30.

I turned 30 last February 12. Entering the BIG 3-0 wagon. It was a big deal for me when I was in college. I imagined myself that at this age, I have my own pre-school, finished my MA in SPED, have my own family (with 2 kids and counting) while actively serving in the community. Oh well, big dreams. Nothing came true. But I don’t regret it. For my life now is better than I imagined it to be!

At 30…

I have experienced working as an HR Assistant, ESL Teacher to Koreans, Admin. Officer and Pre-school Teacher before landing at the job I am called to do – a Fulltime Pastoral Worker a.k.a Missionary – celebrating my 6th year!

I have finished college and education units, became a licensed professional Teacher, took up units in MA SPED and now, on my 2nd year as a Bosconian, taking up Masters in Religious Studies, major in Catechetics.

I have literally traveled around the world by going to Latin America,  US, Taiwan, Spain, Portugal and Singapore.

I have met a bunch of crazy people, young and old, with different passions and come from all walks of life. sometimes I wonder, how did I become friends with them? Probably because we share the same amount of  craziness. :D

I have been in love many times (or thought I was), met a few potentials, also had a few heart breaks but still hoping and looking forward to find my one true love, chosen and given by THE Love-Giver Himself.

I have experienced death many times – death of my Mom and an almost death moment for me – that made me less afraid of it and makes me more compassionate to those who are experiencing death in their lives.

My life now is far different from what I have imagined it would be at 30, but hey! I am experiencing a great life possible for me! And I know that it is not yet done; the best is yet to come…. For God is still not yet finished making my life more beautiful! And I can’t wait what else He could still give me!

Thank you Lord for the life I have right now. For the blessings and challenges, victories and defeats, sickness and health. Thank you for every person I met, every moment I experienced, every lesson I learned. If my life is already beautiful now, I know Lord that you have a lot more in store for me! And I am much excited of what else you can do FOR me, IN me and WITH me! I am yours for the taking, Lord! Thank you and I love you!

Celebrations on my 30th birthday!

love. love. love. <3

love. love. love. <3

*Maan and Jermer were absent this day.

THESE made MY day!

THESE made MY day!

Thank you Marie! You really know what will make me SOOOO happy, I literally cried over it!

And a home-made dinner by my bro, Kirby. I wasn’t able to take pictures of it, coz Dad was already hungry. But here is my first pic of my birthday, taken by my little bro.

 

30!

30!

Thank you to everyone who remembered my birthday, sent their greeting through Facebook, Twitter, and SMS; for the little cake (in the last picture) given by my girl-friends – Joey, Roxy, Anne and Chloe; and for all the prayers and masses offered for me on my special day. And to my upper household – Ate Gay, Joey, Angel, Chloe, Maan, Kate, Kuh, Roxy, Sweet – for the honoring. Pagalingan sa english? :D

I feel so loved Lord. Thank you for being the source of my love! <3

New year, new beginnings!

Happy New Year everyone!

This will be a quick post since I’m still in the middle of my major room clean-up. But can’t miss this day not to post.

New year celebration is something I always look forward to, third to Christmas and my birthday. It gives me the chance to forget the old and bring in new things in my life. It allows me to strive to be a better person and to dream big that the year to come will be better than last year. It gives me hope that the Lord will finally hear my unanswered prayers and bring me closer to Him, than ever.

I am very excited this year. I envisioned my 2013 as a year of changes, of faith-testing situations and of bold decisions and choices. It will be another roller-coaster ride with God, but more amazing! I look forward for new people to meet, lovely places to conquer and unforgettable moments to cherish.

Oh Lord, this year is for You and all about YOU!!! Show me your power, grant me your grace and cover me with your love as I journey this year with you. That in everything, I will choose You. That I may always reflect You. And that my life be pleasing to You.

Thank you for a wonderful 2012. I’ll write about it in another post. Journey with me as we unravel the path that the Lord has for each one of us this year!

Cheers to 2013! The best is yet to come! :)

hello 2013! excited for you!

hello 2013! excited for you!

Celebrating life after an almost death

Today last year, I almost had a face-to-face encounter with death. It was a result of overestimation, wrong decision and plain stupidity.

