Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Friends: We Call Ourselves That (The Friendship Series)

I knew something was going on. The class was a little restless, our teacher was unusually excited and strangers went in and out of the classroom bringing boxes and food containers. When the cake came in, I realized someone was celebrating hi/ her birthday. When one is four years old, you seldom remember other people’s birthday. That day, I found out, it was Era Joy’s my best friend’s.
Era Joy's 5th Birthday in Nursery class

She came in to class in a pretty pink dress while the rest of us were in our uniforms. I don’t remember if we like each other but I remember very well that we often say ‘miga ko na sya’ (she’s my friend) when asked about each other. We were in Kindergarten School then and who you call your friends matter. I just knew I had someone nice to call my friend.


The old lady with swept up hair and thick glasses gave me a newsprint booklet with colorless pictures. I ran my fingers on them while taking glances at the other seven-year olds who were excited to take the test. If we passed, we can enroll in the first grade in elementary.

Suddenly, the short-haired girl beside me pointed at the picture, “ That’s the answer” she said in a condescending voice. I looked at her and sarcastically replied, “Kabalo ko!” (I know!) I did not forget her face, nor her grandmother’s who was all made-up like a retired beauty-queen. They called her Jaja. Little did I know that for most of my school years, she will be my seatmate. 

Us with Lola Sonia, Jaja's grandmother.

So it is a surprise why in the years that followed, we called ourselves Best Friends. Yes, the 3 of us eventually became friends and went through elementary and high school together.

Until today, I wonder how we became friends since there’s so little that’s common between us. Era Joy is very prim, proper, and is careful about things. She was good at taking down notes during classes. Jaja and I were parasites, we would just photocopy her notebook. She is very loyal and enjoys studying very much.

Jaja (who was named Kathryn Anne by her parents)  is the athletic type. She swims, plays table tennis, goes on biking. She was always like of the boys. So she surprised us all when she joined a beauty contest. She’s very good in math and is a born leader. And yeah, she is in every bit choleric. She was very vocal of her passion for God too.

Meanwhile, I, was not into note-taking, nor any sport…nor any beauty contest. I was into school activities and, writing. I took my journal seriously and loved sending and receiving love notes. I wrote my friends almost every day.  So I guess I can say I was into relationships. Today, these notes are still with me. Precious!

Jaja, Era Joy and I, though we call each other friends, never became ‘exclusive friends’. In fact, most of the time, we went with other people . Like, Era Joy has a group of girls that takes the same route going home. Jaja went with the boys most times and I was always with my best boy friend Jong.  But, we still call each other best friends.
The three of us with our high school classmates. 

In high school we had so many fights. In the years that followed, we had months when we didn’t talk. Sometimes, misunderstanding overtook us. But, as each year concluded, when we had to show up for the annual class reunion, we still call ourselves best friend.
2010 Reunion

Last Sunday, after a long time  of not spending time together because of geography, our time and location plotted. We had a wonderful time talking about stuff, mostly things that don’t concern us. Hahahaha! Over Chicken Inasal and Calea cakes, we thanked God that we have each other to call our vey own friend.

It wasn’t because of what we have done for each other that we call ourselves the best of friends. It is because we call ourselves ‘Best Friends’ that we make an effort to be there for each other. We have vowed not to stop calling ourselves that. Therefore, we are under obligation to prove it everytime. 

And the proving part has always been a pleasure!

Sunday afternoon at The Ruins

 Note: I intend to write about the people I call friends. I pray that as I share to you how they have changed my life, you will also come to appreciate your own friends. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

31: The Kick Off

I turned 31!!!

Yes, on the 10th of April, while my parents celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary, I gracefully turned 31.

Quiet. That’s how I always wanted my birthdays to be, and quiet it was. Except of course,  that my heart could not contain the explosion of joy in my heart for how the Lord has shown me grace through the years. This reminds me of a verse from a song I so love to sing:

Were it not for grace, I can tell you where I’d be
Wandering down some pointless road to nowhere
With my salvation up to me
I know how that would go, the battles I would face
Forever running but losing the race
Were it not for grace

And grace it is, too, that I do what I do now. April is Youth Camp month and God had lined up for me my engagements. These kicked-off my year!

