As I concluded my Manila trip, ironically of all the trips I have made in these past 8 months to Manila, this last trip of mine proved to be the most insightful. Apart from the usual wrapping up of things that needed to be seen to when you close a project, I had the opportunity to meet up with some of my friend’s acquaintances here in Manila. I was just to pass them some paraphernalia to them and that was it – okay maybe just a dinner and that’s all – I wasn’t planning to spend much time with them as I was more keen to see to my own needs first.
One thing led to another and on the final day one of the acquaintances offered to spend the Sunday morning with me to take me around the town as I did explain to him a few days back I was looking for a catholic bookstore with good solid books. He offered to take me to one bookshop and as a result, after our bookshop visit, we had lunch together. This is where it gets interesting.
He was sharing with me about his life; mind you this guy is runs his own company supplying medical equipment and supplies to the provinces in the Philippines. When we first met a few days back for the dinner, to me he appeared to be a simple man, who loved God deeply and had passion to spread the word. Maybe he has too much free time in his hands – I thought to myself as how I would often mistakenly and naively think about such men who I come across in my path of life.
But upon hearing him share his life story about how he was raised in a catholic household, grew up as a young adult leading people closer to prayer and Christ, there was something I felt God wanted me to hear at that moment as I prepared to leave Manila the last time. He went on to share his story with me telling me how he was an engineer before but he always wanted to form his own business and finally at the age of 34, he ventured out into his own business. He shared with me his early days; about how challenging it was in the beginning and how now he has more than 40 people working in his company.
I was amazed at his life story. Here was a man, who had given his life for God in the beginning years of his adulthood, who led people to learn and love God, and through his talents God was able to bless him and not only him through his successful business, but also to those he employed – those 40 odd people he was telling me about. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that he would take the time to organize mass once a month on a Friday and invite people from all the other offices in the office complex to come and attend mass. He also shared with me how he is trying to improve the lives of his fellow employees – and he finds joy whenever he sees his associates coming up in life, whether it’s through a purchase of a house or car.
I enjoyed listening to him narrate all these things to me because I knew he was not doing this to boast or make himself proud. But rather I felt all along it was God who was talking to me through this gentleman. As I prepared to leave this project and to conclude my work here in Manila and return home, I felt as though God was telling me that it isn’t over yet – that although I’m currently leading a young adults ministry back at home and that I think I have done enough or that I am doing enough for God, here is God who is reminding me that He still has plans for me.
As I take stock on my own life, a lot has just gone on in the last 2 years. From a relationship which I wanted so bad to work out (but didn’t) to a job opportunity I wanted so much (but didn’t get), God has proven to me a few things – that he’s in charge (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing for me as a feeble weakling!) and that He loves me. Because through all of this, through those moments I couldn’t quite understand, I learnt so much; the opportunity to go to the US and Canada and realize that life over there isn’t all that great – that being in a location anywhere in the world didn’t matter (whether it’s Canada, US, Australia etc.) as much as my love for god and for my happiness, which I have learnt is derived from those around me, and not my own selfish desires. I’ve learnt that by being faithful and to a degree a fool for Christ (remember all those daily masses I used to attend like a nut hoping God would listen to my cries?) is all I need to go on living. I’ve learnt that He will take care of things – that He will give me the wisdom to know what my limits are and that He loves me too much to see me throw my life away.
And so as I wrap up my time here in Manila, I think the one thing I would want to learn is to purposefully abandon myself and this has only come about thanks to God’s grace. Abandoning myself purposefully would mean to plan and surrender my earthly desires, hopes and ambitions to God and to abide in His love during that entire process. And I plan to try this out during the next 2 weeks of lent – to purposely abandon myself. The how aspect is as follows:
To plan what my goals are for this year. Whether it’s personal or professional I plan to set my goals with proper plans on what my goals are and WHY these goals are important to me and how I plan to achieve them. Goals would cover 3 areas
b) Personal growth
c) Personal relationships
d) Professional career
Some of these goals I have already achieved, some are still WIP. These goals will be the basis of my on-going prayer supplication and growth
Surrender – To offer up my goals to God this year and just trust that He knows best. The objective here is not to trust in MY PLAN but to trust in HIS PLAN.
Once I have surrendered (and continue surrendering) I must learn how to abide in Him. How to chillout with Him, to not bug him too much about my requests, but rather to also hear what HE is telling me today – be it through my devotion books or through the gospels. I think that’s what it means to abide – to enjoy the relationship as it’s meant to be.
God had a plan all along when he sent me here to Manila. Does that mean that I have no plans of my own? Quite the contrary, if anything, these last 2 years, from the end of 2011 to the beginning of 2013 has been a rehabilitation period for me. God knows I have my own plans and I believe He does want me to aspire, but with His shadow. He allowed me to see what would happen if I took things my own way – and more importantly God wanted me to get it to my thick skull that He LOVES ME. God wanted me to fully heal from my past hurt and at the same time he wanted to build my faith and fatten up my “spiritual” side. Think about it, why Manila of all places? Why put me in a place where I can easily access Him? My past “foolish” fervent behavior of attending mass before the Manila project nicely continued on as I continue to work in Manila. Why would God, at the last day of my trip allow me to meet up with that gentleman I spoke about earlier and for him to share those things? Why would God give me a senior client whom would make a profound impact on my professional career? Why would God literally show me the entire world (through my project experiences) and remind me that in life, my only Happiness can be found in Him?
I believe God is preparing me for something greater. I think He wants me to take my faith more seriously and go deeper with Him. The fact that I am turning 30 this year makes it all the more uncanny. I believe He is preparing me for something greater – for a deeper relationship