Exactly 10 years ago, my family and I arrived at Changi Airport because God had called my father to study in FEBC to be a full-time minister of the gospel.
I was 9. Now I’m 19.
When I came to hear about God’s calling for my dad (I think I was around 8 years old), I was a little confused. What does it mean that we aren’t going back to Philippines? That my dad isn’t going to be a vet anymore? Why are we going to Singapore? And most importantly, where exactly is Singapore? (I have never heard of Singapore before and actually thought it was in Australia.)
When Dr. Khoo and Auntie Jemima picked us up at the airport, we were loaded with luggages and sleeping bags. Why sleeping bags, you may ask. Well, when Dr. Khoo emailed my dad that our family was going to stay at a church compound (Calvary Pandan BPC), we thought that you know…we were gonna sleep…on pews. Because in Philippines, when you say church building, we really just mean and have the sanctuary where the people worship in. My mom even practiced sleeping on pews while waiting for us to finish school a few weeks before (my siblings and I were enrolled to a Christian Academy connected to the church we used to go to). And I mean they were hard, wooden pews. That’s what we had in mind.
So when we arrived at the CPBPC compound and brought upstairs, we found an apartment-like room with one room, bathroom, kitchen and a living room. And we almost cried because it was beyond our expectations.
They then brought us to IMM (a big shopping mall) to do some grocery shopping. And I remember video-calling our relatives back home, excitedly telling them that we didn’t have to sleep on pews.
I still remember stepping into True Life for the first time. The place seemed huge to me and there were so many people. Auntie Ruth was the Sunday school teacher that Sunday. Auntie Jenny was the Children’s Worship teacher and she was telling a story about boy from Philippines. The children around all had friends and I felt a little lonely.
Those were the early days.
I never imagined we would stay in Singapore this long. The original plan was for my dad to study in FEBC for three years. So we would go back in 2012 to Philippines or to wherever God would place him and we would serve there as a family. But Dr. Khoo asked my dad to further his studies.
And the years stretched and stretched.
And now that I entered in FEBC, I’ll have to stay here at least till I graduate in 2022. After that, the future is unknown.
It’s been ten years and I’ve made so many memories here, bad and good ones. I’m thankful for all the people who became a part of my life here. For Pastor and Auntie Jemima for taking care of us ever since our arrival. For Uncle Ah Tu and his family, our first neighbors and friends, and for their truest kindness that shone from their hearts. For Rev Quek for allowing us to stay at Pandan for six years, hahah. For Auntie Sandra and family for introducing to and helping us with homeschooling and for being some of our first few friends to help us adjust. For Auntie Susan who took care of my braces and teeth and for helping my siblings and me by finding us a piano teacher. For Ben who taught us piano. For Pr Dennis and his family, for their welcome even before we came to Singapore. For Maam Jean’s bountiful concern and care for us, giving us food and clothing always in abundance. There were so many people God brought into our lives to be blessings to help us in our life here in Singapore. So many whom I have failed to mention. But I’m truly truly grateful to each and everyone of them from my heart. Some of the best things I’ve experienced had happened here.
Of course, I still long to be back in Philippines and I still wish that I won’t actually be here for forever, but I’ll never know what God has in plan for us really. And it’s no place for me to say such things.
So my point is: God has been nothing but GOOD and LOVING to us these past ten years. It’s a good time to reflect upon the past and what has transpired since then. I’ve definitely grown up and changed a lot. And I’m thankful for that.
So thank God for ten years of life in Singapore. (:
WHICH MAKES THIS THE PERFECT TIME to tell y’all what I did during the sem break because it’s all over now.
See? Not so late.
Anyway so FEBC’s graduation service was on 12th May and I just want to congratulate Ate April for being able to graduate!!! Wow, it’s been so fast these four years.
I first met her at the very first Young People’s Bible Conference (YPBC) in 2014. On the last day during testimony time, she went up to testify about the struggle she had with her church. She was crying and really pouring out her heart. She also shared of her desire to study in a Bible school. Long story short, the next year 2015 in July, she entered FEBC.
And now she’s back serving the Lord (: This encourages me a lot to press on in my studies. Praying for her.
