Archive | Ministry RSS feed for this section

Family trip: Dumaguete 2017

4 Jun

While we were unloading our luggages upon arriving in the airport, Eugene said that he left his backpack in GCF (where we came from). It contained his laptop which contained his sermon notes so without second thoughts, he went back.

The funny thing is, while Eugene was locking up our luggages and was about to book an Uber, we saw two friends on their way to Batangas and he jokingly asked them if they would like to drive us to the airport. They obliged. And so Eugene was happy to have gotten a free ride to the airport… only to actually pay double the taxi fare later on because of the bag he accidentally left.

The first agenda of our trip… Eugene preaching at Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC).

Not only did Eugene left his backpack. When our luggages were weighed when we checked-in for our flight, we exceeded our baggage allowance for the plane ride. Ha! I somehow got a feeling we would actually be doing so, inspite of packing as lightly as I could, bringing clothes less than the number of days we would be staying in Dumaguete.

Reunited with Gran’ma Maya.

Eugene readily obliged to pay PhP 800 as penalty for exceeding 4 kg beyond our luggage weight limit. I, however, was not willing to ‘dispose’ that amount so I tried to negotiate with the airline crew and asked if we could forego it. ‘Di tumalab yung charm ko. Tsk! (Minsan daw kasi nadadaan sa pakiusap, ‘pag maayos yung pag-request mo). To avoid paying the penalty, we just hand carried Eugene’s luggage.

And that’s how our trip started… we haven’t even left Manila yet and I was feeling stressed already. I was just so thankful that we went to the airport early so Eugene had enough time to get his bag and travel back to the airport. And also that it was a Saturday so traffic was relatively light. Imagine if we didn’t leave home early and if it was a weekday. And imagine if Eugene didn’t make it back to the airport on time. I was also thankful that Eugene’s luggage was small enough to be hand carried.

Eugene preached on ‘Encountering Jesus’ on the Sunday morning before the start of the youth camp.

Ministry

We traveled to Dumaguete because Eugene served as speaker in the youth camp of Dumaguete Christian Church (DCC), a church attended mostly by Chinese in Eugene’s hometown. Pastor Thomas Sioson, their Youth Pastor who was Eugene’s classmate (in high school as well as in college in Silliman), invited him to talk to their youth on ‘rising above the label of being a mellenial’, the theme for DCC’s 4th summer camp held from May 21 to 26 in Camp Seasite in Banilad, Dumaguete.

Lunch with Elder Emmanuel Ho after Eugene preached. We are very grateful for Elder Emmanuel because he has extended a lot of effort in accommodating us during the camp.

Before the camp started, Eugene also preached in DCC the following morning after our arrival. The camp officially started after DCC’s Worship Service that Sunday, in the afternoon, and Eugene had his first speaking session that evening.

We had a blessed time serving and ministering in Dumaguete. It is always good to go to a church and meet new people you share the same faith with. Though Eugene already knows a few people in DCC or at least some faces are familiar with him since Dumaguete is just a small town that it’d not be unusual to meet people you know in small get togethers.

Eugene giving the message on the second night of the camp.

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” –Colossians 3:1-3

This was the theme verse of the camp. In addition to Eugene’s exposition on this Bible verse on the first night, he talked about the life of Jonah for the rest of the sessions. There were about 60 campers who went to the camp. I am sorry to say, though, that we had very limited interaction with them. I, however, would say that they were receptive of the messages and were very honest in sharing their struggles and in asking questions.

The theme of the camp.

Camp culture

Unlike our youth camps in our church where we have plenary sessions in the morning, in the afternoon, and in the evening, the sessions in DCC’s youth camp were held only in the evening. I couldn’t actually believe when, before the camp, Eugene said he was speaking and, therefore, would go to the camp site only in the evening. I kept asking him if he’s sure with such arrangement and if he wouldn’t be needed in the camp during the day because I’m used to having our speakers present with us for the whole duration when we have our youth camp in our church.

Lunch with a DCC member’s family at Dong Juan.

It turned out such schedule worked for us. It afforded us time to relax during the day and we were not pressured to wake up early and be in a hurry to eat breakfast and get dressed in the morning… a very difficult ordeal when you have a baby. Haha. And even though the sessions were scheduled from 8 to 9 PM, it was not tiring at all as we were rested during the day. After each session, we were immediately brought back to the hotel (which is just a five-minute drive away) so we were not out nor didn’t stay up late either. If there is one thing we were thankful to do in Dumaguete, it was to catch up with sleep and relax and slow down a bit.

