“Sa lugar lang, palihog” (Stop here, please), the husband said.
“Here?” I questioned. “But there is nothing here. All I see is a waiting shed.” The flood waters stretched like an ocean on both sides of the road.
“Yes,” he said. “There is a trail from here. We know where it is.”
Reluctantly, I pulled over and watched them descend from the road without complaint and wade into the water, waist deep, slowly making their way toward the clump of distant trees. I knew that under the water, at their feet, was a narrow foot path raised about a foot above the submerged rice fields. A wrong step would likely send them completely under water with their belongings on their back. But they had done this many times before. I admired their strength and endurance.
Two weeks ago, after the flood waters had receded, I walked the same path. Even without the water, I had to be careful. These paths were not made for us big footed foreigners. I calculated each step. Once into the clump of trees, several bamboo/nepa houses appeared. My pastor/friend and I continued along the path, past barking dogs, busy chickens, waddling ducks, and some chirping birds.
We arrived at the Filipino couple’s home, slightly better built than the others. Tall trees surrounded the house. A nearby garden showed where some of their food came from. On one side of the house, bamboo poles held up a cheap plastic tarp, a lean-to tent shelter to give shade for those who came to worship. About 20 were seated on rough planks held up by A-frame legs of wooden boards.
The message was about another couple whose wife had been 8+ months pregnant with her first child, the husband too poor to afford a place to deliver the baby. Mary and Joseph had to settle for a dirty barn. Months earlier, an angel told Mary that her child, conceived by the Holy Spirit, was the Son of God. But with no midwife, hot water, or even diapers, their circumstance didn’t fit their idea of where the Son of God should be born.
God’s ways are so different than man’s. I assured those under the tent that their humble lifestyle was not an indication of God’s absence. On the contrary, it may be an indication of God’s favor. I glanced at the couple in whose humble home I was a guest. I felt sure that someday in eternity, I would be seated in their heavenly mansion which would be far bigger than mine. And that made me feel honored and blessed to be in their presence now.