The missionary work that Purdy native Dennis Linebarger and his wife, Eden, have done for the past 10 years in the Philippines was described at last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.
Larry and Sherry Lowery made the presentation. The Lowerys became familiar with the Linebargers when Larry served as pastor at the church in Easyville. The Lowerys have taken on the role of home missionaries for the Linebargers, which involves speaking to public gatherings to help raise funds for the Linebargers' work.
The Linebargers have established a base on the Philippine island of Luzon, where the nation's capital, Manilla, is located. Arriving as workers for the Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Linebargers moved on to establish their own church and school in a compound at the base of an active volcano. Eden Linebarger is a native of the Philippines, and her understanding of the culture and language played a key role in getting the mission established.
|When the Lowerys visited the Linebargers, they flew 13 hours from Dallas, Texas, to Toyko, Japan, then five more hours to Manilla. From there they drove to Legazpi City, near the Linebargers' VanderPol Christian Academy.||The Lowerys said the degree of poverty defies imagination. Many people live in the streets and forage for food out of an enormous garbage pile. They saw vast differences between the wealthy and the very poor, who make up most of the population.|
The Linebargers' encampment serves as a refuge for the 205 children who attend their school. The children wear uniforms to avoid distinctions over who lacks resources for proper dress. Many get a bath and fresh clothes when they arrive. Some have not eaten since they left school, even over the weekends. Children get a breakfast of bread and milk and a lunch of chicken and rice.
Security remains a constant priority. The compound sits behind high walls with wire on top, mainly to prevent thefts. Political rebels are active on the mountain. Several children of the rebels now attend the school since the Linebargers over time have shown their interests lie solely in helping the population.
Families in the vicinity typically live in 10x10 foot houses, where a couple and as many as nine children might reside. Most are squatters and have no claim to their land. There are almost no jobs available.
Most homes have dirt floors. Children have many health problems, mostly from asthma and tuberculosis.
The weather is hot and humid in the morning, improves as the day progresses and then gets cold at night. The school has no air conditioning. Though the Linebargers live a generally Spartan life, their home has air conditioning in the bedrooms. While the Lowerys were visiting, a cobra was captured in the compound.
The school has 11 teachers for preschool through sixth grade. The dining room is large enough to accommodate 100 students at a time. The church in the compound is also used for classes.
The federal government has sent its education specialists to the Linebargers' compound to learn the teaching strategies. Students at the school have earned some of the highest test scores of any school in the nation. Even local teachers come to the school on weekends to learn from the Linebargers' teachers.
A sponsorship program enables people in America to support children at the school. Payments of $42 a month covered the cost for two meals a day and two uniforms. Donations can be sent to Linebarger Ministries, Post Office Box 891, Monett MO 65708.
Kiwanis President Frank Washburn presided at the meeting and served as program chairman. The Monett Kiwanis Club meets weekly at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.