Friday, October 22, 2010

Father Suarez goes to Prison

Thank you for your prayers! Please join me in thanking God for a morning
in the jail that was truly blessed and filled with God's love.

October 18-24 is National Prison Awareness Week.
As part of the celebration, Father Fernando Suarez, the priest with healing gifts from the Holy Spirit, celebrated mass at the QC Jail yesterday, in spite of many obstacles. Although Fr. Suarez and his Superior said yes right away, we had problems getting permission for the mass from the Prison admin! We knew that the enemy wanted QC Jail for himself so we continued to
intercede and God gave us victory.

Fr. Suarez was a little late as he had been praying over sick people at UST Hospital
and many wanted him to pray when they saw him there. While waiting for him, we could see that even the prison guards were excited and even joked around with us. The mood was so different from other times we visit when the guards are usually gruff or indifferent. Father Hector from Laguna and Father Jeff from Canada heard confession before the mass.

Father Suarez spoke to the prisoners during his homily about Viktor Frankl
and how even in the prison, in their darkest moments, they can find meaning,
that their salvation would always be in finding God, and because of that,
they would be able to give love to others around them. We could see that he was very sympathetic of the plight of the prisoners and the first thing he said before the mass was that he was honored to be there, and that he wanted to come back.

The sky was a little dark, and I was praying the rains wouldn't fall, as there was hardly a roof over our heads! God is good all the time- the rains fell AFTER the mass! Since it was overcast, it was not so hot!

After the mass, Father prayed over many of the prisoners even if he had said earlier he would just give a general praying over. Prisoners and even the guards lined up for praying over. Father Suarez was almost hugging them as he prayed over them. One inmate, Patrick de la Rosa, who was in the news recently, did not want to let go of Father and was obviously crying as he spoke to Father S. After Father prayed over the inmates at the basement, where we held the mass, he went to the cells and even to the infirmary. He also prayed over Jopet as Jopet had an attack of asthma the previous night.

Father S was obviously sincere when he said he wanted to come back. He even gave a date for his next visit! When I thanked him for coming, he waved away my thanks saying that he was really happy to be there.

Thank you also for the toys some of you have donated. We brought them yesterday. They will be given away to inmates' children on Sunday, October 31, when the families and friends of inmates will visit and there will be games and prizes. So if you still have toys to donate, we can still bring it on our next scheduled visit, Friday, October 29. You can bring the toys to any papemelroti branch, or you can contact me and I'll try to arrange for pick up. Please mark donations with "Prison" as we are also a drop center for CYA's Ukay Ukay.

God bless you for your untiring support and prayers!
:^) patsy

Hebrews 13:3 (New International Version)

3Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners,

and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

August 14, 2010

I have good developments to report :^)
1. Our prison ministry is now part of the Restorative Justice School
run by the Archdiocese of Cubao. The school runs every Friday from 9am-12 noon. From 9-10 am, there is scripture teaching on the gospel of the succeeding Sunday. 10-11 am is the slot for Good values, then at 11am to 12 noon they have some practical lessons. Our little Ligaya group was given the 9-10 am slot every 1st, 2nd and 3rd Friday.

We are assigned the scripture teaching portion.
Last Friday, Luigi taught on the Visitation, focusing on the qualities of Mary that we should emulate and contrasting her with Eve. There was a short portion where he asked questions and gave out prizes for those with correct answers. Then we served a snack for 100 inmates.

2. Jopet was denied bail last month. This really depressed him,
and he got angry at God, and he even threw his Bible. We were able to talk to him soon after to encourage him, and talk him out of "giving up"! He said something like, "I'm doing everything already, what more does God want!!" He hated the judge with a passion!

Meldy shared
what Lito, her husband, does does when he is angry at somebody or if somebody is unfair or hurts him- Lito prays for him and asks God to bless him. Jopet then said, "That's hard!" Before we left that time he promised not to give up and to continue "fighting the good fight!" I'm happy to report that Jopet was quite hopeful and upbeat when we visited last Friday. His last Judge (whose son died I understand in a drug related incident) agreed to inhibit himself. A new woman judge is now reviewing his case and Jopet said she was kind.

Another good news is that Jopet's paintings were featured in a thick glossy Art Magazine entitled "Flow". I'll take pictures of it and post it here. At least now he has proof that it's not just his family and friends who think he has a God-given gift for art!

