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“May it be done unto me according to your word.” Those were my words when I committed to join World Youth Day Panama. I did not understand why I needed to participate, but I’m quite sure that this was His will.

These are three of my main takeaways from my recent pilgrimage:

First, I was really excited to start the next chapter of my life through a pilgrimage with my beloved friends. They say that you will know someone on a different level when you go on a trip. It was really true for me in a profound way through their inspiring witness during my personal encounter with them.

Second, we were truly blessed with our experience in our respective host families during the Days in the Diocese. It was unconditional in an unbelievable way given that we were practically strangers. They were genuine love personified!

And third, “Realize that you have a mission and fall in love; that will decide everything. Love is what will break open your hearts and fill you with wonder, joy and gratitude,” Pope Francis. This is a very important reminder for the youth to discern as to where we are being called. Where is our heart’s treasure? After discovering it, everything else will fall into place.

Louie, first on the left
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The JMJ pilgrimage in Panama was totally unexpected. Praise God for this overwhelming opportunity. Since I did not have any expectations, I just really prayed to be more open to Papa God and allow Him to surprise me. Indeed, He is a God of surprises.

It was such a beautiful and “challenging” experience to be with my Corazon Puro family. Majority of us are Spanish-speaking! It was humbling to ask for help for translation and sometimes to feel “out of place.” But because of this, I got to see the different facets of love. I was moved by their contagious joy, their warm smiles, their sweet gestures, their tight hugs, their remarkable examples, their total self-giving! Truly a taste of heaven on earth! Going to missions will never be the same again knowing that I have a big family all over the world who also has this deep desire to share His love and His beautiful plan for His beloved children.

Another glorious moment for me was when we visited a hospice. It is called a home of hope. One amazing guy who lives there led us to prayer. I did not understand his words, but I felt the sincerity, the genuineness of his cry to God. It was touching to see someone, who seems to have a hopeless case, continue to cling on to God and hope in Him.

I realized that saying yes to God is like going to a foreign place. Sometimes, I don’t speak the local language. Sometimes, I don’t understand anything at all. I have to be poor and little to accept this. And it hurts. But being a little one helps me to be more open to Him, to receive His grace, His love, and to trust and hope in Him more fervently. It also helps me to be truly grateful even in the smallest acts of love. With this “littleness,” I can really cling on to Mama Mary and say the Fiat with her even if everything is unclear at the moment.

God has given me this assurance, again and again, that He’s always there, offering Himself to me. It might not be the kind of help that I want, but He knows much better what can truly fulfill my heart.

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Relationship with Mary

As I was growing up, my relationship with Mary is close to nonexistent. Every October, my mom would gather us every night to pray the rosary together, and I hated it. For a couple of years now since going back to my faith, I have observed in awe with others’ relationship with Mary. And Jesus and Mary have surprised me in this pilgrimage. The catechesis sessions we attended in Costa Rica and Panama opened my heart to understand deeper Mary’s Fiat, Mary’s yes. My desire to go to mass just went deeper to a whole new level because of her. I learned that when we go to mass, we don’t only remember and celebrate Jesus’s body and blood but also his mother’s. Jesus’s body and blood came from Mary, and when I heard that, I just went crazy and fell in love with Mary. The desire to get to know her and follow her footsteps in faithfully following Jesus despite all the suffering just grew by leaps and bounds. I thank the Lord for Mary, as my reminder in my own daily fiat for him.

Leadership Anxieties

On November 2018, I have taken on the role as head server in Pure Heart Philippines. There are moments in my leadership journey where anxieties come up and doubts just crush me. I have dedicated the pilgrimage to ask God everything about this new role, talking to him and praying to him. I always asked God how I could serve my fellow servers, how I could lead in sending His love and mercy to others. Most of the time, He’s silent, and there were times when my overthinking self went crazy with it! But then, He always answered—“Lead by following me, just like Mary.” The answer came with a bang to me even if His answer may seem too obvious for others. The answer came when I threw away my ego, really surrendered everything, and was more intent in talking to God than demanding answers. “Listen to me, just follow me.”

