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Archive for the ‘miracles’ Category

In 2009, when typhoon Ondoy devastated cities and towns (including mine) with unprecedented number of deaths in Metro Manila, I thought I already saw the worst—and then came typhoon Yolanda.

Super typhoon Yolanda (International Name: Haiyan) was declared as an “Extremely Catastrophic Super Typhoon” by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) a few days before it made its landfall in Central Philippines on November 8, 2013. At its peak wind gusting up to 380kph (235mph), it registered as a Category 5 Hurricane in the Saffir-Simpson Scale and was declared the fourth most intense tropical storm ever recorded and the strongest to ever hit land.

As we watched from a distance here in Manila how the affected families rose above the situation—with an estimated death toll of 5,632 (as of this writing and climbing), damage to properties and agriculture amounting to PHP 30.8 billion, many missing members of families, children’s education standing at a halt, people sleeping on the streets after losing their homes with no food and water for many days—we cannot help but reach out to find ways on where we can extend assistance and provide support and comfort, even from afar.

I had the privilege of volunteering for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their effort to donate 10,000 personal hygiene kits and 10,000 food kits from Manila to the survivors of the calamity a couple of days after the typhoon hit.  A total of 1,500 volunteers from different ages, races, and backgrounds came to the Aurora and Quirino meetinghouses to repack goods which were afterward picked up by Alagang Kapatid Foundation and the Philippine Navy for distribution to different parts of Leyte.

I also had the opportunity to assist in the interview of the first batch of missionary survivors who were evacuated from Tacloban to Manila and to listen in as they shared their individual stories that helped increase my faith in God and in the goodness of the human race.

Despite the bitter pain and trauma that most of the survivors experienced, they were extremely grateful that they survived the ordeal and that their lives were miraculously spared. Most of them lost all of their material possessions, but they were still very thankful that the most important of all their possessions were still with them—their families.

In this season of Thanksgiving, may we remember the things that matter most in our lives and have the heart to share some of ourselves—be it our time or material possessions—to those who are in need. Many lives have been lost and even more lives have been changed by this recent calamity. We are in a position to help lift heads that hang down and provide comfort to those who are in need of comfort. May we find time to reach out and offer a helping hand. As we do so, I know we will find joy in our hearts that no amount of money can buy and appropriately express our thanksgiving for all the blessings that we have.

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(Photograph by Melanie Gapiz)

After three years of planning, preparation, and thousands of cumulative hours of participant rehearsals, the Jubilee celebration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has finally come!!! 🙂


As I sat on the edge of my seat watching the festivity and cheering the other participants, I was extremely grateful and my heart was overcome with emotions for having had the privilege of being part of the momentous occasion! 🙂


Throughout the course of the rehearsals, I witnessed how the opposition worked his way through various means, using different people and their weaknesses, to try to stop this effort from progressing.  I have seen many frustrated faces, and people quitting in the midst of all the preparations due to disappointments and discouragement. Some left simply because they got exhausted and did not see the grand outcome that was meant to be. Many cynics doubted and some begrudgingly supported the event.


Yet a great majority withstood the test and endured to the very end. These are the ones who enjoyed their journey and learned the sweetness of its value as they looked forward to their destination. These are they who, despite their mortal differences, learned to exercise the virtue of patience, long-suffering, forgiveness, and humility. They are the ones who experienced the joy of service, unconditional love, and found among themselves new and lasting friendships.  


At the end of the celebration, I realized that all the grand preparations made were befitting the occasion. It was a token of gratitude from the Filipino people to our God and King, for all the blessings we received on this land since the preaching of the gospel 50 years ago. It was worth all the hard work putting everything together—our talents, our time—to come up with the best that we could offer Him. Hence, I was moved and most grateful to hear, by the mouth of one of His servants, that our offerings had been accepted.


I think that life in general will be like this Jubilee celebration. The preparations will not be easy for the glorious end. Many will fall and lose their way. Yet those who will endure to the end will receive their sweetest reward—much more than they have ever imagined.

