Every now and then I would send a “hello how are you doing these days?” offline/online message to my college best friend.  From time to time, he would also drop me a line or two.

Well recently, he immediately answered my IM and asked me to pray for his job interview on the 23rd.

“You are applying for a new job?”

“Yes, I am going to be interviewed for the position of CIO!”

Whoaaaa…. CIO ( Chief Information Officer!)

I still shake my head in amazement. Not because he cannot do the job, but how simply amazing God is and how He lovingly and quietly works in our lives.

Ron was my roommate during my freshman year.  We were exact opposites.  I was working on my second degree and really determined to do well, while he was, fresh from highschool and still figuring out what to do and how to impress the girls.

I got to know his family when he invited me over for Winter Break during our sophomore year.  I can still remember the long drive and how my stomach, mysteriously hurt like hell when we arrived in Harrisburg on our way to Buffalo.

I remember one evening after dinner, he started putting on his thick jacket and I asked “are you going out to get a movie at Blockbuster?”  “Nah, I just want to go out for a walk…maybe you should come walk with me…”

His mom then sprung into her motherly ways and started handing out 4 jackets to me to make sure i will survive the walk. “You are from the Philippines and this weather might be too extreme for you – so go ahead, wear this, wear this and this…”

We walked out and I was looking like the Michelin man with all the thick jackets.  But Ron was still quiet and I knew something was up.

” I might not be able to go back next year…”

“Go back where?”

“To college…” he answered as we were walking down this deserted road somewhere.

“My grades are terrible… and I am on probation list…”

That was the first time it hit me – that if he did not do well in school the next coming weeks, I might lose my bestfriend and that really was something I was not prepared to experience.

When we got back to school, I religously followed him up on his exams, assignments and papers. It was a small college and we had similar classes so it was relatively easy to do that. I did not want to lose my bestfriend sitting down – so we studied together and helped memorized 200 scriptures for the Fundamentals of Theology class.

I remember one night when we were struck by the realization that the answers to our questions would have to rely on FAITH.  All our what if questions about God led us to that place where only FAITH can fill up.  And for the first time (last time as well) we prayed together and placed our dependence on God.

Fast forward 3 years after Graduation and I attended Promise Keepers in Dallas with him. He just clearly obliged me since he was my host.

2002 – he paid for my ticket and I flew on my birthday to join him in Hongkong where he was stationed for 1 week. He was already working for this company that has started sending him all over the world.

We were supposed to meet in Manila early this year – but I cautioned him with his financial spending since his wife will be giving birth.  He agreed and just worked in SIngapore until his project was done.

And now, he is going to be interviewed for the position of CIO!

The same guy who almost flunked out of college is about to be the CIO of this multinational company with branches in every continent.

The same guy who in college, could not even decently use a personal computer, is now taking care of different structures, platforms, network architectures and so many more.

Many years later, I find it a blessing that two things have remained:

1. Our friendship

2. Our need for prayers from each other.

On October 23rd midnight, i will be praying again for him because that is his interview time in New York.

My boothmate in Booth 1010 during my freshman year, is about to become a Chief Information Officer!

Thank you God for what you have done in my friend’s life.  Thank you for blessing him. Thank you for the love you have given him through his parents, siblings and now his wife and children. Bless him Lord. As you use him in the corporate world, I pray that you will also gently whisper to him, that you would like him to serve you in the Church as well…

Please grant him this huge favor of becoming a CIO.  He knows that he cannot do this on his own.

Allow him to become a CIO for your divine use and purpose.

I surrender him and his dreams in your precious hands.

In Jesus Name,

AMEN

Bread for the hungry…

August 7, 2008

The other night, I accompanied my wife to a breadshop owned by a good friend. It was 9:10 PM and the store was closing at 10, according to our friend.

I took a seat at a nearby table/chair settings next to the counter and my wife did her business with the sole staff running the operations for that shift. In the middle of their transaction, a young man with his friend who was holding their instant noodle soup bought from 7-11, tapped on the glass and asked if he could buy 2 pieces of bread. I was just observing the whole thing from about 3ft away.

“Sarado na?” (the store is closed already?)- the young man asked.

He went to his friend and said what the store keeper said.

My wife pointed to the bread and said “you have 2 pieces left, why don’t you sell those to them?”.

“Magugulo lang ang records ko eh. Tapos na ang pag record ko pati yung pera bilang ko na…” (it will just mess up our records. I am done finishing my records and have already counted the money) – the storekeeper complained in her high pitched voice.

By this time, I was already standing behind my wife and I also added “dagdagan mo na lang ng +2 dun sa record mo – madali lang naman isulat yun…” (just add +2 to your records. It is really easy to just write and add those)

“Eh tapos na talaga records ko eh… di na talaga pwede…”( my records are really done now… I really cannot sell anymore…”

I looked at my watch. It was only 9:15PM.

