Parallel Experiences

I can’t help but think, as I am experiencing my uninspired moments in Christ’s Youth in Action staff, that these moments are going to recur when I proceed to Pediatrics residency.

Contrary to popular perception, staff work is actually toxic. It is so different compared to what the students apparently see. There are a lot of stretching of the self, a lot of dying, a lot of breaking, a lot of pruning, a lot of feedback (for me, because I am stubborn) that happen in the background and away from the prying eyes of the university students. A good shattering of expectations leads me to realize romanticizing staff work is not going to work if I want to stay.

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Christ’s Youth in Action Staffers doing a Rurouni Kenshin pose in honor of Flo. Cute namin!

Not that the shattering is a bad thing. It’s part of the process. And in staff, I’m experiencing what it really is like to be a disciple of Christ. And I feel I am not even closer to the woman He has created me to be. The disciplining of the leaders in CYA staff is probably one of the most strict, yet most loving, that I’ve signed up for.

I also cannot help but think, during this seemingly lack of enthusiasm in what I do, that I’ve dealt with similar moments before.

Cases in point: Phi Lambda Delta Sorority and my internship in UP College of Medicine.

Gela with Phi Surgery
I cannot count how many little boys I circumcised. Organizing a tuli mission is one of my main jobs when I was a leader in Phi.

No need to bore you with details, but these two big decisions of my life contained my most uninspiring moments. But look what came out of it: during my term as Phi’s Sister Caritas, Milk Matters was born. Then, I was able to graduate from UP College of Medicine with awards for leadership, service and meritorious performance. I passed the Physician Licensure Exam! Goodness abound.

So as I try to find ways on how to deal with this demoted spirit in staff work, especially since BUSIER days are coming, I have three lenses I can look at that can present me rich strategies I can be creative to use: to look back and be grateful; to look forward and be ready; and to experience the present– find joy in what I do and do the things that bring me joy. (Read Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and not for men.)

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CYA Medicine just launched out! Here I am taking a two-hour teaching off my doctor work to cater to my brothers and sister in Medicine schools. (PLM and UP Med) High yield ito ang saya! No regrets doing it kahit sobrang pagod ako after this.

I am just afraid of completely missing out on what the Lord is trying to teach me in these moments of dry inspiration. I need grace for a good sense of detachment. Another strong motivation is I just do not want to go back to the old me. Not anymore. I want to learn Your ways, Lord.

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Just because I am radiantly beautiful and happy to be here. Where I am right now. Though I know not the road ahead of me, I trust in the Lord that He will carry me through, victoriously!

Grant me faith for the future. Grant me a grateful heart. Open my eyes to see your work in me and in others.

What are You teaching me? Teach me to persevere and find joy in things that I do, even if I don’t see its fruits.

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One Seed Grows

MM WDC

This is the photo of my sorority sister, Ja Verceles, as she represents Milk Matters in an annual convention in Washington, DC. Milk Matters has been selected to participate through poster presentation and in the conference for global health.

I am so proud. I cannot help but thank the Lord for the grace to actually see this happen. I am thankful, that as I look at the photo I see two blessed things: 1. To see what Milk Matters has become, that I treasure it like a child borne out of my heart, and though I have become detached from it, my love for it has been stable, steady; 2. To see that my sorority sisters are growing out of themselves and becoming a better version of themselves through service.

Six years of intensely immersing myself in service taught me to focus on the latter blessing. To invest on people. To add value to their growth by helping them maximize their strengths and work on their core passion. That, in fervent hope, as they work tirelessly and relentlessly, a change of heart happens.

That is how I show my love– through service. Amazing how it gels together, when before the Milk Matters team only set our sights on just one milk drive and see how it goes from there. The Lord makes me see His work bloom right in front of my very eyes three years after its conception. I am but His servant.

It is great to see women with such big potentials who dedicate their efforts to help the poor and the sick Filipinos.

