I remember coming in a full thirty minutes ahead of time, nervous as a chicken about to get her head chopped off. I must have checked my reflection at the juice bar’s mirrored wall about two hundred times; I didn’t know how my first BS would pan out. I had never imagined myself attending anything like this, and if had, I’m sure it would have been back in Manila, and with people that I at least knew the names of.
But there I was, completely on my own, about to discuss the word of God with a bunch of complete strangers in a cold and distant city. Had I gone completely nuts? Maybe so, but I did not have the time to ponder on that. R, who was to lead the Bible study had arrived and joined G who had been sitting in the next table. I made nervous eye contact and joined them at R’s beckon and smile. A little later, more members of the group arrived, M, T, C, D, and a sweet lady who was leaving for Singapore the next day…her name escapes me now and our little group was complete.
I wish I could say that I felt completely at ease during that first meeting. The topic was about love, and as you can expect with a group of single ladies, the discussion was abundantly punctuated with shrieks of laughter. The ladies were genuine, funny and down to earth but I remember feeling edgy all throughout. When D said that she thought I looked familiar and had I been on TV, I thought, well here we go. No use pretending that nothing was wrong or say that “Oh well, you know, I’m just getting some fresh air up here in the mountains.” There was an elephant in the room, and it was beginning to get a cramp.
Very slowly, I told them in bits and pieces why I was in Baguio and more importantly, why I was in a Bible study. I felt mortified about having to reveal myself like this to anyone, much more to ladies that I’ve only met for about an hour. Those days, I had been so wary and unsure of myself that I had even deleted my Facebook account. I just didn’t feel safe anymore. So I told them what I could, the best I could and hoped that they didn’t find me weird.
But you know, it felt good to be asked and as I was to find out later on as my meetings with the Baguio ladies increased, it also felt good to share.
Obviously, I was only beginning to find out myself what I was doing in Baguio City. It was clear what I was running away from. What I was searching for was another story. But as the night wore on and as I started to relax and bask in the warmth of those loving and comforting souls, the answer slowly dawned on me.
I had wandered too far off the path and like many others, was simply trying to find my way back.
It’s funny how in a land far from my own and in the company of people I have only really just met, I felt that I was, for the first time in years….back home.
“For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”