To say that Luisa’s life had just fallen apart that fateful day (when she got left alone with only P5,000 to start a new life for herself and her two girls) is an understatement. That was close to twenty years ago. Fast forward to 2015, Luisa Reyes-Ampil is author of her first OMF-published book, What Women Can Do When Life Falls Apart. From a woman who has been healed, whose life has been rebuilt and restored, her story is something to look forward to.
Luisa Reyes-Ampil is Assistant International Director of Guidelines, the over-fifty-year ministry of Dr. Harold and Darlene Sala. The Guidelines website describes her as “a multi-tasking marvel. While keeping Dr. Sala on track around the world, she coordinates Guidelines’ office and ministry in the Philippines and is responsible for audio engineering of the daily commentaries.”
Butterflyinthespring interviewed Luisa on her recent visit to Manila for the Journey Into Grace event with Darlene Sala and Bonnie Sala-Craddick.
BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): What is the main message of your book?
LUISA REYES AMPIL (LRA): You can have struggles in life but if you have God in your life, the struggles will be there but you wouldn’t feel that you’re helpless and unable to get through them.
BITS: Who is this book addressed to?
LRA: This book is for believers and non-believers because we share the same problems. The only difference is we have Jesus Christ. We know He has power and He’s not going to leave us. In the end, I outlined my own brokenness and I offered salvation through Jesus Christ so that anyone who’s willing to accept it can enjoy the same relationship I have.
BITS: Can you share how God worked in your life?
LRA: I came to a point where I surrendered myself to God. I said, “Lord, I have nothing else to lose, I want to know You as my personal Lord and Savior.” My personality changed. Instead of questioning authority and not showing due respect for another person, I became submissive to God and therefore considerate of others.
At that time, our sister Teresa was Dr. Harold Sala’s assistant. When I went to the US to attend our sister Bernadette’s wedding, Dr. Sala met me. After that, when the Guidelines team would travel to Manila, he would always ask my help to show the missionaries around or book a hotel or the board meetings. I did it as a volunteer. Then when Teresa got pregnant, she told him that she wouldn’t be able to work after her upcoming childbirth.
In 1998, Dr. Sala met with me and he offered me my sister’s job. I started crying because I knew God was in it. I told him, “Here you are offering me this job like God’s opening it up for me.” But I had so many questions — how I will take care of my kids, the financial stuff. Dr. Sala started naming all the blessings. He said, “I want to show you green lights. Luisa, you’re like a trapeze artist. On one end is you and on the other end is Jesus. You’re swinging but you have to let go so Jesus can catch you. You want to trust Him that He’s going to take care of you so I said, “Ok I’m going to trust Jesus Christ, I will take this job and move to the US and start a brand new life. It’s been 17 years since.
BITS: Jesus took care of everything?
LRA: Yes! In the beginning, I lived with my mom and stepdad. But my goal was not to live with them permanently but be on my own. I started a prayer journal. I told God, “You need to prove to me that You will take care of me.” I thought “a reconciliation with my ex-husband.” I don’t know what God’s will is but I want to put it in my prayer book. After that, I thought I need my own car. I saw a vision of myself driving a burgundy 1997 Nissan Altima. So I wrote on my prayer book “1997 Nissan Altima, burgundy.” Then I needed to find a new place to move into. How much can I afford? USD750/month. It’s not really much. But I needed a two-bedroom place close to my parents and the girls’ school.
First thing that God provided for me was the rental. I looked at $750 rentals. All the options I found did not fit what I needed so I was ready to get whatever. Then I said, “Fine, I’m going to open this newspaper one last time.” I saw a small ad. I called the manager and she asked me to come down to see the place. I had driven by that place everyday but I didn’t know what was there. It has two bedrooms, walkable distance to my parents and my girls’ school. She said she had to do a credit check on me. I had to tell her that I had just moved to the US and I didn’t know what kind of credit history I would have if at all. Then she saw that I worked for Guidelines International and she saw the name of my employer (Dr. Harold Sala). She asked if it’s the same person on KWVE [radio station] for Guidelines. She said, “I am going to sign you up. You will be our tenant.” She added, “We listen to him all the time and we have been praying for a Christian tenant. God sent you to us.” So my girls and I moved there and I checked that off.
