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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Must Have Food and Beverage in the Holy Land

While visiting the market in the Old City of Jerusalem, you’d notice the pretty strong smell of spices. It is quite the experience.

This experience is similar to entering a public market in the Philippines, except that there are no “wet goods” in the Jerusalem Old City market.

Thanks to our tour guides, we were able to try several food and drinks in the Old City. I recommend at least one must have food and two beverages in the Holy Land.

Knafeh/Kunafa/Kanafeh and Arabic Coffee

This is a dessert made out of fine semolina dough, which is soaked in a sweet, sugar-based syrup. It is layered with cheese! Yum!

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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.

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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Relearning the (Lost) Art of Listening

My elementary teachers often told us that we have two ears and only one mouth so we could listen twice more than we speak. This is an important reminder in the age of social media and incessant online noise.

If Facebook and Twitter posts are any indication, people chime in and post their comments within minutes, if not seconds, of a photo or status update. What’s even worse is that people drop all filters and say whatever they want to say online!

Have we lost the art of listening?

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