We were in Mindoro when it happened. It was supposed to be a victorious morning for all of us, after our successful Christmas party with the Mangyans. We went swimming in the river. Over-estimation of my ability to swim and my courage to experience adventure, almost lead me and another colleague to death. Instead of able to flow with the rapids, I flowed in the middle of a whirlpool which I couldn’t get out. Yes, what we see in movies are true: dark underwater, flashes of memories, hands need to put up the water while trying to gasp for air and shout “tulong!”… Yes, I had experienced them all. I thought I was going to die. I was resolved to that fact when I felt tired of trying to  swim and reach the top of the water. I remembered saying the Apostles Creed and asking forgiveness for all my sins. I even said a prayer for my family and the people I’m going to leave behind. I really thought it was my time to die. But the Lord had other plans. Just when I thought I already reached the pit, He sent my boss to rescue me. Even if it was an accident that he slipped on the waters and realized how deep it was, I still believed that it was God who pushed him to save me.

 

*  *  *

So many things happened a year after. Because of that incident, I learned how to value life more. To be cautious with the decisions I make. To really lived the accountability I have towards my team mates. I saw life as fun, but after that incident, it brought me to the next level of maturity and seriousness in life. I just can’t decide out of adventure anymore, but I have learned to decide out of right calculation and discernment of the situation. I just can’t decide just like that because it is fun for me, but I have to consider if it will also bring fun to the people around me. I just can’t decide the way I decide when I was younger – carefree, spontaneous and indifferent to the consequences – because I had almost cost a life of another and it might happen again if I’ll not be careful.

Until now, I am not proud of what really happened. I still feel uncomfortable when people joke about it. It’s not easy to accept the fact that I risked another person’s life. But I’m trying to get over it. Step by step.  And one step I took is to face my fear and trauma on water: I swam today! Very liberating experience! I continue to ask the Lord that in time, I’ll get over all my trauma brought by this experience. And that I may learn how to live fully this 2nd life He has given me. All for Him. Because of Him.

Tara, swimming na tayo! =p

KFL team went to Mindoro!

Called on May

Latamaries!

The month of May holds a special place in my heart for I celebrate many anniversaries as a missionary:

May 6 – as a Missionary

May 29 – as a Latamary (Latin Amrican Missionary); the time we stepped on Costa Rica and life was forever changed

May 30 – as part of the CFC FFL community, when I start my journey with Christ during my youth camp

These dates remind me of how the Lord has called me to be His. And as long as I shall live, I will do my best to celebrate these days for this is my way to say ‘thank you’ to the ONE who made me live this best life ever.

Serving God is the best life ever!

5 years and counting!

Today, 5 years ago, was the day I left everything behind (literally and figuratively, that is!) and followed the Lord through Missionary life.

And life has never been the same since then!

Me 5 yrs ago

5 years mean = pains, hardships, trials, sufferings, tears, homesickness, stripping off, molding

but

5 years also mean = laughter, friendships, family, love, joy, success, victories, life changing, being the best, learning, deepening, enriching

Thank you Lord for these 5 years in mission. Thank you for all the experiences – high and low – for it molded me to who I am right now. And I thank you more, for I know that you have something great in store for me for the years to come!

Sweet life, that is! Thank you Lord!

Me after 5 years!

Working house-daughter

1st time to ride the Train in Espana! Dream come true! Picture is not related though with the blog entry. Just want to share it =)

It has been a while since I blogged. Hmmm… too busy with the many to-do things in my everyday life. Sige na, ako na ang busy! =p

Lately, I found myself getting tired too often. As in dead tired. Been juggling my time between work, house chores, work, singlehood, work and family time.  Jack(ie)-of-all-trade! It’s the conference season and work doubled, no tripled actually, since aside from the events we’re doing, been busy writing and editing PFO talks and finalizing the new programs for KFL ‘coz we’ll be releasing the new PFO this May, and the in-between work assignments given to you. Yay! My body is not coping with the load of work I have right now! Time to be fit for the Lord!

Anyway, I realized last January how the Lord gave me this privilege of being a working house-daughter. Since i’m the only princess of our home, I had to take on the responsibilities of what our queen (mom) left behind. It’s difficult since my working schedule is different from the usual, and i’m also studying. There are nights that I go home late from a meeting and I couldn’t rest yet because I had to do household chores. Or wake up early to do some more.  Sometimes I complain. But whenever I remember my promise to Mom to take care of my Dad and brother, the promise I said to God to love these men in my life… I continue to do it… well. Difficult, yes. I had to sacrifice my time to go out just to serve my family. But whenever I see them happy, whenever I see them satisfied with the meal I cooked, or the clean toilet or the new curtains and bed sheets I changed, I’m happy. Maybe because service is my language of love.

