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What If?

We recently received a spring update from our mission co-workers in the Philippines, Cobbie and Dessa Palm. Among other things, Dessa works with a youth theater group, and Cobbie works to help people provide clean water.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it on the seas

and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1-2

Dear friends,

We live by the coastal city of Dumaguete, where the rising sun emerges from the sea, and the sun sets on the Cuernos de Negros mountain range, home of the Mt. Talinis watershed that feeds two major rivers which flow from the mountain town of Valencia to Dumaguete and its adjacent town. This natural habitat is indeed a sacred gift from God, endowing this island with a thriving ecosystem that connects the ridge to the reef.

The couple Felipe and Rebekah Timonel, both having lived all their lives in the mountains, have vivid memories of their childhoods, where water from the rivers and the springs was safe to drink, and where the forest teemed with monkeys, an assortment of birds and other wild animals. But as roads were built for various development projects, more trees were cut down and the state of natural resources began to deteriorate. They also noticed discoloration of the water.

Recent and more frequent flash flooding along the riverways has brought attention to the rapid denudation of the forest of Mt. Talinis and unfettered development projects. The once pristine and life-giving waters along this system have now become a source of insecurity for people’s lives.

These issues are at the heart of a performance that the Youth Advocates through Theater Arts (YATTA) is taking to schools in the impacted communities. Titled “What If?” the performance is designed as a kind of investigative reporting of four young students, probing into various factors contributing to the rise of calamities along the ridge-to-reef ecosystem as well as its contamination.

But it is more than just an exposition of the problem and its causes. The play also surfaces crucial questions that young people are faced with, many starting with “What if….?”

What if our forests are totally destroyed?

What if drinking water is now unsafe?

What if people pretend these problems do not exist?

What if we turn a blind eye to these issues?

As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to care for the natural world. We are called to open our eyes, ears, mouths, hearts and minds so that we can be better caretakers of the world. We are called to do something. And the youth want to make sure that the world they are inheriting can continue to be livable and safe. Let us pray that more people can work effectively and meaningfully in curbing the destruction of God’s created world.

Dessa and Cobbie Palm


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