Several years ago, as I walked with Sr. Gina through the streets of Manila, she was leading a motley crew of street kids to a classroom, where she lovingly taught them. She’d borrowed the classroom from a local school; she’d obtained the curriculum from the Philippines government — and she’d recruited her students straight from the streets. “Sometimes I even slept in the streets with them,” Sr. Gina told me.
I remembered those things as I recently sat in her office at La Sagesse, a school for handicapped children. During the years that had passed since our walk on the Manila street, Her order, the Daughters of Wisdom, had asked Sr. Gina to direct the school. With a M.A. in Educational Management and Classroom Management, she was the natural choice.
Mother Superior had given her one week to pray about it — and pray about it she did! Sr. Gina had made visionary plans to build her ministry to street kids. Was God calling her in a new direction? The more she prayed, the more this new direction was confirmed; but she felt daunted by the task. She said, “The Lord told me, ‘Don’t worry. If I was with you before, in the streets, I will be with you for this.’”
“I am a servant of God,” Sr. Gina told me. “As God’s servants, we should not stay in one place, attached to one mission. So I buried my shoes. These shoes were special to me but I buried them as a sign of breaking attachment… of burying my will, as a way of saying, ‘Lord, use me!’ I came to the school with new shoes to signify a new mission, new hope.”
Sr. Gina said when she first arrived to direct La Sagesse, “I felt so overwhelmed! I felt like I can’t do this! I was reflecting about this, looking out the window, and I saw one tall tree and one small tree. The Lord said, ‘You don’t need to be the tall tree; you just need to grow. Just keep space for me.”
So if you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed by a new, unexpected direction, take a cue from Sr. Gina: Pray about it. Know that God is always with you; and give him space to help you grow through the challenge.