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!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Prep Day

Most of today was spent at home.  Tomorrow we have the ALS class in the morning so today Susanna, Lindsey, and I prepared to teach.  I am going to be teaching kids ages 7-13 tomorrow and I am excited but a little nervous.  I have never taught before.  I prepared some addition and subtraction worksheets with double digits and a reading comprehension worksheet.  I hope all goes well tomorrow!  Susanna is going to teach the 21 and above class tomorrow.  She is right in her element; she loves to teach.  Lindsey and Sammy will be teaching kids catechism and bible stories in the afternoon.  The other activities of the day were grocery shopping, Visaya lessons, cooking dinner, and more preparations for tomorrow.

As the sun was setting tonight, the lights decided to go out.  Brown out.  I cooked dinner and made name tags by candle light.  Can you imagine me upstairs with tea lights surrounding me and my little book light trying to see the poster board I was cutting.  I was afraid I was going to catch the poster board on fire.  Luckily everything turned out okay and the lights are back on in time for bed.  Everything is packed for tomorrow and now all is left is to fall asleep. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

So Little Time, So Much to Do

"The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few." Matthew 9:37

Today I was able to sleep in until 8:45.  It was such a blessing.  God knew I would need the extra sleep for the busy day He had planned.  Lindsey was going to our friend Babe's house to plan for her women's group that will start on Sunday and I was planning on meeting her there at 10:00 to go to Isla Bonita with them.  I wanted to do a few home visits while we were at Isla Bonita.  During my prayer time this morning two ladies were on my heart, so I decided that those were the ladies I would visit.  I packed two dispensas (sacks of food) in my backpack and walked to Babe's house.

Once we were all together we walked to Isla Bonita. (I am loving all of the exercise I get here by walking places.  It is nice sometimes to not have a car!)  As we got closer to Ilsa Bonita, I ran into a guy that I met at a meeting I attended a few weeks ago.  His name is JoeMar and he was a seminary.  We talked for a little while and then invited him to our bible study.  (We have a bible study every Thursday evening at 5 at our place.)  He said he could come.  I think it was a "Divine Appointment" that God set up.  Anyways, we continued to Isla Bonita.

As we arrived so did my friend Annalee.  She was the first lady I wanted to visit, so she invited me into her home.  She has 6 children, with her youngest being two year old twin girls.  We visited for a short while, shared about life, read the bible and talked about God, and prayed together.  This is my favorite ministry, just being able to sit down with people one-on-one, and form relationships.  I left her with a dispensa and walked over to my friend Geraldine's house.  Geraldine also invited me into her home and we visited just like Annalee and I visited.  I am so thankful that these ladies just open their lives to me and all of the missionaries.

From the last few weeks of visiting Isla Bonita and getting to know the people there more and more, we are seeing exactly what the needs are.  Many of our friends don't have running water, electricity, and are have hard times in their marriages.  The ministries we currently have there are home visits a few times a week, ALS (Alternative Learning System) classes on Saturday mornings (ALS is a program for people to get their GED), Catechism classes/bible stories for kids on Saturday afternoons, and a women's bible study/prayer meeting on Sunday afternoons.  I feel that God is calling us to do more and more with the beautiful people here and I am so happy that He has let us to this place.

Okay, back to today.  After our time at Isla Bonita (actually Lindsey and Babes left before me), I walked home to relax for a little while.  The sun was really strong and I was tired from all the walking so I was looking forward to sitting down and resting for a moment.  I was home for about 30 minutes when Lindsey said she needed to go to town.  I decided to go with her because I had many errands to run.  We were on a mission to find a place to print out the materials we needed for the bible study we had tonight because it was a brown out (sometimes they come at the most inconvenient times!) We finally found a place, printed the worksheets out, and looked for a place to buy snacks.  We found snacks and hurried home to get ready for the bible study.

Sammy led the study tonight and shared on Luke 9:18-26 where Jesus asks, "Who do you say that I am?" vs 20.  JoeMar came as well as six others.  The discussion was very deep and people really opened up and shared.  I feel as though God is doing big things in the hearts and lives of those who are coming.  Several of our friends that attended stayed around for hours just talking a hanging out.  We actually invited many of them for dinner.  We had nine plates around the table and had to eat in shifts because we don't have that many chairs!  It was so good to have friends over, sharing the word of God, and just really visiting and getting to know one another better.  At around 9:30 we said good bye to our last visitors and ended the night with community night prayer.