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The Corazon Puro (CP) International Meeting is a world gathering of its members who cultivate the Corazon Puro charism, and it was held this year in Costa Rica, leading up to the World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama. The young participants strived to make a pilgrimage, starting from ourselves toward the encounter of the other. High energy praise and worship sessions along with morning prayer, mass, talks, sharing, and cultural shows were some of the activities, but it was mostly a chance to get to know other CP members from across the world. There are times that we (Filipinos) were just in a moment of silence because we didn’t speak and understand Spanish. We said absolutely nothing to one another, but it was one of the more prayerful moments in my life.

It was a humbling experience to learn, witness, and be part of this great family, the Corazon Puro family. It allowed me to question my dedication to those in need in my neck of the woods. I hoped to re-ignite some passions as I carried them in my prayers as we entered the Days in the Diocese in Cartago, Costa Rica.

The warmth of the Costa Ricans helped me love the experience, every minute of it. My foster family never failed to show their hospitality, care, and generosity. I feel like they were sending a seven-year-old child to a school every time they send me to the catechetical area. I brought so much food and had foster brothers who were coming with me to make sure that I was unharmed and parents who secured my comfort during bedtime. These were just a few things to thank for.

Then came the Word Youth Day in Panama. It was an absolutely nonstop flow of the variety of the universal Church marching along in a train of thousands of people peacefully walking, singing, dancing, and praying. I saw pilgrims from  the United States, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Argentina, Poland, the Philippines. I truly enjoyed the papal welcome, and the energy in the park was electric. The evening’s rosary was also quite prayerful and included exposition of the Eucharist. It was a wonderful time to celebrate faith.

We listened to Pope Francis all week at World Youth Day. The Stations of the Cross, the evening vigil, and the papal mass—all focused on Mary’s yes to God’s plan, and also the Pope’s concluding message to the pilgrims from all over the world can be summarized in one word: now.

Whether undertaken alone as a pilgrim or with a group (Corazon Puro), this pilgrimage has taught me to be open to hear God’s call, to experience God’s ways of finding me even in difficult situations, to equip myself with knowledge, which meant knowing my own weak spots and “unfree” areas, to keep on track by following the signs that can be found in prayers. And if I’ll get lost, I’ll beg for the grace of humility to a known, sure spot, leaving my pride behind.

These are peak experiences. With Mary our Mother, my prayer for each one of us is that we might hold to the wisdom that God has incited in our hearts in order to return to our respective homes with greater love to embrace God’s plan. This pilgrimage has Christ as my guide, the humanity as the recipient of love to the world as a place to follow up, a place worthy of being loved. Amen.

Ron, second from the left
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My first World Youth Day journey officially started when our Pure Heart Spiritual director gave us a sendoff blessing, saying the words, “Lord, these are Your people who longs to see Your face,” for I opened myself to the idea of encountering God and see Him in everyone I meet.

Indeed, God is so much present in the World Youth Day. I felt so loved by everyone I met, starting with my Corazon Puro family of which most of them I just encountered for the first time. They made me dream of traveling outside my country again soon to spend more time with them.

In Costa Rica, the people there were awesome! I almost couldn’t believe that there could be other countries that will exceed the Filipinos’ hospitality. The Costa Rican families I met were so warm, and everyone just really wanted to take some time to talk to me about everything we can talk about. Some of them even started our conversation by letting me know that from then on, I am part of their family and that their home is also my home and that I am always welcome to stay there when I get back to Costa Rica.

The Days in the Diocese was really an eye opener for me and a loud reminder that as Christians, we are one family centered in the love of God. The Holy Spirit really worked wonders in each one of us.

In Panama, I had a different foster family who didn’t speak English much, and I really felt bad that I didn’t know how to speak Spanish, but they showed love in caring for us. But luckily, I had a housemate who spoke Spanish, whom our foster parents had a great time conversing with every time we are in the house.

