Rice, Rice, and More Rice
For many Asian countries rice is a staple food which is often eaten with each meal of the day, sometimes as the only food served. This is especially true here in the Philippines. We have been told numerous times by Filipinos that if rice is not served, a meal is not complete. It is common practice to eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The average Filipino family consumes between approximately 25-50 kilos of rice each and every month.
This past week I had the opportunity to travel to the rural community of Duran, in Capiz province on Panay Island, with my colleague, Duane Guthrie. Duran is approximately an 1 1/2 hour drive to the city of Roxas, and it contains many hectors of rice fields and are the primary source of food and income for many families in that community. Kabuganaan Philippines Ministries (KPM), which is the community development organization of the Kasapulanan Association of Baptist Churches in Capiz, recently formed a business development group (as seen in the picture to the right) to explore new ways of approaching community development through a lens of business.
KPM has invited Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) to be a part of this journey, and we are excited about the opportunity to work along side of them, in this capacity, to help spread the Gospel through word and deed to communities in Capiz province.
On Wednesday we met with a group of 13 rice farmers (many of whom also serve as pastors) to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. We asked them to share about the good things they’ve experienced as farmers, how their work as farmers was ‘life giving’. Their stories were both challenging and inspiring.
Here are a couple of their stories…
STORIES FROM THE FIELD
This is Pastor Eliseo Gallaza. Pastor Gallaza has served as a pastor for over 50 years in the Kasapulanan Baptist Association. During this time he has also operated his own rice farm as a way to earn extra income and put food on his family table. Many churches can not afford to pay their pastors very much. As a result, pastors are often bi-vocational. Pastor Gallaza began working on his families farm when he was 9 years old and has continued to work the land since that time (over 70 years). By doing this, he has been able to serve as a pastor for many, many years. He has always viewed his work on the farm, and his ministry in the church, as being complimentary. God has used both his vocations to spread the Gospel. Although he has technically ‘retired’ from pastoral ministry, he continues to pastor a small church and he continues to farm his land.
Pastora Carmelina Hernandez, at the age of 38, became a widow with 5 young children. She was serving as pastor of a church while also operating a small rice farm with her husband before he passed away. After his passing she did not have the money to hire labor workers for the farm, so she got her hands and feet dirty and learned how to do the work herself. Over time she grew to love the work of farming. As she watched the rice grow it was a reminder to her of God’s love and grace that was shown to her and her children through the years – they were growing closer to God! Today, Pastora Carmelina sees her work as a pastor and her work as a farmer as being deeply connected and purposeful. She is able to serve the Lord whether she is on the farm or at the church…to her, both are ministry!
Rice farming is a vital part of many families and communities throughout the Philippines. There are many, many challenges to rice farms such as typhoons, droughts, rodents and other animals, poor seeds, too much rain, and many other things. However, despite all of the many challenges, each of the farmers we met are proud to be farmers and are thankful to God for providing them with land to farm.
- Please pray for the ministry of KPM as they look for new ways of approaching community development through business initiatives.
- Please pray for our children as they begin their 2nd semester at Faith Academy
- Praise God for providing us our own home…We moved into our home on January 6th and are settling in really well. Thank you for praying for us as we searched for a home.
- Pray for us as we resume our language classes this week. We will be increasing our language study for the next number of months as we work at grasping the grammar and increased vocabulary
THIS IS PUTO…
Filipinos have many different ways of preparing and serving rice. For example, it is common to have fried rice with garlic served for breakfast, Bibingka (rice cake with cheese on top) served for a snack, or Suman (sticky rice cooked with coconut milk and sugar) served as a sweet treat wrapped up in a banana leaf. In this picture rice is being served as a light morning snack during our meeting. It is called ‘Puto’ and sort of resembles a muffin, a rice muffin cooked in a banana leaf.
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