We did, however, go to the camp site in the morning twice. One was just to visit and see what the kids are up to during the day. Even though their plenary sessions were held in the evenings, they were still loaded during the day as they had activities, workshops, and trainings, e.g., the kids were taught how to do inductive bible studies as one of their training-workshops.

They also have what we in our church call love notes just like we do in our youth camps. Here they write messages to fellow campers as well as to the staff.

The second time we went to the camp in the morning was for a Q&A session. This was a session where the campers asked anything they wanted to the speaker (Eugene) and boy were their questions deep! Of course there were the usual questions on love and courtship and Christianity but I (nor Eugene, I suppose) did not expect the campers to ask about predestination, election, free will, Calvinism, and the like. Seriously! I was already an adult when I started to ask about those things. I didn’t even know anything about Calvinism until I was over 25 years old. The campers who asked about these things? They were just high school and college students!

Two campers playing with our little one.

Not only that, after the session, (some of) the boys couldn’t seem to have enough of their questions answered that they had an extended session with Eugene in an informal small group setting. I asked Eugene what did these boys ask. He just said the usual stuff about love and courtship. The session kasi was bitin. Eugene’s answers to the questions raised during the Q&A were long kaya only a few were asked. I think there are a lot of questions still lined up but the one-hour time allotted for it was already up. Anyway, I think an exclusive Q&A session is a very good idea to include in a camp as it would be a fun and learning session for everyone.

The elders and leaders of DCC were very much involved, too. They visited the camp and were present during the plenary sessions. Actually, during the Worship Service in their church before the camp started, it was announced that their prayer meeting for that week was cancelled as the members were encouraged to attend the camp instead. Parents also visited their kids. Back in 2014, Eugene has also been invited as a speaker in a youth camp (of a Chinese christian church, too) in Cebu and I remember that their pastor and leaders and parents of the campers visited and attended the plenary sessions of the camp, too.

This is the camp site which is interestingly called “Camp Seasite” in Banilad, Dumaguete. It’s not far from the town proper, just a few minutes drive.

The camp site is a single-storey structure mainly made of bamboo and nipa and is located beside a beach and a mangrove. The session hall, dining hall, and sleeping quarters are all located within the same building and are non-airconditioned. I even saw a tuko (monitor lizard) one time when we were there. A total of six kids occupy a room. The campers themselves served their meals and washed their dishes. It reminded me when I went to IVCF’s month-long Kawayan Camp way back in 2001 where we slept in kubos and also did the dishes.

Some of the campers washing the dishes after a meal.

Now, if there’s one thing that DCC’s and our church’s youth have in common, it’s the music and how they have their praise and worship time. The songs, the band, the dim lights, they were exactly the same Eugene actually said he felt like he was home.

The camp started on Sunday afternoon and ended on Friday morning. Eugene spoke in a total of five plenary sessions plus the Q&A during the six-day long youth camp.

Our little one (LO) playing with Pastor Thomas’ little one. Our LO loves to hug other babies.

Vacation

The rest of our stay in Dumaguete is the vacation part. We mostly spent the rest of our time hanging out and dining out with Eugene’s family. (And motorbiking around town… because it is something we wouldn’t dare do in Metro Manila). We wanted to go to Negros Occidental to visit Eugene’s only surviving aunt (on his father’s side) to let her see our little one (LO). And also to make a side trip to Bacolod but we were not able to do so. Sad. We also didn’t, even for a day or half, go to a beach! Too bad, I thought our LO would be able to go to the beach for the first time. Sayang. I could only console myself and say, “next time.”

During the Q&A session on the 5th day of the camp.

I also celebrated my 37th birthday in Dumaguete. There wasn’t anything special we did, we (with Eugene’s family) just had dinner at Lantaw, the most famous restaurant in Dumaguete right now, I think, as it is always full regardless of the day or time. The place is already big so imagine when I say it is full. There must be more than 150 persons dining all at the same time. My birthday was on a Monday and when we went there we had to wait for quite some time as we were 15th in line.

All in all, we had a blessed and meaningful time of ministry in Dumaguete and also with family. It is always a joy to serve and minister to fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and we praise and thank God for the opportunity. We didn’t plan nor expect this trip so it was a blessing to go home to Eugene’s hometown and be with his family.

