Friday, July 18, 2014

Missions. I need you.

I just read my last post which was almost two years ago.  Once again, I am home from a journey across the world.  My feelings are much the same.  One day I'm in Malaybalay with dear friends and spending time in a community that is filled with much poverty, and the next day I'm back in the United States.  How is it possible that both worlds exist?  One where people struggle daily to bring rice to their families table and the other where people have so much excess they know not what to do with it.  The easiest thing for me to do now is to forget my time in the Philippines; to forget the deep ache's and cries of the poor.

I can't.  I won't.

I close my eyes and I am at Tata's house visiting with her and listening to her concerns for her hungry children, seeing her tears from the moment to moment weight of feeding her family, praying with her to a God that she knows much more intimately than I ever will.  Give us this day our daily bread...she relies on Him to provide.  I was there for a blink of the eye and was blessed to be an answer to her pleadings.  I know that I was not sent to help her, but rather, for her to help me.  Wow, to have that kind of faith; to be starving and trusting that God hears your pleadings and will provide.  To know that He is good, gentle, provider, Father, lover and friend.  I am humbled.  I am challenged.  I am disgusted at my lack of faith and trust in my Lord.  I needed the visits with Tata and the many others that I was privileged to visit with.
Tata and two of her girls

Now, don't get me wrong about my friend Tata.  Yes she and her family suffer daily, but that doesn't stop her from being joyful.  While I visited, we didn't only talk about the struggles of life.  We talked about her beautiful children.  She proudly boasted about her eldest and how intelligent she is.  She shared that her daughter never wants to absent for school and at the end of each year, she gets many awards for her academics.  In the visits we laughed together.  We shared life.

I needed this trip to the Philippines more than I knew.  I have been living in the United States for almost two years now, after two years spent in foreign missions.  In the years I've been back, I've gotten very comfortable.  I've slacked on my prayer time, treating it like a duty to be checked off of my list, rather that a precious time set aside to be with my Savior and allow Him to speak to me and breathe life into me.  I've found it easy to put my earphones in and ignore the world around.  I've fallen into laziness choosing not to serve those around me.  I've spent more time being confused about which direction to go than I'd like to admit.   I'm so thankful for God's mercy and seventy seventh chances.  This trip has reawakened me.

Returning from the Philippines this time I can choose to live the life of a missionary, the way I know the Lord is calling me.  He isn't calling me this time to sell everything I own and move across the world.    He is, however, asking me to take the earphones out and acknowledge the world around me.  He is asking me to share life with others and to live a simple life of a missionary.  He is calling me closer to Himself and I am choosing to obey this time.  I am thankful for His great love and that He hears the prayers of His people.

Not one of us is ever forgotten by Him.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Returning from a two month hiatus.

Hello blog.  You've been missed.

It has been a little over two months since my last blog post, and while I wanted to write in the last two months, I couldn't make the time.  Things were so busy and when I finally had a moment, writing was the last thing on my mind.  But, I have returned!

In case you didn't know, I have returned to the States.  I felt the Lord calling me back to the States  probably two months ago.  It was very hard to say good-bye to my home in Bukidnon.  As I was making the 32 hour trek back to the other side of the world, my time in Bukidnon felt like a distant dream.  I know that it wasn't.

My time across the world in Bukidnon was the most real experience I've had.  It was a time of complete surrender; a time of saying yes to the Lord, no matter the cost.  Two years ago, before going on my first mission trip, I prayed asking the Lord if it was His will.  I felt Him say, "You need to go on this mission to learn what love is."  In my two years of missions I have begun to discover what true love is.  It is not a romantic candle-lit dinner with the man of my dreams (although maybe one day!) but a constant emptying of self to those around me, only to be filled back up by my Creator.  It is tirelessly proclaiming the Gospel, and when necessary using words.  It is going above and beyond what is expected just so someone else can experience the love of the Lord.  It is a constant emptying and constant filling.  Love is an exhaustingly beautiful thing and at the end of the day, always worth it.

The Lord gave me my heart back in Bukidnon.  He gave me wonderful friends that challenge me with the way they live their lives.  He has given more joy in the last eight months than I've had in a long time.  Missions is the greatest gift the Lord has ever given me and it will not end with Bukidnon.   My career as a missionary is just beginning!  Be in prayer with me as I discover the new mission God has for me! 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

