I laughed as I fell off the steep mountain trail for the umpteenth time. Justina and I had planned to harvest rice with a friend of ours, but when we arrived at her farm she wasn’t there, so we were following a trail that we were pretty sure would lead us to the farm of another friend, Arlin. The trail was very narrow and steep, and there were lots of rocks and trees to trip over. I was thankful that it hadn’t rained recently enough to make the ground slippery. At one creek crossing, a little tree about as wide as our feet served as the bridge, and we had to reach up and grab a piece of bamboo to keep our balance as we crossed it. I had done minor surgery on Justina’s toe earlier that afternoon, so she was trying to walk carefully to keep from banging it on anything. We had brought along our tabigs—baskets for carrying rice—and mine was constantly getting in my way as I struggled to stay upright on the trail. After about 30 minutes of hiking we reached a rice farm and started looking and calling for Arlin.
Soon we saw her and her sister down the hill with some other people, and we started down. That is when the falling really began. It was very steep, and the dirt was loose and soft. As we made our way slowly down the side of the mountain, we would walk a few steps and then lose our balance and slide. In some places it was easier just to squat down and slide rather than try to walk.
When we finally made it down to Arlin and the others, they were happy to see us. Arlin knew how busy we are at the clinic, and she hadn’t been expecting us to come all the way to her farm. After greetings and some conversation, we began the work of harvesting the mountain rice. We used gelits, small metal blades on wooden handles, to cut the stalks of rice, and when our hands were full of stalks, we walked back to our tabigs and unloaded. Getting back up to the tabig can be a struggle, because by the time you have a large handful, you might be a ways down the mountain, and it’s easy to accidentally drop rice on your way back up. Arlin and Mindan helped us fill up our tabigs and then tied leaves over the tops of them to keep the rice from spilling out when we fell on our way home.
We were thankful to have the opportunity and time to be able to help with the harvesting. Through our work at the clinic, we pray that we will also see a bountiful harvest of souls for the kingdom.