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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Awakening to the beauty, treasures and love of God
A Witness of Youth for the Third Millennium (YTM) “Xtreme” Missions 2004

Misiones en Filipinas
The world is such a beautiful place. All we need to do is open our eyes.

That is precisely what I experienced in my mission to Pinagkiluhan, Philippines

April 7, 2004

Today I made a decision that I know will change my life forever. Despite my commitment to this mission, I have always doubted my competency and my abilities, and these even became greater having been faced with this new invitation. Will I be able to do it? Do I even have the right to speak about the Word of God when I have not even lived my life completely according to it? All my other concerns (Will I have time? What about my studies? What will this affect my other
Misiones en Filipinas
commitments? Will I be able to stick by this decision?) were put to rest during the evening prayers we had on our fourth evening here.

April 8, 2004

Today was really such a wonderful day! All the superlatives in the world would not even come close to describing the great enlightenment I had today.

My assignment of which place to visit was different today. Instead of going Papaya, as my partner and I usually did, we were assigned to Pinagkiluhan. The first house we were able to visit was the home of this man named Rodolfo was this jolly old man, very straightforward and yet very funny at the same time, with whom I had a wonderful experience. As a standard, we asked him how often he is able to go to mass. He gave a common answer; that mass is given in the chapel only once every month. As the conversation went along, we asked him about his spiritual life, how often he prays. He was proud when he said that he prays often, and even prouder when he said mentioned that he even goes to Church every Sunday. This reply puzzled me a lot since I knew that mass is given only once a month so I asked him to clarify. I might have heard him wrong. But in his straightforward manner, and giving me a reassuring smile that he was telling the truth, he told me that despite the fact that there is no priest to celebrate mass every Sunday, he still goes in order to pray. His answer made me reflect on myself and at the same time became a sign from God in order to guide me. This great faith that he had, his ability to persevere even with the fact that opportunities are not open to him, caused me to look upon myself and wonder why I should not take this wonderful chance that is already being offered to me, while there is this man, withheld by the lack of opportunities, and yet faithfully persevering.

Today we commemorated the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, not through a mass because there was no priest available, but through the re-enactment of the Last Supper and the Washing of the Feet. A few days before the celebration, I met this little girl named Mei-mei. As we were walking back to the house after the celebration in the chapel, alongside the huge crowd that surrounded us, I felt a little tug on the edge of my shirt. I could feel someone holding on to me. At that moment, without even looking back, I knew it was that little girl. She had been another sign for me sent by God. Here I was, walking along, merely being swept by the crowd, and feeling a little tug, a little call, to look back, to respond.

Later that day, all of us missionaries went to Papaya, bringing with us a huge number of children who followed us from the chapel. After finishing our little merienda, I strolled by the edge of the water, looking for pieces of broken corals that looked like letters to spell my name. The children offered to help and asked for my name. I promptly replied, giving my nickname. Unsatisfied, the asked me again, this time, specifying for my full name, so I gave it. Shortly after, Penny, an older sister of Mei-mei, came to me and asked for my last name. With a bit of apprehension, I gave it too. I could hear children shouting, so I raised my head to listen. To my surprise, they were saying my name, again and again, almost as if they were chanting, and immediately I felt embarrassed. I asked Penny what the reason was for repeating my name over and over. She timidly replied that it was so that at my return, they would remember my name. Once again, I realized that this was another call from God, to come back, to this place and to Him.

The sun was beginning to set so we had to start walking back to the house in order to get there before nightfall. While walking, I had Mei-mei clutching my left hand and her sister Lyn-lyn, my right. We haven’t gone far from Papaya when Lyn-lyn tugged my arm to show me something she had in her little palm. It was a one-peso coin. Her face was lit up with pride when she told me that she had been saving it. She kept the coin in the same hand she was using to hold mine and since her hands were so small, I told her to just keep it in her other hand, so that she can hold on to it better since I could sense how important it was to her. We were a lot of people walking home, so I didn’t notice that Lyn had left my side. I only saw her when she came back beside me. Surprisingly, she held my wrist. I did not give too much notice to it, thinking that maybe she found my hand too big to grip for her small fingers. But then she turned my wrist, making my open palms facing up, and then placed something in my hand. When I looked at her, she gave me a meek smile and placed her hand over my closed fist and squeezed it, as if sealing whatever it had inside. When I opened my hand to see what it was that she placed inside, I saw the most wonderful gift. With the coin that she was saving, she bought two pieces of chocolate, and one was there in the middle of my palm.

For the first time in my life, I have successfully completed a Lenten sacrifice, and so on Sunday, when the Lenten season ends, I will celebrate my sacrifice of chocolates with that little treasure an angel gave to me.

God has answered my prayers. Through the experiences I had throughout the day, He has shown me the beauty of the world He has created for us, the treasures He has placed inside every person, and the unerring love that He gives. He has awakened me to a call that I have been inspired to respond to.



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