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Have-A-God (Reflections on Habagat)

*from my journal

August 9, 2012

It has been three long days of non-stop rain and flooding, and many people (including our family) experienced what the news referred to as "Hagupit ng Habagat." On Monday evening, flood waters started to rise. On Tuesday morning, we woke up to knee-deep flood in front of the apartment (Karangalan) and waist-deep muddy water at the back (Metroville). I was still able to monitor the situation over Facebook and Twitter and the television until Tuesday afternoon. During those times, I was trying my best to help other victims by re-tweeting and re-posting their cries for help and/or by sending load to those in need. However, on Tuesday evening, the electricity was cut off, mainly because the rain hasn't stopped yet and the flood continued to rise. That went on until Wednesday and by this morning (Thursday), we already ran out of food supply, our phones were already on empty batteries, and the flood was still knee-deep. And so my brother had to go through the muddy waters to get to my Tita's place in Pasig to recharge our phones' batteries and to buy the essentials - rice, canned goods, coffee, noodles, and medicines. Thank God he was able to get come back safely and he brought with him the first four. And so we survived another day. Praise God too because the rain has already stopped (prayers really work!) and the flood has began to subside. There's still no electricity though, but I'd like to believe that everything will begin to normalize by tomorrow (Friday). So what's my point? Well, the title says it all. HAVE - A - GOD!

Yes, this situation may be too much already especially for those who also suffered from Ondoy's destructive force in 2009 (we were also among its many victims, see our story here.), but if you have a God, you will not be shaken, you will not be afraid, you will continue to hope and to trust that things will eventually get better. If you have a God, you will still be able to smile, to laugh, and be assured that you are protected and that no harm will come near you. If you have a God, you'll know that there's a reason why things happen, and in every situation, something is revealed, and you will be sensitive to that message. If you have a God, you will have the confidence that there's always a rainbow after each rain, and you'll look forward to seeing that. If you have a God, you won't focus on your misfortune, but considering the plight of others, you'll realize how favored you are and you will do what you can to be a blessing as well. If you have a God, you will continue to say a prayer of thanksgiving and your prayer of supplication will mostly, if not only, be for others. If you have a God, you will remain joyful, prayerful, and grateful because you will always be reminded that you are loved and you are blessed. In fact, SO BLESSED!

I HAVE A GOD and I know I have a GREAT GOD! :) My God is so great that He allowed all these things to happen to give me a break and to make me experience a different kind of retreat, something greater and more intimate than any conference or retreat I have and could have attended. And it wasn't just a personal retreat. It's more than that, because I was with my whole family. :)

A WHOLE NEW WORLD

We just transferred to this new apartment last July 29. The house where we stayed for 25 years was already sold and so, while still saving up for our dream home, we moved in here. And I so love our new address simply because it's "Kaunlaran" (Progress). :) I believe that this "whole new world" will truly be a "dazzling place," somewhere we can start building a brighter future, a place where we will grow as a family (physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially! ^_^). I am excited for I know God brought us here because here we will prosper, here God will work marvels and miracles, and here God will bless us so abundantly! :)

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

Sure there's pain in every goodbye. And leaving the place where you grew up and started building your dreams is such a heartbreaking scene. But remembering Ondoy and considering what we experienced in the past three days, I would say that I am grateful for this new home. I am grateful we are here, safe and protected, dry and warm. We never feared that the flood will reach us though it has already entered the first level of the apartment. We are at the second floor and the structure is built strong and high enough to protect us from the unwanted waters. And so we were able to sleep soundly, free from worrying that we might wake up soaked in water. Because of that, our prayers were concentrated on those who badly need shelter, food, and clothing. We were no more concerned on our welfare but on the safety and well-being of all other families. That, I believe, is such a beautiful blessing. :)

GLORIOUS MYSTERIES

I prayed the Rosary twice yesterday. The first time was at 3pm (with Mama), and the second was during my evening prayer just before I went to bed. During my personal prayer, I was able to reflect on the mysteries, and amazingly, I was granted the grace to see the mysteries in our very situation.

First Mystery: The Resurrection (faith, joy)
Jesus went through enormous pain. He suffered and died on the cross, but on the third day, He rose again and He has changed history forever! After suffering and death comes resurrection, and just as we endured another calamity, we are assured that we will also taste victory, a new beginning, and a brighter future.

Second Mystery: The Ascension into Heaven (hope, seeking the things that are above)
Jesus ascended into heaven where the Father awaits. He's finally home, up there where He truly belongs. This is not our permanent residence. The earth is just a temporary shelter. And we are also told in the Gospel that we should not store riches here, but rather save up for the heavenly kingdom. May we find consolation in knowing that we do not belong here and that every pain we suffer, every difficulty we face, and even every blessing we enjoy, is just temporary. Greater things await us in heaven and we could only look forward to the day when we will be meeting our Creator. As for those whose died in the floods and landslides, and for every life taken in any other way, may we realize that their death is not the end of their journey, but will only be the beginning of eternal life.

