Sitting on that strange bed, with all of my life’s belongings packed in one bag, I began to have a slight panic attack. I had just committed myself to serving the Lord, Him whom I was not even sure of yet… in a faraway land, where I had to live with all of these women. What if they don’t like me? What if I took up too much space? Will I be able to do enough for them to accept me? All my past issues and insecurities bubbled up and I made a choice. When Chel entered the room to check up on me, the dam burst.
“I cannot stay here. I cannot. I’ll just rent out an apartment there’s just too many of us here.” I babbled on, unwarranted fears coming out into the open. Chel listened quietly and when I was done unloading my senseless baggage, she spoke.
“Why don’t we stay and see what happens at least for a few days and if we don’t like it, then we’ll look for our own place.” Of course she made sense but I couldn’t agree. I just wanted to bail out, plain and simple.
I could not explain why I was so fearful of staying in a dorm/ clinic full of these beautiful souls. Looking back, perhaps I was afraid of exposing myself, of getting too close, of sharing my life story.
I told Chel I was going to look for my one place the very next day and that was final. Then, with nothing else to do and fearful of the thought of having to make small talk with the ladies outside, I closed my eyes and slept.
Almost instantly, I began to dream.
I dreamt of the clinic throbbing and filled with the most beautiful spirits inhabiting it. I dreamt that the clinic was alive with songs of angels where in every corner, beautiful music pulsated and echoed throughout the walls and beyond. In my dream, there were beings in bright, beautiful hues, they were people and yet they were not, joined in a circle of laughter, prayer and song. Plates piled high with fruits and food were passed around in abundance, like a fountain overflowing. Everywhere, children screamed with laughter as they ran and played in delight.
What I remember most about the dream was that feeling of utmost peace and calm that reigned above it all. Similar to the dream that I had in the hospital when I was in grueling pain from my fractured leg, there was no questioning this Presence so full of love that breathed life into the very depths of my soul. And He whispered, without having to, really, just like when I was in the hospital.
“Everything will be ok, my child. There is nothing to fear.”
And I woke up and found Chel sleeping beside me. When she woke up and just like that, I told here I was ready to stay.
* * *
I would spend the next few weeks in Kalinga teaching kids from a nearby tribe songs and art. I stayed in one of the poorer villages, where the earth was cracked and dry, and the children walked to school with soot on their faces and on bare feet. There were only two sources of water for the whole community and taking showers meant lining up and doing so with all the tribal women and all their children. I learned how to eat baby birds shot with a pellet gun boiled in water and not much else. Afternoons were spent drawing up visual aids for the new teacher-friends I made with an entire brood of children speaking in Butbut watching me as I did so.
Things would go very well until the day that I would make a sad mistake. I would learn for the first time how quickly things can turn upside down once you turn a deaf ear to His voice and put all your trust into your own. I veered away from the path He had been carefully paving for me to forge one of my own. The following days after making that decision would become some of the worst in my life.
1 Samuel 2: 9 “It is not by strength that one prevails.”