For me, this WYD experience can be summed up by the word family. And that as human beings, regardless of occupation, nationality, status, and any other category that separates us from each other, we are each other’s brothers and sisters united in the love of God. We are our brother’s keeper who should always take the responsibility of leading back our brothers to the Truth who is Jesus himself. And this concept of inclusive family, I’d say, is what makes us more human that is united with our creator.

In honor of all volunteers who made sure that pilgrims will feel loved by the people of Cartago
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Unsure was the best word to describe my decision to attend the Corazon Puro Missionary Formation Program 2018 in New York City. There was enough time to decide, but I made up my mind almost last minute. I had reasons for hesitating, but the most obvious reason was a prior commitment for where the money I was trying to save should go. I wanted to take a break from work for half a year this year for further discernment.  This was supposed to be what I tried to save money for. And it still is.

And as I was discerning to go to the MFP 2018, a community friend challenged my ability to trust in the Lord. This led me to ask whether trying to be self-sufficient by saving for my future needs was just a way to guard my pride and believe in my ability to provide for myself. Was I really just saving myself from humiliation of asking people to help me and getting rejected in the process? Not that I’m saying it’s okay not to save—it is mandatory to save—but my situation was perhaps a question of pride.

So I decided to go for it and took the chunk off my savings (in fact, almost the whole of my savings) for the MFP 2018 trip. And I never regretted a single moment of my decision. God gave me an experience of a lifetime!

This trip felt like an introduction to a real missionary community life. Aside from the intellectual and spiritual formation and being always on our feet with our luggage behind us, I was urged to go out of my comfort zone. Last year was quite comfortable because it was so easy to hide behind our big Filipino group—and maybe I chose to interact less with other people. This year though, I felt the need to overcome my awkwardness in meeting new people, interacting with them, living with some of them for a short time, and (to my slight horror) being vulnerable in front of strangers. Yes, a short-notice workshop, three rounds of a testimony for different groups of people, and asking for support for Pure Heart Philippines in every mass for more than half a day were enough to raise my vulnerability meter. But I loved every memory and moment of it!

I realized that I haven’t entirely given myself during missions of our ministry until I shared my vulnerability and humbled myself to enlighten people in unfamiliar territory for the sake of the Lord. I learned to say fiat without the need to understand what the Lord willed during those moments. I learned to beg for the Lord. And it was so liberating—because I conquered my pride. I also realized that it is not bad to ask people for help sometimes, that fear of rejection is always part of the process. But a heart that looks up to the Lord and a cause that is dedicated for the Lord will conquer any fear of rejection and rejection itself. It is not easy, and it is something that needs to be put into practice when situations call for it.

It was also liberating to be guided to the path of vocations. One of the things I admire about Corazon Puro is how they celebrate the vocations of the members of their family. They announce it with joy and consider it a great accomplishment in life. Honestly, it struck me that vocations were an accomplishment in life because I never thought the same way before. So I was really humbled.

It was also timely, because since last year, I have been thinking a lot about my vocation.  In fact, I was almost sure of my fate post-MFP 2017. But with a few plot twists, confusion grew stronger, and I caught myself more determined to discern my vocation.

I could almost hear Pope Francis ringing in my ear and saying, “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to vegetate, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark.”

Looking at my life now, I am comfortable. And so I want to go beyond my comfort levels. I want to explore more how far my heart could open up to love. Because there is always a bigger and deeper question that looms over me, does God want me to do something more for Him?

Unsure was the best word to describe my decision to attend the Corazon Puro Missionary Formation Program 2018 in New York City. There was enough time to decide, but I made up my mind almost last minute. I had reasons for hesitating, but the most obvious reason was a prior commitment for where the money I was trying to save should go. I wanted to take a break from work for half a year this year for further discernment.  This was supposed to be what I tried to save money for. And it still is.

