TRUE NORTH:

Stories and Reflections

The Hope of Enduring Love

 

 

I am a community kid. My family has been in Ligaya for as long as I can remember. As a family, we were sent to be part of the mission teams sent to Mindanao and Thailand. Life wasn’t easy, but I always felt that we did not lack anything. We were always being taken care of and being provided for by God.

 

 

Through these mission trips, our family got closer. When we grew older, there was a time when my siblings and I were separated to pursue our studies in various places. We were living apart for 12 years. It was such a joy when my two siblings and I were finally all together in the Philippines and living under the same roof again. The three of us were in various stages in our lives, but at least we were all together again as a family.

 

BROTHERLY LOVE

Since my sister got married, it was only my brother Hanzel and I living together in our house because our parents were also away that time living in Mindanao. So most nights would involve take out food and movie marathons. If Kuya cooked, I would wash the dishes. If we both didn’t want to cook, he’d treat me out for dinner. On holidays, we’d go out to the cinemas and eat our hearts out. We both love books and would read well into the wee hours of the morning. We’d share the music we listen to and the movies or series we both like. When he found out my job wasn’t paying much, he offered to help me with my finances. Whenever we went out, he’d always tell me not to pay for anything so I can just focus on saving up. We didn’t always agree, because we have almost the same personality, but that’s normal for siblings anyway. There was one time when I got robbed and I was in shock and crying, he kept laughing cause I looked so ugly daw and even took a picture, before comforting me and promising to keep me safe - just how brothers are!

 

 

AN UNEXPECTED DETOUR

On January 18, 2014 – Kuya passed away.

 

I felt so vulnerable, helpless, and weak because there was nothing that I could do. I had so many questions to God that I know were ultimately pointless in the end. I only wanted my brother back alive.

 

I kept on putting off praying because I felt so empty. I felt that God had abandoned me. I used my grief as an excuse not to pray. I threw tantrums at God because I felt that I had a good reason to. I irrationally thought “Doesn’t my family get immunity from this? My family has been serving God in missions for as long as I can remember, why didn’t God spare us from this kind of pain?”

 

I withdrew myself from community because everything reminded me of Kuya and since community is a manifestation of God – I had no desire to be a part of it.

 

 

THE JOURNEY TO HEALING

Someone shared that when one dies, either God allows it or wills it. It was a journey to healing in finding out which one it was. Either God allowed Kuya to die and did not intervene, or that He willed him to die. I did not comprehend which one was more painful because if it is the former then God is weak, and if it was the latter, then He is a cruel God. It didn’t at all matter to me because ultimately the point was that Kuya was gone. There was no one I wanted to be angry with but with God.

 

It reached the point where I just wanted to be numb because I got tired feeling angry. But who else will I turn to but to God?

 

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LOOK

There was a community gathering that I was desperately trying to get out of. I heard God speak to me at that gathering, saying “Look around you, your brother is alive in every person he had a relationship with. All you have to do is look”. I knew this was true. It didn’t change the fact that Kuya was gone but it made me more aware of Kuya’s presence in his absence.

 

 

Through that short encounter with him, God didn’t just reassure me that Kuya was with Him but that I was with them both, as long as I chose to be.

 

It didn't change the fact I was grieving and far from being at peace, but God had given me hope. And what more can I ask for, when it is all I need: hope of His enduring love.

 

 

 

Personal testimony of Monica Sarceda, Member of NS1-A Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon, at the Good Friday Recollection at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

 

 

The Child of Promise

 

 

Sa una pa lang, clear na sa amin ni Lala na gusto namin ng anak at ‘pag hindi pa kami nagkakaroon ng anak, mag-aadopt na kami. So, we focused ourselves on saving money for the future of our kid and prayed to have a baby.

 

 

Every Day of Dedication, when parents dedicate or introduce their baby, I would say to myself, “Someday meron din ako i-dedicate na baby.” Pero year 1 wala, year 2 wala pa rin, year 3 wala pa rin and so on and so forth, wala pa rin.

 

It came to the point that I questioned God. “Lord nagseserve naman ako para sa iyo, bakit parang hindi mo naririnig ang lagi ko dasal”. I wanted to cry and I felt God had abandoned me.

 

ADOPTION TO SONSHIP

In one of my prayer times in 2015, His words assured me that He is faithful to me. We did our usual visit to OB for check-up, and she advised us to go thru IVF, but hindi kami pabor sa artificial means. So we kept on praying and trying, but Lala still would not get pregnant. At this time, nagtatampo na ako kay Lord because we waited to have a baby and we felt that He was not listening to our prayer.

 

In my 2016 Day of Prayer, God led me to this verse from Galatians 4:4-5 “But when the set time has fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” I was struck and reflected on the word “Adoption.” I talked to Lala and shared what I was thinking. She was hesitant at first but I encouraged her to pray about it. During our discernment process, Tita Mercy Bermundo invited us together with the other couple to CRIBS. The goal was to observe if I’m willing to adopt a baby.

 

THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE

Honestly, nung nandun ako natakot ako. But God reminded me that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” So what I did was list down all my fears and feelings of pride about adoption. Like, “Ka lalaki kong tao pero hindi pa ako nagkakaanak”, “Saan galing itong batang ito”, “Ano ang background ng family niya”, “Mamahalin ko ba ito ng husto”,”Paano ko sasabihin sa kanya” etc. etc. While I listed all these, I prayed and lifted all these to HIM to have peace of mind.

 

In 2017, God assured me of His love for me through this verse from 1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.” This verse gave me a conviction to pursue what God told me last 2016. Lala and I agreed and we became excited with our decision to adopt a baby. We told our family and their response was positive.

 

GOD’S ANSWER

We started to process it and we prayed about what gender, age and background etc. Nakakatuwa nga nung nagusap nga kami na gusto ko na lalaki yung gusto kong i-adopt, Lala said na isa yan sa nasulat niya sa journal. We agreed that he should not be more than 1 year and 6 months. Deep inside ang lagi kong dasal lang ay sana chubby yung baby. Last November, nung nagpunta kami sa KBF para i-check na yung baby, we read his profile and his biological parents’ profile. Nung nabasa namin na malakas kumain at chubby, natuwa ako, and when we saw his picture, I had no words to describe my joy. I just thanked God for this blessing.  I took pictures and sent them to my family, friends and community.

 

While going to the orphanage, Lala asked me “Are you excited?”; sabi ko kinakabahan ako and I was so quiet. Nung Nakita ko na si Isaac, takot siya sa akin, pero lumapit sya kaagad kay Lala. And the rest is now history.

 

 

OUR SON, ISAAC

Last January 2018, during the Day of Dedication, we proudly introduced our son Isaac to Ligaya.

 

Even if I felt abandoned, God never abandoned us. He was faithful and all we needed to do was to trust in Him because He has a greater plan for us. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

 

 

Personal testimony of Jeff Tanael, a member of Central Sector of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon at the Good Friday Recollection at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City.

 

 

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TRUE NORTH:
Stories & Reflections