A Journey

Written by kuhbelarmino on . Posted in Sharing

Jessa Sandoval
CFC SFL Paranaque

“Promises are meant to be broken”

Unfortunately that became my motto in life. Yes, you read it right, I do not believe in promises at all. When someone made a promise to me, I do not believe him until he keeps it. It’s not that I do not trust the person; I’m just saving myself from the hurt of expecting. Believing in a promise is just giving you the license to get hurt. I don’t want to get hurt again. Who does, anyway? You can’t blame me, there are many circumstances in my life that’ll support that; different promises from loved ones, friends and colleagues. Without any promises, there will be no expectations and lesser possibilities of hurting.

I was firm in my belief, until an unexpected decision was made. Thus, changes everything. It was March 30, 2012, our diocese, diocese of Parañaque, had an assembly. We had a recap on what happened in WSC. Before it ends, Sfl full time workers invited members from the community to join their road trip mission. It caught my attention, since travelling is one of my passions. I took note of the dates and where the mission will take place. I immediately checked my schedule for April and May, but unfortunately I can’t file my leave for the said dates. But I didn’t lose hope, there’s still one mission left, which is scheduled on June, it’s in Iloilo.

When I told Leean, my best friend, a lay missionary for FLIQ media, about my plans of going to a mission, she was so happy and very excited for me. I can’t understand why. For all I know, I’ll be going out of curiosity. I also told her that I’m still having second thoughts. I’m afraid of what’s going to happen. But knowing Leean, she gave me her 100% support and encouraged me to go on with my plans. She assured me that I will be well taken care of. And even before I could make up my mind, she had already endorsed me to Arvin, that’s how eager she was. She told me, the Lord is trying to tell me something. Flashbacks from WSC came across my mind. I remembered praying about my vocation. And I humbly asked the Lord to guide me, to lead me where He wanted me to be. Just then I realized, maybe Leean was right, I should give it a try. Maybe this is the Lord’s way of answering my prayers, so be it. I dared to make a move.

Lo and behold! Two days before my birthday, I’ve learned that certain airline is having their promo fare; the travel period will be between the months of June to August. I rejoiced and thanked the Lord. It’s a sign that He really wanted me to go. I grabbed the opportunity, booked a flight to Iloilo and told myself, my plane ticket is my birthday gift for myself. My birthday surprise doesn’t stop there. I was touched when Triccia informed me that she’s going with me in Iloilo and already booked a flight. It’s so sweet of her to accompany me even though I knew Leean only asked her to come with me in replacement of her. During that time, I’m already conditioning myself that I will be going alone, since Leean told me that she couldn’t make it while Triccia is still having second thoughts.

Hours, days, weeks had past, my excitement for my mission trip is getting lesser and lesser. I was even thinking of a reason to cancel my trip. An incident happened that convinced me to go. If I remember it exactly, two weeks before my trip, I had a dream. I saw myself, fixing my own backpack preparing for a trip and there is someone beside me, grabbing my hand and inviting me to come with him. I was surprised. The Lord still doesn’t give up on me. He keeps on convincing me even in my dreams. Since then, I made up my mind and decided to pursue my original plan. To divert myself from cancelling my trip, I decided to research about Iloilo. What to expect in Iloilo. And just in case, if I can’t blend in with people, will I survive alone in Iloilo for five days? Reading blogs about Iloilo satisfied me. Iloilo seems an interesting place to stay. There are a lot of things to discover in Iloilo. I’m beginning to get excited but reminded myself I’m going to a mission not a vacation, so I better not expect anything at all.

June 6, 2012, the day had finally arrived. Yes I’m excited to go to Iloilo, I was curious about the people I’m going to meet. I was nervous because I don’t know anybody at all. I don’t have any idea who they are. And when I finally met everyone, Ira, Kuh, Sweet, Arvin, Chin-Chin and Van-Van, I was relieved. They are nice people. I think I can survive with them for five days.

On our first day in Iloilo, Chin-chin and Van-van, took us to Jaro, we ate at Perri Todds and visited Jaro cathedral. I already felt so blessed, being there, in Iloilo and surrounded by wonderful people. I have no regrets that I went there. After our bonding and short tour around Jaro, we went straight to La Paz, at Tita Tess’ house, where we stayed for five days. Before the day ends, we got to meet CFC-FFL core group of Iloilo. We had the opportunity to be a part of their household and to eat dinner with them. It was a great honor for us to be with them. I felt so lucky and once again blessed, for I know, many are called to this mission, but only few are chosen. I am among the chosen few. I told God that I am very grateful for giving me this one of a kind opportunity to be with the leaders of our community. Thus, giving me a firsthand experience on what a community life is all about. As a new member of the community, being in a mission trip is too much of an experience for me. I told myself that I do not deserve this at all, I am nothing compared to all of them. I felt like an amateur, and they are all professionals. But in spite of these concerns, I am just glad that I’m with them. They all welcomed me with wide arms open. I found a family in them. I never even felt I’m far from home.

