And so I met with the Baguio Single Ladies Bible Study Group every Wednesday at 6:30pm. We had a particular fondness for this bar slash cafe in Session Road that served the yummiest cakes. We were a group that loved to eat, that’s for sure. We shared, we listened, we read the Bible and we prayed. In between, we sampled the best that Baguio had to offer. My old self would have died laughing.
But I can’t lie, I looked forward to these simple Wednesday gatherings with the ladies. Perhaps I was just lonely and a group of gentle souls was just what I needed the most. Whatever the reason, they were put in my path and I welcomed them with open arms. With their company, I felt safe and sort of warm and fuzzy inside. No question about it, this Bible study group was the best thing to have happened to me in Baguio city.
I remember finally agreeing to attend a service with R, after much resistance. I still had reservations about surrendering myself completely, I had so much defenses and walls up. But I’ve already been to a few with Chel, one more shouldn’t hurt. Besides, it wasn’t as if my social calendar was crammed full with other things to do. That Sunday, as the people around me raised their voices to sing praises to the Lord, I broke down crying. I felt like a child and my dependence on God was too much to bear. All around me adults were singing with heads tilted up to the heavens, hands raised in reverence and I could not help thinking how much we all looked like children, singing to our Father, offering our hopes, our pains and our voices up to Him.
No amount of moshing, dancing or singing along to any band or musician had ever made me feel the way I did back in that room. I have attended countless of gigs with tens and thousands of people singing, arms raised, chanting and jumping, the whole works. Yes, the energies of those concerts are amazing but they are nothing compared to the simple act of singing to the Lord. They do not even come close.
It was spirit touching spirit, a transcendence from the material world to the spiritual. You could feel His presence in the room and it was REAL.
For reasons I cannot fully explain, that moment of singing like children do, choked me up so much that I had to bow my head and cover my eyes to keep anyone from seeing me cry my heart out.
Without meaning to, and just like that, my walls and defenses came crashing down.
That would turn out to be my last service in Baguio City for a few days later, I would go back home to Manila. It was February and Panagbenga was just around the corner when I bid my Bible study group girls goodbye. R gathered the ladies and we met for one last time at a street fair where we spent the afternoon sampling shawarma, ice cream, sago and various other food items. I felt rather sad at having to say goodbye to the ladies that helped me get back on my feet those dark days in the mountains. It is by no stretch to say that I wouldn’t know where I would have ended up without them.
I guess I couldn’t get past the fact that I was a complete stranger and yet, they opened their hearts and their selves to me, no questions asked.
It was a concept I was not familiar with yet, a selflessness that was lived out completely and utterly by Someone whom I was yet to meet.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’