AND NOT TO FORGET my dad who persevered through the long years of studies to finally graduate. It wasn’t easy for him, I knew and saw. It was tiring. Pressurizing. And with a family and ministry to take care of, to finish requirements was a tough battle. But God really gives grace to those who need it.
The day after that, we went to Mersing where we had our FEBC annual retreat. This was my second even though it was my first as an FEBC student. The first was when my family as a whole were invited to join with my dad in his first year.
It was a short but blessed time of rest after a full sem at school. It was also where I got to really talk with some of the girls around. I mean sure, we lived with each other everyday in the dorms but with all the busyness, we couldn’t really have long talks with each other.
The next Sunday a group of us flew to Philippines for the annual VBS in multiple stations.
I was especially worried for this trip because I was to teach in the VBS. As an FEBC student, I was required to “apply what I learned” so I couldn’t just stand back and assist. This time I had to teach. In the airport waiting for the others to arrive, I sat beside Auntie Jenny and felt really ashamed. She was one of the best Sunday school teachers I sat under and yet here she was running over her notes for the umpteenth time, full of handwritten scribbles and highlights. And then there was me—the newbie. I was rushing my preparation. I had time to prepare of course, but I didn’t. So I was grabbing whatever time I had left to familiarize myself with the lessons.
We arrived early morning at Cebu on Monday and started VBS on that day itself as well. When we arrived at the station, the kids were already there and that made me even more guilty. These kids didn’t deserve a half-baked lesson. God brought these kids into my midst and they should be given the whole truth. I was also worried that I would lack words because as much as I speak Cebuano at home, living in Singapore for the ten years caused me to be more acquainted with English. So I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to let the kids understand the lessons as much as they should due to my lack of vocab.
But really, thank God, He gave me the words that I needed right then and there. And I know the glory belongs to God alone because most of the words that I used were words I hardly spoke on a daily basis. Soli deo Gloria(:
The first day the kids were fine. They didn’t know me that well yet so they behaved quite…okay although I did need help during the craft time because I was all by myself (which was my fault because I could have Cae Ryn with me as an assistant BUT I DECLINED because I was afraid I would be too conscious of her presence that I wouldn’t be able to teach…wrong decision). And then on the second day, the number of kids increased. It was good and we praised the Lord for that, but on the other hand, that also meant more kids to handle. So this time I asked for Cae’s help.
I used to think I was good with kids and all that, but it wasn’t until then that I realized, okay, maybe not. We had two lessons each day. For the second lesson, the children became restless and started misbehaving. It was so bad that I had to raise my voice and scold them so. Many. Times.
Did it help?
I wanted to give up because I had only 5 kids sitting down and listening to my lesson while the other 10 kids were running around, playing, and causing a ruckus. At that moment, I just felt like a failure. My heart felt heavy. I wanted to faint.
Maybe it was God’s chastisement for my lack of preparation. Maybe it was to show me that it wasn’t because of any ability to take care of children that I can get them to listen to God’s Word. That I should wholly lean upon His strength alone.
I just kept praying in my heart, Lord, help me please. I had the rowdiest class with children in the ages 7-9 years old under my care. It was so bad that Auntie Jenny, Uncle Jude, my dad and Kuya Johnny all came (at different times) to rescue me by scolding the children. They would calm down for a while and then a few minutes later become horde of energetic kids. And the most irritating thing was THEY KNEW HOW TO SUCK UP TO YOU. Oh my. It was such a struggle. How can they be little monsters and cuties at the same time.
But overall it was a good experience of patience, love, and seeing the sinful nature of man and how we all really need the Savior, hence our VBS theme this year was “Come to the Savior.”
Aside from the VBS, we also enjoyed good food and fellowship in Cebu.
Our VBS team consisted of my family, Uncle Charles and Auntie Jenny, and Cae Ryn. There were other teams all across Mindanao holding VBS in different stations and churches simultaneous with us. Our team stayed in a cosy Airbnb with just enough space for all of us. We experienced literally close fellowship as we gathered in the first floor at the living room at the end of the day to talk and laugh about all sorts of things while we cut and prepared for crafts for the other stations that were upcoming. Those were the times I really enjoyed because in those times we bonded in that Christian love that you can never experience in the world.
