what’s your story?

what’s your story?

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wow – finally got a lull in my day to day life, here in baguio city, and thought i would send a quick update as to what it is that i’ve been doing here! this past weekend has been super busy, but was blessed with monday…which is, my day off! woot woot! 🙂
here’s the breakdown:
I my friday
II my saturday
III my sunday

I my friday

baguio city jail // another day

this past friday, was my afternoon at the jail, and i had fully prepared for the afternoon with all of my materials. before you knew it, my bag was
full and bulging with different sizes of papers, little slips, crayons, and a makeshift envelope that i had creatively prepared. haha, who woulda thought i had it in me! haha, i guess i just had the motivation, and so i went for it. 🙂
well friday afternoons, as you know, is when go to the jails to spend time with CICL. the two social workers i was with, basically told me, ok, so you’re in charge for this friday – can you think of an art activity for them to do? and so…i thought. um, yessss sure! haha, so what do i do? i go online and quickly do a search for “art therapy” – i find an assignment called “give & take”, reformed it a little bit, and made it into what the activity was going to be on friday.

on the way to the jail…i was going through my materials, and nearly had a heart attack, cause in the taxi, i remembered! AHHH i left my ID in my camera case, at home! LUCKILY, the guard recognized me, and was able to vouch for my legitimacy. thank you, Jesus. haha, the fact that the guards are starting to recognize me, is a good thing, but a funny thing too – never thought i would ever reach that point in a jail. haha, but it’s for a good cause. 🙂 and so, we waited for a little bit, cause all of the rooms that we usually use, were unfortunately all full. 🙁 i was sitting there anxious with the other social workers, haha, but i saw the jail warden was getting pretty heated too, so i kept a smile on my face the whole time. hahaha! had to ease things a little bit.

anyway, waiting patiently, the next thing you know, we were going downstairs…yup! that’s right…all rooms were taken..except for the common area of the men’s cell…hahaha, i was like, umm where are we going? and they just said, downstairs! haha, and soooo we went. i was greeted by a large room with some inmates making the pandesal (filipino bread rolls) for breakfast the next morning, a tv playing, some men just hanging out, and then some other inmates peering through their bars, trying to get the closest glimpse of what program was going to be held in their common area.

the familiar faces from CICL came into the room, and it was wonderful to see their serious faces, turn into legitimate smiles. at least, it seemed like that for me. and so i was grateful for their presence. i got kind of nervous at first, and i was like, ah! they’re not going to understand me, and so i asked the other social worker if she could just give the instructions for me. she said, no, just for it! and so, i did! and i was glad i did. the activity was as follows: on one side of the paper, answer the question via drawing, what is the gift/skill/talent that you give the world? what are you able to give to others? on the other side of the paper, answer the question via drawing, what is the gift that you have received from the world? and so they went off.
some of them immediately started drawing, chose fun colors, gathered in groups and went at it…they were laughing, and enjoying it. some of them sat off in their corners, and stared blankly at their papers. when i sat with one of the kids, i asked him….what do you feel like you have received from the world? …it was then i knew i was walking on shaky ground, because of his circumstances…and he told me in tagalog, that’s where he’s having trouble – everything he has received, has been…not good. and so, i encouraged him, and i helped with possible suggestions or at least things think about. it wasn’t a really happy time, but i could tell he was thinking about the question. and it was sad. i was happy that he was open with me, to talk further about a couple of things. despite any language barriers, truly, truly, connections are made through the heart, and it was there.

i had each of them present their drawings, and it was awesome because they were all very open. it was amazing, as all of them truly are thankful for their families, despite any of the circumstances that they have been subjectd to, and have been raised in. one of the similarities between all of them, is that they all love music, and they felt that was a gift that they give to the world. before i knew it, the jail officer left…he came back, and in hand, he had a guitar, and placed it on one of their laps…and said, GO! hahaha, it was GREAT! i really liked seeing that. it reminded me of when i was at rikers island, and the jail officer was part of the small group where we were talking about faith. it was beautiful collaboration.
afterwards, we started singing songs – the theme song they had for the day, written on their blackboard, was, ” i wanna grow old with you ” – yeah, like, adam sandler status. haha, and s
ooo since they all knew it, we all sang it. hahaha, yes, the inmates on the outside, the older men, were still peering through the bars, asking the CICL who i was, commenting on the pictures…it was nice to help liven up the place a bit! afterwards, for a closing, i had prepared little slips of paper with inspirational quotes on them. i figured, i would not be seeing them for another week or so, and so, i wanted to at least give them something to have, tangibly, just in case they had any super difficult times. and so, i told them, you have to pray that whatever quote you get, that is what is meant for you from God. hahaha, and sooo before i knew it, they all stood up, were intensely praying, and then they each picked one. one by one…some asked for two. and that made me happy – maybe next time i’ll come prepared with more!

