Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
I'm still having doubts over many things that I'm listening in prayer. Yes, I have received some confirmations from other people of what I heard, but when everything around you seems to contradict what you're listening, and when there is no sure way to tell if what you're listening is really coming from God or not, it is very easy for me to fall into doubt.
I can give you a couple of examples.
First, the Bible study at Thursday night. I felt that God wanted to revitalize this group, and that He wanted to use me in it. The group's been dwindling down lately and it has for quite a while. It's been a year since I received this, but nothing seems to change.
Second, my anxiety. Many times I have heard that God wants to either heal me, liberate me, or offer some sort of relief from my anxiety, but little has changed.
I've been suffering from anxiety since I was a little kid. At times it gets better and at other times it can be debilitating. Many times I feel trapped in my own mind.
Anxiety and depression are deeply connected and I feel that while I haven't succumbed to depression lately, at times I feel deeply discouraged and saddened, and a big part of it is coming from my anxiety.
There are many other examples that I can give you, but these two suffice to make my point. Yes, some things that I've heard in prayer has come true.
Yes, I haven't been as faithful to God as I can be. I haven't offered all these things in prayer as often as I should. I haven't been seeking and knocking on Jesus' door as I feel He wants me to. Yes, I haven't been seeking the Kingdom of God first in everything that I do.
So all I can do at this moment is wait. Seek God first and wait. All of this it's better than asking "Why" questions that probably won't lead me anywhere.
Photo Credit: open pad.
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
He's a new volunteer at Comunidad San Dimas, a prison ministry where I do most of my ministry, but in his short time coming with us at juvy, he has become famous with they youth with his rap.
He's currently discerning his vocation to the priesthood, and I'm sure he'll appreciate your prayers for his discernment process.
I share with you a video of Jaime performing one of his rap songs. We were coming out of juvy one Monday night, so I apologize for the poor lighting conditions.
Monday, November 7, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Photo Credit: Sarah Ackerman.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I don't wish to just write a list of "bad" things that has happened to me, and so enrich my feeling of self-pity, however tempting that may be.
I just want to share my feelings of helplessness and sorrow.
I feel like I'm failing in all areas of my life.
I just moved into a missionary order that I love and works in the same area where I've been volunteering for the past 5 years. It is a great joy to be received in this community!
But of course, this is not to say that I don't have any difficulties. I feel that I have failed in ministry. Last Thursday's Bible study was a nightmare! I found myself giving a topic that nobody seemed interested at all. A very humbling experience.
I haven't been feeling that good over the past two weeks, as confusion and doubt started to sink in in my mind. Am I really hearing God's voice when I seek His guidance? Or have I deluded myself to such point that I guide myself to wherever I see fit?
Things in life can come up that can threaten this sense of guidance, and I feel like I'm walking in darkness. Where is God's guiding light? Can I even recognize it? I know that His sheep hear His voice, but do I really?
I have reasons to believe that I do, and reasons to believe that I don't. The doubts seem endless, and the anxiety that comes from them can be overwhelming.
I was feeling like this when I was heading to work last night, and being fired from the job didn't help at all.
I don't know what to do exactly, other than beg God for His guiding voice in me. I hope these times will help me to grow in my relationship with God, instead of alienating me from Him.
God, have mercy on us all. Amen.
Photo Credit: fallingwater123.
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Could it be that waiting can be a personal limbo? Maybe waiting can force us to stay in idleness? Or maybe that we lose control while we wait?
Whatever the reason, I'm finding it really difficult to wait before taking my next big step in my life.
I applied with the missionary order InnerCHANGE, and thank God, they accepted me!
When I heard the news I was very excited, literally dancing in my steps.
I also got a new a job that fits almost perfectly with my schedule with the order.
But I can't move in with them until mid-September, and the wait is getting difficult. It is not simply a childish desperation to move to the next stage of my life. The difficulty can get heavy at times, sorrowful even.
I moved in with my aunts and uncles in Daly City in August because is closer to my new job. This is (I think) the third time that I move the past year.
While I'm training at my job (a one month training) I can't do much ministry because of the schedule. I train for one hour every weekday at night.
I really don't feel comfortable where I am. Not because my family here is not welcoming, which they are. It just doesn't feel like home. It doesn't feel like I'm doing much either, just living one day at a time.
