Back to the Tribe

Going Home… Again

So glad Donna’s here again. We’ve gotten her rested and revived. And we’ve been buying everything we need to go home… back to the tribe.

Sounds a bit like a movie title. But “Back to the Tribe” is nothing like “Back to the Future.” More like “Back to the Past,” although that sounds redundant.

How is going to the tribe (moving back to the village where we minister) a move into the past? Hmmm… well, for one thing, it’s where we lived for most of the 80’s and 90’s. Raised our kids there. Grew up there (I was only 26 when we moved there, for goodness’ sake!)

And for more civilized city dwellers (and even for urban—and small town—Filipinos) Palawano life is an almost inconceivably simple and traditional way to live. An anthropologist friend of mine says, “Palawan is about 450 years southwest of Manila” and he’s absolutely right.

The Palawano life is a day-to-day struggle to get enough food just for the day; not much storing up for the future as there is no surplus. A family makes and grows almost all of what they need, and has a reduced need to cash (compared to the spend-crazy culture where I grew up!) There is no electricity, no plumbing, no TV… no one owns cars (or bicycles)… no one has a bank account.

Palawano life… you could call it “quaint,” but not if you are the one living the reality of it… trying to eke a living out of the jungle with a few hand tools, farming by hand in the blazing tropical heat in between malaria attacks.

Palawano life… those with the greatest desire to show off their ignorance call it “blessed” and “carefree,” saying the Palawanos are “happy the way they are” and “one with nature,” and other such nonsense. Scared to death of “nature” (and the spirits they believe haunt every rock and tree) is more like it. Crying futilely against the “nature” where malaria takes the lives of babies and small children when medicine is often unavailable unless a missionary happens to live nearby is a more honest picture.

And that’s why we’re going back there. We know these Palawanos now, after living with them for 25 years. And we have the means to make “Palawano life” a little easier by providing medicine, education, community development projects… all that.

But the main reason we’re headed back there is not to simply improve “Palawano Life” but to offer them new life… the eternal life God offers in Christ, and the joy He gives in our earthly life (whether Palawano or American or something else.) So we’re headed back to continue giving this message of hope, training the Palawano men who desire to pass it on…

…and as our highest priority, to finish translating God’s Word into Palawano, so we can place in their hands, the one thing that has the power to change their lives… by changing their hearts.

Pray we continue to let it change our hearts and lives, as well.

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About billdavisthoughts

From San Diego, CA. I've been a missionary and Bible translator in the Philippines for over 30 years and have travelled as a language learning consultant to 15 countries. I play piano and guitar. I write, read voraciously and love to work on word puzzles. Married for 35 years, we have two daughters and two grandchildren.
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