Monday, August 22, 2005

Code name: TH

Boring. And forced. In local terms: TH or trying hard. That’s how I found the book “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown. Of course, I also had the usual perception much like that of fellow believers: that it was blasphemous. And I have to admit that in certain parts, the story was riveting, if only for the suspense when people were running after Robert and Sophie. But otherwise, I often found myself getting drowsy, even falling asleep while reading the book ( A sacrilege! I normally don’t fall asleep when I read storybooks!). Is it because I knew already that the author was writing about untruths? Or is it because I expected too much from the book based on the popularity it has attained? Or maybe it was set in France?

I am no expert in doing book reviews nor do I dare make one officially. But I’ve read lots of fiction books and thus I have a point comparison. And all I can say is that the author seemed to be trying so hard to be scandalous! He tried to ferret out unchristian (or New Age) meanings to all Christian beliefs and symbols! It was so easy to identify the Teacher, to boot! Thus, it was easy to lose interest in following a mystery in which you already know the enemy! (takes away the suspense!)

To veer off my unofficial review, in retrospect, I wonder… can the man sleep at night? How can someone write something so profane and so ungodly and yet not be fearful? Does he really believe in everything he has written? Is this just a ploy to sell his story? Are his mind and heart totally blind by these blatant untruths that he could not even feel a glimmer of compunction for his writing? Believing in lies is one thing, but making others partake of your deceit is another.

I hope he will one day unweave his web of deception. Pity the man who is blinded beyond our imagination.
- - - - - - - - - - -
I read his other book: Angels and Demons. A much better creation. Better thought of. Better planned. Better written. It was not even sacrilegious (unless I missed something, it's not blatanly profane anyway). I was rushing through the words because I wanted to really know the ending and discover the archenemy. Rather read this one.

Goodbyes and regrets

I kissed my boss goodbye last Friday. Just the usual beso-beso.

I felt nothing. Or maybe I did. Sadness. For him. Not because he is leaving. But because he is departing yet no one will miss him (well, maybe just one, the only other expat who understood him). A few days even, I was so angry at him and was saying to my colleagues that I want to see him leave.

He is intelligent. He should be since he was recently promoted. He must be since he was handling a sector that requires deep understanding. I know he is.

He is kind. He could be to those whom he wants to be kind, so they say. He greets and smiles to people in the morning. He knows how to say thank you (100 points!) He doesn't shout (1,000 points!).

I learned he picks up stray cats and takes care of them. And I believe that people who can love animals have tender hearts. He promises the caretaker of his house that he will send her money until she finds another job. That shows concern. He spends a lot for his going away party, indicating that the amount is of no concern. He wants the food to last even after he is gone. That's sweet.

And yet, he can be incredibly stupid. He doesn't understand or doesn't try to understand when you explain something to him (impatient?). He emails things he wants you to do yet does not explain how he wants them done. Ask him to validate something and he will read your report and will just return it to you without making any corrections ( there should always be corrections). He doesn't tell you what is happening in your sector until he leaves for vacation. But only to make a follow-up, no explanations attached to explain the background. Not to mention little insults he directs to you.

He returns gifts (not to me, which is good!). He leaves during a surprise birthday party (before my time, and we learned from that story). He is forced to give a list of people to invite for his despedida (I am a witness to this).

I often wondered. Is he afraid of friendships or any kind of association? Why is he so detached? What is he afraid of?

Sad that he was not able to impart his knowledge. Sad that he was not able to inspire his previous and current staff. Sad that he did not make a difference in anyone's life (in the office anyway, I am sure the housetaker will miss him).

I often prayed for him. And I think I will still do so even after he has left the country. I hope he will change. I hope he will learn. Life is sad as it is. More so without attachments and friends.

Goodbyes are supposed to be sad. But this one is tinged more with regret.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The power of prayer

I am a witness to the miracles of God, and His ways of answering my prayers even though I have misgivings myself. I experience God's answers even though I don't mention it to Him. He knows my heart and He answers, according to His will.