I guess moving around and being surrounded by this instability can have its toll on you. But is that all there is to this feeling of sorrow?
Ever since my summer internship ended with this order I have been feeling very nostalgic. Nostalgic about the experiences lived in it, nostalgic about Oakland, nostalgic about many things.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm entering some sort of mild depression. I wonder if there is more to it than just the simple fact that I'm waiting and there's not much I can do about it. Have I lost my peace? I don't think so. But there is still some heaviness about this period.
I'm very excited about my future, however, and I can't wait to see what's ahead of me. I genuinely feel called to this order.
So all I can do is wait. And also pray.
Photo Credit: red twolips.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
One ministry opportunity we were fortunate to connect with is the Oakland Catholic Worker House. They offer hot meals to anyone who knocks on their doors, and shelter to many Latin American Immigrants.
After coming one afternoon to OCW during a prayer walk in East Oakland, we promised that we would return some other day to volunteer. We met many of the volunteers, including Lee (if you're reading this, am I spelling your name right?) who was staying there for the summer.
So we came back this past week the day before Lee was leaving (great timing!). We helped with the cleaning and attending the doorbell, which normally signaled that someone is looking for a meal.
I was amazed by the amount of meals served at that place, and how one volunteer was expected to carry out the whole operation by herself.
After the kitchen was closed and the cleaning was done, Lee and I talked for a while about our lives and ministry. She is a theologian student and hopes to finish her Master degree soon. I told her about the ministry with Comunidad San Dimas and she seemed really interested in it.
"Well, maybe you can come next year as a summer intern to try it out" I told her. She said she would think about it.
Before saying good bye, knowing that I will probably not see her again, at least not anytime soon, I told her, "See you next year!". "Ha!" she responded while laughing. "I hope you are not a prophet".
We will see.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Friday, June 17, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Photo Credit: jdnx.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Photo Credit: gerbache.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Photo Credit: El Frito.
Friday, May 20, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Photo Credit: KirrilyRobert.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Photo Credit: Mike McCaffrey.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Sometimes it is not easy. Sometimes this ministry has a way of surprising you, in good and bad ways. Sometimes I ask myself, what have I got myself into?
I have a sense of this question this past Thursday. We had a fancy dinner/party that we were invited to. The invitations could not be obtained in time and we couldn't attend. I realized this, of course, only after I had dressed up for the event.
Oh well, this party was to be replaced by going to a karaoke place. Fun! But this too was canceled. The reasons for this are unfortunate.
Someone who has been coming to our group for quite some time, and who is not a gang member but knows a few of them, decided to stay drinking that night instead of coming with us. He got jumped by gang members and we had to pick him up.
This is sad because this young guy is really trying to change his life, and even made some great progress, but alcohol is his weakness.
The outing was canceled, and everyone called it a night.
Did I mention that a little more than a month ago some guys who we minister to took the van used for the ministry one night without permission , joy rid on it, and screwed up the suspension?
Oh yes, this ministry has its way of surprising you, by constantly throwing at you the unexpected. And we are just along for the ride...
Photo Credit: John Holden on Flickr.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
|Our path to the cross is one decision away, but it takes|
a lifetime to traverse.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
- Content: I thought that Random thoughts covered too many topics. While there is nothing wrong in taking a holistic approach to blogging, I think it's better to narrow down my topics, and concentrate on a niche. Content, from now on, will concentrate mainly on the ministry that I work in San Francisco. The blog will retain its personal aspect, however.
- Design: I had worked somewhat in improving the look of Random thoughts, and never felt satisfied with it. It seemed too simplistic. I think the new design is better and fits perfectly the new theme of the blog. Of course, I will work on improving the design as the blog progresses.
- Posting: Random thoughts was my first serious attempt in getting somewhat serious in blogging, but it was nothing more than a hobby. The blog was neglected, and there was time that I paid little attention to it. This will change, as I will try to be more constant and serious in my blogging. After all, I want to glorify God in this blog, so while the blog will retain its personal taste, its main focus will be God and the ministry.
P.S: Yes, the title of this blog is inspired by the song "God of this City" by Chris Tomlin, one of my favorite songs. If you haven't listened to it, here it is:
Monday, March 14, 2011
But, as the years started to go by, and life's experiences brought me back to even where I was before I converted, that feeling started to "die" slowly, so slowly, that I was unaware of its own death.
