|One God gave me
20 DAYS LIVED
IN A BARRIO
Bataan Summer Household started on May 2 and ended May 21,2006.20 days
away from the comforts of the city, away from family, and from the life
I knew. Those were extraordinary days. 20 extraordinary days.
19 QUICK BATHS
One couldn't afford to take long baths in a household of 16 single
young men. Schedules were tight and there were 15 brothers waiting outside
for their turn to use one bathroom. Insignificant as it may sound, it was
one way we cared for one another. We kept clean and did it quickly.
18 BEDLESS NIGHTS
I chose a sleeping position and closed my eyes. I would wake up the
next morning in the same position. Changing positions was too much for
a skinny person like me. My bones slammed on the floor with every movement,
so that in the beginning, I hardly sleep. I needed to get used to it to
get enough rest. Every day was hard work. 18 bedless nights. 18 blessed
nights. At least, I was given time to rest. I should be thankful for that.
DUTIES IN A MONTH
That was an accomplishment because at home I barely helped in the kitchen.
We took turns doing the household chores. Everyone got the chance to experience
dishwashing, cooking, and shopping. I washed dishes 17 times in a month.
It wasn't hard and I discovered that a simple service could also be a noble
16 YOUNG MEN
“How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity”
(Psalm 133). We were brothers living in one house. It was pleasant and
we were pleased to be together sharing our life with each other. I used
to sing this song from Psalm 133. Here, I experienced it. 16 young men
gave meaning to that verse. I was proud to be among them.
We were given 15 teachings vital for our formation. Sometimes we struggled
to listen attentively. It was hard to focus on the speaker on a full stomach
or from lack of sleep. 15 teaching sessions after a day's work was hard.
The teachings are in my notebook. Some are in my head, others are in my
heart. The rest are still there in the notebook.
14 EPISODES OF
MY FAVORITE SHOW
Watching television has always been part of my daily routine. I could
spend most of my day in front of it. I have missed 14 episodes of my favorite
show and found that it wasn't all that significant.
13 SOILED SHIRTS
I brought enough shirts for the entire household. I had enough clean
shirts. When I went back home, I had 13 soiled shirts that I wore during
the days we worked. 13 shirts soiled with perspiration, paint, dust, and
dirty hands. 13 shirts, now washed and cleaned, that carried stories which
remind me of where I had been.
Lights out at 12:00 PM. Some would have fallen asleep by then. Others
were still playing or conversing. I was usually awake. I knew I needed
to get enough rest for another long day ahead. I was reflecting where I
got the strength to do what I did that day. It was tiring. At 12 midnight,
I was awake thanking God.
11 PERSONAL TESTIMONIES
At dinner everybody would be eating except for one. He was probably
preparing for his sharing. After everyone had eaten they would listen to
him. Everyone was given the chance to share his personal testimony. I heard
11 personal testimonies in all; ten at the dinner table and one from a
casual conversation. It was good to hear 11 personal testimonies that inspired
and affirmed God's consistent work in each of our lives.
10 BARRIOS VISITED
Before we started working, we went to the chapels of 10 barrios. Life
was hard but the people there were happy and satisfied. God loves the poor
and I saw it in their faces.
9 WORKING DAYS
SPENT WITH THE KIDS OF BATAAN
There were several chapels to refurbish and twenty days to accomplish
it. 50 high school scholars of Bataan were sent to help us.We spent nine
days working with them. Our patience was tested. In the end we connected
with fifty kids who wanted a change in their lives. They changed our lives,
8TH OF MAY
May 8 was a Monday, our movie night. Mondays were rest days. The movie
put most of us to sleep. We rested on Monday night.
7 CHAPELS REFURBISHED
Seven chapels needed to be refurbished. Under the scorching heat of
the sun, we scraped and cleaned the walls. But it was more than a matter
of prepping and painting. We were tested for endurance, self-control, patience,
faithfulness, even brotherhood. If it were not for God's work in each of
us, we could have not accomplished our goals.
6 HOURS OF SLEEP
We slept at twelve midnight and woke up six hours later, enough to
refuel us for the challenges of a new day. Six hours of sleep meant 18
waking hours. Six hours of a hard floor to lie on while enduring a brother's
loud snore. Six hours break from laughing, brotherly banter, play, and
5 GREAT MEN WHO
There were five men who led us in the household. They had integrity
and walked their talk. I think of them as great men for teaching ordinary
people to live extraordinary lives.
4TH OF MAY
On May 4, a Thursday, household action groups were formed. We did not
leave our struggles and personal concerns in Manila but took them with
us into the household. The household was an opportunity to grow personally
and the action group helped it to happen.
When the school year ended I had three choices on how to spend my vacation.
I could have stayed home and rested for two months. I could also have applied
for a summer job and earned while gaining experience. Or I could join the
Summer Household. I am thankful I made the choice where the demands were
great but the rewards were even greater.
I WOULD NOT FORGET
This was the second time I participated in a summer household. It was
as life-changing, life-giving, and as memorable as the first.
1 GOD SERVED
20 days, 16 men, 10 chapels, 1 town, l summer household, and 1 God
served. Those days may be history now but it has laid the groundwork for
[This article originally appeared in True North Magazine, a publication
of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, a member community
of The Sword of the Spirit in Manila, Philippines. Used with permission.]