Elder Hall, Elder Peck will be going home on Wednesday. Will you come to Lamac to get him and his luggage…and his companion? It is very difficult for him to ride habal-habal on one motorcycle with a driver, two big missionaries and luggage.
Sure. What time do you want us to come?
Could you come about 7 AM?
Elder Peck had been working in the mission office as an AP. He had extended his mission for two weeks and had asked to be a proselyting missionary again. He was assigned to Lamac, and a young man from Balamban branch, who had recently received his own mission call, served as his companion. For the previous six weeks, the young man had stayed in the apartment with the Balamban missionaries, lived all mission standards, and served as a companion for one of the elders.
We took the elder to Pinamungajan where he got on a bus to go to Cebu, and then drove to Toledo. Elder Hall addressed the “soon-to-be” missionary.
Elder, where do you want to go?
Just take me to the terminal and I will take a bus.
You are going to Balamban, right? We need to take a mirror to the missionaries there. We can take you there.
We made the delivery.
Elder, where do you live?
Oh, it is very far and very dangerous. I will just go by myself.
We would like to take you. We want to see where you live.
We drove through the jungle where huge bamboo arched over the road. We passed large spreading old mango trees. There were hand-hewn beams of mahogany furniture-wood lying along the side of the road waiting to be marketed. The rocky, rutted and pot-holed road curved up and down and around over two high mountains and through the valleys between. There were three “spillway bridges” to cross and two places where the river had to be forded.
When Elder Hall’s parents served a mission in Arkansas, they talked about “low-water bridges.” The bridges were low enough that when the water level rose, the bridges were covered with swift flowing water, and the road was impassable until the waters receded. Possibly the need to ford rivers and creeks, and the use of low-water bridges, led to the use of the conditional commitment phrase, “The good Lord willing and the crick don’t rise.”
“Spillway bridges” are similar to low-water bridges. In a country where a storm can drop 12 inches of water in a matter of hours, spillway bridges are to be used with caution.
Elder, how do you get to church?
I hire a motorcycle if I have fare.
How much is the fare?
It is 70 pesos.
So it is 140 pesos each Sunday?
That is a lot of money.
And if you don’t have fare, what do you do?
If I don’t have fare, I walk.
How long does it take you?
About 2 hours.
Yes. One time when my brother was walking with me, we didn’t get home until 7 o’clock. We were so tired and it was dark, so we played singing games. We sang, “High on a Mountain Top.”
We checked the distance on the odometer of the pickup. It was 15 Km (nearly 9 ½ miles). Those who measure such things report that 4 miles per hour is a good, brisk walk. At that rate, the first 8 miles would take two hours, and the extra mile and a half would take another 38 minutes. Quite probably walking rate measurements were taken for a short distance on a relatively smooth, flat path.
The road hazards, as well as the heat, and rain, could significantly increase the difficulty and the time needed to trek to and from church each Sunday. If he didn’t have money for fare, he probably had to wait until he got home to eat. But the young elder’s commitment was never conditional. He planned to come every week, and he did. Week after week, he raised his own personal banner of faith on his mountain top.
Shall the youth of Zion falter
In defending truth and right?
While the enemy assaileth,
Shall we shrink or shun the fight?
No! True to the faith that our parents have cherished,
True to the truth for which martyrs have perished,
To God’s command,
Soul, heart, and hand,
Faithful and true we will ever stand.