The thought of each and every person having their own personal life story and significance in the grander scheme of things is, in itself, mind-blowing. It’s almost beyond comprehension to imagine how everyone is connected and has their own purpose in life. More often than not, there’s just so many people around us that it’s hard to see that the world doesn’t just revolve around, well, us. That each and everyone has a soul of their own, and that they have their own dreams, aspirations, history, background—their own personal life story. Trying to grasp that in all its grandness and majesty is truly awe inspiring. The world, and the people living in it, is just simply awesome.
I woke up earlier than usual today and had to prepare myself for the long day ahead. I was up at around 2 AM in the morning, got ready for my weekly Saturday ASSF (Ateneo Student Security Force) training and left the house. I arrived at AdDU College around 2:40 AM and we waited for the other applicants until 3 AM before we started our road run towards AdDU Highschool. I was exhausted from the trip, but the fatigue was manageable. We continued with our training along with the usual routines of pumping, push-ups, bomber, and the like. I and my fellow classmates had to leave earlier than the other applicants because we still had to attend our immersion. We hurriedly changed clothes and called for a taxi since we were already running late.
When we arrived on the school, everyone was preparing to leave already. Thank God we were able to arrive on the nick of time and weren’t left behind. I got the package my mom prepared for us from Clyde since I wasn’t there yet when she came to drop it off. We rode on the assigned jeep and had our orientation at ALMACEN where I met up with my partner Jam. I got my stuff from the previous jeep and rode together with Jam. The trip took about 1 hour and was, at most, acceptable. We were pretty cramped inside, along with our bags, but nevertheless, it was ok.
We arrived at our destination and were told who we will be living with for the remaining parts of the day. We were assigned to the house of Sonny Anday and made our way towards their home. I already had some sort of idea of what the place would be like, but the real thing was still far from my preconceived notions and imaginations.
Of course, it’s not the worst of places, but still, the touch of poverty is evident and can clearly be seen. The house was mostly made with bamboo and their flooring is the immediate mud and dirt you could see outside. The shoes I was wearing was highly
susceptible to the sticky mud and was easily stained by the dirt. Whenever their cooking or heating up some water, their house is easily filled and smothered by smoke. It’s quite suffocating if one stays long enough inside, especially near the fire place. Their lot is quite large, but untended. They have a bathroom on the backyard, but it is unfinished and still under construction. They also have a patch of sweet potato and a couple of cacao trees in their backyard, from which they get their supper.
The house is particularly small, but seems practical enough to withhold the rain from
sipping through the roof and walls. When you enter the house, you will immediately see their kitchen, their dining room on your left and their living room on the right. They’re bedroom is located on another room separated from the immediate room you see by a wall and a door. All six of the family members apparently sleep there inside.
The father was absent during our visit because he was out working so it was the wife, Mrs Anday that accommodated us and entertained our every questions. They have 4 children, all of which are under 7 years old. Despite they’re situation, the children all seems healthy and lively. They were shy towards us, but they were all friendly and playful when they were with their friends. The family was really kind to us, we insisted on
helping with the household chores, but they also insisted that we didn’t have to and that there was no more chores left for us to do.
So right after our interview, we didn’t really had much to do. Me and Jam, ended up taking pictures of random things in and outside of their house. After our picture taking, we saw other immersionists doing nothing so we decided to join them for a while, with our foster parent’s permission of course.
We hang out with them for a while and discovered that we can try the karaoke machine! So, from then on, we sang our hearts out. Each song costs PHP2.00 which is pretty reasonable and quite cheap actually for us, but I know that it already costs quite some bucks for the people living there.
After sometime, it started raining, lightly at first, but then a sudden
downpour. It was probably brought upon by our enchanting melody and the symphony of our bewitching voices. After a while, our jeep came to pick us up and we bid our foster family adieu. The immersion was fun and the trip back home left us all exhausted that most of us fell asleep during the way back. Nevertheless, it was a fun and memorable experience.
