by Jason Wilde
On more than one occasion, I have been asked how we heard God calling us to be missionaries, or to adopt Chi Yu. To be honest, I really didn’t have any good answers. I have never really been blessed enough to hear God whisper to me or have an angel stand in front of me in blinding light. Many times it is a series of events or feelings that come together over a period of time that point us in the right direction. That said, we also have to discern whether it really is the Holy Spirit working in us, or whether it is our own imagination taking over.
So without further ado, here are a few of the discernment ‘litmus tests’ that I think have guided us over the past years and are continuing to guide us today.
After we found out that Jessica needed to see an oncologist back in the States, we were frantically packing up everything we could for our move back from Costa Rica. It was a really difficult time emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I was really upset that we were leaving our home of five months, all of our friends and fellow missionaries, and our dreams of foreign missionary life, at least in the foreseeable future. I spent a lot of time in the Coopevega chapel, just trying to calm my emotions and regain a sense of peace. I remember distinctly an afternoon in the chapel in which I was really tired and found my mind wandering and daydreaming. And then, a crazy idea formed in my mind.
I knew Jessica would need to be somewhat tethered to our mission base in Louisiana for the next 1-2 years due to doctors appointments, but I also wondered about how we could still serve as foreign missionaries. Our FMC posts in Mexico came to mind, and I dreamed about serving back in General Cepeda, where we spent three weeks of our training last year. But the 16+ hour journey that we’d have to make so many times troubled me. I thought maybe we could use some sort of RV with beds and facilities for us to rest during the trip. It felt so crazy, that it just might work.
The next day was again hard for me. I found myself angry with my kids and anxious about packing. But this thought lingered and somewhat developed in my mind. It kind of made me hopeful and eased my negative thoughts. That evening, I decided to pass it by Jessica, just to humor myself and have a positive conversation. Surprisingly, she was completely at peace with the idea of serving in Mexico and traveling frequently back and forth, and we shared a little bit of consolation together at peace with a future hope.
This has always been a good starting point for really big changes for us. We find ourselves talking about something really crazy, and yet we have peace at the thought of living with such a radical change. Jesus was radical; He constantly broke social norms, eating grain on the Sabbath, forgiving the sins of untouchable gentiles, and then curing illnesses just to prove a point. His family was poor and insignificant. He saved the life of a condemned prostitute who became a faithful disciple. He journeyed to Jerusalem at a time when everyone knew he was on the wanted list, raised a man from the dead to convert a few hundred more, and then entered the city in plain sight riding a donkey. He was friends and dined with with sinners, oppressive government officials, and non-believers, all the while chastising the religious leaders that sought to challenge Him.
And this is how it should be when God really wants to get your attention. You should feel uncomfortable, radical, and all alone in your decision. God’s ways are not of this world and are usually unconventional and illogical by any human social norms.
And yet, you are at peace with your crazy thoughts.
Peace in the storm
Every time the Spirit places our minds in the right place at the right time and put a solution right into our laps, we felt a ‘click’, a sense of peace and understanding that usually cleared away the clouds of frustration and despair. I distinctly remember these moments when we decided to adopt and when we decided to become foreign missionaries. Similarly, when things got hectic on the trip back to the States, Jessica and I would occasionally look at each other and smile at our dream and hope for our future.
But it also required that we endure the storm. Jesus calmed the waves when the boat began to rock, but He required absolute faith and trust in Him, and a bit of legwork - Peter had to leave all caution behind him and get out of the boat, all the while keeping his eyes ahead of him, fixed on Jesus. In a similar way, we can’t expect to live in a bubble, protected from any kind of turmoil and have the Spirit move us in a way that we can experience God's peace. The world’s peace can feel so much more enticing than God’s peace, and it makes it so much harder to discern which one we are feeling. Like Peter, we have to sometimes get out of our safety boat.
Directed by the Spirit, Who opens and closes doors
Soon, we were researching options for a home on wheels, and it didn’t take long for our plans to change. Traditional RVs are either notoriously expensive or unreliable, and this wouldn’t do for months of usage by a family with four kids. The spaces just didn’t work either with our family. We began looking at other options and kept coming back to (once again) one of the craziest options - a custom RV built in a used school bus.
