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Yet in the midst of such challenges, Ms. Perlai says she has found support through a pair of Filipina women who belong to a community of the Catholic Church known as the Teresian Association.

“Elisa [Estrada] and Amabel [Sibug] invited me and the children to get involved in the choir at church. My daughter, Nicole, now 13, plays guitar for the choir. Amabel taught her how to play and is working with Nicole on her very first recital. And my son, Jordan, who is 11, serves at the altar,” Ms. Perlai says proudly.

“They are like mothers to us. They stand beside us, asking us always what we may need, and how they can support us.”

An international community of the faithful present in 30 countries, the Teresian Association seeks to transform society in light of the Gospel through education and culture.

Both Ms. Estrada and Ms. Sibug say they draw inspiration from the martyr St. Pedro Poveda, the founder of the Teresians, whose ministry emphasized love, sacrifice and hard work.

“We are here only to walk with them. We are not the solution to their problems; Jesus is. Our own strength is in prayer,” says Ms. Estrada.

This, indeed, is how the two begin every day: “Amabel and I pray the rosary together.”

“We value and respect people because in each individual is the image of Christ,” says the Teresian, whose vocation was born in Iloilo, a city in the central Philippines. She initially served in Bethlehem and Jerusalem for nearly a decade before coming to Jordan in 1985.

Once she was settled in Amman, she provided shelter to abused Filipinas in a tiny house she once shared with her fellow Teresians.

“I provided counseling to women who were beaten, and who were abused verbally and sexually. But the situation has very much improved now,” she says. “Our role is to accompany people, like Jesus walking on the Road to Emmaus, questioning and supporting them.

“I also like working with Jordanians. I look in their eyes and see Jesus. I pray, ‘Jesus, bless this person you sent to me.’ So, I love that. I am so happy he gave me the field to share the gift of my vocation.”

Prior to joining Ms. Estrada in the ministry, Ms. Sibug, from Pampanga, worked in Jordan as a secretary at a local company. She helped the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood — who were then very active working among at-risk mothers and their infants throughout the kingdom — with music ministry by playing the guitar during Mass and assisting with other choir activities. After the sisters returned to Europe, she joined the Teresians for a simple reason: “for prayer and ministering to the people,” she says, smiling.

“Life has never been the same again.”

Ms. Sibug prepares children and their parents for catechism and other spiritual formation programs. She often assists Father Gerald in presenting spiritual workshops, such as the Sacred Heart of Jesus as revealed to the French sister and mystic, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque.

“People who participate in our ministry come to know the Lord, and see their lives changed as they continue to follow Jesus,” says Ms. Sibug, whose eyes sparkle when she speaks of her work.

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