“If the house is ever in danger of burning down, the first thing I want you to rescue is this,” my mother, Julita Gaculais, would often say, pointing to a big brown box.

Several years earlier, when she was a young Christian, she had attended CEF training and purchased several sets of flannelgraph Bible lessons. The brown box contained those visual aids, her most prized possessions.

Some of the flannelgraphs she owned.

In 1974, she and Tatay began ministry in Moraza, a small village in the hinterlands of Botolan, Zambales. About half of the children she taught were Aetas, dark-skinned, kinky-haired natives, and half were ‘lowlanders’—straight-haired children. They sat side by side in Nanay’s Sunday school classes, listening to stories of the patriarchs, of David, of Elijah and other prophets, and of Jesus. Whenever any of them asked Jesus into their hearts, Nanay would write their names in the flyleaf of her Bible.

Tatay and Nanay (second row, third from left) holding me in her arms with the children at Moraza Christian Church in Botolan, Zambales. This was in 1975, 17 years before Mt. Pinatubo erupted.

Years flew past. Some of the children, by then teenagers or young adults, left for school or work elsewhere. Other stayed in Moraza and began to raise families. Tatay and Nanay moved to a village closer to the town center. Then Mt. Pinatubo erupted, burying much of Zambales in ash. Members of the church they’d planted in Moraza resettled in nearby towns or provinces. Many of them planted churches in the resettlement areas or joined a church where they became active members. Lately, because of Facebook, I’ve received friend requests from persons who start off introducing themselves by saying, “I know you won’t remember me but your mother led me to the Lord years ago…”

“I know you won’t remember me but your mother led me to the Lord years ago…”

And the flannelgraph visual aids? Nanay brought them with her when she evacuated during the volcanic eruption, and used them for over two more decades before she passed away. Today, I still use them as I minister to another generation of children.

Jocelyn Gaculais-Apelo
Palauig, Zambales

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