Couldn’t stop crying

Meet Remedias Mendez. She lives at the end of a windy muddy path in a maze of huts in among the fertile rice paddies of the province of Nueva Cija. She welcomes us to the “shed” where she lives, with fresh coconuts and fried bananas. It has a corrugated iron roof and chickens run around, and it is clear that despite her modest surroundings, she takes pride in her home. The space where we sit has no walls, but there is a tablecloth with some fresh picked flowers on it.

Mere, Remedias and 16 piglets

With a micro-loan of 5000 pesos ($125), Remedias started a business selling pressed meats from her bicycle. She bought some pigs (with a pen as part of her living structure0 and now has two breeding sows and a healthy income. She sent her children to school.

Get this: Her oldest daughter just graduated from Ohio State University in the US, Magna Cum Laude in Computer Science and Maths. Power of education!

Meet the Kalasag Onion Co-op. Once, “poor simple farmers”, these entrepreneurial hard working knockabout lads got production loans to build their co-op farmers enterprise.

“This way to the giant onion mountain, Po!”

I couldn’t stop crying when I heard their story. Or maybe it was that they are now producing 200 metric tonnes of onions, sold exclusively to Jollibee (Filippino McDonalds).

Meet the rice farmers of the awesomely named Salvacion 2 village. We were guests at a community meeting in a thatch hut where they prayed, had bible inspiration, testimonies and stories all in Tagalog.

Community meeting

Their loans allowed them to start small businesses, send their children to school, make improvements to their homes. Hanging out with these guys is “fun”. They are very funny people who love to laugh and rib each other. They have a joy of life and of each other and a sincere faith which I find invigorating.

Tomorrow we fly on a small plane to the island of Panay to visit microloan clients in Iloilo.

Prayers?: Small plane to Filipino island. What do you think?

6 responses to “Couldn’t stop crying”

  1. Anne Looby says :

    I am so loving the blog! All those years of teaching English have certainly paid off! I am saying a prayer for the flight…now that’s scary. Don’t forget to breathe. Love to you both – what an amazing inspiring adventure you are both having. Just loving being a part of it. Annie

    • downeyphilippines says :

      Thanks. having a bit of luxury lunch today in the Sofitel, drinking from the chocolate fountain. Next few days will be pretty earthy i suspect. Breathe, breathe, breathe…………..

  2. Matty H says :

    G’day Pete. Really enjoying my daily hit of these updates. So much so that I’m beginning to dread the cold turkey when you return. Maybe blog on about life in the burbs for a while just to let me down gently? Especially liked the onion gag – who said inspirational tales of overcoming disadvantage in the developing world and dad jokes don’t mix?

  3. portablepeopleproductions says :

    I am with you Anne. From ‘so youre going to be a dad to ‘sow, I’m gunna be a pig farmer’. It is a privilege to walk this journey with you two. So much to pray for and be encouraged with how God is opening your eyes to the joys that can be found in Him amongst those who have so little. I would be very happy to make you a DVd of the journey if that would be helpful. If you have a smart/iphone the video facility is brilliant and best to hold it in landscape rather than portrait mode. Some video of singing and food, interviews of locals, some on the road stuff through villages. Love to you both in His Name
    Toosey.
    PS one thing Celia does really well is debrief our CMS missionaries after short and long term visits. Helps process some of the stuff emotionally and spiritually that you are seeing. I am excited to see what you Meredith have been involved in over the last few years. Great to be able to share it with Pete. Speaking of sharing, great article in SMH online this morning by Peter Jensen about marriage. Finally someone making sense. This safari you are both on just confirms the things PFJ is saying about a biblical marriage. Onya Chicken Dancers

    • downeyphilippines says :

      Thanks Toosey. I will certainly need some emotional debriefing. It is 1am and i have spent hours wondering around holding my laptop up above my head trying to get an internet signal. Best spot turns out to be our shower. Who knew? And right below us is a karaoke band in the severalth hour of their Abba set. Encouragement and prayer, yes! SMH articles will have to wait till I can get “four bars”! I’d settle for one!

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