From the first time I saw you, I fell in love. I hear you. I recognize your bruises and how you bravely kept the fight. On the day we met, you stood, performing your duties; making sure nothing lacked even though you knew you were incomplete. You introduced yourself as meek; we felt it. You were humble and eager to please. You were also ready to start anew.

You, a little beacon in a humble town at the edge of Hagonoy, breathed for a more than a hundred and ten. There is no surprise that you were rusty and somewhat tired — perhaps with legs exhausted from running. Perhaps after carrying a worn-out heart for many years. Around you, new, young ones sprouted and grew. You did not wear loud colors, but you were proud of you gray hair. And so were we.

Today, one year has passed since you embraced us, and we embraced you. We have tolerated each other’s misgivings and meet with smiles on our faces, hoping that on Sunday is where a miracle happens, for me and you, from the inside out. Perhaps I fail to notice some of yours. But when I do, I proudly write them off like a banner, in the pages of my own heartbeat, and secretly celebrate with your tiny steps forward, for those moments were gold — if not bold.

We both await for the latter. But maybe, the latter is yet to come late.

I am not bold. I should have worn that on my ID when I first stepped into your promises. But when I saw a gap that needed to be filled, I didn’t need to have my name called; I raised my hand and volunteered. For your children. Your lifeblood. Your precious little angels that one day, when taught right, will be your pillars and poets and prophets.

They are also my heartbreaks.

When I came there, I had little idea of your past. I did not know that children used to sing the same songs over and over again. I did not know that Sunday School meant being tucked away in the  Kindergarten classroom and being left there on their own. I did not know that there was less attention, less correction given to those who need it most.

What I know is that this is a mountain. A mountain that requires someone with a skill of 10.

I am only a 3.

Last Sunday, when the kids stood still like a statue for the whole 4 minutes of a Tagalog song we all knew, I froze. That was the last straw. In the last Sundays, I was questioning myself, that maybe I was the wrong person for this job. That maybe they would be better off with someone more agile, someone more skilled, or someone more strict.

But they’ve only got me.

During the moments when classes were a riot, when the kids would insist of playing instead of listening, when Sunday School was a mishmash of older and younger kids trying to speak the loudest, there will be a lurch in my stomach. How do I get through them? How will God go through? And at the peak of my unspoken despair, when one kid chooses to look at me and tell me to Go on, please, there will be a little hope. And I would go on. Because as of the moment, they only got me. I am here for them. I am only a 3.

And know what?

I am here for you too. I am only a 3. And I’m giving you me.

Because, San Isidro UMC, it’s time to wear your bold colors. It’s time to scream your name, the name of your Maker, loud into the community. That you exist. That you persist. And that you insist that the Gospel, other than skimming through the pages of a Bible, should be digested and lived. Because it is your sole salvation in a world heading into a downward spiral.

And you dare not be quiet. Because fear makes you quiet. Doubt makes you quiet. And sometimes, hate makes you quiet. Quiet is where the enemy thrives. When the Devil sews your lips and freezes your arms and feet, telling you you’re incapable, that’s where he wins. That’s where you lose.

You were not made to lose.

Sure, you have burdens. You are juggling with so many roles. You are trying to live in the present, to enjoy life, to focus on your career and to grow your family. Go ahead. Do that. But you cannot forget God has made a vow with you: you are His kingdom, His army of soldiers, ready to partake in this war for Him. A war against unrighteousness. A war against unforgiveness. A war against broken lives and broken families and broken dreams.

You were not made to be broken.

From when He called you, inside your mother’s womb, He hand-stitched you with hope (Lam. 3:24). He wove you with a promise (Jer. 29:11). He breathed in you victory (1 Cor. 15:54-58). You are not meant for things less than these.

So let’s work. “Work,” says the Lord in Haggai 2. “For I am with you, according to the covenant that I made with you when you came out of Egypt” (Egypt, symbolically being our past bondage). Let’s shout Jesus’ name wherein everyone surrounding this church will know who He is in who you are.

This is not the time to be quiet.

On 2007, I first heard the words Pursue, Overtake, Recover All. This time, I’m sharing you this:

  • Let’s pursue God’s heart
  • Let’s overtake our fears
  • And let’s recover all of God’s promises to us

This 2018, on the second year of my father’s stay as your head pastor, I want you to know that I am for you. While I am here, I will serve.

Because I tell you, I’m only a 3. But I’m giving you me.