November 2006 - Vol. 2
SINGLE WOMEN, WOMEN OF HOPE
By Yselle Callo
Ligaya ng Panginoon Community, Manila, Philippines
“We have aged parents, young or sick family members to care for, job concerns, health concerns, fears for our future.”
This is one
way to describe the common bond that brought together 25 single women of
the Asia Region of the Sword of the Spirit in a retreat last July 8-9,
2006 in Tagaytay City, Philippines. The participants were from Ang Ligaya
ng Panginoon (Joy of the Lord) Community in Manila, Ang Buhing Pulong (Living
Word) Community in Mindanao, and Servants of the Lord Community in Singapore.
Sue Cummins, from the Word of Life Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, generously
shared her time and wisdom in conducting this retreat. For everyone who
attended, the retreat was a time of finding hope, of being renewed in service,
and of finding friendship among sisters who share similar joys and pains.
Abellera was 3 years old when her parents got involved in the Ang Ligaya
ng Panginoon Community. Ever since, she was an active participant
of the Children’s Formation Program, then the Young Adults, then CYA &
UD and now, a covenanted member, she is serving as a Pastoral Leader of
5 younger women in the Singles District.
[Sue Cummins, right center, with some of the retreat participants]
It had been
a time of finding hope in the midst of the challenges that single women
face each day. One sister said, “I have been a member of community for
quite some time now and I feel that the Lord has been silent on his promise.
This retreat reminded me of how it is to fervently hope in the Lord. He
alone knows his plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11)…The retreat reminded me that
I am not only “Joy of the Lord” but also a woman of hope.”
Tetel Ladao joined the community in Bukidnon, Mindanao in 1989. She is now a fulltime staff member of Ang Buhing Pulong Community and for 15 years, Chapter Moderator of Christ’s Youth in Action. She is taking care of her mother and is a guardian to her sister’s son.
It had also
been a time of renewal. Another sister shares, “I came to this retreat
with lots of questions in my heart. I am weighed down by demanding responsibilities
with family, work, service, plus the fact that I am near 40 and it brings
with it pressures, fears, doubts, and lots of anxieties about my future.
I thirst to hear the Lord and I looked forward to an encounter with him.
True enough, He restores my confidence and reminded me to hope in his love
and mercy. During this weekend, I heard him clearly say, ‘This retreat
may not give you all the answers but I will reveal them to you one at a
time. I give you the grace to hope. Heed my voice. Follow me. I will lead
you. Leave behind things that bother you and let your heart rejoice in
me. I have come to lead you home.” It was such a gift to be refreshed by
the love of God and be assured of the truth that his grace suffices, for
us to handle the demanding responsibilities in our daily life.
|Isabel has been a member of community for more than 10 years now. Further she shares, “I will remember their stories because God's truth is written in them: the truth that God's grace is ever present in our joy and suffering; the truth that God's grace is abundant because we are weak; and the truth that God's grace will open our eyes in our joy and suffering to see his promises and purpose for us when we resolve to follow him.”|
For most of the sisters, the retreat had been a time of finding friendship and inspiration from the joys and pains that each one goes through in following the Lord and in living out His call. As Isabel, a sister from Singapore shares, “I am the only single person who is a covenanted member of the Servants of the Lord. There had been other singles but they did not stay on for very long. It's been challenging enough being among families all the time in community building so until recently, I have not been too curious about how other singles experienced community life in the Sword of the Spirit… I have been very blessed by the fellowship and friendships I've seen and experienced. My sisters have inspired me in the way they have received God in their pain and joy. I will remember my sisters' life stories because their desire to discover and live out God's plan reminds me that God is constant and faithful.”
is a poem composed by one of the sisters during the retreat.
Where are you Lord?
Was it really you Lord?
Why do you love me so much yet why have I suffered
How can I give you up?