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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Bulldozing for Jesus

 No road means no school
This picture sums it up better than anything I could say. This little boy who lives in the mountains did not go to school because his family would not eat if he did not carry those banana's 5-7 kilometers to the main road everyday. The reason he had to carry them that far was because the trail going to his remote place could not facilitate trucks. There was no accessible road. After purchasing the equipment and making roads to his place he no longer had to carry those baskets. Instead trucks come and pick up not only one basket but 20 and 30 at a time. He can now go to school and his family has the opportunity to see a brighter economic future. This was the reason I decided to buy the equipment.

I had a very rare opportunity in my life and that was to be able to fulfill a childhood fantasy. I was definitely a sandbox kid when I was young. I used to spend hours and hours playing with my construction toys. At the time I was very serious about it. When I built a road in the sandbox I made a good road.

I am so humbled to understand that God took pleasure in my dreams as a child and actually gave me the opportunity to experience them in real. In my donation efforts in the Philippines I bought several pieces of heavy equipment to accomplish various projects. These purchases were not for a business effort where I used the equipment for profit and then donated them for charity on the side. I actually purchased and maintained this equipment to use directly in donations. These were instruments.

At the time I used to call it "bulldozing for Jesus" and I was serious about every project. These heavy equipments were used as an expression of love. I had a relationship with each one. We were a team to improve lives in the Philippines.

The 'D4' Caterpillar

She was delivered to me at the top of a mountain in Cebu on a rainy day back in 2006. I remember how excited I was and how frightened I was knowing that I had no idea even how to start or stop her. It would be one thing if I was on flatland but I was on a mountain top with steep drop offs all around. That in itself was an encouragement to learn fast.

Me and the D4 soon became best friends and I spent many hours a day on her making roads, clearing slides helping people to make flat areas to build their houses. Let me tell you it was fun and I mean real fun! I took to bulldozing like a fish to water. I could not get enough of it. Thank goodness I was able to afford the fuel and maintenance costs!

My wife enjoying a lesson on the D4
After a couple of years in Cebu I sent the D4 to Luzon to use on my projects there. The day I picked her up at the port in Manila she had arrived on a ship called MV Princess of the Stars. That ship actually sank in a tragic sea accident a few years later. Anyway, when I had boarded the ship to retrieve the D4 the man in charge asked me where is your driver and I told him it was me. He gave me the most surprised look when I started the bulldozer and drove it off the ship and onto a very small truck. It was a cherished moment!

I eventually sold the D4 in 2008 to a construction company in Baguio. I remember almost crying as I drove her onto the truck to be taken away for ever. I thanked God for the great times and challenges we had experienced together. Somehow I think that bulldozer is still being used for good someplace.

It took pressing the brake pedal with two feet to get it to turn
The Bucket Loader

The next piece of equipment was the Mitsubishi track bucket loader. As I found the large landslides nearly impossible to clear with the D4 I needed something to scoop and load my dump truck with. I found the bucket loader at a hardware dealer where I was buying cement and things. The owner gave me a fair price and it needed a bit of work. But after a month or so it was running in fine condition and it had working brakes "sometimes".

This was also very fun to drive. My favorite move was to scoop into the side of the mountain and let the sliding soil self load the bucket. The challenge of course was to see how much could get in each scoop. It was kind of a game but nonetheless productive too.  It was just the right size for the narrow mountain roads. I eventually donated it to the barangay captain of the area who wanted to start a coal business.

The Mini Dump Truck

I have to hand it to Izuzu, they sure make some wonderful stuff. With all the cementing jobs and need to haul backfill materials I found it necessary to buy a dump truck. But due to the narrow mountain roads I needed a mini size. I found one that not only dumped from the back but also from the sides. It was perfect for our needs. I could not count how many hundreds if not thousands of times we used the dump truck. It came in handy also to help people who were moving their personal belongings. I used this truck for around 3 years.
I sold this dump truck to a man who was working with me on the projects. He appreciated the special price I gave him.

The Backhoe Excavator
I would say without a doubt that one of the greatest inventions of machinery in modern times has got to be the backhoe. What an amazing piece of equipment. I bought my backhoe in Luzon after I had discovered that the former owner of my property had not reported to me 345 large dump truck loads of garbage that was buried on the property. I bought the backhoe because of the environmental concerns for the place I was going to live.

The backhoe was used for much good. Not only to clean up illegally dumped garbage but also to make fishponds. I think the best use of it was when I let a very poor neighbor train on it so he could be qualified to be a professional operator. This benefited his family greatly. He had no education and could only do labor jobs prior. But after using the backhoe he was able to get good decent paying jobs and I think he even applied to work in Saudi Arabia.

My dad had fun driving the loader during a visit in 2008
The Luzon Bucket Loader

Since I had purchased a rural property I found it necessary to buy another bucket loader for the farm operations. It was used not only on my property but very much to help the local barangay in many ways. This was also used to train various men giving them enhanced employment opportunities. One memorable use was when a cancer patient I was helping had complained of pain from all the illegal self made speed humps on the barangay road I went out and removed them so she could go to her appointments and not suffer.







The D7 "mistake"

At one point my ambition was outgrowing my reasoning and made a pretty big mistake. I was so much into driving the equipment that I wanted to go bigger and bigger. So I started shopping for the big toys. I found a very nicely painted D7 Caterpillar in a Subic Bay second hand dealer. I had even flown my former mechanic from Cebu to look at it. But due to the strict rules of the dealer the mechanic was limited on how far he could dig for problems. To make a long story short I purchased what was told to me as being a second hand Japan model only to find out after the fact it was 4th hand.  The outside was original but the thing was so chopped that it never did work right, and after a year of big mechanical expenses I threw in the towel and sold it for half the price I paid for it. A $50,000 Ouch on the wallet! Live and learn! 

I am grateful for the opportunity I had to do the "Bulldozing for Jesus" and fulfill some childhood fantasies. The bottom line is many peoples lives were improved by making roads, clearing slides and giving training to people in desperate need of opportunity. It was a rare opportunity for me provided by God to bless others and have some fun in the process. Thank you Lord for that chapter in my life!