This was a case of a storekeeper not doing her job and closing shop/records 45 minutes ahead of closing time.

This to me, was a case of a storekeeper who was so mindful of her financial recordings and having clearly forgotten that she was in the business of selling bread first, and recording those sales second.

Your hunger is not as important because I am too lazy to write additional 2 pieces of bread bought within 45 minutes of the closing time.

“wala pa kaming tanghalian eh.. kanina pa kami nagtatrabaho at nagbubuhat…”(we have not eaten lunch because we had been working and carrying stuff) one of the single men chimed in…. and went back to stir his noodles.

I felt my anger rising.

Not just because of the way the storekeeper was cheating on our friend, and for deliberately hindering my friend from having higher sales for the day, BUT IT WAS MORE BECAUSE OF THE DELIBERATE, INCONSIDERATE RESPONSE TO TWO HUNGRY MEN who just wanted 2 pieces of bread to go with their instant noodles for their dinner and lunch combined.

Injustice gets on my nerve everytime.

Sometimes when we think of the injustices done all over the world, in DARFUR, CHINA , MIDDLE EAST toward its migrant workers etc, we think of people with huge vested powers depriving people of their decent wages, housing and food.

But the forms and varying degrees of injustices are all over the world. It could even be as “simple” as being denied a bread for dinner – even when the person asking was BUYING within store hours and had the money to buy them – THAT WAS INJUSTICE.

I read somewhere that the measurement of our power is through the gentleness by which we exercise them.

It doesn’t matter what position you carry or functions that you do, it is in your gentleness in the dispensation of your function/position that your sense of power is measured.

This morning after saying our breakfast prayer, I was again reminded of so many people who may have so much less for food today. I suddenly remembered the incident and felt again the sense of injustice rising from within.

I immediately texted the owner and explained to her what I have seen and witnessed.

Injustice gets me angry all of the time.

Injustice gets me frustrated all of the time because many times I feel powerless to do anything about them.

Eventually, It drives me to my knees to pray.

That I will be vigilant in making sure that I exercise compassion and God’s tender mercies at all possible times.

That I will always remember that people are more important than my records and accurate plans.

That I make myself available to the Lord so He can feed the hungry both physically and spiritually.

Lord God, let the full manifestation of your KINGDOM be upon us now.

PS. Just got sms response from the owner: ” I talked to her already. She took it negatively.”

I rest my case.

Early this morning, I got a text message from one of my friends who was about to leave with his whole family, for Canada today. As I write this, they must be flying somewhere on their way to the Canadian North.

His sms read : “We will be leaving for Canada later today. I just want thank you for everything! See you at the finals!”

“See me at the finals?”

What was he talking about? And in a moment, I realized what that text message meant. See you at the finals. See you at the end. See you in the kingdom, or better yet, since he doesn’t know when he will be able to see us, “see you in heaven” would be more appropriate.

I remember in 2004 after our graduation from the Haggai Institute in Singapore. We were saying our goodbyes right after the worship communion. In 3 hours, some of my newfound friends from all over the world were about to leave. I remember hearing these words many times as we hugged and bid our farewells… “See you on the other side of heaven….”

It seems that saying goodbye oftentimes feels incomplete. It does not convey much hope after the departure.

I liked how my friend said his.

To you Troy and Thess and your children, “See you at the finals!”

Today was a very hot day. Sweltering heat. If we humans are really complaining about it, I could only imagine what the thick coated furry friends are saying these days.

We live in a small house and much as we would like to, we cannot let our Black labrador stay inside most of the time. He has a small house built for him – but when the temperature is really high like what we had today, we would usually allow him inside OR, as the vet told me, let him cool off in his tub full of water.

Enjoying the water

Enjoying the water

Sgt Beans was given to me as a birthday present almost 3 years ago. I grew up having dogs around the house so I thought it was almost a no brainer. Growing up, our 6 mongrels were relatively easy to take care of. But when we got Beans, my wife and I had to learn ( I think I did most of the learning) a lot of things so we could really understand the dog’s nature and its needs.

Profile of a contentedly wet Labrador

Profile of a contentedly wet Labrador

I had never seen a gentler disposition and spirit. I always tell my wife that we should have gotten a labrador early on in our marriage. We have taken him to your youth camps ( along with our 2 other dogs) and Beans would become a friendly – receptionist by day, but once we closed the door and bid him goodnight outside our small cottage, he becomes a faithful guardian.

Of course there are no bad days with a labrador. Everyday is a good day to play, to walk or to swim. Amazing how he loves to fetch – but the tennis ball is really a labrador’s bestfriend.

The look of contentment

I just closed his house door for the night so he could sleep peacefully. A neighbor initially thought that it was cruel to put the dog in his house for the night. But dogs also need a place where it could be comfortable and where they could safely sleep at night.

It has been 3 years since Sgt Beans came into our lives. We look forward to having him for more years of awesome friendship and unsurpassed loyalty.

Love is in the eyes