Honoring God’s Faithfulness As We Celebrate Four Years In Canada

Four years in Canada. Four Years of God’s love and blessings. An immigrant, single mom’s journey in a nutshell.

August 15, 2020. This day marks the exact date of when Van and I first arrived in Canada. Four years. Time flies so fast. Who would have thought we’d survive?

This week, we were strolling around the park where we used to go after Sunday mass. This was the only park we knew back then. We used to go there so frequently, it seems like we’ve taken photos at almost all its corners and sites.

Fast forward to the present, we’ve become well accustomed to the city. We’ve gained so many friends, tried numerous restaurants, and experienced the local culture like well, a local.

So many things have changed. As I look back, all I feel is gladness – glad that even if we are not in a place of perfect peace, we are not where we used to be. 

Let’s take a quick look back:

First arrival in Canada
First Day Of School
Bus rides all around
First winter
Sundays at the park
Pumpkin Farm
Eating taffy in Montreal
Niagara Falls 2016
Niagara Falls 2018

Folklorama

Beach trips
Sunflower Maze
Van’s birthday 2019
Serving at The Feast
Pinawa Dam
Camping at Steep Rock
Oh, just posing under a tree
On a recent Fellowship night

I have learned so many things in the last four years of being a single mom, living abroad. It sure is tough. There are days when all I want to do is cry because of exhaustion. There are nights when I go to bed and sleep almost instantly because I am tired working all day, maintaining a household, and looking after a kid. It’s been a one-man show for the past four years.

The light needs to be replaced? I replace it. The daycare is closed? I find child care replacement. My son is hungry? I fix a snack. Math homework? I put on a teacher hat. The Rubik’s cube needs to be scrambled? I scramble it. You get the picture.

People ask me how I do it. My answer is I don’t know either. I guess when you come face to face with any situation, you just muster the guts and simply deal with it.

In spite being able to hurdle all those obstacles, I cannot get all the credit. I may look like a Wonder Woman to some, but believe me, I’m not. This is where my life verse comes to play:

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Who allowed me to witness my dad replace a fluorescent light multiple times before? Who directed my steps so I can meet trustworthy and reliable friends along the way? Who gave the provision for us to have food on the table? Who allowed me to fail at elementary Math so I can master the concepts and be able to teach my son? From where does my energy come from? 

No one else, but the almighty God.

He was, is, and forever will be the orchestrator, the provider, the healer – the only one, who can make all things possible. I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to brag about myself. Every little thing is part of His perfect plan for us. It’s all Him.

We stayed in my cousin’s house on year 1, moved to an apartment on year 2, bought a house on year 3. Little miracles happened in between – full time work came, daycare spots opened, true friends met, and so on.

Every single day, I feel so grateful. I am able to survive, laugh, eat, and enjoy life despite the difficulties. Even if Van and I feel out of place sometimes because of our not-so-conventional family structure, the Lord never fails to remind us in simple ways, how favored and loved we truly are.

As I said, I learned so many things throughout my journey, but if I was asked to pick one of the most valuable, I would say, it is to learn to surrender everything to the Lord.

I used to want to control things and plan my own path. I never considered praying about it, or consulting God. In my mind, I want my own gain and pleasure. Disastrous strategy.

When Jesus saved me and called me back to the faith, I learned to let loose and chase after what God wants, instead of what I want. I wanted to please God first before myself. I learned to die to myself every single day.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

When I started aiming for what is righteous, true and pleasing to God, the worldly material possessions, relationships and money turned into a speck of dust in the very back of my head. I rarely think about these things anymore. What’s interesting is, that’s when God poured all these blessings unto me. I guess God just really wants to teach me that apart from Him, I am nothing. I learned to rely on Him alone and seek His face first. When I’ve mastered this, that’s when He added up beautiful things here and there.

Four years in Canada. Wow. This country just used to be a dream destination. Now, it is home. Thanks to all the people who supported us along the way. We are forever grateful. 

Happy anniversary to us, land of the Maple leaf, bear country, winter wonderland! Here’s to more fond memories and sweet tire d’érable!

Merci beaucoup! 🇨🇦🥂

Finding Joy In Serving God: A Reflection On Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless

The lowdown on the recently concluded Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless

Last weekend, I was honored to have been part of the Light of Jesus Family Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless. For the first time ever, our main man, Bro. Bo Sanchez, graced us with one of his beautiful talks and led us in worship. He was just supposed to meet our leaders, but we feel so blessed that the final decision was to hold a big Grand Feast event.

As a Catholic charismatic community, we started with the Holy Mass. It was a very solemn celebration of the Eucharist. Kudos to the choir for they sang the mass songs so beautifully. I know how hard they practiced. Their sacrifices paid off!

