Awake

Restless body, curled up on the bed

Longing for serenity, running images in my head

Unplugged, I lay down my cares

Why in the world are you in my nightmares?

You grumble in the dark, embittering the innocent

Poisonous words, conveniently hidden

Disappointed, my emotions flow like a raging river

The drowning one, my soul on the mirror.

I close my eyes again, hugging my pillow

Restless soul, rebuked by the Holy one

Lift them up, let justice come

And your love blaze like the sun.

The year I was 30…

Three decades. I still can’t believe I have already spent 30 precious years on earth. My eyes can’t help show my surprise every time my students talk to me about the year when they were born; I was the same grade as they are now. I feel like I am still 21 years old; childish in many ways, but maybe wiser.

Let me recap the highlights of last year:

  1. Dark moments of the soul: I have never asked so many questions in different aspects of my life before, but last year was an exceptional one because I had so many questions. The wonderful thing about my dark moments were God’s promises that helped me press on. He indeed is my light and my salvation. 10429446_10155512459475179_2438317545547389855_nWithout His mercies, where would I be now? The dark moments were also times of growth since I always asked, what should be learned?
  2. COSTA RICA! We had our emerging leaders event in Costa Rica last year, and it was just interesting to lead the group of emerging leaders from Asia-Pacific to Third Wave, the same event that I attended in Johannesburg in 2007 as a young, 21-year old emerging leader.12471501_10153898350516803_195803970979716722_o
  3. Ministry in Japan: When God opened the doors for us to be in Japan, I had a mix of fear and excitement as to what would happen to us here. When March came and Ánderson was given the opportunity to be ordained in the Japan Nazarene District Assembly, I sensed God’s affirmation of His call to Japan. 11044507_10152723174205172_294904947810446190_oI will never doubt God and His ways even though things seem uncertain! His timing is always perfect, and He makes all things new.

    In August, we had the chance to go to Yorokobi Church of the Nazarene in Hokkaido for a one week missions trip with our church-mates from Keystone Church of the Nazarene. It was nice to see how ministry is done to the young people in this country. There’s a lot of learning to do! 11782397_10153069993990172_8732126688004186862_o

    In September, we moved from our Keystone church family to a Japanese speaking church in Okinawa: Urasoe Church of the Nazarene. We needed to improve in our Japanese language, so an immersion was called for. Our new church family has lovingly accepted us even though we were the only foreigners there. I just love how friendly they are and how they let us be a part of their community. Ánderson and I get preaching opportunities too, hopefully someday we can do it in Japanese!12291280_10153275669235172_93095216427814896_o (1)

  4. My work at OCSI: I praise God for the success of last year’s missions week, and how He has helped make it possible even if I did not know how to prepare mission projects for 200 students in Okinawa; it was a new thing the school was doing. The friendships I have also made with my high school students have been encouraging. With the new school year came a new position for me and that was the chaplaincy for elementary students. I confess that it is heartwarming to be with the kids every week for chapel services. It is a huge blessing!11722412_10156045339155179_5214264857101321741_o (1)
  5. E-Merge event in Indonesia: How can I forget the way the Lord brought all of our emerging leaders from Asia-Pacific, together with their leaders and mentors? It was great to be on the same page, and that we can honor the past and shape the future! I can’t express how exciting that moment was, since all the fields were represented. I just praise the Lord for the opportunity he has given me to work with awesome leaders. 11040894_734534873314646_5172828297602999509_o
  6. Taiwan! Ánderson and I got to visit Taiwan and the Nazarene churches there. It was great to learn about their ministry and also equip and empower our young leaders there. We are blessed by their hospitality and look forward to how we could connect them to the churches in our region. 12308555_10156597069765179_6128317998459067493_n
  7. Café Club and Awesome friends: I am glad I was able to find a new hobby and to spend quality time with my newfound wonderful friends. 🙂 I promise those café blogs will be up soon!!! 12002138_10156348149430179_2804826451875456826_n
  8. Our Christmas vacation to the Philippines: I kid you not, but I had a list of all the food that I missed, and I ate them all when I went back! After being gone for 17 months from my country, the longest I have been away, it was interesting how I missed so many things. It was great to see the family, friends, and relatives that I dearly missed.
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    Last but not the least, 2 years of Marriage with Ánderson! What a blessing to live life with Him! We are learning, and growing. Like a toddler that is starting to walk, we are learning what it is like to be married. 🙂12469486_10153346513205172_1090827306754993942_o

 

So year 31, what do you have for me?

Thank you Abba for a new year.
Thank you for new opportunities before me,
and for your unchanging love in changing times.

Three Great Reasons To Reject Refugees (and Starbucks)

Wonderfully written. She creatively put into words my sentiments. Take some time to read. #refugees #Syria #hospitality #perfectlovecastsoutfear

Across Cultures

https://www.flickr.com/photos/121448272@N02/shares/9CFR5N

DSC_0406Just as the  Starbucks fiasco about those blasted red mugs began to cool, Paris exploded. The Middle Eastern Refugee Crisis came barreling back. This post began as a satirical piece about the red mugs and the refugee crisis and radical Jesus, but with the division in our world right now, I did some editing.  The last thing we need is more cynicism and hate.

