Mission: Philippines 2010
Trip Report: The start of something
By Ace Concordia
C4C Philippines coordinator
Our first night in Tacadang this year was on my birthday. After we had dinner, I was trying to open a plastic bag of Jelly Ace candy because I read on the pack that there was a free toy inside. This amused Climbing For Christ president Gary Fallesen of Rochester, N.Y., who was joined on his second trip to Tacadang by eight Filipino climbers. Gary shook out the contents of the bag, found the toy and handed it to me. It was one piece of a plastic building block, much like a Lego piece.
“Great, what do I do with this one piece?” I said. “I would have to buy 100 more bags of this product to be able to use it.”
In the midst of making fun of this plastic toy, Gary took the toy and placed it in front of me on the table.
“Do you know what this is?” he said. “It’s the first piece of something that you’re going to build.”
It was then that a realization came to me that even though it was our fourth mission to Tacadang, the work of the Lord there has only just begun. Then I started seeing the new things God was doing.
Jhun Hacbang giving students school supplies in Tacadang.
We give praise to God for the success of Mission: Philippines 2010! As I stated, it was our fourth mission climb to Tacadang since July 2008, and we returned with a team of C4C climbers bringing school materials, medicines, Bibles, and a lot of love.
The climb once more took us through the amazing rice terraces, the rolling pine tree-covered trails, the suspenseful cliff crossings, the elevated hanging bridges, and the breathtaking views that can only be found in the rugged stone mountains of Kibungan. One would think that after four climbs it would be routine to reach Tacadang. Not so. Surprisingly, there were many “new things” about this mission climb. To start off, adding to the challenge of the mountain trek was the summer heat. C4C mission climbs were usually done at the last quarter of the year; this was the first time we climbed during the summer months, and the summer heat has come early this year.
Another thing that was different was that for the first time we were in Tacadang during the week. On previous climbs we were in Tacadang on a weekend allowing us to attend Sunday services in one of the churches there. That also gave us an opportunity to minister to a good number of people because they had all come down from their villages and houses to attend church. On this particular climb, though, there were very few people in Tacadang proper because most were in the rice fields working. We only realized this when we already there, and I pondered how many people we were going to be able to share God’s word to in light of this different scenario.
Even though there were not very many people in Tacadang on the days we were there, all the leaders were there. I believe God wanted us to minister to the leaders this time, because they are the key to reaching the other villagers for Christ. We met with their local officials and leaders of various groups, most importantly we spent time talking to the leaders of the three churches in Tacadang. We were able to share our purpose for returning and give a testimony to what God is doing in our lives. We invited them to a discipleship program we plan to run in June to equip them more to share the gospel.
Ace Concordia shares Bibles and a laugh with church leaders in Tacadang. New member Kolbel Acquiapat, sitting behind Ace, served as our Kankanaey translator.
Another of the new things God is doing is blessing us with young friends. The children, who were previously very shy and afraid, were now making friends with us. One of the moments I will never forget is after we had given out blessings of school supplies to the children, they sang a “thank you” song for us. The chorus of voices singing for us made most of us cry, and you could feel that God was truly there working in the hearts of the young.
God was not finished yet. On our way back to Kibungan, the guides took us on a “new” route, which was faster but definitely steeper. Back in Kibungan a new member was added and he is our first Kibungan local to join C4C and will serve as the bridge to our endeavors in Kibungan. He is our long-time guide and now brother in Christ, Kolbel Acquiapat.
After the mission climb my brother in-law sent me this text message:
“See, I am doing a new thing!
“Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
“I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
— Isaiah 43:19 (NIV)
It confirmed for me that, despite the previous climbs, the work in sharing the love of God in the mountains of Kibungan has only begun. There will be more mission climbs to Tacadang, Badeo, and the other mountain communities we have yet to reach in this area. I take this opportunity to invite you to become part of the new thing God is doing in Kibungan; the harvest is plenty but the CLIMBERS are few.
The team serving in Tacadang: (front row, left to right) Kolbel and Ace; (back row, left to right) Jason, Jhun, Melnord, Rhea, Pam, AA and Gary.
May the Lord continue to bless the C4C climbers who climbed on this mission: Andrea Alloro, Rhea Barlao, Pam Delavin, Jason Elcano, Jhun Hacbang, Melnord De Castro, Gary Fallesen, and our newest member Kolbel Acquiapat.
Let no man take the glory for the success of this mission. May the glory belong to God alone!
Posted March 4, 2010