Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thank You For Choosing Life!

Hey mommy and daddy, this one's for you!
Thank you for choosing life...even though you didn't expect me... What do people call that? Miracles?

This goes for mom, dad...and sister.

even the food that I complained about...

Thank you for sending me on my first mission trip to Guatemala 5 or 6 years ago.

Thank you for making me into a Phi Mu lady (even though you didn't even know what that meant)

Thank you for sending me to Canada to this shrine where I prayed for a miracle that you would accept God's call for my life. (and thank you for making me an altar server for like 5 years and thank you for always driving me to youth group and retreats....and thank you for always baking for those retreats, mom) *Long Live Jesus Muffins*

Thank you for picking the GREATEST God Parents in the ENTIRE world for me.

Thank you for still loving me even when you didn't want me to do this just yet.

Thank you for never buying me one of these.... really, thank you.

Thank you for accepting over a hundred girls as my sisters...even though you can't remember all of their names...

Thank you for the sacrifices you have made to send me around the world to truly have the best learning experiences.

Thank you for always supporting my passions and the gifts the Lord has given me.

Thank you for letting me go.
Thank you for loving me unconditionally.
Knowing that God the Father loves me more than you love me makes me yearn to know God's unfathomable love more and more. You have taught me how to put others before myself, you have taught me how to be a servant-leader, you have taught me how to love until it hurts, you have taught me that there is no limit to sacrifice for the good of the other, you have taught me how to pray, you have taught me how to be Jesus to others. I am sorry for all the times I didn't thank you and for the times I was sassy and for the times I was hard-headed and for the times when I didn't apologize. You have sacrificed your time, your money, and your life to give me and Nanny everything (I'm sure I can speak for the both of us) and we are so incredibly thankful. Thank you for the sacrifices you made to send us to Catholic School, thank you for treasuring our education, thank you for driving us around for all those years, thank you for everything.
I literally cannot think of the words to give you the thank you...but I know your reward will be in Heaven for putting up with me for these years of my short-lived life. 

You have helped mold me into the missionary that God is creating me to be.
Thank you for choosing life 21 years ago.

I love you, mom and dad!!!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Scars in Heaven

In an earlier blog post I talked about how Jesus has given me His eyes to see how He sees the world rather than the way Breana sees the world. Well, this is a little extension from that story...

The third way Jesus has given me a glimpse of the world through his eyes was through two of our full time missionaries in Malabalay. Blair Bailey just found out a few weeks ago that she is pregnant (SO EXCITED! Please pray for her and her family). This is her first year in missions and she has 4 girls under the age of 10. She is starting to not fit in her clothes because of course she didn’t bring any maternity clothes to the Philippines and my mom happened to send me 3 skirts that I didn’t need, so now Blair has some skirts that will fit her as her baby grows. While she was trying on the skirts she showed me her scars on her belly from her previous pregnancies. It was so intense and so beautiful. She said that her husband told her that she will have these scars in Heaven because she literally gave up her body to give new life. WHAAAAAATTTTTTT?!?! How beautiful is that?! Just as Jesus literally gave of Himself and died on a cross to give us new life and his wounds are considered glorious and he has them in Heaven, Blair and all mothers literally give up their bodies to give new life! These wounds that tell the story of new life are glorious!!!
Yeah, meditate on that this Lent, friends.

Then, when you think pro-life cannot get any better, Sammy Romero, who has been a missionary in the Philippines for over a span of 3 years and is the father of 3 kids under the age of 4, tells me about his reflections on child birth. He said that by the time his wife was pregnant with her third child he really prayed and reflected on natural childbirth. I wish I could relay this all back to you word for word because it was so profound that I was just in shock and I can’t remember everything, but hopefully you will get the gist. Back in the Old Testament after the fall of Adam and Eve, the Lord says that men will have to toil and labor in the field and women will have the pain of childbirth and through the crucifixion Jesus has fulfilled His promise and wiped away the punishment from the stain of the first sin. Now with the men working and toiling in the field, they spend all day laboring to build something or fix something and sure a man could hire someone else to do it and quit, but nothing is more fulfilling then working really hard all day and then seeing the end project – the fulfillment of finishing.  A woman in labor cannot just call it quits and bounce out, she has to endure all of the pain and suffering – but Jesus fulfills his promise by immediately giving the woman the joy of the child. The woman has the fulfillment that after enduring all of that pain – there is a baby!
What a beautiful pro-life and sacred image to reflect on this Lent.

