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Can you hear me now?

As I was growing up, I heard about missionaries throughout my church family. I heard the stories of what they were doing and sacrificing. Throughout this time, I also thought missionaries were people unlike anyone else. They were beyond normal- people that were more than I could ever be… but here I am on my 2nd mission trip. Currently, in the Philippines on a 3 week trip.

Now that you know my semi background and thinking process, we will fast forward to now- in the Philippines. My group leader, Jessie, is an extremely challenging person. She discusses topics I have never even thought of. One of those topics happened to be how each and every one of us communicate with God in a unique way. Yes, I typed that correctly. All these stories I had heard of God speaking, or someone having a vision/dream from God, or people feeling the presence of God in an unreal way. Again, I thought these people were simply special and uniquely chosen- someone that I was not. But then, here was Jessie, telling me God spoke to each of us just like that- simply in a different way. We discussed the various ways of how God might communicate with us and we were challenged to truly listen for Him. Not going to lie, I was getting low in spirits. I felt everyone was hearing God, but not me. It was something I began to truly pray for during each prayer. That I would hear Him and know it was Him wanting to communicate with me.

On Sunday, July 16th, my team went to a local hospital to pray. This hospital was different than the ones back home in America. The rooms had numerous patients in each one. Rarely was a patient hooked up to a monitor, at least none we saw. The first few rooms reminded me of a nurses office at my elementary school. Patients were simply laying down, as if they were just waiting to feel better. We spent our time walking into various rooms, spoke with patients and prayed with them. After praying with a couple patients, I made my way down another hallway. This hallway reminded me nothing of a hospital. This hallway felt more like a prison. As though each room we walked by was a jail cell, with about 2-4 individuals behind the bars in each room. In the last room of the hallway, to my left, I noticed a woman who looked to be in her 40 or 50s. I later found out her name is Emma. When I stopped at Emma’s “room”, she lit up in a smile reached her hand out to shake mine. After speaking with the nurse, I was informed that Emma has an intellectual disability and was left at the hospital about 4 years ago. No family has come to visit or claim her. This nurse also told me that Emma could not communicate and had the mindset of a baby. Though I knew Emma could not understand me, I took her hand and prayed with her before I left.

Monday night, the 17th, I continuously was reminded of and saw Emma’s face. I continued throughout the day to feel a strong urge for Emma. I do not know how to describe it, but she was heavily in my heart and I wanted to see her again- even though I had no idea how or when I could attempt this. Tuesday, the 18th, Jessie allowed me the opportunity to go back to the hospital to see Emma. I was extremely weary. I knew Emma could not communicate, let alone understand English (a language completely different of her own). Despite all these worries, I went to the hospital with a local partner of ours (Ate Lanie).

When Ate Lanie and I came to the room to see Emma, she immediately lit up again and took my hand. Her smile did not fade away, and her grip on my hand did not loosen. Then, to my surprise, Ate Lanie began talking with Emma. Turns out, Emma can communicate, but in a different dialect than others. Luckily, Ate Lanie was familiar with the dialect and was kind enough to translate for me. After about an hour of talking with Emma, we asked if we could pray for us. This time, Emma knew exactly what we were saying and said yes. Ate Lanie helped translate and pray with Emma. Unlike last time, Emma could understand every word we were speaking and saying to God.

You know that odd, unexplainable feeling I had to see Emma again? That feeling I could have easily pushed to the side with all my doubts? That was God communicating with me, but this time, I was willing to listen. This time, Emma could understand every word. As could I.