And as I was discerning to go to the MFP 2018, a community friend challenged my ability to trust in the Lord. This led me to ask whether trying to be self-sufficient by saving for my future needs was just a way to guard my pride and believe in my ability to provide for myself. Was I really just saving myself from humiliation of asking people to help me and getting rejected in the process? Not that I’m saying it’s okay not to save—it is mandatory to save—but my situation was perhaps a question of pride.

So I decided to go for it and took the chunk off my savings (in fact, almost the whole of my savings) for the MFP 2018 trip. And I never regretted a single moment of my decision. God gave me an experience of a lifetime!

This trip felt like an introduction to a real missionary community life. Aside from the intellectual and spiritual formation and being always on our feet with our luggage behind us, I was urged to go out of my comfort zone. Last year was quite comfortable because it was so easy to hide behind our big Filipino group—and maybe I chose to interact less with other people. This year though, I felt the need to overcome my awkwardness in meeting new people, interacting with them, living with some of them for a short time, and (to my slight horror) being vulnerable in front of strangers. Yes, a short-notice workshop, three rounds of a testimony for different groups of people, and asking for support for Pure Heart Philippines in every mass for more than half a day were enough to raise my vulnerability meter. But I loved every memory and moment of it!

I realized that I haven’t entirely given myself during missions of our ministry until I shared my vulnerability and humbled myself to enlighten people in unfamiliar territory for the sake of the Lord. I learned to say fiat without the need to understand what the Lord willed during those moments. I learned to beg for the Lord. And it was so liberating—because I conquered my pride. I also realized that it is not bad to ask people for help sometimes, that fear of rejection is always part of the process. But a heart that looks up to the Lord and a cause that is dedicated for the Lord will conquer any fear of rejection and rejection itself. It is not easy, and it is something that needs to be put into practice when situations call for it.

It was also liberating to be guided to the path of vocations. One of the things I admire about Corazon Puro is how they celebrate the vocations of the members of their family. They announce it with joy and consider it a great accomplishment in life. Honestly, it struck me that vocations were an accomplishment in life because I never thought the same way before. So I was really humbled.

It was also timely, because since last year, I have been thinking a lot about my vocation.  In fact, I was almost sure of my fate post-MFP 2017. But with a few plot twists, confusion grew stronger, and I caught myself more determined to discern my vocation.

I could almost hear Pope Francis ringing in my ear and saying, “Dear young people, we didn’t come into this world to vegetate, to take it easy, to make our lives a comfortable sofa to fall asleep on. No, we came for another reason: to leave a mark.”

Looking at my life now, I am comfortable. And so I want to go beyond my comfort levels. I want to explore more how far my heart could open up to love. Because there is always a bigger and deeper question that looms over me, does God want me to do something more for Him?

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GAMA

I always pray to God to draw me closer to Him. I want to serve and praise our Lord not just through masses but also through some of His special ways. He answered my prayers, and one of those special ways is the Chiara Luce Girls Camp 2018. From the moment it was announced, I was firm to join this camp, for this is a blessing.

I invited my two sisters to join. As their eldest sister, I don’t want them to miss this opportunity. I assured them that this camp is the best, and so, I was right. We had another best experience.

First thing in the morning, we attend masses at church. It is great to be at the temple of God to greet Him good morning and tell Him we love Him. After breakfast, we sing and dance to praise and worship our Lord. We had new lessons learned through the talks delivered by our beloved facilitators. These lessons will hopefully direct us to the way of living our Lord would want His daughters to have. Once in a while, we have games in which everyone takes part to improve our interaction with the others. We develop cooperation, understanding, and patience, knowing we had different personalities and backgrounds.

