Every year, on the last week of July, public secondary schools all over the Philippines celebrate Career Guidance Week in adherence to DepEd Order No. 25 s. 2013. During this weeklong celebration, schools organize career guidance activities designed to help students plan their future careers. They hold career guidance forums, have students dress like the career professionals they envision themselves to be in ten years, conduct mock job interviews, and invite professionals from the community to either speak about their profession or give tips on career planning.
An Unexpected Call
As I was preparing for the celebration in our own school, a former colleague, Dr. Vilma Bustos, who has recently become head of another public high school invited me to speak during their career guidance celebration.
Excited and deeply honoured though I was, I also had apprehensions about speaking before an audience due to so many unfounded fears in my head. I do have ideas but I never imagined myself expressing these ideas verbally in public. Make me write and I will happily write for you but never make me come up on stage and make a fool of myself in front of so many people!
Despite the fears, however, there was this voice that urged me to go. For some strange reason, the fear was gradually displaced by excitement and I never had trouble preparing my presentation. In addition to the Power Point presentation I saved in a flash drive, I wrote the outline of my topic on pieces of lose colored paper just in case I forget.
With my presentation ready, there was only one more thing left to worry about – I haven’t been to this school and I had no idea how to get there. Luckily an old colleague from my previous employment knows someone who can help me with the directions. This angel happens to be someone my husband knows from the recent basketball league they had in our place and he offered to guide me since his area of assignment for that particular day also happens to be the place where this school is located. Now, how amazing is that?
Shortly before my talk, the event organizers held a mock job interview with the students and requested us to act as interviewers. Aside from me, there were three other speakers from other government agencies and so the student applicants were divided between the four of us. I have probably interviewed more than twenty that morning but there was one girl that stood out. She didn’t have an application letter with her, so I asked her what she was applying for. Timidly, she smiled and replied in the vernacular, saying she actually wants to become a nun. Everyone else wanted to be a teacher, or an engineer, or a police officer. Others even wanted to become NBA players. She was the only one who wanted to be a nun! Curious, I asked her what made her decide to be a nun. It was such an innocent question, but tears began to well up her eyes, even the other applicants behind her started to cry. Obviously, they knew something about the girl’s story. When she regained composure, she told me she had a strange medical condition and was healed only through faith, and because of her miraculous healing she made a vow to Sto. Nino (the Child Jesus adored by Filipino Catholics) to offer her life in service as a nun.
Other people pay their doctors, or offer something to their faith healers, but this girl is offering her whole life! I was so moved I was fighting back tears but I didn’t understand where her tears were coming from; it was as if something else, besides gratefulness for her healing, was causing those tears. In between sobs, she told me that she has made up her mind to be a nun but she is crying because she worries about her family. If she doesn’t get a regular job, who would help her parents feed and send her siblings to school?
It was my turn to cry. Not because I felt her pain but because at that very moment I knew exactly what I was going to say to her. Verses from the gospel of Matthew came to mind:
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
I asked her if she believed this to be true. She nodded. And so with confidence, I told her to simply follow God’s leading and He will take care of her family’s needs. Never in my entire life did I feel so certain of what I was going to say.
My talk lasted only twenty minutes and to my surprise all the apprehensions were gone. My young audience were very attentive despite the fact that my Power Point presentation didn’t work and they just had to deal with my face the entire time, and we enjoyed every moment. On my way home after the program, my guide told me he can’t drive with me all the way to town as he needed to see more clients but it was okay because one the speakers was a lady police officer and she offered to have me in her convoy.
When I was alone behind the wheel on my way home, driving along scenic country roads, I cried tears of joy and thanked God for the honor of having me deliver His message for that young girl who is to be a nun in the very near future.
On hind sight it all became clear to me – it was no coincidence that my vehicle broke down several times in the last few days and my husband had to spend much to have the radiator replaced, otherwise I never would’ve driven up that remote area without overheating; it was no coincidence that their School Head was a former colleague and decided to have their Career Guidance Week celebrated a week ahead, otherwise I never would have made it there as I would have had to attend to our own school’s celebration; it was no coincidence that among the four guest speakers who served as interviewers, I would get to interview this girl; it was no coincidence that I would have this nice guide and a lady police officer who would ensure my safety on the road.
There is no doubt God was the real Keynote Speaker of the 3rd Career Guidance Week Celebration. Even in our own Career Guidance Week celebration the following week, all of the guest speakers I invited had one common theme in their message – we can all become architects of our own future and plan and design it according to our wishes but we can only do so much. Everything will remain in the hands of the Master Architect. The best we can do is to trust that He knows better and surrender our plans to His holy will.