Our mission also changed slightly as we began hearing more about the plight and oppression of migrant families in our country. General Cepeda gradually faded from our discussions, and we began to talk more about serving around Allende, Mexico, the FMC post nearest the Texas border, as well as the border communities on the U.S. side. Our custom RV began to become a focal point of our ministry, as we could use it as a mobile ministry, food pantry, and social gathering, similar to how we used the brick and mortar Casa de Jesus in Coopevega. We always imagined how it would work to take the ministries of Casa de Jesus on the road in Costa Rica, but it seems so relevant now in our new plans. Before we knew it, we had named our ministry - ‘Busita de Jesus’ (Little Bus of Jesus). The name became an instant hit within our family, and we could always just say ‘Busita’ and immediately regain our peace again.
God does an amazing job of opening and closing doors for us when we are actively seeking his plans. Our human selves want to constantly fight the impossible, repeatedly throwing our weight against the solid locked door, but God wants us to find the narrow gate - a path less traveled and yet so much better for His glory. But just like in the boat, it means we must keep working and searching. We can’t just sit still and wait for Gabriel to descend and give us a manual for our life with numbered directions. It just won’t happen. We have to go - even if it’s in the wrong direction. Just go. God will redirect you and give you the appropriate gifts if needed as long as you keep your eyes on Him and away from your own pride and selfishness.
For HIS glory
A month ago, if you told me that I would need to drive around Texas in a school bus to do God’s work, I’d say you were insane. I really don’t like to drive, and I never thought I’d be living back in Texas because...well...you have to drive so much. And I literally spent over a tenth of my time in elementary school on a yellow school bus - please don’t make me get in one of those!
All of this just tells me that it clearly isn’t MY plan - it is so crazy and so anti-me that it had to come from God. But more importantly, it is a path that glorifies Him. It is a path that allows me to suffer and decrease so that He may triumph and increase.
This should be the penultimate litmus test for discerning whether God is directing your life: Who is it lifting up? If it lifts up the other person, the neglected, the suffering, and gives glory to God for all of the work involved; if it lets me suffer and become more humbled as a servant to those around me, then there’s a good chance that I am on the right path.
Continuing on our journey
And so, a month later, I find myself driving a 12-year old yellow school bus that I acquired from Florida to Big Woods, Louisiana. Our ministry is still changing, though less now that we have our bearings. We have floor plans and ideas for how this will all work, but I’m sure He will continue to nudge us along in His path for us. Jessica’s treatments will hopefully begin in the coming weeks, and it will be difficult for her and for our family. But this dream that we have still keeps us calm and gives a divine hope and peace amidst the storm.
by Jason and Jessica Wilde
This past week we hosted our second mission trip here in Coopevega. This group was from Bishop Lynch, a Catholic High School in Dallas.
On this trip, we focused our work projects on one small road in Coopevega. On Dona Mira’s house, we replaced a badly leaking roof and painted the exterior walls, while in another house we installed wood floors (they had only dirt floors before) and replaced an outhouse with a toilet and septic system. We ended the week in this community with an evangelization night, where we saw many new faces and were able to invite them to Mass. Philippe, one of the older sons of Dona Mira, stopped Jason on the road Saturday afternoon to tell him that he was attending Mass because of us bringing God’s love to their community. It was so encouraging to see many of the men attending our ministry nights and Mass this past weekend, which is unusual.
Jessica drove Father Salvador, Chi Yu, and some of the high school students to visit Dona Maria. Her husband passed away about a month after the missionaries installed a toilet in their house last year. She lives a good distance from Coopevega along a farm road and gets lonely. Like a usual home visit, we visited with her, prayed with her, shared a testimony, and gave her food to feed her family. We thought our home visit was winding to an end, but you never know what you will run into on a home visit. Out of the blue, she asked one of the high school girls if she would “kill a chicken” for her. It turns out that she sells chickens and eggs to feed her family. Within minutes, Father Sal was helping the squawking chicken into the bag and an hour later we were bringing home some fresh raw chicken to be fried up for an afternoon snack. Father also helped the girls cut down a cocoa fruit from a tree. He sliced it open with a machete and we chowed down on the cocoa seeds.
