“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9). This text has been my encouragement the past few months. Even through trials, God works for His glory.

It all started when Lebas died in the village of Lap Lap. Fifteen years ago, Lebas fell from a tree, and his health had declined ever since then. Before he died, he asked to be put in a tree house instead of being buried. Animist Palawanos worry what will happen if their bodies are buried and dirt touches them.

A few days after Lebas’ death, two children from his family died. Suspecting that Lebas’ body was a source of contamination, we told the village they should bury it, but no one was willing to do it because they were afraid of his spirit. In fact, most of the village had already moved to another part of the mountain out of fear. A few days later, a woman was carried to our clinic in a basket. She was severely dehydrated and barely responsive. Soon after, two more people were carried in. Fear was written across all the villagers’ faces. We sent out word that anyone who was feeling even a little sick should come and get treatment. We also sent two missionaries to properly dispose of Lebas’ body and educate the village on how to prevent the spread of disease.

We ended up treating 16 people for what appeared to be cholera. Ten of them were in-patients in our four-bed clinic, so there were people sleeping on the floor and on the front and back porches. After two days of treatment most of them felt much better. Before we let them go home, we had them bathe and wash all their clothes. It turned into a big social event as each person took their turn. One older man we treated was fiercely independent and quite stubborn throughout his treatment. When he was feeling better, he told us, “If it wasn’t for your clinic, there wouldn’t be anyone left in our village, just chickens.”

We are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to help in this clinic. In the past, Lap Lap has not been receptive to the clinic or the church, but this cholera epidemic has opened a door. Now a group of high school students has been doing outreach there every Sabbath afternoon, and it has been well received by the elders and villagers. The past few Sundays for market day, our former patients from Lap Lap have been first to arrive, beaming with smiles. Out of a bad situation, God has provided an opportunity to reach the village of Lap Lap for eternity. —

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