On Wednesday after the closing program of the VBS in Cebu, we traveled to Trinidad, Bohol (my dad’s hometown) for our next VBS station. We took the ferry there.
I don’t know if you guys will notice but I was also suffering from a stye and so I looked like someone punched me in the eye, hahah. Thank God for journey mercies, especially for Auntie Jenny, Cae, and my sis who have the tendency of motion sickness.
The next day (Thursday) we had our first day. FOR THE FIRST TIME in all of our VBS experiences in Philippines, we barely had any kids. We held the VBS in my dad’s ancestral home so the family who resided there to take care of the place (our relatives apparently) had two kids. So basically if they weren’t there, we had no kids.
It wasn’t until that moment that despite being told again and again that Bohol was an especially staunch Roman Catholic area in the Philippines that it struck me in the face for real. The usual scene of our VBS’s was that there were already kids waiting for us, but there, it was different.
We waited and waited. We prayed for the Lord to provide. Some of us went out to the streets to invite passersby. What made it harder was that we were directly in front of a hugeee RC church which was having a mass and whatever was going on inside was blared out from the speakers so that even if you weren’t inside the church, you could still “participate.” It was really a trying of our faith. I was so encouraged by the rest who were still very, very optimistic, knowing that God will still bless the work.
We never knew that God was preparing our hearts for another situation like that. As time wore on, God just brought in kids. We even held a second session of VBS that day after lunch because a group of kids arrived.
The next day, Friday, I had to leave for Singapore because I was the pianist for True Life that following Sunday. I’ll spare you the story behind that, hahah, but when I thought about everyone getting to stay and I had to leave, I wanted to cry.
Because I wanted to stay there with them.
My dad went with me because he had to preach also. My dad actually offered to buy me a ticket to go back to Philippines with him again after Sunday but
Okay, you see
I wanted to know and experience what it was like to be alone at home. I could actually, but I didn’t.
(Sigh…my independence-thirsting heart will get me nowhere.)
On the way back, we stopped by Cebu. Uncle Carlo’s mother had gone home to be with the Lord. So my dad conducted a vigil service. Thank God for the opportunity to comfort the bereaved family.
Sunday night, my dad left for Philippines again. And that was the start of my home alone experience.
But it was cool because i got to spend a day out with the Kans on Monday(: We had lunch and then went to the National Gallery. Although it was mainly for Ezekiel to have fun with the children’s biennale, I really appreciated that they included me in their family outing. It’s those times you just kinda smile and forget all your worries. Not only that, I got to spend quality time with my godson ((:
I realized that the Kans were some of the few people that I think about approaching when I’m burdened about something. I guess it’s because of how they’ve been such a huge part of my early YPF days, it’s hard to forget them. I thank God for the time we could spend with each other. It’s not easy with busy schedules but when you make the time, it shows true care and concern(:
The rest of the days of ‘Thessa Home Alone’ week was spent at the FEBC library doing shelf-reading, going out with ThienKim for meals, and trying to do some chores at home like washing clothes, mopping, cleaning, and rearranging my room, hahah.
We also cooked our own meals (:
You can probably tell that we’re (very) proud of our cooking skills, HAHHA.
So how was it being alone? There were times I regretted not going back with my dad to Philippines, but it wasn’t too bad either.
It’s so surreal how another semester of school has come and gone. And another one is right around the corner.. The one thought that’s plaguing me right now is what lessons have I learned?
How have I changed? Have I changed for the better or for the worse? What good have I done for the Lord?
It’s been a fast six months. We’re half past the year.
While I was in the middle of the semester, I thought time felt so long and tedious. I could still accomplish my day to day goals and New Years resolutions. But when things started to pack and compact you tight into a ball of frantic hurry to finish what should have been done before time, organization becomes a lesser priority.
It’s a repeated cycle again and again and again.