Hubby with his friend Pastor Thomas who invited Eugene to serve as the speaker for their youth camp.

We are very grateful to DCC and to their leaders and members for the very warm welcome and generous treatment we have received from them. We are very sorry we cannot remember your names but we would like to thank everyone who has hosted us for lunch or dinner and for the accommodation and transportation provided for us. Thank you especially to Elder Emmanuel Ho who has extended the most effort to accommodate us.

After the Q&A, the boys still had a lot of questions that they had an informal extended session with Eugene afterwards.

Of course, all these wouldn’t have been possible if not for the invitation of their Youth Pastor so to Pastor Thomas, thank you! Thank you for inviting us and for giving us the opportunity to serve and minister to your church.

We give God the glory.

Here are some more photos during our trip:

Dinner with another member’s family at Mooon Cafe. There was another member who hosted us for dinner but we were not able to take a picture with them.

On the last night of the camp, the campers washed each other’s feet as part of their Dedication Night.

Group picture with all the campers.

These boys took a selfie when I gave them my camera and asked one of them to take a picture of us with Pastor Thomas, his family, and Elder Emmanuel.

With Pastor Thomas and his wife and Elder Emmanuel. This was taken on our last night in camp after Eugene gave the final message and the challenge to the campers.

I bugged Eugene to take a photo with the banner bearing his name but he refused.

With Elder Emmanuel and his wife. This was taken on the last day of camp when they fetched us from the hotel to drive us to the house where we lived for the rest of our stay in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Gabby’s.

Lunch with Eugene’s family at Mooon Cafe after the Worship Service in First Baptist Church on the second Sunday we were in Dumaguete.

Dinner with Eugene’s family in Lantaw on my birthday.

Eating streetfood at the Boulevard, the road overlooking the sea.

Advertisements

A shower of blessings for the Negis

27 Mar

We attended their wedding in June last year and now we attended a baby shower for them.

Emcees for the party.

Our friends Shyam and Christy are now expecting a baby boy. Their friends from the Connect Ministry (GCF’s ministry to workers in the BPO industry) organized a shower for them yesterday to bless the new family with love, prayers, and gifts.

There was a game for you to guess what gender will Shyam and Christy’s baby be.

It was just a simple party. Aside from the usual stuff (i.e., a couple of games and some snacks), Shyam and Christy revealed the gender of their baby through a gender reveal announcement. I’m aware of and familiar with the current trend on gender reveals and how it’s becoming a normal part of baby showers but it was my first time to attend one where there was an actual gender reveal announcement so I was excited about it. They’re having a baby boy, by the way.

Showers of gifts.

Of course, the party would not be a shower without the “ceremonial” gift-opening which was more or less the highlight of the event. We also showered the new family, of course, with prayers which Eugene led. We especially prayed for a safe and healthy pregnancy for Christy and the baby as Christy is experiencing some difficulty with her pregnancy.

Caption to the video above: I clicked on the record button too late to capture the start of the gender reveal announcement.

But what I find to really be the highlight and most meaningful during the celebration was when Christy shared the story behind the name they will give to their baby boy due in May. Christy shared that they will name their child Noah because Noah (in the Bible) was described as a “righteous man, blameless among the people in his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:9). This is inspite of “how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth” (Genesis 6:5) and how “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence” (Genesis 6:11). “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). He was chosen by God to preserve the human race and eventually to save men through Jesus Christ. (Read the story of Noah here).

Showers of prayers and blessings.

And so they are blessing their child to be named Noah because when the time comes (when earth will be more wicked and corrupt than now), Shyam and Christy want their child to be like Noah, a “righteous” and blameless man who will be used by God to save people. Wow! That is a very powerful blessing to your unborn child.

Shyam and Christy with their Connect family.

(And that is also why the theme of the shower is Noah’s Ark).

Shyam and Christy, we pray for God’s mercy and grace to be upon you and Baby Noah. May God’s favor be indeed upon him and may he indeed grow up to be a righteous and blameless man in the sight of the Lord.

Eugene and I with the soon-to-be-new-parents.

We are rejoicing with you as you enter this new chapter in your life. We will also be here for you to walk with you in your parenting journey.

Our little one turns 1

21 Mar

We praise God we were able to pull off a party as our Little One (LO) turned one. I don’t have skills to host a party so organizing one was by the grace of God. We also praise God because we were able to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday and dedication in a special way.

