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.

Connect wedding: Alex and Ray Marie

19 May

Here comes the bride. Ray’s smile reflected her joy when she walked down the aisle to meet her groom, Alex.

It was an honor for Eugene and me to serve again as secondary (cord) sponsors in a wedding. It was our second time and it was also in a wedding of a couple who both serve in the Connect Ministry of GCF.

Exchange of vows. The wedding was officiated by Pastor Sam Rendal and was held in the chapel of GCF in Ortigas.

Though I am not very familiar with Alex and Ray’s story, I was really touched with their vows when they wedded last May 8 in Greenhills Christian Fellowship. They were really heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and I’ve already heard different kinds of vows. It is the highlight in a wedding and the vows usually reflect the personalities of the couple getting married.

Can’t contain their excitement. This is just right before Alex and Ray were pronounced as husband and wife.

There are vows that narrates the couples love story… there are those that are full of humor… there are also vows that mention certain traits of the bride or groom which the husband- or wife-to-be promises to accept and submit to… and there are those that are impromptu, no kodigo at all… some are long… and some are cheesy and mushy.

Caption of the video above: The first kiss.

Alex and Ray’s vows were short, sweet, and simple… I would say straight to the point, nevertheless very sincere and heartfelt. I’ve been to a lot of weddings (as I’ve just said) and I can’t remember being seriously touched as much as like this time.

Photo session after the ceremony.

Alex and Ray did mention how God has worked to bring them together and how they are God’s answers to each other’s prayers. And in their words you could sense that they are devoted to serve and honor God through their marriage.

Selfie/Groufie with the newly weds right after the ceremony.

Sharing just a few more pictures of the event. 

Caption of the video above: The recessional.

We clanged our glasses non-stop so the newly weds would kiss again and again. Haha.

The traditional cake cutting ceremony.

And now a family picture with our little one.

We are praying for God’s blessings for both of you and in your marriage.

Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

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.

            Sick again (and hopefully this would be the last)

            8 Mar

            Baby’s becoming a suki of The Medical City.

            That may sound funny but, seriously, a recurrent pneumonia and another round of hospital confinement just after a month is really not funny at all. (Read about the first time here).

            Passing time in the hospital. When you’re stuck in such a place, it’s very difficult to keep a toddler entertained.

            It all started on Wednesday… or Tuesday, if my theories are correct (kasi pinagmunimunihan ko talaga pano at bakit nagkasakit ulit si Baby while I was alone in the hospital). Eugene’s sister, her husband, and another family friend will be coming over for a vacation. As my OC-ness would have it, I wanted the house to be clean. Well, I’ve been meaning to have our house spring-cleaned for the longest time (since we moved in) but I just couldn’t find the time. So I took this opportunity to do so. I hired a couple of cleaners to do the job last Tuesday and that involved a lot of dust and the smell of (floor) wax which I think caused Baby’s hingal (short breathing) and triggered her pneumonia. Well, at least this is my theory because I’ve reviewed where we’ve been the past month and wala talaga kaming pinuntahan where Carissa could have been exposed. We mostly stayed at home. We go to Church on weekends but I don’t think she could’ve gotten it there. We’ve been to the mall twice but it was a very quick trip, mga less than two hours lang siguro.

            So I had our house cleaned. I asked my mother-in-law, Nanay, to look after Baby while I also cleaned and supervised the cleaners. She brought Baby outside the house in the morning. But after lunch, since it was hot outside, she brought her instead to our room which was freshly waxed. They stayed there until we all finished cleaning late in the afternoon. Since I was also busy, I forgot that the room still smelled wax. (I should’ve not allowed them to stay there). Also, the sun, which shines directly in our room in the afternoon, was pretty much out so the heat was really intense that day. Wax fumes + heat = not a good combination for a baby. I did turn on the aircon later on but I think an hour has already passed with Baby and Nanay inside the room when I did so.

