Author Archives: Missionartist

About Missionartist

I am a millenial who wants to save the world! I do this one blog post, one song, and one conversation at a time. I love music, the arts, the Philippines, and Asia.

Baba’s Death

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At the India-Bhutan border.

In the last several weeks, I have attended a funeral, preached in a local church, and done several interviews for my research. 

As I write this, I am in Dalsingpara, a rural part of India near the India-Bhutan border, and I am… idle. I am, to be very honest, a bit bored. I know, I know. Just a month ago I was gushing over how everything here was multi-sensory stimulation.

Due to our new circumstances, however, our plans have changed, and I have no choice but to stay put here, and generally reflect on how God allows things to happen for a purpose.

My host family and I had only stayed several days in Butwal, Nepal, on our way to Pokhara and Kathmandu, where I was scheduled to meet and interview several pastors and evangelists, when the news about kuya John’s father’s death reached us. That same afternoon, we packed, rented a vehicle, and set out for India.

It took us 12 hours to reach Dalsingpara, India, and preparations for the burial quickly occupied my host family. The custom here is to have the burial within a day or two of the person’s death, and have a 7-day wake.

I have heard so many things about kuya John’s Baba (father) – orphaned at an early age, getting into the military, being shunned and prevented from being promoted because of his struggles, leaving the military, and finally becoming a Christian and prolific evangelist and church planter (and being persecuted for it).

I even heard bits of his love story, and how he ended up with Ama (mother).

Now, more than a week after we buried him, the house is filled with Baba’s photos, blown up and framed for the funeral earlier. From what I was told, he was a strong, boisterous, effusive character who loved talking and telling stories.

Now, I see his photos everyday, and I wonder: Baba, sayang! Why didn’t I get to meet you?

And my deep consciousness, there is the quesiton: God, why did you take him now? Even selfishly: God, why couldn’t I have met him?

But such is life – the unexpected happens, and we do not really know, or have control over, the future.

This, I believe, is one of the important things God is teaching me at this period. Nothing is ultimately within my control, and the sooner I accept that, the sooner I calm down and lose my anxiety.

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Sarah in South Asia: The Beginning of my Saga

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I am living my dream.

To be specific, I am living my cross-cultural dream.

It was around mid-2015 when I started thinking of my future after IGSL, my seminary. I was slated to graduate next year, and I needed a plan. I’ve always known that I wanted to minister cross-culturally. But where? And how? I’d expected that two years in seminary would’ve helped me come to a decision, but obviously, I hadn’t had any clear leading.

A DREAM PLANTED

Then the idea of having a cross-cultural exposure trip dropped in my head. If I really wanted to minister in a different culture long term, shouldn’t I at least try it out short term?

And by short term I meant slightly longer than the usual two to three week mission trips I’ve been a part of in the past. I was thinking around 6 months. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense! The idea kept growing.

Incidentally, I was enrolled in the classes of two wonderful professors, Dr. Ron Barber and Dr. Paul Lee, both of whom are missionaries and missiologists. Kuya Ron and Kuya Paul, as we fondly call them, have been missionaries for 20+ years, in Africa and Japan, respectively.

Inspired by kuya Ron and kuya Paul, my idea grew into a small dream. As I interacted with them, I knew I found heroes I could look up to – people who have devoted their lives to missions, and to influencing the larger Christian community through their teaching and research / publications.

My dream was growing. I too, wanted to influence the larger Christian community in a similar way. But, I knew I needed experience and mentoring.

MY THREE-PART PRAYER

And so I started praying for an opportunity to do research, and be exposed to cross-cultural ministry, and be mentored by missionaries as well.

The answer to the first part of my prayer came in the form of being allowed to write a thesis, and going to South Asia for research. (IGSL students are not required to write a thesis; I will be the first student to be allowed to do so… hopefully, they don’t take back the decision.)

Around January 2016, I contacted a couple with a ministry in South Asia, who are both IGSL alumni. I met them a few months earlier, when I had to write a story about them for a book IGSL was producing. It was a crazy idea, but I just suddenly asked if there was a possibility of joining them in India or Nepal or wherever they were, just for a few months, and let them “adopt” me, so to speak. And so the second and third part of my prayer was answered.

Thus, my South Asian adventures have begun.

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The Chundrima Bridge in Dhaka, Bangladesh

 

 

 

Dear Warrior, let’s journey together

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To my Warrior,

We have found each other.

The mere thought still fills me with a sense of unbelievable wonder and delight.

And you, my dear warrior — you are a sky full of stars, an ocean of deep wonders, a mountain of marvels.

You are a lover and slave of the High King of heavens and earth, a servant of people, a friend to many.

You are an encourager, supporter, and pursuer of my heart.

The road is still long.

There will still be storms to brave, and depths to journey, perhaps through dark tunnels, and even through barren heights when the sun will be high and unforgiving.

But we are together now.

Somehow, that brings me comfort and strength in this new journey.

