compassion · CYA Staffer · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · God · life · love · Milk Matters · personal · Phi Lambda Delta Sorority · prayer · Service · UP-PGH

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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God · life · love · pearls · personal · prayer

For We Were Once in Darkness

This article is for CYA’s 34th Anniversary. Staffer Jhing Talan asked me to write about how God used CYA to touch my life. I have an outline I wanted, then the Lord had a different idea. I prayed about the content for almost a week! All I know is, I ripped my guts out for this article. Here it goes:

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Go beyond your comfort zones. Look outside the window of the car you are in. Walk along the street beside YC and, most likely, you will encounter them.

The little ones whose arms beg for food, whose faces contort with hunger, and whose eyes radiate only the sad echoes of what could have been a glorious childhood.

As they grow a few years older, without any intervention they learn to loiter on the sidewalk all day. They deaden the pangs of hunger with the intoxicating sniffs of rugby. They open their eyes and believe that substance abuse, profanities and lack of education are the mainstay morals of their young lives. Thus, they make themselves vulnerable to the prowling demons of corruption and call it truth. Don’t be surprised when someday, one of these children becomes the thief that points a knife to your sister, threatening to kill for a cellphone.

Up we go and transcend the social strata. This is where wealth, material abundance and the best of education do not necessarily guarantee a certified upright youth of contemporary times.

The “me” generation concerns itself with the onslaught of social media. They get their highs on the status updates and notifications in Facebook, on the latest pricey gadgets, or on the trends set by celebrities. They put so much effort on their physical appearance and not an inkling of concern on what they feed their souls with. They deaden the pangs of their conscience with materialism and call it truth. They cheat themselves on the true source of love. They settle for its fake but popular substitutes and call it YOLO (you only live once): cigarettes, booze, drugs, premarital sex, pornography, campus violence.

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Today’s youth needs God’s light, now more than ever.

I, for one, was once in darkness. It was through the seemingly ordinary conversation with Father Chester Yacub, SJ, (former CYA Staffer) that the Lord chose to reveal Himself to me and changed my life radically.

When Father Chester told me to join Christ’s Youth in Action, I was at the brink of giving up on my responsibilities as the service coordinator for my sorority in UP College of Medicine. I was mired in the hopelessness of service projects that never seemed to bear fruit. I was embittered by the judgmental attitude I harbored against those who never seemed to appreciate (or so I thought) how valuable serving others was.

Most of all, pride was a thorn to deal with. Living in a competitive world, I strove hard to excel and achieve. I had a mindset that I deserved the good things that the Lord blessed me with.

Service and pride are two opposite ends of a pole. Service can never be deeply substantive when one’s heart is ruled by pride.

My conversation with Father Chester back then is God’s act of saving me from my own self. What follows afterward is a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness to His people.

Blessings I have received from God through CYA? Ang dami. Sobra.

God redeemed the many deaths in my heart. And He filled it with His life-giving Spirit.

When in the throes of pride, He breaks me and shows me how beautiful it is to serve with a humble and grateful heart.

When in the chains of judgment, He opens the eyes of my heart to truly see the goodness of people and the purity of their intentions.

When in the dark abyss of hopelessness, He serves as the lamp unto my feet. He gathers me in His bosom and leads me to His everlasting ways.

CYA is God’s gift to me. The relationships I have and witness through the brothers and sisters are a manifestation of God’s love here on earth. Through CYA, I have come to know God personally, deeply, surely, intimately.

I do not know why Jhing Talan asked me to write about CYA’s 34th, when for its past 33 years of blessedness, I’ve never known CYA to exist. I’ve gone through my full four year course of undergraduate college, worked for a year as a school nurse and already halfway through my degree in Medicine when I joined CYA. So I am just your ordinary newly-evangelized, newly-committed CYA member whose age warrants me to join Lingkod already.

But God has His own perfect timing. I can speak with full confidence, as put upon me by the Lord, the one great truth that I pray can inspire you to action: God used CYA to change my life.

Let me say it again: God used CYA to change my life. And to change it for the better.