While it is essential for us as missionaries to feed the poor, it is equally as important to support their efforts to work and feed their families. So from now on, even though her farm is out of our way on a deserted dirt road, we will be getting our chicken and eggs from her instead of the supermarket.
Both of these are great examples of how missions provide so much more for the local community than just a new roof or a week of food - in both cases we are able to use the newly formed relationships to achieve our true purpose of walking with the poor and bringing them along with us on our journey to God’s Kingdom.
With love and prayers,
Jason and Jessica Wilde
by Jason and Jessica
This powerful statement and our nation’s motto, though always controversial, seems to be something that we can always turn to in times of need. I mean, what else could give us a greater peace of mind than knowing that our Lord has everything in control, guiding us to our final destination with Him? I know that whenever I have faced a stressful situation, or have been worried about the health of my child, I am completely calm and collected, just falling down and telling God to take control.
Ok, so maybe this last part is a stretch.
One of the many little things that I’ve learned about myself throughout our formation here at Family Missions Company is that I am a control freak. I’ve survived much of my career by always trying to handle everything myself, knowing every answer, every solution, and every possible outcome. In chess terms, I like to always have an ‘end game’ in mind (Jessica still won’t play chess with me for this very reason).
When traveling, I had every logistic travel component planned down to the specific bus stop saved to a Google Doc on my phone, ready to be armed with it when we stepped foot on foreign lands.
But then we let God slip into our lives, and everything went haywire.
As we’ve shared before, Chi Yu’s adoption was anything but predictable. We never really knew what was going on until we received a frantic fax needing our signature before being sent back to China. And we really didn’t fully know his medical situation until at least six months after he had been home with us. But, from the first moment we met Chi Yu, his limb difference was not a disability for him. In fact, his limb difference is his greatest strength. Because of it, he is the most determined and energetic kid we’ve ever met.
But he did have health problems. His pancreas was not working properly resulting in poor growth. To us, this was his greatest need. We knew that it was God's will that Chi Yu was our beloved son. It was God's will that we were becoming missionaries. So we placed our trust in God that he would provide the means to care for Chi Yu in missions. We knew that there is no better place to be than in the center of God's will.
But when the reality of paying for God’s trust hit, it shook us. It turns out that Chi Yu's pancreas medicine costs $1000 per month without medical insurance. We frantically searched for every alternative possible - and still it would cost about $450 per month in Costa Rica. For a missionary family living Gospel poverty, this would use up all our financial resources quickly.
Many suggested that we tried medical insurance. We started with a very promising and morally-oriented Christian healthshare plan, and they denied Chi Yu from the start. Think about that - our orphaned foreign-born son was rejected by an organization that claims the same book that says “He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.” (Deut 10:18)
Now don’t get me wrong - I am not downplaying the role or importance of any kind of insurance as a safety net for many people. But, I am concerned when it replaces the trust that we should be placing in our Savior, or when it replaces the standards of charity that we are called to live by as Christian witnesses. Many of the now successful insurance companies were at one time just an organization of brothers who decided to care for the least of them when times were tough. But somewhere along the way to modern day maturity, they have instead become financial contracts of trust and safety that we have all learned to depend on religiously (most literally) to replace the trust in God and our neighbor. I can’t help but think that placing the phrase “In God We Trust” on the very dollar bill used to buy insurance is a powerful image of this idolatry.
For three months, we prayed for a miracle. We prayed that God would provide the medicine at a low cost or do the impossible - heal him completely. We knew this was God's mission not ours so we knew He had a plan for us to care for our son and to go on mission. We just had to trust Him, which was extremely hard. To be honest, the complete trust wasn’t there - we also kept worrying and working on our own solution in the background.