I am a working house-daughter. I am proud to be one. For I know that when I finally mustered this, I am fully ready to go to the next level. :) Thank you Lord for the experience. And thank you Lord for the strength and endurance.

 

29 and loving it!

This week was really busy – full sched for meetings, things-to-do, etc. And I haven’t done any sitting-down activity to reflect and digest all the things that happened especially on my special day. Until now.

*   *   *

I was born 29 years ago at 5:50 a.m. (and yes, I checked my birth certificate for that! haha) to my wonderful parents in a hospital in Bulacan. Many things happened before I was born and until this very day (and til I die) I was, am and will always be grateful to God and my parents for choosing me (and my siblings as well).

My whole life wasn’t that easy. It was a roller coaster ride. Joys and pains. Success and challenges. Victories and failures. Laughter and tears. Thinking about it now, I am amazed on how I survived all of them. Oh I know, it’s all about God’s grace.

*   *   *

After that near-death experience in Mindoro last December, I promised myself and my God that I would really take care of myself. In all aspect, that is. I’m now busy working out all the aspects of my life that needs to be organized, or probably overhauled. Difficult and painful process, but hey! All beautiful things come in time and hard work. And God’s grace. So, i’m patiently dealing with it. (Help me Lord!)

*   *   *

I spent my birthday in Pampanga with my Aunt, cousins, nieces and nephews, and a lot of strangers around me. Weird, I planned it to be simple but God had better plans! Probably because my prayer for that week was to surprise me on my birthday. But I never thought to be like that!

My aunt, our yaya and I went to mass early. The earliest birthday mass I’ve ever attended in my entire life – 7am mass. Praise God it was in English and the homily was in Tagalog. If there were Kapampangan words, it was easy to understand. Then, went to market, breakfast and headed to my date.

I promised myself and Mom that I would try my very best to spend my birthday with her. I started it last year and again this year. But this time, I spent it lying on the grass talking and praying with her, and reflecting about my life.

Me and my Mom on my special day!

As I lay down beside her, I was led to the realization of thanking my parents for choosing me to live after all. And because of that choice, my life is blessed. Because of that choice, I am able to live the life God has planned for me. I am able to do what I am supposed to do. For I am destined to do great things for my family and for the Lord.

After spending some time with Mom, I headed on to my Nana’s house. Nana is the resident nanny for us, the Esteban cousins. All six of us were taken cared by Nana. The longest one was my youngest cousin, which lasted for 19 years. I didn’t expect that they were complete in their house. They offered me lunch, but there’s a small voice in me that told me to buy food to share with them. And so, I bought pansit luglog (a typical Kapampangan pansit) and cake. And an instant party for me! And some kids of the neighborhood even came and ate! It was just a little salu-salo but ended up feeding a lot of people! And the whole neighborhood even sang a birthday song for me (with hugs and greetings from strangers). What a random celebration!

Nana and her family

my little guests :)

29 and loving it!

Btw, there was this one kid who went back to me and said Thank You for the cake. It was the first cake she has eaten her whole life! And she’s 5 years old! Wow, Lord, thank you for making me an instrument to make this child happy with the cake! :)

As I went back to our ancestral house in Angeles, I got another surprise. My aunt said that we will celebrate our birthday together, and I only imagined it as a small get-together with my cousins and nephews and nieces. But when I got there, there was really a feast on the table! And different people, whom I never knew, kept on coming every now and then. She invited the whole barangay! haha And these strangers greeted me, and when they knew that i’m my Mom’s daughter, they never stopped telling stories about her. I never knew these people but they made my Mom’s spirit alive on my special day!

My Aunt and I

the only food left from the feast!

*   *   *

Post-celebration stories:

I am not use to honoring, even if it is always done every year during my birthday. But this year is different. I opened my heart to listening and accepting all the things my team mates told me. And got surprise of how they described me – as if the one that they were describing was not me! I never knew I have inspired them that much. Amazing how the Lord changed me, molding me to the woman He created me. Amazing how He allowed me to touch these people’s lives and be a witness of God to them. Amazing how the Lord became alive in me, through me and with me. It is still amazing how these transformations happened. I guess, it’s all about God’s grace!

