In the Philippines, we have sari-sari stores — small shops usually attached to a person’s home, selling different sorts of goods. As a child, I dreamt of having my own, but I guess this is the closest I’m ever going to come to it. Sharing different stories — sari-sari stories — most especially from my experiences and learnings as a daughter of the King of Kings, as wife of my husband King, and as mom to our three princesses. 😊
My family and I went to a book store last Monday to buy some supplies. As we were getting ready to pay and line up at the counter, King told me to go to the other one. There was no one in line, so I started to protest. Then I saw, just as he was telling me, the magazine with a pornographic cover. (Here we go again with women being used as tools.) I don’t know what publication it was, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what they call an “adult magazine.” They’re also prevalent in convenience stores and when the kids are with me, I quickly turn them around so we only see the back cover. It pains me to know that they have seen some of them before. We have grown more aware and alert about these things.
Anyway, I immediately took the girls and motioned for them to go the opposite direction before they noticed the magazine. One counter was closed and there were a few people lined up in the other. Even though it was a tad inconvenient, it was an easy decision to make.
I am so thankful that my husband and I are on the same page when it comes to raising our daughters. We know that we cannot protect them from every evil, disgusting, defiling thing, but we do what we can. My girls are already curious about boys, girls and relationships as it is. We don’t need immodest, obscene pictures of women to pollute their minds.
It’s easy to tell them right now that “it’s not for kids,” but we really don’t want to give them the idea that it’s “okay” to do such things as pose nude or even half-nude when one is an adult. Purity and holiness does not only apply to the young or to certain seasons in life — it applies to all.
We don’t want them to adapt what the world regards as beautiful or cool or good. We hold God’s word as the truth. Their beauty does not depend on their own or others’ idea or depiction of beauty. They are beautiful because they are loved by God. Without God, there is no beauty. Their goodness does not depend on what they do or do not do, or on what other people say or think. They are good only because of the finished work of Jesus. If not for Jesus dying on the cross, taking our sin and giving us His righteousness, no one is good.
Our desire is for our children to live according to the will of God — live their lives to the full, free from the hold of sin, free from condemnation, free from death and the fear of it, free from wanting what the world wants, free to love and serve their Creator, Father, Savior, Lord, Friend, free to love and serve others. This is why we deliberately parent them, teach them, pray for them.
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6 NIV
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. 1 John 2:16 NLT
We just concluded our 3-day Every Nation 2010 World Conference at SMX last Saturday. What an awesome time, coming together from all over the world as one church, hearing the most inspiring testimonies, learning from the most diverse bunch of speakers ever, and worshiping God in our own ways and languages! Check out the article on Inquirer.
When registration opened, we were out of town, and we asked a friend to register for us, including the kids. It was not cheap, I tell you, but we knew it was best to bring them along. Aside from the fact that we didn’t have a choice on who to leave them with, I couldn’t also bear to leave them for 3 days. The most we’ve left them at home was for about 10 hours, 4 hours of which they spent sleeping. Anyway, going to the conference last Thursday, I was slightly nervous about leaving Danae in Children’s Church by herself. She’s almost 5 and quite independent, but I guess my protectiveness prevailed a bit over my confidence in my daughter. Kids Pastor and our friend, Larry Uy, said I was more concerned than my daughter was. I kept expecting to see Danae’s name on the screen haha, as they might need me to get her, but Ptr Larry was absolutely right. Danae was perfectly fine in Children’s Church! She was there for 4 hours on Thursday night and around 7 hours (not continuously) on Friday. She even told me she met new friends. Ptr Larry’s presence there made me even more at ease, too. I’m so proud of her! The problem came only when it was time to go home and she didn’t want to be separated from her cousins. She loves them so much and misses them since they don’t see each other often, that she’d cry every time. Having said that, I am so blessed by the wonderful fact that King’s family is also part of our spiritual family. My parents-in-law served as ushers at the event even. 🙂
So where was Noelle? With King and I, of course! She was manageable enough, except when she started making too much adorable noise or when she started pulling me to walk around outside. It was a riot having her around though. She had really really funny moments! She danced, made friends, charmed everyone’s pants off. Every time she saw a baby at the back or outside, she approached them, pulled her shirt up and showed her tummy for some reason haha. She didn’t stop eating her snacks. When one session was over, her favorite “Aris” (Tito Francis), took a piece from her stash and just held it, asking if it was okay with her for him to eat one. She responded by staring at first, then putting the rest of the cookies in her mouth and taking the one that was in Francis’ hand! Hahaha. She didn’t want to share at all. I saw many dedicated dads and moms alike, taking their kids up & down the escalator to entertain them when they got bored or restless. Noelle loved that escalator! It was a long and fun ride for her. When she got outside, she almost always refused to go back into the huge doors.
Truth be told, I missed some of the preachings and testimonies because I had to attend to Noelle, but thank God for my husband who did not mind doing diaper duty when needed! And because there were times that Noelle was occupied with the music, with eating, or coloring or writing (on the chair even — sorry!), and quietly distracting others hehe, I was able to sit through many of the sessions. I learned a lot, got encouraged and inspired a lot, and my faith got stirred up a lot!
