The future has never been foggier.

Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the future…

I just came home from my my second time to attend the Young Professionals’ Discipleship / Small Group from church (I think in other churches, they call it the Singles’ or Young Adults’ group or whatever).

The people were fun, and although I already formed some less than positive opinions about the group in general, I am ready and more than willing to have a change of heart and mind, as I had only attended twice. It is only the second time I have ever attended; I had only graduated from college last year.

Last year. I look back, and I cannot believe almost a year has passed since I left university. And of course, I inevitably ask myself the questions: what have I done so far? What had I amounted to? Is it something to be proud of?

Now why do I suddenly bring this up?

Why suddenly reflect on my lifelong achievements so far after attending the Young Pros DGroup?

Well, it’s a little complicated, and I am not quite sure how to express it in a way that will not completely be confusing…

But to put it simply, attending the DGroup and seeing how all these other Young Pros have gone and gotten themselves started on their careers, seeing their independence… And then I could not, for the life of me, help thinking that with my education, with what I have, with what I am, I can definitely go as far, or even farther.

Well, suffice it to say that it was the first time I had acutely felt the desire to get my own career started, somewhere other than on missions.

There. I said it. My deepest darkest secret of the moment.

It was one thing to commit, and recommit, and recommit again, and structure your future plans on doing missions when surrounded with like-minded people egging and pushing you on towards a specific path.

It is another thing to be surrounded by people who seemingly have no thought for it, or at least not that I can see it (but again this is a hasty generalization which I am willing to recant in due time).

And so first the first time since the time I joined CCC as an Intern staff, I felt like I was figuratively doused with cold water.

Now, for those of you who might be wondering if I had a change of mind and heart with my present calling, put your minds at ease. I have no intentions of going back on my commitment (my contract ends next year). And my love for the lost has not subsided.

The point is that my mind and heart have not changed, only that the temptation to leave, to quit, to not care, to complain about how unfair it is that I am stuck only here when I could be — and sometimes want to be — someone else, someone I deem better, has just been upped by several degrees more.

But of course, one must not pray for the disappearance of temptation, but for strength to overcome it. One must seek to be secure in one’s identity in God, and that one will perceive and prefer God’s will for him or her.

One last thing: some might, after reading this entire thing, be thinking that attending the DGroup has brought harm than help to me so far. On the surface level, that might be true, but I believe there is always a purpose as to why God allows things to happen, and for those who love Him, they can trust that it will be for their own good.

And while I believe everything will be revealed in due time, I have some guesses: it is not a coincidence that more than ever before, now is the time I am thinking of the future, and that several issues I have must be addressed.

Sigh. The future has never been foggier.

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Impromptu Concerts: More fun in the Philippines

Yes, we have a lot of problems, and we mourn for the tragedies hat have befallen some parts of the Philippines, but if there is any group of people in the world who can appreciate talent and beauty wherever and whenever, it is the Filipinos.

Remember when Joshua Bell (world-renowned violinist) played the violin at a train station in D.C. and was IGNORED?! Well, think the same thing here. A 63-year old man played the piano at a train station in Cubao, and instantly drew a crowd. The crowd loved him so much that they kept asking him to play song after song, while some even broke into dances and sang with the music.

I think this week will be like my Pulag Climb.

This week, for me, is exciting; this is because of the Annual Week-long Prayer and Fasting with my organization, CCC.

Exciting, however, does not always mean that the things or experiences looked forward to are particularly very pleasant, or turn out to be pleasant.

I actually think this week will be like my Mount Pulag Climb.

Last December, I went with several alumni orgmates to the Pulag.

That morning, I was almost convinced not to join the hike. See, it was storming. The personnel at the DENR warned us that the winds were very strong and there was zero visibility. We decided to stay out the night and hope for better weather the next day.

When I stepped out and saw the mud resembling chocolate pudding in vast quantities on the roads, and when I felt the first slap of wind on my nearly-frozen face, I was almost completely discouraged.

But the prospect of standing at the summit and having an amazing experience was very strong. The thought of the summit and gazing at the “ocean of clouds” as people have come to call it, was simply tempting.

And so in a fit of reckless courage and determination, I climbed. I climbed and continued climbing despite the continuous drizzling, and the spectacular mud trails, and the extreme numbing cold which I believe almost got my limbs frostbitten, and the muscle pains acquired from continuous walking, and even despite indigestion.

Halfway up, two of us went back. Still, I climbed. All of this for the summit experience.

