Serving With A Grateful Heart

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight"
- Isaiah 42:1

There are a lot of ways to serve. We are actually doing it - in our home, at work, and in our communities. And it actually feels good to be able to give part of ourselves to others. There is one service though that we may tend to ignore, and that is to serve God. Yes, it is not an obligation. It is a choice. But why do I choose to serve Him? Because I have a lot of things to be thankful for! In spite the fact that life is not perfect, I am thankful that God has blessed me in so many ways and this is my way of giving back to the community.

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I live a simple life. I don't have luxurious things but I have more than what I need and for that, I am grateful.  I've been through a lot of problems, setbacks, frustrations, struggles, challenges and trials; name it, I've experienced it. Just like you! But that doesn't stop me from recognizing God's graces and blessings. I still smile, laugh and enjoy what He has given me!

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With God's grace, I offer my strength, talents and time because HE deserves it. After all His sacrifices and unwavering love, is time to repay Him through my good deeds, by living His Word, and serving His community. All for the glory and love of God!

Miss Universe

All eyes on our country! The last Miss Universe Pageant 2017, held in the Philippines last January 29 of the said year, was a worldwide buzz. It was a special event that became a “fever” among the Filipinos and advertisers. For sure this long standing pageant will be repeated.

            Back in my high school days, my relatives would often tease me to join the Miss Universe Contest. They would make fun of me because of my ideal height and slim body that they would envy or desire. Up to par, this was compared only with an ordinary clan member, just among us. Not a serious thing for me. I knew it was just a joke, and I could feel that my heart wouldn’t be into it. I had my flaws… lots of them!

            In late 70’s, there was a blessed call, a dedicated meeting of a simple candidate and the superior cum directress of a house in a far community away from home. This candidate was aspiring to become someone who was different and precocious. She was not joining a mesmeric pageant and certainly not seen by a cheering crowd, not even captured by the people’s eyes and cameras when she entered the portal of the formation house. It was the candidacy inside the house of the love of God. Goodness gracious! Whew, I am describing myself here as the candidate. In all modesty, I wrote this to share a true experience!

            Long story short, I was the aspirant of the international, semi-contemplative congregation. One ‘general cleaning’ week-end, I was announced to be the “Miss Universe” unanimously among the group of aspirants, postulants and the sisters. I was chosen because of my height, stance, coupled with a unique Filipina beauty (Was I qualified?) and the ability to answer the questions, possessing the God-given wit to do a certain duty which must be carried out during my “reign” (Do I have the right to call it reign?). Well, that was just my way of saying, my officio, my work. Alongside with that glamorous title encompassed a greater responsibility, power, leadership and opportunity. Righto, at least the dream of my family came true.

            “Miss Universe” with a veil inside the convent was a funny titular call of obedience. The task assigned to me was to remove the spider’s cobwebs. I could have the option to say yes or no, to object and to explain further my stand but in silence, I gave my word which at first there was a hesitation.

            “Yes, Sr. Superior!” I said. That was my humble fiat.

            My YES meant to remove the spiders’ cobwebs away from the lights, on corners, high ceilings, the doorways, long corridors and big rooms, including the chapel. Imagine the spiders’ cobwebs were all uncontrollably prolific.

            After accepting my assignment, instead of a crown and sceptre, I was given the hair band and the long broom stick for thorough cleaning. In contemplation, I asked myself, “Am I Miss Universe by all means? Yea, I am “Miss Universe”, doing a creepy household chore. I already affirmed and enjoyed the title a.k.a. spiderbuster.

            Psyching myself up, I was ready: standing on the chair, going down, spotting the cobwebs, closing my eyes continually. Ew, this task was fit to a formidable giant, not only in terms of height but also in toughness, dealing with the entangled world of spiders.

            Do you know that spiders have multiple disguises, web and body colours and scuttling movements? They naturally do camouflages, mimicries and other movements to attract their preys and/or to protect and hide themselves from predators. Moreover, they are usually associated with Halloween. Oh yes, they are! Treat-or-trick?

            For some reason, this was considered a trick to me, taking those intricate webs away. Fearsome, what an experience, eh?! Those were ghastly spectacles for me!

            Spiders and their arachnid family, and their territories became my enemies. But wahoo! Utilizing my style and strategy of cleaning, spiders and dusty cobwebs were conquered and gone immediately. Alas, a week after they re-appeared in grim bunches.

            In close encounters with the spiders and doing my job in contemplation, I found a sheer meaning on this. These cobwebs relatively signified sins.

            SINS contextually (like cobwebs) are the network spread of the prince of darkness (the spider). They obscure our minds. They dirty us. They make us fall into the trap, and we are entangled. They destroy us. With our human weaknesses, emotional wounds and brokenness, they softly kill us.

