Oh yeah! (at Dili, Timor Leste)
Went to campus today and I was told that semester’s starting this monday! So I immediately grabbed my teaching material..this course book! I just hope that the eagerness that we have in finding books that offer “solutions” would be the same eagerness that will bring us to Solution Himself! #theonlysolution
As early as now, I can already say that I got most of my early Christmas presents! Although this year, I pretty much have had an abundance of material blessings and I am grateful for having them, what I am most thankful for are the relationships I’ve had the privilege to be part of - a family who I am privilege to serve, a wonderful spiritual family, friends who stick with me like brothers (and sisters…), opportunities that I can only dream of having, lots of travels, new people I come across with and most important of all, a very strong security that comes from Jesus Christ.
I just cannot afford to be ungrateful for all of these! What’s interesting is that it’s still almost 2 months before the year ends so God’s list of surprises is still far from over! Wuhoo! Hindi ko birthday ngayon, naisipan ko lang magpasalamat at ipagmalaki na ang Diyos na meron ako ay hindi lang alkansya or ATM, hindi lang tagapagpabait o tagapagbawas kasalanan, hindi bato para hindi makaramdam..isa Syang buhay na Diyos na hindi nagkakamali at nagkukulang kahit hindi ako karapat-dapat.
Ano bang ipinag-aalala mo ngayon? What makes you doubt His capacity to amaze you with a miracle? Like Christmas is to us when we were still kids, let’s approach everyday with gratitude and anticipation. We have a God who is generous on everything most especially on things that He knows best for us! Happy early Christmas guys!
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28 (NASB)
I had my sweetest time with God this morning. I was dead tired yesterday after a very long and perhaps the most physically challenging day I’ve had here in Timor. And I have not been having physically challenging ones until this one. Waking up this morning was just as challenging because of the things that needs to be done. But even if I needed the rest, I surprisingly woke up at 4 am. But usually, I would only wake up very early if God wakes me up for something He wanted to tell me that couldn’t wait a second. And indeed this morning, He did.
When I said yes to coming to Timor, it was God who gave me the time frame of 5 years. A typical missions assignment of 3 years is already ideal but when God told me 5, I said, well He called the shots so definitely He’s got a plan. Every time people would ask me how long will I do this here, I wholeheartedly yet half-minded say 5 years. Something inside me keeps holding me back to fully say 5.
Our original plan of coming here was set April 21st. But admin-wise it’s pretty unwise for me to do that because I personally have not raised the funds needed to move in. Plus, all the biological and church family stuff that I would miss should I leave that date gave me a lot of stress. So I bargained with God to do something to slightly move our departure to at least the 1st week of May. Well, due to some turn of events, my bargaining with God worked! And so we left Manila on the 5th of May. The past 6 months have been quite amazing. My support goal was way below the target but day after day, God had never failed in making sure that His spoiled kid won’t get hungry. He made sure all the comfort that I asked Him for will be met. By comfort I mean people who will make my Timor life fun and fulfilling. Comfort also means filling my eyes with things that make me appreciate more of Him. Not all days are like beds of roses but definitely they are roses and beds in one way or another. Timor is extremely beautiful in a different way than Dasmarinas and the Philippines. The culture and people here are diverse. Technology maybe a little challenging but for the limited infrastructure, it’s not too bad especially when you get it free! I get to cook food that I like. And most importantly, the people (and animals..especially Timtams) that I meet and get close with are like my friends since childhood. You know the saying that you’ll meet and influence a minimum of 10,000 people in your lifetime? I think I’ve met 1/4 of them in the last 6 months! (With a little exaggeration on the estimate…) Back home, everything is equally amazing. My siblings are doing awesome, they are growing in wisdom as God lets them experience many different things. They get deeper in their relationship with Him while growing in their relationships with others and with one another. We have a new gift in the family, Baby Daniel, who is my elder brother and his wife’s second gift. The things that I’ve left behind are likewise thriving. In so far as life in general is concerned, the last 6 months are by far the best.
