at the risk of pulling the VERY BIG caribou into the truck or go back down the road.  In the end we backed down the road until we were able to turn around.  We found out later, that was the wrong road.  We felt someone very high up was looking out for us that day.
They offered to let us ride, but we settled for a gentle pat

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