Praise the Lord for women who are open to life and for all those who adopt, we honor you!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Davie the Ukulele's first blog post!

Ukulele's literally bring people together. I don't know WHAT we would have done in many an awkward moment if me and Rebecca didn't have these things. So these are just some photos of many people we have met in the Philippines having so much fun with "Davie the Ukulele"!
(Thank you to my benefactors for this instrument that has really made proclaiming the Gospel a true JOY!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Give Me Your Eyes

This week my team and I were so blessed to be able to go to Malabalay to participate/lead a short-term medical mission trip with students from Benedictine College. It is really hard for me to think of words to describe how anointed this trip was. It was a super jammed pack few days and it was so darn fun! (warning: this post may be a little all over the place because this week was so packed and my mind can't organize itself)

Also, during the trip I started to read the book “Kisses from Katie” which is just like WOAH. It’s about this girl who has such a passion for Uganda and the 8 or 13 girls she adopted at her young age 19 and she started her own non-profit and she is really a modern day Saint. So seeing these Benedictine students on fire for missions and reading this incredible book has just reignited the fire in my heart for missions!
Also, during this Lent I am doing the “Journey to Jerusalem” from Adore Ministries by Fr. Mark Toups, which has just been rocking my world. I feel like I have been having an identity crisis… not like a “mid life crisis” (I’m only 20, calm down) but almost like a self-image crisis. I have always had a negative view of myself because of my past wounds and my body image. It sounds so petty, but I have always struggled with my weight and it has really hardened my heart to see myself as beautiful when the world tells me that only skinny is beautiful. The Filipino people are very blunt in telling us Americans that we are white, and have different hair, and have different eye colors, and also that we are large. I really have felt an attack from the devil with my self-image. Just when I was finally okay with myself, everyday I get told that I am fat and I am asked if I am the oldest in my team because I am the biggest. I know it shouldn’t tear me down because the people aren’t being rude at all, but it’s just the devil twisting their words and hacking into my wounds. But the Lord has also been fighting the devil for sure. Everyday in Scripture the Lord tells me he delights in me, he tells me that I am beautiful, that he has unfathomable mercy, that he forgives me even when my enemies do not forgive me, that he desires to know me personally and he loves me particularly and he truly sees me. He wants me to see myself the way He sees me and this week he has given me that opportunity…

The first way he gave me his eyes was when I saw true hunger. I saw a people who were hungry for love and hungry for literal food. I understood for the first time Jesus’ call for me to “feed His sheep.” I have never felt such a strong conviction to feed the hungry and I am so thankful that Jesus has been so clear that this is most definitely an important part of my mission here in the Philippines.

The second way he gave me his eyes is actually really profound and could seem a little sketchy. We had a full day of medical ministry at the Malabalay City Jail, like all day. I was shocked that I felt absolutely no anxiety walking into the series of gates and bag checks and into a sea of people who have been convicted of various crimes – but really they are a people who have just made mistakes and who are wounded and who are broken...just like me. We first had mass with some of the prisoners and it was incredibly beautiful to celebrate the mass as one body and one church – full of sinners in need of Jesus’ great mercy! After mass, the nurses did their thang and the non-nurses (me) went to another gated area to play basketball and sing and play ukuleles with the men. There was one guy around my age that I met while playing ukuleles and we had a very blessed conversation. He was very shy about his English and of course I don’t know enough Visayan to hold a substantial conversation, so it was simple convo, but impactful. He asked me to sing and play my ukulele for him and he began to learn some of the words to the songs. After he said that he didn’t want to keep me from talking to the other people because they would get jealous of him because I am so beautiful. This comment took me by complete surprise and I knew this was from the Lord. This little gesture and his sincerity may have been the first time I truly felt beautiful… and it wasn’t because of my white exotic American skin or my cute skirt, he saw Jesus in my heart and he recognized that our normal everyday conversation and singing and laughing was the beginning of a friendship - it was the equality I gave him. I treated him as my friend and my brother, because he is. His identity is not a criminal or a prisoner – he is a son of God. He is my brother.

My identity is not a broad heavy set pasty white American; my identity is a daughter of God. I am a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a missionary by my baptism. Jesus has given me his eyes to see my dignity and worth as a daughter of the King and this is something that no one can ever strip from me.