What follows are 3 points often given by those less eager to welcome refugees.

I respond with answers based in a core belief that the Christian God that we serve is missional (continuously in pursuit of his created ones), is grace-filled, is just (and that means actively in pursuit of justice for all of his creation), and chooses to redeem the world in synergy with (thru / by means of / together with) his people who are the body of Christ.

I fully acknowledge that…

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Praise the Lord!

This time I will praise the Lord.
I did not pass my driving test… again.

I remember that story in Genesis, when Leah had her fourth child, Judah, and instead of her usual longing for her husband Jacob to love her because of having a child, she just praised the Lord and did not desire his husband. (Check out Genesis 29 for the story of how Leah was unloved, and she thought having children would make her husband love her more…)

Today I was not angry. I actually held my tears until I got out of the facility, and then I burst into tears. I have been angry for a while, but today I just want to praise the Lord.

When you take the driving test here in Japan, you get to ride with the person who is taking the test before you. (I am reserving the whole driver’s license blog for when I actually get my license, so just bear with my story for now.)

So I sat at the back of the car and watched the old man take his test. I saw mistakes from his driving. When he finished, the officer said he passed. I was super happy for him!

Then it was my turn, and the officer let me finish the whole course. I was really happy because I thought I did well, and I finished the course unlike the last two tests I had.

On my first test, the officer said I did not use the handbrake when we stopped on the hill, and he was not happy with my yield time. Then that was it. The second time, I was not driving 30km/hr on one area, and that was it for me. Today I finished the whole course. This test is nothing like what we have in the Philippines, so in other words, it is not easy. Everything was in Japanese and I was so proud of myself. I was hopeful!

The officer today was so kind; but he said I did not pass. My hopeful heart was crushed. With no interpreters, we had a heart to heart talk. He tried his best to use simple Japanese words so I could understand. “Janary san, You were 20km/hr on the three spots where you should be 30km/hr here, here, and there. You have to do everything to prepare for the turns but still be 30km/hr here and here and there.”

I always reasoned out in my head that 30km/hr is the max limit, I am not going over it on the roads that had it, and I was maneuvering to make turns and do the “dance” of looking at the rear view mirror, the side mirror, and the blind spot before sliding to either the right or left. You have to be really precise on this, and do the “dance.”

He said calmly and firmly that I should be 30km/hr on those three places. My tears started welling inside me. My sinful tendencies started to come up; in my head I was comparing myself to the old man that took the test before me and how he should have failed.

The test today, and the calm, fatherly voice of the officer made me see some “spiritual things” in my life. I started to think of our life and God’s mercy on us. I realized how this is like our life before God. No matter how we argue of our “rightness” before him, we fall short of His glory. We look at our life’s troubles and say we do not deserve this. That we are too good to be experiencing difficulties in this life. Then I thought of the officer passing the old man despite his shortcomings, which looked like “grace” to me- something not deserved.

Even in all our good works, and rightness, we fall short of God’s standards. But He is merciful, and He offers His abounding grace for our shortcomings.

I cried because I am starting to get tired of this, but I am still far away from the finish line. While my troubles are nothing compared to what others are going through, again, Romans 5:3-5 is such an encouragement. May it encourage you today too:

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Earth Hammock Café

Last week, 7 ladies were present to our Café Club and we went to the new Aeon Mall Okinawa in Rycom where the Earth Hammock Café was.

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You guessed right, they have hammocks!!! So the ladies went ahead and picked their spot.

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Pardon me, I think the summer heat outside did not make me excited to be under the sun on the hammocks outside, so I chose this cute hammock inside where there was aircon. hehe :p

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But of course the girls did not stay too long outside and went inside too.

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Let me show you what it looks like inside.

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I have never taken this many pictures of the other cafés I’ve been in before, so this time you can imagine the place much better. I would say it is a nice place to be in and you can bring your book and read when you get tired from walking inside the mall.

Oooh, and when the weather becomes much cooler, then I think it would be really nice to stay on the hammock outside and have a good view of the sea. I think if you stay outside at around sunset it won’t be that bad.

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Look at the view outside. That would be really wonderful when the weather gets cooler, and it is getting cooler now! 🙂

They have a limited menu. They had donuts and small pizzas and drinks.

This is what I got:IMG_0583

A small pizza with avocados, shrimp, basil and cheese. Haha. Yum! I also had a Hawaiian donut and Iced Chai tea latte. This was all 950 yen.

My friend got a Teriyaki burger:

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oh well, we sat on that round table and shared about the highlights of our week. I love Café club and how we can just visit places and share life.

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The place is also surrounded with so many stuff like clothes and jewelries, organic stuff, and you know… that eye candy stuff we try to avoid so we don’t spend a lot of money, but it was nice to go around and window shop.

