philippians 4:13 – strength.

philippians 4:13 – strength.

“i can do all things in him who strengthens me” – philippians 4:13
today marks the beginning of the mother cabrini novena (feast day: nov.13) and that is mother cabrini’s favorite scripture! it is one that she abided by, so courageously, boldly, and with an incredible amount of zeal – all characteristics that i admire about mother cabrini, aka the patron saint of immigrants! 🙂
want to pray the mother cabrini novena? there are specific prayers for each day, and the prayers can be found here. enjoy!
during tonight’s novena, we had a chance to reflect on that scripture passage, as well as on the missionary spirit of mother cabrini. well, after my experience today, i feel that mother cabrini made today’s novena ever so real for me.
beginning on november 2nd, a medical mission called Interplast Australia & New Zealand arrived here, and working with SOSCFI, they have been providing restorative plastic surgery, treating severe burns, as well as many cases of cleft palates. the majority of the patients being children, there are also some young adults, older adults, and most have travelled some 6-12 hours to receive treatment. 
i’ve never been involved with a medical mission ever before, and considering i am the LEAST medically inclined person, i have taken the role of, spending time with the patients before and after their surgery in the ward and recovery rooms. well, little did i know what each day would entail.
lester! he LOVES the camera

this morning, i met a boy named lester. lester is 7, but is as little as a typical 4 year old, in the US. very little, and quite rambunctious, and also very curious. i spent the whole morning showing him how to use my camera, and letting him take some video on the flipcam. it was awesome! this one time he was looking out the window, saw this huge patch of fog roll in over the mountain, he pointed and grabbed the camera. it was so cute! well, lester lives at a foundation 6 hours away, and he travelled with one of the volunteers at the foundation who had heard of the medical mission from the pastor at her church. i love how word travels here! (sometimes. haha!)
i taught him how to use the flip cam and my camera!
lester’s mom is somewhere in manila, and his dad is a janitor somewhere, but basically, he’s an abandoned child. he’s a twin, and his twin sister lives with their grandma, but he prefers to live at the foundation – apparently he runs away a lot 🙁 anyway, i had a lot of fun with him, and though he can’t speak clearly because of the condition of his mouth, we were actually able to communicate quite well. so much so, that his yes’s and no’s were pretty right on. 🙂 
well, before you know it, he was running out of energy, and he plopped down in my lap, and started to fall asleep as i was scratching his tummy, like a dog. hahaha, apparently he really liked it, because he began to fall asleep! it was so cute. i was like, uh oh…what to do…he’s falling asleep! well, eventually he woke up, and then started playing with my rings, he finally agreed to be my boyfriend (the first time he said no. the second time, he was like, YES!) and then it was time for him to go to surgery! so, we were definitely friends by then. 
i told him we could share my rings. 🙂

well, i waited around the whole day for him to get out of surgery…i have found, that as soon as i connect with one of the kids, i eagerly await their presence in the recovery room, as if i was related to them! i spent some time with the volunteer he was with, comforting her, and letting her know that lester would be out any second! well, as soon as he got out, he was crying, and crying, blood everywhere, of course, cause of the procedure done to his mouth 🙁 and it was just a lot of commotion. so much so, that the other kids awaiting surgery began to cry too…i think cause they were starting to get fearful for what would happen to them. AND they were hungry (not allowed to eat or drink since they would be having operations done)
well, immediately, i went over to lester, helped make his bed, and just started rubbing his back, to try to help to calm him down. the volunteer, who was like his pseudo mom, was saying, “lester, ma’m crystal is here, yong gayyem mo” (your special firend)…and then he rolled over, and looked at me, and he stopped crying! it was so great! and then he started to fall asleep, almost immediately. it was as if he just got a zap of sleepy time! well then, he was in and out of sleep, and i could see tears coming out of his eyes as he was sleeping. 
it was so sad, especially with the blood everywhere, but i knew he would be ok, and he will get better! so then, i took his hand, and i just held it, and i was like, lester! no more crying, just go to sleep, ok? and he nodded, yes. i was like, because if you cry, then i’ll cry too. so, no more crying, ok? and he nodded. and then, i started crying! like, buckets! then he started to squeeze my hand harder…and THEN, his “mom” said to me, “he’s getting his strength from you.”
little lester!
and i was at a complete loss. it was so beautiful, and it was just, perfect.
so then, i had to go meet up with sister terezinha, so i let go, told his “mom” i would be back in the am, kissed his hand, and gave my high 5’s to the rest of the kids before leaving.
on the jeepney ride home, my eyes were like buckets full of water, and then, the floodgates were released! it was just such a moving moment…and to reflect on mother cabrini’s favorite scripture, “i can do all things through him who strengthens me,” absolutely.
i have learned today, that even though i am not medically minded at all, i have found that Christ provided me with the strength to be there for lester and his “mom,” to be there with the patients, and in turn, we are provided strength, to provide strength for others. philippians 4:13. amen.
today was a special day. and this is only one of the stories. hope to share more! 🙂


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