Eugene giving his testimony on how we have been ministered to by Shiphrah.

When our LO was just a few months old, Eugene and I would casually talk about how we would like to celebrate her first birthday and dedication. I’m not really into parties (I always opt for a private celebration of personal or family events). But because she is our first born (which took us five-six years before we had her) and turning one is a major milestone (which I think deserves a celebration and because we didn’t celebrate her month-saries), something in me as a mother wanted to throw a party for her. But Eugene and I wanted it to be a simple celebration, something unique, something that would be meaningful to us as a family, and something that we hope she would appreciate when we tell her the story when she grows up.

Jeri Gunderson sharing what HELP Ministries is.

It was actually Eugene who came up with the idea of having it done in Shiphrah, the birthing home where our LO was born. We have been ministered by their care when I gave birth there last year and since then we have wanted to be able to minister to them, too. We’ve actually long wanted to let our friends know about it. We’ve also long wanted to visit the place again to say hi to the staff there especially to Ate Lorni and Ate Belle, my midwives. So when Eugene thought of the idea, I readily agreed and thought it would be the opportunity we’ve been hoping for. There would be no other better place to celebrate our LO’s first birthday and dedication than in the place where she was born with the people who helped me birth her. And to “return the favor” to Shiphrah, we thought of raising funds for them by requesting our guests to make an offering to Shiphrah in lieu of giving gifts for our LO.

Ate Lorni Bagro, one of my midwives, giving her testimony.

The party went well (I think so). It was short and simple but with the aim to introduce HELP International Ministries, Inc. (the missions organization that operates Shiphrah Birthing Home and ‘the little children’s home’, an orphanage) to our friends. Eugene and I started the program by sharing our testimonies after which Jeri Gunderson, Founder and Director of HELP, and Deborah Gustafson, Jeri’s daughter who also works for HELP, shared what the ministry is. Workers from ‘the little children’s home’ and my midwives from Shiphrah also shared their testimonies. After the highlights on HELP, Pastor Erik Dizon officiated the dedication ceremony. We then did the “traditional” (cup)cake candle blowing then Eugene closed the program in prayer. That was it. Short and simple. Of course, fellowship over simple refreshments followed after.

Pastor Erik Dizon praying a prayer of dedication.

Grateful

We are very grateful to God and to a lot of people who have helped us for our LO’s first birthday celebration and dedication. I still plan to personally thank each of them but I will still mention them here. In no particular order, we are thankful to…

Parang napaka-OA o scripted ng kuha namin. Hahaha.

  • The Handog family who have given a lot of their time, effort, and resources in helping me plan this celebration. They also made the decors, set-up the place, and sponsored the sweets for dessert.
  • Kuya Api and Ate Chette, Jon and Mayette, John and Rajsh, and to Caleb and to Luan, for accepting our request to stand as ninongs and ninangs (godparents) to our LO.
  • Ate Bettylyn who also helped out in setting-up the place.
  • Jeri Gunderson who I coordinated with in HELP. Thank you for letting us hold the party in Shiphrah.
  • Ate Lorni and Ate Belle and to the other staff of HELP for sharing their testimonies.
  • Caleb for the drinks and for all the other help that day.
  • Rajsh for serving as emcee and for the icebreaker game.
  • Nino for taking the pictures.
  • Pastor Erik Dizon for officiating the dedication ceremony.
  • Karen and Teacher Angel for lending the songs we played.
  • Carol (Sweet Caroline’s Cakes) for making the cupcakes.

Our family.

    • Alyssa for lending your photo frame.
    • To all our friends who came and to those who gave offerings whether you came or were not able to. Total offerings received during the event amounted to PhP 21,000, exclusive of those who gave/will give directly to HELP. Thank you so much for this. Thank you also to those who have pledged to give directly to HELP.
    • Thank you also to those who gave gifts to our LO in addition to the offerings they gave to HELP. We couldn’t be more thankful.
    • The Barrera family for donating their old children’s books to ‘the little children’s home’.
    • For the new relationships that were formed. I don’t know yet the details but I know that connections were formed between members of my local Church GCF (Greenhills Christian Fellowship) and HELP and there were initial talks for our friends to minister to them. We pray these plans would materialize.
    • Most of all, we are grateful to God for allowing us to have this celebration. To be honest, I wanted to cancel it two weeks before the event because our LO got sick and was confined in a hospital twice (you can read about her confinement the first time here and the second time here). Thankfully, the party pushed through. We are thankful for our LO who gives us so much joy. We are also thankful for the strength and wisdom God has given us in our first year as parents. We know there are more hardships to come but we are confident God will be there for us.