When I was in training in Louisiana a year and a half ago, Mr. Frank said he would pray that he and Mrs. Genie would fall into bed at night exhausted from working for God's kingdom.  I can proudly say that tonight, I am falling in bed exhausted from working hard for God's kingdom today!  It is such a marvelous feeling knowing that I gave everything I had to give today for God and didn't hold back at all.  I pray that I can surrender my life each day in the same way and fall in bed each night exhausted from working for God.

Randomness for the day:
Lindsey bought Anders (really Sammy) Lord of the Rings toys from a store here.  One of the figures is fire that holds the ring.  Sammy builds a wall with suitcases in our living room each day to keep Anders from going by the stairs.  I tripped over the suitcases and my foot landed on the fire.  It shattered, and I mean shattered!  I didn't think it was possible for a plastic figurine to shatter that way.  Only me and my clumsiness!

Hope you've enjoyed my day!  God Bless!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So, today Rebekah, my mission partner, left for the United States. Susanna, my other mission partner, brought her to the airport. Her sister is getting married, so she will be spending a few weeks with her family. I promised her that while she was gone, I would post how the days are going and what we've been up to.

Today was a long, slow day. We planned in the morning for awhile and then had a brown out. I was actually happy about the brown out because while I was praying I was preoccupied with the many things I needed to do, but because the electricity went out, I was forced to relax and work on something else. At three in the afternoon Sammy and I headed to the BEC. It was a smaller group this time; Tito Mawi and Nanay Mayette, Nanay Nini, and Sammy and me. Lindsey and the kids came at the end. The more I attend the BEC, the more I enjoy it.

For those of you who have no idea what a BEC is, it is a basic ecclesial community. We meet with our neighbors once a week to sing praise and worship, study scripture, pray together, and share life. I am realizing more and more how important it is to have community. I live in community, but having more community is always welcomed.

Randomness for the day:
The peanut butter we bought yesterday wasn't sealed and was also expired. The never-ending gas for our stove finally terminated, in the middle of Lindsey making spaghetti. Sammy had to go to Ate Jheanny's balay to get her spare gas. There was a worm-like bug in the bread so we had to get rid of it. I think that's all the randomness for today. Miss you already Beks!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What can $15 do?

This morning in my prayer time I asked God to lead me today and to place people in my path that I could pray for and help. Since Mondays are the day that the Romeros and Rebekah talk to their families, Susanna and I have a little down time in the morning. In the afternoon we plan for our week. This morning right before we started our community prayer, we had a visitor, our friend Cherry. She and her son Neilbryan (6 months) came for a visit. They joined us for family prayer. Before praying Cherry told us that Neilbryan is still sick. He has been coughing for weeks now. She needed to go to the doctor.

She joined us for our morning prayer and shared on the scripture we read: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30. I couldn’t understand what she shared because it was in her dialect. She speaks a little English but is more comfortable speaking in her dialect. She took part in prayer with us and asked the Lord for the things she needs.

After prayer I took her to one of our friend’s (Tita Nida) clinics. She is a pediatrician. Once we got to the clinic Cherry said she had never been to a private practice physician. She said it is very expensive and she normally goes to the free clinic and has to wait all day. I could have let her go to the free clinic, but I wanted to make sure she received good care for her son. I wanted to make sure that he would be properly diagnosed. We waited for maybe ten minutes before the doctor saw us. Tita Nida diagnosed Neilbryan with asthmatic bronchitis. She prescribed him three medications. For the whole visit it cost $523 pesos. That is the equivalent to $12.45 USD.

When we finished at the Tita Nida's office, I told Cherry that we were going to take our snacks. She asked, "Are we going back to your house?" I said, "No, we are going some place special." I took her to our favorite place to eat, RE Cafe. I told her she could order whatever she wanted. She ordered rice, an egg, mini hot dogs, and coffee. I ordered a small snack. As she ate she couldn't stop thanking me for the doctor visit and now food. I would remind her that it was God who provided. Once she finished eating, she started drinking her coffee very rapidly. I told her we weren't in a hurry so she could take her time. She responded, "I don't want to keep you from the plans you have today." Basically she didn't want to be a burden. I affirmed her telling her that I wasn't busy. Monday is our day to plan for the week and I still had plenty of time to do that. Once we were done we came back to my house because she wanted to thank Sis Lindsey, Sis Rebekah, Sis Susanna, and Bro Sammy (that is what she calls us (: ). She visited for awhile just talking to us and sharing her experience with the doctor.

Cherry and her son Neilbryan

We have known Cherry for a month now. We have visited her at her house and seen her living conditions. She doesn't have running water or electricity. She lives in a very small shack with her husband and son. She never asks us for anything, she just wants our friendship. Each time we give, because the Holy Spirit compels us to, she is so thankful and cannot believe that she has friends like us. Last Sunday after attending the 4:00 mass at the Cathedral, guess who I saw! Cherry! I don't know if she was going to mass before we met her, but I felt like it was a fruit of our works. God is using us in real ways here and I am excited about what he is doing.

