by Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon
When our children were young, we taught them how to recognize their hands. The famous song “I have two hands, the left and the right…” was sung again and again during the preschool years of our children.
Then they learned how to use them as they watch us use our own hands. They learned to grip, they learned to touch, to hold, to gesture. We instructed them to use their hands in loving and useful ways as opposed to hurtful ways. I used to echo this line to my kids, complete with gentle touches: “Hands are not for hurting. Hands are for helping and loving.”
They developed fine motor skills as they began to feed themselves, brush their teeth, write, and handle scissors and toys such as clay and blocks. I can’t help thinking that even these basic skills prepared our son for a mission he participated in last week.
My dentist-husband, youngest son, and I had the opportunity to join an Operation Blessing medical mission in the remote barangay of Sicmil. It was a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Virac Airport. How two-and-a-half-hour drives in the city pale in comparison to those in the country, most especially in scenic Catanduanes! You don’t only cover greater distances; you are also treated to a visual spa. From virgin forests to open and isolated white sand beaches—what a welcome change to city dwellers like us!
As we drove on, the vast countryside seemed to swallow the only vehicle on the road—ours. Network signals were no longer available. It was not a surprise to me that we were being escorted “to the ends of the earth” because this is typical of Operation Blessing—identifying and giving aid to the unreached. True enough, the team visited barangays that have never benefited from medical missions.
Personally, I used to hesitate to join medical missions especially in far-flung areas. A comfort creature like me shied away from inconveniences and the unfamiliar. So what has made me braver that I even choose to expose my children to missions? I can think of three things:
First, I remember how the Lord Jesus ministered with no permanent home, and how as God, Most High, He chose to be robbed of His divinity to become man. Who am I to serve Him in my terms?
Second, I am inspired by the love of Operation Blessing and the volunteers and their willingness to address physical and spiritual needs of others in His terms, many times sacrificing their own comfort. It is also an opportunity for me to serve together with my husband.
Finally, I recognize how comfort can shield me from the poorest of the poor. Out of sight, out of mind. How I end up focusing on the goal of self-preservation rather than love for others. Outreach and medical missions expose me to the needs of others, teach me to be grateful, challenge me to be braver, and gives Christ in me the opportunity to show compassion Still so much to learn in this area, and as we serve together as a family, I hope to awaken in our children Christ’s compassion for others as well.
Our eight-year-old expected to do the same task his older sister did during a previous mission: the simple task of preparing Operation Blessing bags to hold prescription medicines. For the life of me, I could not understand why, no matter how I rubbed the plastic, I could not get it to separate and open. It was as if the task was reserved for our son who effortlessly prepared hundreds of them. He even helped divide bottled paracetamol tablets in packs of five for more efficient distribution. Five—such a manageable number for a child his age.
Aside from serving as errand boy, giving older volunteers a reason to smile or have a playful break, the highlight of his mission was assembling a wheelchair! Quite age-inappropriate, if you ask me, but he took the challenge. It seems that the hours he has spent building Lego models culminated in this one-of-a-kind task of putting together a wheelchair.
As I watched him assist and personally install the parts, I was so grateful for an opportunity that no ordinary classroom could give him. What a sense of accomplishment he had, as he offered to push a volunteer to test the wheelchair. Later in the day, he made it a point to mention how the chair was used to assist grateful geriatric patients!
It was heartwarming to watch our little volunteer willingly help out. The experience of being able to use his hands to do new tasks that will benefit others is priceless. I do hope that now he knows he can do more with his hands than just hold them up high, clap them softly, and clean them.
As we went to rest that night, I was touched when he took his journal and put under highlights of his visit—wheelchair-making. Do you suppose our Father in Heaven delights as we willingly use our hands to lift others up?
See how Operation Blessing blessed hundreds of lives in the island of Catanduanes on The 700 Club Asia's upcoming live TV special: Tulong Mo, Pag-asa Ko, airing on May 7 to 11, 11 p.m. on GMA News TV!
Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon, co-host of The 700 Club Asia, is a homeschooling mom, gospel songwriter, and seminar speaker on parenting and early childcare. She is involved in the ministry of teaching at her local church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship. She welcomes your messages and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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