“Pasi-aw ni Pastor Ed”

IMG_0455To this young man named Julie, I am always “Pastor Ed,” and he would not listen to corrections. With him and his wife, I had much time to study the Word. They had scant time to sit down with me in their home but they were good listeners, observing and absorbing everything they heard from me. Both spent much time in the pechay patch that Julie had carved out of a mountainside. Sometimes he would drive a motorcycle-for-hire, taking passengers on pleasure trips to Mount Manunggal, but always you would find Julie and his wife in their garden patch. It was there too that I would conduct my Bible class.

Slender and somewhat tall, Julie’s moods and ways may swing with his environment, including its sadness and its pains, but he has always believed that laughter is the best medicine even for back-ache. And it seems both of us and those who join our circle never get older day by day.

A year ago he put an end to his life as a pechay planter. Business had not been good and the weather had been so unkind. So stop planting. Diversify. Then I saw him tending sheep and goats owned by one rich man. And so amidst the cacophony of bleating goats and blah-ing sheep, we put finishing touches to a dream by putting an end to that dream—the vegetable truck farm we had envisioned over cups of coffee during days and nights of rain that detained me in this mountain lair never saw reality. You are now a pastor of goats and sheep, I said. That’s good.

I encouraged him to get a license to drive; he did. I urged him to learn driving a jeepney and he became an expert in it.

And so the dreams of youth that I had and which I laid out before Julie’s eyes became his dreams too. His wife underwent training to become a sewer of ready-to-wear garments. Then he told me his wife had been accepted to work in a garment factory. I said good. That means she would stay in the city and you’d remain in this mountain lair of yours– far from the madding crowd, far too from the economy that moves. “She would be working seven days a week with half of a day of rest,” he said, “and that rest is not on Sunday. And she would be allowed to come home only once a month.”  Wow, how can you manage that? I asked.

Listen, I told him. These are trying times. The city is full of lights but there are sons of darkness prowling in its every corner. These will try your souls; these will try your marriage too, if it is meant to survive. Both of you are still young– she’s 19 and you’re 22. And remember, you have a pretty woman for a wife. Take good care of her, and that takes care of your marriage.

Last Sunday I was back. I was told that Julie’s wife is now on her first day on the job. But Julie and his daughter too were nowhere to be seen. Where are they, I asked. “He resigned,” Edward said.

And Edward told me why: It is because of the “Pasi-aw ni Pastor Ed” (”The joke of Pastor Ed”).

What I said about his wife and his marriage set Julie into thinking. It was not meant as a joke.

The family is now in the city. He’ll drive jeepneys if not tricycles, and he would be near her– to keep their marriage intact.

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