PART 2: THE EXODUS

THE LEAP OF FAITH

We finally agreed and decided that we will all be migrating to the United States. We prayed as a family, listened to the advice of our leaders, read some books regarding migration and planned out our next steps on our big move.

Moving out was a BIG deal for us. It’s not just moving out of our house or something, it’s moving out of a country! A country where we only had a glimpse of in postcards or movies, a country whose culture was very unfamiliar to us.

And the process in doing so was very difficult.

First, we had to get our medical clearance, then go to the US Embassy to apply for an immigrant visa and then attend a migration seminar. The process was very time consuming and involved a lot of money.

When God told us to move, He didn’t say that ‘easy’ would be part of the equation.

It was hard. Really, really hard.

Obeying Jesus was one part; but following Him till the end was another.

When we said yes to migrating, we were committed to please Jesus throughout our whole exodus. There were times where we thought that our decision was stupid; we traded our good life in the Philippines for a life of uncertainty in the US.

“Taking a leap of faith is better than not taking a leap at all.”

But you see, there’s beauty in uncertainty. It’s a gamble! You lose some, you gain some. But one thing’s for sure: there will always be a lesson in your decision. You will learn to stand up on your own feet, you will begin to appreciate the small things you took for granted, you will begin to see that you are capable of doing something that you never thought you could.

Taking that leap of faith is better than not taking a leap at all.

YOU ARE REPLACEABLE

Another task we needed to do was to sell everything; and when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. We had to prepare financially for our pre-migration and plan our first few months in the US. Plus, we didn’t have plans of going back to the Philippines (mainly because majority of our relatives are also migrating to the US), so we needed to dispose everything we had.

We did a week-long mega Garage Sale of everything we owned. Everything must go! My dad sold his personal / treasured items, which dated back to the 70s and 80s.

My mom sold A LOT of her clothes and shoes (which was really hard for her to do).  She sold her jewelry, her umbrella collection, her makeup kit, etc.

I sold my shoes, my work polos and gave away my favorite acoustic guitar to my disciple.

During our final weeks, we began selling the big stuff. We sold our furniture. We sold our TV, our sofa, our beds, our refrigerator, our desktop computer, our dining table, our gas range, etc. And during the last 3 days, we had to sleep on the floor or sleep somewhere else  because someone had already bought our beds.

“Following Jesus means considering everything worthless.”

Selling/giving away everything we had was very tough. It was physically challenging and emotionally draining. There were regrets, there were “sayang naman ‘to, ang tagal ko na ‘tong tinatago eh” moments, there were times where we weighed in what to give and what not to give. But at the end of the day, everything had to go. We realized that we have placed value over our material possessions because we thought that these were the things that defined us.

A similar story comes to mind, but the difference is, the guy in the story is certain of what he is after. In Matthew 13:45-46 it writes:

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it.” -Matthew 13:45-46

“…our value is now based on how Jesus sees us and on how He delights in us.”

Following Jesus means considering everything worthless. The apostle Paul also describes finding Jesus as the most valuable experience he has ever had; his relationship with Him was incomparable:

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. – Philippians 3:8

The joy of being at the center of His will is unexplainable; material things now don’t mean a thing because our value is now based on how Jesus sees us and on how He delights in us.

 

YOU ARE REPLACEABLE

“…the sad truth is, the world does not revolve around you.”

Another part of our exodus was saying goodbye.

I really hated goodbyes.

When the papers arrived in January, I became very worried and started overthinking.

There were nights where I couldn’t sleep; nights where I did research on the peso-dollar exchange rate and counted the months I’d have to work in order for me to go back, there was also a time where I considered joining the US army so I could get my citizenship in a year then apply for dual citizenship.

Every night I would go out with my friends, attend many despedidas and host reunions because I wanted to leave a memory that they would never forget about me; I wanted them to remember me.

 

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With Paul, my discipler.

 

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Elevate Despedida

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CCF Makati Despedida

As the weeks passed and as our departure date drew closer, I became more clingy and more emotional. I became a YES man. I’d say yes to every invitation, every ministry opportunity and every sleepover I was invited in to. I made every moment count.

