Monday, March 10, 2014

Our One Week of Manna

It was one of those days when I found myself wishing again for something more. I wanted something more and yes, it was something material. I imagined what I could do if only I have more of what I already have. By coincidence, I heard a preacher on radio say something that snapped me back to my senses. “Don’t take for granted what you have. Don’t get tired of your manna.”

In biblical history, manna is food miraculously supplied to the Israelites in the wilderness for forty years. They were thin flakes that appeared on the desert floor every morning. According to the Exodus account, it was white and tasted like wafers with honey (Exodus 16:31). That’s why it was aptly described as bread from heaven. In spite of the seemingly sweet taste of this miraculous provision, the Israelites lost appetite for it and craved for meat.

The radio broadcast was a heaven-sent message for me. I was reminded to be thankful for the things I already have, no matter how little or few they may be. Six days later, my family and I would experience what I would consider as almost miraculous--we would receive manna for the next six days. 

On Friday, my friend texted me to ask if I was home. Less than an hour later, she was knocking on our door and handing to us a bag full of goods from the wet market: eight fillets of blue marlin, the half of a big squash, about a kilo of ripe mangoes, also a kilo of red tomatoes, three salted eggs, and two pieces of eggplants. We were surprised at the bounty she brought to us. The following day, Saturday, a couple who came from Tagaytay brought us a pasalubong of one big watermelon and two small pineapples. We were so thankful because we love fruits.

We were already pleased and satisfied with our surprise supply of fish, fruits, and vegetables for the past two days, but another feast was yet to come. On Sunday, a couple we know celebrated their wedding anniversary. We didn’t go to their celebration but they sent us a sample of the delicious dishes they served--lumpiang shanghai, pork caldereta, and pansit bihon. I didn’t have to cook lunch and dinner for our family that day!

Monday came, and a colleague came too. She dropped by the house just to sign some papers but she didn’t forget to bring four oranges, one for each of the members of our small family. That’s four days in a row of blessings coming to our abode. Our next-door neighbor felt prompted to share his blessings too for on Tuesday, he gave us five pieces of heart-shaped green Indian mangoes, freshly plucked and coated with shiny resin. No one came on Wednesday and Thursday with a bag of grocery, but on Friday night, my daughter arrived from a cell group meeting with two big maya-maya (red snapper). The mother of one of her cell members gave the fish to our family as a present. Of course, I turned them into our favorite sour stew.

Getting all these free food felt like receiving manna. I said in the beginning that I was wishing for something more, but actually it wasn’t food, it’s something else. But the same principles stood out from our one week of manna experience. First, God knows our needs and even wants, and He can amply supply. But more than satisfying our stomach, God is concerned that our hearts are right. God wants us to have a thankful spirit. 

I also learned not to take for granted what I have. Let’s not forget that aside from material wealth, our family and friends are one of our treasures. They can be used by God as channels of blessings. In return, we can also share with others whatever we have. Don’t underestimate whatever “little” you think you may have. Until you give it away, you’ll never experience the joy of realizing that it’s the miraculous provision someone is waiting for. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Before the Year is Over (and the New Year Begins)

Five days before the end of 2013, I opened my diary and turned each leaf, scanning the monthly planner for significant events. I was grateful and glad as I noted accomplishments, opportunities and milestones not only for me but also for my family. Two books were published this year. A major translation project was started during the second half of the year.  There were learning opportunities right in the comfort of my home through online courses, as well as through a seminar overseas. Plus treats to a few trips here and abroad. 

Then there’s the usual routine done on specific days or weeks of the month—paying bills, filing reports, making deposits. Even those were noted on my planner. There were also plans and projects that didn’t materialize. Maybe they were not meant to be or maybe they will be fulfilled this coming new year. I’m thankful for whatever good thing God has allowed to happen and for whatever worthy work He has enabled me to do. Though this year brought fears and doubts, lonely moments and discouragements too, God’s grace comforted me. I couldn’t imagine living the 365 days of 2013 without Him.

I already bought a planner for 2014. How about you? Before the new year arrives, you might want to recall also and thank God for the blessings, opportunities, milestones, as well as the lessons learned in 2013. Hopefully, it will give you courage and confidence to face 2014. 

"For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembering Tacloban

I cried this morning as I saw on television images of the ravaged city of  Tacloban. It was no longer the same city we went to first on November 4 and then on November 6 when we returned from Biliran Island for a family vacation. On November 4, from Manila, we flew and landed at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban, Leyte and then traveled by land for more than two hours to get to the island of Biliran. Because of the coming typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), we decided to return to Tacloban City a day earlier. It was almost evening when we returned to Tacloban City but after finding an accommodation, we had time for dinner and coffee at downtown and a walk to the pier near the public market to have a taste of their barbecue. The following day, November 7, it was already raining so we decided to buy umbrellas and some pasalubong (local delicacies and souvenirs) for family and friends. 

Now as I hear news of death and saw collapsed buildings and survivors lining up for relief goods, I remember the locals I met in Tacloban. The tricycle and jeepney drivers who brought us to our destination within the city. The crew of Kitchenitos who served our dinner. The people at Jose Karlo's who prepared our delicious, hot coffee. The street vendor of  sweet binagol and moron.  The hawker who sold us three umbrellas. The woman fanning the flames on her barbecue stand. The hotel staff. The sales clerk at the souvenir shop in the airport, and the many other nameless people we met on the streets. How I pray that they too, have survived the destruction of super typhoon Yolanda.

The thought of losing loved ones in a disaster like this is heartbreaking. But slowly, I hear reports of friends who have finally received text messages from their relatives in Tacloban that they are safe, though without water and food supplies. This brings much relief to our hearts and I pray that many more have survived. A lot more needs to be done to help these people who are in distress. This is also a reminder for us to turn to the Lord who alone can really save us from all forms of destruction. Let us surrender our lives to Him before it's too late. 

Turn to the Lord and pray to Him,
    now that He is near.
 Let the wicked leave their way of life
    and change their way of thinking.
Let them turn to the Lord, our God;
    He is merciful and quick to forgive.
Isaiah 55:6-7