hold my hand

hold my hand


today, i find that i am full of joy. i can’t really put a word to describe it, but i feel like these past two days have given me so much life, and my life here in baguio city, is just really good. saying “good” does not even do justice to the feeling, but alas, it is the best i can do right now. 🙂 my body is a little bit tired, i think. haha.

yesterday i came into contact with my love/hate relationship with micronesia. never before ever even knowing where this place was, i recall one of the brothers in NYC, telling me about his ministry there. super exciting stuff. then, the next thing you know, one of my best friend’s, charles, is sent there with the jesuit volunteers this year. so random, but wonderful, nonetheless. starting my day with a skype date in micronesia was pretty awesome. technology, yes, sometimes you don’t work when i need you to, but god bless the connection when it is there! 🙂

later that afternoon, i went to the jail, and shared some time with the CICL. in weeks prior, i had them draw their emotions, had them reflect on their weeks in the jail, and did a lot of “drawing then share” activities. well, i decided to try something different. i figured, yes, i know they live with each other 24/7, but i want to see them interact, and talk, and discuss, and collaborate on a specific thing. and so, i paired them up, randomly, haha, and had them interview each other with a list of questions i had put together for them. afterwards, i gave them poems (to be reviewed in partners) and to discuss them after reading them.

these poems were compilations written by inmates incarcerated in the US, and i figured, i would bridge the two countries together, and see…how do emotions vary among the incarcerated in the philippines vs. the US? well, i found, they don’t.

i was moved when the inmates started talking more about how they felt about their time at the jail. all of them wanted to keep the poems they read, and one kid was near tears when he said, “this is me.” i finished the session off, by explaining why i chose the poems i did, and i gave them sheets of paper, to provide them with the space to write and express their feelings. we’ll see if they actually make use of it, but regardless, it was really good to hear them freely express themselves and their feelings.

at the end, we finished off by singing “hawak kamay” (“hold hands” by yeng constantino). that is one of the few tagalog songs i can sing straight through, and so i decided to bring the guitar chords to them last week…well, now, they love it, and clearly they have been practicing – and so, we have been ending each time, by singing that song. 🙂

i think one of the things that hit me the most, was when i watched them sincerely sing it, and even see some of the most visibly unhappiest, start singing, and actually light up.

Sometimes you feel the weight of the problem
Sometimes it’s getting hard on you and you say, I can’t take it anymore.
Just look to the sky
Maybe you see something
Or just call me
And you will know that anytime

Hold (my) hands
I will not leave you on our journey
Here in the world without security (like no assurance)
Holding hands
I’m not going to let you go on our journey
In the world of nothing

Sometimes you feel
The world was breaking apart under your feet
And you’re flowing in the stream of problems
Just look to the sky
Maybe you see something
Or just call me
And you will know that anytime

i didn’t know that singing this song would be so applicable, but it really is. i took a step back, watched them sing, heard them sing, and my heart broke open. looking at each one of them, i realized, wow, this…. is really powerful. and it was.

i’m starting to get letters/notes from the inmates, and it’s pretty nice – just words of greetings, since they know i am there on friday afternoons, and they look forward to my attendance on sunday for mass. i assure them that i will be there when i can, and i assure them of our prayers. i think i caught myself off-guard when i wrote one of the inmates back, and signed, “Blessings, Sister C” – haha, the inmates call me sister, or sister crystal. and, good thing. not so much in the religious sense, well maybe, cause they know for the most part that i am a missionary (especially since vowed sisters do not dress like i do!) BUT recognizing me as a “sister,” however you/they want to define it, limits the mind from wandering into any romantic involvement. which is a GOOD thing. seriously!

that evening, my aunt texted me, and told me that she was having a meeting with regards to an NGO she’s starting, and she invited me. well, awesome enough, i had my first experience in helping to plan for an NGO. i’m so excited, and i feel like this is such a blessing. i had no idea that i would have resources available, in the area of my absolute passion. like, i can not even begin to explain to you how grace-filled this all is. regardless of the outcome of this potential NGO, there is passion, and there is a need, and there is hope. i’m really excited about this! really powerful stuff.

later that night, still on fire and filled with excitement, i came home to catch up with wonderful people, to laugh, to reflect, to reminisce about good times, and to love life, together. thank you, internet. haha!

this morning, i woke up at 6am, to make it ontime for wushu. yes friends, that is right. i am started wushu classes. 🙂 this is going to be awesome! granted all the women are well beyond senior citizen status, but that is totally fine with me! 🙂 also, i saw a man wearing a university of san diego hoodie, AND i met another man who is from chula vista (san diego). crazy! anyway, after the class, my aunt and i had delicious breakfast, then i hurried over to SOSCFI.

i think one of the huge realizations i had today, was, crystal, you don’t have to do everything. i had some older kids that showed up for choir practice, and so what did i do, i put them in charge of things – and they owned it. it was so exciting! the kids sang, and i loved it. later, we had a dance party. i taught some of the girls the hoedown throwdown (thank you cabrini girls!), then they taught me some of their dances. i think the fact that i was in my yoga gear from wushu this morning, really put me in the mood to be active. during my time with the altar servers, they all participated, they were eager, and most of them have memorized their altar server prayer! it’s very promising! so precious. yay! 🙂

today with the kids was SO much fun. we danced, we sang, and i had good conversation with the college kids who stuck around after. they taught me their process of farming, they explained to me the process of killing a chicken that is also a delicacy called, “killing me softly”- it’s a SLOW death for the chicken. torture, almost. they grilled me with questions about the US, their curiosity spoke through, and it was just such a great exchange. they need to be here always! my respect is huge for them and for how hard they work. definitely.

i have recently been obsessed with the song, “i wanna hold your hand,” but the version that curt (chris colfer) sang in glee. playing on repeat probably 5 times in the AM, and nonstop when i come home in the evening, it reiterates the importance of the human touch and contact. not even in a romantic sense, but it’s powerful.

people don’t really hug here. it’s not really, um, normal. because i lived with mish and mary last year, hugs were pretty much a staple, ALWAYS. well, now i have to adjust, and my hugs have translated into high fives. high fives with the kids, high fives with the inmates, high fives with the college kids…i see you, you see me, you did good today. be proud of yourself, and feel like you did good.

while i don’t know the effects that i have on all the people i encounter from day to day, i think one of the things that does encourage me, is that, recently, i have felt really good at the end of every day. i feel like i am full of life, and i am full of joy, and thanksgiving.

some of the girls i live with, and one of my co-workers independently told me that i’m not the same crystal that they first met, and i am blooming – as if i have been inspired, or something of the like. regardless, of the reason(s) that’s a great thing! i’m taking it. and i am thankful. 🙂

my heart is full, but there’s room for more. 🙂


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