(Jessica): Over our Christmas break, we took Chi Yu to his gastro doctor for his regular exam and she was pleased by his growth. When I asked her to order a test to see if his pancreas had started producing the missing enzymes, she hesitantly reordered it but wasn't very optimistic of any change due to his birth defect.
Later that week, we were at the movies when a trailer for The Miracle Season caught my attention. My heart leapt for joy at the hope that this would be our family's season of miracles. Then my flawed human nature set in and I started to doubt. Would we be able to care for Chi Yu in missions? Or would we have to go home, find Jason a job and rebuy everything we had given away? My heart sank. Were our dreams of being Jesus's hands in the world serving the poor coming to an end?
After the movie, I turned on my phone and saw a voicemail from his gastro doctor. His pancreas was now functioning normal, and now we could wean him off his medicine! God had completely healed him!
What is impossible for human beings is possible for God. (Luke 18:27)
We can’t but think that this was yet another lesson for us in this season of formation - that true faith and trust in God leaves us free to do so much more for His glory during our limited time in the flesh.
“Do not worry about your life and what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” (Luke 12:22~34)
by Grace Wilde
Thanksgiving in General Cepeda is fun. We invited everyone we met in General Cepeda to a gigantic feast that we serve. The feast was delicious. But, afterwards I was very tired.
To prepare for the feast, they put 5 turkeys in the pila to defrost. (The pila is an empty fountain where we brush our teeth.) On Thanksgiving, we worked all morning on cooking and setting up. We worked on the decorations. We set up little bobble head turkeys at each of the tables. We also wrapped up silverware in napkins. We made a poster that said all the things we are thankful for in Spanish. We also helped peel potatoes - enough to fill a bag that was bigger than Chi Yu!
When the people arrived there were two shifts, so once you were done eating you took over someone else’s job. There was a greeter who greeted people and counted how many people came. By the end, around 250 people had been fed. Then they were seaters. That was our job. We were supposed to lead people to empty seats in the mission house. Then there were people who served drink, food, and dessert.
When it was time for us to eat, the food was delicious. But, my favorite food was the desserts. There were chocolate cake and brownies. There were also pumpkin muffins!!! I had a pumpkin muffin and it was delicious. It had chocolate chips and raisins in it!!
Thanksgiving was really fun and General Cepeda was awesome. I was very sad when we had to leave, but, I look forward to Costa Rica.
By Alex Wilde
In General Cepeda ( M E X I C O), we have a mission post. It is a wonderful place. We have a room by the kitchen. We have made a lot of friends: Gabriel, Drew, Jeremiah, Aaron, Nathaniel, Anthony, Benji, and Elijah.
There is also a very big concrete slide. One slide has one bump. The other has two bumps. If you slide down with card board, it makes it go slow. With a jacket, it slides fast and makes you fly a little bit. But with a bottle, you fly. I once made a jumpsuit out of a jacket it worked well. I also made a jet. It is awesome. Sometimes instead of landing on your butt, you land on your feet. At the beginning, I thought it was scary. Now I say it isn't scary. One of my friends, Aaron, sat down opposite me. We linked arms and then we went down the slide together. We spun.
One time we went hiking with my friend Jeremiah. When we went down the mountain, we slipped and fell and there was a small rock slide. We fell on many cactuses. We had snacks. We ate Rice Krispies and granola bars. There were also grasshoppers. We tried to catch the grasshoppers but it was very hard. The grasshoppers jumped near the chapel at the beginning of the mountain. The chapel and the mountain were very beautiful. Ms. Allison pulled out some of the cactus spikes but not all of them.
Another time, my Mom and Dad had a date with me. We bought food, cantaloupe, chips and more for a rancho visit later that night. We walked to a table. They bought me a 99 calories Coke. And we talked a lot. The missionaries stopped by to talk to us. The date made me feel happy, special, and loved.
by Brecklyn Wilde
At the mission post in General Cepada, Mexico we helped with home visits. Home visits are when you visit someone’s house, talk with them, read from the Bible, pray with them and give them food and medicine.