And it was. not. worth it.

No, it wasn’t. We clearly arrived at the wrong hour. The summit reserved its best displays of beauty at sunrise; at that hour when the sun first peeked from the east and went back to sleep in the west is when the glorious is revealed.

We could've just gone to Burnham and dressed up; the effect would've been the same.

THAT is how I view or expect this week to be: doggedly difficult. I have, as others might as well have, a difficulty disciplining and controlling myself. And so I think my Prayer and Fasting experience will be difficult.

But haven’t I said before that difficulty breeds quality, breeds excellence?

As Ptr. Peter Tan-chi earlier today said, you do it for the results, for the end, that is of having specific concerns resolved, or prayers answered, but most importantly having God reveal Himself more to me.

As I draw near to God, He will draw near to me. That is the ultimate price, the summit experience expected to have at the end of dogged journey.

And yet… what if I “arrive at the wrong hour”, so to speak?

What if, despite my pleas and prayers and mediation, God chooses to respond with silence, or in a manner I do not expect?

What if there is no “glorious summit experience”?

I will choose to believe that even in His silence, God has a purpose. I will choose to trust that He will reveal Himself to me in His own perfect time.

And should this be the case, unlike in my Pulag experience, I will not leave empty-handed.

See, in my Pulag escapade, I only had the “glorious summit experience” to look forward to. When we left the summit, the experience eventually faded away.

But in my journey this week, this time, the Glorious Himself is with me, every step of the way.

The Jollibee Crew was so nice to me… and so my faith in humanity is restored.

A little bit of my faith in humanity is restored. Allow me to explain why.

Yesterday, it happened again.

I blacked out. In Jollibee, of all places.

I was standing in line when it started — that familiar pain at the lower right part of my abdomen. After 5 times of this happening, I am finally able to isolate where the pain starts before I black out.

By the time my turn came, things started getting fuzzy. Thankfully, I was still coherent when I placed my order. But in the span of time it took for the cashier to punch in my order and ask for the corresponding amount, things started going downhill really fast.

The whole cashier scene lasted probably less than 5 minutes, but it felt like an hour. I took my order, sat at one of the benches… just in time, I might add, because the moment I sat down, I felt the blood leave my fingers, and I really did black out totally.

And guess what? People noticed. And not just any people — the Jollibee crew noticed, and not in a rude way.

As a matter of fact, they took care of me. Someone brought me water, paracetamol, and extra tissue papers (to mop of my sweat — I must have really looked like a mess). Even the security guard left his post and fanned me while trying to make small talk, which I’m afraid I wasn’t able to participate in well, given my state.

They were all so nice.

I had blacked out in public before, but so far, I had always been with someone who took care of me and took me home. Blacking out in public and having complete strangers attend to me — now that’s new.

For the first time, I felt how disabled people must feel everyday, having to rely on complete strangers, practically because they are given no other choice. No other choice but to have faith in these strangers. Either that, or they never go out.

More importantly, being on the receiving end of kindness from strangers refreshed me on how amazing kindness can be.

And so a little bit of my faith in humanity is restored, and I am encouraged to perform more acts of kindness even to – especially to! – strangers, so that even just a little bit of their faith in humanity, and in goodness, and in love, and in God, will be restored as well.

October Ministry Update

Beauty from Rest

I am, as of the moment, laptop-less.

As I think about it, I really believe that I made the right decision. The whir and heat and blinking lights of this gadget-filled world can only demand so much attention from one.

In an effort, therefore, to simplify my life even just a little bit, and even for a brief moment, I deliberately separated myself from this gadget that has been such a part of my life. There are, of course, obvious disadvantages, i.e. having to borrow another’s laptop just so I could post this…

The rewards, however, of this act are immediate: the return and heightening of my senses… Hearing and enjoying the calming sound of raindrops outside my window was impossible in the past because of music blasting off my earphones. My eyes are readjusting to natural light and surroundings, being apart from the glare of the monitor screen. With nothing to distract me, I can see others anew.

Everything is a pleasure, everything is dear to me, even the slight pain in my right hand caused from writing too long (this was first written in my journal).

I think I’ve known long before… it is this silence, this solitude perfect for meditation, that is the nest of all things great, and powerful, and beautiful.

Every Artist’s Manifesto

I have just finished reading “The Writer’s Manifesto”, an ebook I got for free at Jeff Goins’ blog.

