[A letter written more than a year ago: April 24, 2017 … and still, the Lord has been more than faithful. His promises are truer than true!]
My dear Lia and Kian,
Exactly 2 years ago, on this same day, we were preparing to leave Butuan for Baguio – from below sea level to above sea level. I can’t remember exactly how I felt… I was trying to push all other emotions aside to concentrate on packing all our stuff and the details of our travel. Getting on a 2-hour plane ride from south to north of our country, enduring an 8-hour bus ride up the mountains… bringing 3 huge check-in baggage, (your tatay and I) carrying 2 overstuffed backpacks, and dotting on 2 agreeable (not!) toddlers. Sigh… Talk about mission impossible!
It’s as crazy as it sounds… your Tatay and I have lived out 60-70% of our lives with you at 2 and 4 years old and we’ve reset our lives back to square one. We left our “promising” careers and your Tatay’s “inheritance” not knowing where we’re going. Blind as a bat, BUT our hearts were soaring with faith! Just like Abraham. It’s a mystery how we are able to see the unseen, like it’s our only reality.
Oh my dearest Lia and Kian… how I wish you will understand all this sooner because it’s one of the most wonderful things you can have (next to love and perhaps equal to hope). You see, we did not come to this decision on a whim. It started 4 years before we actually left Butuan, after your lola (my mom) went home to Jesus. Your Ninang just dropped the “thought” wishing we were with them and the church in Baguio. I thought, “Oh do you need us there? Do you need help?” Your Ninang just said, “Not really… it just seems fun to be together again.” To that I was surprised because your Ninang was actually heading that movement I mentioned in [another] entry. She was the type that everything had to have meaning and purpose and it had to be profound that you will be ennobled and cannot say no.
I remember talking about it with your tatay and we just stared and read each other’s mind… We already thought it unlikely – we were planning to set up our lives in Butuan with the farm and our business ventures. Plus, we were also caring for your Kongkong (my dad) and I found it unthinkable to relocate with him again and to such a colder climate. I actually mouthed the words, “maybe only when dad is no longer around,” and slapped myself for the horrible thought.
But yes, it did happen eventually… with your Upo and Uya (your tatay’s parents) passing, too. How mysterious it was to lose our parents one after the other in a span of 4 years. [Story in another post]. But it was a turning point… to experience your births and their deaths in a swooping whirlwind made us think really, really, really hard about this life and eternity. We are indeed strangers and exiles on this earth. Everything we could ever achieve or build on this earth, we cannot take with us when we die.
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” (Job 1:21)
I still wonder how those realizations had to move us to drastically leave Butuan. Can’t we just live with that realization and mindfully and faithfully live Christian lives, loving and serving God in Butuan? Obviously, no. God had to lead us out, much like God leading Abraham out of Ur – the land of his fathers… and much like God leading His people (Exodus) out of Egypt – a land of comfort and riches but of slavery and idolatry.
So like I already mentioned… from there came our desire to build a legacy of faith for you… but to build it, we have to live it every moment hence.
Here is LIVING FAITH. It grows strong even if at times it wavers. When it wavers, we are reminded that faith is not even central here. It’s JESUS. And so we come to Him and ask for more faith… then He reveals something of Himself more and more and more… every single time you come in surrender to Him, faith is increased. It’s not the size of your faith, but in Whom you have faith. So the greater knowledge or experience of Him you have, so shall your faith in Him be.
For 2 years, we have lived from day to day, sustained, protected, and provided for. Like manna and quail from heaven, like streams in the dessert, like the Pillar of Cloud by day and Pillar of Fire by night, like the jars of oil and flour that never ran out… everyday was a miracle. Such blessedness! Buuuuut of course we were working according to the skill and intelligence God apportioned us. Hehe… We do take on projects and make investments, but even for that, we knew it is still and really God’s providence upon our lives. 😉 Know the blessing of obedience to God!
And guess what was the greatest luxury this gave us? It’s the time we spent with you! Hugging-snuggling-kissing you anytime we wanted, listening on your silly conversations and pretend play, marveling at your learnings, smoothening your rough edges as they show, hearing your hearty and belly laughs, squeals and giggles, dancing and playing with you all the time… and taking every chance we can get to teach you and tell you about Jesus.
Though it was not all smooth or easy with some moments that are unnerving, it was as good as it can get this side of the world. All just a foretaste of what awaits us in God’s presence.
My darlings, continue in this legacy and He will enable you. Trust me, I love you lots.