    The staff of HELP International Ministries, Inc.

          HELP International Ministries, Inc.

          Taken from their website and Facebook page.

          HELP International Ministries, Inc. is a family organization that ministers to their community by showing God’s love through practical ways of providing hospitality and care. It operates ‘the little children’s home’, an orphanage that provides a loving and nurturing home for children who are in need of tender loving care until they are born into their forever families, and Shiphrah, a birthing home which provides dignified personal maternal health care to women.

          Our LO’s ninongs and ninangs. We don’t expect gifts on special occasions but please make sure to pray for her and for us parents.

          Shiphrah is close to my heart because I have personally experienced their care. Their midwives have been instrumental for my birth experience. (If you are patient and willing enough you can read my very long birth story here). It is also close to my heart because more than just a birthing home, it is a ministry so there is more than just helping women give birth. Their primary ministry is to their immediate community in Taytay, Rizal but it has “gained popularity” within the gentle birth community that pregnant mothers travel as far as from Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite just to go to prenatal check-ups and give birth there. Mothers actually have been raving about Shiphrah. Though a lot of first time mothers go there, too, I’ve noticed that most who go there are 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time mothers who wanted to have a better birth experience after their hospital births. A lot of them are VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) moms, too.

          I need to have a picture taken by the dessert bar courtesy of the Handog family.

          I hope to share to pregnant mothers that you can have a say and a choice when it comes to childbirth. Midwives at Shiphrah are professionals and they are trained for birth emergencies. They would also require you to have a back-up doctor and a plan just in case hospital transfers are required. They are trained to recognize complications early on. They would also refer you to an OB-Gyne if you have risk factors that necessitates medical care. So you could be sure you are in good hands. I have been ministered by their care that sometimes I want to be a birth educator or a midwife or a doula so I can also minister to other mothers in this way. But by simply letting people know about HELP and about Shiphrah, I hope I have already ministered to both of them.

          With Eugene’s co-workers, the GCF staff.

            If you want to give

            For those who gave an offering, thank you so much again and please know that your gifts would be used for the renovation of Shiphrah Birthing Home and for the continuing education and certification of their midwives as required by the Department of Health.

            Do check out HELP International Ministries‘ website to know more about ‘the little children’s home’ and Shiphrah Birthing Home.

            Follow also their Facebook page.

            If you want to make an offering, you may check this link.

            Thank you once again to all.

            We give God the glory.

            With Growth Group-mates.

            With friends from Dumaguete.

            With the rest of our friends.

            With the Handog family (Pastor Art, Ate Rose, and Yayeeh) and Ate Bettylyn and her daughter Hannah who all helped out with decorating the place.

            Pastors and wives retreat: David in the wilderness

            21 Jan

            We left the house at 6 AM because the car we used was under the coding scheme on Monday, the first day of the retreat, so we need to be out of the streets of Metro Manila by 7 AM. The retreat doesn’t start until noon so we had breakfast and hanged out first before going to CCT. It was so cold! It’s Baby Carissa’s 4th time to be in Tagaytay but our first time to take a picture with Taal Lake in the background.

            It’s our nth time to attend the GCF satellite-wide pastors and wives retreat but it was our first time with a baby. We had Pastor Carlos Peña as our speaker for the second time around (the first time was in 2014) and at the same venue in CCT Tagaytay.

            Our speaker for the GCF pastors and wives retreat, Pastor Carlos Peña. His sessions were short but very meaningful. I heard he’ll be going to the US very soon for his next assignment. Photo by Ruth Dizon.

            This annual retreat is something I look forward to attending every January because it gives us a break from all the ‘work’ we did the previous year and it is very timely to be fed by The Word as well as a start for a new year. This year, Pastor Caloy spoke in four sessions on the life of David in the wilderness, a place where you don’t want to but sometimes find yourself in. I’ll try to capture (major ideas in summary) as much as I learned and can remember below (because it is quite difficult to listen and focus your attention when you have a hyperactive baby with you attending the sessions).

            Sharing and praying time after every session. Photo by Pastor Jojun Loanzon.