When this semester started in January, I was quite afraid of what was going to be ahead of me. I hadn’t prepared myself, not just physically and academically, but spiritually and emotionally as well. This sem has definitely been harder than the previous one (which every FEBC student becomes aware of, that—each semester gets more and more difficult). Although assignment deadlines were not very trickled all over the school calendar, they more often than not happen on the same days, which became a story of being able to relax and procrastinate and then waking up to realize that there are more assignments due on a certain day and that each assignment can’t possibly be done in such a short amount of time with quality in view. The one experience that rebuked me most was in April and I had to a research paper to submit on Monday. Practically speaking I should have worked on it during the mid-sem break which was two weeks before the deadline but, you know me. It wasn’t like I wasted that whole week doing nothing, but I spent it on other subjects that were due sooner (because…YES, I laid them off SIGH). Plus my planner is monthly so I tend to be short-sighted and only see things monthly. The research paper was due on 1st April (alas, it wasn’t a joke) so the reminder wasn’t there to nag at me unless I randomly flip through my planner out of boredom. And research papers ARE NOT MY FORTE as I would need A LOT OF TIME to dedicate on one.
So little miss me started to work on it on Saturday in the library (there was no YPF that day fyi) with piles and piles of books on the table but completely at a loss of what exactly to read and write. I wrote but without fully knowing what I was writing. I continued on Sunday night and when I still couldn’t finish it and knowing that it was due the next day, I went to sleep (because of the 11.30 lights-out rule) upset with myself. Because here’s the thing. Even though I procrastinate things, I’m also not the last-minute type of person…if you know what I mean. Like I procrastinate but not to the point of doing things last minute. So when the due date was the next day AND I WAS BARELY EVEN DONE, I couldn’t really sleep. I’m also not really the type of person who can wake up early to do work (except for highly exceptional matters like studying for contemporary theology exam which I had to do if I wanted to pass that subject) so the next day on Monday (THE DUE DATE), I spent every minute (where I had no class) in the library just doing and trying to finish the research paper. I really thank God that I could finish it in the afternoon and I told myself never to do that again.
Hopefully and praying it really won’t happen again.
I definitely noticed some changes with myself compared to last semester. I didn’t dread going back to the dorm every Sunday night like I used to last sem. I used to drag my feet with a heavy heart, completely crippled in fear of the dawning week ahead of me every Sunday night. I would actually get a little depressed, but I didn’t feel such emotions anymore the past sem. I’m not as scared about everything compared to my first sem, although still cautious and a little clueless in a number of things.
I do admit that Wednesdays was the one day I dreaded the most because it was my kitchen duty day. It wasn’t that I had a bad group. I actually loved my group because we could all work together and have fun at the same time. It was because during lunch (which is the most crucial meal of a kitchen duty day) majority of my group, including the leader, had class so it left the two of us and I was always super scared I couldn’t do things right. So for the whole morning I would stress about it (unnecessarily) and wouldn’t be able to concentrate on doing anything. I would probably read or type something but without any real focus. I think it was one area where I had to learn to completely trust in God. Every week I would worry and every week God helped me through it, showing me just how needless it was for me to worry.
But aren’t we all the same? Forgetting what God had done, no matter how faithful and good He has been to us already?
And I was also assigned to be one of the assistant sports secretary (which is just ironic because I barely do any sports at all), which taught me teamwork and submitting to God’s will. Yes, even in such a seemingly smaller and “not so spiritual” role per se, I learned a lot of things. I’m quite an…imaginative person full of ideas. So I like to blurt out my ideas for my fellow classmates to have fun during recreation (to spice up the long time captain’s-ball-every-week pattern). Most of the time, my ideas didn’t really turn out to be very good or they just weren’t practical. And there was this one week where we had a relay race and two guys injured themselves. I couldn’t help but blame myself but later on that week I realized events aren’t in my hands to control. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care about those who get injured either, but just that, when there are hiccups along the road, God is still sovereign.
There were so many difficulties I encountered during the past few months. Most of them new so I was at a loss on how to handle them, but all the more I learned to lean upon God. It’s really hopeless to depend on my own knowledge. There were times I just wanted to give up. I didn’t want to handle problems anymore. Maybe it was wrong to wish for a “dramatic” life when I was younger, hahah. It’s really not that exciting. It kinda wearies you out and makes you wonder if you’re able to hold on for the long run ahead.