Short, artistically presented and yet profound, The Writer’s Manifesto resonated within me so deeply not only because I could very well relate to everything written in there, but also because I realized that this is not just a writer’s manifesto, it could very well be every artist’s (of any kind) manifesto.

How such a short book could encourage and empowered me is amazing. It reminded me of this – how do I put it – urge. See, I have this incessant urge to create something, to produce something; my system cannot help but bring something out of myself.

It is this urge that causes me to want to write something, to organize my thoughts in a comprehensible way and put them on paper.

It explains why I feel the need to sing whenever possible, to get something out in the air. It explains why I feel the need to make my voice be heard, to capture a moment in a photograph, to invent a story and present it in a short film (or feature-length film), even in the doodles I create.

Every artist has this need, this urge, to express. It is this urge that compels them, us, to create and be creative. It is ingrained in our DNA.

But there is a trap, that of recognition, and we must be wary of it. The world is mourning the death of Steve Jobs, and with good reason. He was the epitome of creativity and excellent art. He created something excellent, but it was powerful because he created what he wanted, mindless of what people thought (because really, no one knew they wanted an iphone before it came out, right?).

Get back to your first love, Jeff Goins says, get back to writing, mindless of blog stats, even without recognition. Goins says, “This manifesto is an outstretched hand to others who feel this same tension between creativity and congratulations.”

That, I believe, is more than a writer’s manifesto. It should be a manifesto for the musician, for the painter… for every artist.

To be the Right One… (in 5 years’ time)

Yesterday I had another of my health scares.

I was in town, about to go meet a friend when my sight suddenly failed me. Yes, everything started fading at a remarkable and alarming pace. I started freaking inwardly, knowing that I was alone, with no one with me, in a public place.

I stood there, my head swimming. I tried grasping tightly to consciousness, much like I would try grasping running water — almost in vain. Just the thought of passing out in the midst of strangers was what kept me fighting. Thankfully, all ended well. Thankfully, I was able to harness enough energy to hail a cab. Thankfully, the cab driver was a nice, fatherly guy who didn’t take advantage of me. So I arrived home safe and sound.

I hope that never happens again.

Recently though, I have come to realize a much scarier prospect: that of entering a relationship.

Wait, what?

Yes, entering a relationship. What was that? Of course it’s me writing this!

Why, you say? The past couple of weeks, I’ve come to the realization that I am not ready… (wait for it) YET.

This afternoon we were celebrating my teammate kuya Mark’s birthday. We were affirming him of how encouraged we were of his devotion to ate Neng, his wife. We even joked about him being our “measuring standard of husbands”. We all laughed, but when it was his turn to speak, he said this (non-verbatim): “…who I am is also because of Neng. She has brought out the best side of me… So singles, if you want to find the right one for you, you must also be prepared to be the right one for him/her, the one who could bring out the best in that person.”

When I meet “The One”, I’d want to be someone he can rely on, depend on, someone who could encourage him, nurture him, share with him, and bring out the best in him. But at this stage, right here, right now, I honestly can say that I cannot be this kind of person to him… yet.

When I meet him, I want to be the right one. (Hopefully 5 years will be enough. lol)

September Update

My September Minsitry Update is finally here… and it stars our new Key Volunteers from Saint Louis University School of Accountancy and Business Management.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.

Love, for Me, Pursues.

“We define God by what we think love is,” so Darin Hufford, author of “The Misunderstood God”, says.

Immediately, the word “pursuing” comes to mind, and I think of how God kept pursuing His people, no matter how many times they stumbled, or disregarded his Word, or even killed His messengers.

I think of how, even despite routine rejection, He keeps persevering, and of how He Himself came down to earth to pursue them.

And the picture of a father running after his toddler comes to mind. I see in my mind images of a father watching the child’s every move, on guard lest the kid stumble.

Of a father listening to his daughter’s ambitions and dreams, hopes and wishes. Of my dad listening to my hopes and wishes.

Of a mother wanting to ease her child’s pain.

Of a mother doing everything in her power to let her child have the best. Of my mom dreaming big things for us.

Of a man taking every moment possible to be with his love, to find every opportunity to learn every aspect about her, persevering to understand, to know, to really know who she is.

I believe true love pursues.

No wonder I get hurt and confused when people who claim to love me, don’t pursue me.

[This is by no means an endorsement or promotion of the book “The Misunderstood God”. I have not finished reading it yet; thus, I do not intend to pass judgment about it lest it be incomplete.]