I remember being hesistant in leaving my old job, knowing that God is using me there as I help lead a weekly gathering and discussion about God.

God answered an unspoken prayer. In a million years, I never imagined that all the young Filipina ladies working at my new office would be believers, even the recent newcomer. And so I discovered that there were 5 of us, in different levels of maturity, it is true, yet we all have the same faith. And so He responded to my desire to be used. We meet weekly and it is good. We know our faiths and thus it is a check in itself in how we relate to each other.

And then recently, having had a bad experience with an expat boss who bullied all of his staff and currently having an expat boss who does not communicate with me, I heard with dread that come September I will have a new boss. And all I can do is to raise to God my fear. There were days that I was not able to mention this concern in my prayers and thus I worry.

What will happen? Will I be able to work well with this new boss?Learning later on that my new boss will be a she, I became a little more vexed. Will a lady boss be more difficult? Will she give all the work to me? Will there be shouting matches (highly unlikely from me, a non-confrontational person!)? Will she pick on me?

I have come a long way since my crying days when I had my first expat boss. I believed God has made me stronger. Yet, I hate not working well with my boss. I hate second-guessing what is the current mood of my boss and thus drawing up the right attitude I should have. I hate not knowing what he wants me to do.

And then last tuesday, I met and spoke to her. She's smaller than me. A little bit chubby. Seems friendly. But most striking is the niceness emanating from her. Throughout the week, I had several chats with her. Learned that she shouted with joy upon learning that she will be assigned here in the Philippine (10 points for that! My other boss can't seem to stop complaing about everything here!). Learned that she wants to employs people that needs the job (seems to indicate that she has a soft heart). And to boot, she gave us all presents (beautiful handkerchiefs from Japan) even though she was the new one!

I had hoped so much for this and I know that this is God's wonderful answer. I am a witness to God's wonderful miracle ( some say that the expats that are being sent to our country are those that are being dumped on us, not wanted, but I wonder if this is true).

Yup, I have reservations. I know that there will be problems (life wouldn't be life without those!). There will always be tests. I just need to be prepared.

Now if only the other two expats that will soon come will be as nice. And if only I will one day meet an expat Christian. That would be the day! But miracles do happen.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Dressing up and enjoying it

Last July 14, my officemates and I had the opportunity to dress up once again. The embassy was hosting the Bastille day at Mandarin Hotel and we were told to be there. Some were to man the sign-up table, others to meet up again with business contacts, while some were just there to enjoy the night. It was my second time to attend such a function and I was looking forward to the day itself.

True, it was kinda tiring to prepare for the night. You need to look for a dress, matching shoes, accessories and of course, tame the hair and put on the right make-up. One eagerly went to the shopping mall to get new shoes and the right earings. Another asked around if she should wear her black or red dress. Another decided to just use the dress she wore at a recent wedding. And moi? I found this cute top but I asked around if anyone has a matching skirt.

Good thing that we didn't have work that day. One of those few days when we have a holiday since it was officially chosen among the many holidays in the Philippines and France ( we only have around 12 or 15 for the whole year, a mix between the Philippine and French holidays).

I am not really a very extrovert person but I found out that I enjoy these kind of nights. It is not everyday that you can dress up and look very nice. You get to meet new people. You have the opportunity to chat again with people you only get to see once in awhile.

It is also during these dressing up nights that I found out how I've changed a lot. Some were complaining about dressing up, spending extra for transportation cost or even just having to talk to other people. But I've learned to looked at everything in life from the positive point of view. I looked at that night as an opportunity to look pretty, interact with other people, get to eat free and delicious food, and just to enjoy myself.

So all night I just smiled, chatted away, flitted around the different tables, savoured the food, feasted on the desserts, sipped some wine and just plain had fun. How a positive perspective changes the tone of your life. And I even had the bonus of seeing a cute guy roaming around.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Celebrating my friends

I am now a year older. I just ended a year of my life and am now entering another. It was a fun birthday. I received ingenious surprises, wonderful gifts and got flooded by many birthday greetings.

