"I feel lonely."

I hear this phrase a lot. To be honest, I have started to “feel lonely” multiple times last week. Whether it is missing a friend, loved one, or a significant other (if you have one…) we have a tendency to hold these emotions of emptiness due to an absence of a physical presence we obviously care about.

Most of my good friends were away for Camp EXALTED or for the MCG retreat, which left me with a quiet Saturday. I actually spent my entire day lying in bed watching How I Met Your Mother and I managed to finish the second season in one sitting. I eventually thought to myself, “I feel lonely.”

I knew the Evil one was trying to attack me. He knew that I was in a vulnerable state and he implemented negative thoughts inside my mind to stoop down to a further lower level.

There had to be something done, so after taking a break from Barney’s multiple attempts with hooking up with women, I decided to get up from my bed and took a bath. I returned to my room and sat down at my desk and I wrote in my prayer journal.

I was reflecting on these hurting emotions.

“Lord, why am I feeling like this?”

“I hate myself.”

"No one knows how I exactly feel!"

I was feeling lonely because I did not have a physical presence to communicate with. I was being extremely prideful because I was overlooking a Friend that has been with me since I was created. I was created with love, by the Creator of love, to love what He created. 

I feel like Lizzie McGuire… In the sense that she never really noticed Gordo, but Gordo was always there; he was the one. Okay, minus the fact that I am clearly talking about Jesus here, but you get the point.

Then it hit me, I was speaking to Jesus through my reflections! Although I wasn’t with a physical being, I was always with someone, and that someone was Jesus… The whole entire time. 

It was when that I decided to turn the time that I was “feeling lonely” into time for prayer. It was a time to lift up prayers for the camp and for the retreat. It was a time to stop feeling sorry for myself.

Although the idea is simple, the Lord dwells within us all the time, but it is a difficult concept to grasp when we are in pain or in suffering. Then after attending St. Matthew’s Parish Mission, I clearly remember Fr. Larre saying, “Where there is pain and suffering, there is Jesus Christ.” Christ is present where there is joy, peace, and love. He is with us with all of our emotions.

I know now that I am never lonely. I know now that I will never walk alone.

“I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20 

The Lord said, “You may have someone in your mind, someone in your heart, someone in your dreams, someone in your life… But I am Your someone when you have no one.”

Day 10 - #ILoveMyHousehold

I apologize for the tardiness of my posts. I was studying for my midterms!

Over the span of four years in the CFC-Youth community, I have been a part and lead a few households. Thank You God for blessing me with something that I have always longed for since I was a little kid: sisters.

Here is a shout out to my previous household heads and my household head today. I have never been so happy to finally have people where I can share my victories and struggles with. You are all women of faithfulness and you all inspire me to strive to become a better version of myself every single day. Despite my faults and slipups, you have all chosen to love me regardless of what I have done. Thank you for loving me on the days that I could not love myself. It is through your encouraging words that I have not given up on myself. Through your guys’ love and correction, it has molded me into the person that I am today. Thank you again for the shoulders to cry on and for the ears to hear me out. I am eternally grateful.

Here is another shout out to the households that I have lead. No words could simply describe how grateful I am for you guys. The position of being a leader has led me to make Christ-centered decisions. Why? I always want the best for my younger sisters, so I should live a life that matched with my intentions. I am always honoured every time one of you girls would open to me. I am always willing to carry a cross for you and you all were in my prayers. When I look back at it know, it makes me so proud and joyful to see some of you guys as households today. The Lord is truly present and He is evident through the growth you guys have. Thank you for allowing me to be a sister to you.

My last shout out is to my family. We are not perfect but I love all of you so much. We may fight and argue, but at the end of the night I know that we always want the best for each other. It is slightly strange that we get aggravated the most from our loved ones, but I think it is a blessing for someone to yell at me. That may sound weird, but why would anyone show such emotion, passion for someone they were not concerned for? Although this took quite some time to realize, but it is through my family in which I have learned to serve and love first. Thank you for your never-ending support with the path that I have chosen. I love all of y’all.

Day 7 - What was your most recent Conference?

I have never danced so much before in my life. I also never thought that I would see the day where I would teach Western Canada a chant, let alone a dance. Now I know that I am not the best dancer out there but I was willing to be a fool for God.

It was a different experience being in the location of conference earlier than the actual day of. I was fortunate enough to meet more new awesome brothers and sisters from the mountain region.