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Talk

The most awaited part of the program was the talk of Bro. Bo. Although he is not a fan of the limelight, I must say he has become the face of the Light of Jesus Family. Why? It is because his talks are impeccable. The way he delivers his messages is powerful yet so witty and charming. He is a very simple guy, who has immense passion to bring people closer to Jesus.

For the Winnipeg Grand Feast, his talk centered on this:

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will lift you up in due time.”

The theme of the event is “Limitless.” He pointed out that we, as humans are so limited – our knowledge, skills and entire being. But then, there is the almighty God, whose power is beyond measure. We need to learn how to take a step back, humble ourselves, and put our complete trust in Him, so we can experience God’s greatness that is limitless.

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Worship

The worship team led us to sing four songs. They were all amazing!

I was particularly touched by the song “Another in the fire” by Hillsong UNITED. The first line of the song already had me bawling deep inside. 

“There is a grace when the heart is under fire…”

What made the worship more special was the video shown in the background about the Bible story of three men who came out of a pit of fire, unscathed and unharmed. It was because of the fourth person seen with them – Jesus. He was with them as they prayed and cried their hearts out for safety. Their faith saved them. Just like them, we can be assured that there is always another person when we are thrown into the fire, another person when we are drowning in the waters, another person when we are in the midst of earth-shaking problems. We are never alone.

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

The Service

We learned about Bro. Bo’s visit some two months before the event. We were all so excited! We teamed up into different ministries so we can start preparing. 

 

I am primarily part of the media ministry. My role there is to write and edit our bulletin, which I can finish even before the event. I wanted to serve more, especially during the actual day so I also signed up for the warmth ministry.

Van and I arrived at the venue around 0930, and stayed there until closing time, which was about 2030. The event started at 1630.

When we arrived there, different ministry members were already busy preparing and practicing. It was such a joy to see people being united in Christ. I was so inspired by their dedication, considering it was early Saturday morning. They could have slept in or gone off to a weekend trip, yet they chose to stay and serve.

I got to be honest, though. The night before the event, I sensed some jitters as ministry heads sent last minute reminders to our group chats. What’s beautiful was that we had each other’s backs. We supported each other in prayer to calm everyone down. Soon, the Holy Spirit embraced us tightly with its peace as we slept through the night.

Shoutout to my son, Van too! Imagine how he put up with us for about 11 hours! There was no wifi in the venue. All he had were books, his Rubik’s cube, and my cell phone with two offline games in it.  We told him that even though he was still too young to join a ministry, he also served. He gave up playing his brand new Xbox (yes, I got him that for his 9th birthday) for the whole day, just to support mommy and the whole group. His sacrifice meant a lot and I want to honor him for that. 

The After Party

Van and I approached Bro. Bo in the backstage after the event. Before we had our pictures taken, we had a little chat. He first talked to Van. He asked him his name, how old he was, etc. Then Van told him that we went back to the Philippines two months ago, and that we attended The Feast PICC. Van then mentioned the series title, and the things he learned during the talk. Bro. Bo was pleased and told Van that he is a very intelligent kid, and that one day, he will serve the Lord. Van instantly said yes. Oh, what great pleasure that would be!

I then turned to him to chat, but I felt like crying on the spot as visions of me listening to his talks during the darkest parts of my life came rushing to my thoughts. I stopped myself from being emotional. We just met eye to eye, and I knew he understood me immediately. I knew he understood my struggles and pain. So, he just raised his hand and prayed over me. I felt so blessed.

After everything was packed up, Bro. Bo met all the servants in one room. He congratulated us and said we really did a great job. He asked if we thought so too, and we all cheered yes. I must say we all did amazing. We took our group photos, and he headed back to his hotel to rest. Imagine he flew almost every day, jumping from city to city all across North America. He was in Vancouver the day before, flew to Winnipeg for a day, and was scheduled to fly to Calgary the next morning. Wow.

All in all the Winnipeg Grand Feast: Limitless was a huge success. It was definitely one for the books! It is an experience that I will never forget. I just feel so blessed to have been a part of it. 

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

Photo By JDRPhotography by Jayson Del Rosario

I will end this by sharing my main takeaway from the event. It was Bro. Bo’s last message to all the servants:

“The greatest blessing of serving the Lord is being able to serve the Lord.”

Indeed, I found joy in serving God and being with people who share the same passion. I encourage you to do the same. I am not forcing anyone to do anything. It’s just a suggestion for you to try. I tell you, when you find the courage to be selfless and find true joy in serving, you will never look back.

<3,

Rina