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(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

I have fear of heights. I get a little dizzy even by just looking down while on a mall escalator or walking near the large glass windows on the third floor of a 30-storey building. I thought I would someday “outgrow” it, but now that I’m old (err, old enough), I’ve finally given up hope. 🙂

However, I have learned to manage this fear that those around me seldom notice how scared I become near the edge of anything above my own height. I usually bite my tongue in order to avoid screaming like I used to when I was younger, or I simply never look down.


The other day I attended a meeting where I’ve learned how important it is to reach for the proverbial heights. By listening to the remarks made by a general authority, I realized that we ought to let our light so shine and not be afraid of showing our works in order to strengthen another—thereby taking us to a higher, more glorious ground.


I always thought that keeping our accomplishments within ourselves was the modest way to go, but I discovered that there are times when sharing our achievements will help empower our fellowmen to reach for their potentials. It is our intention that makes all the difference.


So, YES!! Let us aim high and not be afraid of the challenges that we may encounter along the way—for there will be many. And even when we get scared at times and feel like screaming, let us hold it together until we reach our worthiest goals. I have faith that after all we can do, He will be there to catch us when we’ve already given our very best and yet we still find ourselves lacking or perhaps sometimes even a little bit dizzy.


Take care of yourselves everybody! Reach for the stars and enjoy the rest of the week!! 🙂

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Listen and watch as Stephanie Nielson, a survivor of a near-fatal plane crash that left most of her skin burnt, shares her story of hope and triumph despite her great trial and how she describes her beautiful life centered on faith in Jesus Christ and love of family.

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(Photograph by Franco Advincula)

There was a remarkable interview I watched last week of an old man who was considered a pioneer in his homeland. His voice was coarse during the interview, speaking humbly while carrying an unassuming countenance.

A couple of things caught my attention while listening to him. Although people acknowledged him for being their country’s first in a few significant things, he didn’t let it go to his head and meekly said that he was just in the right place at the right time when those things happened in his life. He said it didn’t matter much that he was first, but that he was more interested in enduring to the end. He also wisely counselled that when we are called to do the Lord’s errand we should not care who takes the credit, but instead focus on doing our very best to push the wheel and help move the work forward.


I think there was a lot of wisdom in that old man’s words. It could be tempting to feel proud in an arrogant way when great things happen to us, but like him I think it would be good to be mindful of our ways and always keep our feet on the ground.


I also admired his quiet resolve to unconditionally labor and assist in the Lord’s work here on earth. I esteemed him as one who would take the limelight away from himself and toil silently where the Lord needed his efforts—such  a profitable servant and a great example worthy of emulation.

 

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This video captures thoughts on how we should develop an attitude of gratitude in our daily lives! 🙂 Let’s all live a life full of thanksgiving!!! 🙂 

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It was a long, fun weekend in the country as it was Halloween weekend and traditionally, it was also the time of the year when people get together in cemeteries to visit their departed loved ones and friends. It was interesting to see all the people who went to pay tribute and respect to their deceased relatives. Most came with flowers and took time off from their busy schedules to spend some time remembering their dead.

Although we miss some of our late relatives very badly in this life, it is comforting to know that we have the opportunity to be with them again forever. I find solace in the knowledge that death is a temporary separation and is a natural stage that everybody has to go through in order for us to progress towards eternal life.


As we entered the gates of our residence from all the activities that weekend, I felt gratitude for being able to come and feel the comforts of our home again. It made me think about the similar feeling we would probably have after our probationary state is over—when we finally have to come back home to Him who gave us life. I imagine it would probably be a grand and joyous occasion being reunited with our loved ones and friends; and most definitely a whole new and interesting experience. 


I pray that as we enjoy this earthly existence, may we also live a life preparing for and looking forward to that day when we will be sent home again to reunite with our departed loved ones and Him who gave us all that we have, even our very lives here on earth.


Enjoy the rest of the week everybody!!! 🙂
 

 

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