3. The best news is that there's so much opportunity for blessing others and "saving others
and bringing them into the ark". Here is the schedule for the teachings and the Gospel readings to be expounded on. Perhaps there are brothers and sisters who would like to give an hour to be with our incarcerated brethren. If you are free or can make yourself available on a Friday, please consider giving a talk or coming along to pray and be a blessing by your presence!
August 27- Luke 14:1,7-14 "Rather when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame...- Lito Fider

Sept. 3- Luke 14:25-33 "Discipleship"- open

Sept. 10- Luke 15:1-32 "Parables of the Lost Sheep, Lost coin and Lost Son"- open

Sept. 24- Luke 16:19-31 "Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus"- open
Oct 1- Luke 17:5-10 "Attitude of a servant"- open-
Oct 8 Luke 17: The Cleansing of the Ten Lepers- open

Oct 22 Luke 18:91-14 "The Parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector"-open

Oct 29- Luke 19:1-10 "Zaccheus and the Tax collector"- open
Nov 5- Luke 20: 27-38 "The Question about the Resurrection"- Bobby Quitain
Nov 12- Luke 21:5-19 "The Signs of the End"- open
Nov 26- Mt 24:37-44 "Be prepared when the Son of man will come"- open

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Hebrews 13:3

Thank you for your continued support!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 16, 2010 Prayer Meeting at the QC Jail

We had a great meeting at the QC Jail this morning.
Tony Fernandez celebrated his birthday there,
and the inmates enthusiastically sang Happy Birthday to him.
Tony shared about his miraculous experience
when he was 7 years old and escaped unscathed
from what could have been a terrible accident.

Luigi took his cue from Tony's reading of Psalm 23,
and talked about how the Lord is our shepherd,
comparing our weakness to a sheep's dependence
on its master. He also shared about how, even if they were
inside the prison, they could be ambassadors for Jesus.

Charlie asked the inmates to share about their experiences
as ambassadors, and when they shared, gave away shirts
and the Word Among Us Meditation guides (donations from
you, Ligaya members).

Then Joanna de Almeida, one of the guests
from the community in Pune, India, shared about how
the Lord is our shelter and we can always depend on Him,
and how we can only find our home in Him.
This was an all seats taken, standing room sharing.
Many inmates crowded around the chapel to hear her
testimony, with Luigi translating it into tagalog.

Ben ended our morning with a song and salvation prayer.
Praise God that even if we only go there now every three weeks,
we can see God's hand. Peggy gave some bible studies to
some of the inmates, and they said they have been
going over it several times. Let us pray that God will give them
a portion of His Spirit and guide them. We can claim that
we will have many bible teachers being formed even while
"they are in chains" like St. Paul!!

May we ask you, brothers and sisters to storm heaven
with your prayers for Jopet- he says that the judge will give
a decision before August 3 whether to set bail or not.
It will be Jopet's 25th birthday on June 18, our anniversary celebration.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if he could be there to celebrate with us?

One of Jopet's painting club members has finished
3 oil paintings.
They are all P1000 pesos each.
1- Magandang Balita sa Birhen Maria is 16" x 20"
2- Bird Cage (similar to Two Teapots) 20" x 15"
3- Two Teapots 20" x 15".
Please contact me if you're interested.
Patsy at 09189173951.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23, 2010

QC Jail decided to limit our visits to once a month,
every third Thursday of the month, from 10-12nn.
They want to have all visitors come in the afternoon
and all service providers (that's us!) in the morning.
They divided the slots in the morning and it came to once a month!
It's a pity because I don't know how we can give a
Life in the Spirit Seminar

if we meet just once a month!
Also we were really gaining ground with some inmates.

One in particular, named Edwin, shared that it was only
when our group came, that he ventured inside the chapel.
He's been in jail for 9 years and
"pinagtatawanan ko lang ang mga pupunta sa chapel"
("I laugh at those who go to the chapel") he said.
But he said the Ligaya ng Panginoon
(our covenant community is called "The Joy of the Lord")
was different- why did we come, we had work, we had families.
I guess the other groups were religious. He became curious and started attending.

So now he said he reads the bible, he prays, etc.
When he heard of the change in schedule, he said it's not bad news.
"Kaya namin yan ni Jopet. Mag ba-bible study kami."
(We can do it- Jopet and I. We will do bible study.)
Jopet got astonished- "Pabigla-bigla naman tong si Edwin!
Sinama pa ako!" (Edwin's too brash, and he's including me!)was his reaction!