We also had Bible sharing by group. We read the Gospel and share to the group what lines struck our hearts and minds the most. We explained to them how it is related to our daily lives and as well share to them how these words of God dealt each of our problems and pain. We also watched a movie entitled War Room. This is a must-watch movie. In addition to our activities, we had hiking and WOW (meaning?) night. WOW night is our last night before the end of the camp in where we show our hidden talents. We wore dresses and looked like actual princesses of the kingdom of God. Lastly, my favorite part is the adoration. We have adoration every day at the prayer room. This is the time in which we praise Him, thank Him, ask forgiveness, and pray to Him just like a daughter talks to her Father.

Each day is much more precious than gold and diamonds. I am blessed to have met these people. I am blessed to have spent few days with my fellow campers and our beloved facilitators. Each of us are blessed to have experienced every single thing under their guidance. We, campers, would also like to thank our anonymous benefactor that showed his support financially. We’d like to show our gratitude by praying for you.

Nothing could beat the smiles I could daily see at the camp. Nothing could beat the laughter, the fun, and the happiness that I could see and feel from everyone on those days. These memories will forever stay in our hearts and our minds. To the Pure Heart Fairy, in behalf of the campers, I wish to have another summer camp next year. We are looking forward to be together with one another again. Thank you in advance, Pure Heart Fairy!

BLIZEL

Being one of the campers of the Chiara Luce Girls Camp 2018 is indeed challenging, yet I considered it as one of the most beautiful things  that ever happened to me.

We’re so lucky to be involved in this kind of camp because we learned so many things.

We learned to be responsible when it comes to our different group tasks each day. We learned many lessons through different talks given by our dear facilitators. We learned to love one another . . . not just a camper-to-camper relationship but as the daughters of the King. We learned to work as a team. We learned to forgive. We adored and praised God together, and we learned to humble ourselves to our Living God.

There’s so much things we’ve learned that even words can’t justify.

The millenials (campers) tend to be more active on gadgets such as smart phones, computer games, surfing on the net, and many more earthly things. That kind of unhealthy lifestyle changed when we participated in the camp. In there, we learned, “Disconnect to Connect.“

We disconnected ourselves from all the earthly things in order to connect and build stronger relation with all the campers, and most of all, to be very close to our Heavenly Father.

It was my second time already to participate in this camp. I’ve started joining Chiara Luce Girls Camp in 2017.

I admit, it really changed me.

The previous camp became my platform in order to become the best version of me, and that is to know Jesus more and be very close to him. And in this year’s camp, I’ve invited my two younger sisters because I wanted them to experience renewal in the camp like I did.

I would like to express this gratitude to our benefactor, handsome and beautiful facilitators, Sister Maria Goretti, Sister Mary Joy, and, most of all, to Him for making this camp a miracle!

Gamaliel M. Dominguez is an eighteen-year-old freshmen taking up bachelor of science in business administration, major in banking and financial management. She has been a scholar of the Brothers of Saint John Scholarship Program for six years. She’s into singing and dancing, and she’s interested to learn more languages.

Blizel G. Suello is nineteen years old. She is a scholar of the Brothers of Saint John since 2013. Blizel regularly participates in the Chiara Luce Monthly Formation and would love to be involved in one of the Saint John Community youth ministries in the near future when she’s ready. She’s currently taking up bachelor of arts, major in psychology. She’s a bookworm and likes science.

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This was originally posted on Anne Mae’s blog “Empty and Beautiful.”

Earlier today, I went to the supermarket. After buying the things I needed, I found myself overhearing a conversation of three young women, my age. It really struck me because what they were talking about were the things I used to say and believe when I was in high school. Now I feel the responsibility to share what I have learned of the truth and the misconceptions in my journey in the Catholic faith.

Person 1:

“Sus dzai, akong lola sige ug simba kada adlaw. Nah! Molapas na gyud siya sa langit dzai!”

(My grandmother goes to attend the Holy Mass every day. I’m afraid she’s gonna make it beyond Heaven!)