*   *   *

As I look back on how the Lord allowed me to celebrate my special day, I can’t help but thank Him for the surprises He allowed me to experience that day and everyday. For the overflowing love from people I care about and even with strangers as well. For all those who greeted me from all parts of the world. From the people of the past, of the present and the possible future with them. I thank the Lord for the non-stop out pour of His blessings and for continuously telling me that there will always be many chances for me to stand up and create another beautiful story with Him. And for the first time in my life, I looked forward in getting a year older, for I know that this year, on my 29th year, the Lord has prepared something amazing that will definitely change my life. Whatever it is Lord, yes, I am prepared for it!

I AM READY!

P.S. Thank you Kuh-kuh for this wonderful blog as a gift. Read her birthday blog for me here.

 

Sweet love on a Friday!

Yesterday was a day of love for me. Probably it’s the overload of sweets and coffee that got me. But really, I felt much and extra more love yesterday with the simple things that God surprised me with!

> KFL Meeting

Yeah I know, it’s the usual meeting that we always have every (other) day. But yesterday, I just felt so happy seeing us complete (coz partner Jermer’s back!) and how the Lord placed each one of us in the team, with our unique talents and personalities, how these compliment each one of us and made our team a family. I love my KFL team!

KFL Team @ Mindoro (Jermer was still in Taize this time)

> Meeting with the Lolos

It is always a privilege when you are tapped to serve in other ministries apart from the one you’re serving at. And yesterday was again, a call to go beyond my comfort zone and serve my dearest Titos (and Lolos) in the Servants’ Ministry for their Congress. It’ll be a little different this time than the last time I served with them, but hey, I am in for God’s surprises this year! So, get it on Lord!

> Household!

I always look forward for our household meetings. It is such a joy to be with my co-missionary sisters, sharing our joys and pains, knowing more each other and in any (and every other) way, bringing each other closer to God through our life stories. Since Valentine’s coming, our topic was about love. And what I love about girls’ sharings were the tilians (shrieks)! Especially when it’s about love and the in-betweens! haha And I love my household head, so simple and yet direct to the point. Easy to digest when stressing a point. And my co-household? Oh, they’re crazy. And yet, priceless to be with!

> Sweet treat from my sweet friend!

The Lord knows how to make me happy and He made it real yesterday through my mission best friend/partner. Good food, a lot of life-changing conversations and realizations, and more laughter made the bonding full of faith and love!

me and my Malunggay pesto pasta

Marie and her favorite tocino meal

Unlimited coffee and cake!

1st cake: Tiramisu

2nd cake: Honey Mango

Last cake: Double chocolate cake

*Imagine, 2 cups of brewed coffee and 3 slices of cake in just an hour?!? Happy yet heavy! hahaha

> The Vow. (Bow.)

Simple and love-filled. Definitely a date movie!

Too much sweets and the need to burn it out made me go with Chloe and Teny in watching this movie. And good choice it was! Very inspiring (since it was from a real story) and would make you fall in love again and again and again. (or is it the sweets and coffee I took earlier? hmmm) I love the male character, Leo (Channing Tatum), on how he loves his wife, the sacrifices he had to go through, the efforts to win her back and his patience and understanding of his wife’s past, present and a possible future without him. I love how the story was – not a hard-core romantic movie, but a sweet one, something that will make you look on love and sacrifice in another perspective, and honestly, would make you wish that there’s someone out there who could be Leo to you. Haayy, definitely a Valentine’s movie! =)

Here are the wedding vows of Leo and Paige (Rachel Mc Adams). Sweet and cute. And heart-warming. =)

Paige: I vow to help you love life, to always hold you with tenderness and to have the patience that love demands. To speak when words are needed and to share the silence when they’re not, and to live within the warmth of your heart — and always call it home.
Leo: I vow to seriously love you, in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love.

And as I was about to sleep and recounted my whole day, I couldn’t help but smile on how many times the Lord made me feel so loved by the people around me and circumstances that happened. How the Lord made me fall more in love with Him in the big and small details of my life. And I think, this is not about the overrated sweets I ate, nor the love bug that’s been biting everyone. It’s all about how real and tangible God’s love is everyday in my life. And I can’t help but wonder what else does God has for me for the next few days and the rest of my life?

Hmmm… surprise me Lord! I love surprises, you know! *wink*