I had three youth camp engagements over the past two weeks. I am blessed to have had the time and the energy to speak at the said events. One was on the topic “Come and Find Rest, another was on Missions and last Friday, I conducted a storytelling workshop with a group of young people.

The anointing of the Holy Spirit is what enables me. Speaking about ‘resting’ to a group of energized young people was a challenge. But I trust that His word always achieves it purposes and I am certain that the sowing will have its time of harvest.
The young people at ETCSD Camp, listening to my lecture on Storytelling

One of the things I always look forward to when I  have such engagements are the traveltimes. Bus rides are always my best times, like how I mentioned it in my previous post. However, for the past two weeks, I had interesting travels. For example, to reach Baja-baja, I had to ride a pump boat, walk a few hundred meters through the bushes and climb steep stairs up the hills.
The Oh-so-challenging route to Baja-baja Baptist Church

Last Wednesday, I challenged young people to respond to missions at a youth camp in Naga-Angela, Cadiz City. To get there, I  had to take the bumpy tricycle ride through the sugarcane fields at about 7 in the evening. The sky was star-strewn. The night was beautiful….until, the motor died. We got to the venue on time, and thankfully, I discovered how much peace I have in the dark.
The young people at Naga-Angela , during the Circuit John Youth Camp
where i spoke about Missions

My best time was taking an hour ride through the mountains of Don Salvador Benedicto on a motorcycle on my way home from another youth camp last Friday. Beholding God’s wonderful work is an experience that adds to my wonder and faith in Him. It was my first long-distance bike ride and I enjoyed every second of it. I’d like to make mention of my friend, Pastor John who made it possible for me to take that ride… and be home in one piece. Ha!!!!
A quick-stop along the DSB Highway, my first ever long-distance ride
on a motorbike

And all these green....if you can see the highway, that's where we travelled!

On the 16th, I started as the registrar of CBBC. I would like to do a separate post on that, so please, allow me time to brew it. hehe :) 

I recently wrote a Ministry Update mail to my partners and friends and directed them here. So, if it is your first time here, WELCOME!!! 

Together, let's rock my 31st  :D 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Where God's Stories Take Me

I had the privilege of spending three days at the Faith Hope and Love Kid’s Ranch in Sariaya, Quezon. I joined  FaithBaptist Church – South Metro’s team who conducted the DVBS at the ranch. I must say that the group of young people I was with was awesome. I’m talking about young boys and girls in their teens who were passionately giving their best to the Lord. They could have chosen to stay at home, or take a needful summer break. Instead, they went all-out for God. Inspiring!
The young people teaching the kids at DVBS.

The FBC-South Metro Team with the FHL Family
FHL Kid’s Ranch is an orphanage God entrusted to Celing and Lorraine Lamar. The Lamars are missionaries who opened their home and family to children who are robbed of it. I came to know them a little more than 10 years ago when I worked with them in the first orphanage they built. When God expanded their territory, they built FHL. God’s miracles unfold to them by the hundreds. Their testimony is powerful!

For 10 years now, FBC-SM handles the DVBS in the orphanage. The kids in the ranch enjoy the time out of their regular school. The kids from the neighborhood come and enjoy the time of learning God’s word too. This year, we had 181 kids! The theme was “Knowing God”.

God is gracious to me for making me a part of this year’s DVBS. They flew me in to be the story teller for  3 days! Appointments like this affirm my gift. There is a certain kind of peace and joy when one operates in the area of his or her gifting. My joy welled up and my peace was overflowing. Praise God!!!

I love this Job!
with the awesome young people of FBC-SM. Me in a jacket because I was sick.  :(

Though short, the time with the kids are worthwhile. DVBS time is an investment of great returns. After all, the scripture says “ My words will not return to me empty. It will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11.

I will be flying back to Bacolod on Monday to start another journey. That, will be another ‘grace-full’ story.  Thank you for upholding me in your prayers and for celebrating with me the joys of serving God!  

Note: All photos are from my friend CeeJay