Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Post

It's official! On Thursday last week, it was announced that I will be the new Student and Family Life Ministries Coordinator in the school I teach at. I'll be starting my post on August 1st, 2013. This last week of school, along with saying "goodbye" to people leaving, I needed to have closure as well on my job as an ESL teacher. I'd truly enjoyed teaching for the past five years. What an honor and privilege to have been able to not just teach English but to have input in the lives of my former students. What a blessing this phase in my life had been!

When school re-starts next year, I will be in charge of the Activities Fair (where students get to sign up for any ministry they want to be involved with in the school year), Children's Homes ministries (visits to orphanages, etc.), Timothy Project (adults mentoring older students as they teach the Bible to younger students), Christmas in the Park (an outreach to the community), Ministry Day, and Summer ministries. I have a LOT to learn. There are five children's homes to visit, for example, and I only know of 2 of them! I'm not quite sure what the rest of my new job entails but whatever the final "to-dos" end up being, I know Papa God will not forsake me but will be my constant Supporter, Counselor, Helper, Leader, and Guide. Thank you, Lord! Let's do it! In my weaknesses, You will be made strong. =)

Ob Luang is a National Park in Chiang Mai. There is a trail
that winds itself alongside this river. In some spots, there
are deeper gorges with fascinating rock formations.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Steps

In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NIV

Last week, I was a chaperone at Ethan's class field trip.
We stayed at Horizon Village where this shot was taken.
Exactly a month ago on the 20th, I wrestled with what I thought the Lord was asking me to do. You can read about it on April 28th’s posting called “God’s Suddenly”. When I found out then what I felt God wanted me to do: take on a new role in the school I taught in; I moved from arguing with the Lord that it wasn’t a good idea, to giving in with constraints, to finally going through the motions of obeying. I talked to friends and attempted to find one who saw the whole process as a big mistake. Surprisingly, no one did! The Lord knew that I needed all the encouragement that I could get and He made sure I got it. In the end, still with my head shaking in puzzlement, I had wondered about where everyone was and why they saw me a certain way and at what they saw. It’s a new concept for me to be seen and affirmed even by those who don’t directly have dealings with me. I don’t understand it. The only way it makes sense to me is because of the Holy Spirit. He’s been telling on me and prompting others to affirm and build me up! It’s the only way to explain what feels like a conspiracy, in a good way.

The field trip involved sleeping overnight in a dorm full
of 6th graders. In spite their squeals, giggles, whispers, and
the occasional loud voice, I fell asleep. It was the
longest, needed sleep I'd had in weeks! 
So exactly a month later at the exact day when He impressed to those two friends to talk to me about taking on the role, just because nothing is impossible with Him, I had my job interview and was offered the job hours later. It’s only been a month so my whole being is still adjusting to the newness of it all. It took me awhile to believe the Lord was serious. It shouldn’t have surprised me that I was offered the job because I knew the Lord wanted me to do it, BUT, I was surprised, anyway!
If you'd like to see hedges of all shapes (dinosaurs,
dolphins, dragons, birds, etc.), you'd want
to go to Horizon Village. You'd be fascinated!  =)

So the Lord’s suddenly is now a reality. I’ll start my new job on August 1st. I’m so glad because it’ll give me the summer to convince myself that the Lord knows what He’s doing. In spite myself, He will use me and together, we’ll do amazing things! I choose to believe in His ability to use my weaknesses. He will be made strong. YES!

Staff at school hasn’t been told about my new post so I can’t identify it here but I will surely like doing the job. Once I get over my shock, I will probably even love it. =) Thank you, Lord, for this wild ride. Praise You!

Monday, May 13, 2013

You Are Wonderful

You are beautiful, You are wonderful,
You are merciful, Jesus
From the song, “No Greater Love” by Anna Taylor

This college graduation photo is now displayed by her
casket. The black spots are not moles but dirt on the print.
Corazon Angeles-Cruz, "Cor"
October 1, 1963 - May 9, 2013
On Thursday night, at 10:53 p.m., my friend and sister, Cor, passed away. I’ve been reeling from the loss. Why is it that her life affected me so? When we first met, it was when her family moved next door. She was like an only child because she and her older brother didn’t get along. Since they didn’t play together, she often asked to play with me and my brother in our garden. There were times when I didn’t think we wanted her there but we tolerated her. As we grew into our teens, I saw her less and less as our interests changed. I was two years older than her so although we went to the same school, we hardly related there. At least once a year, she borrowed my textbooks so we often connected then. Cor was someone I just grew to love. I think in the beginning, it was because I felt sorry for her that she and her brother didn’t like one another. She told me that her mother and brother would often gang up on her. She was grateful that her Dad was there to defend and speak for her. Then, one day, the turning point in our relationship happened. Her father died of a heart attack.

She was only 15. I remember going to see her and having her cry on my shoulder. We shared no words for in her tears she couldn’t speak and I had none to give her. At 17, I really didn’t know how to comfort her. I just knew I tried to be by her as best I could. In the Philippines, back then, the wake was on for 24 hours so a back room was used for the family to rest at, when needed. Cor and I slept there one night and in the morning, I was awakened by her soft sobbing. Grief stricken and not knowing what to say, I took her hand and held it. I knew it surprised her because her sobbing paused for a bit before continuing. She didn’t pull her hand away, though, so we held hands until she stopped crying. I remember feeling relieved when she finally stopped. I was glad I could do something. Although I couldn’t express myself verbally, she knew I was there for her.