Edwin is such a fan of Ligaya he will call his bible study group
and his basketball team "Ligaya ng Panginoon"!!
Please pray that we know what God wants us to do.
Peggy said maybe to meet with the
smaller group of worship coordinators
and give them formation, during the weeks we don't have the big group mtg.
Please also pray for Jopet- the judge in charge of his case got a heart attack
and was in the ICU last week. They don't know what is the status of the case,
whether another judge will be assigned. Meanwhile they're just waiting.

God bless you! :^) patsy

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Charlie Lasa's sharing in our Community Conference

I am Charlie Lasa from North B and I am here to share with you an update on our Prison Ministry. My involvement at the QC Jail started last year with a visit to Jopet Tecson, son of Joe and Flora Tecson from North B, who was jailed on drug charges. Later in August 2009, a group of seminarians vacated a 2-hour time slot for religious instruction at the jail. Other religious denominations wanted to come in and get that time slot, but it was first offered to Ligaya, our community, because we had previously donated chairs to the jail.

At that time we were reflecting on the theme: “An Open Door! Walk Through It!” and my wife Peggy thought that this could probably be the “Open Door” the Lord was inviting us to walk through, to be fruitful, multiply and occupy! Here, literally, was a space we could occupy, if only for 2 hours every Thursday. So she asked if we could go.

I wish I could tell you that I answered, “How wonderful, honey! Let’s go! Let’s walk through the open door, and occupy Quezon City Jail!” However, that was not the case. Instead, I said: “What? Are you crazy? Ano ang gagawin natin doon? Hindi naman tayo magaling magdasal sa Tagalog!” (What are we going to do there? We're not good in praying in Tagalog!)

So what is a husband to do, if his wife seems so intent in going to a place that could be dangerous to her? Leave her alone with the lions and the wolves?

But in the days that followed, I was led to reflect on Matthew 25 where Jesus says:

‘I was in prison and you did not visit me.' And when we answer, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you in prison and did not take care of you? ' He will answer, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.'

I felt convicted, and eventually, I decided to go, but only until other Ligaya members, who could better pray and preach in Tagalog, will be available to take over. One Thursday led to another, and we have now been serving in QC Jail for the past 5 months.

So what have we been doing?

We take advantage of the fact that we have a captive audience for 2 hours. There is no escape from us. We start out with worship, ably led by Ben Salvedia from North A, and supported by an inmate music ministry group. Then as the Spirit leads, we give teachings, exhortations and personal sharings. Every week we provide a simple snack and give basic necessities, such as soap and other toiletries.

Little did I realize how God had been working in us and using us for His mission, until one Thursday, I received a letter scribbled on cigarette wrappers, and I quote:

“…Nawa’y huwag kayong magsawa sa pag-tulong at panga-ngaral sa katulad naming kapos palad at nakalimot kay Lord. Pero unti-unti akong nahuhubog sa mga aral at pag-intindi sa mga salita ng Diyos. Dito ko nalalaman ang katotohanan, ang tungkol sa mga salita ng bibliya na dapat sundin ng mga taong tulad ko, na naligaw ng landas…” (I hope you will not tire of helping and teaching us who are underprivileged and who have forgotten the Lord. Little by little I have been formed by the teachings and understanding the Word of God. I learn the truth here, about the Bible verses that we who have lost our way, should obey...)

Brothers and sisters, we have learned firsthand that indeed God will empower us beyond our limitations and use us to do His work. And in doing so, we have experienced many delightful moments in this ministry:

  • We have heard inmates share how prison life became better for them when they started reading the Bible.
  • We have heard them share the joy they felt after forgiving those who put them in jail.
  • We have seen men wanting to accept Jesus and asking us how.
  • We have experienced the joy in leading them to Jesus.

They have so appreciated what we have shared with them that, believe it or not, there have been some inmates who have approached me, asking me how they can join Ligaya after they get out of prison.

We thank you, brothers and sisters, for the support you have given us. Many have taken time off from work, simply to just be there for the prisoners. Some of you have chosen to celebrate your birthdays at the jail, sharing food and drinks with the inmates. Others have expressed their commitment in other ways, such as praying for our ministry, or donating in cash or kind. We continue to pray for your support.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One World, One Heart


Congratulatons to GAIL who won the bead bracelet. We sent it off right away and I hope she likes it!

