If each tear were a prayer

 

 

If each tear were a prayer,

I would have prayed a billion times.

A billion asks that

float up to the sky.

And God would have heard me

one billion times.

Without uttering a single word,

yearning together for

different world.

A friendly one, a healed one.

If each tear were a prayer,

I would keep crying,

knowing that closing the floodgates

would damage the ecosystem of

my soul,

and that,

of this one wild and precious world.

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To the Philippines and Back!

I am going to tell this story from the beginning! Me, my sister Breanne, my grandparents – Lolo and Lola, and my uncle David arrived at SeaTac ready to fly stand-by to the Philippines! My uncle is a flight attendant, so we could fly non-directly and save on ticket prices. First we flew to San Francisco. Then we saw the waiting lists for flights to Honolulu were like 50 people long! After several attempts of catching one, we gave up and spent the night at a hotel to try again in the morning. An angel in the form of a lady and her son from Hawaii told us our best bet would be to catch a stand-by flight to Kaui, then buy a ticket to O’ahu. So we did that and we made it to Honolulu! By the time we landed, my throat hurt and I felt feverish. I couldn’t believe it… the flu was hitting me!

For the next couple nights I stayed with my past youth pastors – Norm and Christy deGuzman. They took care of me, prayed for me, and bought me pho, popsicles, and udon noodles. I hadn’t seen them in so many years but it felt like nothing had changed. It was so refreshing to spend time with them even though I was so sick. I just love them so much! They are my spiritual parents! 🙂

Then the crew and I tried to catch a flight to Guam, but it was too packed. We stayed with our long-time friends the Fortuno family, and my sickness was still raging. My sister Breanne took such good care of me. At 2am when I almost passed out, she helped convince me that I was not overdosing on Ibuprofen and Tylenol, and that I was just dehydrated. She made sure I was drinking water and electrolytes and she slept next to me. I know she definitely sacrificed her comfort for my comfort, and for that I am so grateful. I have the best sister in the world.

Also – somewhere in the midst of all that, I turned 25!

On the evening of Maundy Thursday, my grandparents and uncle decided to buy a direct flight to the Philippines and Breanne and I decided to catch a stand-by flight to SF. She needed to get back in time for school. My uncle was going to stand with us at the gate until we caught a flight. We missed one, but the next one looked promising. There was one, maybe two seats available. I told Breanne she could take the first opening and she boarded the plane. The attendant said there was one more spot, but then suddenly an out-of-breath guy runs up and shows his pass and boards the plane. “Sorry, there are no more spots.”

“That’s okay.” I thought. I have more vacation time so I don’t mind hanging out here in Hawaii! Then my uncle said, “Would you still want to go to the Philippines?”

The short answer is that I said “Yes!”

My uncle then stayed up practically all night figuring out the flights and we boarded our direct flight in the morning! I have never been on a 10 hour flight, and I actually enjoyed it!

I was tired when we landed in Manila because it would have been time to sleep in Hawaii, but now it was 3pm in the afternoon! My mom and uncle’s cousin Adrian picked us up and we spent the night at his house. The next day was Easter, and we took a taxi-van back to the airport, met up with my mom and step-dad, and all six of us flew together to Davao city! There we were met by more of my mom’s cousins! I couldn’t believe it – I made it to the Philippines after almost going home!!

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Here are some pictures from our first full day in Davao. We took a Jeepney to a more touristy/retreat area up on Mt. Apo.

Durian fruit, Marang fruit, fried banana and night-time fun with “Grandma” and the cousins:

The next day we went to the beach and had a picnic and went swimming! I forget what beach it was :,( The water was warmer than in O’ahu. My mom’s cousins said I was shy compared to Breanne so I tried to talk more and get to know them! In the end we tried to re-do an old photo of my mom and her cousins since it was the same park. The original structure wasn’t there anymore, so we all got on the jungle gym that was there.

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On our final day in Davao, we visited the resting sites of my mom’s Lolo and Lola, her aunt Frieda, her cousin Jeoffrey, and her uncle Greg. After that we went to the part of the city where my Lolo grew up and went to school, we visited Holy Cross school but it was pretty renovated and unrecognizable to him. We also went to Magsaysay Park which was where he often hung out. That evening we had to catch our flight back to Manila! It was so hard to say goodbye.

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We flew back to Manila and stayed with my mom’s cousin Adrian again and his family.