I was a people person and a people pleaser, I found delight in having many friends. My security was based on how I can appease them and please them through my actions.

My friends defined who I was; my identity was based on their opinions.

I personally thought that I was irreplaceable. Truth is: I am replaceable. My friends may cry for now, but eventually, they’ll get used to not having me around and vice-versa.

Brothers and sisters, the sad truth is, the world does not revolve around you. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having many friends, but if these people define who you are and if you anchor your life on them, then losing them would also mean losing your identity. Perhaps it’s time you check yourself. (before you wreck yourself.)

THE FINAL HOURS

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. – Philippians 3:8

April 29, 2015 (Wednesday)

It was the last day of our garage sale, but we still had a lot of items to dispose. Since there was no more time, we decided to give away most of our items.

Our house was empty; all our furniture was either gone or up for selling.

I walked around the house for one last time, and became very nostalgic. I reminisced every memory I had in each corner of the house and sadly thought that tomorrow, we’ll be living in a different house; a different country.

We had a total of 6 balikbayan boxes which were already weighed and ready to go. It was packed with all the clothes we did not sell in the garage sale, some shoes, medicine and pasalubongs for our titos and titas. We also already exchanged all our pesos into dollars.

Before heading to the airport, my friends gave me a final despedida lunch. It was just a simple lunch on a hot summer day. They said their final goodbyes, received a few hugs and said adios!

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My “Last Supper” before moving out

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My last “dirty” ice cream with James and RJ

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With my best friend, RJ.

Our church was kind enough to lend us their van to bring us to the airport. A few of my friends still escorted me and helped our family load our balikbayan boxes inside the van.

I said my final (final) goodbye and told them not to miss me too much. I said I will be back soon; I promised them that I’ll be a better person when I return.

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Goodbye Philippines!

My sister and her then fiancé, Raffy, also accompanied us to the airport. At this time, my sister just got engaged, 1 day prior our departure. (what an emotional rollercoaster for us)  She wasn’t going with us to the US because she was already beyond the age limit of 21.

11188302_10153264401402422_3943520729122265797_n.jpgRaffy proposed to Ate Jam a day before we left – April 28, 2015

We had our final hugs as a complete family. Kurt and I had no choice but to get used to not having our Ate Jam around. It was a very heartbreaking challenge we had to face.

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Our final complete family picture in the Philippines – April 29,2016

We went inside the terminal, waited for our departure and boarded the plane. It was an exhausting 12-hour straight flight from Manila to San Jose, California. Our family held hands as the plane began to take-off. We smiled and firmly clasped our hands together. It was our first time in the United States so we did not know what to expect. Many things were going on our minds.

We were half excited and half anxious.

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On board the plane. This was the part where we held hands in anxiety and excitement.

But if you asked me, I was more excited than anxious. Excited for a new life, with new places to go to, new friends to meet and new challenges to face. I began to be hopeful. Hopeful for a bright future and hopeful for the Lord’s hand to guide us through this journey.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I’m not in the position to tell you that our situation was the worst but I know other people whose situations were incomparable to mine: some people migrated alone with no family members to assist them, some migrated because of an employer but upon arriving, discovered that the employer was a fake, some migrated illegally and are having trouble processing their legal papers.

I know a couple of people (non-Filipinos) who went to the US without knowing any English words except Yes and No, yet still managed to buy a place of their own and land a good job.

You see, every pain has a purpose. Your discouragement today can become an encouragement to someone tomorrow. Your defeat can be someone’s inspiration for winning. That is why we need to:

  • Build each other up and encourage one another (1 Thes 5:11)
  • Persevere. Perseverance produces character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:4)
  • Press on. (Phil 3:14)
  • Give God the glory (1 Cor 10:31)

My purpose is to tell our migration story, hoping that this will encourage someone who’s currently facing a difficult trial where he/she is called to move, not necessarily to another country, but to move out of his/her comfort zone.

You are not alone in this journey, we all experience pain, we all experience trials and we all experience struggles. The difference now is how you respond when you are faced with a situation.

Your response can change the flow of your story.

Your story can give God the glory.

 

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