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.

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.”

Milkhall Iramina Café

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

It is interesting how people can inspire each other.
My friend’s café hunt inspired me to join her so I could explore different cafes on this beautiful island of Okinawa and write blogs about it; and after I have made my first café review, my friend Lisa Sorley got inspired to start a café club!
So the first café club meeting happened last Saturday and about 7 girls were present! We went to Milkhall Iramina in Yomitan-son, Okinawa
Milkhall Outside
They do not have a big parking space, and many people go there. So if you are planning to meet up with a group of friends, you should plan on carpooling. That’s what we did!
The place is like the normal house with several rooms and they turned each room into something cozy with some stuff you can see from Ikea.
Milkhall Inside 2 Milkhall Inside
Milkhall Inside 3
They love dogs I think… because you can see it on their decor.
The thing I liked about this café is their all-you-can-drink menu.
Tea Set
They have different kinds of tea, they also have coffee, and cold drinks they made. And you can drink all you can!
Cold drinks
We came for brunch so some of my friends got a popover bread
Pullover bread
Can you see the cute little bear sitting on that baby tomato?
Some of them got an acai bowl
Acai bowl
Which looks really awesome with the fruits and I regret not trying it out!
But I got eggs Benedict instead…
Eggs Benedict close up
and I just loved those poached eggs and cheese and ham! Mmmm!
Look there’s also a blue bear next to my salad.
My dish came with a curry soup, and a mashed potato with bacon as a side dish.
Eggs Benedict
and my breakfast set was 1,350 yen. I wish though a dessert went with it, but I guess the all-you-can-drink feature compensates for it. Yep, I am a dessert kind of person.
All in all, it was a good time spent with friends 🙂
There are many options for food here so I believe there are other things on their menu which was an album of choices!!! Literally the menu was on a photo album 🙂
So if you wish to read more about the café, their hours, menu, and google map coordinates you can click here for their website.
I suggest you use Chrome so you can translate the page, because it is in Japanese 🙂
Yesterday we went to another café so wait for that review as well 🙂
Do you have any suggestions for our café club?
Please write on the comments below!

Walk… with God

Two days I go, I entered the office and I was told I cannot drive anymore on the island because my international license is already expired. As soon as I heard that, my mind was super ready to:

  1. Give my excuses
  2. Rant
  3. Make faces

Interestingly, I overcame those and accepted it with all my heart. I know this was already coming, and I am choosing to do the right thing.

Some of you might have heard that I already started the process of getting my Japanese license. Well for my case, I am doing the long process which is: Take a 50-question written test and an actual driving test in order to get a driver’s permit. When I get that permit, I need to drive at least 10 hours with someone who has been driving on the island for at least three years. Then take a 100-question written test, and then another actual driving test, in order to get the Japanese driver’s license. I am currently on step two, which still falls on the driver’s permit stage and not even the real driver’s license yet. I will save the whole drama of my life regarding the tests on another blog, but my point here is, I am already working on getting my Japanese driver’s license.

So I thought, well I could still drive because I had my international license renewed, and I am already in the process of getting my Japanese one.

But no. That is going against the rules.
Well in my head I was thinking… no one would check…no one would know.
But no. The Lord knows.
Well… that means I wouldn’t have a car these days, I would have to walk to the store, walk to… walk to… and the grumbling went on in my head.

So that same day, I shared on the intercom (for OCSI’s morning devotions) the following passage:

Ephesians 5:15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Funny. That just struck me.

So, I tried to look at all the positive things that can come out of this. I would get my needed exercise. I need to walk to the store. I need to walk here and there. I used to do that all the time in the Philippines when I did not have a car, and I can do the same thing here!!! My husband and I can ride the bus to go to the church (and pay the expensive fare) and have an adventure again! There are so many positive things!

Because at the end of the day, even if my excuses say no one would find out that I am breaking the rules, the Lord knows that I am not doing His will!!!

So I will literally walk these days.

And I will do the wise thing in God’s sight,
even when no one is looking or no one knows… 

which is also what it means to walk… with God.

Are you walking with God?