Third Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit (zeal for souls, love for truth)
Not long after Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came down and empowered the disciples. Thus, He (Holy Spirit) is called the "Helper," the "Advocate." We believe in the truth that the Holy Spirit is also in and with us. Therefore, we also have the power to heal, to save, to love, and to proclaim God's greatness despite the pains, the difficulties, the tragedies, and even the worst calamities.

Fourth Mystery: The Assumption of our Lady (union with God)
Fifth Mystery: The Coronation of our Lady (confidence in Mary's intercession)
The last two mysteries speak about Mary's union with God, thus we have the confidence that whatever we pray for, through her intercession, will surely be heard. She is also the proof that in God's time, we, too, will be united with Him and with our loved ones who have gone ahead of us. Mary, our Mother, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, is our closest connection to Jesus and to the Father.

DAYS TO REMEMBER, MOMENTS TO CHERISH

I thank God for the three days that passed, even without electricity, even without signal, even with floods, heavy rains, and thunderstorms. Because in those three days, I was able to accomplish most of my personal tasks and a whole lot more. I was able to, first and foremost, spend a lot of quality time with my family, with every single member. I was able to have a good laugh with my brother, and we were also able to talk about stuffs and matters concerning the family. I was able to help Mama in her tasks in their upcoming SangPuso seminar. I was able to wash the dishes, feed and play with Lassie (our dog), finally unpack and organize all my things, set up the altar, arrange the interiors of our new home - the simple chores that I am not able to do on a usual basis due to the demands of my job (sounds like a high-paying job, huh? not really!) or should I say, service. I thank God that He blessed me with such an understanding and supportive family. And I also thank Him for allowing me to give back to them not just in terms of treasures, but now in terms of time. :) I also cherish my bonding time with Papa just this afternoon. He was studying for a driving exam (he said he needs to pass that to be able to obtain the certificate that is required to renew his license next year) while I was writing on my journal. From time to time I would correct His pronunciation and he would ask me to translate and explain the things that he doesn't fully understand. You see my father did not finish high school because he made some choices in the past. Despite that, he was still able to provide for us, raise us well, and gave us a comfortable and happy life. And for me he is the best driver that's why I'm confident that he won't just pass the exam, through God's grace, he would definitely score high! In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a perfect score! :) And so this afternoon is a special moment because I did not only teach Papa correct grammar, but I also had a short course on driving! :) God must be preparing me for a new car! Yes! I'm excited! :D

Aside from that, I was also able to prepare something for Lawrence for our second anniversary this 13th. I was also able to pray more, reflect more, and spend more quiet moments with God. :) I was able to accomplish a lot! It was indeed a blessed and fruitful experience.

I don't have a camera (yet) that's why I wasn't able to capture every moment, especially those when we (as a family) eat, pray, laugh, and stare at the window together. But those moments were captured and are kept in my heart and in my mind. And I will forever treasure each of them. The last part (staring at the window together) is important because to me it symbolizes hope and unity. Together, we look outside and hope for a better tomorrow, a brighter world, and a healthier, more peaceful environment. We look forward to what God has planned and prepared for us and we trust in His good heart and providence.

Max Lucado said, "God invites you to vacation in His splendor. He invites you to feel the touch of His hand. He invites you to feast at His table. He wants to spend time with you."

This three-day retreat is exactly just that: a vacation in God's splendor, a special moment with Him. God knew I needed it so badly. And now, just as the water has subsided and things are beginning to return to their normal conditions, I am also recharged, refreshed, renewed, inspired, and even more driven to wake up to a brighter day, a sunny one, a day full of promise and hope. I am energized to move forward in life with a better disposition, a stronger heart, and an even more empowered spirit. :) I can't wait to see Mr. Sun (Mr. Golden Sun as Barney would call him) tomorrow. I can't wait to begin another chapter, another step in my faith journey. I pray that this experience may be an eye-opener, a wake-up call, a call to action. I pray that God has also enlightened the mind and touched the heart of every person to heed the call to live more, love more, serve more, and accept the invitation to bask and dwell in His presence.

LESSONS LEARNED

This may be cliche but only a person of great faith can turn a mess into a message and see each difficulty as an opportunity.

I believe this "mess" brought about by Habagat imparts a message of hope. We can still do something for this country, for the world. We can never win against the forces of nature, but we can befriend it by being more responsible individuals. Remember that everything belongs to God, and with just one point of a finger, He can take everything back. And so the most we can do is to take care of those blessings and be good stewards of all the things He has lent us. Let's take this difficulty as an opportunity to change and improve our ways, an opportunity to prove to God that we can be trusted with all His treasures, an opportunity to share our blessings to those who desperately need one. There is still hope. We can be that hope. :)

A Beatles song says:


All we need is LOVE.

Know God, know love.

Have God, have love.

All we need is GOD!

HAVE GOD! (and everything else will follow) :)

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