This was actually my first Western conference and it did not disappoint. If I could sum up my previous conference experiences, it would probably look like this:

Alive 2010 – Healing

Almighty 2012 – Joy

Jesus Expo 2013 – Growth

From being in the community of CFC-Youth for four years, this conference has revealed a lot to me. The Lord told me that there were other things in my life that needed more attention than the areas that I already tend to. Throughout this journey, I was always searching for something more but there was nothing to look for as He was always there with me.

It never occurred to me that I was always focusing on what I wanted to be than how I got to where I am today. A brother told me that I was a person who was always so hard on herself. I have been searching for a love to keep my heart at peace. My Jesus, it was the matter of whole-heartedly letting go of the past and being Jesus Exposed to His beauty of a love that is incomparable. This conference sparked a fire in me to write another song.

https://soundcloud.com/monicaponce/vow

Moving on, I was incredibly proud of my region and cluster. Overall, the three days were a blessing. I know I sound redundant, but the Lord has never failed to amaze me. I probably need to look at the dictionary to find more extravagant words to describe these kinds of experiences. 

Day 7 - What was your most recent RYC?

I remember Christina Potusek calling me after a long day of school. To my surprise, she asked me to serve in Music Ministry for the 2013 RYC. I smile reminiscing about this precious moment because I was very excited. This was unexpected. I never thought that I would be blessed with this opportunity until I was at least twenty years old to be honest!

The practices held at Anton’s were very demanding. The Music Ministry strived for excellence and we wanted nothing less than perfection; the Lord deserved our best. I was also asked to play piano for a reflection and for mass. I was nervous and anxious for mass because I was not a properly trained piano player nor had experience playing for mass.

With the commitments I have made, I knew that there were some things to cut down. This year I was anticipating on competing in junior band, junior dance, and original song. I was also a student in my last in high school therefore, being a model of excellence was mandatory.

I knew in my heart that I needed to minimize my activities to serve at my highest potential for the things the Lord has called me to do first.

When the first day of RYCON came along, I noticed that many of the younger ones from my chapter were in distraught. What hit me the most was that they were all feeling the same feelings I was experiencing several years ago. I realized that speaking to my brothers and sisters was something I needed to do.

Nothing made me more proud to see the junior band do so well! I felt like a very proud mother watching her kids perform for the very first time. What a bad simile. Nonetheless, I was happy. A very touching moment for me was when Noah Cacatian told me about his inspirations for his OG. He told me that I was a factor on what motivated him to write a song. At that moment, I broke down in tears because I was so moved.

“Sometimes you need to step down in order to step up.”

The whole two days of RYC were blessed though. I was happy to meet new brothers and sisters and as well as strengthen old friendships. The Lord is great, always. The sessions, speakers, and sharers were very enlightening; Christ was visible through them.

My most recent Regional Youth Conference was the first time I have ever served. Thank You God for the amazing opportunity. 

Day 5 - What is your current service role?

I am still serving as a music ministry head for Surrey 2 with my counterpart Matthew Bantog. It’s almost been a year since we have stepped up and I can say that I’ve learned a lot. To be honest, I know this service role can bring out the best and worst of me.

I have high expectations and I am a perfectionist. I also noticed that I can be a very impatient and controlling person. With the musical background I have, if something did not sound “right” then it would bother me.

I realized that my mentality towards this service was very wrong. It was not about strumming the right chords or singing the correct notes, it was about bringing others closer to Christ through worship.

It overwhelms my heart when I see my brothers and sisters strive for excellence when they play for a General Assembly or a Collective. Over the year, I have noticed growth among the Surrey 2 Music Ministry and it is an overall fruitful experience. Matthew and I have been blessed to be able to finally have our Music Ministry workshop and we have witnessed so much potential and talent. Praise the Lord.

I am also honoured to be able to serve with the other Music Ministry heads from the East Cluster and the cluster heads from the West and Vancouver at the most recent Regional Youth Conference. Like I said before, I am blessed to be able to serve through something that I love so much.

Here’s a shout out to my counterpart Matthew. Thank you for all of the times you have given me rides to the places we needed to be at because I am unable to drive… just yet. I am thankful to have someone to share the same dreams and goals for Surrey 2. You have a great voice and I know that you do not just use it for yourself but to worship and glorify God. It is pretty crazy how we attend the same school and taking the same program but praise God because it is easier for us to have our one-on-ones. HAHA. Thank you again for being a great brother and friend. I am excited to see what the next year will have in store for us. 

Day 4 - What was your first service role after Household head?

