If I think about it, all prayers are the same. They’re meant for healing, for having, for help. It’s a wish wanting to be granted. No matter how you do it — whether you bawl out your eyes or just whisper it in a tiny corner where no one can hear it but yourself (and the Other Ear peering at you constantly, because He knows) — it remains as is. An SOS.
I’ve been making that SOS lately, a flag that I’ve been waving at the heavens with my short, tired arms for a couple of years now. So when Miko messaged me of popping up to Peniel just for a day, I immediately said yes.
Maybe, if I were on a mountain, God could hear my prayers louder. Or I could hear Him closer. I did.
How was it being in Firekeeper? Loud. Prayers weren’t whispered. They were howled. Wailed. Sobbed at. I know I’m not supposed to share what I’ve heard, but to the lady who cried for a baby, I have no doubt God has heard your heart and soul squeezed out from that cry. To the girl who knew what she had to do but kept resisting, there’s no other way, baby. I saw fire exploding from Chap F’s prayer, from Pastora May’s eyes when she shared her life story, and by the time she loomed over to my seat and prayed for me, I had nothing but joy and peace. Those were my only marks. Joy, peace and quiet. When she mentioned, “You have a high calling,” I hope she meant serving the youth by my words, because I had nothing else. When she kept pointing at my left shoulder, probably my heart, and spoke, “Be bold!” I knew it was something I needed to receive, because my spirit has been in the cold lately. But the realest, most impactful moment I had up in the mountain was at dusk, when we sat down with Pastora (she’s actually a DS now but, habits) Revy at the sidelines for a few minutes of personal talk, and she told us how everything, so far, has been difficult. She has been to Peniel alone, seeking God’s voice, and that’s where she had the epiphany. The strength to go through it all with a brave face and a much braver heart. And it all sparked in two words:
And to me, that line rung down my nerves with sheer joy and excitement. Babalikan kita. Gawin mo yung dapat mong gawin habang nandiyan ka. Gumising ka ng may pag-asa at lakas. Hindi ako magkukulang. Babalikan kita. At kung matagpuan kitang matapat, isasama kita. Babalik ako. Babalikan kita.
In that moment, the only image in my head was my young dad, waiting in the stairs of their home in Sta. Mesa, waiting faithfully for tatay. I thought, gano’n din ako. And when we got home, the first thing I did was write that line, because if Jesus was waiting to get back to me, I have to be a good steward to what He has left in my charge.
I didn’t expect harvest to come soon.
The first Sunday of January 2020 was a little bit extra. On the morning at Jollibee, we saw Modge (hi, we miss you). Bus came late. No Sunday School. It was Communion, and it was also Pre-Charge. Everyone was busy. And so, I thought, when I overheard the kids spilling something about a surprise, I was like, “Nah.”
Today? I don’t see anything.
And boy, I got outsmarted.
At lunch, mama cooked pasta for the youth, who, right after chowing down disappeared, except for Jonalyn and Rocela, the two older girls whom I pep-talked with. Nothing was amiss, I didn’t realize things were happening right under my nose when I sensed some bad acting and my name being spelled out in the small, feather-duster-like objects left in random places at church (I didn’t get the other I, my bad). And some commotion happening inside the window-shut building where I could hear giggling happening. By the time Grace asked me to be blindfolded, I submitted to my fate.
They won’t kill me, I guess?
Haha, they didn’t.
What happened: I walked inside the church with a handkerchief on my face, randomly bumping into things, blew a pair of candles that won’t die down (SERIOUSLY, I thought that was witchcraft), had a cake that I can’t eat, had a box made out of letters and my very nasty pictures, and the kids strumming their way to Happy Birthday even though it’s been like, five days?
I was made to sit down and watch a BTS video with resident vlogger Reyan rambling her way through their 9 o’clock pm jaunt while eating pancit, while laughing, while cutting and pasting things that made up the flowers and the banners I was holding. Ella would say it was all they could come up with, tone drooping down. But to me, real gift, other than the painstaking details that went into their DIY surprise (Mayee, this is your magic), was them.
Them, doing things together. Enjoying together. Creating together. Powering through the night together. This was a friendship formed all throughout 2019 and blossomed quickly. To me, who watched them slowly unravel with my own eyes, who has been praying for them ever since we stepped here in SIUMC, this was harvest.
I had my harvest.
The last surprise I had was when the AUMC kids appeared at our gate with Ate Grace and Josh carrying a pot of spaghetti and we ate together at our house. That has been a long time. And for anyone to go through this labor for a birthday long-done, that’s, uh, amazing. I am a very mundane human who loved very mundane things, but this week, I was thoroughly loved. And I am going to soak in it all because harvests come after a long period of drought.
If you read this kids, let me tell you: no amount of money could ever beat the joy of seeing you grow and bloom. I have been listening. Calix is less shy now; I can hear it from his strumming, the way he’d dive into the chords, very much unlike when he joined P&W the first time. Mayee’s voice is soaring. Grace is a lovely revelation. Reyan understands respect without holding back her joyous, vibrant self. Ella is wiser, wittier, ready take on new challenges (I mean, the Nurture Committee, madam?), Cela will learn from this heartbreak, and Jonalyn will find that bravery is in her vulnerability too. I am excited to hear Bea is all about togetherness (despite sleep-talking), and fingers crossed Daniel will keep his thumbs off his games to focus on more productive things. Our bunso, Yana, will be our forever joy, AND SHE WORE A DRESS FOR THE FIRST TIME (susko, Lord end of the world na ba). For the rest of the kids I have yet to mention, I am all eyes on you.
To my gang of three: Mhico, Ian and Evo, thank you for letting us lead you into music and I hope you find a place there. I am so proud of you.
And so, January 2020’s Week 1 ends on the top of the mountain. Whether God leads me back to the low valleys or a dry desert, I’m not scared to be uncomfortable. I had my harvest. And the next one is worth every waiting. x