During our first home visit, all we knew about where the person lived was that it was green and by the market. It was easy to find houses near the market, but the problem was that all of them were green! We knocked on two people’s houses and they both said to go further. So we went around the corner, and there was the one green house amongst the red and orange houses. We came in and a nice lady greeted us. Her husband has Parkinson’s disease, but the missionaries knew that beforehand, so they had bought him some medicine for it.
One of the single ladies that went with us on our home visits name is Shayna. She ties her rosary around her arm. I do too! When we walk to the different houses, we hold hands and carry each other’s crosses. We pretend to ‘help carry each other’s crosses’ along the way.
Another time, we met a lady who owned a candy store. She had two girls. One of the singles that was in our group was talking in Spanish to the youngest girl. Then she saw the girl’s sister get some candy, so the younger girl started crying. Then the mom gave the girl a big big marshmallow in the shape of a flower. Then she offered it to all of us. We took it and ate it. It was so good! I wish we could have them again.
Another house we went to there was a man who had a wheel chair. His house was full of flies. Grace, Alex, and a couple of the other kids with us had to go to the bathroom.
I didn’t have to go then, so I stayed in the house. When I came out, I found out that all the kids had climbed on top of the man’s roof. There was a big barrel. They used that to climb down. I found out that Alex had fallen into the barrel and couldn’t get out!
And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said:
by Jason and Jessica
Eight years ago, we remember thinking that our study days were over. We probably had the (wrong) assumption that enduring over four combined decades of classrooms and earning five degrees allowed us to say that we knew everything that we needed to live our lives together.
As usual, God proves us wrong.
It has been 3 weeks since we arrived at Big Woods, Louisiana, and we have been spending a lot of this time learning about our faith and how it applies to us as missionary disciples. Every day, we spend time in prayer, praise and worship followed by studies of Acts of the Apostles, Mission of the Redeemer, teaching workshops, and Sí Señor classes. Sí Señor covers a multitude of topics specifically about missions including Serving the Poor, The Call to Holiness, and Arrival on the Mission Field. This week, Grace has even decided to opt out of the kids ministry and is now participating in all of the mission formation classes with us. Next week, she will be delivering her own Kerygma in our teaching workshop.
After lunch as a community, we have time to work on chores and the kids work on their homeschool assignments. Jason spends his afternoons fixing up a missionary house.
Thursday is our service day. Our assigned ministry is visiting a nursing home. We pray a rosary in the lunchroom and then visit as many rooms as we can before lunch. It is such a blessing for us to be able to meet, pray, and talk with the residents. Chi Yu’s exciting personality is a natural ice breaker, allowing many to open up and tell us about their own children. One beautiful lady couldn’t speak, but her face lit up when she saw Chi Yu. She pulled up her blanket and revealed her feet which were formed as uniquely and beautifully as Chi Yu’s hands. You could see the joy on her face to be around him and to share that cross with him.
Saturday is our work day, desert day and Lord’s Day dinner. We work on cleaning the community or on the various projects around our community. Grace joins Jason on Saturdays to help with the house. This is followed by desert day, two hours of quiet prayer in the fields around the mission house. It is a time of reflection, study and prayer. In the evening we dress up fancy, break bread as a community and celebrate our Lord’s Day in fellowship. The Lord’s Day dinner follows a traditional feast day celebration, which always began at sundown on the night before. We light candles, bless the bread, share it and give prayers of thanksgiving. Then we bless and share sparkling grape juice. Afterwards is a time for fellowship.
As for the kids, Brecklyn has formed a band called the Ukeladies. It consists of Brecklyn, Libby (one of the girls that lives below us in our house) and a wonderful single missionary named Rachel. They have performed several times now, and it is a joy to not only see her pick up another instrument but to get in front of the entire mission community to play. Alex is in little boy heaven with all of the new kids to play with. Chi Yu has made friends with all the missionary girls. His favorite is Shayna; he calls her China. Grace has fallen deeper in love with Jesus and is eager to learn all that she can about missions.
by Grace Wilde
For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1 Cor 9:16)
You all know by now that we are becoming missionaries. We are all so excited, but, many of you may ask, have we thought through this? By the time we leave we will have discerned for 1 year. Yes, even us kids have discerned. But still what do us kids think about this? Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ? Here is how I got to this conclusion.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a missionary and love God and others. The first book I ever remember reading was the Bible. I kept on saying I wanted to be a nun. But, I thought kids could not do the job of a religious nun. Little did I know that they could with their family.
