On Friday, July 15, we traveled 3 hours into the mountains around an area called Lake Cebu to a place called Apopong Laconan. One of our Pastors, Pastor Romie, has been ministering to this area, conducting Bible studies, working in the schools, and trying to share Jesus with anyone who will listen. The NHM decided to hold a crusade there. We headed out Friday morning with 4 vehicles loaded with supplies, equipment and people. We made it there and back through difficult road conditions with only some minor damage to vehicles – thankfully on the way home. The crusade was held. It was a wonderful time. It absolutely poured, with thunder, lightning, the whole bit – which made the roads even worse on the way back. But we took the opportunity to take flip flops, food and the word of God to a remote area, which is heavily Muslim. It is what we are here to do. If we didn’t go, who else would?
The children there walk long distances to attend school and many have to cross the river. There was worry about them getting home after the crusade since it was getting dark and had rained. But that is their reality. Every day they face those challenges.
While we were there, we met a 16 year old girl named Nelbie. She is in the 6th grade. Her vision is obstructed by cataracts. They were immediately noticeable. Our mission administrator, Salvador, brought her to my attention. She was very shy and became even more self-conscious as we tried to get information from her.
I talked to Salvador, who talked to Pastor Romie, who speaks little English. They spoke in Cebuano (I think). Then the Pastor spoke to the girl in Tiboli, the local language of that area. Then all the information was translated back to me. It was quite a conversation with information and questions going back and forth – like playing “telephone.” Here is what I was able to learn:
Nelbie lives in an area a couple more hours away from where we were holding the crusade. She comes to this barangay every Sunday afternoon and spends the week in a dorm in order to be able to attend school. She returns to her home for the weekend, then returns to the dorm the following Sunday. She told us that someone – and I have no idea who she has been checked by – says she will be blind in the next year. I have no way of knowing if that is true. What I do know is that she needs help.
On Tuesday, Pastor Romie will travel up to the village where this girl lives and attempt to locate her family. If he is successful, he will ask if they are even interested in Nelbie receiving eye care. Medical care here is not always accepted. For this family, this will mean a big commitment of time away from their home and travel back and forth to our mission. If they are interested, we will contact the eye surgeon here who has done cataract surgery for people from the mission before. We will arrange a time for an examination so Nelbie can be evaluated to determine what is needed as far as treatment.
We will bring Nelbie and a parent down from the mountains. Pastor Romie will escort them here to the mission. They will spend two nights and see Dr. Santos the day between. Then we will get them back home. We will confer with Dr. Santos. Hopefully she will be able to give us the plan for treatment and an estimate of the funds that will be needed. If the money is available, we will schedule further treatment. We will plan on housing Nelbie and a parent here before her surgery and after, until it is safe to return her to her home.
This is going to be quite an undertaking, but what choice is there? God has put this young lady in our path. We are experienced with getting help for those with cataracts and have Dr. Chris Colvin from Springfield, Ohio standing by our side to help as needed with suggestions, arrangements, and communication with the local surgeon.
We went up into the mountains to share the word of God and to love on people in a remote area. God apparently had an additional idea – one of His little ones needs help. We can help. I believe He will open the doors needed to give Nelbie back her vision. And after that, who knows what plans He has for her. How blessed we are to be able to be used as His instruments to give a child a chance she never expected to have.
To God alone be the Glory!