Thank God for all the exposure to His Word from morning till night. Chapel hours, lectures in day and night classes, dorm sharings and student body prayer meetings…they were all countless times where God used His Word to speak to me. It’s so easy to lose that love and gratitude you once had for His Word when you get so familiarized with it, so it’s a constant effort to entrust myself into my heavenly Father’s hands who has promised to keep me till the end.
There were so many things I thought of writing while I lived through the semester but unfortunately I didn’t write them down so I’ve forgotten all those precious, precious lessons I wanted to share with you all ): Oh well. Here’s to another semester, I guess, haha.
I really did try to keep a diary and then…yeah, same story. Exams came. Okay, I should stop with the excuses. I haven’t written in a long while and I ought to be ashamed with myself.
Here is a true story and testimony of my best friend, Duaine Kabingue, and her family who experienced an earthquake yesterday in the Philippines. Read and be blessed (:
Psalm 121:2,8 KJV 2 My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. 8 The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
My family went to Robinsons in Tacloban City today. My father, brothers and I were relaxing after lunch, while my mum had walked to an adjacent shoe store to look for some shoes. Suddenly, the ground started shaking, slowly at first thus I thought I was just giddy, but the tremors increased in strength. My dad shouted “Come, quickly!”, and we stood from the table and rushed for the nearest exit. There were sounds of glasses breaking, things falling, and I was really really afraid because I couldn’t see my mum anywhere, and so I yelled “Mummy!”, and to my relief, she was not away behind us, and soon caught up. There were lots of screaming, and pushing, but my parents’ arms were around Davis and I as we rushed through the exit, and David was nearby, barraging his own way out so we managed to get out safely, praise the Lord. It was really scary, but Davis and I started to tear up, but my dad shouted “Focus! Don’t let the fear get to you. Calm down.”
After the tremors stopped, we walked to a quiet place, and my dad gathered us to do a little briefing on what to do when an earthquake occurs, and also to give thanks. In his prayer, he uttered these words, “Lord, we could have all died today, but Thou has protected us. We praise Thee, Lord.”
We stayed around the mall for 30 minutes to observe the severity of the damage, and watched in case of any aftershock that might follow. Afterwards, we rode a jeepney, headed for downtown where the SM (another mall in Tacloban) was located, to take a van back to Dulag. However, once we reached downtown, we could see people walking quickly about, and we found out that there was an aftershock and blackout. The people’s hearts were so perplexed by fake news of buildings collapsing, tidal waves apporaching, possible tsunami etc. The driver didn’t allow anyone to alight from the jeepney since it wasn’t safe for any of us, and headed back to Robinsons. However, when we arrived at Robinsons, the mall was still shut down, and all public transport were ceased from entering the place. As soon as we alighted, my father saw the last two jeepneys headed for Dulag, and we rushed to one of them. Soon enough, we reached home.
The earthquake that hit Tacloban today had a magnitude of around 6.4, and yet we survived the danger, and are safe and sound back home.
It was my first time experiencing an earthquake, but next time, I pray that I’ll be reminded that the Lord preserved, and will remain trusting upon Him in such frightful circumstances. All glory be to God!
Thank God for last week, the Passion Week, where we were able to remember how much God loves us and what Christ did for us just so we can be saved from sin and hell.
Last Friday was called Good Friday. It was the day Jesus suffered the penalty of our sins for us. In our stead, He hung on the cross, his weight bearing him down as the rusty nails pierced through His hands and feet. He bled from head to foot for the remission of our sins. Our sins from past, present and the future, nailed Him there where we should have been.
But I’d like to think it was the “Best Friday.”
Because though undeserving and unworthy as we are, though rebellious and hateful we are towards God, choosing anything but Him when given the choice, though we are stinking filthy to the core, revolting and most unlovable, God gave us His Best.
His only begotten Son in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He had every right to leave us heading to our damnation, but He had a plan of salvation for us. God is “longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We chose to disobey and hate Him. He didn’t have to think about us twice. Sinning against the thrice holy and eternal God deserves a just and eternal punishment as well.