And most exciting of all is that in 7 days, I am about to leave Timor for a good 6 weeks of vacation, family time, admin and work in the Philippines! That’s like the cherry on top of all the 6 months that I’ve been here. I am just thrilled to reconnect to family and friends and to spend Christmas with them. The feeling is quite mixed though because of the people that I will leave in here but definitely, love is never limited by distance especially nowadays that everyone is just one click away.
Now here’s a disclaimer, I am not saying everything is perfect and the obstacles were just as real as the great things that happened but if there is one thing that stands true and the reason why this morning was also sweet is the assurance that GOD DID GREAT! If He was faithful in 7 days, He can be faithful in 6 months and yes even in 5 years or perhaps more! He is faithful despite of my doubts and apprehensions. He is faithful not because of anything I did but because that’s who He is. In fact, Faithful One is His Name. You might be in cloud 9 or things might be bad for you, but be assured that His faithfulness is beyond you. He acts without you prompting and He works in indescribable ways!
"Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."
Lamentations 3:23 (NLT)
Good morning everyone!
Last night, Timtams did something I thought was terribly unforgivable. He scratched and “partially” (and this adverb goes to those that would panic after reading this) bit my thigh. This morning, I had the time to chat with my brother, Don about life and some people. Two different events but really just one story.
Every person is uniquely and wonderfully created by God. We may not completely understand them, and we do not have to, but we just have to love them for who they are. If they do wrong decisions, that does not give us the reason to love them less. If they do right, that also shouldn’t be our main reason to love them more.
This whole concept is easier posted, tweeted, and preached than applied in our lives. But we can.
At the end of the day, we are only capable to do this if we fully understand how we’ve been FORGIVEN and LOVED despite our failed decisions in life. God’s love for us has not and cannot be reduced by our mistakes and increased by any good deed or sacrifice or penance.
Just as Timtams earned my forgiveness after last night, I realized how I scratch and bite God when I do decisions that suck yet He has the GRACE big enough to forgive me. In the same way, I disciplined Timtams when he crossed the line and became terribly naughty and irrational. God does the same to me all the time. He never lets me miss my lesson from my crazy deeds.
That makes God a great LOVER. He is both GRACIOUS and JUST.
On one hand is His arm that’s ready to love all the time and on the other hand is a rod that would discipline us when needed to remind us to always stay in the fold.
Today, may you find yourself in between those arms. Don’t fear the rod, that’s tiny compared to the love that you are going to get from Him through Jesus Christ.
But God shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ the Messiah, the Anointed One died for us.
It’s been 2 weeks since I had this 5-month old cat from an Australian missionary family here in Dili. I grew up having pets at home like dogs and cats but never this close to a point of sleeping with one. Primarily, the intention of finding a cat to pet is because we need a way to get rid of the rats feasting in our compound (which reminds me, sometime in the future, I’ll blog about creatures I keep asking God why He created…) Eventually, since I am not sure if cats are instinctively capable of running after rats almost their size, I decided to keep Timtams close and training him for the task ahead. So at least for a good two months, I’m gonna need to bear with this creature sleeping beside me and serving him to his comfort. Well, who would have thought that a cat like Timtams can teach me life lessons and even point me back to the kind of relationship I have with God as my Father.
We (I with Nixon my neighbor) took Timmy from the missionary family who has been taking care of homeless cats and kittens in Dili. Since we will bring him home by a motorbike, we decided to put him in a box and seal it with tapes. He struggled but we were able to successfully put him in it. But just before the bike’s engine was ignited, Timmy in all his might managed to escape and run back inside the house where he lived 5 months of his life since he was born. That first attempt almost had me give up on the plan thus sending us home “catless” but we were determined on saving and having the cat so the second time we made the box taped more secure and gave him something to be busy with inside. Then we put the box in a huge bag that would at least provide second level of protection. Nixon right away started the engine and the travel which usually takes 30 minutes was cut to 10 minutes. And though it was so much of discomfort, we did everything we could for the comfort of this cat!
I guess that relates a lot to how God picked us up from the life we all used to have. God took all discomfort through His Son Jesus Christ just to save us and take us from hopelessness and despair and give us everything that we did not deserve to begin with! We resisted but God’s purpose prevailed.
