I graduated from college with a degree in Nursing. My parents, grandparents, and the Focolare Pag-asa Social Center staff in Tagaytay, who supported me in my studies since grade school, were all very happy about my achievement. After graduation, I volunteered as a community nurse in the Pag-asa Social Center to reciprocate the love and help they had extended me. I also joined the school of formation for young people of the Focolare in Mariapolis Peace, Tagaytay, where I got to know two persons who inspired me a lot in life: first of all, Chiara Lubich who taught me to love Jesus especially in the aspect of his abandonment on the cross or Jesus Forsaken. This love for Jesus Forsaken has helped me so much to face harder problems in life later on. Another person is Blessed Chiara Luce Badano who was able to love Jesus Forsaken heroically when she contracted cancer. I really admired her when, towards the end of her life she stopped morphine doses, and lovingly offered up her sufferings with all her heart to Jesus Forsaken. Being in the medical field, I know how painful that must have been! Her example greatly moved me to love Jesus Forsaken more.
After my experience at the school of formation, I enrolled in one of the known review centers in Manila for my nursing licensure exams. November 2009 was my examination. Waking up early because we had to be on time for the National Nursing Licensure Exams, I arrived at the testing area much ahead of time. Before the exam, I prayed sincerely, “This is for you Jesus.” The exam was difficult. February 1, 2010, the exam results were released. My best friend rang me up on phone. He said that the results of the exam were now available. I asked him if he had passed the exam to which he answered “Yes,” then I asked, “Did I pass the exam?” And he commented, “I could not see your name on the list. What is your full name?” At first I could not believe the news. Then another friend informed me that I had not really passed the exam and immediately I felt my tears welling up. My whole world was crumbing down. I knew that I had done all I could, yet I had not passed. In that experience, I tried to think that my sorrow was so small compared to what Jesus had experienced. I resolved then to start over again and not to surrender if I really wanted to become a true nurse. The experience of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano who had also failed a Math subject was a great inspiration for me at that moment.
Last July 2010, I took the exam again. However, I still didn’t make it. Really discouraged and feeling so impatient, it seemed like Jesus was asking me the way he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these,” for the second time, and I had to say my “yes” to him. With this “yes” to him and with the support of my family and friends, I was able to rise up once again and start anew.
In December 2010, I took the exams once again for the third time. I did my review but this time in Tagaytay, at home. I studied and also prayed very hard. A night before the exam, together with my friends, we recited the rosary and offered this exam to God, for our family and friends. On the day of the exam, I arrived at the testing area early and prayed hard that I would be able to pass. While answering questions, I remembered how my family, my friends were praying and supporting me. Encouraged, I felt inside that I would really pass.
On February 19, 2011, the exam results were released and I passed. I was really very happy and excited. I could now tell my friends that I had finally passed. They were quite happy too, and congratulated me, saying “now we have a nurse!” We doubled check the internet for the results, and we saw that my name was indeed on the list! That night was really unforgettable. Together with my friends that night I prayed and thanked God for all the blessings that came my way.
After all my experiences, I realize that sufferings are hard to face, but if one accepts them with all one’s heart and turns suffering into love, this kind of love will really change a person’s heart. I realize that God will never abandon us and He will not give us a problem that we cannot carry. As a youth, I know that we still have a lot of tests and “exams” to face. We should face them with love and great trust in God, not giving up before these challenges in life, always bearing witness to this love that can change the world.
Ivan P. Luna, R.N