Instead of lunch, my mom bought two new pairs of slippers from an old lady positioned in front of a catering house. All the food was gone. They were closed early and grandma, whose smile warmed my heart, told us that she’s 80, still healthy, still feeling young. When I got down the car with a cup of buko juice in hand, she told me that I was pretty, and that I should focus on my studies and nevermind the boyfriend.

Lola, 30 na po ako.

Our jaunts to different stores started when the familiar buko juice vendor was nowhere to be found after we went home from the mission site. It has been a staple; drink coconut juice after service because we were parched and hungry from serving the congregation. My dad fasts on Sunday mornings. He is always famished, especially after speaking inside a small bit of a hallow-block home, with twenty-to-thirty people inside, all fanning themselves under the remarkable heat of the sun.

It’s my second time to separate the kids for Sunday School, and so far, it’s working. The kids loved crayons and coloring. I bought two boxes for each group and I let them take the responsibility of keeping each hue or else Imma take their own crayons as a replacement. That was a threat.

Two new kids joined us today, and guess what; they’re our next door neighbors. Hooray! I mean, from looking over and listening to our little songs and play, they’re finally here, with us, joining us with the activity and enjoying our company. I wonder what eggs God will put in my basket for them next week. Because Sunday School has to be fun. And educational.

After Sunday School, when the adults are busy talking, the kids and I lounged under the Ceresa tree and, well, we talked about really remarkable things. Such as:

“Ano’ng tunog ng pusang gutom? E yung busog?”
“Ano’ng tunog ng asong naipit ang paa?”
“Ano’ng tunog ng langgam na nasabit sa sinulid ng saranggola?”
“Ano’ng tunog ng palakang tumatambling?”
“Ano’ng tunog ng butiki na gumapang sa kawad ng kuryente?”

THAT WAS MY IMAGINATION SPEAKING GUYS. At yung mas nakakatuwa, the kids responded. IMAGINE THE SOUNDS THEY MADE. Seryoso. I was going to rofl if not madumi at maputik.

If these thoughts have been overshared, my bad. It was just too funny not to.

It’s been a whole year since we got to NV9, but the joy, and the sheer irk these kids give me (in different portions per Sunday), are always new every time we meet. I love them. I want to tell them about the world, about their potential, about learning, and about discovery. Whenever I look at them — boogers sticking out their noses, eyes popping up after being hit by another bully, wounds on their arms, dirt and mud on their clothes, sometimes, some kids, without any clothes at all — I see a new generation. A new hope. If I could somehow plant something good inside them, something that stays in their hearts and remembers for a long time, then that would be enough.

I am 30 and I don’t have kids. I don’t have a husband. No boyfriend, even. But I spent my first three decades staying in the house of God and giving my youth for His service. God has gotten my best.

Oh, wait a moment. God has gotten my worst and turned it into my best. So His best for me is yet to come.

I have a heart for family. I have a heart for grandmas sewing and shopping and looking after their grandchildren. I have a heart for grandpas driving jeepneys and tricycles and earning their way to still make a living. I have a heart for mothers who give love unconditionally. I have a heart for fathers who live like one. I don’t have a heart for people who are dicks.

Human beings are beautiful. Sometimes, annoying. But truly, beautiful.