My mom kept on telling me about the refugees and the other afflictions of the world today. She kept on saying we should pray for them. I wanted to help them. It was hard to think of those struggles in the world today and not wanting to help them. As Mother Teresa said
Soon, we just had to do something so we decided to fulfill the dream we had had for ages, to adopt. We started the adoption process as many people do. We started looking for a baby girl who fit our abilities. We were surprised in the end to have chosen a little boy named Hong Yu Chen. We had seen he needed a home for long time and were surprised that God had chosen him. We finish a lot of paperwork and got him June 11, 2016. We named him Chi Yu and he is a joy in our home today. I love him very much. But, we were still missing something.
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love. - Pope Francis
We like many people wanted to keep on adopting, but, God had other plans.
Then we found it! One day my mom Googled family missions and found FMC. We signed up for a short term mission. Then, exploring the website she saw that it was full time as well. I knew this was our call and we started discerning.
Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ?
God called me to be a missionary. I loved God and his people from the beginning. I can’t bear to see and hear the suffering of them. So I go out in the world from now on to help them like the first disciples at Jesus’ command. God may still call me to be a nun when I grow up. For now I am happy just as I am, as a Missionary for Christ.
by Grace, Brecklyn, and Alex Wilde
While we were on our mission trip in the Philippines, we helped in a village called Isla. Isla is a beautiful little farming village where the people spoke Vasayan. The houses are made of braided bamboo. Some of the people ate a simple meal such as rice. The roads are made of dirt, so when it would rain, it would get very muddy and slippery. Two days before the Bible study started, our friend Irene, from Isla, invited us to teach the kids from Isla a song for the children’s ministry. We decided the song should be a VeggieTales song called “I’ve got shoes”. The lyrics to the song are:
“I’ve got shoes, you've got shoes, all of God’s children’s got shoes!
When I get to Heaven gonna put on my shoes,
I’m gonna walk all over God’s Heaven, Heaven, Heaven!
Everybody’s talking ‘bout, Heaven, I’m going there, Heaven, Heaven, Yeah!"
We ran in the rain to a big pavilion by a church for the Isla Bible study. It was very muddy from the rain, and dark so it was hard to get there. This is what the pavilion looked like: There were wooden rooms with a space for doors, benches all around the edges and at the back of the benches were short walls. After a while more people came. Irene said that not as many people would come because it is so hard to get there in the rain.
We started dancing and singing to some fun Christian songs. One of the songs was called: “I wanna be a sheep ba ba ba ba”. Another song was called “This little light of mine”. Everyone was dancing and singing together. Some of the kids, including us, were running around in circles, while everyone else ran around us. The kids were then assigned to go to a separate pavilion with two nursing students, and Irene and her husband, Ricky. That was were the children’s ministry would be.
It started with us teaching the kids the VeggieTales song called “I’ve Got Shoes.” We taught all the kids how to act it out with movements. After that, we told them the story of Jonah and the whale. Irene's husband acted it out. Everyone laughed when Jonah,got eaten by the whale. He covered his head with a towel when he pretended to get eaten by the whale. Everybody was saying “Whaale, whaale.”
Afterwards, we asked them questions about the story. Some of the questions were “How long was Jonah in the whale?” and “What did Jonah say to the people?” Next, we sang another song called “The Banana Boat Song.” After that, we asked them if they wanted the next story to be David and Goliath, or Noah. Everyone said Noah, except two kids. One of them said David, and one of them said Goliath. But even though mostly everyone wanted Noah, Irene decided that the story should be David and Goliath. Alex acted out David and Ricky acted out Goliath. Then we asked some questions about David and Goliath.