Hello, fellow travelers, almost didn't make it! This is my blog for our prison ministry. We visit the QC jail every week, on a Thursday, from 3-5 pm. We share the gospel, we bring HOPE and minister to about a hundred men. While we do this, we are amazed at how God shows US His face and how His Spirit is guiding us! Even if we don't know what we are doing, even if we don't plan, God takes care of our meetings!

My art blog, HeARTworks, has joined OWOH before, and this year, I decided to offer a prize here too- we are hoping to provide livelihood for the prisoners so they can have money for their basic necessities. The prison here in the Philippines is pitiful! My prize is what we are going to teach the prisoners to make- paper bead jewelry. The bracelet has one paper bead amongst other kinds of beads.
Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners. Hebrews 13:3

For those who don't know what OWOH is, you can visit Lisa Swifka's blog, and read all about it. There are over a thousand blogs participating, all offering prizes to be won! And all you have to do for a chance to win is, make a comment! If you have a prayer or a suggestion for our ministry, I'll be glad to have it!

January 31, 2010

I can't help myself- have to share about our last visit to the prison. :^)
Usually we discuss before the meeting who is going to give a talk, what theme, who will share or lead a prayer, if we're going to divide into men's groups, etc but last Thursday, we forgot! When we were at the jail chapel already, Charlie asked Ben to teach a new song and Ben thought for a while then wrote on the board the lyrics for "Worship the Lord , in Spirit and truth..."
Charlie's eyes got big and he asked, "Does Ben know the talk I prepared?" None of us told Ben, and when we asked Ben, he said he didn't know what Charlie was going to talk about. Charlie said, "Why am I surprised? I should just expect it."

Charlie's talk started with reading about the Samaritan woman, John Ch.4. He used it as an introduction to his talk on how to worship the Lord. John 4, verse 24 reads "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." I thank God for this and the many other times He has shown us that His Spirit is the the one running the ministry we are doing in QC Jail!

Charlie asked some of our brothers in the jail questions and some of them had really good answers to "What does it mean to worship God in spirit? What does it mean to worship God in truth?" Some of them sounded like preachers!

I'd like to tell you about Tikyo- he's a funny guy. I don't think I saw him look serious until last Thursday when he shared. He's full of tattoos and even told Peggy he had a tattoo in a place he couldn't show her (ka-men's group ni Peggy!). He's also an artist, and he made a paper sculpture of a man in prison with an angel, and he even managed to make the thing light up! All this with just the meager resources in jail! Anyway, he's one of Jopet's friends. When it was his birthday, he wished he could have pancit. Well, because of Jopet he had more than pancit and he was ecstatic. Jopet and Tikyo had a pact- if Tikyo shared, Jopet would share too. So when Jopet saw Tikyo go to the front, he said, "Oh no!!

True to his word, Jopet got up and shared. You can imagine how the others listened to him share. He emphasized that he was suppose to be free already as the Dept. of Justice gave him release papers but "The president put me here. The most powerful person in the Philippines. But in Isaiah, it says, my thoughts are not your thoughts. I will change you. I saw all the miracles He did. In PDEA, I started drawing. Here I paint. I pray that with this talent I can help those I draw. I really pray now, and kneel before God and say there is no one I worship but Him. He is making us strong. Let's just continue to pray. It's not important if we're in or out. The important thing is we're with Jesus!"

Jopet said there were lots of things he wanted to say but forgot, and we said that's alright-there's always part 2. That's a giant step forward that Jopet volunteered to share because before his reaction was, no way! Praise God, he's using his time in jail to help others. He now teaches painting lessons to the 15 inmates Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

As a body, we were also able to pray over Aldrin, who shared that he received his sentence already- life sentence- so he was going to be moved to Muntinlupa. He was teary eyed as he admitted his crime, and his sins against his family. What he wants is to be forgiven by his family, so Peggy asked for contact details so we can try and contact his family.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support! There are many more Aldrins and Tikyos who need our prayers and encouragement. If you would like to pray for particular prisoners, you can approach any one of us and we can assign a prisoner for you to pray for.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Seeing the Face of Jesus

Last Thursday, Millard Villaverde came with us to QC jail because he was convicted by the Gospel reading that morning during his prayer time, "...he has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives." When would he go, he thought, he had a lot to do. But when he continued reading, the Word continued, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled..." (Luke 4) so he obeyed God's marching orders and was blessed. Truly with obedience comes blessing! He was rewarded right away! One of the things he had to do was arrange a schedule with a priest he usually has to run after, but this time was different! The priest called him up while he was on his way to the jail! God took care of his work, just as He promised to take care of ours when we go serve in the prison!