            That was Tuesday, February 28. Wednesday afternoon Carissa started to have occassional coughs and I could tell by the sound of it that it would eventually be a full-blown one. True enough, the following day, Thursday, her coughs were a little bit worse than the previous day. I nebulized her that morning hoping it would prevent the cough from getting worse. In the afternoon, she started to be hingal.

            Again, I was hesitant to bring her to the ER because, first, she was not matamlay at all. She was playful. Also, she did not have a fever. She was normally malikot except for her hingal. Third is because her Tita et. al would be arriving the following day and we have plans of touring them around the city (okay, so I was FOMO). So I prayed hard for Baby to be well. And because I prayed, I believed it was nothing serious and in the morning she will be well as if nothing happened at all. Lastly, I didn’t want to bother Eugene with bringing Baby to the ER because he will be fetching our guests early the following morning and would be driving them around. He was just recently diagnosed with cardiomyopathy so I didn’t want him to get very tired.

            Hospitalized the second time for pneumonia after just a month.

            But Carissa’s breathing did not improve even after I nebulized her again in the early evening. In fact, it got worse towards the night. Still, because I was praying, I was hopeful that Baby would get well. I wanted to wait the following morning to see if she will improve after sleeping through the night.

            Now even if I was hesitant to go to the ER I was struggling and wondering (again) if I’m making the right decision. Carissa was really breathing fast. With her previous pneumonia a month ago she was breathing fast but it was just that. Hingal lang. This time, not only was she breathing fast, she was breathing hard and her chest and tummy was palpitating with every breath. The space in the middle of her collar bone just under the neck (what do you call that?), it was being drawn inward with each breath. I thought it was asthma. Finally, around 11 PM (it took me that long to decide), I finally asked Eugene to drive us to The Medical City (we had a borrowed car that night to tour her family the following day).

            Upon checking Baby in the ER, the doctor-on-duty said it sounded like it’s pneumonia again (and not asthma as I thought it was). And after a while, she apologetically asked if it’s okay for Baby to be admitted again.

            Again? She was admitted just a month ago for pneumonia!

            The doctor wanted her admitted because of her hingal. I know it was of particular concern because that was one of the major indications why she got admitted the first time. Pero dahil nga kaaadmit nya lang isang bwan pa lang ang nakakalipas, ayoko sana ipaadmit sya ulit.

            Baby was very masigla and malikot. She doesn’t seem to be sick at all. Whenever she’s awake I had to constantly tell her not to play with the gadgets.

            I tried to negotiate with the ER doctor (who was, thank God, very kind) and asked if home treatment would be possible. She said she will have Baby nebulized again and if her breathing will improve, we can go home. She also ordered an x-ray to be done on her (again).

            Well, hindi nawala hingal ni Baby after the nebulization in the ER so she got admitted again. I got really, really sad when the doctor said it was pneumonia again (confirmed through the x-ray). I knew then that I had no choice.

            What followed were the necessary routine procedures. Dating gawi. Another stressful night. Of course, she was again inserted with an IV line through which her medications will be given. The last time there was only one failed attempt to insert it on her hand. This time the nurses had three failed attempts. They tried inserting it on her left hand, then on her right hand, then on her left foot, before finally successfully inserting it in her right foot. Buti naman naipasok din kasi wala na syang extrang kamay at paa kung san pa pwede next. (That’s why the veins in her hands and feet are clearly visible now due to these failed IV insertions). She cried the whole time. Nakakaawa.

            When we got in our room (which was about 5 AM), I told Eugene to sleep at least for an hour before driving to fetch her sister from the airport. I am really concerned he doesn’t tire himself much because of his heart condition.

            If before I had Nanay with me during our stay in the hospital, this time I was alone because her daughter and son-in-law were in town so of course she had to be with them. Eugene also had to be with them to drive them around. So I was left alone. Ang lungkot lang. They did visit us twice but they stayed only for a short time. Eugene actually came and slept in the evening but he arrives late and leaves early in the morning. So I’m pretty much alone the whole time (except for the few friends who visited).