Everyday the Lord gives me the gift of seeing Himself in those I meet; in the poor, the lonely, the broken, the forgotten, the imprisoned, the wounded, the hungry, the sick, the dying, the suffering, and the lost. After this week of meditating on how Jesus looks at me, I realized that if I want to look at others with the compassionate eyes of Jesus, I have to see myself with the compassionate eyes of Jesus.

Monday, March 10, 2014

I just wanna DANCE

So me and the team are casually eating dinner and we decide to have a really private night. We showered, put our pjs on, put sheets up around the porch to have some extra privacy, sang praise and worship and then we start eating. All of a sudden we hear some loud laughing and talking and the kids are just walking into our house!
They all went to a friends birthday party and were on their way home and decided to just come and hangout and visit. They are our 4th year students and even the teachers were with them (teachers have a very close relationship with the students). Their Schools Founders Day was beginning the following day so they wanted to show us their dances they prepared for the day. They sang a song, then did a traditional Filipino dance, and then did a modern/hip-hop type dance. They are all very talented kids!
After, they asked me to sing some praise and worship songs with them and they immediately caught on and loved it.
These kids are like sponges and I love them!
You're welcome in this place!

Singing their song

They are wonderful singers!

super cool dance!


Traditional Filipino dance

The ones in front are also Liturgical Dancers

Teaching them how to Cajun Dance!

we loves these kids!


Teaching them "Set A Fire"

they love to sing

so precious

Praise the Lord for their openness and joyful spirits and their willingness to get to know us and be our friend!

Friday, March 7, 2014

You Give and Take Away

Our team talks a lot. Well, of course we do… we’re 4 girls. One week we talked a lot about our humanness and our weaknesses. Last week we had a good talk about Job.
            I remember working a retreat in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux many moons ago and Mr. Ivy Cavalier was talking to a friend and me about the book of Job in the Bible. I remember not knowing or ever hearing about this “Job” person, but Mr. Ivy spoke with such passion that I was entranced. After that retreat I read the Bible for the first time by myself. A little summary of Job… He was a good servant of the Lord and was very blessed. He was married, had children, was very well off, had a lot of land and animals, he was very hospitable, very devout, and he loved the Lord. So one day Jesus and the devil are chatting (Job 1:1-12) about how Job is “blameless and upright” and the devil is all like, well duh- You protect him. So Jesus lets the devil tempt Job in anyway he wants but he cannot lay a hand on Job himself. So the devil takes away Job’s wife, his kids, his land, his home – literally stripping him of EVERYTHING he possessed. And do you know what Job’s response is? (Job 1:20-22) He rends his garments, lays prostrate on the ground worshipping and says, “The Lord gives and takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” He doesn't complain, he doesn't think that his life sucks, he doesn't mope... he praises the Lord through his suffering because he knows that praising the Lord is more important.
Are you saying that Jesus gives the devil permission to give us temptations as a trial to see how worthy we are or to see if we are holy and blameless in His sight? Will he take you away family and everything you love? Will he give you a blessed life filled with trials to overcome and sufferings to gain salvation?
Will He really take you away from your family at 20 years of age and send you to the other side of the world? Will He give you the gift of a beautiful sorority of God centered women whose creed is a reflection of loving and serving God and the poor? Then will he take you away from them and make you literally live out that creed? “...To minister to the needy…to practice day by day: love, honor, truth...”
Woah, that’s me! And people think old Bible stories don't relate to you today, pshhhh.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… but my heart will always to choose to say – “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

When the Lord strips you of your life, it’s not for an empty purpose filled with despair and gloom – He will ABUNDANTLY bless you with good and perfect things in His eyes. Of course it will hurt a little, but the hurt and the suffering will gain you eternal salvation. I think suffering on earth and being stripped of worldly things is worth living forever in Heaven. Don't ya think?

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Balut Experience

Hello friends, just thought you should know that we could totally win Fear Factor. We ate the Filipino delicacy called "Balut" which is a duck egg. You see, the duck has developed for about 16 days inside of the egg...
So I think you can figure out the rest. Enjoy these pictures!
Trying to pump ourselves up to eat Ballut.

Genevieve being dramatic

She admitted that she would eat it again.

Rebecca really nervous about it all

But she ate it like a BOSS

doesn't it look just so appetizing?!

while trying to peel one, our friend already ate 5!!!

so gross

It actually tastes just like a normal boiled egg...until you see the sort of developed duck inside.

I'm now a Filipino.


Chinese-Filipino Catholic Singles Bible Study group that tricked us into this Balut extravaganza.