After Luigi gave a detailed bible study about the first chapter of Genesis, Charlie asked questions about the lesson and it was a lot of fun seeing how eager the inmates were to answer (and receive the prizes that Flora Tecson provided). Then Millard gave an inspired sharing which was applauded several times. Truly he was sent by God to minister to our "captive audience"! He shared eloquently how he used weapons of goodness and humility in his fight against an injustice done to him. We ended with Danny Carreon enthusiastically asking our brothers in the prison to list all the verses in the old and new testament about "Do not fear." He said there were more than 350 verses and he would give a prize to the winner who found the most!

This Thursday, Millard texted asking me who would give the talk and what was the topic. I responded that I didn't know, the Holy Spirit would lead as He usually does! True enough, our meeting was very charismatic! Ben started off with a teaching about obedience to God. Then Judith Alpay shared tearfully and earnestly about God's message to her for this year about obedience, "Whatever He says to you, do it." (John 2:5) She ended with a song about obedience. Millard was inspired to share too and ended with singing, "Hindi Kita Malilimutan." Charlie joked that he would have to practice singing as the bar has been raised higher for the sharers!

We were surprised at how many took Danny Carreon's challenge seriously and listed bible verses about "Do not fear". The winner listed 250 verses. We gave him and the other brothers who painstakingly listed verses, t- shirts from the donations during our Christmas Eve mass.

It is indeed inspiring to see God's hand. When we obey Him, He more than meets us half way. We do not need to fear. He sends many companions on our journey. Today we also had Dory Concepcion, Lily Innumerable, Jenny Maniego and Malou Bautista from North-E.

Malou shares, "Nakita ko ang mukha ni Jesus sa mga prisoner, wala kang makikita sa mukha nila kung di ngiti at wala kang maririnig sa bibig nila kung di maraming salamat at ramdam ko galing sa puso nila. Si Jesus ang nangusap sa akin nung oras nayon nagpapasalamat at ngumiti sa pagdalaw natin sa kanya sa kulungan." (I saw the face of Jesus in the prisoners. You can't see anything in their faces but smiles, and you can't hear anything but gratitude that I feel comes from their hearts. It was Jesus who spoke to me at that time, who thanked and smiled at me during our visit with him in jail.)

December 18, 2009

I am so proud of my community! Because of their generosity, we were able to collect P41,500.00 in cash and so much in kind and quantity from our sector and the central sector, for QC Jail.

Yesterday, we heard
mass with Fr. Noel in the jail and his homily was brilliant. He said that at first he was kind of scared but when he saw the eyes of the inmates, he wasn't scared anymore and he thanked us for inviting him. We were so touched during mass, with the fervency of the singing and how everyone participated. It was quite an experience seeing the inmates all raise their hands during the Lualhati sa Diyos, hold hands during the Ama Namin (Our Father), and show the peace sign to everyone during the peace be with you!

We provided hotdog sandwiches, fruit salad, pancit and water for merienda afterwards. Our gift packs for 260 inmates included a pair of shorts, a bar of detergent, a towel, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, crackers, cookies, 3 packs of noodles, a chocolate bar, coffee, and a gospel tract. One inmate said that our gift packs were good enough for two! They were as happy as children to receive it and we could see them looking through their loot and waving to us and saying thank you. We were also able to give token gift packs to the guards and rehab office workers which included gospel tracts also.

We gave Jopet one of the really nice beach shorts that Toby E. gave and when we saw him, he was wearing it already! He liked it! He has testified twice already and will be cross examined on January 19. Please pray for that as that is important for his case.

Let us continue to pray for conversion of hearts and minds. We plan on conducting an LSS there next year. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 7, 2010. Please also pray for more workers as the harvest is PLENTY!

Thank you to Vic Vianzon for helping us find Fr. Noel. He did such a good job with the homily, the prisoners were inviting him to have a regular 'slot' ! Thank you to Lily who volunteered to help us pack the gifts for the inmates! I didn't realize we needed help actually, but it was a lot of work! Thank you to Ben, Dory, Lily, Vic and Clair who joined us for the mass.

Thank you, THANK YOU! for all for your prayers, cash donations and contributions. May God, the Giver of every good gift, bring the gifts that the world cannot give to your doorstep this Holy Season and the coming year.