Then Irene gave out bread to the kids as a special snack. Some of the bread had spices. Some of them were plain, but the best ones were the ones filled with cream. Everyone loved them.
The best part about it all was when we gave some of our own stuffed animals to the kids as a present. Our friend, King, got Snoopy Small, which was a small snoopy that had a shirt on. His sister, Princess was given a stuffed animal Ballerina, and our friend Drizzle got Moosy, a puppet moose. King did not want his stuffed animal, so he traded his stuffed animal for Spotty, a dog with spots and bows on her ears. Princess got Ballerina bear, and she carried it everywhere she went. Everyone loved their stuffed animals.
When we were finished, everyone ran back to the big pavilion and played the attack of the stuffed animals. Alex asked one of the kids what he named his stuffed animal that was a Texas Tech monkey, and he said that it's name was Walla. King and his cousin taught us a handshake that was really cool.
And then we went back with our friends to Canossa. But, our friend Lolei had not come to the bible study, so we gave her our big Snoopy, (it was already like she was owning it because she loved to play with it!) She loved Snoopy so much, that when we gave Snoopy to her, she asked us “It’s mine? Really?!”
Giving our stuffed animals to people fills us up with unexplainable joy. It is the virtue Joy that just stuck to all of us. Joy is one of the best virtues ever, and it seemed to stick to us for the rest of the week, it seemed to never come off. The Joy helped us through the rest of the week to do the impossible.
By: Jessica Wilde
Our short term medical mission trip to the Philippines was over. Genevieve dropped us off at our hotel in Cagayan de Oro, we walked upstairs to our rooms, and we fell on the bed and cried. We didn’t want our mission trip to be over. In fact, Grace said it took all the self control she could muster to not grab on to the back of Genevieve's car and hitchhike back to Canossa. We had all fallen in love with mission life.
The next day we took a short flight to Cebu. It was a shock to our system. We went from the beautiful simplicity of a convent to a lavish 3½ star hotel. For a quite reasonable $100/night, our executive 2 room suite came with a hot Asian-style buffet breakfast. We had an adequate supply of bottled water, two bathrooms (one with a large tub), and most importantly, hot water. But after spending a week bringing God’s mercy to families who could barely afford basic necessities or critical medical care, staying here felt so hypocritical that we fought to only use what we needed and keep living simply. Even so, it felt like we were missing something. We were missing the endless love of sisters who always had a hot meal ready promptly at 7am. We missed the wake-up call of a missionary crying out “Rise and shine and give God his glory…”. We missed the extra special prayers in pain as we poured ice cold ladles of water over our heads.
The next day, we took a Jeepney to the Basilica where the beloved statue of Santo Nino is kept. Magellan brought this statue with him on his voyage around the world in his quest for the spice islands. He gifted the statue to the locals in Cebu. It was the first image of Jesus in the Philippines and now a major pilgrimage site.
We walked into the dark church where Santo Nino sat in a side chapel for veneration. Long lines of people processed through the church to lay their hands on the glass surrounding and protecting him. We knelt down outside the chapel but within view of Santo Nino. He was stunning in his regal robes.
Santo Nino is dressed like a king. His robes are royal red and embroidered with gold. This was not the image of baby Jesus that I hold close to my heart. I tend to think of him as a poor boy swaddled in a manger. I think of his homeless parents searching for a safe home for their son first in Bethlehem and later when they fled to Egypt. As a young boy, I imagine him playing with his friends and getting dirty like little boys tend to do.
But through this statue of Santo Nino, God pulls aside the veil of poverty and shows us our King. Santo Nino is a beautiful depiction of how God sees the poor. God is often hidden behind a veil as seen in Jesus’s presence in the Eucharist. If only we could see with God’s eyes, I wonder how many poor, sick or imprisoned people we see on a daily basis are really princes and princesses in God’s eyes.
“Seeking the face of God in everything, everyone, all the time, and his hand in every happening; This is what it means to be contemplative in the heart of the world. Seeing and adoring the presence of Jesus, especially in the lowly appearance of bread, and in the distressing disguise of the poor.” (Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World)
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.