*This is the second international conference participated in by Milk Matters. The other one is an international award and representation in China. That is aside from the many accolades it has received in University of the Philippines College of Medicine and at regional and national levels.

Seeds of Service

Featured image above is a photo of one of my baby patients when I was intern. He was my inspiration when I wrote my speech entitled “Ang Bagong EDSA.” He just slept soundly on my chest. Little did he know he was instrumental in rekindling my fire for service, which was the EDSA speech’s spirit.

From my stint in the sorority up until staff work in a Catholic movement called Christ’s Youth in Action, seeds of service has been the prominent battle cry.

I was called for the planting. Look at my photos years before I was called as a staffer/youth missionary volunteer. How eerily prophetic it sounded.

God really moves in mysterious ways. These were my sentiments during my leadership years in Phi Lambda Delta that I can relate to staff work:

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“Sometimes, you really cannot sit under the shade of the tree whose seed you just planted. You plant the seed, and trust in God that He will put it under the care of the people whose good hearts become the roots, water and air for this worthy seed to grow and flourish. Mabuti talaga ang Panginoon.”

Prophetic. The worthy seed (at that time I was talking about Milk Matters) reminds me of the mustard seed talking about the kingdom of God. Look at where I am now. Instrument being used to be one of the builders.

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Meet the OG. Original gangster of Milk Matters. This was the first meeting of the team, when MM was still an abstract yet inspiring concept.

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“Ultimately, we serve because God called us to… Nagkamali ako along the way, but I am sure hindi ako nagkulang (sa effort).” I really gave it my best shot as the service arm leader for Phi. #noregrets One of my favorite jobs in the world.

And this is my nephew, cotton ball. Meet my fluffy cotton ball.

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“fLORD”

fLORD (flÖrd) v. action word meaning to be utterly amazed and awed as witness to the Lord at work

Exactly my experience this past week.

When Dyan Castillejo (Sports Unlimited TV personality) agreed to share her message to the participants of Christ’s Youth in Action- University of Santo Tomas Rekindle, it was the Lord moving His hand in this anointed Christian Life Series.* Ms. Castillejo and I happened to be on the same floor as she was also a guest for another UST event. She approached me for directions to the restroom. Grabbing this opportunity, I asked her to share her message of encouragement to our CLS participants. And she gave one powerful testimony about God!

The blessings started two days before that. Our large penalty and principal sums in a government institution was waived. From almost two hundred thousand bucks we were now down to pay only less than fifty grand.

Then, we initiated a series of personal leadership training called, “Launch Out!” for graduating students of Industrial Engineering. Every Tuesday from 2-4pm, a sort of meta-coaching sessions will be equipping them on how to be good, compassionate and competent leaders in the workplace.

Rekindle bagged a special place in my heart. To be honest, I only expected around 10-15 participants. Ten was a good and realistic number, I thought. When the icebreaker games started, batches of students came pouring in. Athletes comprise almost a third of the participants (we reached twenty three, more than half were men), so Ms. Castillejo’s powerful testimony was the Lord’s way of shaking us up. All in all the first session of Rekindle was a message for me that this is the Lord’s work. I was a witness on how the Holy Spirit moved among us, and we were caught in its trail of fire as it ignited not just the students but the servers as well. My doubts and worries for Rekindle vanished. With that amazing display of grace, I was floored by the Lord. Nasupalpal. (I love Tagalog words they perfectly capture the strength and potency of the exact thing I was going to say.)

We ended up having a fruitful discussion, and the sisters’ lives opened up to me like sunlight breaking through a sheath of dark thick clouds. I personally felt like staff work has renewed itself once again after a wake of a struggles to the reality of being a volunteer youth missionary.

Lastly, my supposedly free day Friday turned out to be a great day indeed. I joined the PGH NICU staff in a milkletting drive in Pedro Gil area. The experience was amazing.

I assisted mothers who donated their breastmilk for the sick babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. I would be carrying their babies or helping them pump the breastmilk into the sanitized containers. Pang-Pedia talaga ako.

