By Sabrina Arriola
CFC SFL Pasig
I arrived at the Capuchin Retreat Center alone and with NOTHING. Looking forward to nothing and feeling nothing. Wala. Plateau. Flat ang life line. Hindi nga ako umattend last CSW eh so wala akong mapag-hugutan.
Before Kuya Arvin introduced the first speaker for this weekend’s retreat, I was blankly staring at him and was talking to God. “Lord, wala po talaga akong nararamdaman. Bahala ka na kung ano’ng makukuha kong message dito. Nasa sa’yo na po kung last CSW ko na ‘to at last participation ko na sa CFC-SFL, o magpapatuloy ako sa service. Pero sana kung may message po kayo, sana malinaw na malinaw at hindi po pa-clue clue lang. Thank you! Haaaayy… Kayo na po bahala.”
And then Kuya Ej’s talk.
He introduced our Hero for this weekend—ST. PAUL. His mission and his story.
(Wow Lord, favorite Saint ko ha.)
Then Kuya Ej asked the Paulinians/former Paulinians to raise their hands.
(I raised my hand.)
After which, he shared that during his younger days, he passed in UST for the Conservatory of Music.
(Haha… sa pagkakaalam ko, ako lang ang nagConservatory of Music na nando’n.)
God: Psst! KARA ARRIOLA! Oo, ikaw na dating Paulinian, na nag-college sa UST Conservatory of Music, at favorite Saint si St. Paul! Kasali ka talaga dito.
Nung pinahanap kami ng makaka-dyad, I was sitting beside brothers so wala pa akong mka-partner. Then, Kat Roxas was also looking for a partner, so kami ang naging magka-dyad. Nagulat when she excitedly told some of our sisters na, “Si Kara first household head ko!” Gusto kong maglaho sa hiya because I feel unworthy of that gesture. Mas active pa kasi siya sa akin at mas productive siya as a household head.
The point of this Walk was to trace who were the people who introduced you to the Faith. So I journeyed back to the time in 2005 when I experienced how real God is and began a personal relationship with Him (even if I was raised in a very religious family, studied in Catholic Schools, and was a member of the community since 1994). And with that, I was reminded of how great God is in my life through this community. It was like falling in love again because I remembered how I tirelessly served the community, my reasons and how happy I was for doing so.
TALK 2: Thorns in the Flesh
When we were asked to identify the hindrances to our service, only one thing came into my mind—my work. My work is heaviest on weekends and after school schedules so it’s really hard to schedule my lower household and participate in community activities. Sabi pa ni Kuya Arvin, ipag-pray daw namin na mawala lahat ng hadlang kung gusto talagang mag-serve. [Then I was like: Noooooo!] Ngayon ko pa lang nahanap ang trabaho that I enjoy doing, at ngayon pa lang din ako nagsisimulang maging stable financially. I find that unbelievable for a while because for a time, financial instability and unhappiness in work affected my service big time! So pa’no?
Then there was Charlie of Novaliches who shared his situation as a servant. Working-student. Basta parang 2 hours na lang ang natira sa pagitan ng work and studies niya. And yet, he finds rest in his service! He is the perfect example of “kung gusto, may paraan.” Nahiya naman akong magreklamo pa sa thorn ko.
WRITE DOWN: JOURNAL
3 days before CSW, Kai Garcia—a very close friend from the community gave me a notebook where in some pages, she artistically doodled Bible passages that served as gentle reminders of how much God loves me and cares for me. She wrote a note telling me to use it as my journal where I could write down my prayers, dreams, even random thoughts.
Apparently, the first workshop we will be having with Ate Mariel Tesoro was about journaling! [Eh di wow!] Kaya pala our household received individual fancy notebooks from our very thoughtful servants Gerald De Guzman and Jill Soriano before the day began.
Sometimes God talks to us in whispers ano, pero minsan gumagamit din Siya ng amplifier!
This workshop taught us the importance of mentoring and training the members for the continuity of the mission. This area is a waterloo for me because I don’t like burdening people. As long as I can do everything, I do not delegate tasks. But a good leader knows how to delegate tasks! Because when they do that, they are mentoring. There’s no record of myself being a mentor, so there is nothing in my mentoring history except failure.
BUT! Kuya Joseph Tesoro talked about not feeling “thrown off” if any of our members outdo us in service and even said that it is a sign that you mentored well—when a mentee becomes better than you are. No I would never credit it to myself—but as how Kuya Joseph had put it, kung ano man ‘yung katiting na naitanim ko kay Kat Roxas, salamat sa mga nakapaligid sa kanya na patuloy na nagdilig nito, and it is definitely God who allowed her to grow in her service and continues to be an inspiration to many because of her untiring selfless service! And going back, she was my partner/dyad throughout this weekend. Lakas maka-throwback ni Lord! Parang sinasadya na talaga ‘di ba?
Before the last talk for the weekend, Hector from Cubao led the Praisefest. In His exhoratation, he mentioned that a relationship with God is like a mafia—even if you try to escape, babalik at babalik ka rin sa Kanya! [Hindi pa ba malinaw?]
GETS KO NA PO, LORD!
DRIVEN BY GRACE
Coming from a spiritual drought, I know it will not be easy to jumpstart my service once again. But I have no excuse anymore. I’ve got to want it. I’ve got to just GO! to be able to GROW and eventually GIVE. I have nothing yet, but to even begin to have this rekindled spark for service, it is nothing more than God’s Grace.
And indeed, Jerald Cruz sent us off through a powerful closing worship!
I came to this retreat with nothing.
I ended the weekend with “nothing—“ NOTHING MORE TO ASK FOR!
PRAISE GOD FOR HIS AMAZING GRACE!