Friday, August 29, 2014

Guest post: Biwan's story

This post was written by my team leader, Alex! It really touched my heart so I wanted to share it with all of you. You can donate to this cause either through Alex's fund page -- see link at the bottom -- or directly to my fund. Just write "For Biwan" in the comments section. You can also check out Alex's complete blog at

This is Ana-biwan. Biwan is this sweet little 34 year old (and I say little because next to me she looks like a small child) that I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of months ago. She loves ice cream and volleyball and she's a quiet introvert (yeahhh introverts unite!). She lives in a town called Magsaysay in a tiny little bamboo hut with her husband Danny, who is a 4th grade teacher at the local elementary school, and her three children: Arvie (8), Ian Dave (7), and Rafyl Ava (5). 

    Sadly, Biwan has been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer. She has a softball-sized tumor on the side of her neck that has been growing for the last year because she could not afford to go to the doctor. I have taken her to see a specialist and we have started the process of treatment. She has received blood work and CT scans. And we are now just waiting on the results. After next week we will talk to the doctor about starting chemotherapy. So far, thanks to our benefactors, we have been able to pay the $700 bill for the tests, but we currently cannot afford to pay for the chemotherapy. The chemotherapy will cost somewhere between $4,000-$5,000 depending on how many sessions she will need. 

   I know that it is hard to give your money to someone that you don't know but I know and love her! I really want her to be around to watch her kids grow up. Please pray about donating to Biwan! Donating or not - Please please please pray for her and her family and that the Lord would heal her and provide financially for her! 

If you would like to donate you can go to my page at

Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is a beautiful young Catholic family that really needs your prayers and support. God bless you for your generosity!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Packages are the best!

Last week we received two packages from home - one from my awesome parents and another from the wonderful Filipino prayer group at my church in Maryland!

It felt like Christmas!! Dozens of shoes and peanut butter jars, curtains and towels, children's puzzles and toys, books and art supplies, and even cassocks and surplices for altar servers.

We love being able to bless our friends and neighbors with special treats from the States, or as they say, "imported from America." :)

Thanks, Mom and Dad! Thank you to the Joy in the Spirit community!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Update on Jane

Remember Jane Delopere? (click here to read the original story!) In 2012, after a serious accident, she had multiple surgeries on her skull followed by two years of healing. This summer we accompanied her back to the hospital for a follow-up appointment with her surgeon to determine the next step for her recovery.

It was wonderful to see how Jane had warmed up to us! The first time we met her she was very shy and didn't want to have her picture taken, but this time we met the real Jane -- a happy, active, sweet little girl.

Jane and a few of her cousins
The surgeon told us that Jane's recovery is complete and that she needs no more surgeries! God is so good! Jane's parents Elma and Renati are beyond grateful. Elma is pregnant with their fourth child (due next month), and we could see the stress and weight of her concern literally lift from her face when we assured her that we would find a way to pay off Jane's hospital debt. Thank you to those who have already donated -- we are still in need of more funding for all the doctors' bills, so if you feel God nudging your heart today, please donate for Jane!!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Children of God

Saturday morning as I sat praying on our porch, some small children walked up our street carrying a bag of mangos. I didn’t recognize them at first and assumed they were just neighborhood kids selling fruit, until I realized it was our godsons! Philip John and AJ live one hour away on the opposite side of the island, but they were visiting Sagay this past week and so dropped by our house, along with their cousins Sirose and Jay Ann, to bring us a gift of fruit.

These two boys are my only godchildren, apart from my baby niece in the States, so I am discovering for the first time what a joy it is to be a godmother. We showered them with little presents -- chocolate crackers, toothbrushes and toothpaste (somewhat of a luxury here), and little cross necklaces.

After putting on the new cross, Philip John inspected it and then turned his gaze to my slightly larger, engraved wooden cross.

