Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - A year of service and grace

This year has been filled to the brim with blessings and miracles as we have seen the hand of GOD at work in our mission! We were able to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of countless Filipinos. With the help of many generous donors, we gave over $28,000 in medical funding, academic scholarships, housing and school renovations, food, and other material needs.

Medical needs - over $12,800
We provided everything from bandages and blood tests to surgeries and hospital stays for 40 people! Some of the more involved cases included:
Jezreel - high school boy with a fractured arm
Ana - teenage girl who attempted suicide
Jane - nine-year-old with a fractured skull
Jeffrey - two-year-old hospitalized for dehydration
Patti - new mom who needed a c-section
Biwan - young mother with late-stage cancer
Pelita - young mother with tuberculosis and arthritis
Samuel - middle-aged man with lung cancer
Kristine - middle-aged woman with weekly dialysis treatments

Jeffrey and his mom Jona during his stay in the hospital.
Education - $3,440
Provided partial and full scholarships for 14 college students and 13 high schoolers.
Taught three subjects in Holy Rosary H.S.
Tutored 15 high school students in English or religion subjects.

Romero and his family - we sponsor his older daughter and son's tuition.
Housing - $3,500
Built two new houses.
Repaired two houses.
Provided one cement floor and one nipa roof.

A beautiful new house for a family in great need.
School renovation - $8,600
Provided new flooring, paint, and ceiling fans to improve Holy Rosary H.S.
Sponsored partial salaries and uniforms for teachers.

Food - ??
Finally, we have no estimate of how much funding we used to feed the hungry people of Sagay. Multiple cups of rice given daily to beggars at the door, countless meals shared with children at our table, and many bags of food given away to whole families.

Aside from all this material support, we tried to fulfill our most important work of preaching the Gospel and bringing Christ to all people! We led Bible studies, organized retreats, and mentored young people to help them grow in their Catholic Faith. Many of our students learned for the first time how to read a Bible, and others began to develop a personal relationship with God through daily prayer. How good is the Lord, to use us as His hands and feet!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Having a home

Tonight I watched The Hobbit for the first time. In one scene, Bilbo has mysteriously disappeared, and his companions assume that he has run away and returned to his town of Bag End to escape potential dangers and hardships. To everyone's surprise, he soon appears again and explains:

"I often think of Bag End. I miss my books and my armchair and my garden. See, that's where I belong. That's home. And that's why I came back... 'cause you don't have one. A home."

Hearing this, I felt a lump begin to rise in my throat and tears fill my eyes. I've been in the U.S. for just two short weeks, and the days have flown by. I've never been more grateful for little comforts and simple joys -- the familiarity of home.

Every once in a while I remember that my time here is limited; in less than one month I return to the Philippines for another year on mission serving on the island of Camiguin. And there is some part of me that fears this reality because it means leaving once again my beloved home.

But when I heard Bilbo's words, they reminded me of why I do want to return. For those who have no real "home" due to a broken family, who were abandoned by one or both parents at an early age and have had to grow up alone. For those whose homes are empty structures because they cannot afford bedding or a proper bathroom. For those whose homes are lacking the joy of the Gospel, the pure delight that it is to know Christ.

Because in the end, we are not missionaries to build an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one. We are pilgrims on a journey, traveling toward our heavenly home. Like St. Paul explains, "We know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven." (2 Cor 5:1)

Jesus, help me to be ready to leave everything behind at the moment You call. May I be filled with a holy indifference that will allow me to surrender my home and my family so that I can serve those who have no place to call home.