I tried to revive this feeling, and while I made some progress in terms of devotion, the feeling was hard to resurrect. It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, the feeling remained dormant, with little hints of it surviving. Until now...
These past events in my life, including the current storm, has brought me into an intimacy with God. "I feel" I told my spiritual director once "I feel as if God and I are in a honeymoon at this moment". This intimacy has gradually increased with time, and as the tribulations rise, His love is even more abundant.
Even though I don't feel God is calling me to be a priest or a religious, even though I'm probably headed to marriage, in despite of all this, I feel so strongly in my heart that I must be a saint, and nothing else would suffice. I feel God is tugging strongly in my heart, this sense of tranquil urgency; I must be a saint, there is no way out of it.
But I believe all of us are called to be a saint. We must receive this calling in our hearts as well, while we are looking for Him, our Beloved, in prayer. Will I fail? If I trust in my own strength, in my own habits and humanity, I will surely fail. With God? I cannot fail.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My life has changed substantially in the past few months. I now find myself trying desperately to adjust to a difficult schedule. I'm sleep deprived, tired, and best of all busy.
I have to admit, I like being busy, but as of late, I'm starting to dread being tired. I have noticed that my emotional level goes down considerably when I'm tired. I tend to dwell more on pessimistic thoughts, my faith gets bombarded by doubts, my anxiety betrays the sense of peace I thought I had. In a nutshell, everything seems to simply suck when I'm tired!
I'm working 32 hours per week and studying part time. On paper this is not a disagreeable situation at all. Only that I have to work the graveyard shifts on Mondays and Thursdays. Mondays (and consequently Tuesdays) are the worst days because I have to go to school the next day in the morning, getting off from school in the late afternoon, to finally go home and rest! As I shared in a Facebook update not too long ago, despite the fact that I'm walking around campus as if drunk, and my biggest academic achievement is to stay awake during classes, I seem to be managing well!
Thursdays are a bit more manageable. I go to school almost all day, then head off to the youth group for ministry, and finally end my day by working the graveyard shift right after the youth group. We usually have some time for fellowship after the youth group, which I unfortunately am obliged to miss because of my work schedule. This is rather unfortunate, given that this fellowship is essential in establishing relationships with the young people who attend. And since the ministry deals with gang members, this relationship is even more important in order to gain their trust and share the Gospel in a personal way. Friday morning I have to commute back to my house, which is 50 minutes away from where I work. Staying awake during this commute is a massive undertaking!
But I'm getting used to this schedule. Staying awake seems easier. And while I like being busy, I'm still getting used to being tired.
Friday, March 4, 2011
I have a desire to pursue marriage sometime in the future, but this desire comes not without its struggle. I feel called to full time ministry, and I'm worried that If I get married, my ministry would suffer. There is also a sense of guilt over leaving seminary, even though I don't feel called to the priesthood or the religious life. But as the anxious person as I am, I'm constantly thinking of the repercussions that this decision can have in my ministry and life. Would I be able to serve the youth in my full capacity, without the status that a priest or a religious person enjoy? All these questions, given their hypothetical nature, are difficult to answer in a personal level. But, despite the emotional struggle that my decision brings, I still have peace over it.
I'm also struggling with my grieving over this girl. My feelings for her have not changed, and at times, seeing her is painful. She is part of the same ministry I work with, and there are many opportunities to see her. In dealing with past disappointments, I would simply detach myself from that person for a good period of time, until the memories lost their painful aftertaste. I have asked God permission to leave the ministry for a while, but I keep getting the same answer: He doesn't want me to leave. He is giving me the strength to deal with this situation, and by His grace alone I have been able to continue in the ministry. He keeps telling me to trust Him and to leave everything in His hands, even my future with her. I don't understand exactly what He is doing, but I'm putting my trust in Him, even though I have to admit, it is not always easy.
But not all is gray and sour! God has blessed me immensely! I finally have a job and things are going well. Studies are going somewhat smoothly. There are many blessings that God in His infinite mercy has bestowed upon me. And, even in the middle of the pain, His joy and peace are there to remind that indeed I'm not alone, and I will never be alone.