As you’ve read in the beginning of this blog, Timtams sleeps with me. Well, let me tell you our daily routine. He would wake up early, as early as 6 in the morning and would not stop meowing until he wakes me up. He would make silly variations of his meows just to send the message that he wants to go out of the room. Well his annoyance would pay off and I would wake up and open the door for him. Then he will play all day in the compound and would care less of me until he feels hungry. That’s when he would begin to bug me and cuddle me. That’s his signal for mealtime and his food is another concern I had to deal with. I’ve tried feeding him cat food, sardines, canned tuna, regular fish, chicken bones, veggies and even the fruit salad that my friend gave me. He has this discriminating taste for food and he never wants his food cold!
We are just as demanding to God as Timmy is to me. We never want discomfort, we always want our wants served. We never settle for what’s there and we always want more. I can’t imagine God challenged by what makes us happy and concerned about our welfare. If it worries me when Timmy does not eat of the food I serve him, how much more is our God worried for and concerned about us. I’m sure God does a better job of minding my welfare than I am with Timmy’s.
Most of the time, when Timmy begins to feel tired after a whole day of playing, whatever I am doing, he would call me and signal me that it’s bedtime for him and I would come rushing to open the door for him and though I made him a cute box to sleep at at the end of of my bed, he will always get his favorite spot which is one of my pillows and would lie there like he had his most tiring day ever. I would also need to setup his tray of food and water by the toilet’s door because he gets hungry at night and he wants food or he will render me sleepless with his noise. One time, I was working on something on my laptop at the table, he jumped right into it and lied down signalling me to quit anything that steals my attention from him alone. He did the same in another day when I was reading my book! When I told him not to do that, he decided to rest on my lap and make sure he’s comfortable or else his paw nails will hook on me.
Now that one is so much like us especially when we want our wants and needs met. We would grab God’s attention in any way possible and would even have the audacity to be angry at God when He would not meet our deadline. But God’s love and grace exceeds our expectations and He would do His best at all times. I just thank God that He is not like me when He deals with me when I get too annoying.
Well my spoiled cat would not go unpunished when he begins to be crazy and “catly” unreasonable. There was one evening, I guess he got so bored with just sleeping and bugging me, he decided to play around. Running and almost breaking my cups and plates. He got literally crazy. Well that’s when we had our little lesson on discipline and stop when I tell him to.
God maybe permissive and gracious but He also doesn’t fail in the discipline department. He disciplines us not because we are annoying (well, in fact we are) but because He loves us. He will have to say “no” when it begins to cross the line of what’s good and beneficial for us. His mercy and love doesn’t find itself opening a list full of grudges but are always new and fresh every morning.
I would say our most loving days as pet and owner (just to set the record straight, Timmy is the pet and I am his owner :D) are those when I see him resting so cute and finding his way to sleep right next to me. It also brought me great joy when I saw him finally doing his job of running after rats. Actually, since he moved in, there is a significant drop of appearances of those filthy creatures.
God is happiest when we run to and depend on Him. He wants us to come to Him all the time and trust Him in everything. He is proudest as a Father when we get to fulfill our destiny and He entrusts to us a very significant role of not running after rats but sharing His love with others.
In summary, I just thank God that He brought Timtams here with me to teach me things and lessons in life about His kind of love for me. In time, Timtams will need to move out of the room and live his life his own way but I am just thankful that unlike me, God is a better Father and in fact the best of all.
Oh lastly, there was one time I saw a magazine photo of a cute cat dressed like a girl and I thought of giving her as girlfriend to my Timmy…I’m sure God will also do that for me too!
Here’s a bit of encouragement for all of us. There’s a slight feeling of sadness lately in my life. Then I realized it must be because of this whole stretch of days from September 16 until October 8, the dates when my father and mother died. You know those hell days back in high school? Something like that. The roller coaster ride of my emotions are pretty unpredictable. Worst is my appetite is getting a bit good which shouldn’t be the case for me since I’ve been wanting to lose some more pounds. To cut my story short, I know there are those days that you just don’t want to be up and excited…I hope this quotation brightens our day. I got it from Akeelah and the Bee.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson