Should I be scared to travel alone?

Dear Lord,

This fast few months, I’ve been preparing myself for my transfer to a new community and ministry. I am in the midst of processing my papers for travelling outside the country. Thus, I would be leaving my first apostolate (after MAPAC) which is teaching here in Notre Dame of Cotabato. I’ve been teaching now for three straight years and I don’t know how what to feel once I stop teaching and start learning a new language and be a student once again.

Though I was briefed what’s about to happen, of course I have my own what ifs and other reservations. Like what I said to a fellow brother, I don’t know what will I do there specifically so I’ll just stick to what I know: live as a brother in common life, pray, and even work while studying the language of that country. I know I will travel alone outside the Philippines but there are brothers anticipating my arrival there in my new community.

I admit there is a part in me that doesn’t want to leave asking, “What’s going to happen to me there?”. The prophet Jonah’s travel to Nineveh comes to mind. But unlike him, I feel no hate towards the people I will encounter. I don’t feel like turning back and take a ship going the opposite direction. It’s just that I don’t feel like going out of the Philippines for a long time. I am anxious but I’ll still go and follow what I am told to.

What I am experiencing now humbles me. To some extent, I can influence what I can do in this future apostolate but of course I don’t have the total control of what will happen to me and my future community. It’s a risk I’m willing to take and I entrust my future to my superiors who decided on this.

It’s a different kind of advent for me.

I don’t know where I am going to but in faith, I surrender.

Let Your will be done, not mine.

And let this be my prayer.

Amen.

Advertisements

Choose life

The last post I had was an emotional one. I was feeling that way for a long time that I just want to let it out. I haven’t told anyone yet about my struggles this year. Knowing me well, I start to be in touch with those kinds of emotions when I am alone. At least I have the time to feel sorrow when I could have just feel numb by binge-watching on a television series.

As I have written before, this semester is a busy one. I’m just lucky that this Thursday morning, I have no classes to teach I might as well spend it in writing this post. Once I’m done with this, I’ll be back checking papers to clear out pending tasks. At least I have the time to even focus on checking them though I rush a bit at times.

I read somewhere that we experience certain kinds of “deaths” in life. There’s something in me that’s needs dying so probably that’s what I am experiencing right now. I am blessed to even take a pause in between the busyness. At least I have the time to experience different “deaths”.

I wanted to finish reading a book. I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring by Tolkien and Sacred Fire by Ronald Rolheiser but I can’t get past Chapter 2. But at least I have time to write about wanting to finish reading them.

I bought those books when I travelled to Marikina twice last June and July. I have a home visit last June 20 to 25 and co-facilitated in the Coaching Module of MAPAC last July 8 to 15. It is good to just spend a while with your family; and, it is good to meet new people who shows passion for sports and education. I am blessed to have the time for family visit and co-facilitate in developing coaching skills every year.

Maybe, when I look back, I will just laugh at myself for acting the way I am reacting now. Like the song of Urbandub’s Soul Searching says, choose life. As for me, I choose to spend time thanking God for all the blessings I received despite the hardships.

A long, winding, but grace-filled weekend

I forego my plan to run 5 kilometers this night just to prepare for a week-long lesson plan. But here I am writing this post. So there.

This semester, I’m a busy person. These are my responsibilities:

  • Teacher to eight classes (six sections of Christian Values Education 8, one Christian Religious Education 11, and one World Religions and Beliefs 12)
  • Homeroom adviser to a Grade 12 section
  • Campus Ministry staff
  • Table Tennis coach
  • Grant-In-Aid coordinator

I miss my free time since I was just teaching part-time to five sections last school year. I got all of these because I agreed to take these responsibilities. So just bring it on! Also, I realize that this might be my last year of teaching to high school students. I will be sent out of the country next year for my next assignment. Getting my teaching license renewed would be harder whenever I get out of the country because of the recent law which says that I should get professional development modules/seminars/workshops sanctioned by Professional Regulatory Commission. I really hate that law because I actually get a lot of modules and workshops on administration here in Marist and teaching though they are uncredited because PRC is not involved there. Our Brother Provincial’s future plans for me would be working in foreign mission and/or teaching in college. I’ll save my worries later once the school year is almost finished.

