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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Coconuts, Ants, and a Gift

Ate Jane is the project director of Solid Rock Student Center- the beautiful Compassion project where she was once a registered child. When you meet her, you meet joy! She has been such a dear friend here- with her gifts of laughter and care. (By the way, Ate is the demonstrative prefix added to a female name, meaning "older sister").
        (Jane, Michelle, Rafonzel at Solid
Rock Student Center)

Ate Jane surprised Raf, Michelle & I with an incredible gift...I'll tell more about that, but first let me catch up on the latest travel plans. Today was our day to rest between events in Davao & the coming events in Butuan, where we fly to tomorrow. (That was a miracle in itself, as our flight got pushed back from Thursday to Friday, meaning we would miss two of the main events that we've been preparing for! But God blessed us with an answer to prayer- Raf's friend who works with the airlines got our flight moved up to Wednesday! I offered to take a bus, but Michelle looked at me with a serious face, "Cait, we can't risk it...we just don't know." But I tried to insist, "Raf is taking the bus- I'll be fine!" Michelle reminded me, "Your white skin...we just can't be sure...Your Mom and Dad want you home alive." "Okay, okay..." I consented.)
So, because we had this day of rest, Ate Jane gave us the most marvelous gift- tickets to Pearl Farm! We got to travel by boat for 45 minutes to an exotic island resort, to just soak in the wonder, the sky, the birds, the sunshine, and the food! A few days ago, when we found out we were going, Michelle and Rafonzel were jumping up and down, squealing in Tagalog. I had no idea what was going on, until they told me in English about Pearl Farm-how this was a place where they had always dreamed of going. I became equally thrilled!
When we arrived, we spent a couple hours just resting. Honestly, it was hard for me to be still and not feel guilty...I have this complex at times that I need to be productive either with my body or my mind. To be soaking in the paradise around me was difficult (I know that sounds silly), but making myself relax and enjoy it was well worth it! I think especially after seeing everything I've seen in the last week, it feels like I need to be doing, doing, doing...but God is disciplining me to first BE in His presence, then GO and DO in His will.
I picked up a book on St. Teresa of Avila which I had brought with me from home, and this is what I read as I lay there under the pacific sky: "...Our contemplation is not for our own enjoyment but to give us the 'strength to serve'" (Tessa Bielecki) Lord, may this stillness refresh me, to then be a refreshment to others.
Teresa of Avila prompts a paradoxical thought, "Love turns work into rest."
So I soaked in the simple things, while just being and resting. Simple things like the ants next to me, as they devoured the corpse of the bee I squished (I'm sorry to confess I murdered the little guy, but his stinger was getting so close to me, I couldn't risk the pain of his looming attack ruining my lovely day!) The ants were so determined to get their lunch!  Then I opened my book again and read more simple words of wisdom from Teresa, "...I believe that in each little thing created by God there is more than what is understood, even if it is a little ant." I was amused, and enjoying watching the tiny creatures.
When I looked up into the sky overhead, I was moved by the glory of the coconut trees. "Lord, You are on the earth and clothed with it," proclaimed Teresa of Avila. I could not agree more as those swooping palms swayed overhead, moving with grace in the wind.  And then I had a great laugh as I shared with the girls the words off the page of my salmon-colored reflective book, "The sisters were delighted to see the coconuts, and so was I. Blessed be He Who created them: they are certainly something worth seeing." One would think this Teresa from over 400 hundred years ago was hanging out with us on Pearl Farm today, giving a play-by-play narrative of the paradise so large about us, creation's treasures abounding. This is precisely why I love reading the spiritual heritage of those who've  walked this earth and lives by faith in centuries past...I must admit, I, myself, felt small like an ant, in comparison with the wonders of the far-reaching ocean and sky painted with clouds and beams of sun rays on this marvelous day! 
Before leaving, I ordered "Buko Juice," not realizing I would be be literally drinking coconut water through a straw right from the green shell of the coconut, totally pure and fresh! This was such a treat to top off a wonderful time at Pearl Farm.
Finally it was time to board our little boat, while our weathered captain in his cola shirt navigated the sparkling, foaming waves. As we headed back to Davao, almost everyone fell asleep with waves of salt splashing our sun-kissed faces. We felt like this adorable little boy...
It's funny how a day of rest can wear you out...

I've been so blessed by my time here in Davao! I await expectantly all that I will witness and experience in Butuan...Lord give me ears to hear and eyes to see!

Caitlin