Here are the pictures. Enjoy.

Ate Myya taking the groufie with Ms. Dyan Castillejo during Rekindle.

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Arianna and I. She wouldn’t even look at the camera at first.Gela MM1

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This one is a bochog baby! She looks like a Trolls figure with her hair. What a happy smiling bebe bochog.

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The last picture is a proof that I am in a health center. May nagluluto ng lunch after seeing patients (so that they the health team can eat together for bonding).

*Christian Life Series (CLS) is a series of talks given by CYA on how to live a good Christian life.

**All photos with children and mommies taken and posted with permission.

In the Thick of Good Things: Siksik, Liglig, Umaapaw (Filled, Full and Overflowing)

A month ago, since my last attempt to write in this blog, a looooooot of blessings have happened that arguably changed my life goals.

That’s the thing about so many good things happening: I cannot find the time to write them. My mind is screaming for some form of legitimate decongestion.

First off the list (my favorite, too) is representing my Sorority, the Phi Lambda Delta of the UP College of Medicine, in the 12th Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations. We have emerged as the National Winner. Amazing, wonderful, awesome, joyful, glorious are an understatement of my whole TAYO experience. It is a very personal encounter with the Lord. An experience of how magnanimous Jesus is.

Then comes the LPG explosion. My thoughts about it written in the previous blog entry.

Third is my agonizing ER duty of two weeks. Only one good thing can I say about this rotation: it has boosted my confidence to execute procedures 100%. But the stress is not worth it. When one has passed through DEM, then all other rotations are much easier.

Fourth is my ongoing Surgery rotation. I have dreaded it so much. I don’t like Surgery. So I prayed to God, telling Him I am at my wits’ end, and in a point where I hate what I am doing already. I don’t like going to duty anymore. I don’t like waking up in the morning to go to the hospital. I don’t like retracting body parts and interacting with impatient, masungit doctors. Ayoko na, Lord. If you could just inspire me, to bring back the fire in my heart to do my best and love what I do.

He heard my prayer. This morning, I just had the most amazing operation with former Dean of the UP College of Medicine, Dr. Dean Roxas. Assisting him are the Chief Resident Dr. Amabelle Moreno, 3rd year resident Dr. Leona Dungca, 5th year Resident Dr. Jeff Gonzales and my lowly self. The nurse, Ma’am Jonah, is so kind. Dr. Dean Roxas was passing on his clinical pearls: techniques, skills, rules of thumb in operation. It was amazing to see the best of the country’s doctors operate on and treat a patient. I learned so much from it.

Last but not the least, I have finally decided on two of the most life-changing decisions I’ve committed my heart to: Join South UD and become an AGL. These two are my upward call from God. Include Milk Matters and those three are probably the best gifts given to me to have a decision on. In so doing, I have also decided NOT to run for Superior Sister Exemplar of the Phi Lambda Delta Sorority.

So many good things from the Lord are still in store for me. That is His promise to me during Household.

The Lord came to me in a dream and He spoke to me in all His glory. I was facing the Paranaque House, outside the gate. He told me three things:

1. There are so many wonderful and good things that will happen in your life and through your life.
2. Yes, it is He who has been giving me the dreams prior to Household.
3. He told me to know Him more, to believe in Him and trust in Him.

I am already a committed CYA member. I have been in CYA for more than a year. Looking back, I can see how God’s hand has been with me. And how glorious He is and faithful to His promises. Lord, I am eternally grateful. I am eternally yours.

(May I add: I’ve been thinking about my long-forgotten dream. I want to set up and run my own humanitarian foundation. Or work for the World Health Organization/United Nations. Maybe God can hear my prayer and be blessed with both dreams? I also want to travel and see the world. To learn from their cultures.

Also, please pray for me. I beg for the special grace of humility, to guard my heart and mind.)

Biggest Accomplishment

Grace and blessings! Biggest accomplishment today: I taught a kid how to pray to Papa Jesus.