            If her IV did not get dislodged, we wouldn’t have been discharged a day earlier. She was so likot her IV always gets stretched like this.

            I’m also saddened that Carissa was given stronger antibiotics as well as steroids. The doctor explained that because it was only a month since her last pneumonia, a stronger antibiotic was needed. If it was more than six months ago na daw, they could give the same one given to her before. (Sa lahat naman ng iniiwasan ko ehyung magantibiotic si Baby… tapos twice pa sya nabigyan nang wala pang one year old. Nalulungkot talaga ako).

            And because Baby wasn’t responding to the nebulizations (hindi mawalawala hingal nya even after the second day and after increasing the frequency of her nebulizations to every four hours), the doctor prescribed to give her steroids. Kaya I really have a feeling her pneumonia was caused by the smell of the floor wax and not by the bug kasi if it was a bug, i think her symptoms would have been the same as before (fever, matamlay) and she would respond well with her initial medications as she did before. Pero hindi. She had fever and she was matamlay before (the first time she had pneumonia a month ago) so it was pretty sure she had an infection. This time, she didn’t have any fever and was very masigla and malikot (as in super likot para ngang wala syang sakit). Hingal lang talaga. So I think she didn’t have any infections, inflamed langyung airways kaya hindi mawalawalayung hingal nya… which is malamang dahil sa amoy ng floor wax. Again, this is just my theory. I did tell the doctor about this and she seemed to agree so I guess my theory’s correct. Hehe.

            Thankfully, Baby responded immediately to the steroids. Actually, I negotiated again with the doctor if we could avoid the steroids and just wait for the hingal to subside. But the doctor said she has extended enough time to see if Baby would improve with the nebulizations (true enough the doctor has been very gracious to all my requests) but still she hasn’t by the second day. It was only in the evening of the second day that the doctor gave steroids.

            At dahil mahilig talaga ako makipag-negotiate, every time the doctor would visit us, I would always ask how long will we stay in the hospital and jokingly tell her uwi na kami. We were supposed to be discharged Monday noon but Baby’s IV got dislodged (sa kalikutan) Sunday early afternoon so they removed it. Instead of reinserting it again, the doctor just decided to start giving her medicines orally. So again, I negotiated with the doctor if we can go home already (since there were no medications to be given through the IV anymore). Pumayag naman (I thought hindi sya papayag because that morning medyo hindi pa clear lungs ni Baby). Actually, if I have company, I wouldn’t mind staying as long as the doctor would recommend. But I was alone. So I wanted to get out of the hospital ASAP kasi nadedepress nako don. Thank God the doctor was really kind and allowed us to go home.

            Sigh.

            This is a day after getting out of the hospital. Last dinner with Eugene’s family before they’ve gone back home to the province the following day.

            I, at least, still got to spend a day with Eugene’s family before they left early Tuesday morning. Happy for that one.

            Lord, sana po last nato. Please restore Carissa’s health and make her immune system strong again. Madami pa po kaming naka-schedule na adventures this year. Amen!

            #TeamPaRoll: Rollyvic and Pamela’s wedding

            24 Feb

            Nothing is more beautiful than a wedding that is focused on God.

            We are grateful for being invited to witness Rollyvic and Pam’s ‘I dos’.

            We had the honor and privilege of attending the wedding of Rollyvic and Pam last February 4. It was a garden wedding held at Lirabelle Nature Living (a farm of the bride’s family) in Batangas and officiated by no less than the groom’s father, Pastor Love Tira.

            The lovely bride who said her groom always makes her feel beautiful.

            The weather was cold but the hearts of the couple’s families were very warm as they welcomed the addition of a new family member into their respective families. I didn’t know that the Tira father and son were emotional persons. Rollyvic cried upon seeing her bride and there was a part when Pastor Love tried to control his tears as he gave his exhortation and message to the couple. The couple were obviously giddy and overjoyed they were getting married. Pastor Love capped the ceremony by singing ‘Our Father’ after which he requested all pastors present to pray for the newly weds.

