Good Soil

John Bacuyag took a huge risk the year he decided to make his own fertilizer. A concoction of eggshells and fermented juices and other ingredients were combined with manure and applied to his rice field. His neighbors scoffed and waited for the inevitable failure. Surely the crop would wither and die. If it did make it, there couldn’t possibly be more than a few stalks. But John was optimistic. Even if the crop failed, he knew that his soil would be healthier. And for the first time, he didn’t have to go into debt to buy expensive fertilizers. As John and his neighbors waited out the growing season, the rice grew green and fat. His seedlings grew more stalks than usual and his rice yield increased by 40%.

John’s success is the product of Chris and Cathee Mapes’ hard work. The Mapes live in Pakak, a tiny village in the Kalinga Province of the Philippines. From their small hut at the edge of the village, they are working to create a role-model village. Their ministry, which includes organic farming and village sanitation, puts the gospel first. The Mapes believe that if God changes hearts, minds bound by tradition will follow.

The_Mapes PNGChris and Cathee have been working with local farmers for over 2 years now and the results have encouraged other farmers to join them in making organic fertilizers. Their hope is that all of the rice farming in the village will be 100% organic in the near future.

However, teaching the benefits of raising pigs in pens has been more difficult. Traditionally, pigs are allowed to wander the village. In the process, they eat human waste which can make their meat unsafe for humans to eat. It is difficult for villagers to understand why they should spend additional time, money, and effort to construct pens and plant gardens to feed their pigs. After all, the pigs that roam the village grow just as large as the ones living in pens. They don’t see the link between the food they eat and their own personal health.

Water supply and quality are also issues in the village. While the government will occasionally sponsor wells, many are built in a sub-standard fashion and later require major repairs. A recent outbreak of an unknown disease that starts with UTI-like symptoms and leads to dementia is additional evidence that change is necessary to improve the health of the community.

Mapes_Home PNG

The Mapes’ Home

In the midst of this, Chris and Cathee seek to spread the gospel and demonstrate God’s love for His people. They are involved in nearly all of i-61’s Areas of World Crisis, but Spiritual Confusion is foremost for them. They believe that if the villagers come to faith in God and Jesus Christ as their Savior, then they will see the benefits of sanitation, education, and organic farming. They believe that if God changes hearts, minds will follow and anything is possible.

Chris and Cathee’s love is evident as they devote their lives to making a difference in this remote outpost. They remain committed to continuing their efforts with the church, local youth, organic farming, and yes…even building pig pens. They currently need funds and workers. If you have a heart for the poor and would like to make a difference, you can contact them via their website at mapesmission.com.