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. 😊
Before we even met, King and I had already been serving in the youth ministry, and within those years in the kids ministry as well, though he became a Christian and started way before I did. When we got engaged and got married (a whirlwind, I must say), we also helped out with the singles. I think I let go of the kids ministry when I started having my own kids (a ministry in itself). So the youth and the singles were the only two groups in church then that I had the desire to minister to. And though King was already open to ministering to young married couples, I really wasn’t until just late of last year. King also “switched” jobs last year, from youth pastor to worship services pastor. Nevertheless, neither of us let go of our involvement with young people.
I realize that there is very good reason why, besides the fact that it is where I grew up and matured — ironic since I started in the youth ministry in my early twenties. With the youth, there is always a sense of newness, maybe much like our own beginning as a christian. There is that undeniable passion for God and to reach out to those who do not yet know God. There is that fire that we know we once had and we always want to have again. As we serve, help, teach, disciple, minister to them, we become privileged witnesses of their growth, of their faith. And we become inspired again and again. Our flames are fanned again and again.
I want to always go back to being like the youth. I want to be on fire, passionate, enthusiastic like they are. I want to always be in awe of God’s goodness, no matter how seemingly small the victory or breakthrough. I do not want to be too “Christian” for my own good, that I do not appreciate daily miracles anymore. I do not want to get tired of hearing God’s work in people’s lives, even if it’s as small as God answering prayers for parking or as basic as God teaching them to trust Him.
I don’t want to “know it all” already. I don’t want to be set in my ways. I want to remain eager to listen and learn, open to new exciting ideas. In other words, I don’t want to grow “old” haha! So to Grounded, our church’s youth group, thank you for keeping us young! And to our children, thank you for your example of child-like faith! 🙂
The month began with a plan. We wanted to hold a party for this home for orphaned kids called My Father’s House. We, the youth staff and I, could have taken the easy route — organized, planned and executed everything ourselves — but we didn’t. We wanted the youth involved. We did not want to just bless the orphaned kids, we wanted our youth in Alabang to step out of their own worlds and give of their time, energy, and talents. We wanted them to learn from the experience, and even teach each other during the whole process. We wanted to give them an opportunity to bond with each other and with the kids of My Father’s House.
We called the event LOVE IS IN THE HOUSE. It was a post-valentine party held last Saturday in My Father’s House’s grounds and the theme was LOVE. We put up 6 teams (Food, Program, Games, Logistics, Music & Dance, Documentation) and gave the volunteers their respective assignments. We can proudly say that everything we did for My Father’s House was the hard work of our youth — from planning, to marketing, to cooking (special thanks to Chef Len Santos-Ding for opening her kitchen to us), to packaging, to setting up, to marshaling the games, to distributing the prizes and gifts (special thanks to Victory Alabang and Cong. Ruffy Biazon), to dancing and singing, to just sitting and spending time with the kids. We made sure that during lunch, each table had at least one of us there to talk to the kids. I even saw some of our youth helping the little kids cut their chicken and feeding them. It was truly a heart-warming sight.
We did not allot time for a full preaching because we didn’t just want to tell the kids that God loves them, we wanted to show them by serving them. They were blessed by our efforts, and we were blessed by their smiles, their joy in singing to God, their excitement in participating in the games and in winning prizes, their gratefulness for our visit. I even got a couple of random hugs from the kids!
We also asked the kids ages 11 and up to make a drawing of what God’s love means to them. The top 3 were asked to explain their work. One boy’s simple but beautiful work said that he is a son of God, and I guess he felt that was enough to explain that. Another boy’s equally beautiful work said that God loves us because He gave us a “home.” I was touched when I saw it. He explained that God created the whole world for us. One little girl’s work was more intricate and we were intrigued by her drawing. She explained that even when we make mistakes, God still loves us. We gave her the grand prize, a gift certificate from Yellow Cab, courtesy of Ms. Faye Bonifacio.
I believe our party was a success! We got the youth involved — they did the work, they served others, they built relationships, they learned, they shared, they taught, they gave. We got to bless a wonderful bunch of kids and we were blessed by the whole experience as well. What a great way to spend the last weekend of the month. I am so proud of our youth and their work! Plus it was my first time to organize an outreach like this haha! On to the next project, woohoo! 🙂
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.