So, here I am again. And for those of you following, I'm well aware that I owe you Parts 3 and 4 of "All Zipped Up". But hang in there, because God sent me on an excursion in the middle of all the zippers and buttons, and the journey is oh so relevant.
First, I want to tell you about an incredible encounter with a precious elderly woman that knocked my sandals off.
Baulina is a 93-year-young Filipino woman. At the end of March, I traveled to the Philippines with Conduit Mission, my dear friend David Christopher, and a team of people new to my life but forever a part of it, Jillianne, Martin and Dana. I'll tell you more about the map and the mission later ... but first, Baulina.
The team had been invited to tour an incredible social enterprise, founded and operated by an even more incredible man. This beautiful little lady entered the scene unexpectedly. She's the mother-in-law of the incredible man. As she wobbled through the hallway and into the room where I was, she had women on either side of her to hold her steady. There was a chair beside me and I could tell that she was eyeing it, so I assisted swiftly in getting it positioned for her. That beautiful face of hers never stopped smiling.
Let me just go ahead and blurt the facts out so you can begin to grasp her beauty. She is a very well-educated Filipino woman. At her age, we might assume that she didn't go to univeristy. Wrong. Not only did she go to college in the Philippines, she also received grants and scholarships to go to 4 different USA universities for various programs, including UNC, Columbia, University of Hawaii and one other that I'm forgetting. She's been a rock-star for Jesus her whole life and has raised a stunning family. Her youngest son, Mark, is 51 and he has Down syndrome.
Seriously, I could really just stop right here. She is 93. He is 51. He wasn't raised in an institution or given up for adoption - Mark is a Filipino Momma's Boy. Be still my heart. (I didn't take a photo of him but we had a moment. Mark has severe facial markers and I would never want to expose him to a world of evil.) I had met Mark earlier in the day and did not realize that sweet Baulina is his mommy. So, for now, pretend you also don't know.
She sat beside me and inquired of my entire life's history. Everything about her was sharp. We talked and laughed and shared and we each eagerly pointed to Jesus and offered Him our praises. Toward the end of our conversation she began telling me about all of her children, and that she lost of one her daughters a few years ago. She asked to see photos of my family and I excitedly grabbed my phone. Once she saw Shawn's face, her eyes lit up and then they welled up with tears. That was when she began telling me about Mark. I was finally able to fit the pieces together and told her I had spent some time that day with Mark and his toy dinasours. As a very precious tear slipped down her cheek, she said "I'm so thankful God gave me a son that I could keep at home with me." (I know the feeling). Mark is the joy of her life.
As we began to say our good-byes.... Miss Baulina pulled a little notebook out of her purse and asked if I had a pen. I did. She wanted my contact information. She specified that she would like for me to write down my full name, phone number, mailing address and email. Internally I admit I was a bit confused and altogether unsure but I gave her my info anyway. When I finished writing - I asked if she planned to keep in touch.
This 93-year-old little lady in the Philippines responded with hope and conviction...
"You never know.... this could be the beginning of something good."
My jaw dropped.
Jesus, when I am 93 years old (God willing) I pray that I would approach every day like it could be the beginning of something good.
This encounter, her words, her smile and her energy to live have stayed with me each day since then. As I have tried to share this with a couple of friends, I honestly couldn't hold back the tears. What an impact. A little old lady taught me I'll never be old.
Neither will you.
Philippines -- Part 2 -- coming soon.