            Session 1. Wows/Wonders in the wild

            1. When David had two rare opportunities to kill Saul, Israel’s king, who was trying to kill David (1 Samuel 24:4, 6).

            • At first look, it seems that it was a divine opportunity, that it was God’s plan and God’s will for David to kill Saul since David has been anointed king, but he discerned much better (1 Samuel 26:8, 9-11).
            • Not all rare opportunities are divine. Love your enemy, trust God in His timing.
            • There is a sense of holy in the ordinary.

            2. When David flees from Saul and reached a dead end, he allied with the Philistines, an enemy (1 Samuel 27).

            • There is no comment in the Bible why David did such.
            • Sometimes we find ourselves in unwanted territory/unappealing circumstances brought by ourselves or providentially. In such cases, we should rely on God. Do not compromise, rather, choose righteousness and stay faithful. There are no right answers all the time. Take each moment at a time.
            • There is a sense of mystery in the messy.

            3. When Saul finally died (a very gruesome death), with his son Jonathan, David’s friend (1 Samuel 31).

            • Istead of rejoicing that he can finally take his place as king, David mourned and grieved genuinely (2 Samuel 17 – 27, The Mother of all Laments, as our speaker describes it).
            • As king, there is a new life for David. All things do come to an end.
            • There is a sense of destiny in the story.

            The pastoral life resembles the wilderness, but it can be a graceful, hopeful, and joyful experience. It is a matter of perspective. We must not escape but rather embrace it.

            Hanging out at Starbucks. The schedule of the retreat was very relaxed it affords us time to go out of the venue. We are the young pastors and wives of GCF, that includes our Senior Pastor Larry Pabiona with his wife as well as Pastor Erik Dizon and his wife. Photo by Ruth Dizon.

            Session 2. Women in the wild

            1. Abigail: The peacemaker (1 Samuel 25).

            • David had been watching and protecting Nabal’s property and sheep (v. 16), but when he asked a favor from him, Nabal refused to grant it. David then prepared to attack and kill Nabal and his servants (vv. 21-22).
            • However, Abigail, Nabal’s wife, tried to pacify David and sent him gifts (vv. 28, 30-31). David did not attack Nabal then.
            • There is beauty in the midst of the ugly.
            • An appeal to a higher calling: to diffuse anger.

            2. Bathsheba: The power broker (2 Samuel 11).

            • David’s use of power was evident when he sent for Bathsheba. However, when she became pregnant, Bathsheba ‘used’ her power to break David’s. She sent for David as if to say, “You’re dead, I’m pregnant.”
            • An internal war/battle waged inside David whether to hold on tighter to his power or to let go. He decided to hold on tighter (vv. 14-18).
            • Warning to unbridled power: like money, we need to manage it. It is great but it is also a temptation.

            3. Abishag: The presence (1 Kings 1).

            • When King David was dying, he was reduced to a problem to be solved (vv. 1-2) and an opportunity to be seized/an instrument for someone else to assume power (vv. 15-17).
            • Abishag, however, was the only bright spot in David’s deathbed. She served and attended to him. She saw King David as a man to be served with no other agenda (vv. 4, 15).
            • The ministry of being there (serving).

            Group picture of GCF Center and satellites pastors and wives during the retreat held from January 16-18, 2017 in CCT Tagaytay. Photo by Pastor Jojun Loanzon.

                (I was not able to listen well in Sessions 3 and 4 so below are Eugene’s notes).

                Session 3. Wimps in the wilderness

                Wimps are people with different agendas, motives, purposes. The story is about Joab, Abner, Baanah, and Recab and their cycle of silly games and vengeance in 2 Samuel.

                • Revenge + Insecurity + Personal ambition = Death.
                • Though wimps are accounted for in God’s economy, they can never destroy your faith-journey in Jesus.
                • Be wary of people who look after your interests but not God’s.
                • God’s way isn’t just about destiny, the journey is just as important. Wimps are instruments to mould you. The journey is not from Point A to B but from Point A to being B.
                • Don’t wait for the opportune time before you take God seriously. There’s a good chance circumstances will not get better, it might only get worse. Start life right now, don’t wait.

                Pine trees!

                  Session 4. Wind and whirlwind in the wilderness (2 Samuel 13-19)

                  The story is about rape, revenge, rebellion, revolt, retribution, ruin, and regrets in the life of David and his sons in 2 Samuel.

                  David as a father failed because he was:

                  • Out of sight
                  • Out of sync
                  • Out of shape

                  The lesson: when pushed into a choice, always be a great parent. You can settle to be a mediocre pastor or anything else but always choose to be a great parent.

