Last blog (chronologically speaking) from me!
Our last full day in Cagayan was an excited & emotional time. Over the past few weeks we've come to know a lot of new people; we enter the community to cries of 'ate Hannah, ate Konna' & 'hey poppa' - apparently I've been adopted by a few of the kids!
We got in there early to crack on with saying some goodbyes after having studied how to do this well from a sociological/developmental viewpoint & also having reflected on Paul's goodbye to the Ephesian Church.
Alongside the goodbyes we still had a few practical bits to do. Our hand washing, tooth brushing & love language posters went up; full colour, dual-language masterpieces which will hopefully provide ongoing education of some basic principles for living life well as a community. The imperative for the morning, which turned into morning and afternoon, was to get he septic tank fully operational and to leave a comprehensive explanation of how it works & why it is important as well as the biblical principles of decent sanitation. We were able to fill the septic tanks with water drawn from the newly installed and fully operational pump which locals were over the moon about - and had already started washing & drinking from. We had to hammer home just how important it was to wash well away from the pump so chemicals and pathogens don't soak back into the ground and the water flow. There is now a sign telling people not to wash next to the pump in no uncertain terms. We have also been encouraging people to get involved in the new empowerment project so that they can start to be able to purchase properly filtered water 15 pesos (25 pence) per 30 litre refill - whilst the pump is providing cleaner water than the river or 'spring' it is only intended for washing unless boiled first - boiling large volumes of water is difficult due to lack of containers & the lack of safe wood burning areas.
We crammed it all in and felt like we achieved all we could alongside the pastor, his family & the other locals who had by now become integral parts of the project, taking full ownership. There were heartfelt and emotional goodbyes as we recounted all we had done together, the way we had conducted ourselves, shared where and what we were off to next, prayed together & took lots of photos - 'wacky-wacky'.
After some time to do some souvenir shopping for folks back home (or get a haircut in my case) we hosted an evening celebration inviting Pastor Mario's family (which had somehow grown to include half of the tribal community) as well as our friends for from the wider Higa-Onon tribe. Lechon Baboy (spit-roast pig stuffed with lemongrass) and roast chicken, with rice & fruits followed by a couple of cakes to celebrate John Roger & Gerline's Birthday made up the menu. Before dinner I read Paul's communion institutions to the Corinthian church from the Bisaya bible that Pastor Mario had given me. After dinner there was a lot of dancing. We closed together in prayer & then once again exchanged some emotional goodbyes!
The following morning was last minute packing, goodbyes, final jeepney ride to the airport, more goodbyes and we began our many leg journey home. A long delay in Cagayan, a sprint through Manila airport, a captain America marathon, lovely Qatar airways food & service, quick layover is Doha, an attempt to sleep over the Middle East and Europe, a nice chat to an Aussie about to start a teaching career in England, touchdown to Edinburgh soil, taxi & then hop into uncle Les' mini-bus service to head back to Candy Cottage! Nearly home!