By Pastor Jordan Kintanar
Mother Theresa said, “In this life, we cannot always do great things, but we can do small things with great love”.
Last November 8, volunteers from Evangel Family Church- Davao visited Co Su Gian Home for the Aged, a temporary shelter for indigent and abandoned old persons. Sick with flu that day, I wonder how much I can do to help and inspire them. Because of my condition, I could not even go near the indigent and abandoned elderly folks.
We came to know of this place through a friend, Dr. Rizaldo Gonzales and his wife who committed themselves to help the JECPP yearly medical mission in Marilog District. The shelter, used to be called Day Center for the Elderly, served as haven for socialization and relaxation for senior citizens. Here they exchanged views and experiences, play guitar and chess, and do other productive activities. After few years of operation, the center was turned over to the City Government of Davao, and became a temporary shelter that serve poor and neglected old people.
I remember EFC Davao first visited this place last Christmas. Our Sunday school kids sang and recited poems for the residents. This year, twelve of us from Evangel Family Church Davao came to clean and decorate the place in time for Christmas again.
Our day started with a drive to Buhangin district, Davao City in the warm morning of November 8. When we reached the place, we were moved, touched and at the same time amused of how they welcomed us. There were three elderlies present in the receiving hall when we arrived. One met us with a smile and hello while the other sat on a corner staring at us like a little kid. His expression looked as if he had been scolded or had quarreled with someone. The third one was busy chopping firewood to cook their meals.
We were divided into groups. My group spent the whole day energetically wiping windows, railings and the surrounding of the Center while the second group climbed ladder and hang decors personally made by the EFC staff. After we embellish the dining and receiving areas with our ornaments, the Christmas mood stirred in.
After our tasks, everyone assembled in the receiving area. I did not go close to the elderly folks, however, due to my flu. Though wanting to help, I just stood at a safe distance watching a lovely scene unfold at the receiving area where the residents assembled. The volunteers were now distributing to each grandpa and grandma personalized Christmas mug, toothbrush, toothpaste and colorful face towel. We also gave personalized Christmas mugs to the volunteer social workers and nurses there.
I just kept watching from afar as the Center staff prepared the residents’ lunch. I felt quite hungry myself and still weak with my bout of flu. I just managed to stand up from my sick bed that morning because I wanted to experience the therapeutic joy and satisfaction of sharing love to these precious folks even for just a short time before the Lord takes them home.
A few minutes later, refreshment was served. One elderly man said a prayer of thanks for the food. For me, his simple prayer is the best part of our visit here. It almost brought me to tears. “Lord, thank you for the lives of these people that are here cleaning today that you might bless them, keep them healthy, and keep them safe when they leave this place,” the old man prayed.
I was dumbfounded. I was thinking that we were there to bless these old abandoned fellows, but I realized only then that God has a gift waiting for us there. That gift is His love expressed in affirming words. “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
As I am writing this article, I’m still having goose bumps recalling that prayer of blessing coming from the most unlikely place. The Center has nothing spectacular for inspiration, rather a chilling reminder that life is short, and that one day, we too might end up in the same place.
If we desire to become a blessing to others, God will in turn bless us in the most unexpected way. My sick body really needed that boost from God that day. I left that place strong and encouraged in my spirit. It’s not how much we do that counts, but even in our weakness, we can touch and bless others through the abundance of God’s love in our lives.
I again remember Mother Theresa’s words. “To show great love for God and our neighbors, we do not do great things. It is how much love we put in the doing that makes our offering something beautiful for God.”