An Offering To Remember by Travis Sharpe

As we rode down the extremely rocky and muddy dirt road, there were many obstacles to look out for. The carabow who stuck his head out of the sugar cane field only inches from the road was only one of many. There were also dogs and chickens that barely moved, even when you honk the horn. Other obstacles worth mentioning were the children playing and the severely overloaded 5 ton trucks headed to the sugar cane factories.

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But for all the many challenges along the way, our trip to the mountains was well worth the effort. It was a journey with great companions, with great preacher friends.

Todd, Ricky, Raul, Antonio and myself had a memorable time of fellowship as we rode motorcycles to a small remote mountain village where Raul’s parents live. Along the way we stopped to visit friends, eat fresh fruit at roadside stands, and once in a while we stopped just to stretch and talk to one another.

With every turn of the wheels, we got closer and closer to the mountain village. The closer we got, the more treacherous the terrain became. It was obvious that we were leaving the city far behind on this afternoon ride.

We soon arrived, crossing a field where the only road was the carabow trails that were worn several inches deeper than the rest of the field. (I won’t tell you what happened when my front tire fell in one of the ruts!)

Pastor Raul’s mom and dad live in a very modest little place that they have been working on for a long time. The roof is metal and the walls are pieced together with a combination of metal, wood and some other unknown material. It is a common dwelling place in this Philippine mountain village.

No guest goes without

The Filipino people are extremely hospitable, and Raul’s parents are no exception. This was my second visit here. The first time was earlier this year when I accompioned Raul to check on the progress of his parents remodeling project. At that visit, his mom and dad made us coffee to drink and gave us bread for a snack.

Here in the Philippines, it is customary to offer house guests a snack. Usually coffee and whatever snacks you have on hand. Often times a child will be hurriedly sent to a nearby store (usually located in a neighbor’s home) to purchase something to offer.

Whatever the offering is, I always enjoy making visits and having a time of fellowship in someone’s home. Because there is hardly ever a television or a computer, you can simply sit and enjoy the company. That’s hard to accomplish nowadays in the western culture I am familiar with.

Up the tree he goes!

Pastor Raul’s dad greeted us and we all exchanged handshakes and pleasantries. Soon, we were led out and down a little trail on the right side of his home. Before long, we were all looking up at the tall, slender fruit tree on the side of the trail. Raul’s father had climbed through the thick, green vegetation, and before we knew what was happening, the 72 year old had shimmied to the top of the tree.

He held on with his legs and one hand as he began to toss down small fruits with the other hand. As he was collecting the fruit, we were on the ground eating them.

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Lanzones are a wonderful sweet little fruit that grow there in the mountains. I probably ate about 15 of them before we left their house! After a few minutes in the tree, he had an entire bag full of fruit for us to take home.

It was an offering.

Isda! 

In Filipino, the word isda means fish and I could plainly understand when Raul’s dad asked if we wanted some. We weren’t going to be there long enough to join them for supper, but when he pointed to the small, hand-made holding pond directly behind his house, I was curious.

As soon as I said opo, which means yes sir, he took off his shirt, grabbed his net and jumped in.

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Raul told me that somewhere down in the murky water there were a few tilapia swimming around. After only a few passes with the net, there was success. Among the leaves and small branches, in the bottom of the net there were two nice tilapia.

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He brought the fish out and disappeared with them into the house. You see, they don’t have a refrigerator or any other way to keep foods fresh for extended periods of time. By digging the pond, he can buy fish, put them in and save them for later. I thought it was a genius idea!

What am I offering?

As I observed the effort that Raul’s dad put forth to be hospitable to us, it got me thinking.

What am I offering?

At my house there is a refrigerator, electricity, a stove and all other forms of modern conveniences. The stage is nicely set for me to be a great host when people drop by. As a matter of fact, I can be good to people with very little effort.

The question is, do I?

Do I care enough about a friends visit to take a little time and effort to give them something? I am afraid I fall short, especially when measured against the effort of Raul’s dad.

He taught me that what you offer is not as important as the making the offering.

I am challenged to be a better host and have a heart that wants to give more to the people who come my way.

Question: What are you offering?

 

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