Looking back, I remember the questions brought about by the experience.
Why do we have poverty in this world? Is it even possible to eradicate it from this reality? Can these people ever rise from their current state?
Then a sudden realization,
What if I was in their position?
With my current attitude and personality right now, how can I survive their way of life? The experience made me more grateful of the things I have. My family, my clothes, our house, all the blessings and privileges I’m able to enjoy right now. I’ve always taken things for granted and never really appreciated all that I have. My life could have been so easily like theirs. I could have been born into their family and earn my own money to pay for my education and other personal necessities. Life is so fragile that I could have had an abusive father or a uncaring mother or absent siblings, but no; God blessed me with a wonderful family, a dad who works hard for his family, a mother who is more hospitable and caring than anyone I know, and siblings who are supportive and loving. In my family alone, the blessings are more than enough. But God didn’t stop there, he gave a house that could shelter every one of us, he enabled me to study in a prestigious school like Ateneo, and gave me everything that I have today. His blessings are more than enough for me and the experience opened my eyes to the grace and wonder of God’s love.
Then another question occurs,
What about them? The people living on Tawan-tawan and possibly even the other remote areas in the world? Why did He choose to give me these things and not them? Was it wrong for Him to have done so?
Of course not, He chooses with His sovereignty who to give such things to. He let the rain pour on both the good and the evil. He gives and He takes away. He is wise, He is sovereign, He is good. He is God. With that in mind, it gives me a sense of responsibility to not waste the blessings He has bestowed upon me. To be a good steward of his goodness and grace. He blessed me to bless others and what a privilege it is to be an instrument of the Lord. For His love to flow through me, to touch the lives of others. I’m not worthy of such positions and status, and honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be. After all, it’s only by His grace and mercy that I’m able to do such things.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
In this immersion, I saw a reflection of my own heart towards others and, in contrast, the heart of my mother. Honestly speaking, I’m not really much of a person for others. I view myself as a very selfish person, maybe I exaggerate a bit, but that’s my perception of myself. I have a hard time caring for people I don’t know, especially random strangers. I feel compassion and pity for people on the streets from time to time, but I could never really commit myself to loving them or spending time with them. I want to rid the world of poverty, because I don’t want to see all the impoverish person and have my heart ache for them every time. I tell myself, no one should live like that, but what exactly could I do? No matter what, I won’t be able to remove that reality from this world. Poverty will always be a part of this world. And so, what I do is I ignore them. As heart breaking and cruel as it is, it’s what most people do. Money, that’s what makes the world go around right now. As cynical and pessimistic as that sounds, it’s the cold harsh truth. Have none of it and you will be a scorn to society. Everyone would turn their backs on you and you are left there all alone on the streets fighting for your survival.
I had no heart for people, much less people I didn’t know. My mom on the other hand, she was an eye-opener. My mom cared for people like there’s no tomorrow. She was so hospitable and loving that even my classmates were amazed by the amount of food I brought to the place. She genuinely cared for them and sought after their greater good. She knows her limitations and capabilities, but she did more than what was expected of her. After the immersion, she asked, what were the needs of the family? Do they need clothing? Food? Her love for them was not of her own. It was the love of Christ flowing through her. My mother knows God’s love for her more than anyone else, and because of that relationship and intimacy, she was overflowing with God’s love, kindness, goodness and grace. She didn’t know this people and yet she loved them unconditionally.
Because of that, I chose the drawing above as my symbolism. It’s not much of a symbolism, but rather a declaration of love for the loveless. That I will fill my heart with the love God that I may love others in return. I can’t give what I don’t have. Apparently, I’m still lacking of the reality of God’s love. I may know about it, but maybe I haven’t really experienced it in a personal level. With that in mind, that picture is the cry of someone who is calling out for help to love people. I can’t do it on my own, but I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
2 Corinthians 12:9
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Jesus Loves You.