Monday, April 24, 2006

OJ Ilocos...

There’s always a first time for everything even on the second time around.

It was my second OJ. For those who doesn’t know, OJ means Operation Jabez. We are trying to make the prayer of Jabez a reality, by extending our territories.

OJ Ilocos was very different from the first one. In ways that I never expected to be. How?

It was the first metro OJ. Thus, in just this single II project, I met many professionals from the four metro areas. The different personalities brought about interesting encounters. Some whom I thought to be very serious during the orientation, were in reality crazier than me. Some who looked quite intimidating turned out to be caring mother-hens. Someone whom I really quite feared I discovered to be hilarious (but I still need to get over my fear of this person).

I met people who became friends. I know that I may not see them until the next OJ but for sure, they are just a text away.

Encouraging and a blessing. The words that I must use to describe the local workers. It was wonderful to see these people who were willing to give their time, effort and money for the ministry as well as to make our stay more comfortable and memorable. Gladly, the church members and even the barangay captain opened their homes to us, welcomed us to a riverside resort, sent out delicious bibingka, cooked freshly caught fish, transported the sound system as well as the delegates, lent their hand during the free medical and dental day, and just plain supported us.

A comment : they all oh looked so young! Teen-agers turned out to be in their twenties. Those in early twenties were in reality in their early thirties! Who wouldn’t love to be a Fiipino?

OJ seems to bring me experiences that are not always very welcome. Moi, who has weak knees for blood, gave in to insistent demands to support the head of a dental patient. One patient is enough. Saw the bloody tooth straight from his mouth. Still, it was a memorable experience.

Another experience : I had to go to the market every other day (accompanied by a local worker) and do the shopping (sosyal na word for pamamalengke!) for our week-long meals. No problem with that. But how does one calculate the no. of kilos of chicken or fish that I need to buy in order to feed a 16-man team, plus some local workers and stay within the budget? With three big men whose appetites are hard to predict? What kind of vegetables must we serve? What fruits must go with what meat? Challenging? Very. It’s been so long since I last went to a public market in Manila. I buy at the grocery, just enough for 4 people, not four times that. But I did pass the hurdle, didn’t I? I hope. Maybe they left with an inch added to their waist.

The artist in me had the opportunity to flourish. I had a great time taking pictures of the people as well as the hidden beauty of Burgos, the last town of Ilocos (I hope I am right!).

Enjoyed our lunch with the beautiful view of a river in Burgos.

A short break one afternoon found me running after the little kids.

At the back of our host’s home, I found a wide expanse of land dotted with white cows.

The ocean, just a stone throw away. Pass by the fields, and you will arrive at the South China sea.

No OJ is complete without a day for rest and recreation. Pagudpod, famous for its beach, is now accessible! Just less than an hour away!

Just enjoying the fine sand of Pagudpod. And the beautiful sunset.

Only in Ilocos did I find an empanada that I like. A half moon of flattened rice dough, filled with egg, sausage (healthy?), and vegetables, deep fried, hot and crispy from the fire, add vinegar, and voila! A healthy, delicious and filling merienda! Add the suman Illocano (bibngka in Manila), the fresh seaweed, the grilled fresh fish, the over-flowing supply of watermelon, melon, mango and bananas! Plus the native ice cream and the thirst quencher halo-halo!

OJ Ilocos? It has its little inconveniences and discomforts. There are tiny ordeals and small tests. Just like any other activity or event. But I must focus more on the wonderful support of the people (local or delegates, as well as the financial supporters and the prayer partners), the unexpected experiences, the superb camaraderie, the admirable giving of self,and the unity of every soul for service for God and man. 21 hours, 8 days, 3 teams, 1 province. All for God.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Fathom yourself

I do not need to look into a mirror and sing the song of Mulan. True, her song is not mine to own. She reflects on her life as woman who has no voice in a world of men. I do not need to battle as an activist for my place in this world. I wage a different kind of battle. And so I would like to borrow her verses ...

Look at me,
You may think you see
Who I really am,
But you'll never know me.

it's as if I play
A part.

Now I see,
If I wear a mask,
I can fool the world,
but I cannot fool my heart.

This I ask, not to anyone else, but to myself. I often think I know myself but then there are circumstances in life that show that I do not.

Who is that girl I see?
Staring straight,
Back at me.
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

I may ask myself this question again and again but I know that I will never get the right answer. I am a clay beneath the potter's hand. He alone knows my consistency, my texture, how much water I need to make me whole, my height and width, my capacity to contain things. How I wish I could see what He sees. Life would be easier. It would be predictable.

Who is that girl I see,
staring straight
back at me?
Why is my reflection someone I don't know?

Must I pretend that I'm
someone else
for all time.
When will my reflection show,
who I am inside?

There's a heart that must be free
to fly
That burns with a need to know
the reason why

Why must we all conceal
What we think
How we feel?

Must there be
a secret me
I'm forced to hide
I won't pretend that I'm
someone else
for all time.

When will my reflection show
who I am inside?

I will continue to ask. I will continue to search. I know I will never find the answer here on earth. Still, I will ask.

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 (