Strong and bold.
Steadfast and immovable.
Pleasant as a gentle summer breeze.
Who could resist loving the mountains of Cebu?
We have seen some wonderful mountains, but the mountains of Casoy have jumped to the top of our list of favorites. (Casoy is the Bisayan pronunciation of cashew. Huge trees that produce cashew nuts give the area its name.) The members there have started meeting as a small group and hope to become a dependent branch.
We traveled with both the seats and bed of the pickup filled with elders and members. One elder said that if we drove on the left side of the road, it would be less bumpy. It wasn’t, but we drove there for a while anyway.
See those far mountains, the highest ones? That’s where we are going.
The concrete had long since turned into a rough gravel road when we began to climb. The road narrowed and big pot holes became common. Steep mountain slopes were on one side of the road and the other fell away into a deep ravine. It was somewhat like the road to Cannonball Creek except a road here, no matter how isolated or steep, means there is room for houses and tinahans on each side. Just dig into the mountainside or put stilts on the ravine side. Nothing is impossible.
The air became cooler as we climbed.
See that lake down there? We traversed it by boat last week.
The blue mountain lake gleamed through a frame of palm trees.
My brother went on a mission to France. He didn’t get to do a third of the things that I have done here already.
Wait ‘til we get to Casoy. You are going to love the people there. Did we tell you that they will serve us lunch before the meetings?
This was the French-speaking elder from Canada who wanted to go home when he arrived.
A little farther on we will get a really great view of the lake.
We stopped and the elder hoped out with my camera to take pictures.
I got a picture of a karbaw (water buffalo) too.
We passed through the village of Casoy. It was market day so we drove through with inches to spare. At one point we had to stop and lift up the twine attached to a tarp shading the wares on small tables extending into the street on both sides. We drove past a huge sow tethered to a tree with a piece of twine.
Here is the house where we will meet. You can park on the volleyball court.
The volleyball court was a relatively flat area dug into the slope at the side of the road. We climbed out of the truck and drunk in the cool fresh breeze and the amazing vista of river and mountains.
We have time. Let’s walk up the road and I’ll take a picture of you with the water buffalo.
The elder stepped over the rope tethering a huge water buffalo bull lying in the water of the shallow river. We liked the view a ways back from the bull.
Do you want to see the pictures? He was getting a bit mad at me. I crossed his rope into his territory. But I got some great pictures!
The elder took pictures of us with the mountains as a backdrop. On the way back, he stopped to show us a low growing plant. He touched the leaves.
See how they curl up when I touch them? They’re shy I guess.
It was raining lightly as we greeted the people. We were invited to go up to the house where a sister had prepared grilled fish, noodles, mung beans, and rice. The rain increased, and when we finished eating, we slid through the mud and gathered for the meetings. Elder Hall was the first speaker, and taught the Priesthood lesson; I taught Relief Society. We all shared love and tears.
When the meetings were over, we stepped outside into the fresh rain-washed air.
Sister Hall, we will wait in front while Elder Hall brings the pickup to us.
The “volleyball court” had turned to mud. The wheels spun and dug into the wet ground as Elder Hall maneuvered the pickup. It had been clean and white when we started the trip.
Next time I will turn around before I park—and I’ll park on the edge of the road.
The rain had stopped and the elders in the back sang as we drove down out of the mountains. I couldn’t catch the tune or the words, but I am sure they wanted to sing, “I love the mountains, I love the rolling hills…”