Through meeting Cherry, God is convicting me to the many ways that I choose not to give generously to the poor. He has blessed me with much, why shouldn't I share what He has given me? Some have said not to give money, or take people to the doctor, or to give people medicine. They think that people are cheating us and taking advantage of us. I take that advice with a grain of salt. I know that God has put me here to give to the least of these and to give without counting the cost. He has asked me to not judge others and assume the worst, but rather the best. He has asked me to be his hands and feet, and I am striving to do that each day. With that being said, I am not handing out money left and right. When the Holy Spirit compels me to, I give. Most of the time he asks me to give people prayer, food, and water; food for the body and food for the soul.

So what can $15 do? You can eat fast food for all your meals for a day or it can bring a baby to a good doctor, supply medicine, and provide a healthy lunch. I figured out that with only $5 which translates to $210 pesos, you can provide enough rice for a family for almost a week. God is showing me small ways to sacrifice the things I have or the things I want so that others can have more. I challenge you to look around and see the ways that you can sacrifice for others too!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Short-term Mission

At the beginning of March I was given the opportunity to help staff a one-week short-term trip to Cagayan de Oro. A group of students from Benedictine University in the United States came all the way to the Philippines to work with and serve the victims of the typhoon Sendong in CDO. The week was packed with activities. I want to share a little about what we did.

One of the first things we did, as a group, was visit a site where 500 homes once were. The land was filled with debris without one house standing. As I walked around I saw pieces of toys, tile, and clothes scattered all over the ground. I cannot express the feeling I had inside knowing that so many people lost their lives, their family and everything they owned. It was truly eye opening.

During the week, we spent two days in a grade school. We visited 12 classes in total. About 90 percent of the kids were affected by the typhoon. Some of them lost their parents. We sang songs with them like “Father Abraham”. We shared simple testimonies and put on a small drama. We shared simple testimonies and put on a small drama.

Singing praise and worship.

Sharing testimony about Grandmom

We acted out the bible story of Jesus calming the storm. We had Jesus, three disciples, wind, waves, and an ocean. About six kids from each class would come to the front to be the waves and the rest of the students in their seats were the ocean. It was precious to see the kids get so into the drama. After reading and acting out the story, Rebekah shared about the story in the bible and made it relatable to these second grade students. She let them know that the disciples were afraid in the boat and it was okay if they were afraid when the storm came. She reminded them that they have a Father in Heaven who will never leave their side. She told them that when they are afraid they can pray to Jesus in Heaven and that he is always listening. After the story time, we passed out paper, color pencils, crayons, and markers, and asked the kids to draw a picture of them with Jesus.

Rebekah sharing bible stories.

Three days during the week, we spent time in the tent communities. The tent communities are where those who lost their homes are temporarily living. They will be living in tents for about a year. The tents are very simple and provide the families with some protection from the elements. On one of our visits, we put on a medical clinic. It has been my dream for awhile now to help out on a medical mission. I was given my chance. We found a doctor to volunteer services for an evening. We had someone donate a large amount of antibiotics. A pharmacist volunteered and another doctor. Rachel, a girl from the group, is a CNA and Mark, one of the leaders, was a paramedic at one time. Many of the students from the group are studying to go to medical school. They were all very enthusiastic to help with the clinic. I cannot tell you how many people the doctors were able to see. It must have been at least 100. I was able to go around while the patients were waiting to see the doctor and talk with each person and pray with them. I think that night was one of my favorite nights so far in my almost two years as a missionary.

Volunteer doctor.

The students helping with medication.

Mark taking vitals.

Rachel doing triage.

Our last night with the tent communities, we had a prayer meeting. We read the bible story of Jesus calming the storm for the kids, sang praise and worship, prayed together, preached, and ate dinner together. The holy Spirit was present in a tangible way. I could see Him on the faces of those raising up their hands to give praise to our Lord. I could hear Him in the voices of those singing praises. Heaven was so close that night.

When this trip was over, I had a new zeal for missions. God showed me many ways that I could serve in the city where I live. Although I look back and wonder, could I have done more, Jesus reminds me that, "whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:45

The school we shared at.

Tent city.

Getting water at tent city.

Bubble time with the kids.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Malaybalay Ministries

I feel like when we landed in Manila, we hit the ground running. I have been in Malaybalay for a little over a month and God has provided us with plenty to do. Our first week here, we spent three days at a Diocesan Assembly. The next week we attended a Catholic teachers meeting, as well as an assembly for the Ang Buhing Pulong community. Lindsey and Sammy renewed their vows at a pre-Valentines day party and Rebekah and I karaoke-d at a pre-Valentines day party for the singles of the community. We have been busy meeting people, learning the city, settling into our house, and starting ministry.