Ha! I know you’ve said this expression a couple of times already because I did before too (jokingly even until now). We used to say this to people we know who are veryyyyyyyyyyyy religious. But, seriously, for the sake of the children who are to read this, no one has ever crossed beyond Heaven because Heaven itself is an end. It is our final destination, our eternal home! And so all of us, young and old, is called to do everything (yes) just to get there! But for some people, like this young woman’s grandmother, they wanted to experience a glimpse and taste of Heaven every day so that she could know and love more the person Who made it. This glimpse and taste of Heaven is present in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus humbling Himself again and again to become that little piece of bread. A Bread that contains His eternal love for you (and me). A love so great to be contained that the Bread gets broken every time.

I’m saying this because we often have this association of “old people” and Holy Mass. That’s why when we “accidentally” enter a Church on a weekday, we only see “old people” attending the Holy Mass and maybe one or a couple of young adults, our age. My point is, although the Church only asked of us to attend the Holy Mass on Sundays and on Holy Days of Obligation, the church doors are also open for us young adults on weekdays to attend the Holy Mass, to be with that Someone, Who never tires of waiting in love.

Person 2:

“Unya magdala pa gyud siya ug daghan kaayong nobenaryo. Tag-as kaayong prayers, dzai!” (She also brings with her novena booklets with very loooooooong prayers).

I am personally not a novena prayer person. And it’s okay. We often get to say this because we associate prayers with loooooooooong (or short) novenas, and it’s okay too. Some people just really prefer to pray with prayerbooks to guide them in praying. But it’s also okay to just bring your heart, open and willing to listen to the voice of the One Who made your (and my) heart. As Fr Mike Schmitz says, silence is the first language of God. So to allow our eyes closed and our hearts open, and to be just before Him in silence is the most precious of all time between you and Him. In my journey in the Christian Catholic faith, I learned that praying is not always about asking this and that. But, prayer is simply seeking and building a relationship with the Lord, asking and listening what He wants you to do. And to build that relationship, a constant communication is needed. That is to say, a constant prayer life. So praying doesn’t only apply when one needs something. It’s an everyday contact with the Lord. It’s a necessity. But I also know, praying is a real struggle. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed and full of joy; and sometimes it’s dry as if the Lord is not present. That is only to increase your love and longing for Him. It is important to know that you are not alone in this struggle. If you can come by an Adoration chapel, be present and spend even 10 minutes of your time every day and it will change your life.

In one of the retreats I attended, I was struck when one of the speakers said that holiness is meant to be normal. Because guess what, we think that being religious or holy is an extreme thing when it should be like waking up in the morning and fixing our beds. We live in this very distorted world, and as Christians we are called to go against the stream of mediocrity because we are made for more. We are made for higher things. We are made for Jesus. We are made for Heaven and Heaven is our home.

Anne Mae has been a PH server since 2016. She’s currently a biology major in the University of the Philippines Cebu. She has a beautiful voice that sings praises to God and talent in expressing prayer into poetry and then transforming it into inspiring songs.

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I have always loved biking since I could remember. I learned how to bike when I was in kindergarten and lost my two front teeth in the process. No pain, no gain they say. Aside from biking, I love my Cebu island, especially its beaches. I regularly explore to establish my personal spots to chill either by a beach or on a mountaintop. Biking and Cebu’s natural beauty always gave me a sense of peace and joy.

Five years ago, I dreamed of taking a bike trip around the entire island of Cebu. I kept it in my head waiting for buddies who are crazy enough to invite. I never thought I would find them in my ministry Pure Heart Philippines (PHP). Eric’s and Bulay’s “Let’s do it!” and a fist bump were all it took to get things started.

What began as a fun adventure for a trio turned out to be a meaningful mission for a larger team. Eric suggested to make it a fundraiser for PHP to help us reach out to 9,000 youth this year. Our team also morphed from just a bike crew of three to having an additional support crew of five. I’m glad it did because now, I couldn’t imagine making it through that bike trip without a support crew.

