“We learned how to till, but the locusts ate all our plants. It was like a cloud of locusts,” Robertson recalled.
In fact, the situation was so dire that the family had no choice but to eat locusts to survive for a period of time.
“It was real famine. There was no crops, nothing,” Robertson said, explaining how the locals eventually were able to get rid of the locusts by burying their eggs in a very time-consuming process.
“It was exhausting,” Robertson said.
During that war time, Robertson can recall watching dog fights in the sky over the city.
“It was very sad when they both went down,” Robertson said.
Christmas in the Jungle
That first year in the jungle was very rough, but Robertson's father wanted to make sure they still were able to celebrate Christmas, a very religious-oriented holiday in the Philippines.
Usually, the family planned for a huge cantata and other Christmas festivities in the church — but this year there was no church. The family already did devotionals every morning and every evening for the children.
“My father said we are family, we are a church,” Robertson said.
Word spread in the jungle for the others living there — that Robertson's father was a priest and would be hosting a Christmas celebration.
“So many people came. We all sang Christmas carols and lots of hymns. That was the first time many of them heard the Christmas story read from the Bible in their vernacular, translated from English with hymns in Philippine and English,” Robertson said. “That Christmas is so close to my heart.”
Instead of a traditional Christmas tree, her father found a native evergreen tree and their mother asked the children to gather a certain kind of mushrooms, which were dried and then hung on the tree.