The first 2 days with the kids, however, were extremely tiring for me. I slept tired and woke up tired, especially since on the first night we ate dinner in Makati really late (MOA was closed & other restos nearby were full) and got home around 2am thanks to SLEX traffic. Poor Danae missed school the next day, which starts 7:30am, because she was also bushed. We let the girls sleep longer so they’d be ready for day 2 of EN2010. But as you can tell from the picture, by afternoon, during the break as we had our early dinner with a friend and delegate from Victory Cebu, Noelle was out cold! We actually decided from the first day that we’d leave them at home on the last day. We wanted the kids to rest and I wanted to rest too. My muscles were aching from carrying Noelle, I lacked sleep, and I just didn’t have the energy anymore. It was the right decision, although we missed them and talked about them constantly, because we were able to spend time alone and I was able to worship and listen without much distraction. And I’m sure the others around us were able to do the same haha, although they did miss Noelle’s presence too.
Looking back at EN07, I remember bringing Danae with us as well. She was 1 year and 8 months old then. This year, EN2010, Danae is 4 years and 8 months old, while Noelle is 1 year and 6 months old. It was definitely inconvenient, but I wouldn’t change the fact that we brought our kids. Even though they don’t actually listen to the preaching of the Word or sing praises to God (well, Danae does now), I believe something supernatural happens in their minds and hearts. We are starting them early, exposing them to the huge, world-wide spiritual family that we have, to praying and worshiping together, and to appreciate the beauty of our God that resonates through and transcends the diversity of His people. We are sowing God’s Word, sowing seeds of faith in our children. That alone makes it worth it! EN2013, God-willing, here we, the Luceros, come! 🙂
Visiting Coron made me appreciate the beauty of God’s work once again. (Check out the videos below, on the left side of this page.) The islands, the beaches and the clear blue water were spectacular. From the boat, I could already see the different colored corals. I was amazed to see pink ones, bright yellow ones. Then I thought, well God was the one who created all these colors, so it’s not surprising that such colors exist in the ocean. God’s beauty is boundless and it shows in His creation.
While I was underwater snorkeling, however, I found myself somewhat near the drop off. Remember in Finding Nemo, when Marlin freaked out when he found out that the kids were going to the drop off? Right by the corals, you’ll just see a vast expanse of blue. It was peaceful, but it was just too huge for me. I didn’t freak out like Marlin did, but I did get scared. It got me thinking. What if a huge fish, maybe even a whale, suddenly showed up in front of me? How would I react? I’d probably freeze in astonishment or scream in fear and excitement! The sea and everything in it is so beautiful, yet it’s so terrifying. The fish, the corals, the marine life are so wonderful to watch, but then you get a glimpse of the long spikes of the black sea urchin and you remember how dangerous the ocean is.
The more I got to thinking, the more I realized that most things, if not everything beautiful, are also terrifying. The strange rock formations in Coron were so beautiful and mysterious, I wanted to explore and check them out up close. But one misstep and the sharp rocks could definitely hurt or even kill you. My favorite animal is the tiger. It’s such a beautiful creature, with its beautiful striped fur, huge paws, cuddly face. But as much as I want to touch and play with a full-grown one (as I’ve already cuddled a cub), it’s risky because the danger is very real. Climbing up the Empire State Building is an experience and New York City is such an awesome site, but the strong wind and the extreme height can be pretty scary too.
Committing forever to a man I hardly knew (13 months to be exact haha), knowing that it was God’s will and timing, was one of the most beautiful things I ever experienced. Yet the uncertainty of our financial future was indeed a concern. Giving birth to my babies was an incredible experience, but it was also scary to be aware that anything could happen, complications and all. Many mothers have died from childbirth. Raising children is the most fulfilling, most wonderful thing in the world, but our responsibility to care for them and teach them is immense, making it terrifying to think of all the ways we can screw them up. Committing my life to the Lord was the most important decision I ever made. Because of it, I discovered the beauty of God — His love, His forgiveness, my freedom, my identity, my new life. But with it came giving up my old ways, giving up relationships that I was clinging to for security, tearing down my comfortable wall of anger and pride. Being vulnerable and unguarded can definitely be terrifying.
So do we let our fear keep us from experiencing the beauty of such things? Do we remain scared and be frozen by our fear? No. We go ahead, take a leap of faith even. We risk it, terrifying as it may be. Why? Because it’s worth it. I risked the danger of getting hurt, of being humiliated, of being uncomfortable, of making mistakes, of flaunting my flaws, of being different because it was worth it. Exploring the ocean was worth it. Marveling at nature was worth it. Enjoying New York City was worth it. Marrying my husband was worth it. Having my daughters was worth it, and raising them is worth it. My relationship with God is worth it. 🙂
We were scheduled to fly to Busuanga on July 6. A few days before, I was perfectly healthy. Then I started sniffling on Monday, July 5. What a time to get sick! My mom and King were waiting on me to decide whether we should push through or not, seeing that I had not packed and that I was feverish and feeling bad. I was telling King they could go without me, but of course he didn’t want to since the trip was actually to celebrate my birthday. So with barely 3 hours of sleep but with a burst of God-given energy, I got up the next morning, packed, and got ready for our flight. I only started feeling bad again at the airport and on the plane. Noelle, of course, was awake the whole time, while I wanted to lay down and just sleep. My head was heavy, I had fever, cough & colds, and my body was just aching and weak. Noelle also looked like she was pooping on the plane, but we were afraid to check because the smell would reek. I checked when we landed. Thank God it was a false alarm! I didn’t have energy to change her diaper in a public restroom.
