In 2009, I joined the Mission Volunteers Discernment Program of Singles for Christ and part of that program is a consultation with one of the former leaders of CFC, Tito Ernie Maipid. Of all the things we've talked about, there was one question I clearly remember. "There are two letter S in the word MISSION and they are positioned side by side with each other. What do you think do those letters stand for?"
Without having second thoughts, I answered serve and surrender. I told Tito Ernie that I think a missionary's life is about those two things: service and surrender. Mission will never be complete without service, and as you serve, there will be hindrances, challenges, and all other obstacles that you just can't overcome by yourself. There will be plans that won't push through, dreams that won't become a reality, wishes that will only be wishes, and yes, there will be frustrations and disappointments. And during those times, all you can really do is surrender everything to the Lord and trust that He will grant you the grace to overcome.
I was able to say all those things three years ago because Kuya Lawrence Quintero has never sugarcoated things for us to appreciate the mission. He would always say that life is not a bed of roses, especially if you're a missionary. He allowed us to discover the pains and discomforts of a missionary's life so that we may appreciate it as it is, to make us realize its true beauty, and to enlighten us with the truth that it's all about God.
Now that I am working fulltime for the community, with all honesty I say that indeed, it's all about service and surrender. I'm just more than a month old as a fulltime worker but the things that I've gone through, the people I've dealt with, the situations I've found myself in, everything is a big reminder of the reality that I can never accomplish anything without Christ, that apart from Him, I am nothing. The past month was all about service and surrender. I would say that it was a stage of purification. And I can really feel God's hand molding me, refining my character, and little by little, forming me, making me a new person, for Him and in Him.
It's a difficult stage. But I believe it is necessary. If I really want to be born again, to no longer live as myself, but as the person God has planned me to be, I would need to go through it.
And I was affirmed when I got this whisper from the Lord:
There is a valley of tears. It exists. But I want you to walk through the valley, not live in the valley. Your temptation is to build your house there. Don’t do that. Don’t make that your address. Walk through the valley.
P.S. You belong to the mountain of victory, Aiza.
So what is that valley I am walking through now? It's a valley of frustrations, worries, fears, anxieties, confusions, doubts, and weariness.
The previous week was the highlight of that valley.
I went home late last Friday. I wasn't able to attend the reunion dinner with my previous officemates because I had to finish something. When I reached home, Mama told me that Papa said he would no longer come with us to Iloilo for Lola's birthday. His words were, "yung pamasahe ko, abuloy ko na lang." When I heard the word "abuloy", I immediately asked, "bakit? sinong namatay?" I was told that my Tita Abeth passed away, and all I was able to do that time was to cry out everything to God. I had nothing to say anymore, I just surrendered. God knows how I've been thinking of not going home to Iloilo because of two major reasons:
1.) I don't have the budget (Don't ask me why, I might get frustrated again. Sigh. Hehe. Now I'm just laughing about it. I know God provides. He will provide.) and
2.) I have a lot of responsibilities to attend to especially with the opening of MMC registration this week.
But He's just great and all-knowing He also gave me two major reasons to go:
1.) Lola is sick and since last year, doctors have been telling us that she can leave us anytime and that we should make her feel loved every remaining day of her life. On Wednesday, April 25, she will celebrate her 87th birthday. :)
2.) Tita Abeth died. She was a teacher. When I stayed in Iloilo to study, she was the one guiding me, and she would proudly tell everyone that I'm her niece. She, like all my other relatives, plays a special role in my life, and now that she's gone, I couldn't afford not to see and thank her for the last time.
What about the budget? As I said, God provides. I was able to book a one-way ticket to Iloilo (thanks to a very generous brother who allowed me to use his credit card). Papa was able to borrow money from a family friend and so he and Mama will leave tomorrow. They will take the RORO. I will leave on Tuesday night. I still have the whole of Monday and more than a half of Tuesday to work. :) As for the transportation from Iloilo to Manila, I just leave it in God's hands. :)
Situation 1: Won! :)
Situation 2: Yesterday was the deadliest deadline. And it was the longest day. I woke up to a call from a friend asking a few things about Thailand. She knew I've been there and she wanted to make sure that her sister won't be too ignorant of the place. I gave her tips based on what I learned and experienced in my very short visit in that beautiful country. It was also the start of my day as I prepared for our itinerary. Lawrence came over and we first went to Secondwind to claim our race kits for the Hyundai Run for a Cause. Yes, it has been a commitment to join runs as often as possible. Our next destination was the Araneta Center Bus Terminal. We got tickets for my parents. Then we had lunch and went to the CFC Home Office to do our respective tasks. He stayed at the second floor and did the layout for Ugnayan's next issue while I went up and worked at the fourth floor. We had our dinner by 12mn and by then we were no longer talking. I knew he was as tired as I was. He could have left already because he finished his task earlier but he didn't leave me alone. He stayed and helped me finish my task as well. I couldn't thank God enough for giving me such a supportive and loving partner. I know things would be different if I was with another person. But God is so good He gave me someone so patient and understanding, someone who, despite his weaknesses and personal struggles, strengthens me with his love and prayers.
God knows exactly what and who I need. And once again I am reminded that truly God won't give me what I can't bear.
For the past three days, I've been singing a particular line from Gary V's "Take Me Out Of The Dark." Allow me to share with you this video which I first saw at the MCGR last April 14. It speaks a lot about faith and surrender.
A missionary's life is not a comfortable life. But it is definitely worth living. :) And when things get a little complicated, go back to the basics. It's simply all about these two words: serve (Jesus came to serve) and surrender (Jesus surrendered His life to the Father). It's all about God.
And because it's all about Him, He won't give us what we can't bear. :)
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)