The Dumagat Tribe is one of the most well know ethnic tribes in the whole Philippines, with the vast majority of them live in the mountains of Antipolo. Last November 7, 2020, me and the YouthLab leadership went and what was suppose to be a rest and relaxation trip turned into something awesome that we can never forget.
HOW IT STARTED
It started out as a planned outing for the first 12 of 35 leaders for YouthLab, with the plans of just relaxing and swimming. Everyone was excited for the experience and the fun of the hiking and the travel and to meet the locals of the area.
It was all good and smooth for the first wave of the trip, we did stop overs to just enjoy the scenery and the travel, and also to try the very famous "Bulalo" meal which means a beef dish. It is a light colored soup that is made by cooking beef shanks and marrow bones until the collagen and fat has melted into the clear broth. Bulalo is native to the Southern Luzon region of the Philippines.
We stuffed ourselves with good food for the second part of the travel which included the one and a half drive going to the falls. But along the way we stopped and just appreciated God's creation.
We faced challenges along the first wave of the trip with our vehicles because of the thick mud, and there was a point that we needed to change the tire of our one vehicle. So you can just imagine the adventure that we were in given that we were almost half way through our journey to the falls.
WORTH THE WAIT!
After one and a half hours of driving and going through rough and muddy roads, we went into hiking mode which the guys were excited for. While walking we would be singing and just having a good time. Some of them are even vlogging the experience of everyone having muddy shoes and always falling to the ground (some of them forgot to wear shoes and some of them had slippery shoes!).
And then we saw the water falls! It was breathtaking! It was worth the wait! We didn't even hesitate to change and jump into the water falls. It was truly a declutter for all of us from the wrath of the city life and social media, and it was a needed break also for some of us having been doing a lot of ministry for the past 2 months for YouthLab and YL Community. It was also a time of rest with God, and as I was really just embracing nature I remember this verse:
"4 In His hand are the deep places of the earth; The heights of the hills are His also. 5 The sea is His, for He made it; And His hands formed the dry land."
Everything is His and we will we rejoice because we are His and in Him we can find true rest.
FOR BETTER OR FOR WORST
After a brief moment at the water falls we decided to pack up our things and get going before the rain. And then when we got to our cars we've decided to just eat when we go back to the town proper of Antipolo. But disaster struck and we were faced with muddy roads along the way, and good thing that our tour guide advised us to just keep driving and never stop, because if we stop, we would be stuck in mud! After a series of muddy roads and harsh conditions of the rain, we ran into a dead end.
We couldn't go through the road because just at the front of the road there was a truck that got stuck in the mud and it blocked our pathway so we had no choice but to stay and inline with the situation, God stretched me! I was feeling severely anxious of the situation because for a good 30 minutes nothing was happening, and I felt as if we were gonna stay there for a night and in my mind we couldn't afford staying there because of the following reasons that my mind thought of:
NO cellphone service. NO chance of calling for help and especially telling the parents of the youth.
We didn't have food! We had money but there was no market or place that we could buy food because we were stuck in the middle on nowhere.
We didn't had a place to stay and when worst comes to worst we would be sleeping in our cars dirty and cold.
ANXIETY was starting to creep in! OVER-THINKING started to over run my mind! A-lot of things started to come to mind. But God is just so amazing, and I don't know how He does it. The youth started to come out of the car and they started to help out people outside especially motorcycles who also got stuck in mud, they helped people who were walking and in need of urgent help. They stepped up and the good thing about it is that the people we helped were the ones who also helped us out of the mud! In the middle of my anxiety and fear God still did His thing!
Mga bayani! Translated to "The Heroes" is what I would call them. In spite of the circumstance they managed to stay positive and help! And I think that is what we call "passion". Hence the name Passion Team.
At some point in your life, God would allow situations for that to happen in order for your faith to be stretched and believe me, I've never felt anything like that in my life before and so God stretched us to the point when we couldn't rely on our own strength and understanding and rely on Him alone. I remember the verse:
1 Peter 5:7
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
God cares for you and so He will be with you not just through good times but also in bad times. In times of suffering, pain, anxiety, confusion. The verse did not said that He will take it away, but the context is do not fear because He cares for you and He will be with you.
2 Corinthians 12:9
"But 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 weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."