From a Volunteer's Diary: Summer of ServiceFriday, July 20, 2012
I see, I forget; I hear, I remember; I do, I understand.
Convenience and comfort must be the ideal way of life for many. We think we get the best of life if we are filled with things that make this complicated life easy. Personally, I would really love to always stay in my comfort zone. Last summer, I had the experience that changed my perspective towards life in every way.
"Expect the worst." said my volunteer-experienced friend as we prepared for a two-week volunteer program in a farming community in the South. I had to live with a foster family and teach children with Basic English, Math and Science. In my excitement, I prepared myself with expectations and this gave me clarity on the very purpose of why I had to volunteer. It's a poverty-stricken community, with troubles on education and issues on child labor. (as we have been oriented) Sure, I would learn from them too but I wasn't really expecting so much.
All I expected was two weeks of no internet connection, no fast food, natural toilet setting (like beside a pig pen), no mattresses and electric fan. Indeed, my expectations were met! But what surprised me was that everything went beyond, way beyond what I expected. And those mentioned didn't even matter at all. Even if I spent almost all of my life in a province like Iloilo, the experience and the real immersion made a big difference. God showed me another meaning of happiness. Meaning of joy. I had another definition of Poverty. I understood how less becomes more. How it is to gain in the midst of loss. and how much abundance there is in lack.
I questioned myself -- I maybe blessed with good education, internet connection and all those good stuff, but how come I don't make use of my life and my time as much and as meaningful as these people do? They work hard everyday, they never get bored and they always find something to do, they spend time in prayer and fellowship often, they live a very simple life and above all, I could feel their genuine contentment and happiness. Like, I was amazed how this farmer who only finished primary education, found unexplainable fulfillment and gratitude for in his productive and fruitful harvest. I really couldn't help but recall my life in Manila. It's where I only waste several hours in Facebook for nothing. I recall those random classmates (or me...) that don't show up in class...for nothing. Where I sometimes find myself doing things in vain. Fortunate people, yet trapped in high-rise dungeons with fastfoods and preservatives; either with a long to-do lists or a passive hour glued to cigarette sticks.
Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!
Really, I had the best time. I was refreshed, detoxified from the pollution in the city. It was the best! I usually sleep around 9pm and wake up 5am (with chirping birds), drink hot milk every morning, eat fresh vegetables everyday, bathe in the river under a thunderstorm, bike and play in the rain, gaze at stars and watch fireflies at night, catch sunsets and serve people all at the same time! It was really a blessing to have shared and spent life with them.
The kids were amazing! They were very sweet and eager! They loved us so much. The whole community were very accommodating. My foster parents were also very kind and loving. It was an experience that I'd bring in every moment of my life! :) I praise God for this life-changing opportunity!
When you grab opportunities for yourself,
do remember to create opportunities for others who have not.
-Sir Michael Alar
Bottom line: One important lesson I want to share to everyone...God designed our lives uniquely, and blessed us with so much potentials and capabilities; and the physical and material things, the external circumstances, whether in richness or in poverty; all these can never be a hindrance, neither a basis, in fulfilling the great Destiny He has for us! Wherever you are and whatever you have, it starts with a personal decision on whether you want to make the most out of it. As for me, I can testify to His fullness even in our lack and emptiness. All things work together for good of those who love Him! What do you think? How will you ever make a difference with what you have and where you are today?
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? ”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”