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So we had a great time!

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If you’re really hungry, don’t expect a lot here, since they do not have a lot of food choices, but if you are tired at the mall and need some quiet space to relax and have a cup of coffee or chai tea, then this would be a wonderful place. The food was yummy though, the place was really nice, and your eyes would not be bored 🙂

So, where do you think should we go next?
Any suggestions?

Training… for Godliness.

The moment the cross-country team started their training, I thought in my head… “Oh no, kids would be tired again. They would say they are sore. They would be sleepy in class…” When it is time to go to our apartment, I would pass by the team that’s training hard. I am always amazed. I always think I would not be able to do something like that, since I lack discipline.

One day, I tried to offer chocolates to one of the runners, and she said… “I don’t eat chocolate;” I was stunned. I was like… “What?!!! Chocolate is the most wonderful thing, you can’t say no to that!” She replied, “I would not be able to run if I eat chocolate Mrs. Godoy.” In my head I said, woah! What kind of discipline is this. I was thinking how can one piece of chocolate hurt. I almost wanted to insist that it won’t hurt.

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This week I came across Paul’s encouragement to Timothy in
1 Timothy 4: 7-10:

Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly.
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it. 10 This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers.

These verses struck me. Recently I am having issues with my weight gain. I am trying to do Zumba and walk a lot. I am trying to eat less. I am “trying” to train myself physically but I am failing in that aspect. I know I haven’t exerted much effort yet, and I am already complaining… and the funny thing is… the verses we just read said that while physical training is good, training for godliness is much better.

Now, I am not saying I shouldn’t train my body anymore to become better. But… most of the time we look at the “training” we do in this world and give our high priority on it and not pay attention to training ourselves for “godliness.”

While there are many benefits to physical training… it is only good for the time being. But training for godliness promises benefits in this life, and the life to come, especially for those who believe in the hope that God gives.

Last Monday, I took my driving test. I failed again. I was so angry because they praised me for being a great driver. However, I did not drive 30 km/hr on that one lane. I thought that is the max limit but apparently, my 25 km/hr while having to turn on that one corner was not good enough. It has to be exactly 30.

But that test is just for my driving permit. There is a bigger test, and that is for my godly character. I failed and got really angry. I grumbled. While it is normal to be upset I had to “train” myself to look at the bright side and what God wants me to learn in all this, and once I set my heart on God and His mercy for me, I will feel peace… because I will see the bigger picture- and God knows what is best for me.

How about you?
How do you train yourself for godliness?
Are you only focusing on the temporary instead of the eternal?

Pride Before Downfall

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Last Thursday, I started attending a new Bible study on the book of Daniel. I love the stories in this book and it is exciting to study it again with the ladies of our church.

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If you don’t know who Daniel is, turn to the book of Daniel in the Bible and you can read about his firm stand on His belief in God, and how he stood out in a world that calls him to go with the flow. He went against the flow.

When he was young, Babylon took the Jews captive, and they were taken away from their promised land.

Babylon represented the pleasures, and you can sense the pride in her: “There is none besides me…” (Isaiah 47:8-10)

Sadly, this is not just Babylon. This can also be any of us. 

Before the Kingdom of Judah was taken to Babylon, one of its kings became proud in His heart. He was a good King and His name was King Hezekiah.

King Hezekiah became sick, and the King of Babylon at that time had his favor by sending him encouraging letters because of His illness. So when the King of Babylon visited the Kingdom of Judah, King Hezekiah showed off everything he had… All the treasures of the Kingdom.

2 Kings 20:12 At that time Merodach-baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he had heard of Hezekiah’s illness.

13 And Hezekiah rejoiced and welcomed the embassy and showed them all his treasure-house—the silver, gold, spices, precious ointment, his armory, and all that was found in his treasuries. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.

14 Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezekiah and said, What did these men say? From where did they come to you? Hezekiah said,
They are from a far country, from Babylon.

15 Isaiah said, What have they seen in your house? Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house. There is no treasure of mine that I have not shown them.

16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord!

17 Behold, the time is coming when all that is in your house, and that which your forefathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord.

18 And some of your sons who shall be born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king.

19 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord you have spoken is good. For he thought, Is it not good, if [all this evil is meant for the future and] peace and security shall be in my days?

What King Hezekiah thought was good for Him became His downfall.
He showed off everything He had, and the Kings of Babylon have planned their attack to loot.

The Kingdom of Judah have also behaved in a way saying “There is none besides me!” They forgot about God, and have followed their own ways.

“My will be done” was their cry.

Thus, the Lord disciplined them by letting them be carried away from the promised land. They were proud, and they sought their downfall.
(Daniel 1:1-2)

How about us?
Have we been saying inside our hearts:
“There is none besides me?”
“I can do whatever I want?”
“I can brag about whatever I have… because it was all about me!

Remember, pride comes before downfall.
Psalm 14:1
“The fool says in his heart,

    “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
    there is no one who does good.”