A Farm Visit

Farm Visit-27I don’t like to live in a farm. That has been my thought since my family moved here in Fort St. John. But that changed when we visited the farm of Roy and Gloria. We went to visit Roy and Gloria on thanksgiving day. Gloria showed us around their property and we really had a wonderful time. That visit changed my view of what living in a farm looks like. I have been trying to understand what Roy was trying to tell me before about buying property outside of the city limits. He was trying to convince me about the practicality of buying a farm land. I wouldn’t listen, because I could not imagine myself and my family living in a farm. After all, we came here to Canada expecting to live in a “Big City.” To live in a farm was way out of the question. Well, until that thanksgiving visit. That visit really change my perspective. The real surprise for me was that my wife was really receptive to the idea. She was the one who was initially really against the idea of living in the “bukid.” That visit changed her view radically and in fact that visit changed everything. Right now, I can finally see my family and myself staying and settling down in a farm land. I can see the benefits from the financial perspective to the benefit to the quality of life regarding health and overall well-being.

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L-R: Gloria, Remo, Cheryl and Theo

That visit was not planned. But sometimes in our lives, the unplanned moments are those that change us. I am really glad for that visit. I thank Roy and Gloria for the hospitality. I thank Irene for the invite to visit and being the guide to reach the place. I thank God for I know that it was His purpose for this to happen. Now I wait with my family for the next step in our journey. Maybe one of these days, through God’s guidance and provision, we might just start living in a farm!

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Gloria with one of her cows.

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A curious cow.

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Going uphill to the hay field.

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View from uphill

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It was already late autumn so most of the leaves have already fallen. Gloria mentioned that if we had come two weeks earlier, the colors of the tree leaves were really beautiful. Next time we’ll come earlier.

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On the way back from the hay field. The group of trees on the right side are the only trees that still have most of their leaves on.

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We took advantage to take a portrait among the trees.

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To Our Seventh-Day Adventist Church Family in Abu Dhabi

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The place of growth has always been where adversity resides. This is true for my spiritual growth as well as my personal growth. I have always been pleasantly surprised about your acceptance of me as me. I have been away from the “normal” church life for four long years, and yet, when I finally found the courage to come back, you have welcomed me with arms wide open. I felt as if I have never been away at all. This gives me a glimpse of the profound reality of God’s unchanging love.

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I faced tremendous challenge in my work there in Abu Dhabi. There were times when I wanted to just give up and walk away from it all. It was always too easy to give up. But then, there was the church family. I found sustaining strength, from the small group that I and my wife attended. I know you, the people who were there. I shall not mention any names but, I shall never forget you all. You were there at the lowest point in my life. And when I found victory or triumph in my spiritual as well as in my everyday life battles you were there to share it with. I know that you faced the same kind of battles that I did and
yet you always found time to encourage a downtrodden brother such as me. You never had to say anything. Just the fact that you accepted me just as I am was enough. The very thought that I knew that I belonged and was accepted was extremely comforting. This was all that I needed. And if you come to think of it, this is exactly what all of us need: to know that we are loved, no matter what or who we are. Jesus accepts us just as we are and He knows that it is what we need most. The small group has been God’s instrument in fulfilling this into reality.

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We had faced many a spiritual battle in our church life together. It made me realize that war is never over until Jesus comes. There is never a time that we can leave our guards down…never. We’ve lost some battles and won some. But, the most difficult ones are those that shattered the relationships among the brethren. Those are the battles that nobody wins or ever will. We must remember that the church is primarily relationship centred and relationship driven. The Word of God is explicit about this; love God above all, and love your neighbour as yourself. That is why if we have fractured our relationships among our brethren, then we have lost our mandate as a church.

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When my family and I left for “greener (or colder) pasture,” we felt like we were leaving behind our family, and rightly so, because, after all we are one big family of God. I was surprised at the thought that people came out of their way to give us a very pleasant farewell. I was even more surprised with the testimonies of some people that showed how much they appreciated the presence of our family. You may never know how much it meant to me. Especially considering that I always thought of myself as a “difficult person” to be friends with. Some of you never said anything much. You never had to. We understand that there are still no words that were invented to verbalize some of our deepest feelings. I find comfort in knowing that when we left, some of the broken relationships have started to find wholeness once again. It is never ever easy to mend broken relationships but it is never impossible. Healing comes only through God’s grace. With God, all things are possible.

