Thursday, May 10, 2012

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Housekeeping

Two days ago I had the entire day off after my 24-hour duty. I was inside the old house, tucked in between my sheets, relishing the cold, cloudy day that I have come to love in Malaybalay. I alternated between reading a book (I have, after years of postponing, finally decided to read the last of the Narnia books) and watching movies on my laptop (I tried finishing One More Chance, patiently trying to understand why some friends loved it, but 15 minutes into the film, I was getting irritable, so I ditched it). I was mostly alone, except for Abby who just dropped by to eat lunch.

In the afternoon, Ate Dina came. She is the tall, dark lady who visits the guest house once in a while to do our laundry, Abby and mine. She is also the first person to realize that we aren't domesticated creatures — at least, not domesticated enough — so she has offered to cook for us. We give her a list of things we want to eat. She comes up with a budget. She goes to the market, and she magically makes these delicious food appear in the fridge, enough to last us for three or four days. "What would we do without you, Ate?" we would often tell her.

My first encounter with her was on April 21st: my first day in Bethel. And what struck me most was her voice. She speaks in a perpetual falsetto, as if she is singing in a musical of sorts. Her Bisaya is mixed with the sweetness of an Ilonggo. She sounds amusing when she struggles with Tagalog — a common difficulty in this part of the country — so imagine her relief when I told her that I speak the vernacular.

I relish the moments when she is around because she brightens up the place. The clanging of metalware in the kitchen, the aroma of freshly cooked vegetables — the house suddenly feels more like home.

It was last week when I first heard her talk about God. She had just finished cleaning up the rooms downstairs because some other guests were coming. Perhaps she just wanted to take a breather before going home, but I asked her to please stay and join me for dinner. I would love the company, I said. Abby was on 24-hour duty then. I told her how I appreciated her coming to the guest house and doing all these for us with a big smile on her face.

When she told me this was the work God has called her to do, I knew this conversation was going to be memorable. She said she endeavors to do everything for Him. She told me her family concerns, her financial difficulties, her struggles with her spiritual walk, not in a ranting kind of way, as many people in Facebook do these days, but with an expectation that God will deliver her from these trials. She quoted Bible verse after Bible verse, reciting them from memory. Suddenly her eyes brightened. "And you know what my greatest encouragement has been, Lance? Oh! How I love this verse!" She whipped up her cell phone, "Let me read it to you." And she quoted Habakkuk 3:17-18.

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

Friends close to me will tell you that they have not seen me cry, but there I was, tears were gathering in the corners of my eyes, but I was trying to hold them back.

"That's one of my favorite passages, too," I said. "There's a song on that, you know? I like singing it in church."

I went to bed that night rebuked and encouraged, pleading God to give me that kind of childlike trust and contentment in Him.

2 comments:

  1. nice post kuya! you told me a while ago to update you about God's calling for me in the mission field. I'm so blessed to inform you that I would be going in a missions exposure next week in Camotes islands, Cebu. :) Excited to be used for God's glory. Godbless you always! :)

    Phil. 1:6 , continue to be a blessing kuya! :)

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