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Posts Tagged ‘trials’

I was once enjoying late lunch with a friend when out of the blue a large fly swirled around us trying to get its share of our exotic meal! The waitress at the restaurant was embarrassed yet attentive enough to see our situation and immediately brought a medium-sized candle on our table –apparently to help shoo away our uninvited guest.

But instead of avoiding the clear sign of danger, the impulsive insect dove straight into the candle light as if toying with its fate. It naturally burned its wings and within a blink of an eye dropped onto the plate of my horrified friend. We couldn’t believe how fast things happened. We found ourselves trying to get the fly off the table while its body wiggled and struggled to get out of its predicament. It dropped onto the floor and while my friend told me to step on it, I only watched it literally “walk” its way out of our presence, limping and squirming with pain. It must’ve been terrified by the thought of its imminent death as well. We never knew if it made its way back home, or if its wings ever healed again, but it certainly suffered the excruciating consequence of its action.

We paused for awhile and thought how foolish that fly was for going straight into the candle light without thinking of the consequences. Yet between the long pauses, all my friend could utter was this: “Temptation.”

How many times in our lives have we acted like this foolish fly? We recognize danger and yet we sometimes think we are strong enough to withstand it so we head straight towards it and eventually burn our “wings.” Hopefully when this happens we won’t be placed in a situation where it’s too late to turn back and like the foolish fly suffer the consequences of our actions. I pray that in our dealings with our weaknesses and temptations we can gather the essential courage to mend our ways, get back on the right path, and be given enough time to eventually make amends and set things right.

Enjoy the weekend everybody and keep these thoughts in mind the next time you see a fly swirling around a candle light.

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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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People all around the world were moved by the recent catastrophe that hit Japan. I watched in the news a rescued man speaking about his survival experience and although he spoke in Japanese, I could feel and understand the sadness and trauma that he underwent after his ordeal. An old woman clung to a tree the entire evening for dear life and was rescued the following day. Buildings and homes were destroyed beyond anything anyone has ever imagined. The wrath and power of nature was only to be endured with utmost acquiescence and without question.


Through my years of existence, I learned that no matter what race we come from, whatever language we speak, whosoever we worship, we have similar innate characteristics that prove to me that we all come from the same source and are undeniably all connected as an entire human race.


In the midst of this calamity, tensions had been set aside for a moment among countries. Nations sent all they could to support and assist Japan in their current needs. The resilience of people was remarkable and it was touching to see the overflow of human kindness during this time of grief and loss.


Yet no matter how negative this experience was for many people, a lot of us also learned numerous positive things that will remain in our hearts for a long time. This experience taught me that even strong nations and seemingly independent, affluent countries still appreciate offers of assistance coming from their neighbors in times of trials and adversity. Similarly, our fellowmen who seem strong and independent will appreciate our support and encouragement in times of trials in their lives.


It was also admirable to see how the Japanese people remained calm and focused in spite of the overwhelming devastation that gripped their country. Collectively, they had the determination to rebuild their homes and individually extended help to those who needed it. Survivors orderly lined up and waited for whatever basic relief commodities were distributed to them. A spirit of unity was prevalent across the land.


In our times of trial, we can learn from their example by being still and enduring the tribulation with patience and faith and being grateful for the moral support of our friends and family and the Divine help that is always extended to those who seek it.


It may take a few months or a few years before Japan can get its nation back to where it was before the earthquake, but the lessons we’ve learned should very well not be forgotten.

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(Photograph by Edwin Redrino)

I don’t watch a lot of TV so I was oblivious to the heartbreaking tragedy that took many innocent lives on Monday until a co-worker pointed it out to me when I arrived at work later that day.  Just a couple of weeks prior to the incident, I was at the exact location where the hostage-taking unfolded, sight seeing and touring the area with a foreign friend. 

In retrospect, I thought how desperate a measure it was that the man took hostages in an attempt to bring back whatever dignity was left of him. I wonder if he had a chance to ponder about the serious repercussions of his plan. Was he able to think about the numerous lives that might have been lost? The many hearts that will be broken? I wonder if he had a chance to get down on his knees to pray for guidance and comfort. I wonder if he received enough support from his family and friends before he committed his fatal act. Clearly, he wasn’t in his proper frame of mind when he did what he did. It was an unfortunate tragedy that left many people saddened, angry, and some scarred for a lifetime.   


In a similar scenario this week, I witnessed how an act of unselfish service blessed the lives of two women who had been through a recent traumatic shooting incident themselves involving loved ones and friends. Someone in a position to help quietly went out of their way to offer comfort and lift the trauma off these women’s distressed minds. I witnessed the real meaning of charity come to life and was deeply touched by what I saw. It was the gospel in action. I wish the hostage-taker had someone like this person reach out to him during his contemplative moments so he didn’t end up doing what he did. But then now it’s too late.        


I sympathize with the families of those whose lives have been lost in such a senseless manner. I wish that those who have passed on have already lived their lives to the fullest and have already accomplished what they came here on earth to do.


In the darkest moments of our lives, it is good to remember that there is always light at the end of the tunnel. That we will not be given anything we won’t be able to bear. That there is help if we but seek it. Heavenly Father is there for us. He is the Father of our spirits and He loves us beyond our comprehension. He will help us when all else fails and we’ve done all that we could. Despite our many challenges and trials, our lives don’t have to end in any kind of tragedy. We can rise above the blues. Our Father wants us to succeed in all aspects of our lives. And He is there watching…and waiting. We just have to reach out to Him.  