            As for my transgressions, done in full knowledge I offended my loving God and my neighbours. Very sorry for all my misdeeds, I tried to stand up. I ran back to God and went to confessions. By the power and grace of God, my sins were washed out and forgiven. Uh-huh, like “Miss Universe” a.k.a. spiderbuster on the go, cleaning up the cobwebs…Presto! They were all gone.

            Not so long, the next day… another day and for so many times, I awfully made mistakes once more. They were unpleasant like cobwebs that I needed to clean up de novo. I went to confessions over and over again.

            I do believe that confessions cleanse me. They beautify me. They make me shine.

            With a beaming halo after a good confession, this seemingly enthroned “Miss Universe” in me, in you - smiles, waves her hands and struggles to sin no more.

            So we pray and vie for the title.

            Who will be the next Miss (or Mr.) Universe? Beware there are lots of cobwebs. Be sure to get rid of them first.

 

By Lucy Lombos

Wintertime-Good Samaritan-Come-Alive

It’s winter time once again. A lot of activities, like skiing and snowboarding, can still be done amidst snowflakes and flurries on vast majority of land. Fancy and fun for everyone! Imagine snow all around, being showered and blown on the roads and on top of the mountains.

One of the exciting and thrilling interests is snow-shoeing. Well, snow-shoeing is a good sport or the activity of walking over snow. It is engaging oneself in deep snow.

It was January 5, year 2016- I vividly remember when my sweethopes (that’s my endearment to my three, wonderful children) and I went to Cypress Mountain Ski Area, West Vancouver, BC, Canada for a different kind of physical recreation. How would someone feel being a first-timer on this pleasurable sport? For us, it was something new and zestful, of course! It was a bustling joy to me. In fact I forgot my foot injury.

However, it was a little bit scary when we got lost because the bus did not drop us to the right place where we could go for that particular pastime. We were composed. We could manage ourselves well. So we walked and walked on the grizzled land, perambulating in the middle of the tract of snow… Yes, snow everywhere! On this seemingly nowhere, just imagine that even our eyelashes, lips, hands and feet became almost frosty. Oh no! We didn’t like to be creamy snowmen on the roads. Geesh, something was going strange!

All of a sudden, we noticed we were already very far from the main, terminal station. Then, all of us swiftly felt that the place was creepy. We could sense the eerie. We could hear the frightening crows of the birds atop the evergreens. We could see people driving their cars so hurriedly and nobody would offer to bring us to the destination whenever we would try to hitchhike. We were like paranoids who could feel the arrival of the big bears with their baby bears. Everything seemed a gut-feel of a signal of danger. We became so afraid.

We stopped and held our hands together. In deep silence, we could hear the beating of our hearts, longing for a Saviour. We prayed! We summoned the protection of the Father. We called upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds on what to do; to guide us and guard us on our way. Heaving a deep sigh of both relief and grant of our prayers, we continued to tread the long and niveous road, armed with hope and faith.

Cars were showing over and over but as expected they ignored us once again. Until, we decided to just move along and gave it another try, the last stretch. Until… Hurray! Yahoo!  Upon God’s mercy and compassion, one Japanese guy fully stopped his car and opened its right doors, the one at the front seat and the one at the back. He smiled and let us in. We immediately got in the car because we were so impressed and touched by his kindness.

He asked us where he would bring us and we told him up there on the mountain where the snow shoeing activity was reserved and arranged. We warmly exchanged conversations, though we were already cold. He was truly a very nice guy. A gentleman, indeed! Later, he halted his car. We didn’t make a mistake trusting him. He was so fatherly!

“Thank you! You are one of a kind!” I remarked.

“That’s not a big problem. I have a son, waiting for me but I saw you,” the Japanese guy said.

“Do you have money?” he asked.

“Oh yes, thank you so much!” in unison, my sweethopes and I replied.

“You, take care, guys!” he concluded.

“You, too! God bless you,” we all happily said.

“Hope to meet you again,” I added.

He just smiled back.

Then, his car screeched and he drove away back to Vancouver Downtown.

The four of us felt so blessed and we couldn’t forget this extraordinary story.

“He could be the Wintertime-Good Samaritan-Come-Alive”, I commented.

“Yes, heaven-sent!” my sweethopes agreed.

 

by Lucy Lombos

Stairs…

A series of steps

A big challenge for me

One, two, three, four steps

Beyond, ascending I dare, try and see.

 

A flight of steps

A long journey by foot

Weakness; calmness, no beeps

I fly up, ignoring the dust and soot.

 

A set of individual steps

A pace on treads and landings

Shows rites of passage and preps

Milestones, new roles, success zipped by wings.

 

A structure to climb up or down

A twist in life, a test everyone saith

Might slip or fall, careful, don’t frown

Trust, going down can be a leap of faith.