Walk of Fame. I will shine like stars, because I am a child of the Light of the World. ;) We should walk in the light!
I will shine like stars, we should walk in the light!

Songbird Café

My lovely friend Hitomi San shared with me her project of checking out the different cafés in Okinawa. It is like a café hunt on the island to find the best ones. So I told her that she is inspiring me to write café blogs as well.

So my first one would be Songbird Café in Yomitan-son, Okinawa.

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The first thing I like about this café is how near it is to our school, and about a 10-minute walking distance from where we live. I did not walk but I drove down from the school and this was the view from where I parked.

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Wonderful, right?

It is a small café…

Songbird

but in front of it is really a nice view of the sea!

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The café serves breakfast and lunch sets, and we had the lunch special of the day which included the appetizer, main dish, and dessert.

The yummy appetizer included the sweet potato potage (さつまいもポタージュ), kabocha (which is how they call squash in Japanese) with a hint of curry powder, carrots, and a yummy egg that tasted like a quiche.

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I am in the land of kawaii, so of course, things look cute!

Then the tomato pork stew came and I fell in love with it.

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I love pork, and that pork just melts in your mouth :-p
They had the yummy rice and the greens on the side as well 🙂

Lastly, they gave us the white chocolate cookie, such a yummy baked dessert with berries and cream.

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Now this set is 1,300 yen (tax not included yet), and I would say it is a great deal.

To cap it off, Hitomi San and I ordered our coffee! I had café mocha.

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So what can I say but I enjoyed my stay, the yummy food, the ambience, the company, the view, the service, that I even came back a week later (which is today), and brought my husband for a date. :-p

You should check it out, especially if you live around Yomitan. You can check their website which has more pictures and information on their hours and the coordinates on how to get there.

So if you see me again in there, I’d say, because it is becoming my new favorite place. ❤

Do you have other café suggestions around Okinawa
where Hitomi and I could go and visit?
Let me know in the comments section.

Storm is Coming

There’s this page I like on Facebook that shares information on typhoons around/hitting the island of Okinawa. They put funny stories about the typhoons and make tales about them. Whenever I read their updates, my feelings are a mix of amusement (because they are funny and the people commenting can be funny as well); worry (because I used to live in the Philippines and have experienced typhoons every year, and know how ugly and dangerous it can get, so the sense of trouble is there); and hope (because it can mean we won’t have classes when the typhoon passes our little island and we could all have some free time to rest and play inside our houses).

Haha, hey now don’t laugh at the hopes I have for no classes, you are probably excited too at the thought of no classes on Monday even if school just started last Tuesday. :-p

But on a serious note, I can’t help but remember the story of Jesus with his disciples when the storm came.

Mark 4:35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples,
“Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.”
36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting,
“Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves,
“Silence! Be still!”Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.
40 Then he asked them,
“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified.
“Who is this man?” they asked each other.
“Even the wind and waves obey him!”

If I were on that boat, I would have probably yelled as well at Jesus!

A Storm is ComingYou see, that storm was real. It is not just some imaginary thing and the disciples could say, “Oh there’s no storm. No there’s no storm. We can pretend like nothing is happening.” The winds can be felt, especially for them on that open boat, not to mention the sickening motion of the boat because of the waves. Oh wait, the waves can actually fill up and drown the boat. There are so many reasons to be afraid!

The struggle is real…

but Jesus is also real.

I bet it is hard to accept the fact that after the disciples awakened Jesus, that He was able to silence the storm, and everything became still.

I mean honestly, who does that?
Even the disciples wondered who Jesus was.

And Jesus had to ask them the question:
“Why are you afraid, do you still have no faith?”

Now let us look at our lives. The storms that we experience are real. Even the “storms in our lives” (problems, hardships, trials, sickness, pain) are real. We cannot deny their existence. But Jesus is also real and He wants us to find peace in Him even if the we are in the midst of the raging storm.

He is also asking us the same question:
“Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?

He has done so many marvelous things in our lives, not to mention what he has already done for our eternity with Him. Why not trust Him when He is trustworthy?

Would you let Him silence your worries and fears?
Would you let Him work his wonders in your life and help you to be still?