I woke up a few minutes before seven this morning. My True Love Waits gig was not until around 10:00 am, but I’d have to make my way across town. I got ready, hailed a taxi, and headed over to Saint Pedro Poveda College. There I met with a couple of the school’s counselors and talked with them before conducting the seminar.
I guess it was my first time to do TLW in an all girls’ Catholic school. I had a great time—really nice venue, and the students responded beautifully (about 125 of them attended). I gave some brotherly advice to those who approached me with questions.
The staff treated me to lunch around noon. Great food and hospitality!
Afterwards I proceeded to Robinson’s Galleria–Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (goes straight to the biceps, you know). I usually try to encode my email addresses at the mall. It is much easier to sort out the feedback forms in an air-conditioned environment (no fans blowing the forms around).
I sat down with my caffeine/sugar fix and began going through the feedback forms. That’s when the strange event of the day month year happened. A middle-aged American man managed to get my attention by standing in my peripheral vision.
“We’ve met before, haven’t we?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” I responded.
“Well, I guess all of us (Americans) kind of look alike,” he joked. I pretended to be amused.
Usually my “gaydar” starts screaming when a random man approaches me in the mall. But this was different—my “weirdo radar” was detecting a large white object at 3 o’clock.
They guy told me he came to the Philippines to get married, but his fiancé married someone else. He said he’d been here in the country for ten months trying to get things straightened out with the embassy (not sure what that meant).
I told him I’m a missionary. “Praise God,” he said, “I always carry my Bible with me.” He then proceeded to ask if I could give him a little money for “food and shelter.” “Ok,” I said, and gave him a small amount of money (maybe enough for food, but not enough for shelter). “Bless you, Kevin,” he said, “Jesus is so real.” He then left and went further inside the mall.
“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “how in the world did I manage to find an American beggar in the Philippines? Why did I give him money?”
Let me explain something to my readers. Sometimes I give coins to beggars here in Manila. But I’m about as street-wise as they come, and I would never give money to a random guy on the streets in the States. I might offer to buy lunch for him, but I don’t give cash—I know what cash is used for on the street (I used to counsel drug addicts).
This bizarre character and my response to him perplexed me. Had I been conned out of a few pesos, or had I just met one of the world’s unluckiest men?
The evening’s ministry would be much more somber in nature. One of my teammate’s nephews died a few days ago. He was only three years old. I decided to visit the funeral wake tonight.
I rode the monorail and called my friends for further directions. They sent a text message explaining which jeepney to ride and where to go down. I followed their directions and hopped on the next available jeepney. The young driver was blasting gangster rap, complete with booming sub-woofers. I knew I would need his help to find the right place, so I decided to get his attention.
“Kuya!” No response.
“Kuya!” No response.
“KUUUUYYYYAAAA!” He looked up and acknowledged me. I pointed to my ears, signaling him to turn the volume down. He got the hint.
“Kuya, sabihin mo sa akin pagpunta natin sa Onyx Corner (brother, tell me once we get to . . . ).”
“OK, no problem” he replied, and cranked the volume back up.
I eventually found my way to the funeral home. I met my teammate’s sister, the mother of the deceased child. We stood by the boy’s coffin while she told me about the medical problems that caused his death (a congenital heart defect which he had been hospitalized for several times).
I asked her if I could read some Scripture passages to her. She retrieved her Bible and we sat down on the front pew. I read from Matthew Chapter 18, reminding her of the special place in God’s heart for children. I pointed out verse 10, which indicates children have their own guardian angels.
We talked for several minutes. I did my best to give her some words of comfort and wisdom. But I spent most of my time listening—that’s what she needed.
We finished our talk with a word of prayer. I asked God to strengthen her and give her peace through this time of grief.
I visited with the family for a few more minutes before heading back home.
It’s been quite a day. I’m glad I don’t have anything scheduled for tomorrow morning.
The words of a heartbroken mother weigh heavily on my soul.
I’m crying now. A few more tears to and I’ll be ready to retire for the night.
Note: For all who read this, please say a little prayer for the mom.
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