full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. baptize them in the name of the father and of the son, and of the holy spirit. teach them to carry out everything i have commanded you. and know that i am with you always, until the end of the world! ~ the great commission, gospel according to matthew
indeed, the holy spirit has been working overtime here in baguio city, but more specifically, with me, and today is a clear testament of that. today is a clear affirmation to me that i am meant to be here, that i have been absolutely called to serve here in the philippines, and it is as if fresh air from the stirrings of the spirit has poured over me. it’s a good feeling. a rejuvenation and renewal of insight as i continue my mission. my constant prayer of, “dear Lord, please show me how i may serve you best and follow your will” has been translating itself into real life.
and so, here is a rundown of today – one day that will stay with me, always!
project read and learn
sr. t and i teach catechism at an elementary school in the outskirts of baguio city and we fell in love with the staff, the students, and the school just as soon as we taught our first classes. these students walk up to an hour and a half to school, and so you can only imagine that if it rains, these are the kids you see on the side of street with plastic bags over their bodies 🙁 they come from rural areas and their parents (the majority) are farmers.
sister handles grades 1-3 and i teach catechism to grades 4-6. it’s pretty amazing how far my little knowledge of tagalog can go, especially in the teaching setting! the idea is that sister teaches the young kids, like, the “lola” or grandma that she is, and i, as a youth, teach my fellow youth – youth teaching the youth. it’s an amazing model.
in early february, as sister and i were preparing for her lenten retreat that she was going to be leading with our circles of discernment group, she thought about organizing people to give to the community of students at the school we teach at. so i immediately reached out to one of the cabrini collaborators, and she in fact, was also looking for a place where she can help out – and so, next thing you know, i accompanied her to the school, showed her the need, and hundreds of notebooks, boxes of pens and pencils, art supplies, clothes, and donated books later…we found ourselves at the school today, distributing the school supplies and materials to the children! project read and learn had been launched! how fitting on their first day of school 🙂
we were joined by seven other volunteers, sister, and the new administrator at SOSCFI (who by the way is also a product of divine intervention. this is going to be GOOD). the kids were overjoyed, and i could not help but also be filled with joy as the kids would yell, ate crystal!! and then give me the high-fives that i missed for the past months of summer! the volunteers handed out the notebooks and the materials to the kids, we played games as we raffled off more school supplies, and it was so wonderful! it was so much fun – the spirit was present. 🙂
i’ve never helped head up a donation drive like this before, and reflecting on the experience, i saw how truly God’s providence allowed everything to happen. donations – in supplies and monetary donations came in in an abundance and the process was seamless. one of the challenges was determining how we were going to transport ALL of the materials over to the school – well turns out, one of our friends was able to help us out with his company jeepney. the Lord really provided even in transport! amazing. sister said it best when she said that when you take the initiative to help God’s poor, He provides everything – but it is up to us to take that initiative. SO TRUE.
after that amazing afternoon, my heart was filled with joy and absolute gratitude for all of the donors and the volunteers who gave their time to spend time with the kids that afternoon. it was just a really beautiful time!
after that, i left the office, and realized that i needed to have some quiet time – maybe sit in a coffee shop. as i looked at my watch, turns out it was just about time for mass to start, so i thought – hmm should i just go to mass and offer my thanks to God? that was an option. or i could go to a coffee shop, read the daily readings on my own, just journal and people watch. well, as the jeepney passed by church, i thought to myself, no, i think i’ll just go to mass. for some reason, i felt like i was going to see someone there – someone that i was meant to see. i don’t know how that thought even came to my mind, but there was something inside of me that told me, you should go to church. thank you, guardian angel.
an unlikely encounter
as i prayed and wrote in my anawim way, i looked up, and some pews ahead of me, i saw a familiar sideview/back of the head kind of thing…and i thought to myself, how do i know this person? it was one of those moments where, when seeing someone in a different context than what you are used to, you have to think a little bit…and then i realized – i know this person from the jail! i kept trying to think of the person’s name, in the rare event that it was who i thought it was, and turns out, boo. i couldn’t think of her name.
and then randomly, it came to mind! so i decided to follow her after mass and try to catch a closer glimpse. turns out it was exactly who i thought it was, and there we were, chattin’ it up, getting the update, and then, grabbed a cup of coffee and caught up on life. i think the bizarre part about that encounter is that we only met once in the past. so how i remembered her name, no idea.
it was a blessing in the sense that i learned more. and she told me about her rehabilitation during her incarceration…how she felt she grew as a person, and how important it was to have that chance for her to forgive herself and others and to make a conscious responsible choice everyday that she was there. the importance of listening to your heart and embracing all opportunities to grow. to trust in God, never lose hope, have respect for yourself and for others, and to always pray for those in jail. she shared with me tragedies and moments of joy and the importance of having to go through a process before skipping straight from point A to point B.
we ended up talking for an hour and a half, and i think my mind and heart were just full of joy at the fact that she had been released. never did i ever think i would end up sharing a cup of coffee with her tonight after a simple meeting encounter after mass. and it was an absolute blessing! for whatever reason, she was the person i was meant to see! my guardian angel knew best and led me in the right direction, as always. and this time, i followed. which, does not always happen, for whatever reason (i’m getting better at it though!)
i returned home, was gushing with joy, shared the story of my day with my community, then briefed sister on the amazing events of today, as facilitated by the holy spirit.
we ended with some exercises via pranic healing with sister, and called it a night.
and with that, good night. thank you, holy spirit.