Ludi Opena is 87 years old. Her husband Lope is 85. We began visiting them every week three years ago. We bring them rice, vegetables, fruit, and their blood pressure medication and we pray with them and enjoy each other’s company. Ludi talks our ears off and cuddles the baby and sings songs to the kids and talks to them about school. Lope is quiet, watching the kids play outside to make sure they don’t get hurt and belly laughing at their shenanigans. It’s just like a visit to my own grandparents house, and is a highlight of my week and a balm to my soul.
Ludi and Lope have endured a lot of sorrow and hardship. Their seven children do not take care of them. Lope has very limited mobility because of extreme vertigo, and Ludi is bound to her bed and wheelchair by osteoporosis. She is also going deaf and blind, and the latter is devastating to her as an avid reader and published author. When we met them, Lope was taking care of both of them completely on his own, cutting firewood for cooking, preparing their meals, washing their clothes by hand, and helping Ludi to bathe and go to the bathroom. And he could barely walk! They were going hungry most days and were both very ill because they couldn’t afford their medicine (the price of which is just 30 cents each per day). They had a disconnection notice from the city because of unpaid water bills. She told me that they thought they were going to die all alone in those days.
God is faithful and rescued them out of their despair. We visited every week, and you paid for their groceries, medicine, and utility bills. Then you hired the kindest, most patient woman in the whole world to cook, clean, wash clothes, run errands, and so much more for them Monday to Friday. They fell in love with each other and have become the family that neither of them had.
In mid-February, tragedy struck. The home they had lived in for 35 years was built on land that they didn’t own, and the owner came and claimed it. They had no choice but to leave in just a matter of days. It was heartbreaking. Lope wouldn’t eat and Ludi cried all the time. They had no choice but to move in with a family member who had recently moved back from Manila about 30 minutes outside of town. To them, it might as well have been a hundred miles. They talked like we’d never see them again, and as many times as we gently reminded them that we had a car and would still visit them every week, it didn’t help.
We prayed so earnestly for them and over them, that God’s hand would be evident in this terrible situation and that He would bring about peace and provide abundantly. The first time we visited them at their new place, we were amazed again at God’s goodness! First of all, it’s gorgeous!! They are surrounded by farmland and their view of the mountains is breathtaking:
Then, we barely recognized Ludi, she looked so happy and healthy! Their home in the city was on a busy dirt road, and their house was always dusty and it made them cough. It also wasn’t very wheelchair friendly, so she was rarely able to get outside in the sun. Out in the country, she was able to eat her breakfast outside on the porch, breathe fresh air, and feel the cool breeze coming off the mountains all day long! The difference was incredible. They both looked so happy, and they attributed it all to the Lord answering prayer! Here’s a sweet video from one of those early visits:
We continued to visit each week, and as time went on things began to change. They began to look stressed, and when Ludi is stressed its obvious, because she repeats herself when she talks. It finally came to light during our visit last week that their living situation with their family member was less than ideal, and that’s putting it lightly. They didn’t know what to do or where to go. We prayed with them and promised to help them come to a solution as soon as possible.
This week we drove up to quite a surprise. Two days prior, things apparently came to a head with their family members and Ludi and Lope moved out. They had slept “under the stars” (as Ludi put it) for the past two nights while a couple of their grandchildren built them a small shelter nearby out of bamboo and scrap tin. It’s far from finished.
There had been a “light drizzle” one morning, she said, but it was ok with them. I could tell she was trying extra hard to be positive, and when I began asking direct questions about what had happened, she burst into tears and began repeating herself over and over, like she does when she’s stressed.
“I don’t know what we will do when it rains! The rains are coming, you know! The rains are coming!”
“Where can we find walls? We need walls badly. We really need walls, Lindsey.”
“Lindsey, I’m so hungry. I’m so hungry.”
My heart broke into a bajillion pieces.
It turns out they had fed the last of their food to their grandchildren for lunch the day before while they worked to build the shelter.
She cried some more and we hugged and in that moment I begged God to have mercy on these two precious souls, so in need, so neglected and so lonely. We don’t have funds to build a house right now, and He knows that, but I can’t tell Ludi that. Instead I tell her to stop worrying, to trust the Lord, to keep praying, and that our carpenter would be there in the morning to take a look.
One good thing about being a missionary: you never have to spend too much time wondering what God wants you to do today – its usually staring you in the face and there’s no way around it. (Yes, it’s also sometimes one of the hardest things about being a missionary!)
So, we’re building our Filipino grandparents a house.
In all her stress and worry, Ludi had forgotten that it was Divine Mercy Sunday, her favorite feast day, until I pointed to the image she has taped to the one wall of their new house. Her face lit up, and her tone changed, too. She began to repeat herself again, but this time, there was hope, “Jesus, I trust in You. Jesus, I trust in You. Jesus, I trust in You.”
We starting building their home with no funds and great faith! Within a day or two of sharing Ludi & Lope’s story on Facebook, your generosity supplied the $800 needed to provide them a suitable home! Praise the Lord! The work doesn’t stop there – we have an extensive list of families waiting for help with a variety of needs, from roofing repairs to building bathrooms (believe it or not, many families do not have one) to entire new homes. Donating to our “Give a Home” fund allows us, and all of our missionaries, to bring healing and stability to families like Ludi and Lope all over the world! Your generosity will make a real difference! Thank you for giving!
Happy Easter! Don’t forget to celebrate the Resurrection for seven more weeks! 🙂
You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us. O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You! + Divine Mercy Chaplet +