Yesterday was a funny day because I did a lot and most of them are unplanned. I started the day by attending the daily Mass for spiritual strength. Next, I encountered a GIA who doesn’t have a Daily Time Record though it’s already mid-June so I gave away twelve copies to be used for the whole year because I am such a passive-aggressive type of coordinator and I never scold. Then the same person asked me the key to our office because they left the key inside. It’s just six o’clock so I just take my time before eating breakfast. I prepared for my almost two-hour class after the brekkie and got some Fudgie Bars to give away because I promised my Grade 8 students to give them some price. Until now, it still surprises me how I can sustain teaching for that long.

At 9:50 AM, I had to rush to the library because I got to meet all the working students since it’s our monthly meeting. After the meeting, I read the book Jesus of Nazareth by Gerhard Lohfink. I once bragged to my Grade 11 students that it is the best book I read on Christology. Possibly because of running 7 kilometers the previous night, waking up at 5 AM, percolating at a good book, proper ventilation of the aircon in my room, or because I just worked straight for three hours, I slept. I woke up around 12 PM and opened this laptop because I haven’t prepared for my next lesson with the Grade 11 students. I spent some good one hour on it and I went down to the dining hall to eat my lunch.

When the bell rings at 1:20 PM, that’s the time I will teach for another one hour and forty minutes. Again, I still wonder how I get to talk and tell stories I never told before in front of a crowd. If it is experience or reading books or both, I cannot tell. It also helps that there is a talkative student sitting in front that I get to engage with him and make my teaching dialectical or in a dialogue form. Then I had to go back to our homeroom afterwards to check the cleaning. The class president and the vice president collected the relief goods for the victims of war in Marawi City so they endorsed it to me and we delivered it to the Community Extension Services office but it was closed so I suggested we leave it in the convent.

Since I forgot to get the attendance sheet in the classroom, I had to go back and get it. On my way, I noticed the smoke from a fire somewhere near the Rio Grande. I heard firetrucks had a hard time entering there. Then I saw a student using a cellphone in the hallway so I had to approach him and confiscate it since they’re not allowed to bring it in school. While I was talking to him, there is someone calling my phone so we were talking while my phone is ringing. That was a bit awkward. He doesn’t want to hand it over to me and I do not want to argue so I got his I.D. and brought him to the Senior High School Coordinator. I slipped away afterwards to finally get the attendance sheet. I was actually in a hurry because it was almost 4 PM and I have to pack up my things for a trip later. Then I checked my phone only to find out it was Ms. Wilma, the aunt of a working student who got hospitalized due to acute ulcer. They needed the money I collected yesterday because I told her I “begged” some money from school personnel when I went around the school in between classes. I realized I had a talent in begging money. No, that was only a joke. Sorry if it was not funny. The amount? Sorry, it is confidential.

After packing my clothes and necessities, I went with our teachers/coaches to Belle’s Farm, Pigcawayan for planning and an overnight recreation. So there’s the usual drinking and singing either with the rented karaoke or with coaches playing the musical instruments brought by Mr. Dequiña in the venue. I skip singing ballads because I suck when I sing them and enthusiastic whenever we sing alternative rock songs especially if they are local songs. Filipino karaoke culture, represent! I only drank a bottle of San Miguel so I wonder why I got a recurring hiccup. Around past 1 AM, I sneaked to our booked resting house and was able to secure a resting place in a hard sofa-like furniture made of bamboo in the sala. I don’t know what it is called in English but I just know it gave me a hard time getting a good sleeping position because I don’t have a pillow and the sofa doesn’t have a cushion. Probably, it was already 2 AM when my body just got tired of searching for a good sleeping position. I then woke up at the usual 5 AM thinking of helping in cooking breakfast particularly the rice because that’s the only skill I know in cooking and I know how to cook rice for a lot of people because that’s what I learned from a fast food chain.

And I slept again around 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM today. Because of sleeping and waking up late, I feel a little bit of restless so here I am writing.

Today is Father’s Day. What’s my gift to my father? I’ll just present him with my own presence. Besides, I’ll be visiting home in Marikina this Tuesday to attend my youngest sister’s college graduation. I’ll be seeing my mother too whom I haven’t seen in almost two years because she went to Japan to work.

Thanks for reading and have a blessed weekend everyone.