Just over a year later, my family left for Canada so we didn’t hear much from one another. Each time I visited the Philippines though, we connected. We both got married and had our children. Years later, it tickled us that our children enjoyed spending time and playing together. Our friendship affected our loved ones, the next generation. Cor and I shared the same maiden name (Angeles) so we always said we were practically sisters. We really were in every sense.

I can’t remember over the years when we started doing it but at some point, our hands touched and met again during one visit. Neither of us spoke about it but since then, we just held hands when we could. We never did talk about it. It was like our hands shared a friendship of their own. They also visited even as we, their owners, talked and visited. For me, it just felt right. There we were, two grown, mature women, holding hands and it feeling so right. One of my sons actually commented, “Mom, what’s with the hand holding?”  =)

Two years ago, when she had her life threatening surgery to remove her eye tumor, I happened to be in Manila visiting so I went to her. Her mother had since also passed away and she and her brother had actually become the best of friends. I was so glad for them! Still, when it was time for the surgery, she held my hand starting from her room, through the hallways and elevators, and all the way to the operating room while her husband and brother looked on. Much older (and wiser?), I spoke words of comfort and faith. She listened but held and sought my hand.

Yesterday, her husband and children called me from the funeral home. They showed me her casket and her holding the handkerchief that I sent her (please read last week’s posting). I thought the hanky was for Cor’s physical or spiritual healing. It had confused me because it arrived late. What was that about? She already passed away. Then, I realized that my going up for prayer that Sunday meant more people prayed for Cor and her family. I’m sure her last week would have been worse without God's answer to those prayers. I just now understood that her albeit lifeless hand held the handkerchief that I sent which symbolized our “other” relationship, the hand holding one. In the Lord’s goodness and awesomeness, He provided closure for that, as well. Thank you, Papa God, for Cor and for all You do. I’m grateful also that where before, you used me to hold her hand, You are now holding hers. =)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Trusting and Believing

“God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs
and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick,
and their illnesses were cured …”
Acts 19:11-12

Yesterday, an unusual occurrence happened at church. Our pastor was away so a replacement, his pastor friend from Australia, came to preach at our service. I first noticed him while we practiced for the morning’s worship time which I had the privilege to play the keyboard for. I saw him walking around the sanctuary praying at least 45 minutes before the service started. When he did speak, he followed his introduction by sharing that he received a word from the Lord about someone who was diagnosed recently with a brain tumor (or an aneurysm). He asked for that person to come forward to receive prayer. No one went up but even as he was describing the word he received, I couldn't help but remember my friend, Cor, who was just admitted to the hospital. Another friend who heard the same invitation thought of Cor as well. (This friend wrote me about her thoughts which had been very affirming!) I had sent her an email the day before, requesting for prayers for Cor. Cor’s a childhood friend. We grew up as neighbours in the Philippines so it’s a friendship that had spanned almost 40 years! She has always been a special friend, like a younger sister to me.

April 2011, just before her surgery to remove the
tumor behind her left eye. The tumor had been
pushing her left eye forward and downward.
Now she is in the palliative care of a hospital in Manila to relieve her of constant and intense pain in her head. She’s had a tumor begin at the back of her left eye but it had spread to 40% of her brain. This is why it’s a recently diagnosed brain tumor  Her condition is inoperable. All they are doing is relieving her of the pain. She is constantly sedated to give her some comfort. When I last spoke to her 2 weeks ago, she described her pain at 11, on a scale of 1-10. I also could barely hear her, she was so weak. It’s been heart breaking to know what she is going through. I’ve been praying because it’s all I know to do. What else could I do being here?

Two years ago, I was visiting in Manila when she had an operation to remove the tumor behind her eye (mentioned in the post “Land of Our Births”, April 13, 2011). They couldn't get rid of all the mass! They’d tried in the last two years to stop its growth (by diet and radiotherapy) but they’d obviously been unsuccessful. Yesterday, when I told the visiting pastor about Cor, he and the rest of the church prayed for her healing and he asked for a handkerchief to anoint. He then literally anointed the cloth with oil and instructed me to send it to Cor. It will be on its way tomorrow.

Just like in Acts 3:12, I know the power of healing isn't in the anointed handkerchief. Only Papa God’s power is able to help Cor physically or spiritually get well. As in the verse above, I don’t know why the Lord would choose to work in this way, now. I know I am acting in faith, trusting and believing, just as the visiting pastor did yesterday in calling out the person needing prayer for a brain tumor  He came from Australia to Thailand, prayed for a handkerchief that will soon be on its way to the Philippines. Be glorified, Papa God. We trust in your love, goodness, and faithfulness, and we praise and thank you for what you do.

If you are led, please pray for Cor, her husband Mon, and their five children: Miel, Claudia, Dominique, Diego, and Gus. I will post an update as I am made aware of her situation. This morning, her husband was told that Cor doesn't have much time left. Thank you for praying.