            There was a very slight delay during the vows as they looked for who was holding the rings :).

            I don’t know the couple very well. But Rollyvic is Eugene’s fellow pastor who is currently the resident pastor in Greenhills Christian Fellowship (GCF) Makati. He is the son of Pastor Love Tira who is a well-known pastor within the Baptist community (and is currently assigned in GCF Metro Baguio). Pam, on the other hand, is a preschool teacher. I had previously met her a few times in the past in events/activities of the Crossover Ministry of GCF Ortigas Center when she attended a few times when said ministry was still active then. But I’m not sure if she knows or remembers me. Did I mention she surprised her groom with a song during their first dance? (She sang Yeng Constantino’s ‘Ikaw’).

            I couldn’t get any nearer to take a closer shot of the couple’s first kiss.

            What I like most and which, for me, gave the highlight of the wedding was when they gave (through a series of videos) their personal testimonies of their relationship with Christ, how they met, and how they grew more in Christ as they serve God together. Throughout the wedding, they honored and acknowledged Christ.

            The newly weds before the recessional.

            As I am writing this almost three weeks after the wedding, I couldn’t remember other details anymore. Sorry.

            Groufie with the couple. Sorry for the very poor shot.

            Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!

            Back-to-back hospital confinement

            22 Feb

            Baby

            It’s been more than a week since Baby Carissa and Eugene got discharged from the hospital. Yes, both of them almost at the same time got confined for pneumonia.

            As if caring for a sick baby in a hospital is not stressful already, how much more when your husband also needs to be admitted? To be honest, I am very much dependent on Eugene. So to be without him to care for Carissa was really overwhelming. Thank God my mother-in-law was with us (and that she didn’t get sick) so I got help.

            This place was home for four days.

            Eugene was already sick with cough and asthma the past week before he got admitted. I even told him we can skip the wedding we attended last February 4 (Saturday) so he could rest because his cough sounded really bad. But we still pushed through because he said he feels well enough to drive. It was cold at the venue of the wedding, like Baguio-like or Tagaytay-like cold. And I think it may have been the cause of Baby Carissa getting pneumonia. She had a runny nose then which I thought was a simple allergy since she ‘regularly’ gets a runny nose without getting seriously sick. The following day, Sunday, she was absolutely normal (except for the runny nose) and active. So it was quite surprising when she ran a fever in the evening when we got home from Church. Eugene was also not getting any better. The following day, Monday, February 6, Baby woke up still with a fever, matamlay, cranky, extra clingy, and breathing fast.

            I don’t usually bring Carissa to the doctor nor give her any medication when she has a cough/cold (unless it goes beyond 10 – 14 days), as long as she is her normal happy self, playful and active. But that Monday morning, she was different. I couldn’t put her down for a second. She didn’t want to play at all. She just cried and cried. Even if she fell asleep in my arms she didn’t want to be put down. She wanted to sleep on my chest the whole time. She was not her normal self.

            Eugene (who was supposed to go to the doctor) asked if I wanted to bring Carissa to the ER in The Medical City (TMC). I was a bit hesitant because I was thinking it was just an ordinary cough and would eventually clear up in a few days. If I need to have her checked, I would like to go to her pediatrician but his clinic was scheduled on the next afternoon at 5 PM (Tuesday). His clinic was also far (St. Luke’s QC). But since Baby was not playful and active, I had second thoughts if I’m making the right decision of not having her checked.

            So I then thought of bringing her to Dr. Senseng (in TMC), another pedia who we have been considering of switching to. But her secretary said she was canceling her clinic the following morning. My last choice was Dr. Sua (also in TMC), a pediatric pulmonologist who I was able to come upon based from a previous web research and after reading good reviews about her. She had a clinic that afternoon but I couldn’t reach it to ask if we could still be accommodated since she only accepts patients with appointments.

