Since my dad died in June, I inherited from him a group of women that he used to teach every month. I promised my dad that I will be faithful in teaching them just as he was. But last month, my health situation has kept me from going up the mountains and keeping that promise and so I asked my brother to step in for me, and he did, just like all the times in the past when I asked him to do something for me. Thank God for Big Brothers.
These groups of women from six different villages learned that the reason why I could not go up the village to teach them was because I am preggers, so they decided that for this month, they'll come down to where I'm at and hold the meeting there. I received a message from my sister telling me that a maximum of 20 women will be coming and that I should prepare lunch for all of them. So I did. Well, not me, as I can't stand the smell of anything that's coming from the stove even a pot of rice that is boiling. I asked a cousin of mine (whose way of cooking pansit I enjoy so much), to cook for 25 people.
At 6:30AM, I was still lingering in bed trying to psych myself up for the day, when I heard lots of women's noise outside the house. For a moment, I was gripped by panic when I saw the number of women outside my mom's apartment eating breakfast and chatting happily.
There were 52 of them, and I got scared not only because the adobo and pansit that we cooked was only good for 25 mouths, but also because the message I was about to give was hastily prepared because there was just no time and I simply don't have the energy to study real good. I began to look for a way out. Maybe I could tell them I wasn't really up to it due to my ever present morning sickness, lack of energy, and breathlessness. Maybe my mom or brother or my husband could handle the teaching part, then I only have to figure out the food part. But my grandfather's brother died the day before so my mom and brother were going to Nansiakan village for the funeral. Some of the women can't understand Tagalog so for Bong to teach is out of the equation. I was left with no choice but to go out there and keep my promise to my dad.
I adapted an eisegetical approach to the Wise Men story in Matthew 2:1-12 which I first heard being preached in the Daystar Channel. The Magi followed a star that they thought would lead them to a palace where they would gaze at the newborn king who would be wrapped in beautifully embroidered linens in a beautiful crib surrounded with all the toys money can buy. Instead, it lead them to a stable. But still, the wise men went inside the stable, saw the baby, brought out their precious gifts, and then went the other way after encoutering an angel of God.
Sometimes, our "star" can also lead us into a stable, but even then, we should be like the wise men; we should not forget that Jesus is in the 'stable.' If our life situation, friendhips, relationships, marriage, ministry, or work is in a 'stable' situation, we should remember that God's grace and love is there. Secondly, we should not withhold our "best gifts" just because we found ourselves in a stable. Let us not withhold the best of our love, the best of our forgiveness, and the best of our friendship, even if we were deeply hurt or offended. Let's give our "gold, and the sweet-smelling frankincense and myrrh" even if we're in the foul-smelling stable of life. Lastly, let us change direction and go another way if our encounter with the Lord tells us to abandon the way we have been following.
Praise you Lord Jesus for the lessons we could learn from your birth in the stable and the life of the people who visited you there.
As for the adobo and the pansit, I do not know what happened. Maybe the Lord multiplied the strands of pansit and the slices of adobo as we laddled them out into plates, or maybe he shrunk the stomach of the 52 women that they only ate little. :-) But there were bowlful of leftovers, and take note, both dishes tasted delicious, even for a constantly-nauseous, morning-sickness-plagued eater like me.
I am just thankful to the Lord for taking the little I have and turning it into much to bless these women. I thank Him for giving me the joy He promised, and for a Christmas Day that is well-spent, a day full of spiritual blessings as I listen to women thanking and praising Him for all the great things He's been doing in their lives and the lives of their families. One lady who used to be angry at God for allowing things to happen that resulted in her son being sent to the national prison (New Bilibid Prison, in Muntinlupa) declared her gratitude and praise to God because her son came to put his faith in Christ while in prison, and he was just recently paroled because of good behaviour. There are so many other stories of God's goodness.
And the best gift God gave me this Christmas is the gift of life that is growing inside of me. I feel that my baby is going to be a girl and I will call her Summer Dawn but the first name shall be spelled Xamyrrh.
Indeed, Lord Jesus, there is none like you...