As I went through the challenging process of leading my pack in this adventure, my emotions and thoughts also went through a roller-coaster ride. I had to make sure that the elements of fun, meaning, and safety were met with the size of the group that we have. Because of this, I’d like to think I grew to be a better person for others.

In planning the itinerary, I prioritized mass since many of our team members attend mass every day; the plan was never for myself. But as the Tour de Cebu week slowly approached, I realized, Why not get the strength from the Eucharist? On Maundy Thursday, about a week before our Tour de Cebu, I began going to mass daily. As of this writing, with God’s grace, I have continued the habit and have received strength to face life’s daily struggles head-on.

The trip also reminded me that it’s good to plan and better to recalibrate according to what happens along the way. I wanted to bike through the entire island, but we had technical bike issues, and our support crew wanted to take turns in biking some of the legs. At first, I was disappointed that I didn’t meet my personal goal, but the time I spent in the vehicle made a difference in my encounter with our support crew. I have learned to better appreciate all the aspects and everyone’s role in our adventure.

Despite the roller coaster of emotions, my heart was constantly overflowing with joy. I have found a supportive community; I realized PHP has been with me in my hopes and struggles since our paths converged. I’m beyond grateful for my PHP squad for always keeping up with my big dreams, making them more meaningful than what I hoped for, supporting me to make them come true, and inspiring others to do the same.

As we pedaled our last stretch of the trip, I prayed for the 9,000 youth we aim to reach this year. Just like me, these young men and women have dreams, and they want it to matter. I prayed that they too would believe in their dreams, have the resilience in facing any obstacles, and never yield in making these dreams come true.

Biking Around the Entire Island of Cebu DAY 05 (Balamban, Tuburan, Tabuelan, San Remegios) - YouTube

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Converting from fear to love! This transition came to my mind as a common thematic thread for my insights from April 8–13, 2018. After hundreds of kilometers through 44 municipalities, 1 province, we have successfully traveled the island of Cebu. Tour de Cebu aims to raise funds to continue supporting in spreading the message of God’s love to the other young people, teaching them about the dignity of the body and soul. And so looking back in the road, I wonder, What is my takeaway now that the road has ended and I have made my way home?

We met tons of people along the way plus the families who host us at night. Our encounter with them continues to show us God’s face of love. The same God draws us from our many fears and complaints to God’s love and helps us to grow in trust in God’s loving providence. As we learn to entrust ourselves more and more to this love, we ourselves are drawn to live not in fear but in God’s love. Moreover, I like learning the rules of the road. Our bike leg from San Remigio to Cebu City via the west coast of Cebu and across the transcentral highway left me with some fear if I can make it to Catmon. “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!”

The Lord communicates this message constantly to me as I live my day to day, drawing me to greater trust and empowering me to love more. How did these fears limited my capacity to entrust myself to the Lord and to love others? How did these fears make me bury my talents away for fear of rejections rather than use my gifts and multiply them in my service of others? Seeing the generosity of people and the picturesque sights of the island, thanking God after being tested physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually on a long and sometimes uncooperative roads (even friendships are tested too), experiencing the support of the teammates, I realized these are awesome ways to remind us of God’s love for all. Each day may throw new challenges like bike failures, losing one’s way, and sickness, but the reward of praying together each night is amazing—the unparalleled beauty of the sunset triumphs over all. We pray to the Lord for the gifts of trust and courage.

Trust that the Lord’s love always dwells in our hearts, healing us, providing for us, melting away the fears that stop us; and courage, a force that helps us go beyond our fears and pay attention to the gifts that God provides moment by moment so that we can face up to life’s challenges and crosses, not ending up drowned or overwhelmed. We pray for such trust and courage so God’s love may take root in us as we risk and move out from ourselves to love others. Thanks to Eric Crowley, Bulay, Audrey, Rhea, Em em, Lore, Nino, and Plong. To God be the glory!

Watch the Tour de Cebu here:

Biking Around the Entire Island of Cebu! DAY 1 - YouTube

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