About three weeks after we got here, Father Vir gave us our assignments at San Isidro college. Sammy is working with the guidance counselors, Lindsey is working in the research and development office, Rebekah in the religious formation office, and I am working in the school's clinic. I am excited to be able to observe closely what the nurses do and to help in whatever ways I can. I was already able to pray with some of the sick students who came in. The clinic is not only for the college, but also the grade school and high school. I am looking forward to the ways God is going to use me, and also to get a little experience.

Two weeks ago, the whole team was giving the opportunity to speak at a mini-retreat about self esteem for the school. Sammy and Lindsey spoke in the morning, and Rebekah and I in the afternoon. If you know me at all, you probably know that it is not my favorite to stand up in front of people and speak, but God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called. For the mini-retreat, I shared my testimony for about 100 college students. Right up until I shared, I couldn't breathe because I was so nervous, but once I got behind the podium, God took over. Who knows? Maybe I'll do it again. :)

Sometime either before the mini-retreat we shared at, or after, we visited San Isidro's partner community, Isla Bonita. It is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. I think I said that about Malaybalay, but as we discover more of the city, we stumble upon more and more splendor. I am thankful that God had me in the desert last year and the land of life this year! Back to Isla Bonita. It is several acres of land where squatters are living. These people were told that they own their land, because they paid a certain amount of money, but they do not own their land. San Isdro is partnering with them and has started a few projects like,livelihood, literacy, catechism classes, and a few other things I cannot remember right now.

We have started going on our own to Isla Bonita to build relationships with the people and through building relationships, we hope to learn what their needs are and share Jesus with them. Just today, we visited a few houses. Rebekah and I visited two houses. Cecille, her son, and a few of his friends, and also Geraldine's house. We made small talk and prayed with them. It was a wonderful start!

After a few visits to Isla Bonita we were invited to one of the livlihood meetings with some of the women living there. A few teachers from San Isidro taught the ladies how to make pillows to sale. They also taught the ladies how to make rugs and pot holders. The college is selling these things for the ladies. It is a start, but has a long way to go.

Things have been very busy, but so wonderful! I am challenged by the fast pace, but enjoying it. I am looking forward to the many other things God has in store for this team! Hope you've enjoyed this blog. More to come soon!!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Journey to the Philippines

I’ve known for a month and a half for sure that I was going to the Philippines this year as my mission. I, being as stubborn as I am, was in denial and said things like, “Well I’ll go if God provides the funds.” not really wanting to fly across the world to a completely new culture. He provided in big ways, so I said yes. My real hesitation was that I knew how challenging and uncomfortable this year was going to be. This year I was really leaving everything behind for a whole year. It is such a long journey to the Philippines. I don’t want to travel it often nor could I afford to. This year I feel like I am really giving up everything.

The trip here was so long. We traveled probably for 48 hours on and off. The first time I was able to lay in a horizontal position and sleep for more than a few hours was GLORIOUS! I felt like there were trials to get here and as soon as we reached our island the blessings poured in. I am in the most beautiful place I have ever seen. It feels unreal. The people have been so generous already with Mawi meeting us at the airport and driving us almost three hours to Malaybalay City where we live. I woke up this morning after sleeping in my new house feeling rested and refreshed. During morning prayer with our missions team (Sammy, Lindsey, Evie, Anders, and Rebekah) I couldn’t help but feel that I was experiencing a slice of Heaven.

This morning I experienced the freedom that marked the beginning of my conversion almost two years ago. I felt like I did when I walked out of the confessional after not going to confession for eleven years. I keep receiving scriptures like, “Create a clean heart in me, O God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.” And “I will create a new heart in you, and breathe into you a new spirit.” I truly do feel the new spirit he has placed in me. I feel alive so alive! I can tell already that this mission in Malaybalay City is going to be so fruitful.

We arrived at our new home on Friday the 3rd. The house is very simple, but very sturdy. It has three floors. The first floor you walk into from the front porch has a living room/dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. If you walk up five stairs on our spiral staircase (I’ve always wanted a spiral staircase in my house) you will see two rooms. As of right now Sammy, Lindsey, and the kids are in one room and Rebekah and I are in the other. From the main floor if you walk down three steps there is another big room that could be another living room and a bedroom off to the side. We are hoping to eventually use one of the rooms as a chapel. Right now we are trying to clean our house and get settled in. We are adjusting to the climate and sounds of our city. It seems so far with the climate, God has decided to give us paradise. It gets a little warm during the middle of the day, but there is always a cool breeze.