After staying the night in Manila, eating a breakfast of chicken adobo and rice, and taking final pictures, my mom, step-dad Peter, and I flew 12 hours to Canada and drove home from there. I miss and love our amazing family and the beautiful country of the Philippines. I can’t wait to go back!

I’m going to the Philippines!

I can’t even accurately express how excited I am. In 7 days I will be on my way to visit family and islands where my Lolo was born and where my mom grew up!!! I’ll be travelling with my sister Breanne, my uncle David, and my Lolo and Lola. We are going to Hawaii and Guam first to see old friends, churches, and neighborhoods. I will be able to visit with my past youth group leaders too! They moved to Hawaii after my 10th grade year. I haven’t seen Norm since then, but I saw Christy when she came up to visit around the time when I was about to graduate from high school. It will be a big blessing to see them again. They really helped me out with my faith back then.

From Guam we fly to Manila and then to Davao. My mom and step-dad will join us there later! My mom said she hasn’t seen her cousins in 35 years! She was 12 the last time she was with her family in the Philippines.

I’m kind of nervous about what to pack and what to expect. Breanne traveled to Manila a year ago so she is getting bombarded with all my questions! Today she simply said, “it is really chill.” What to expect: eating lots of food, going at a snails pace, and hearing lots of stories. I am excited to go swimming, eat a lot of mangoes, …to experience the culture first hand, and to soak up family time with my mom’s side of the family who I’ve never met.

I also get to celebrate my 25th birthday and Easter Sunday there! I feel like God planned that.

This will be a big adventure for me, as I’m not one to travel far. Thanks for your prayers and I can’t wait to update everyone on my time in the motherland!

God cares about climate change

It’s January and I expected the temperature to be in the 30’s by now but it’s 45 or 50 degrees Fahrenheit! This kind of makes me happy because I get cold easily. The temperature this past week might not be due to global warming, but it got me thinking. Then I saw an NPR article that said while the South (US) is freezing, Alaska’s ice highways are not sturdy enough and dog sled races can’t happen per usual. I thought, “That’s really strange!” And also sad. As glaciers melt and animal species linger on the brink of extinction, it’s hard to ignore or deny that our planet’s climate is changing. I am shocked whenever I learn the stats.

As a Jesus-follower I am also not surprised. In the beginning when God created the world, the world was very good. When Adam and Eve sinned and God told them to leave their home, the garden of Eden, the initial order and intention for humans and the world disintegrated. Humans had (and still have) free will, and with it they departed from God and His path and plan.

If people had not sinned in the beginning, and if they had instead chose to remain close and obedient to God, I believe that what we would see today regarding our relationship with the Earth would look drastically different! Humans would make wise decisions about the Earth, honor our Creator, and treat all with compassion. Our actions today in regards to the climate do not honor Him who is Creator of all. Man-made plastics fill and contaminate His oceans and fish, choking out animals and sea life that He spoke into existence. Humans gather oil selfishly and unapologetically – without regard for how actions affect others. There are so many examples of how we live today that was never God’s original intention for this world, the place we call home. He intended for us to cherish and take care of Earth alongside Him.

The scriptures say that a new Heaven and new Earth are on the horizon. In the meantime, Jesus came into our midst to establish his rule on earth – the Kingdom of God – right now! The Kingdom of God is here now and not yet. When humans choose to steward the earth and its creatures with kindness, hospitality, and awareness, we will experience Jesus’ Kingdom breaking through the hostility of our harmful ways.

I am thankful for Jesus because He shows us the right path. He is so powerful and mighty. He gives me hope, because I believe He grieves for the planet as well – and He has a major restorative plan. Even though science can’t quite prove this, I imagine that if God were not Creator, nothing in this life that we see, hear, smell, taste, or feel would exist as we know it. With that perspective in mind, there is a whole lot to be thankful for!

Amen.

Reflection

I just found this in my drafts. I think I wrote it in the Fall of 2015. I like it…so…here ya go!…

Perfection or Perfectionism?

About six months ago, during my senior year of college, I struggled with a feeling that my mind was separated from my heart, with my spirit floating somewhere in between. My journal entries from back then are so scattered, stressful and directionless – even simply flipping past them in my notebook gives me a sick feeling. I found a note in my phone from that time that says, “Am i perfect or am i a perfectionist?” Speed-walking to class after tiredly forcing myself out of bed produced this thought. I was thinking about the fact that in my entire college career I have never missed a day of class (except for one sick day my freshman year). I started wondering if me pushing myself to go to class this day, even though I felt horrible, was motivated by this perfect record. I thought, “Well hey, maybe I’m just perfect!” But literally no one is perfect! Since I do strive to meet expectations with perfection, another thought formed, “Well, maybe I’m just a perfectionist. An overworked, sad, stressed, perfectionist.” I thought about how I accomplish school work, labs, or projects in an effort to impress myself (and definitely my faculty).

