“I am probably the last person who would want to migrate to the US.”
We were the ‘chosen ones’.
The chosen few, given an opportunity to live in ‘greener pastures’ and experience first-world living.
My grandfather was a US war veteran, which gave his sons and daughters, along with their corresponding family members, a once in a lifetime opportunity to migrate to the United States through his petition.
The process of our migration began during the early 90s. I wasn’t even born yet so I couldn’t decide for myself whether to go or not.
But (un)fortunately, my mother made that decision for us.
She signed the paper.
She had no idea what she signed up for, but she still jotted down her signature by faith, not knowing how it will all go about.
The process was long and there was no exact date as to when it would come out.
It can come at any time and once it is released, we only had 6 months to process everything.
It was like anticipating Jesus’ Second Coming; we do not know the day or the hour of its arrival.
Our family waited and lived an expectant life.
But if you ask me? I am more anxious than excited. I am probably the last person who would want to migrate to the US. A hundred percent Filipino blood was running through my veins. I didn’t ever want to live in another country and didn’t want to betray my motherland. I was very open about this with my mother and she could testify on how reluctant I was. I gave her options and persuaded her that staying in the Philippines would be the best decision ever. I never wanted to live in the United States because of the culture they have, and speaking English daily would be a personal struggle.
I would like to visit it someday, but live there? Naah.
My mind was closed but I still wanted to please my mom, so I gave her a chance.
We waited for our papers to come. 22 years to be exact.
My life was put on hold so I made every moment count.
I found it funny because during my high school years, I would let my classmates sign my ‘farewell slum book’, complete with their dedications, greetings, things they’ll miss most about me and a list of their shoe and shirt sizes. Every year I would let them write in it and the drama of me leaving soon faded away because I would still be there, year in and year out. They thought that me actually migrating was just fake and concluded that I just wanted attention. I waited 4 years for our papers and said farewell to my classmates annually but I ended up graduating high school instead of leaving the country.
Fast forward to my 4th year in college where our ‘initial’ migration papers were released. Since we did not know when the succeeding papers would come out, my mom decided to let me stop school and start looking for a job. The money I will be making could be a big help for our migration expenses. I worked in an advertising agency for only 4 months; it was short lived because they (again) decided to let me finish my final year in college because having a degree is more important than saving up money for our migration. I enrolled late (4-weeks in to the first semester) and by God’s grace still managed to graduate and get my degree in Economics.
After graduation, the process of our migration papers began to slow down.
This made me excited because my mother could have forgotten about the papers or she’ll decide to stay here in the Philippines and not go to the US (ever) because the process was really taking a long time.
But what made me more excited was the overage policy. I was already beyond the age limit (I was already 22 years old at that time), which means that even if the papers came out, I wouldn’t be eligible to migrate to the US anymore because it’s part of the petition policy. (that anyone above 21 years old will no longer be qualified for the petition)
I considered this as a hidden test from the Lord; just like how He tested Abraham in to sacrificing his son Isaac, to see if Abraham would still be faithful despite of God’s ridiculous command. And as the story goes, He did not allow Isaac to be sacrificed by sending an angel to stop Abraham from slaying his son. God was pleased with Abraham because of his faith and the Lord blessed him abundantly.
I thought to myself:
“Maybe the Lord just wanted to see if we will trust him during the migration process but wasn’t actually gonna allow us to migrate.”
I thought I passed the test and now I reap the blessings of my obedience.
I felt the Lord’s blessing pour out over me like a storm in the middle of April. I was blessed to be part of one of the top advertising firms in which I have grown in love with for almost 4 years. I was blessed in dating and courting someone whom I have known for many years, my love for her would bloom each day and always believed that I was the luckiest man on earth because the Lord allowed me to know my future spouse at a very young age! I was also blessed with a very loving church, who I consider as family. I was blessed to lead the worship service in our youth ministry and would constantly attend all youth and single fellowships, retreats, worship nights, hangouts, etc. I mean, the Lord was gracious and loving for blessing us with these blessings and for not allowing us to leave for the United States. I could easily (mis)quote and claim His promise in Jeremiah 29:11, because really, God’s will is the best thing that has ever happened in my life. I “understood” His will as
“You passed the test! I’m not actually gonna let you leave the country. Now, stay here in the Philippines and be blessed.”
I believed that His will for me was comfort: to live a comfortable life and to serve others in ways that are most convenient for me.
Comfort is King and God blesses those who put His faith in Him.
That’s what I believed in and everything was going as planned.
Or so I thought.
“Personally, it was a struggle: A struggle of what I want and where God wants me to be.”
January 2015 our papers came out AGAIN. This time, it was different from the initial papers we had: it had a deadline and a case number. We were expected to complete everything in a span of 6 months.
This was the final paper.
We had to decide and we had to decide fast. We weighed in the pros and cons, we fervently prayed about it and seeked Godly counsel regarding our migration.
Personally, it was a struggle.
A struggle between what I want and where God wants me to be.
