A Castle of Servant Leaders

Written by Yvette Frances in 2017 & continued by Jesenia Hernandez in 2022

Yvette, Ton (father), Ruth (mother), Crisdel “Dhan” (big sister), Antoinette (little sister) in the Philippines

My name is Yvette Frances. I am 13 years old. I live in a house with 2 rooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living area and a porch, located in a land estimating 3 hectares, surrounded by other houses like our own. On a sunny day, the land is dry and hard. On a rainy day, the land gets all sticky and piles up underneath my shoes. There are exactly 3 dogs and several trees scattered around the area. We are at least 45 minutes away from the highway. This place is called Shepherd’s Home. It is a community.

I was 10 when I first discovered knowledge of what society is and how it affects the entire human race. I read the books that my mom read. I became aware about the standards of the world and saw how my own classmates struggled to abide by them, always trying so hard to reach that ‘perfection’ society envisioned for them. Since then, I have always looked at the world differently. And the world did the same to me. It’s a good thing Mom is always here to answer my questions.

A month ago, we moved from Mindoro to Batangas, Philippines. I didn’t like it. We are so far from the highway, and I can’t go to the school I want. The area is slanted, to get to the road, you must walk up. When you make it to the top, you are out of breath and have painful feet. There is no proper ground since it’s all mountain-like. When it rains, all the mud sticks to your slippers. My old friends are a sea away.

But several things remain: my memories, my joys, my knowledge, my community, my growth. Since our transfer, I feel closer to the rest of the people in this compound (literally and figuratively). Six of us kids are getting more involved in the overall affairs, unlike before where parents would only talk amongst themselves.

I feel as if we became more of a community. We are given roles and responsibilities like helping with the amphitheater and collecting stones for the road.

When I hear Shepherd’s Home, the first thing that comes to mind is a rendezvous or resting place of all the shepherds searching for that one missing sheep. A place where they rest, eat and drink. Then, they set a map to pinpoint the possible places the sheep went and go on with their journey.

My name is Yvette Frances. I am 13 years old. I live in an extremely cozy castle located in a land blooming with life and green, surrounded by other castles like our own. On a sunny day, the land is dry and hard, and we kids play around with bamboo swords. On a rainy day, the land gets all sticky and piles up underneath my shoes making me feel like a growing giant. There are exactly 3 dogs that never fail to make me smile and several trees scattered around the area, making it look like a mystic forest. We are at least 45 minutes away from the highway so there isn’t much noise or bright lights. This place is called Shepherd’s Home. It is a community.

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When Yvette was 5 years old, she noticed her parents Ton and Ruth change. Her shy mom became more outspoken, and her stern dad became more open and understanding. She discovered that her parents’ transformation was the result of servant leadership courses with the Center for Sharing. Once a kid observing and learning from the adults around her, she now finds herself in the reversed role. Every Saturday, neighborhood kids come to Shepherd’s Home to learn and play. Yvette is responsible for coordinating activities.

She is a storyteller in her community.

Ever since I could read, I jumped into my passion for creating and telling stories to my special community through writing, filming movies, and directing musical plays. With their wonderful support, I tell stories that matter and preserve tales of people and their goodness, both great and ordinary.

Servant leadership has allowed me to reflect on the deeper meaning of things before I start studying for my psychology degree. More than just teaching children, I connect with them and allow them to teach me things more important than math or science, like what snacks are best and how to stay happy!

I am trying to capture moments and help amplify the voices of people around me. As an aspiring psychologist, I hope to one day be able to sit with different kinds of people, listen, and help them work through their life stories. I want to use my gift in service to those around me.

Yvette is now 18 years old and is preparing to begin her journey outside of Shepherd’s Home. As she leaves her mystic forest and cozy castle, several things remain: her memories, her joys, her knowledge, her growth, her community.

Yvette and youth take a silly picture

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