Charm

What’s a day in the life of a missionary?

I was inspired by the story of Sis. Charmaine Lector- Villegas or simply Sis. Charm, a loving daughter of Ninong Manny & Ninang Villa Lector. She committed her life to the mission of bringing the gospel to every corners of the earth together with her husband Bro. Goi Villegas.

As a full-time missionary of Couples for Christ (CFC) Global – they are serving now in Nairobi, Kenya for the past five (5) years.

She was the only daughter.

She could have been a corporate honcho and a thriving successful businesswoman but she chose to serve God.

My wife (Jude) was a schoolmate of Sis. Charm in International Philippine School in Riyadh (IPSR).

She transformed from a nurtured OFW daughter into a missionary servant.

I was inspired how they implemented various CFC programs and how they touched lives in the African continent.

Charm

Sis. Charm & Bro. Goi Villegas in action. Ninong Manny & Ninang Villa Lector with the missionary couples (bottom right). Photo credits to the owner of the photos.

Serving a full-time mission is accepting a call to represent the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a joyful experience, but it is also hard work. To be a successful missionary, you must prepare spiritually, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and socially. Effective preparation in these ways allows you to serve “with all your heart, might, mind and strength”.

Are you called to do mission?

We are called to wholeheartedly respond to the mission works of the Catholic church.

According to Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu,the words of Saint John Paul II during his 1981 visit keep echoing in our ears and enflaming our hearts: “There is no doubt about it: the Philippines has a special missionary vocation to proclaim the Good News, to carry the light of Christ to the nations.” The pope was most emphatic, expressing his profound hope: “I wish to tell you of my special desire: that the Filipinos will become the foremost missionaries of the Church in Asia.” These are challenging words for us to take to heart!

We can be missionary by “sharing and communicating Jesus Christ to others.”

Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila shared that we can be good storytellers and we can be good missionaries who proclaim Jesus Christ if we ourselves have first-hand experience of his presence.

“Telling the Story of Jesus” as a way of doing mission.

Salvation history is “the story of God’s love affair with humanity” and all Christians can share in doing the Church’s mission by knowing Jesus’ story and sharing it through our lives.

Tagle said storytelling in order to fulfill the Church’s mission must be told by a credible witness who shows he “knows God” through his words and actions.

Citing Pope Paul VI, he said, “Our age listens more to witnesses than to teachers.”

The story one tells of Jesus’ love defines a person and builds community, Tagle added. “Our stories tell us who we are and what kind of community we are – what stories bind us together.”

There are many ways to tell a story. “Our very persons could be the story of Jesus. That’s how the saints told the story of Jesus.

Tagle said, “Many of us cannot remember Pope John Paul II’s many teachings, but only looking at pictures will remind us of his life and his person. Until his body became bent and when he was almost completely stooped he continued to serve. That’s the story of Jesus.”

If we do not do mission, we are not missionaries of Christ carrying out our pastoral work but we end up as social workers, organizers, event managers, CEO of the Church.

The Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) serves as the official and chief missionary arm of the Catholic Church of the Philippines. Since its inception in 1965, the MSP now has been working in five continents and twelve countries. In Asia, the MSP has missions in Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea. In Oceania, it serves in Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, and Tokelau. In Europe, it is present in the Netherlands. In North America, it is present in the United States of America, while in South America, it has a mission in Guyana.

Women and men who are twenty-five (25) years of age and above, and eager to become partners of the MSP mission may join the Fil-Mission Auxiliary Association (FMAA). The FMAA is a nationwide organization, which promotes missionary consciousness in their parishes and dioceses.

However, this organization slowly expands and reaches now to some countries where the MSP is present, like South Korea, and New Zealand. Hopefully, it will soon reach to the United States, England and others.

If you are in the Philippines, you may inquire at the MSP parishes in Mandaluyong City and Cebu City, MSP Mission House in Davao City or at the MSP Central Office in Makati.

If you are living abroad, you may also contact our MSP missionaries assigned near to your areas.

For inquiries, please contact:

MSP Central Office
3791 Cuenca St.
Palanan
1235 MAKATI CITY

PHONE: (632) 551-6983
FAX: local 117
EMAIL: secgen@msp.org.ph

Tria

“Tria, our little missionary, everything will be alright.”

This is our little missionary Tria, 8 year old daughter of our Couples for Christ missionaries Onnel Tolentino and Maia Salcedo Tolentino

Onnel and Maia are faithful and exuberant missionaries for CFC having been assigned to different areas while they were still single. Onnel was a missionary in Taytay, Manila and Mongolia while Maia was a missionary from Agusan, UAE (Middle East) and China.

When they got married they decided to pursue mission work and just when Tria was 10 months old, their family journeyed to Kenya in Africa. They stayed there from 2010-2013.

