I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately. That’s nothing new, I suppose. Just keep those comments to yourself. I am referring to thinking pointedly about food.
First of all, since moving to Puerto we have been hosting something called “Community Dinner.” Okay, we admit it. We shamelessly stole the idea from our daughter Bethy. She and her friends had them during college, and now she and her bosses and coworkers carry on the tradition.
Every Thursday, everyone in our mission who lives in town comes over for a potluck dinner. We have a different food “theme” each week. It’s fun: Food-on-a-Stick… Iron Chef, Secret Ingredient: Apple… Breakfast at Night… Taco Thursday… the list goes on. And whoever is in town passing through and staying at our mission’s guest home is also invited. The event has ranged from 5 people (including us) to over 30, with some spilling out into the yard and the gazebo.
It’s a great time for the missionaries in our Palawan region to get together and fellowship. We pray it will contribute to a sense of team cohesion, as well.
When our missionaries come out of the tribe for a break, their time is often crammed full of a hectic schedule of doctor’s appointments, shopping, government paperwork, etc. Sometimes they are able to get away for a few days’ break as a family, or even with another family. They may get to see a few other missionaries or even have a meal together, but they would never be able to see everyone and it is sometimes hard to have a really significant conversation in a restaurant. So the Community Dinners give us all a chance to see more of each other, and to fellowship over food in a relaxed setting. People are even starting to plan their breaks around making sure they are in Puerto over a Thursday, so they don’t miss Community Dinner!

Speaking of food, still… there are some really great restaurants in Manila. Long before T.G.I. Friday’s and Chili’s and Outback and the rest moved into the market, there were locally-owned restaurants, many of which are actually way better than the American chains! Chef Gene Gonzalez is a famous chef who has studied cooking in Paris and New York. He owns several restaurants in Manila, and at least two of them have been rated in Manila’s top 50 for decades. We are blessed that his signature restaurant, Cafe Ysabel is only a few blocks from our Manila Mission Home. Great good and desserts to die for (I love the white chocolate mousse best)… that’s what you can expect at Cafe Ysabel, all in a renovated turn-of-the century wooden house with rococo murals on the ceilings. And as missionaries, we’re thankful that Cafe Ysabel is priced more like a Denny’s (or even less!)

Gene takes ordinary ingredients and creates amazingly flavorful food to feed his guests. It is the talent of the chef that makes all the difference.
But Gene is also a “renaissance man” who is a fencing champion and an artist. Recently, Gene gave us a drawing he had made using espresso as the ink! The picture is entitled “Galilee” and it shows the loaves and fish which the Lord used to feed the multitude. On the back there is a note which states that Gene considers the feeding of the five thousand to be “the greatest catering event in the ancient world,” one which has always been an inspiration to him.
I admit I laughed when I read that at first, since I have never thought of that miracle as a “catering event”! But the more I thought about it, the more I could see chef Gene’s reasoning. The Lord Jesus wasn’t merely showing off what he could do with a pack lunch. And while he was certainly providing proof of his divinity (for his disciples as well as for the crowd), I think a big part of his motivation was simply to feed the crowd. To meet their needs. To satisfy their hunger.

Then it struck me. By translating the Word of God, we are feeding the souls of the Palawanos. Meeting their needs. Satisfying their hunger. Spiritual hunger. A few months ago they had their first taste of the book of Acts. Soon they get their first chance to nibble at the books of Ephesians and 1 Peter.
God’s Word is the true food of the spirit, bringing Christ, the Manna from Heaven, to the remotest parts of the globe.
When he fed the multitude, the Lord took something very simple, humble and inadequate (someone’s brown-bag lunch) and used it to meet the needs of a large crowd. He selected and took it, he broke it, and he used it. It wasn’t miraculous fish or supernatural bread. It was the hands of the Master that accomplished the impossible.
It’s the same with translation work. It’s not us. It’s not our technology. It’s all the work of the Master in and through us. And the satisfying, life-changing product is not the ink and paper itself, but the message… the very Word of God.
Please keep praying that we will be continually “broken” and useful in the Master’s hands as he works to feed his Word to the Palawano multitude.
And keep praying for that day to soon arrive when we can host the “greatest catering event in Palawano history,” the dedication of the fully-translated and printed Palawano New Testament.
Now that will be some celebration! Maybe you can join us!
And you’ll get off easy… you won’t even have to pick up basketfuls of leftovers.


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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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