 

A connection to the next level

A feat, an answer to the question

I found light, season’s beauty and its cycle

Truth that keyed up freedom and expression.

 

By Lucy Lombos

The 12th World Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays

       A lot of people travel to other countries for leisure or business, but most of the time it is an inseparable duo. However, here’s a Pause for a Cause! ... Recently, the five Philippine delegates flew out from their homes and participated in the 12th World Congress of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays (WMBB) which was held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last October 29 to November 3, 2016.

             The World Congress was beyond the environmental cum cultural gathering of the officers and members of the World’s Most Beautiful Bays (WMBB) Club. Seventy-seven (77) countries participated in this congress. It was the concerted effort of reporting updates of the world’s most beautiful bays, of identifying each bay’s issues, of committing resolutions to conserve the big body of water, and ultimately raise awareness to everyone, and spread the knowledge and values of love, appreciation and taking care of the bays to save our planet Earth. This was also the application and acceptance of other countries to become a member of this club. Hence, presentation and awarding were part of the congress. World-class assemblies and ceremonies were done. The WMBB never ceased to amaze the public at large for its well-organized programs and activities.

             The Philippine Delegation was composed of Ara d’Aboville, head delegate and her sister Rosario Valenzuela; Daniel T. Enriquez, Puerto Galera’s resident Marine Biologist; Sofia Domenica Lombos, Consular and Diplomatic Affairs graduate of De La Salle University, our youth representative; and Luz E. Lombos, ESL, TESOL, Reading & Writing teacher, Children’s Book Author and WMBB advocate since 2009 who functioned as the official journalist of the group. They were formal yet on the loose in the host country, the vibrant Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

             The host country provided warm hospitality, full assistance and fantastic entertainments. Spectacular shows were prepared especially the “Rhythm of the Nights” at Caletas Island that was aglowed with more or less 5,000 torches and candles. We were provided with the sumptuous meals and gala dinner and famous beverages especially Tequila (the Mexican water as they say) which the host country has been known for so many years and in which we really revelled so much. We were amazed with their Day of the Dead Festival and their love for Our Lady of Guadalupe, hence this was worth more than a million ways to promote and share their rich culture. Our sincerest thanks and great respect to all organizers, most especially: to Maria das Dores Meira, President of the World Most Beautiful Bays; to Ing. Arturo Davalos Pena, Puerto Vallarta’s Mayor; to Ramon Gonzalez Lomeli, Director of Mexico’s Tourism Development and to his coordinators, Aida Almada, Alexandra Gonzalez, Ulises Hernandez and to all staff and to Canto del Sol personnel for such a successful event… Our heartfelt congratulations!

             Not only the natural beauty, their people’s charisma and services, their unique logos, landmarks and animal symbols like the Seahorse, Iguanas, Dolphins and a lot more were seen but also the values and traditions practiced in Mexico with their much embraced bygone years or historical Spanish heritage and influences. Very important, the stewardship of Mexico’s Banderas Bay was an admiration, true as well to other participating countries.

             Well, for our beloved Philippines, we featured and reported the recent developments of the pride and joy of our country: the acclaimed paradise-like Puerto Galera’s Muelle Bay, located in Oriental Mindoro. The delivery and performance were also well-applauded. Further, it was announced that Puerto Galera, being the host country last February 2016, was incredible. Thanks to Hubert d’Aboville and his wife Ara d’Aboville with Daniel Enriquez’ succour for spearheading this worldwide project.

             Moreover, the Philippine’s official journalist was among the selected five (5) journalists to join in the fine dining at the Café des Artistes, the renowned restaurant at the heart of Puerto Vallarta, serving the best Mexican, French and other International cuisines. That was the time when the journalists and Thierry Blouet, the passionate owner chef and promoter of Puerto Vallarta’s Festival Gourmet exchanged their background or career stories and how they would tell the world about these honourable and noteworthy deeds of the club, including the excellent experience of splendid dining in a jungle-fairyland setting of the restaurant. Everyone in the group loved the moment!

             Another remarkable note was when we discussed how our gaze fell upon the beauty of all the bays; awesome creations, indeed! We reflected that Someone Almighty, the Giver of Life and Beauty made them all. In our social discourse, there were implied praises to the Creator regardless of our religion!... And things happened for a purpose.

             This great event was marked with a sincere sense of social responsibility, a genuine socio-cultural concern for the citizenry. It was an “once-in-a-lifetime stop” to promote a cause about our bays because through them we believe that we are all united. The significance of the event was absolutely an impact giving a human interest and understanding.

             We are calling the attention and support of everyone to take care of our bays. We hope by this world congress we inspire the people to take part also by doing their humble contribution in guarding and protecting the bays. Small steps will definitely produce giant results.

 

Lucy E. Lombos

November 10, 2016