            Honestly, I was really hesitant to go to the hospital because I couldn’t contact a doctor. I wanted to bring her to a doctor of my choice, not in the ER. All the while I was calm thinking it’s just an ordinary cough. I just needed to breastfeed her a lot. But she had a fever (which she never had the past times she had a cough) and was breathing fast (which her doctor said was a warning sign). I put my ear on Carissa’s chest and…that’s when I started to worry! It sounded like horses racing in a racetrack! About lunchtime, she also started to have loose and frequent bowel movements. Eugene wanted to bring her already to the ER. And I knew I needed to agree with that. I tried to call Dr. Sua’s clinic for the last time and, gratefully, I was able to reach her secretary who said we should be in by 5 PM so we could be accommodated.

            When we got to TMC at around 4 PM, I told Eugene to go have himself checked by his doctor so we could be efficient and finish quickly (and because he is also very sick, too). But he accompanied us first because he thought Baby might need to be admitted so he would have to go home to get some stuff and he said he wouldn’t be able to do that if he himself needs to be admitted. (So he sort of had a feeling they would be admitted). I thought he was over reacting. Admitted? Com’on, it was just a simple cough. I was very optimistic it was nothing serious and Baby would get well in no time.

            I didn’t want to but Baby Carissa needed to be confined for pneumonia.

            Well, it turned out it was serious (pneumonia) and both of them needed to be admitted. Upon checking Carissa, the doctor said she had every indication for admission. And so began a long night for us.

            Now I’m not really fond of hospitals. I chose not to give birth in a hospital because I don’t like going through the long process of admission, interviews by residents and/or clerks, and routine medical procedures. And there I was, going through all of them for my little one. She was nebulized, given medicine, had an x-ray, pricked for a blood sample, and was inserted an IV, and, the saddest part which I have been trying to avoid, given antibiotic. She cried in all the procedures done to her. It was not a loud cry, though, not like a tantrum, but a weak one like she’s too exhausted to cry. She must be since she also lost her appetite and had decreased her feedings that day.

            We were at the ER at about 5 PM (Dr. Sua adviced us to go through the ER instead of getting admitted directly). We were able to check in our room at about midnight Monday evening. Already exhausted and very sleepy, there were interns who still interviewed me about Baby’s case when I arrived in our room.

            Hubby

            Now for Eugene’s story. As I have mentioned he was also sick (actually, he was the first to get sick). He got back at the hospital after getting our stuff from home an hour or two after midnight Monday (so it was already Tuesday). He set an appointment with her doctor Tuesday afternoon. He was 15th in line so he hung out in our room first to wait for the secretary who promised to call him when it’s about his turn to be seen by the doctor. The secretary didn’t call and when he got back at the doctor’s clinic, it was already closed. So he went to the ER instead but not before having dinner. So Eugene got checked really late already (and he has been sick for several days by then and his cough was really, really bad). The next I heard from him was Wednesday morning when he told me he also needed to be admitted.

            Now it’s a little more complicated with Eugene. He was also admitted for pneumonia (and asthma). To check for pneumonia he had an x-ray and the results not only confirmed the pneumonia but also showed he had an enlarged heart. Her doctor then ordered for him to undergo a 2D-echo and an angiogram during his confinement. These tests revealed he has a weak heart. He was diagnosed to have cardiomyopathy (now I can’t explain why or how).

            Video call with Tatay who was also confined four floors higher. Photo by my sister Ruth.

            Eugene stayed a day longer than Carissa did not only because he had to undergo tests for his heart but because his pneumonia also took time to heal. We had to leave Eugene at the hospital without a companion when Baby got discharged. I felt really, really sad I couldn’t take care of him. Imagine being sick in a hospital alone? I would die of sadness more than my sickness. I was also not there during his angiogram because Eugene didn’t want to bring Baby back to the hospital and I couldn’t look for a baby sitter that time. Add to that the worry of what the results of the angiogram would be. I was depressed that Saturday, crying and praying the whole day.