On that same day, we were able to meet with Yfl-Iloilo. Explored La Paz district – ate Iloilo’s specialty, La Paz Batchoy for lunch and had coffee at Madge’s Cafe. And last but not the least; we finally met our fellow singles from Sfl-Iloilo and had a household with them. It was simple yet meaningful household for everybody. We got to know each other even for a short period of time. We were able to exchange stories and share experiences of our journey and struggles in life with God. And most especially, we were able to trust each other with our personal concerns just like what a family does. As one family, we ate dinner together which was sponsored by Sfl-Iloilo, themselves. It was so kind of them, we are indeed in the city of Love.

More surprises came from the Lord for the next three consecutive days. We are privileged enough to have a tour around the different districts of Iloilo. Iloilo indeed is a province rich in historical and cultural attractions. Learning the history of Iloilo, one can consider it as province of many “Firsts”. Literally, it has many records of “Firsts”. Here are the following just to name a few. It is where the first school for boys in the Philippines was founded. It is where the first elementary school was established under the Americans, Baluarte Elem School, etc. While I’m absorbing all of that information, I was so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the fact how the Lord carefully planned this mission for me. He made it so special for me. He wanted it to be a very memorable one. I’m proud to say that I do have my own records of “Firsts”. It is my first time to be part of a mission. It is my first time to serve the Lord. It is also my first time to meet and bond with the leaders of the community. It is also my first time to open up myself to every person I met. It’s been a struggle for me, believe me. Finally, it is where I’ve truly experienced the fullness of God’s love for me. I had my personal encounter with Him. I found Him, so sweet. He chose to profess His love for me, all over again, in Iloilo, the Heart of the Philippines, so-called the City of Love. He showed it in a way that I will surely not miss. He knew me so well. He knows that I love travelling and exploring things. He used it to capture my attention for these are the things that make me happy.

Amazing isn’t it? I could not ask for more. We get to see Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World heritage site. I felt like looking at a three dimensional postcard. I just couldn’t stop taking pictures of every part of it – the church, the facade, its’ watchtowers – very artistically done. Our fellowship doesn’t stop there; Sfl-Iloilo treated us for snack. For the record, it was also my first time to eat lots of oysters. And for the last day of mission, Tita Bing pushed through her plans of treating us, missionaries together with Yfl-Iloilo to Guimaras Island. Another dream came true for me. I remembered telling Triccia during our first day in Iloilo, I wanted to go to Guimaras Island just to eat the world’s famous and sweetest mangoes. God is so good. He granted my request in no time. He’s the best lover in the whole wide world. When we finally reached Guimaras, we stopped by Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Monastery. We stayed for a while; we prayed and wrote our prayer petitions. And then went back for the HST.

We started our HST around two o’ clock. While waiting for the other participants, Kuh teaches them the song “Your Promise”, from the Live for You album. I knew the song; I’ve heard it many times before. As Kuh sings the song per stanza, I was amazed of how the words are beautifully written, as if I heard it the first time. Oftentimes, paying attention to details gives us a better understanding of the whole picture. It is a very simple song yet conveys a powerful message. A song about being faithful amidst anything and everything. It’s about completely trusting your life to the Lord. For He had planned a very bright future ahead of us. A future full of hope. During our worship, I felt the Lord just made a promise to me. He assured me that there is nothing to be afraid of. He loves me so much that He wants nothing but the best for me. I was crying then, for I know these are the things He’s been trying to tell me all along. But unfortunately, I always chose to close my heart and never listen to Him because I’m always afraid. I always wanted proof. It only shows that I simply do not trust Him at all. Although I have been unfaithful to Him, He still remains faithful to His every word. This mission trip proves it all. For five days, He never failed to show me how much He loves me. Each day is a promise from Him. There’s always something good to look forward to. All I need to do is to trust Him and never be afraid.

My first mission had been an overwhelming experience for me. A lot of affirmations from the Lord. I never realized how broken I was before but the Lord made me whole again by loving me unconditionally. Even though, I became unfaithful to Him, doubting His every word, He still drowned me with so much love. A love that replaced all my fears and erased all my doubts. He assured me that He has great plans for me. He made a promise to me. I do trust Him. I will forever cling to His promise. And for all of these, may God be praise.

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