On the way to and when we got to quaint Birang Lodge in Coron, I just slept. I did not go with my family when they had lunch. I felt cold, weak, and just terrible. Thank God we were not bound by a pre-determined schedule like that of a package tour. I was able to just rest. I drank meds and asked my mom to massage my arms. This whole time, I just kept praying and praying that God would heal me so that I could enjoy our vacation. By mid-afternoon, I already broke into a sweat. My head still felt heavy but my body was feeling stronger. I was able to give Noelle a bath. By evening, I was able to join my family with our friend Hilbert and his mom for dinner. Hilbert, by the way, cooked super yummy adobo and super yummy fresh lapu lapu! We were not only his clients, but also his guests, so he was kind enough to bless us with his delicious cooking. The next morning, I was up and about for our first trip to the islands! I still had cough & colds, but God totally healed me from the flu! I know it was God because with the way I was feeling, normally that would have lasted a whole week. Amazing!
Hilbert hooked us up with this big bangka (pump boat) to go to Malcapuya Island to swim and have lunch, then we went to Banana Island for some snorkeling. At first we thought it would be rainy all day, but the sun was out by the time we got to the first island. The next day, we took a smaller boat and went island hopping again, visiting this shipwreck for snorkeling, Banul Island for lunch, Twin Lagoon to take a dip in the calm, brackish water, Barracuda Lake hoping to get a glimpse of one barracuda (to no avail), and to the marine park Siete Picados to snorkel some more and see more corals & bigger fish. Though it was a bit rainy already on the 2nd half of our boat trip, it was so much fun for us all! Hilbert’s “people” prepared delicious food for us to bring on both trips. The boatmen were really nice to us. We enjoyed the beautiful beaches and the beautifully clear blue water. We especially enjoyed the fish feeding and snorkeling! Even Noelle was in on the feeding, totally unafraid. Danae at first kept saying that she didn’t want the fish to eat her, but when she learned how to use the snorkeling gear, we would hear her scream through the snorkel in excitement! She’s a water baby anyhow, so swimming alone makes her happy. Her deep tan speaks for itself. 🙂
By the fourth day, we moved to Darayonan Lodge because Hilbert’s aunt’s lodge (Birang) was already occupied by new tourists, and we still had 4 days left to enjoy Coron. Both lodges are affordable places and nicely situated in the town proper, but Birang is actually on the water. The boat “parks” right in front of the lodge. No need to take a trike, lug all your stuff including food to get to a dock. We appreciated that when our starting point for our last island hopping trip to go back to the shipwreck, Banul Island and Siete Picados, was Darayonan. We also had to look for food to bring for that trip, which turned out not to be that great. In Birang, it was easy, plus the food was good, except in our case, we had to tell the cook not to make too much haha. Their bathroom was big enough too, bright and clean, and their water supply with hot water, great! Darayonan was a good place to stay during the last days of our trip because it had a nice pool. King and the girls enjoyed it while my mom and I rested a lot. Their restaurant was big and also served good food, though some food on the menu were not available. There was also a little monkey in the store right across the lodge, which entertained my girls a lot, especially when Noelle was cranky already. She would get excited and say “ooh, aah, aah.”
There was a nearby pizza place called Bistro Coron, which we visited twice. We liked their pizza and pasta. It’s owned by a foreigner who’s married to a Filipina, and is a pretty popular place. It’s near a drugstore and the local market too, so it’s very convenient.
On my birthday, the 12th, Hilbert invited us over to their house for lunch. He cooked pork humba, grilled squid and crabs for us! We were so full! Even their rice was so yummy! Afterwards, Hilbert and King had a short meeting about how to help the incoming youth pastor jump start and nurture the youth ministry in Coron. Hilbert is involved in their church there and he asked King for advise. Later that afternoon, King also met with the pastor himself. It’s so great to be a blessing and help others in reaching the next generation! I’m such a proud wife!
All in all, our Palawan trip was a blast! Even though I was sick, and my mom and the girls had cough & colds, and even though Noelle had one night with fever due to her vaccination the day before we left, we definitely had fun and made memories that will last a lifetime! The islands in Coron are just breathtaking. They have the strangest rock formations, smooth white sands, water that displays all the shades of blue, beautiful corals & lots of fish. Coron is just another reminder of what an awesome Creator we have and of how beautiful the Philippines really is.
Still thinking about it? Stop thinking, and book that flight! Who better to fix your package tour or to fix your itinerary if you don’t want a package, than a local like Hilbert Enriquez? Add him up on Facebook, so you can personally get in touch with him.