            Grateful

            But now we are all well and back home together (again). I have learned a lesson I know all too well in my mind but something that takes God’s grace to apply… that no matter how much I take care (and take control) of my family, things will not always turn out the way I had planned and prayed for them to be. But we have God who is in perfect control. We are thankful we are all well now and that God saw us through. Here are some other things we praise God and are grateful for:

            • That I was able to find a doctor for Carissa who I am comfortable with and who I trusted. I’m choosy of doctors and I like how Dr. Sua responded patiently to all my questions and her method of treatment for her patients.
            • That we were able to bring Baby to the hospital before anything worse could have happened to her.
            • For Nanay, who was with us and was able to help us and that she did not get sick (she also had a cough during our stay in the hospital).
            • That I did not get sick (I actually felt like I was the next).
            • For Dra. Bebet Sebastian who extended a lot of help to us. She checked on Nanay daily while in the hospital and gave her medicines. She even had our laundry washed. She also checked on Eugene regularly and she was the one who accompanied Eugene during the angiogram giving me a real-time update of what was happening as well as the results. She also helped us when we were processing Eugene’s discharge.
            • That Eugene’s heart condition was diagnosed. While I am not thankful that he got pneumonia, we are thankful that through it his cardiomyopathy was diagnosed. He was also x-rayed a week (or two) before his confinement but during that time his heart was clear. If not for the pneumonia, who knows how or when would it be diagnosed? Things could be worse but we believe it was God’s perfect timing.
            • That Eugene doesn’t have any clogged arteries.
            • For my sister Ruth who came when I asked for extra help.
            • For all our friends who visited and prayed for us.
            • For Eugene’s fellow pastors who assisted us when he was being discharged, especially to Pastor Sam who drove us home.
            • That we are all well now.
            • I hope I didn’t forget anything.

              Let’s celebrate this month of love with (literal) big hearts! 🙂

              Going home na! Photo by my sister Ruth.  

              Edited as a postscript:

              TMC review

              Now if I could just give a few comments on The Medical City:

              • While we were at the ER, the nurse explained that upon the time of admission in the ER we need to be admitted to a room within four hours. If we don’t check in a room within that time frame (and stay in the ER beyond four hours), we would be charged P250(?)/hour as ‘waiting fee’. Med City, paki-explain.
              • Nurses assigned in the pediatric ward should undergo more training in handling baby patients.
              • The food. How will their patients get well with the food they are serving? (Maybe it’s a conspiracy? Haha!). 
              • Overall, the doctors and nurses and other hospital staff (e.g., housekeeping) are nice and polite. The rooms are small and very cold but the hospital is clean.

              Baby Mau’s 1st birthday

              30 Jan

              The backdrop during Maureen Adiele De Guzman’s first birthday celebration held at the Clubhouse of SM Jazz in Makati on January 29, 2017.

              We went to our first kids birthday party for the year. Thank you, Clark and Diane, for inviting us to baby Mau’s first birthday celebration.

              The theme of the party was coachella/bohemian but these pastel decorations made the party so dainty.

              We enjoyed everything in the party: the pastel set-up of the venue, taking pictures in the photo booth, going back for more snacks in the food stalls (we were a little early (and hungry) so we had time to eat before the main course was served), the balloons crafted by talented artists into different cartoon characters, the simple but heartfelt cake blowing ceremony, the main meal (it was honestly yummy), the magic show, and the games.

              What is a kids party without a candy bar?

              Baby Mau was so behaved all throughout the party. It was a short program but we definitely had fun.

              Cake blowing ceremony. Clark and Diane, Mau’s parents, wished for Mau to grow up knowing God.

              I also love the SDE (same day edit video) shown at the end. It was really nice because the clips were all so candid and spontaneous.

              The parents of the birthday celebrant. They are part of the Connect Ministry of GCF which Eugene handles.

              Happy first birthday, Mau. Just like what your parents wished for you, we pray that you would grow to be a God-fearing woman. Blessings to you and your parents.

              Finally a picture with Baby Mau with her parents.

              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.