A week on Camiguin

My favorite mission partner and I waiting at the port for the boat.
I arrived on Camiguin Island on Saturday, June 23 and stayed for one week.  I arrived with my mission team and the members of the SSME (Summer School of Missionary Evangelism).  I didn’t know what to expect; I had only seen pictures and heard stories about this little Island.  Once we arrived at the port, Father Joe was waiting for us.  He picked us up and brought us to his house for lunch.  It had been a long day of traveling.  While we were eating lunch, he asked, “Are you guys here for a mission, or more like a vacation?”   We responded with, “We are here for a mission.”  He said, “Oh good, I have work for you to do.”  He brought us to the mission house and we spent the rest of the day relaxing.
SSME standing in front of a volcano.
            Sunday morning, the whole team and I went to mass and then a few of us took part in the John the Baptist procession.  Father Joe invited us.  We walked through the streets of Sagay with a picture of John the Baptist, praying the rosary, and later listening to a high school band play.  The procession stopped at the water where there were many fishing boats.  Pretty much everyone from the procession got into one of the boats, along with John the Baptist, and we rode around in the bay.  While we were on the boat, I asked Kylie, “Is this real life?”  I was completely in awe of the beauty that surrounded me.  I could see mountains with clouds covering the tops and the bluest water I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was the perfect sunny day and I couldn’t believe that my God would choose me to have this life.
Prayer meeting at a bario.
            Later on Sunday, James and Susanna met with Father Joe to discuss the week and see what he had for us to do.  Father had a week packed with missionary activity for us.  On Monday we shared at a teacher’s recollection.  Tuesday we put on an all day recollection for the teachers of Holy Rosary High School, the school Father is a part of.  Wednesday we visited a bario (small village) and a chapel and put on prayer meetings.  Thursday we put on a recollection for all of the fourth year high school students at Holy Rosary, and Friday we had desert day/fun day.  I really want to share with you my experience on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning, James and a few others went to a store close by and bought thirty kilos of rice along with soap and dried fish.  We planned on brining it with us to the bario to give away to the people there.  Father met us at our house at around 8:30 and drove us as far as he could.  We had to hike the rest of the way.  We first stopped at his farm and had fresh coconuts.  I actually climbed one of the coconut trees.  After that, we started our hike.  It took about forty-five minutes to get to the barrio and the whole hike I was fill with so much joy.  I was so excited to have a backpack on my back filled with food, hiking through the jungle, walking through the mud and rough terrain, slipping and falling occasionally to bring the word of God this far flung village.  It was the most exhilarating experience I’ve had as a missionary.  Once we reached the chapel in the barrio, my joy increased.  There were already more people than could fit in the chapel waiting.
Talking with Melody at a small village in the jungle.
            We immediately began talking to people and inviting them into the chapel.  We started the prayer meeting with praise and worship.  Their favorite song was “Trading my Sorrows”.  Everyone sang loudly and did the hand motions as we sang, “Yes Lord, yes Lord, yes, yes Lord!”.  James preached while Fr Joe translated and then Joanna and Michelle shared testimonies.  After that we offered a time of prayer.  Many people came up and I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We prayed for multiple people, but one little old lady named Raquel stands out to me.  She came up and asked for healing of her eyesight.  Susanna and Joanna were in my group, so we immediately began praying in faith and I really felt like God was going to move.  After we finished praying over her and the others we sang “Trading my Sorrows” once more.  I could see Raquel in the crowd, this time, singing along and doing the hand motions with tears in her eyes.  It brought tears to my eyes, because God really worked in her life and I believe He restored her eyesight.
Ahh...come Holy Spirit!
 My week in Camiguin was really busy and exhausting, but one of the most blessed weeks I’ve had so far in the Philippines.  God stretched me and renewed my zeal for missions.  I cannot wait to visit again and see the wonderful things God has in store.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Say yes. He WILL give you the desires of your heart!

Come Holy Spirit.

That is how I have been starting my days off this week.  I cannot even begin to tell you all of the amazing things God has done this week so I will walk you through my day to give you a glimpse.

Today started at 5 am.  Rebekah and I packed skirts, one water bottle, our power bill and just enough money to pay the bill in a small backpack.  We jogged, -Rebekah jogged, I mostly walked- to the Cathedral in town for 5:45 mass.  Once we arrived and sat down I said a little prayer, "God, I'm really hungry, could you provide me with some food?"

Mass finished and I went to the sacristy to ask the priest if he could hear my confession.  On my way I ran into one of our friends Thelma.  Susanna and I had met her a month ago.  When we first met her she told us about this sickness she has.  She poured out her struggles for the last few years with her sickness.  It has caused her to loose one of her eyes.  When Sue and I met her, we prayed with her.  This morning when I saw her she seemed a little sad.  We started talking and she said she was receiving results from a MRI and she was terrified.  We prayed right then.  As I prayed, "Come Holy Spirit." I felt something come over me and the words I was saying weren't mine.  They were God's.  I felt God say, "Ask me for a miracle of healing.  I can do it!"  We prayed for a miracle and as we prayed Thelma shook with tears.  Once we were done, she had a peace about her.  I know that God is going to provide that miracle so I'll update you when I hear the news.