With the King’s blessing on us, and with family and community cheering us on, I still promise to fight for you, and with you.

Fighting with you,

Your Warrior Princess

KILIGology: Thinking Straight While Kinikilig

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“He seems like a really nice guy.”

It was a Saturday night, and my friends and I had just met with My Special Friend, a guy I’d been getting to know in the last few months. Things were getting serious, and my friends had risen to the occasion to meet him and get to know him, a.k.a. grill him in a nice way, a.k.a. ask him some hard questions.

I was happy with how the night turned out. My friends delivered and really did ask him some serious, hard questions, and in my opinion, Guy delivered as well – he seemed really honest. Guy also said some really kilig-inducing stuff, stuff that made me feel na napakahaba ng hair ko. My kilig levels were off the charts.

Then Guy left, and my friends and I jumped into “deliberation” (like a panel, lol). As my friends and I continued talking, however, I felt the kilig slowly wearing off. While my friends were really, genuinely happy for me, they also raised some significant, legitimate questions about the Guy.

I’ve been thinking really hard about this, because as my closest friends know, in the past, whenever I felt kilig, all reason and logic fled me. This has then resulted to embarrassingly bad decisions, which then led to painful, painful heartbreaks.

But did it really have to? Did my kilig and my ability to be objective have to be mutually exclusive? In other words, hindi ba talaga pwedeng Utak AT Puso?

My musings, compounded with past conversations I’ve had with my Counselor, have led me to some things.

I MUST ACKNOWLEDGE MY kilig.

There is no point in denying this, or playing it down. It is a lesson I learned the hard way: honesty, especially to myself, is important.

I MUST IDENTIFY THE ROOT OF MY kilig.

This is the lengthy part. Bear with me as I explain this.

Identifying what made me feel kilig is important, so that I could identify which of my core emotional needs is/are being met.

When I think about it, the reason for my kilig was actually a sum total of Guy’s efforts and attitude towards me (his consistent respectful communication, his gifts, time spent with me, etc.).

But also, there were certain specific moments na kinilig ako. Like that night with me and my friends, when he said that “Sarah is worth the effort.”

On a scale of 1-10, my kilig level shot up to 15.

Now, back to emotional needs. We all have emotional needs, and when these needs are met, we feel “positive” emotions – contentment, happiness, kilig, etc. (While these needs are valid and legitimate, sometimes we don’t meet these needs in healthy, or legitimate ways. But that’s another blog post for another time.)

Two of my high emotional needs are (1) for me to feel that I am worthy… of friendship, of achievements, and of pursuit, and (2) to be thought worthy of someone I admired and respected. So when Guy, who I admired and respected, said that he thought I was worthy, I was on cloud nine.

It was important for me to identify this, because I am reminded that these needs could actually be met through other legitimate ways. This is why even without My Special Friend, or any guy for that matter, pursuing me, I can still be contented and fulfilled. Already, this thought lifts off whatever pressure I might feel to be in a relationship.

A more important reminder and realization, however, is that ultimately, my emotional needs will never be completely, fully met by My Special Friend, no matter how awesome he is. And I shouldn’t expect him to; it is an unfair expectation to put on him.

This is strongly tied to my faith — my needs are already met ultimately by God.

As I realized and was reminded of these, I felt myself getting calm and assured. And wonder of wonders — I found myself able to think clearly, while still feeling kilig! With the pressure lifted off, I was able to feel kilig and just enjoy it, and just be thankful for My Special Friend.

Of course, all this takes work and time, and you will feel emotionally exhausted in the end, especially if you are not used to thinking of these things.

But that’s why the next point is important.

I MUST INCLUDE OTHERS IN THIS JOURNEY.

Other people can help me think objectively, and remind me to be honest to myself. This is another very important lesson I learned in the most painful way. And it’s not just them grounding me in reality; it’s also having people to rejoice with, and yes, to feel kilig with.

For me, this includes a small group of close friends, my parents, and some older, wiser people I trust.

So can someone feel kilig and still be objective and think straight? I think yes! But it will take honesty to yourself and others, courage to face your own thoughts and emotions, and humility to let others journey with you.

Go ahead  — feel the kilig! And think objectively. Utak at Puso.

I can’t write.

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I’m in a slump.

I’m in a writing slump.

I’m in a creative writing slump.

I’m not particularly sure why, although I have my suspicions.

See, even writing that last sentence was difficult.

I used to write like crazy. I have always loved words, and they naturally flowed from my lips, my pen, or my fingers. When something momentous happened, my go-to would be my journal. Or my blog site.

What happened to me?

Like I said, I have my suspicions.

There are things going through my head right now. So many things to be done, and so many distractions. Often, these things weigh so heavily on my mind and heart, and the temptation to just ignore them and turn away and do something mindless is great. Often, I have succumbed to that temptation.

Or is it the fact that two years in seminary, writing all those gazillion papers, tired me out?

