Personal DevelopmentYWAM San Francisco

My Model Best Friend in San Francisco

homeless lady, malou

— written by Cristina Ancheta


Malou was my model college best friend years ago in Manila Philippines.  She rose from the rank as our class President.  Not only was she smart but she was also one of the top ten most beautiful women in the campus.  I was dirt poor when I was in college.  Malou would often buy me hot meals in the cafeteria.  One time she even bought me a new pair of shoes.  Then next semester, she just disappeared.

Years passed by, out of the blue, a letter came from her saying she emigrated to Daly City, California USA.   She painted a picture of America as  land of prosperity  –“ fancy car, fancy clothes.”    Plenty of jobs and food.  Life is wonderful.   She said she would send me money so I can join her in the USA.  She also enclosed a photo of her boyfriend.

I have not heard from her since then.  I wrote her several times but never got a reply.  Life goes on in the Philippines.  Ruddy and I got married, had 2 children.   Took a YWAM school to serve the people living in the garbage dump in Manila also known as Smokey Mountain.    Door of opportunities opened up for  to travel in the USA for conferences, etc.     I thought of looking for Malou, but never really got into it.

In 2001, we joined YWAM Gleanings in Central Valley CA.    The ministry distributes  food to more than 40 countries around the world.  After seven years we moved to YWAM San Francisco to work amongst the homeless and the marginalized in the city.  I often thought on how I could find my best friend in a country so huge and vast.


Until one fateful night in San Francisco.  It was during our hot chocolate ministry one Friday night . We walk in the Tenderloin streets to engage the homeless and pray for them.  A whole colony of homeless were laying on the pavement adjacent to St. Anthony’s soup kitchen.  We came to our last cup and ready to head home.  But I asked my team to approach the “old Chinese lady” at the very end of the street.

It turned out that she’s a Filipina. We had a small talk and I offered prayer.  She refused saying she despise religion.  “You do not have much of a covering—do you need a blanket?” I asked.  She replied “yes” so I rushed to the YWAM base, grabbed a blanket for her.  She begged me for food.  This woman had no teeth, nor dentures so she prefers soft food, specifically rice and eggs.  So I told her  ” Drop by at the YWAM center tomorrow and I will cook for you.”

The next day, she walked into the door of YWAM , looking frail and wearing an oversized men’s tennis shoes.

At the corner I set the table for us,  the bowl of rice and eggs, cups of water and silverware.  We were about to eat, when she glared at me. “Are you Mockay? Are you my best friend?”.   Mockay– that was my childhood nickname and only close family and friends call me by that name.  I froze, I would have not recognized that this homeless woman was my long lost friend.  We hugged, cried and talked as if forever.

That was not how I envisioned our reunion.  My mind flashed back a picture of my best friend , the former beauty queen, lapping it up in success and luxury, not destitute and broken in the street of Tenderloin. Here’s  the woman who promised me the land of prosperity, the one who fed me, gave me a brand new shoes.  Oh, how the tables have turned.  I am now the one who is feeding her, handed her a blanket and hot chocolate all in the name of Jesus!

We both ended up in the land of prosperity, she in pursuit of wealth and happiness whereas I in pursuit of what I believe was a calling from God. I am so humbled and thankful to God because I could have been like Malou— destitute and broken, if not by the grace of God.  I am also thankful that I found her and now I have something valuable to offer her – I have Jesus!

Please continue to pray and support our ministry. Pray for wisdom as Malou and I reclaimed our friendship.  Pray for a powerful message that only God can give us a real sense of security and our only hope can be found with our Father in Heaven.  American dream, apart from God could be a nightmare.

3 thoughts on “My Model Best Friend in San Francisco

  1. Evelyn P. says:

    amazing……. I was around the table when you’re sharing this story in Baguio.

    1. rodancheta says:

      glad you remember

  2. great story but quite sad…

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