Encountering the poor can be disturbing

During the First Sunday of Advent Mass this noontime, I saw the crippled old man who goes to daily Mass. It was the blessing of senior citizens after the prayer after communion when I noticed him. Since the priest asked them to go near the altar for the blessing, he also went there though he struggled in standing up and walking. He went there unassisted. It got the thinking, was he born crippled or he got a stroke? Because of the way he walks, he can be mistaken as a beggar just like I did when I first saw him. I find his identity mysterious. He dresses simply with a white shirt, shorts, and slippers, and brings along a hand bag with him every time he enters the Cathedral. He even got a proper haircut than I (blame the Nazorite challenge this November where I suspend haircut and shave this month).  He is thin and dark. His face wrinkled. I heard stories about him sometimes not being able to ride the jeepney because of the way he looks. And whenever he rides the jeep and the driver refuses his payment, he will get angry and insist that his payment be taken. I heard that he is not that poor. He looks like he is not that taken care of. Or was it because he is just stubborn to be taken care of by his relatives? If he is single or got a family of his own, I am not sure. How does it feel to live like him? I want to know. After the blessing of the seniors, he did not anymore take his seat but he went back where he was from, stayed standing on the aisle instead of sitting on the pew, and went straight out of the Cathedral after the final blessing. Since I was seated near the aisle, I was able to look at him closely. It was my first time to do so. I looked at his eyes. Our eyes met. I saw not the eyes of someone who has lost hope. I can tell that look of someone who has lost hope because I saw them before in the eyes of beggars, abandoned, and old people in the home for the aged. It was not that look that I saw in him. I saw his fierce and piercing eyes that looked back at me. As I go out of the Cathedral, I saw him approach a mother and child who seem familiar to him. He blessed both of them. I was stirred. Encountering the poor can be disturbing, I thought to myself. He might be thinking to himself that his life is near to the end that he chooses to praise God every day by attending daily Mass. I don’t know. I might only be imagining this. It’s as if I saw Christ in him. It’s as if this old man is living a life of a mystic. Content with how he lived his life and spending the rest of it thanking the Lord for his life.

Solitude?

Hello. How are you? Me? A bit sad this day. Is this what they call separation anxiety? Maybe. Our young novice Br. Jay Jay went back to the novitiate as he now finished his apostolic exposure here in Cotabato community after three months of staying here. Br. Ador is in Bangkok until next week. Now, we’re only two brothers here in the convent as of the moment. Br. Oca also said that it feels sad now that we’re just two in the house. Absence of presence here now. The house is big but the occupants are few. That’s like a paraphrase of the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few. At least we have the Real Presence in the chapel. Let’s pay a visit to Him later.

Life as a brother can be lonely sometimes. No girlfriend, no wife, no family, no children. This is the life I have chosen. Sometimes the road can be lonesome. I hope what I feel is in solidarity with what my mother and sister in Japan feels like being isolated with their loved ones. To all widows, brokenhearted, single, overseas Filipino workers, I feel you. I pray for all of you. I don’t like this feeling but, yeah, I will savor this moment too. There’s a time to be sad and a time to rejoice. I will feel it and pray for it. And now I wrote it. 

Cheers to life!

St. Francis of Assisi, who lead a life of solitude to follow our Lord, pray for us.

Counting down the days

11 days to go and I’m flying back to Mindanao for my next assignment for a year. Two years is too fast and I just felt that I’m really leaving MAPAC now. Of course, I’ll be sad that I’ll be leaving the beautiful people whom I have met and lived with for the past years I’ve been here. Will take time to detach myself from people and the place as well.

How to keep smiling as you wake up in the morning?

For some reason, waking up for me is pleasurable for the past two days. This is strange since I usually don’t wake up during my phone’s alarm. And whenever I wake up, I feel unwell. It’s either I still wanted to extend my sleep or I feel like having a fever. And the reason? If there comes the time when I will find waking up at 5:30am in the morning, that would be a good reason to feel well in the waking up. But so far, waking up during these two days are the reasons for me to smile. Is it because of a cool temperature or an uninterrupted sleep? I think that would be a yes for both. So later this night, as I lay down on my bed, I will let go of anything that burdens me be it anger, heartache, unfinished work, or whatever. As my Brother said, let tomorrow worry about itself. Let go.