This Pedia patient was rushed to the ER after being hit by a dos por dos on the head by a caretaker a week ago. He told me he was scared because his watcher was almost always absent.

He was a six year old boy but he acted like he was three. He kept on chewing the lock on his IV line, dislodging the needle out of his vein which prompted us to insert more IV cannulas. He needed a medicine that should be given directly into his vein so his brain wouldn’t swell because of the injury.

“Nasaan na si Ate?” (Where’s my sister?) he asked me worriedly. I told him his sister just went out to buy food for them. I honestly did not know where his sister was. She was gone for two hours already.

I asked him if he knows he has angel. He said yes.

If he knows Papa Jesus? He said yes.

If he knows how to pray? He was silent. He kept on looking at me until he shrugged his shoulders.

“Okay, baby, tuturuan ka ni Ate Gela paano magpray para hindi ka na matakot,” I replied. “Parang nagrarap ka lang, sinasabi mo yung gusto mo iparating kay Papa Jesus.” (Okay, Ate Gela will teach you how to pray so you wouldn’t be scared anymore. It’s just like rap, you tell God what you want Him to hear.)

Angel of God

The patient joins rap contests in his local barangay at a tender age. He is good at it, according to his sister. A “nanay-nanayan” (non-relative motherly adult) spotted him during a contest and offered to take care of him. That “nanay-nanayan” is responsible for hitting him on the head, and other unspeakable acts that prompted the patient to tell his sister, “Ang dami kong problema. Ang daming problema sa mundo.” (I have many problems. There are so many problems in this world.)

After a short prayer thanking God for his life, asking for protection against danger and money for his food, medicine and lab tests in PGH, I asked him if he was still scared. He said no. And I tucked him to bed (that cold metal stretcher bed) with his sarong as makeshift blanket. He proceeded to stare at the ceiling with his wide, beautiful eyes. The innocence of those eyes betrayed and smeared by the (insert unkind word here) adult who allegedly hit him on the head with a dos por dos.

“Kapag natatakot ka, tandaan mo lagi mo kasama si Papa Jesus,” I reassured him. (If you feel scared again, remember that Papa Jesus is always with you.) He nodded and smiled.

At that moment, I could have given the same advice to myself.

This incoming week is one of the biggest, if not the most important, weeks of my 2014. The Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations Area Finals contest, adjustment with duty in Pediatrics (one of the big four departments!), transferring to another apartment, CYA Anniversary… I am tempted to feel scared and overwhelmed and doubtful when I think about it. Plus the fact that I feel like I haven’t allotted much time preparing for it as I would’ve wanted to.

But God is so good. He is so good. He blessed me with
– Phi sorority sisters who are determined and willing to help me out
– not one but TWO scholarships to cover my expenses in Medicine
– Code Red for my NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) duty so I wouldn’t be admitting so many neonates this week
– a Pedia ER neonate patient whose parents I interviewed for the importance of breast milk
– nurses, fellows and consultants who go out of their way to inspire us in Milk Matters
– brothers and sisters in Christ’s Youth in Action whose encouragement and timely prayer meetings always reassure me that God is in control (HHHH!)
– parents who are so supportive in everything I do
– my brother graduated from college

All of these are blessings. Grace. Everything is grace.

So when I taught that kid how to pray, I felt like it was just a small thing to give back to the Lord.

God is so amazing and kind and good, that teaching a child to pray is only a meager way to thank Him as His instrument. I can do more, be more for You, Lord. Bless me with that chance. You know my heart. My prayers. I entrust all to you, Father.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, and the flame will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” -Isaiah 43:1-3

PS. I encourage you to pray to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. 🙂 A mass in PGH Chapel will be celebrated for her on Nov. 25-27. My first personal blessed time with Our Lady is during the CYA Sisters’ Summer Household 2014 in Paranaque. The Parish of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal is only a few blocks away from our Household.

*neonate- a baby whose age is 28 days and below