Tria is her young age adjusted to the missionary life of their family- she got used to many meetings, conferences, mission trips, talks, activities and events that her parents did for CFC. Her toddler years were not ordinary – days and nights were spent doing mission with her parents. They travelled a lot, talked to a lot of people, faced danger and many crisis in their missions.

Tria

She was a delight for all our brethren in Kenya, a darling to the priests and a stress reliever for the other missionaries there.

She grew up and fell in love with the mission as well. So much so that at her tender age she would sing and dance in front of people, behave when needed and serve as asked.

It was not an easy life for her and her family and yet they were joyful and peaceful.

From Kenya, her family’s next assignment was in Manila. Onnel and Maia continued their mission work here doing mission work for Ancop and CFC.

Tria became an Ate to Robi and started schooling in Manila.

She is now 8 years old.

Days ago she got fever then, suddenly she couldn’t walk nor talk properly. When rushed to the Medical City they put her immediately in the ICU and diagnosed her with GBS.

“Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. The first symptoms of this disorder include varying degrees of weakness or tingling sensations in the legs. In many instances the symmetrical weakness and abnormal sensations spread to the arms and upper body. These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralyzed. In these cases the disorder is life threatening – potentially interfering with breathing and, at times, with blood pressure or heart rate – and is considered a medical emergency. Such an individual is often put on a ventilator to assist with breathing and is watched closely for problems such as an abnormal heart beat, infections, blood clots, and high or low blood pressure. Most individuals, however, have good recovery from even the most severe cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, although some continue to have a certain degree of weakness.”

Everything went fast and hearthbreaking.
Tria wasn’t able to breathe on her own thus they intubated her and just today she contracted Pneumonia.

It’s a tough battle against GBS.
Medically it is very aggressive and rare that’s why her medication is much complicated.
The Medical fees are too high and for a missionary family impossible to raise.

We ask our friends and family to pray for Tria and share in any way in this challenging times. Tria is counting on our prayers and help. Let us help them raise funds so Tria can be healed, recover and serve with us again.

Our little missionary needs us, let us hold her hand and tell her, everything will be alright.

God is in control!
Amen

To help Tria, please click this link:

https://www.gofundme.com/z8zta5-help-save-tria

Niñaliz Donaire

Reposting from Sis. Grace Acla of SFC – UAE

FB_IMG_1520073809280

Wendy

I met Ate Wendy Samonte after the closing program of SFC International Conference 2018.

She wore a facemask and thanked a group of brothers and sisters in the parking lot.

Bro. Cris Serdenia, a fellow servant leader in SFC Middle East introduced her to me.

Ate Wendy

Dear Lord, I come before You today in need of Your healing hand. In You all things are possible. Hold my heart within Yours, and renew my mind, body and soul. I am lost, but I come to You with grace. You gave us life, and You also give us the gift of infinite joy. Give me the strength to move forward on the path you’ve laid out for me. Guide me towards better health and give me the wisdom to identify those you’ve placed around me to help me get better. Amen. (Together with Ate Wendy & Bro. Cris.)

Ate Wendy was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs), a rare type of cancer found in the digestive system, most often in the wall of the stomach.

She undergone surgery in 2016. She has no stomach anymore. Digesting food is a big challenge.

She shared her pains during chemo and CT scan sessions.

I felt her agony because I experienced the same.

Her optimism was a source of inspiration.

She went to the event as a victor and full of gratitude.

The SFC community was a source of hope.

Stories about Ate Wendy gave me a deeper understanding of God’s relentless love.

She was a living witness of God’s faithfulness.

Let us pray continuously for her complete healing.

Amidst her condition Ate Wendy remains steadfast in serving the Lord in whatever way possible, her gratitude prayer:

“Thank you God for being with me, inspiring me and using me to speak Your words to my brothers and sisters. Continue to use me Lord, allow me to see Jesus through the people around me and to experience Your great love.”

Directions

One of the big messages from the SFC 25th anniversary “Relentless” international conference was shared by Fr. Xavier Olin, SJ during his homily. “God is not only present in our joys but also in our pains and sorrows.”

I was reminded that the experience of being in the desert is necessary for our spiritual life for it is the place and the time to encounter Christ. Difficult and desolate it may seem, but it is the matter of restoration and discovering ourselves.

Through these desert moments, we will come to realize that we have a God who is relentlessly pursuing us and who is always finding ways to guide us and lead us.

My healing journey was one of my desert moments in life.

It was painful but God’s relentless love pulled me through every day.

Directions

“Be grateful for the past. Be joyful in the present. Be hopeful for the future.” Together with Bro Cris Serdenia, a fellow servant leader and Bro. Noli Manuel, SFC International Coordinator

Moreover, Bro. Noli Manuel, SFC International Coordinator bared the directions of the community for the next 25 years.