“Baylo ta?” he asked. Can we swap? His brown eyes eagerly awaited my yes, and when I removed the cross from around my neck, he removed his as well and placed it over my head.

What a joy to receive the simple love that young children offer so freely! I’m sure it pleases our Heavenly Father to dote on us just as we enjoy doting on His littlest ones.

I had to smile when I later read that day’s Gospel from Matthew 19:
“Children were brought to Jesus that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to Me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

LOVE finds a friend

Reading Bible stories with a few of my little friends.
After one especially difficult morning, I crumpled onto the floor, leaned against the porch railing, and cried out to the Lord. “I just want a friend in this moment, God! I just need to talk to a friend.” And I distinctly heard His reply: “Come to My house; I am waiting here for you.” In my stubbornness and self-pity, I argued with Him for a few minutes before relenting, shoving my Bible in a bag, and heading off to the church. It was mid-afternoon and still bright inside the stone building. I saw a young woman praying in one of the first pews, someone I’d never seen before, but I wanted to be alone so I moved further towards the back. I knelt down and, feeling very sorry for myself, rested my head on my folded arms and let myself cry.

If I wrote a book on life as a foreign missionary, the title would be You’re Never Alone. And if you follow my blog, you probably understand why. It seems every time I make an attempt to have silent prayer time, Jesus sends someone my way. On this particular occasion, I was approached by the young woman who first caught my eye when I entered the church.

“Hello! What’s the matter? Oh, why are you crying?” she wants to know. I try to explain to her in very general terms that I have a few small problems, but I am okay.

“I was just crying, too,” she admits to me. “My boyfriend......he died at 2 a.m.” I am completely taken aback by this confession and invite her to come sit down next to me. For the next half hour or so, Rochelle and I talk. She shares her story of their love, his death, and her feeling compelled this afternoon to come to the church in search of answers.

“When I saw you, sister, I thought you might have some wisdom or advice to share with me.” Well, I am not a nun, as she and many other people here sometimes suppose, but Jesus has brought me here in this moment to minister to her. I share with her the prophet Jeremiah’s words about the plans that God has for her life - plans for a future full of hope, although it may at this time be hard for her to see or understand them. We pray together and ask the Lord to comfort her in this time of grief. Rochelle explains to me that she shared the news of her boyfriend’s death with her friends at school, but they could not really empathize with her because they have never experienced such a painful loss.

“It’s true,” I agree. “Oftentimes other people cannot understand the pain that we feel. But He can,” and I point to the crucifix hanging above the altar, to the bloodied head and limbs of Jesus. “That’s why I come here. He has experienced all that pain before. And Mama Mary, His Mother, knows what it is like to lose someone. She was there at the cross when He died.”

Rochelle and I talk for a while longer, marveling at God’s goodness for orchestrating our “chance” meeting in the church. We each have our problems. We each came to the church looking for friendship, understanding, and support. And God answered our prayers.

Psalm 34 says: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted.” Bring your problems, your messy and broken heart to Jesus today, and allow Him to heal you!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The greatest adventure

We are often so afraid to give up our lives completely to Christ because we imagine we’ll lose our opportunity for happiness, true love, or fulfillment of our dreams and desires. What lies the devil makes us believe! Who, if not Jesus, knows best your dreams and desires? Who, if not your Father in heaven, wants your happiness?  

When I first began considering this insane idea of becoming a missionary, I hesitated, knowing that I would be giving up my dreams for the future, of having a “perfect” family with a stable career and a white picket fence. But then I wondered, what if God had dreamed bigger dreams for me than I dreamed for myself?

And that is why, nearly a year and a half later, I find myself on the greatest adventure of my life. Because what could be more thrilling than to allow the Master of the Universe to craft your life into something beautiful?

Listen to the voice of Him Who loves you. What is the secret stirring in your heart? Where is He calling you? Abandon yourself to His love -- trust Him enough to surrender all of your plans -- and He will surprise you with a life far more wonderful than you ever dreamed.