Considering these two words – perfection and perfectionism – I do not feel that either should define me. I am obviously not perfect, but I am also not a perfectionist. I value having healthy expectations for myself, holding myself with integrity within these expectations, and respecting the expectations others have of me.

So, what am I taking away from this quick morning contemplation?

I am a big internal processor. Internal processing is not bad, but it has caused me to hole up inside of my brain and forget to view things with a grander perspective. This causes me to forget what is truly important in the grand scheme of things. My top priority senior year was school. In the summer of 2015 I lived in Hilltop Tacoma. It was there that I gained a new perspective. I re-experienced how peaceful and alive I feel when God is my number one priority.

No wonder I felt so lost at the end of my senior year – I had lost sight of how big God is! I am not perfect but I strive to reflect Jesus, and He was and is perfect. I think it is so amazing that God would allow me to embody His own son!

Even though I lost sight of God during a difficult season, God never turned His face away from me. Though the difficulty of school, God gave me countless opportunities to seek His face and learn how and who to love with His love.

What I love about life is that it is a journey of constant growth, change, and renewal.

Amen!

 

Jesus, how can I describe your beauty?

Jesus, how can I describe your beauty?

You are an artist marveling at your work, crafted so carefully.

You are a flickering candle in the heart of a mother.

You are the clarity and freshness of forest-air, soil, and streams.

You are soft rain drops, tears that grace the surface of a scorched land.

You were the smile that brought me out of my darkest hour.

 

You are a seed, which fell in death as you opened your palms to the world.

In death, you produced many new lives.

As I encounter your Unyielding Love,

my Breath exists in this beautiful mystery.

 

You are present in the vulnerability of story.

Stories of fear, guilt, and shame intersecting with a greater Love.

Yeshua, allow us to see what is not seen, but felt,

as our souls awaken from hibernation,

to a new and wondrous world.

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Multiethnicity and Easter

To me this day reminds me of the day, 2,000 years ago that Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God. I woke up knowing that as the sun rises, it’s another day where death does not have the final say. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives” (John 12:24). Jesus is this kernel of wheat in his story, and his death produced many new lives. New life is an impossibility – unless Jesus rose from the grave. He metaphorically turned his tomb site into a garden, turned death into life. One woman, Mary Magdalene who comes to his tomb in the morning actually mistakes Jesus for a gardener (see John 20:15).

I, myself am one of those new kernels in the plentiful harvest, bursting with joy when I remember what he did for me and for every one of his beautiful creations. We are human beings made in the image of God.

Because I am a new kernel of wheat, I’m still growing into a plant. Over the past couple years I have been growing and growing. I have grown to root my identity in God alone. My authentic self is only authentic when I look first to Christ to define what “authentic” even is!

Some people don’t think about certain aspects of their identity as much as others do. For me, I sometimes think about my identity in terms of being a woman and being mixed-race (Filipina and White). Jesus has had me on a journey in my ethnic identity. Some people don’t have to think about their identities but I must think about what it means to be filipino in a culture that elevates white-ness and what it means to be female in a culture that elevates male-ness. I also have to think about what my white passing identity means for me and my privilege in society. I feel secure in who I am as a light skinned white/filipino lady. I can be both. It’s okay. Jesus made me and he holds all my identities because he is in control of my life.

After Jesus talks about being a kernel who must die to produce new life, he goes on to say in verse 25, “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” In my new life, I choose to follow Jesus. Not culture, not rage. Not anger, frustration, or annoyance.

When I am fearful of people’s acceptance or rejection of me, then I forget who I am in Christ. Sundee Tucker Frazier says, “God embeds our ethnicity deep in our soul. It is an important part of how we reflect his glory. We don’t have to (and ought not) throw it out when we accept God’s invitation to become one of his children. We must accept, however, that though God loves the ethnicity he’s made us, it is not ethnicity that causes him to love.”

Jesus, thank you for loving and creating me. Thank you for holding my community. Together, we reflect the fact that you couldn’t help but create diversity, for you are a mosaic of beauty and many differences together show more of the fullness of your glory.

Amen!