So once I made my way to the sacristy, Father was baptizing three kids.  I got to witness that as well.  Three sacraments in one day and it was only merely 6:45.  Wow!  After Father Gill heard my confession, we started talking about missions.  He ask,"Will you and your friend -Rebekah- join me for breakfast?"  God heard my prayer before mass about being hungry and answered it.  When I told Rebekah about it, she was a little worried about time because we had to pay our power bill, but decided we should just go with it.

We had great conversation over breakfast, and after Father Gill said, "Can I give you a ride home?"  We said sure.  We mentioned we needed to pay our power bill and he said he would take us there first.  Normally it takes about a half hour to pay the bill because of the wait in line and that is normally at 7:30 when the place opens.  We arrived at 8 and it took us maybe 15 minutes in line.  God is so good.  Father Gill then drove us home.

When we got home, I was really sleepy and God rearranged the schedule so I could take a nap.  I had planned my day last night.  I had planned on going on home visits this morning after morning prayer, leaving the house at 10.  Those plans got moved to the afternoon.  Rebekah and I packed three sacks of food, a bible, an umbrella,  and a basket of eggs from Father Gill (I forgot to mention that at breakfast he gave a basket of fresh eggs and a watermelon to take home.)  We had planned on visiting a young woman named Jane first.  We started our walk to Isla Bonita (where we do most of our home visits) and said a prayer, "Come Holy Spirit.  Lead us to who YOU want us to visit."  We arrived at Isla Bonita and I B-lined to the house I thought was Jane's.  It turned out to be the house of our friend Pem Pem.  We visited with her parents and found out that her dad drives a motorella (the Filipino taxi).  We prayed with them, read a passage from the bible, and left them a few eggs.

Filipino Taxi
The next house we visited was Jane's.  Jane, who is 21,  has a severe stomach ulcer (at least that is what we think it is).  We wanted to pray with her and I wanted to buy her a blinder because she has to be on a liquid diet right now.  We visited and many of her nieces and nephews and some of their friends joined us.  Rebekah and I sang songs with the kids and Jane, and read a passage from the gospel of Matthew about healing.  After that, Rebekah and I, along with all of the kids crowded around Jane and prayed for healing in her stomach.  We left Jane's house with so much joy.  She is such a sweet and gentle person and so willing to let us into her life.

We visited a few other people and then headed to Guisano (it's like Wal-mart, but three stories!) to buy a blinder a some ingredients for a chicken soup.  When it was time to go, we walked to the place to catch a motorella and guess who was there!  Phem Phem's Edgar father who we had "accidentally" visited earlier.  We hopped into his motorella and he gave us a ride home.  When we arrived I reached into my pocket for the twenty pesos to pay him.  He wouldn't accept it.  He said, "Maybe next time."  Really?  Two free rides in one day!  Again, wow!

The icing on the cake was tonight for our bible study.  Years and years ago I used to attend a bible study on Thursday night.  I could feel the Lord so close and have desired it ever since then.  Our bible study here is on Thursday nights and tonight felt just like it did back then.  Tonight Rebekah lead us.  We studied the Acts of the Apostles chapter 2 verses 1-4. "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them."

The Holy Spirit did come like a rushing wind tonight in the living room of our friend Tita Lolit.  As a group we prayed together, cried together, praised together.  One of our friends, Brix, was so moved that he asked Tommy (a friend of ours visiting for the states) for his guitar.  He started praying and led us in the most heartfelt prayer.  He told us to close our eyes and imagine Jesus in front of us.  He told us to give Jesus everything; our thoughts, our burdens, our fears, our love.  We all did.

We I first got to the Philippines, I asked God the question I asked Him last year when I was in Mexico, "Why am I here Lord?"  He answered that for me tonight.  He told me, "Sarah, you are here in the Philippines to find your heart."  My heart is whole, content, so full of love, so full of joy, and free.

I am complete, because I have Jesus.  I have ALL the desires of my heart.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13

I want to say a special thank you for everyone who has made this year possible.  You really are feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and bringing the Gospel to the ends of the earth!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I promise to have a new blog up soon.  Things are happening so fast here and I'm still processing.  Be on the look-out for what's to come! :)
This is my processing face.  Scary right?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What More Could a Girl Want?

Me and sleeping Neilbryan
While preparing for this blog post, I was looking at pictures from the last month and a half I couldn't help but smile.  I am the luckiest girl in the world to have this life.  God has blessed me so much by calling me to be His missionary.  Not only am I seeing things that I never thought I would see and visiting places I never dreamed of visiting, but I’m also doing things I never thought I could do.  As He stretches my heart and calls me to do more things that I am afraid to do, the closer I feel Him and the more I feel His love.  His love touches me so deep in my heart and fills me completely.  His love fills all the wholes in my heart and heals all the hurts of my past.  Here in the city of Malaybalay, He is healing my heart, making me whole, content, joyful and free.  I feel as though right now I am glowing because He lives inside of me.  This is the joy that the bible talks about and the freedom that Jesus promises.  Joy and freedom can only be found in Him.  Now that I spilled my guts on you, I'll share my day!