He said, “We’ve always been asking ourselves how much more can we give. I think we should now ask, how much we’re willing to lose.”

A more inclusive and a loving but not compromising community will be the main thrust in the future.

Aside from accompanying young and unmarried singles, SFC will also embrace and evangelize: young widow and widower, young single parents, young people with same sex attraction (SSA); and young divorce, annulled and separated singles.

The announcement came as a surprise to many but God is not asking us to be ready. He is expecting us to be obedient.

The journey will never be easy in the coming years but we are hopeful for the future that lies ahead of us because God’s love is relentless!

#GodisRELENTLESS
#SFCat25
#iamSFC
#SFCicon2018

Empowering

Powerful messages of hope, spirit-filled talks and empowering presence of servant leaders who chose to serve God with a grateful heart – made the “Relentless” 25th SFC International Conference (ICON) one of the most inspired Catholic events of young adults and professionals from all over the world.

My first ICON empowered me to live more with a rekindled heart for God.

My meaningful relationships through the years with my brothers and sisters in the community will be for a lifetime.

Special shout to Bro. Rommel Orpiada, a fellow Chapter Head and a Mission Volunteer for making my first ICON experience possible. Thank you so much for being God’s instrument of blessing.

I joined the International Mission delegates from the Middle East and also met SFC members fron Sabah, Malaysia and also provincial representatives from Leyte, Davao and Zamboanga Del Norte.

During the sessions, we prayed for each other and meditated on God’s word.

Empowering

Catholic beliefs and doctrines have their roots in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ who founded the Catholic Church nearly 2,000 years ago shared during our workshop about the foundation of our faith at National Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Makati City.

Empowering 2

In the name of Jesus Christ, I pray, Dear Lord, see me through these hard times. In these troubling times, I am filled with unspeakable fears. I reach out my hand to you now, And ask you to walk besides me. I cannot carry all my burdens, But I know you can, and will. Please walk beside me. Please guide me. Please help me hold on strong, Through the trials and storms. Help me hold on to my faith, In even the darkest hour. Stay with me Lord, And show me Your way. In your love and Holy Spirit I abide. Amen. A night of prayer and meditation during the conference.

#GodisRELENTLESS
#SFCat25
#iamSFC

SFC

I became a member of Singles for Christ (SFC) and finished the Christian Life Program (CLP) back in 2000.

Our service team were from SFC Makati and we had the 12-weeks program in Parish of the Holy Cross.

One of the notable speakers during our time was Ms. Janice Jurado, a sexy actress in the 80s who became a drug dependent.

She shared her story of conversion and how her loving relationship with God changed her for the better.

We were more than 100 young professionals when we started the CLP. But, every week the attendance dwindled down.

Many are called but few are chosen and only few responded positively.

There was no social media, no mobile phones and person to person invitation was the only way.

The Dedication Ceremony was unforgettable because our group presented a blacklight ‘The Mission’ song interpretation. It was so unique and a trailblazer for some talent showcase.

After CLP, I was integrated to the household group but I became busy with corporate world and flew to Riyadh, KSA for a greener pasture.

In 2007, I was reintegrated to SFC after doing again the CLP.

Same talk, different speakers and venue but same commitment- to bring more young adults closer to God.

Yes, we have an SFC community in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that respects the customs and traditions of our host country.

From being a member, to being a household head then unit head and a chapter head – service was never easy.

There a lot of difficulties – member’s commitment, limited logistics, co-servant leader’s attitude and so many more.

I was grateful for all the challenges.

I was humbled by the experience.

I learned to trust God more and love others more.

Because of SFC, I am who I am today.

More faithful, loving and committed.

Valentine’s Day 2018 was a fruitful one.

During the day, we served at the Ash Wednesday mass together with the PLM Campus Ministry team.

At night, I attended the 25th Anniversary Grand Reunion of SFC members all over the world.

This also includes those who joined SFC since 1993 and those couple coordinators who served the ministry.

It was a great time to reconnect and rekindle friendships made through the years.

We represented SFC – Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (SFC).

For the past 25 years, through SFC – we are personally and uniquely called by God.

If it is the work of the Lord, He will sustain. If it were simply by our own efforts, we could not have reached this far.

SFC at 25

“When God calls, He calls us as we are. We may feel insufficient, but His grace is made known in our weaknesses. He can make miracles with what we have and who we are.” To more years of serving and loving the Lord! Team KSA during the SFC 25th Grand Reunion.

Bro. Gelo Saludo from Canada led the closing worship and exhorted: “What makes Singles for Christ (SFC) unique is that we are not after what is easy. Because in SFC, we do not only worship. We also serve.”

Indeed, great is God’s faithfulness in the SFC community.

As we look forward to the next 25 years, let us remain steadfast in our mission.

Like what St. Therese of Avila said:

“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”