Recapturing Our Sense of Wonder

During our trip to the Holy Land, I was amazed at the excitement and sense of wonder of one of our participants. Lawrence would really just say “Wow!” and wonder at all the beautiful places he saw.

While climbing down Mt. Arbel, he marveled at the wonderful view of the Sea of Galilee flanked by mountains, and of the town of Magdala below.

He reminded me and the group about the importance of our sense of wonder.

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On People Skills

My chosen career is in church ministry, particularly in the area of ministry with young people. I had been asked many times not IF but when I was going to enter “full time ministry” as a pastor.

I often answered, half-jokingly, that I am already in full-time ministry. Just not as a pastor.

Why have I not decided to be a pastor?

In my late teens and early twenties, I came to understand myself as an introvert. I literally cringed at the prospect of being a pastor, meeting people and engaging with them every Sunday and everyday.

Pastors, at least in our faith tradition in the Philippines, tend to be very visible. They officiate weddings, baptisms, and funerals. They pray a lot for people on their birthdays, when they have a new house or car, when they are about to take an exam, and when they are going through tough times.

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Should You Fight Your Battles on Facebook?

Back in the day, social media was more of a place to find long lost friends and socialize online. These days, though, social media seems to be more about debates and ugly conversations, especially when it comes to religion and politics.

We all know of friends who stopped talking with each other because of intense disagreement on social media. I personally know of former friends and neighbors who got their circle of friends all caught up in their online feud.

Maybe, social media is making us unsocial and we’re just too deep into it to notice. The TedX video below says as much.

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Tel – The Layers of History

People in Israel cannot just excavate to build structures and building–even in their own property. There is so much lying under the ground that the Antiquities Department of Israel should issue permits.

If a property owner digs and uncovers something with archaeological significance, they need to stop digging and the government will have to intervene. That can delay whatever building project they have planned.

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Back to the Holy Land

I am visiting the Holy Land again beginning August 4th. I am co-leading a small group of 13 people–mostly United Methodist young adults. These young people came from around the world.

One thing I noticed is that traffic feels like Manila. Not quite like EDSA but close enough. The taxi that took us from the airport to the hotel earlier today considered lanes as suggestions in the same way that Filipino jeepney and taxi drivers did.

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What it was like managing a Million Pesos

I was 24 years old when I realized that I managed a million pesos. No, it wasn’t my money. It belonged to the United Methodist Youth Fellowship in the Philippines, of which I was the National President from 2006-2008. 

That was a lot of money! My fellow officers and I joked that we could have gone to Jollibee for months and months! 

But then again, it wasn’t our money. 

We received several grants for projects that we wrote grant requests for. So for two years, we held meetings, we planned for events and programs, we wrote materials, we published guide books.

We even produced an album composed of 10 songs composed by young people. One was written by a pillar of Filipino Christian music, but the song was still for the youth of our organization.

I may have handled PhP 250,000 in cash. I withdrew the money from the organization’s bank account in Manila, put it in the deepest pocket of my backpack, and traveled 9 hours by bus to the venue of our conference. It probably helped that I didn’t look “rich” by any stretch. I probably looked like an ordinary, skinny young guy, who doesn’t have much to eat! Ha!

Looking back, a million pesos was a large sum of money for my younger self. The people around me were as passionate about the work we did. And we held each other accountable for how we managed ourselves and the money entrusted to our care.

To manage reporting, I kept careful track of expenses and receipts. I’m not exactly a spreadsheet ninja, but I’m still using the skills I learned from managing that million-peso budget.

I have managed bigger budgets since then. But as scriptures remind us: if we are faithful with the small things, we can be faithful in the bigger things.

Transitions are Always Messy

When I was a child, I saw the highway in our small town transform from a dirt road to a paved highway. A lot of trucks and heavy equipment worked on the roads.

It took 2-4 years for the highway between our town and the next one got completed.

While waiting for it to be done, we endured traffic, dust, and a lot of inconvenience.

Similarly, when moving to a new house or apartment, it takes a while to make the house feel like a home.

Since moving to our new apartment, we dumped boxes and other things that we’re not yet ready to fix to the extra bedroom. It’s still a mess.

These images–the road under construction and a house yet to be fixed–just show how messy transitions could be.

Transitions in life or work will be messy. Which is why planning is such an important process to do beforehand. Part of careful planning is to define the Plan Z or the worst case scenario. Because even with careful planning, there are still a lot of factors that will compromise even the best laid plans.

People Come and People Go

Last May, we told our son Malcolm that he will transfer to a different school in the coming school year.

He cried.

He said that he will miss KJ, his bestfriend, and his teachers at Hickman Elementary.

We had to move to a new apartment, which is zoned in a different elementary school. It will help us save money and enjoy a bigger space for our growing family.

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