  

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(Photograph by Edwin Redrino)

Yesterday I watched while the hospital aides wheeled and transferred a very good friend of mine onto her hospital bed as she lay unconscious from the recovery room. I stood in awe thinking how things can change in a snap of a finger in this, our temporary earthly existence.

Not too long ago, this friend supported me in a crucial way during one of my lowest moments and had figuratively become my crutches until I was able to get back up on my feet again. Now, she was lying helpless and numb fighting her own earthly battle, while I quietly stared feeling powerless and completely dependent on the only Being who could bless her with the healing that she needs.


We exchanged text messages the previous day and she expressed how hopeful she was until she found out more about her illness. I told her to have faith in Him and reminded her that everyone will be called “home” at some point and that if she is ever called home now, then I think she is in the best position as she has tried to live up to her potential and is serving Him the best way she can. 


As I waited for her to regain consciousness, I recalled many fond memories of our friendship as well as instances when we overcame misunderstandings that made our friendship even stronger. In most cases, we tried to follow the counsel given in the scriptures to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Being the more mature and sensible individual, perhaps (okay fine, I am sure) she did a lot more of the understanding and loving while I worked on my idiosyncrasies—which, by the way, is still a work in progress. 🙂


I guess the point I’m driving at is that we have a whole lifetime to perform wondrous things and improve ourselves in many ways; and although we don’t start out as shining, polished gems that we were meant to be, we can do all we can so that when the time comes that we are lying helpless and numb, or when we are called to return back home, then we could look back and declare to the Master as Paul did: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). 


Have a wonderful day everybody! 🙂 Let us all try to do something good in the world today! 🙂
 

 

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(Photograph by Gary Erickson)

Summer vacation is almost over for most students in the country. My daughter spent some of her vacation time doing on-the-job training to satisfy her school requirement. I saw how she has grown much from this relatively short experience. She has gained a personal knowledge of how it is like to work in the corporate world and consequently broadened her horizon in terms of some temporal aspects in life.

There are things that we can only learn first-hand. We cannot comprehend the kind of love a mother or a father has for their child, unless we become a parent. We’ll never know the happiness that comes from being selfless until we serve or give something without expecting anything in return. We cannot describe the grandeur of a sunrise or the serenity of a sunset if we don’t make time to watch them. We will not know the thrill of success and the strength we can gain from failure if we do not even attempt to try. 


Each of us is in the middle of our “on-the-job training” here on earth. We learn things by experiencing them. Some opt to learn every single detail by being diligent, while some choose to sit back and simply watch as life passes them by. It’s always good to remember that this will also be a relatively short experience and we need to learn everything we can so that when our “summer vacation” is over we may have enough knowledge to bring with us back to our heavenly home. No moment should be wasted, every minute counts.  


As we do so, may we be grateful and strong in the face of life’s many surprises; keeping in mind that when we get a downpour during our summer, it is a welcome break from the scorching heat, a time to walk under the rain, enjoy the sound of the trickling raindrops, and take pleasure in the cool breeze on our face.

Here’s wishing you the best that the summer brings! 🙂

 

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(Photograph by Edwin Redrino)

There are times when we cannot help feeling low about some things that are going on in and around our lives. Some of them we cannot control, such as illness and death; some we wish we don’t have to deal with, like manipulative and mean people; and unfortunately, there are some that we may have brought upon our very own selves, such as consequences of our mistakes.

The design of the adversary in this life is to bring us down. He would like us to think that our negative situations will last forever and that there is no more hope or relief for us. But the design of our existence is to experience all these things in this life—both happiness and sorrow—that we might be strong and grow from such earthly experiences.


Yesterday, I had the chance to continue browsing my old folders and saw very old photographs that were taken even some twenty years ago. Almost all of them brought smiles on my face as I recalled the great memories accompanying those shots. I was grateful for the wonders of my camera and how it captured all those precious moments that I will now treasure forever. I also realized the joy and happiness that my loving family and faithful friends have brought me all these years—all the love, support, laughter, and even the tears—through thick and thin. Each photo stirred up an emotion in me that reminded me how beautiful and kind life had been to me despite the many ups and downs I have already encountered. It also gave me hope that whatever challenges we encounter in this life will be but a small moment compared to an eternity of happiness awaiting for us if we will keep trying to press forward in the right direction no matter what it takes! We just simply cannot give up!! We cannot listen to the voice of the opposition telling us that we are not worth what our Savior had died for—because we are of divine worth and are extremely precious in His sight.


In a similar folder, I saw a video of a song written for the youth of this day. “Be strong and of good courage,” the song goes. I thought how appropriate the words are for us during this difficult time, even if we are no longer in our youth.


When my young son was starting to learn how to play the piano, he was discouraged and thought there was no way he would ever be able to play using both his left and right hands simultaneously. He thought it was an impossible task. But I encouraged him and told him that others have already done it so it wasn’t really as impossible as it seemed. He worked hard and practiced day after day and now he plays using both hands even without looking at the keyboard.


Just like him, we can keep our chin up and keep trying even when we are feeling very discouraged, hopeless, hurt, and downtrodden—even when we think it is impossible to surpass our challenges at hand. Most likely, others have already gone through it so it may not really be as impossible to overcome as it may seem. We just have to work hard and keep practicing patience, obedience, repentance, and faith until we finally get it right.


Let us not give place in our hearts anymore to the enemy of our souls! Let us remember and apply the counsel given, that all our trials and challenges will be but for a small moment and will give us experience and will be for our own good. Let us have a mighty change of heart and be strong and of good courage! Maybe then next time we are faced with a similar trial or challenge we can already overcome it even with our eyes closed!

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