by Jelai Jarilla
“Lord, if you wish, bring me to the place and the people where I am needed (most needed). Bring me to the place where I can be who You wanted me to be and mostly, the place where I’ll get to know You better. “
This was the prayer that our guest speaker shared to us during our AMANAKINA (AMA, ANAK, INA) day or family day way back in my 2nd year in the formation as a student catechist. If I am not mistaken, she prayed this with a thought in mind, “bahala na si Lord” at the moments when she found herself longing to be hooked to the mission which she believed God has prepared for her. She believed God answered her prayer because since then there were a lot of amazing things that happened to her. While listening to her amazing and unexpected experiences, for some reasong, I jokingly told myself to pray the same prayer.
In my moments of emptiness and feeling lost, there grew a desire to experience something new, discover something unique, and explore something far from my comfort zone. In those moments, the same prayer lingers in my heart. This is not a joke anymore!
In my 3rd year in the formation, I decided to apply as a volunteer under the Associate Missionaries of the Assumption-Philippines also known as AMA, an international volunteer program for young professionals. After my graduation (4th year), I flew to Antique (one of the places where Aswang is known as I’ve heard when I was a kid and since then I firmly told myself not to go to the said place). I prayed to be assigned in Luzon area. Two weeks after the orientation seminar, however, I ended up in Sta. Rita de Cascia Parish, Sibalom, Antique. I had no background about my assigned area, nothing but just the Aswang stories😆. I can’t understand their dialect and I experienced culture shock, but I did not let these to hold me back. I went to the place bringing nothing but joy in my heart and faith in God with a mantra, “enjoy every moment and find God in everything”.
My journey wasn’t easy. I had lots of confusions, doubts, and fears. Despite those, I felt that God led me to Antique as answer to my prayer, “Lord, if you wish, bring to me to the place and people where I am needed…” Every single day, I felt something I do not know through the eyes of every person I’ve met. I saw Jesus gazing in me through their eyes. It was then when I realized that I am called to be there. When in doubt, He gave me courage. When fearful, he made me brave enough. All of these and a lot more were His ways to answer the prayer that started with a joke. I had no Aswang experienced but I experienced God in every moment.
Sta Rita de Cascia Parish has been my home. The people there helped me discover myself and know more the God who works in me. I went home bringing nothing but a humble heart, a grateful heart, a joyful heart, and a faithful heart that God gave me. My mission in my assigned area has ended but my mission in life is still going on. I see God in everything! God is working, He is not joking! 😇