After being a household head, my chapter head at the time (Abby Zaporteza), asked me to become a Music Ministry head for Surrey 2. I was overwhelmed.

I talked about this with my mother, but she wanted me to reject the calling. She wanted me to focus on my studies and it was always a struggle for me to get out of the house without my brother. With over two weeks of constantly nagging her and prayers, she finally caved in and in the beginning of 2013; my counterpart Matthew Bantog and I began our new service roles.

I’m in love with my service and my admiration for God has grown. It’s a blessing to be able to serve God and my chapter through the gift of music. This role alone has taught me to always strive for excellence as well as to have a better relationship with my parents. I’ve met some amazing brothers and sisters through this ministry and it’s even more amazing serving alongside with them.

My passion for worship has increased. I love worship. I love being able to give back the glory He’s given me through every note being sung, every string being strum, every key being pressed, and every beat being made. I love the excitement I hear when I ask sisters to serve for next GA or collective. I love being able to use the talents the Lord has given me to become an instrument for others ears to be heard. Praise God. 

Day 3 - What was the first camp you served? Who asked you to serve?

I remember it very clearly. During a family party, the phone rang but I was too lazy to answer it. Mom answered it instead and called for me. She told me that there was someone who wanted to talk to me, so she smiled and handed me the phone. To my surprise, on the line was Clarissa Balila. I didn’t know what to expect, but she asked me if I could facilitate for her camp, Camp 6lorify.

Camp 6lorify was led by my cousin Isaac Guevara and Clarissa. When I was asked, I remembered being so excited! I literally jumped around my house because my heart was filled with such joy. I didn’t expect to serve so soon because I just joined Camp 5oul.

I was blessed to have such fruitful friendships formed at Camp 5oul, but strong bonds were formed from the fellowship to prepare for the upcoming camp. I was excited to serve with my fellow brothers and sisters!

I actually got into an accident right before camp. I was in gym class and a boy accidently pushed me into a wall and I chipped a tooth. It really rattled me and I began to doubt myself for camp. Forgive me; I was only in grade nine.

The camp was an invigorating experience for me. I met another one of my best friends and my counterpart! The role itself encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. I was always surrounded by boys growing up, but I’m grateful that I was given new sisters. Praise God.

A highlight from camp was on the last day. I was a sharer for the last talk, which was led by Clarissa. I was so nervous, but in the end… I didn’t share because Clarissa forgot about me. HAHA, it’s all good though. The Lord called me to do a share at the upcoming CO instead.

LOVE YOU CLARISSA! <3

"I will praise You, Lord my God with all my heart. I will glorify Your name forever." - Psalm 86:12

Day 2 - What camp did you join? Who led it?

I joined Camp 5oul almost four years ago. It was led by my Kuya Mike and Christina Potusek.

I was really blessed to be able to know the camp leaders beforehand, so I wasn’t hesitant on accepting the offer of joining their camp. It’s a cliché, but I know that the day I joined camp changed my life.

To my surprise, I encountered many of my old friends from the past when I arrived at the venue. I was reunited with some of my family friends, family, and friends from elementary school. But what really hits the spot is that I can honestly say that I’ve met some of my best friends today, at Capilano.

I treasured those three days.  I was surrounded by people who love me and who love God. How could I not be inspired? I was in grade nine at the time, so I cried every single day of camp.

My brother served at that camp so we bonded a lot. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t attend the final session of camp but Ronn was there. I still have the letter he gave me on that Sunday and my eyes still get watery whenever I read it.

The Lord was truly evident at that camp. From every friendship I formed, to every share I heard, it affirmed me of how great His love really is.

In a few days, it’ll be the 4th year anniversary for Camp 5oul! I’m also very blessed to be able to serve with some of the people that joined the same camp as me. It’s an evident sign of growth for sure.

Thanks Kuya and Tin for leading such a life-changing event for me and for others. You guys were my inspirations since the early days of JCRU and the M7FH retreat and my feelings remain the same. Not only are you both great leaders but gifted musicians as well. The way you lead and the way you both use your talents for the glory of God has motivated me to do the same and more.

Here’s a shout out to my 5oldiers for 5oul!

"To You, O Lord, I life up my soul." - Psalm 25:1

Day 1 - Represent your chapter, region, area, and country!

Hello, my name is Monica Lou and I’m from the chapter of SURREY 2…

Which is part of the EAST CLUSTER…

Which is part of the PACIFIC REGION (British Columbia)…

AND… that is in Canada!