But a birthday, in many ways, is a measurement of one’s achievements. Not monetary, not even professionally. But in identity and character. Maybe it is right, maybe it is wrong, but in reality, we know if we have friends and loved ones during birthdays and celebrations (such as Christmas and Valentine). I believe that if many people remember you on your birthday, give you gifts and send you greetings, then it means that you are loved, adored and cherished.

And many times in my life I was afraid of my birthday. I worry. I wonder. Will someone remember? Will anyone send a greeting? Or better yet, care to show they care?

And thus, I thank God that for this year, once again, many remembered. Two reasons. They did, because they are great friends. And because God has made me into a better person and this, I know, others see.

For my friends, I write this blog in your memory. I thank you for sharing your lives to me. I thank you for letting me be part of yours.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


I will be turning a year older tomorrow. And I can’t help but think of the past year. What have I accomplished? What things have I learned? Am I very much different from the person I was a year ago?

Birthdays make us think. It tickles the mind, challenges the emotion and rouses the soul. But then it also makes me wonder why it is only when we earn another year, be it based on our birth or the calendar, that we then consider the bygone times?

Right now, I am trying to see what I feel… Sad? Happy? Excited? Expectant? Maybe a mixture of the lot.

Tomorrow, I enter another year of my life.

I hope it will still be connected with the Creator.

The Tower

I recently received the confirmation of my training in France. I don’t know what to think and feel. Is it finally going to happen? Am I finally going to see the Eiffel Tower?

A year ago my hopes were dashed when a scholarship that was supposed to be mine was given to someone else. I felt betrayed. I knew then what it felt like to receive a gift and yet taken away.

But later on, I realized, so what? God has given me the dream and thus I know He will give it to me.

In His own time. He knows what is best for me and when best to give a gift to me.Still, being human, sometimes I can’t help but hold my breath. I am excited yet guarded. I dream yet my feet are still on the ground.

And all I can do is pray and put my trust in Him.

It will happen. I know. One day, I will stand high above the Eiffel Tower. It will be His gift. And I will receive with thanksgving.

It can be fun!

Before it began, sitting a few rows from the stage, I was smiling to myself. I found it somewhat funny that I will be giving a testimony. Or maybe it was just the coping mechanism within me. And muttering to myself, for several times, “Oh God!” Dreading the moment I need to stand yet found it humorous that I fear what I am about to do. And then, our Pastor was calling me, mentioning that he has asked me because he was a witness to the changes God did to me. And so I slowly walk to the stage, accepting the microphone he handed to me while encouraging me that I could do it.

In about 10 minutes, it was all over.

I did make some mistakes. Mispronounced certain words, blundered over two or three phrases, even repeated the same words all over. Blame it on my fluttering heart. But in general, my testimony went well.

I was nervous. A sea of faces looking at me. I fumbled over my first sentence. Tried to be spontaneous. And decided to just read the text I prepared. I reminded myself to retain my smile but be solemn at certain places. I remember stressing a particular point so that they will remember it.

I prayed several times that God will use my words to encourage someone, even just one. I’ve been there, felt what a regular kid felt, and so I hope that through my mistakes, through my life, they will learn, and help them follow the right path. I asked God to check my motives. I do want to brag about the changes God has done in me, but I want to make sure that it is for His glory and not mine.

Later on, some people approached me, telling me that they were blessed by my testimony. I smiled and I thanked them, not knowing what else to say. I know that people usually praise God but this is the first time to me and I am not used to verbally doing that. I know though that I thank God for the privilege He has given me.

One person that I never expected to do so approached me. His sister discipled me. And in some ways, I want to return the favor to his kids.

Thank you God. It was fun! Yet, am I ready for the next round?

Lion Chaser Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshiping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (