Tag Archives: GCF

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.

            #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!

            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.

                  Ministry from the inside-out

                  29 Jan

                  The past three days was not only a welcome retreat but a much-needed Sabbath (which was, very aptly, the first session during the retreat). I am grateful for the break from the daily grind, for God’s Word, for the fellowship, the fun, for the open space and nature, and, yes, for the very cold weather in Tagaytay.

                  Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

                  Ptr. Caloy Pena came all the way from Singapore to encourage us with the Word of God.

                  Continue reading

                  Volunteers Fun Night: Serving. More Fun in Greenhills Christian Fellowship

                  30 Nov

                  DSC_0042

                  Every year, during the Christmas season, our local Church hosts an appreciation dinner to all the volunteers for our church’s ministries. The volunteers are the people who willingly and freely labor to do the work of the Lord, offering their gifts, talents, skills, time–their very selves to serve others and the Lord. They include the ushers, Growth Group leaders/hosts/coordinators, Sunday School teachers, Worship Band members, Sunday School teachers, etc. They play a big role and we acknowledge that God brought them to our church to be able to accomplish the task He has placed in our hands. Continue reading

                  GCF Crossover Turning Point: Thanksgiving

                  24 Nov

                  Turning Point promotional poster.

                  GCF Crossover, the Young Adults Ministry of our local church, Greenhills Christian Fellowship, relaunched its Turning Point event last Friday, November 23, 2012. Turning Point is a regular meeting of young adults where they find Christ in life, work, and relationships. It is a fellowship where you’ll find great company, music, and food!

                  For the event, we were treated to a night of live jazz music, pizza (and more), and fellowship with long lost and newly-met friends. I just learned that most of the new faces I saw were people that have been ministered by The Shed. It’s good to know that we are reaching out to our immediate community in Ortigas Center to share to them the Gospel. Continue reading