This was tourist day. Bishop Alex, his adult daughter, Maria, and Padi Nancy picked me up just past 8. First a definition of Padi: It means Nancy is a priest. No Padi is not derived from Padre – no etymological connection whatsoever. It is not Spanish, but Ilocano – a Filipino language from the plains area around Santiago. It is a gender neutral title for a priest. Filipinos have the most gender inclusive version of English I’ve ever encountered. They use the masculine and feminine pronouns with total disregard for the gender of the person being discussed. It’s a little confusing to an American, but quite delightful.
As I was saying, before language took me astray, three wonderful people picked me up this morning and drove me up, up, up into the mountain forests. We stopped by one church and then dropped in at another, Padi Nancy’s, St. John’s in the Wilderness, to have coffee. Then on to the Banaue rice terraces, the 8th wonder of the world. Along the mountain sides, they have constructed earthen terraces. Irrigations systems which I cannot get my mind around keep these terraces flooded with water just like rice paddies on the flat lands. So they raise rice on the mountainsides. They are huge. It is an engineering marvel. Now when do you suppose they constructed these rice terraces? The oldest ones are from about 2,000 B.C.E. They were centuries old when God spoke to Moses. And they are still in active production.
I couldn’t see all of them because there was rain and heavy fog. But the rain and fog were pretty amazing to this desert rat. The foggy mountains were mystical and mysterious. The rain was cold and made sitting on Padi Nancy’s porch drinking coffee all the cozier. On the way back down the mountain, we stopped off at the Las Vegas Café. However, there was not a buffet. By the way, I said something amiss in a previous post. I said I had stopped for lunch in Turo Turo. Well, it was actually San Jose. Turo Turo is not a place but the name for the Filipino version of fast food. It means literally point point. There is no menu, just a deep bowls of food and you point at what you want.
When we got back to Santiago, I had dinner with the 6 deans. We had a good talk about the joys and challenges of their ministries and how deaneries work in this diocese. They are a good deal more active than our deaneries or even our mission districts. They have formal structures with officers etc . And they are responsible for implementing diocesan programs.
The deans’ main interest they wanted to discuss was forming congregation to congregation partnerships between Santiago and Nevada. They are not looking for financial support. Quite the contrary, self-reliance is one of their core values. They are looking for a spiritual partnership. They want to know our people and be known by them. It’s about friendship in Christ. We are going to exchange lists of congregations with brief descriptions, then set up small committees on each side to match up congregations and give them some direction for how to start the relationship. How to continue it will be up to the congregations. They are very enthusiastic about making these relationships happen.