Possible. But I do have a bigger suspicion.

Two years ago, I met with a professional counselor. I’d been going through some really heavy stuff, I was one messed up girl, and I knew I needed help.

My sessions ran through half the year of 2015, and ended around the first quarter of 2016. The sessions helped immensely, and really allowed me to take a deeper, honest look at myself, and have a deeper appreciation of how God created me.

One thing my counselor and I worked on was acknowledging, and expressing, my emotions. She taught me some exercises and practices that allowed me to do so. I quickly realized that while these exercises and practices were very helpful, they were also very exhausting. Thinking, and processing my emotions, exhausted me, and sapped me of the energy to write.

But I finally realized recently that not writing was wounding my heart more. I was going against something I was meant to be doing.

I want out of this slump.

This blog post is one of my efforts in trying. Sigh.

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Dear Future Warrior

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To My Future Warrior,

I am waiting for you.

I know you’ve already been through countless battles, that you’ve braved countless storms, and journeyed through what may have seemed as endless days of scorching heat and wintry nights.

I weep for your wounds, and grieve for what you’ve lost. If I could heal them all, I would!

Still, I believe that journey was necessary. Your wounds and the things you’ve lost — they were necessary to build you, mold you, and help you empathize… with me.

Because, my dear Warrior, when you find me, I will not be the hapless, helpless Princess of old. When you find me, I would have come from my own battles…

I too, have braved storms, and have journeyed to the depths, through dark tunnels, and through barren heights when the sun was high and unforgiving. I too, have looked at the stars and wondered: Is this all there is?

I too, have been wounded, and have lost.

I, too, am a Warrior.

So fight valiantly, my dear Warrior. Be strong, and do not lose courage, as I do the same.

When we find each other, I promise, with all the strength and courage and hope I could muster, that I will take your hand and make a home with you wherever we journey, to the ends of the earth.

I promise to fight for you, and with you.

Fighting and Waiting,

Your Future Warrior Princess

My Heart, Redeemed

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A couple of years ago, I made a declaration: I’m okay being single forever. I still believe that, by the way. I still believe that I have an ultimate, greater purpose than simply getting married.

One broken heart and a few jilted suitors later, I’ve come to learn several things. And since Valentine’s Day is approaching, I’ve decided to reflect on some of the lessons I’ve been taught.

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I can be Secure in my Singleness and Still long for Marriage

When I decided that I’m okay being single forever, the most common response I got from people in my community was, “So you don’t want to get married anymore?”

The question baffled me, because nowhere had I written, nor had I ever said, that I don’t want to get married anymore. What just happened was: whereas in the past I viewed singleness as a completely undesirable option, and that a life of perpetual singleness was an unbearable fate, I now realize that being single forever could be meaningful and joyful and completely wonderful!

It was the most liberating realization – it lifted a great deal of pressure and reoriented my thinking of the future. I celebrated it as a step of growth towards being more secure in my identity and God’s ultimate purpose for me.

But it got me thinking: Do people in my community really think that being okay with singleness means rejecting marriage? Because I’m not. In fact, I do long for it. I do think about, dream about it, wish for it. I am, however, secure in my singleness too, much more than in the past. Security and longing are not mutually exclusive concepts.

My Response to Men Partly Reflects what I Believe About My Own Identity

In the great, emotional turmoil that accompanied and followed my heartbreak, in one of my lowest points, I wallowed in great self-pity and insecurity. I’ll spare you the sordid details, but suffice it to say that he hurt me deeply. I hurt him deeply too, that much I know (and acknowledge) now.

Now, in the present, with my heart more healed, my head more level, and my eyes finally dry, I see now that the way I related and responded to him (and to other men in the past) came out of certain deeply-rooted beliefs about myself. I believed I could never measure up. I believed I was not enough. I believed I was not worthy to be pursued.

Lies, all lies. But I believed them, and I brought them into my relationship with him.

My Community Must be Part of My Love-life Journey

I know it now: one of the reasons why my relationship with him was toxic was because I hadn’t really been completely honest with my accountability group and certain trusted people from my community.

Proud person that I was, I believed the lie that I didn’t have to be transparent with them. It was one of the first things I repented of, and which I vowed never to repeat again. I failed to realize that these people have been put in my life to journey with me.

In the last several years, I desperately prayed for God to give me the grace to learn whatever He was teaching me. I didn’t want to waste all this pain and not gain anything from it. I wanted my heart redeemed. 

God has indeed been faithful in showing me kindness, and showing me things I had never seen before. He used my heartbreak, and other succeeding events, to show how proud, insecure and manipulative my own heart is. Truly, the heart is deceitful above all things.

And He used men to redeem my view of men! (I won’t lie – there was a period when I truly hated disliked men.) Truly, God is close to the broken-hearted, and He has been such a good Father to me.

As I grow and reflect in my identity in God, my prayer and desire is to image God in the way I relate to men and women around me.

What have YOU learned in your relationships?