This morning Susanna, the Romeros, and I (I miss you Rebekah!) met up with Nanay Mayette and went to church at San Roque, the chapel in Casisang (the burangay I live in).  Nanay Mayette asked us if we could help to lead the youth group there.  Before coming to the Philippines Joseph (the director of our company) asked us to do anything that Father Vir asked us to and anything that Nanay Mayette or Tito Mawi asked us.  We said yes to the youth group.  This morning we met the youth and all shared a little about ourselves.  In the past when someone handed me a microphone I would get clammy and so nervous.  Now it doesn't faze me. I told the youth a little about how I came to be a missionary and shared about my mission in Mexico.  The others shared as well.  We asked them what time would work for them to meet.  Starting next Sunday we will meet at 10 for our first gathering.

The kids with the rabbits :)
This afternoon Lindsey was starting her first meeting with the women of Isla Bonita.  God put it on her heart a few weeks ago to start a group for wives and mothers in Isla Bonita.  We all met at the Diocesan Pastoral Center.  The women met in one gazebo and Susanna and I took all the kids to the another gazebo far away from their mothers so that they wouldn't cry.  We brought blank sheets of paper and crayons for the kids to draw.  After we had been there a while a few of the kids wanted to go by the rabbit cage to feed the rabbits grass.  I was so excited to go with them because as a child my grandmother (Grandmom) had bunnies every Easter and we would feed them too.  It brought back really good memories.  Shortly after that the kids started playing some sort of running/chasing game.  As I reflect on the day, I remember laughter and the kids shouting with glee.  It was a delightful day!

ALS we did, and MORE!

Forgive me for not posting yesterday.  We had a brown out at night and when the lights came back on I was way too tired to get on the Internet!  Thanks for understanding!  This is yesterday's post.

Another marathon mission day.  God is so good to give us so much work.  I love ending the day feeling exhausted from working hard to spread the Gospel!  Our day started at seven when we got up to get ready.  Susanna and I left the house by 7:55 for our ALS class in Isla Bonita.  Today was going to be my first time ever to teach.  I was nervous and not nervous at the same time.  I was going to be teaching ages seven to fourteen and Susanna was going to be teaching ages twenty-one and above.  There was a misunderstanding with the 21 and above students from last week and only one person showed up, our friend Christine.  Susanna is only teaching the 21 and above students every other Saturday and an official ALS teacher is teaching the Saturday Susanna doesn't teach.  Last week when Lizelle (the ALS teacher) said she wasn't going to be back until May 5th the students thought they wouldn't have class until then, like I said small misunderstanding.  Susanna was out of a job, so I asked her to help me with the kids.

Susanna with some of our students.
We started the class with a prayer and sang a song.  Once the kids were settled down they copied the vocabulary words I had written on the board and a few math problems.  They worked the math problems and I realized that today we would be working on subtraction with borrowing.  Many of them didn't know how to borrow.  Susanna gave a great lesson about borrowing mangoes and mongos (a type of bean here) to explain how to borrow in subtraction.  Susanna is a great teacher and I have a few skills to learn from her.  My strength is working one on one with the kids.  Praise God I have many Saturdays to get better and better at teaching!   When it was time to leave one of our friends Joemar asked if we both wanted to ride on his motorcycle.  Sue said no, but I wanted to ride because I've never ridden a motorcycle in the Philippines (I'm all about experiencing new things (: ).  Sue walked home and I rode on the motorcycle.  We had a few hours at home before returning with the Romeros to help with catechism/bible stories with the kids.

Lindsey and Christanne telling the story.
Lindsey and Sammy prepared to teach on David and Goliath and show a Veggie Tales movie about the same thing.  When we made it to Isla Bonita, Sammy and I set up the sheet over the chalk board for our screen for the movie.  Sammy also set up the projector and computer.  Once all of the kids arrived we said a prayed and sang a few songs with hand motions.  (Everyone in the Philippines loves to sing!)  After that Lindsey shared the story on David and Goliath and our friend Christanne interpreted.  God always sends us an interpreter when we need one!  The kids were really into the story.  Lindsey and Christanne asked questions after the story and the kids eagerly answered.  They had paid attention.  We watched the movie and then colored a David and Goliath coloring sheet.  We ended the day with snacks and a prayer.

I was more than happy to fall into bed exhausted from a long day of working with kids and teaching them about God!