I purposed in my heart to “trust” Jesus no matter what. But the truth is, I wasn’t trusting Him. This pseudo belief was based on my feelings. Deep inside me, I wanted to rebel.
I wanted to stay.
I even compromised in to letting my family go on without me because I believed that I was “independent” (a.k.a selfish) and could manage to live my life without having their support.
I had “the-Lord-has-no-choice-but-to-bless-me-even-if-I-don’t-choose-His-will- because-I-am-His-son” mentaility.
I wanted to stay in the Philippines because basically, my whole life began there.
I love my country, I mean traffic’s not that good but still, I love the Philippines. I love our culture, I love our camaraderie, I love dirty ice cream, I love adobo, I love commuting, I love my Church, I love my friends and I would love to get married and raise my kids there.
The Philippines was my boat; my comfort zone.
Leaving everything I know would be the worst decision I could ever make.”
I wanted to bask in my comfort and snuggle inside that boat. Stepping out of it would mean a lot of heartache, anxiety and pain. I was arrogant and lazy because I enjoyed comfort too much and stepping out of the boat was not part of my top choices. I said to myself:
“Why would I want to leave everything behind? I have a good profession, a beautiful GB and a growing ministry. I earn well, I have a lot of good friends, I’m part of a loving Church and am even discipling young men.
Leaving everything I know would be the worst decision I could ever make.”
I questioned the Lord many times and asked Him why He was calling us to move. I began to seek Him and demanded to know what His will is for us.
During one of my quiet moments with Him, the Lord spoke to me in a clear and gentle whisper that softly said:
” I will be with you.”
Those five words gave me unexplainable peace.
His voice was so clear that I knew it was from Him. He aligned my will into His.
He didn’t answer my why’s, He didn’t reveal His will. He didn’t go into the details of our migration. He just reminded me that wherever He places me and wherever He leads me, He will be with me.
He will be my Anchor and He will be my constant.
All I had to do was trust Him.
Now I know how Peter must have felt when Jesus called him to walk on water. It must have been hard for him to leave the comfort of his own boat, to go set foot on a place unknown. It might have been a terrifying experience for him to see ginormous waves right before his eyes, to hear the growling wind shouting in his ears and to feel the cold water in his toes just as He was about to step out.
But Peter being Peter, asked Jesus to call him out to see if it was really him. He still had doubts but just wanted reassurance that it really was the Lord calling Him out. (Matt 14:28-29)
Then Peter got down and out of the boat, walked on water and came toward Jesus. He sank when He saw the waves and winds, but still, He walked on water. He walked not by his own strength but through faith; that Jesus would allow him to defy the laws of physics and walk on water for the first and last time.
“He wouldn’t call us out just to leave us.”
Another confirmation was through a fellow tita worship leader who knew nothing about our migration. One random Sunday, after the 10AM worship, she called me inside the welcome lounge.
She pulled up a chair, opened her Bible and held my hand. She said:
“I don’t know what you are going through. I do not know you personally but the Lord impressed upon my heart to share you this verse:
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:7
Then she began to pray for me.
I was shocked and got a little emotional. I realized that the Lord loves me enough to encourage me through other people. He has never forgotten my cries and would not allow me to wander alone. He wants me to be strong and to stay strong. I know this wouldn’t be easy, but he commanded me to be strong.
He is the same God who guided the Israelites out of Egypt. The same God who became a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Ex.13:21).
He wouldn’t call us out just to leave us.
He will guide us through each step and would even light the dark path that we will be walking.
I know it
I believe it
and I am sure of it.
Yes, God wants to bless you but remember, He doesn’t want you to stay stagnant.
I have learned so much throughout this whole migration process and I want to share it with you all.
First, stop picking up the verses you want to hear from the actual verses that God wants you to know. Yes, His promises are true and yes Biblical stories are true. But always remember that God sculpts us differently. Develop wisdom and discernment by taking time to really study the Word and taking time to seek Godly counsel. Yes, God wants to bless you but remember, He doesn’t want you to stay stagnant; He wants you to move and get you out of your comfort zone.
Second, never go before God. His will is way different from yours. We tend to put God in a box and just open it whenever we need Him, we try to manipulate God by bargaining with Him, telling Him what we have done for His ministry and brag how faithful we are in our quiet time. God doesn’t delight in bragging. It doesn’t work that way.
“You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.” – Prov 19:21
Third. Never assume that anything is final. We are living in a changing world. What’s a yes today could be a no tomorrow. Everything could turn upside down in an instant. Make Christ your anchor.
Fourth. When God commands you to move, you move. Period. No ifs, no buts. Just move. Don’t ask him where you’ll go and how you’ll do it, just move. Don’t delay it, stop making excuses and don’t escape Him. (Remember what happened to Jonah?)
At this point on, I was reassured that this was the decision God wants me to make: to leave everything behind, step out of the boat and start walking on water.
Apparently, the Lord also spoke the same clear message to our family in to deciding to migrate.
It was clear and it was evident that this is the path He wanted us to take.
And so, we began getting ready for our Exodus.