The following year, I needed a car because the car I was using was about to die. I looked at the Penny Saver. Our office is near Laguna Woods which is a retirement area. I saw an ad for a “Nissan 1997 Altima, burgundy, low miles.” I thought, that’s like really strange, right? I asked Dr. Sala if I could look at the car on my lunch break. He agreed.
So I went and I said, “My gosh! This is the car!” I test drove the car. The price was something I could afford. I said, “I’m going to come back tomorrow and pay you in full.”
The old man said, “Do you want to make a deposit?”
I said, “No, I don’t want to make a deposit because this car is mine.”
He said, “I just want you to know that other people are going to come and take a look at this car.”
I told him, “Yes, I know people will come take a look at your car but they’re not going to take it.’ He probably thought I was a strange woman. When I went back to work, Dr. Sala asked if I got the car. I said I would go back the next day because I didn’t have my money then. He asked me if I made a deposit. I said, “No.”
He went, “Luisa, here’s $100. Go back and make a deposit because you might lose that car.”
I said, “No, I’m not going to take your money because I know that that’s my car. It’s in my book.”
The next day I went back to pay the owner and we drove together to DMV [Dept. of Motor Vehicles] where we could do the transfer of ownership.
I write a lot of stuff in my prayer book and everything has been answered. The only one that didn’t get answered is the reconciliation with my husband. God has been so faithful with the big and small things.
There are challenges raising kids, them becoming teenagers and now adults, issues about dating, a lot of different things. It’s still ongoing but I have learned to walk away from something instead of reacting in anger right away. I always tell my mom, “I just need to let the Lord take care of issues that I know I cannot fix. When I have struggles with my girls, I just tell them, “I want you to know that I love you even if it doesn’t show because we may be making this communication a little difficult at this time. I always want you to know that I love you and that I’m always going to be be here for you.
BITS: For many years, God has been your husband?
LRA: Oh, yeah!
BITS: How would you describe Him as a Husband?
LRA: He loves me unconditionally. He’s been a great provider for me. I know that He has brought so many people to take care of our needs in so many ways. I wasn’t raised with little. I have people giving me… There’s this person in church who tells me, “I want to give you this gift. I’ve used it.” It’s a Coach purse. They always think of me. I have so many designer stuff because people think, “I’m going to give it to her [Luisa referring to herself].” People wonder how I get to shop when I’m a single mom. God brings me people who just want to give me all these things, even a haircut, it’s $25 per haircut so it would be $75 for me and my girls so we sometimes didn’t get our hair cut. But there’s a nurse in our church who went to Vidal Sassoon and cut our hair for free for years. Then she would say, “So you don’t have to cook, here’s food for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…”
BITS: How did working for Guidelines influence you?
LRA: It’s really wonderful to be able to work for Guidelines. I was a young Christian. God put me in ministry work. Dr. Sala is like my father. He’s really been a spiritual mentor for me. Being around Christians, we pray for one another. We start our day with prayers at work. We’re not only praying for other people, we’re praying for one another for our struggles, for illness and any need. We’re like a support team for one another. We’re very transparent.
I was a Department Head when I left my job at a prestigious hotel here in Manila and people sometimes tell me I ended up just a secretary. But I don’t care if I’m “just” a secretary. I LOVE my job. God is so exacto. When my kids were in college in 2009, my life started to change too. I started traveling for mission work. Dr. Sala would take me when he would take a group to Israel, Jordan, Turkey. I’m so amazed that my work is not limited to my desk and four walls. And I have a very beautiful office. I have my own room. I wanted a Kenya African theme and they would refer to it as “our showcase” in the whole office. They’ve all been really good to me. It’s very hard to even think about a different career.
BITS: What are your prayers for yourself?
That God will continue to be my inspiration and I would be able to do the work He has for me. I can see that I’ve had an increase in work in ministry here in the Philippines; that gets me excited. I pray that my girls will be able to really love the Lord. I’m dating someone right now so we’re praying about what the Lord has for us in the future.