A few highlights since we’ve been here:

We didn’t have running water when we got here. We didn’t know how to flush our toilet and figured out that we have to pour a bucket of water into the bowl. We didn’t know where the grocery stores were, so our first full day here, Rebekah and I went on an adventure to find food. We found what we thought was tuna and some mayo to make tuna salad for the bread we already had. We also found some garbanza beans, bananas, oranges, an avacado, and chicken loaf. I picked out the chicken loaf and cannot figure out what possessed me to grab chicken loaf. There were other options. The only thing I can think of is I just read chicken and assumed it was like chicken in a can like tuna in a can. Our first meal was the tuna, bread, chicken spread (mayo), bananas, and oranges. When Rebekah opened the can of tuna she discovered that it was more like a tuna soup in a tomato base with potatoes. We laughed quite a bit with our cold soup straight from the can, bread, and fruit. Keep in mind we couldn’t quite get our stove to work yet. Sammy thought we were just kidding and really had another meal planned; we weren’t. When it came time for dinner we prepared the chicken loaf and had bread, avocado, garbanza beans, and oranges. Sammy decided we should “flame-kiss” the chicken loaf using a fork over the flame of our stove because we got it working. For the rest of the night we cracked jokes about the chicken loaf. I mean really what was I thinking? It was half bad though.

All in all our time here has been so blessed. We are meeting such wonderful people. We are slowly learning our way around. I am excited to learn what our ministries will be here. Please continue to pray for us. You are all in my prayers.

Monday, January 2, 2012

I'm Back!

So "I'm back!" is a loaded little exclamation. It has several meanings at this time. Firstly it means I'm back on my blog. Sorry about that. I sort of fell off of the bloggin' wagon. :) Secondly, I am back in General Cepeda. I cannot tell you how good it feels to be back in missions. Lastly, I was back in the States.

So much has happened in the last two months I don't really know where to begin! I guess I will begin with November 27th, the day I left General Cepeda. The days leading up to my last day in General were an emotional roller-coaster. It was a time of great excitement, but also a time of sadness. I was excited to return to the states to see my family and friends, but I was heartbroken to leave my Mexican family. My time in the states was incredible. I was able to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve with my family. One of my favorite memories of being with family and friends while I was home, was playing Fruit Ninja and Just Dance in my sister's living-room. It was great to see Angela and Gus (my sister and her husband) competing as ninja's and dancing together. The kid's were hilarious to watch, especially my nephew Jake. He gets so into the game. The day I was leaving Florida to drive back to Louisiana, to then drive back to Mexico, I stopped at Angela's house to tell everyone goodbye, and as soon as I got there, the kids invited me to play Just Dance. After my last goodbyes, I walked to my car with a smile on face and completely out of breath from the game.

I drove to Louisiana on the 31st of January to get in a car the next day to drive to Mexico. I never thought I would be so at ease with traveling. Praise God He prepares us for what He calls us to! From the time I came back to the states on November 27th to the time I returned to Mexico on the 1st, I traveled back and forth from Florida to Louisiana around four times. My prayer on the way to Mexico was, "Lord, please make this mission new to me." He answered that prayer from the second I walked in to our mission house to the time I said my last goodbyes. It was the same house I lived in for 8 months last year, but it was like I was seeing it for the first time. I wish I could put into words how wonderful the week in Mexico was. What made it so wonderful was the group that was with us. Each and everyone of them are beautiful servants for our Lord.

What blessed me the most on this trip was one of the work projects. I know in past blogs I have mentioned members of the family we built a house for. I know I have mentioned Fransica and Chemo's daughter Brenda and the first time I saw her smile. This week I saw her smile, giggle, and speak a lot. She was so giddy and happy. I have never seen her open up to people the way she opened up to this short-term group. The reason the building of their house blessed me so much was because since I have left Mexico in November, I've had two dreams of Fransica and Chemo inviting me over to a new house for dinner. This new house had beds and a real floor in it. This new house had a good roof that protected them from the rain and cold. This new house was clean and not crowded. During the week, we (not me personally) built that new house. That dream of mine is coming true. Not only do they have a new house, but they also are getting beds and a floor in their house. I know without a doubt that one day I will share a meal with them in this new house. I feel like this is a new beginning for this family.

I began this blog entry when I first arrived in Mexico and I am finishing it a few days after I returned to the States. If it is a little confusing or hard to follow, I do apologize. So what is next for me in this new year?? I am going to the Philippines!!!! P
lease begin praying with me for that mission. God Bless and know that I am praying for you!!