                  The retreat ended on Wednesday noon. Because we switched vehicles which was under the coding scheme again for that day, we needed to stay out late before heading home and be off the streets of Metro Manila not earlier than 8 PM. Our friends accompanied us to kill time and hang-out. After we left CCT, we ate merienda in Paseo de Sta. Rosa, went (window) shopping in HMR, then ate dinner and had coffee in Nuvali. We went home very late still not wanting to go home. Haha! Photo by Phoebe Rueda.

                  A baby shower for Andrei Nigel

                  15 Jan

                  ​We threw a baby shower for our fellow pastor’s wife, Nikki, wife of Pastor Gelo Tuanqui, yesterday. We held the party at Pastor Manny and Ate Tintin Enriquez’s house in Quezon City.

                  It was just a short and simple party where we played a couple of games, had fellowship over food (of course), and, where we gave the soon-to-be second-time mom words of encouragement for the upcoming birth of their baby boy. Nikki is due very soon now.

                  The soon-to-be second time mom, Nikki, with Ate Betty, wife of Pastor Sam Rendal. Photo by Bettylyn Rendal.

                  What I find the most meaningful part during the shower was the short ‘devo’ given by Ate Ruth Dizon (thank you, Ate Ruth, by the way). She shared her experience when she became a first-time mom in her early 20s, how she was so clueless how to care for a newborn, that she went through PPD, and that she was fearful of so many things, one of which was the desire to be in control of her kids (two boys). But as she grew as a mother, she learned to release them to the Lord in faith. She said that the fears in raising kids will always be present, but we can find comfort because God will care for them even in the tiniest detail of their life. He is in control. I like the hashtag Ate Ruth used to caption our group picture she posted in Facebook: #ParentingInFaithNotFear. Indeed, raising a child in this fallen world, it is very comforting to know there is a God we can cast our fears to and put our faith on.

                  Those who were veteran parents among us also shared some of their experiences of going through a difficult and painful time with their children but those trying times were, eventually, used by God for His purpose.

                  Ate Ruth also shared ‘A Parent’s Prayer‘ by Pastor Arnel Tan which was taken from his book ‘The Language of Grace: Meditations on Prayer.’ I quote below…

                  A Parent’s Prayer

                  Abba,

                  It is so comforting to know that You’re a parent, too. The moment You gave us our kids, You gave us a rare chance to know Your heart a bit more. The responsibility of rearing our children is immense; and our task to guide them through life is even greater.

                  We come to You for mercy over our tendency to rule without relating. We ask You for grace so we could learn how to respect, and gradually release our children to become the persons You designed them to be.

                  As parents, make us willing learners. Make us alert. Help us to not repeat the abuses in our past. Make us humble to admit the mistakes of the present. Make us confident in Your sovereignty as we face the unknown realities of what’s ahead.

                  Grant us children who will do their best for Your glory. Don’t exempt them from pain, but equip them with faith so they may learn to depend on You. In the busyness of our lives and in the unbelievable demands of the urgent, teach us to be still and know that You are God. Give us the will and the wisdom to be truly there for them in times of crises, and of celebrations.

                  Lord, when the time comes to give them up to marriage to the spouse they choose to love, help us to delight in releasing them so they can soar high on their own. And in the twilight of our parenting years, fill our memory banks with pleasant thoughts, with contagious laughter, and with hearts grateful for the privilege of becoming parents. You allowed us to see a glimpse of Your heart when we became parents ourselves.

                  In the name of Your son, we humbly pray, Amen.

                  Pastor Gelo, Nikki’s husband, prayed for her, to cap the night off.

                  Group picture. GCF pastors’ wives showering Nikki with words of encouragement, prayers, and gifts for their soon-to-be-born Baby Boy. He will be named Andrei Nigel. What a very lovely name. Nigel is a combination of the parents name, Nikki and Gelo. Photo from Nikki Tuanqui’s Facebook.

                  Dumaguete-Cebu ministry/vacation/reunion

                  11 Apr

                  It was a very tight-scheduled trip. As usual, our reason for travelling is ministry (Eugene had invitations for speaking/preaching engagements) and we just fit in the vacation part in between. Still, I thank God because if it were not for such opportunities, we might not have found a reason to go home to hubby’s hometown eh it’s been four long years since I last have been to Dumaguete I miss it so badly. Continue reading