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If I have to mention some regrets, it would be that I may have lost some good friends along the way. I am glad for those friends that I have hurt but found time to ask for forgiveness. Your forgiveness meant so much to me. For those that I forgot to ask forgiveness for, I humbly ask them now. I am sorry for those I may have hurt along the way for one reason or another. There is no reason or an excuse to hurt anybody. This is especially true among brethren.

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If there is anything that I am thankful for, it would be that I am truly grateful for spending a slice of my life with you all. I’ve grown much in spirit and in facing life as a whole because of my experience in the church life over there. I left a part of me right there. I may be someone who is never truly misses (or pretends to be), but I know that in the deep recesses of my heart a part of my life is missing because I left it there with you. Being away from each other is not something that we must fret about. This is not much of a tragic situation anymore. There is always the internet and, of course, FB. We may never meet again in person and may never smell each other’s bad breath ever again. But the greatest tragedy of this all is that if we do not see each other in heaven. We must continue to hold on to that blessed hope and hopefully find time to pray for each other’s well-being. My family and I are forever grateful for the prayers offered to God to accompany us in our new life in a strange land. My family and I love you. God will bless us all.

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The Catch of the Day

My family and I and some friends wanted to enjoy the holiday, so we went out fishing along the Mussafah Park. We took advantage of the extra holiday because  United Arab Emirates is celebrating its 41st National Day.Fishing_Mussafah-0809

“Beginner’s luck” is what they call it. It was the first time I ever attempted fishing. And in my first attempt, I caught the biggest catch of the day.

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Me and my friend Heldon displaying the biggest catch of the day.

This one literally almost got away. As the fish got caught up in my bait, it jerked hard to free itself from the hook and in doing so tugged the fishing rod with it. I had to quickly run after the fishing rod as it was pulled by the fish into the water. Fortunately for me, I caught up with the fishing rod before the fish got away with it (though I strongly doubt that it was strong enough to bring the rod with it, but who knows?). And unfortunately for the fish, it ended up in the fiery grill that was prepared for fishes like him.

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Friends enjoying the day fishing.

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My two sons enjoying their fishing activity.

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My wife trying to catch something…

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My son proudly displaying his catch.

Fishing_Mussafah-0807A beautiful day for fishing.

Friends and a Wedding

Who do you invite to your wedding? Friends, of course. But not just ordinary friends. You invite good and beautiful friends. Even relatives would have to be “friends” with the groom and bride to get invited, unless they happen to be part of the immediate family. In that case, there is no choice for the couple.

When we speak of good friends, we mean friends who are there before, during and after the stressful and emotional roller-coaster of the wedding ceremony has come and gone. They will be there when the reality of the married life really sinks in and will be there to support and pray for the newlywed couple.

When we speak of the beautiful people, we do not mean entirely in the physical sense only (although that wouldn’t hurt at all). The physical can always be “enhanced” to appear beautiful. But real beauty is in the character. The really beautiful people are those whose character shines through magnificently even in the most trying circumstances in life. The newlywed couple would definitely need these kinds of people to look up to as models as well as to help them navigate the delightful but ever challenging journey that is called marriage.

With the Bride’s Parents

With the Groom’s Parents

A wedding is a happy and tremendously memorable occasion. This is true especially for the couple. This is an occasion that the couple would definitely love to look back again and again as they go through their life together as husband and wife. Eventually, this will be one of those memorable stories that they are going to tell their children. What is more fitting then than to spend this momentously memorable occasion with those closest to their hearts?

We earnestly wish the best for the couple, not only the best wishes but mostly the best realities because, after all, wishes may not come true. And reality is clearly what they will have face. So, best realities for the couple. Above all else, may the newlywed remember that in God’s vocabulary, there is no word for divorce. Therefore, together with their loved ones and their good and beautiful friends, here is to a happy life together for Jee and Paula.