lastly, i made a little envelope for prayer intentions. though the jail provides bible studies and mass, i didn’t really know how many of them do actually attend, and so i really wanted them to know that they are being prayed for…but rather, i wanted to see what other prayer intentions they had too, so that we too could pray for them. and so, i provided them with slips of paper and gave them the option to write their prayers and insert them in the envelope, telling them that i would be sharing their prayers with our community, so that we can pray for them too. the first few people passed, and so i was like, ugh, fail. but then i was like, even if no one writes anything, i will do this every time i see them, and at least they will know that we are praying for them…well, after the first few passed, others started taking slips…and inserted them into the envelope.

after saying bye to them, and distributing different things to them (toothpaste, shampoo, etc.), i left. we gave extras to the people who didn’t regularly get visitors. it made me really sad when we asked, who doesn’t get visited a lot (meaning, we would give them extra things), and they all were able to point out who would need it more than them…and so, he got extra. it just broke my heart. afterwards, as i said bye to them, gave them high fives, and told them to be good and that we would be praying for them, i grabbed my cell phone, said bye to the jail officers, and went on my way….off to the streets, walked to mass, then onto the jeepney home.

i walked into the street, and thought to myself…wow. open air. having the freedom to walk, in the open air – no bars…and they were all still there. that night, i shared the prayer intentions with our community, and i was caught off guard by one of them, where the last line of his prayer said, ” thank you Crystal and sisters.” i was so shocked, because 1) i didn’t even know he remembered my name 2) it provided me with confirmation that he appreciated when i asked him more about his life…baby steps. it was really nice.

please pray for these CICL and others who are imprisoned, as this can be a very hopeless place, and it can be very discouraging, more than encouraging, when thinking of the possibility of even getting out. yes, they have committed crimes, some have not and are actually innocent, but, i have come to believe and feel that they too, are my brothers and sisters. and so, it is always nice to be with them.
II my saturday
home sweet home//recollection day for SOSCFI parents
it was a beautiful day where sr. t and sr. bernadette led the parents in a day with the theme, service. to open, we reflected on the scripture where jesus washed the feet of the disciples. to bring this ritual to life, the parents partnered up, and washed the hands of their neighbor. it was especially beautiful because originally there were going to be all mothers, but one of the mothers was unable to attend, so she sent her husband! he was game though, and it was a beautiful time.
during the afternoon session, it was a reflection between mary and & elizabeth (how mary journeyed to visit elizabeth), and well, we had to modify the activity for him a little bit…so it was like, joseph. i ended up being paired with one of the mothers because of the odd number, and so, we gathered outside. well, as soon as i started talking with my partner, the other groups started coming over to me. there were probably about 16 of them! and they asked me to explain their assignment, and what they were being asked to do. because the instructions were in english, there was some confusion there! i definitely believe that the holy spirit helped me translate the story of mary & elizabeth into tagalog, because by the end of my lengthy period of story-telling and then explanation, they understood, and were able to discuss with their partner! haha, i really felt like a story teller, where i was just sitting on a bench, and everyone was gathering around. it was awesome! 🙂
haha, it was a blessed day, and it was equally wonderful to see how excited the parents would get when i would ask them about their children. i enjoyed meeting the parents, especially, because while i have only met a few of them, i have not met all of them, and it was nice to put parents’ faces with their childrens’ faces too. 🙂
III my sunday
ICM House of Prayer//Path of Life Retreat
on sunday, sr. bernadette and i led a retreat for young adults/young professionals, and we talked about call, vocation, discernment, all that good stuff! i led the opening prayer, which i found worked with my health class last year, and so, of course i had to incorporate it into this retreat. 🙂 i started off with little slips of paper, had them write their prayer intentions in it, and then we formed a chain with our prayer intentions…all, of course, while i was playing, “we’re all in this together” by ben lee. when i showed them the finished product and showed them how much stronger we are when we are together, there was an, awwwww, come from the crowd. it was great! 🙂
in the morning, sr. bernadette talked on our “call” – the “call” that we receive from God, and the different ways that we may respond, and of course, looking at the scripture for further inspiration, it was really good. in the afternoon, i led a session on our life stories. i shared with them parts of my “life story,” by showing them a line graph – with all the ups and downs, i am here in baguio city…but this all began from one of the lowest times, which is when i was super unhappy in my job in LA. it felt good to share my story with them, as i think they were then able to see me a little bit more than just “a missioner from california.” then in the afternoon, each group got to have a chance to affirm one another’s gifts and talents.
so looking at the three-point approach, we explored our relationship to God, to ourselves, and to others. it was a good day. an exhausting day, but a good one! 🙂

and THAT, was my weekend. 🙂
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