God is calling His youth, Christ’s Youth, to act in His name.

To change lives for His name.

To live godly lives for the glory of His name.

There is a special blessing accorded to the youth. Energy. Insight. Idealism. Conviction. These qualities, guided by faith, can propel the youth to expand the kingdom of God in a world that is in dire need of the Gospel.

Today’s youth is crying out for help.

Today’s youth needs God’s light, now more than ever.

Our great God is longing for His lost sheep. Respond to His call and proclaim His Word.

He will make His youth a light to the nations, to open the eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness (Isaiah 42:6)

Fear not, for they who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar as with eagle’s wings; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and never tire. (Isaiah 40:31)

faith · friendship · God · personal · prayer

The Craze that is CYA Prayer Meeting

*This is supposed to come out in the CYA UMC Newsletter, if Pauline and Jorem decide to include this in the first place. I am not aware of the 200-word limit. This one’s about 600 words long. Hehe

We all have our own unique stories to tell about how we are evangelized.

We have come to grow in a personal and blessed relationship with God through a persistent brother who offers free food during events; or through a random invitation by a sister to get inside Youth Center and study. It is through these incidental and seemingly common gestures through which God acts to herald the good news of salvation in our lives.

Mine started in a prayer meeting.

The daily 5PM Eucharistic Celebration at the PGH Chaplain just finished. I remembered asking the Lord, “Lord, bigyan Niyo po ako ng spiritual group.” Back then, I was at the brink of giving up on my responsibility as a coordinator of service activities for my sorority in UP College of Medicine. I was tired, bitter and frustrated, because it seemed like my efforts to improve our service activities and to inspire the people to serve were fruitless.

Father Chester Yacub, SJ, the mass presider, was the approachable type of priest. I went to him and asked if he knew of a spiritual group I could probably join.

He leaned closer and lowered his voice, as if he was going to divulge something really important. “Alam mo biased kasi ako eh. Irerecommend kita sa group ko sa UP Diliman noong college. Narinig mo na ba yung CYA, o Christ’s Youth in Action?”

I never heard of it. “Sorry,” I replied.

“Okay lang. Doon ka nalang sumali,” he smiled. He then called the attention of two people who happened to be just a few meters away from us. It was Ate Ghea Mata and Kuya Joff Quiring. The next day, I was walking hand in hand with Ate Ghea (close na kami agad!) for my first CYA activity: the Thursday prayer meeting.

That prayer meeting was still so fresh and vivid in my mind. The people were genuinely warm. They received me with such openness that my tendency to be self-conscious and run far away from YC just flew out the window.

And just watch how these people worship! They are raising their hands! They sing with great passion before the Lord! Such strangeness! They are quoting Bible verses and encouraging one another in prayer. I listen and try to join them in singing songs of praise I never heard before. The whole experience feels wonderful and weird and mysteriously attractive all at the same time.

To my surprise, Ate Ghea was the sharer for that prayer meeting. Her experience of serving relentlessly the people affected by Yolanda struck right through my tired, bitter and frustrated heart of a servant leader. God was calling me to serve Him where I am. And to serve Him with my whole heart relentlessly.

That crucial first prayer meeting was followed by many other prayer meetings and CYA activities I was blessed enough to participate in.

Up until today, these prayer meetings still touch my heart in ways that the Lord can only do. He speaks through the worship leaders, the sharers, the main speakers. He speaks through the brothers and sisters who open their mouth and proclaim the message of God.

Up until today, the people in CYA still worship God in such wonderful strangeness. This strangeness probably stems from their close personal relationship with the good God. They pray with such ardor one would think they are plain crazy.

Well, they are. They are so crazy for Jesus it’s amazing. This is the kind of craze I want to be part of. This is the kind of craze I would commit my life to. And this craze started during that one prayer meeting, when Father Chester told me to join a group I never knew existed, but is now so close to my heart.

child abuse · clerkship · compassion · doctor · doctor dreams · empathy · faith · God · hating violence against women and children · Milk Matters · prayer

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