And yet, He gave us His best. He loved us with His best. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus was perfect and sinless. He obeyed all the laws that were impossible for us to obey perfectly. He received all the hatred, pain, agony, and suffering He didn’t deserve. For us.
And what about us? What have we given back to Him in thanksgiving? Aren’t they not our mere effort to soothe our consciences? Are they not mostly our leftover time and energy? Has God not become an after-thought? A retreat after everything else fails? A last resort to turn to?
He has given us His best. Shall we not do the same?
I wonder have I done my best for Jesus, Who died upon the cruel tree? To think of His great sacrifice at Calvary! I know my Lord expects the best from me.
Refrain: How many are the lost that I have lifted? How many are the chained I’ve helped to free? I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus, When He has done so much for me?
Thank God also for the Resurrection Sunday where on the third day after he was crucified 2,000 years ago, Jesus rose from the dead in triumph, defeating death and hell. Now we have the hope of resurrection and life eternal as well. And we believe that all those who have fought the good fight and have gone before us will someday be resurrected, too.
Thank God for Eben’s baptism on that day. (: #ebenalittlemore
HOW MUCH CUTER CAN HE POSSIBLY BE 😭 LOOK AT HIS HANDS HAHAH EVEN HIS HANDS ARE CUTE 😍 Why is he folding his hands 😂😂
(I’m so excited for what God has in store for you in the future and I’m looking forward to the day you will stand there on stage to reaffirm your faith (: Love you, kiddo.)
My ever lovely, sweet and thoughtful friends also did a mini birthday surprise for me and Andrea and it was really touching how they thought of doing it and like 😢 I just felt so loved 🙆🙆 I thank God for Christian friends in my life.
My existence, because I was anemic and the size of a 1 liter coca cola bottle (I don’t know why that object was my parents’ favorite comparison hahah) and was kept in the incubator for a few days. My parents thought I wouldn’t survive, but here we are.
My second birth, my spiritual birth, when I was still young, for God’s mercies and grace everyday even though I don’t deserve a second chance, for loving me even when I keep failing, and for promising that He will never forsake me.
My family who loves me (maybe too much), whom I’m the most comfortable with and even though they’ve seen my worst, they never kicked me out, whom I will never exchange with any other family in the world, where I’ve learned the basic things in life and grew to be the person I am today.
My friends whom I appreciate a lot, for their touching greetings so early in the morning, for their friendship–hearing me out, sharing their own problems, trusting me, just hanging out, growing together–and for all we’ve been through together, friends in church, in college, from childhood, and new ones.
Basic necessities that God provides which I cannot take for granted–roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and enough to live by and be contented with.
Experiences that taught me to grow and mature as a person, that made me emerge from the small, protected bubble I was in to facing the realities of this world, some which made me overjoyed and some that brought my feelings down, but all around playing a big part in molding me to be a better person.
The Bible which is my sole authority in all matters of life, where I’ve found the greatest love, comfort, truth, encouragement, and rebuke, and where I feed on for my spiritual health and well-being, of which I cannot live without.
Faithful preachers who spend their lives studying God’s Word just so they can deliver to me, to us, the Word of God in its purest form for our edification and growth.
Spiritual gifts as well as God-given talents in writing and playing the piano, both of which I enjoy doing and hope to use them for God’s glory alone, and at the same time, hope not to grow weary with them.
Being in FEBC to get myself prepared for the unknown to me, but known to God, future ministry ahead, and where I hope to really burn out myself and burn out for God.
Opportunities to serve Him wherever, in mission trips, church, school and at home.
Handwritten letters, which never go out of style and which I collect dearly in several boxes now.
Music that has helped me through studying, godly edifying music as well as the secular but classical soothing music, and music that I can play on the piano.
A space to blog so that I can encourage others just through words and thoughts.
Being who I am as a girl, a middle child and a Filipino and I am contented to be so.
Time, flying so fast and most of the time wasted by me, but then again, time is precious and as long as I have it, I should spend it wisely.
Chances to travel to other countries and experience and see other cultures, that this little world I live in is so much bigger than I think.
Birthdays where I not only feel especially loved and cared for (of which I guiltily bask in), but a time where I can reminisce of God’s goodness to His unworthy child like me.