After 7 months and various experiences in the Philippines, I can say I’ve really become more confident in my faith and how I see God in my daily life. I am surrounded by people who can see God in stunning sunsets, beautiful ocean waters and other things like that, but that’s not the primary way for me. Since being in the Philippines, I have had an opportunity to examine how I see God and gain more clarity of how God speaks to me. I’ve come to realize that God speaks to me through my interactions with other people.
There’s one experience from the beginning of my time here that I didn’t really see much value in until I later started examining how my faith experience is different from those who I interact with daily. I am here with two others from the USA, and we travelled together for a month in September. When we were in one of the mountainous regions, we had the opportunity to visit a village and sit down with some of the elders and talk. At some point during our conversation, they asked each of us how we knew we were coming to the Philippines. Naturally, the three of us thought, “well, we found out about the program applied, interviewed with the Philippines site, and chose to come here.” We thought that response answered their question, but then, they clarified that they were asking about some divine sign that God sent us, telling us to come to the Philippines. They pretty much implied that you had to have a divine sign or something in order to do something as big as going to the Philippines.
Honestly, I had no answer for them, at all. I love to travel and felt that my time in the Philippines was just another (extended) stop in my life’s journey. I didn’t have some profound dream or enlightening experience that told me I had to go to the Philippines. So far, that’s not how my relationship with God is, though I am open to any way God speaks. But, for the village we were visiting, that is exactly how God speaks to them; through dreams and signs, etc. Now that I think back on it, I believe that was God’s way of showing me that God doesn’t appear to everyone in the same capacity. I can’t base my own faith experience on others’ relationship with God. That revelation has strengthened my own faith and made me more confident of my own relationship with God.
I hope to continue this strengthening of my faith as I move forward into the rest of my time in the Philippines as well as when I return to the U.S. I’m going to rely heavily on that strength as I go through the ups and downs of medical school and life in general. I have a long road ahead of me, and I am so glad I took this YAV opportunity, because it has given me the chance to experience God’s grace and plans for my life.