Prayer for My Brethren

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O thou,

Who art the God no less of those who know thee not than of those who love thee well, be present with us at the times of choosing when time stands still and all that lies behind and all that lies ahead are caught up in the mystery of a moment. Be present especially with the young who must choose between many voices. Help them to know how much an old world needs their youth and gladness. Help them to know that there are words of truth and healing that will never be spoken unless they speak them, and deeds of compassion and courage that will never be done unless they do them. Help them never to mistake success for victory or failure for defeat. Grant that they may never be entirely content with whatever bounty the world may bestow upon them, but that they may know at last that they were created not for happiness but for joy, and that joy is to him alone who, sometimes with tears in his eyes, commits himself in love to thee and to his brothers. Lead them and all thy world ever deeper into the knowledge that finally all men are one and that there can never really be joy for any until there is joy for all. In Christ’s name we ask it and for his sake.

Amen.

L-R: Amber, Tolits, Janray, Tata, Sarahmae, Oman, Babylyn, Jessamae, Rhianna. Ate misses you guys so much.

Source:

Frederick Buechner. The Hungering Dark. New York: Harper Collins, 1985.

Seven doesn’t feel right this time.

We grew up side by side with each other. You used to be my archenemy, my constant annoyance. My first memory of you was you, singing in the bathroom the then theme song of iodized salt. I remember I dreaded going to your house everyday. But because your house is nearer to our school, I was required to stay there after school til my service arrives. You loved making fun of me and I, being the balat-sibuyas that I am, would cry a lot. Then we would be scolded together because of the ruckus we made. One time you teased me while I was brushing my teeth and I chased you around the house. I got scolded because of running around with my toothbrush still inside my mouth.

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I remember being so excited with the news that we would be classmates. I got so excited even after a few weeks of going to school that I started telling everyone we are cousins.

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I remember kneeling on mongo seeds because we fought so hard. I remember you getting your head stuck in between your house’s window grills. I remember you falling off a creek near our house because you tried too hard to win the peeing competition with your brothers. I remember receiving the news that you had a crush with my best friend. Deep inside that time, I really wished you would do something than just smile awkwardly everytime her name’s mentioned.

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And even after elementary, we never stopped being close with each other. That’s why when I received the news that you passed the admission exam in PMA (which you took secretly), I mentally made a list of reasons why I think you should pursue it. Despite the opposition of some of our relatives – and they did their best to win the fight too – the eight of us stood by each other and held on to our belief that we are now capable of making our own decisions, mapping out our own dreams, and being responsible for the consequences. Knowing that we have matured together over the years is the best part of growing up.

I know you won’t be able to read this but I know that you know we’re very proud of you. Seeing you with your head shaved (God knows how much you love your long curly hair!) made me realize how determined you are to pursue your dreams. No more ponytail and braid lessons. Well I guess you love your dream THAT much, you had your most-prized “possession” cut.  And that inspired me. You inspired me.

I miss you, kuya.

It sucks that my last bonding time with you was we watched Battle Royale I in our house. Had I known that that was the last time I would be spending Sunday with you, I could have made the most out of it. I would’ve explained to you the joke Mama said which you didn’t get. But then again, that wouldn’t be normal. And you hate making a big deal out of things.

Right now it’s just too sad for me to think that even after four years, we still won’t be able to see each other regularly. You, with your government duties, will be sent off to different parts of the country, often in those with battlefields. While we will be off somewhere, doing our own stuff, making money, practicing our professions. And seven definitely doesn’t feel right during special events.

But yeah, you still have my full support. Just…take care. Make sure to always come back in one piece. And God…He’s always there.

Know that every Sunday lunch, we’ll always have a seat reserved for you.

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Christmas and New Year

I stayed in my mom’s friend’s place for the Christmas vacation. Tita Dang’s was really warm and nice to me. It isn’t my first time to go there  but their welcoming hugs were as warm as they were when my mom and I visited them last November. They live in Markdorf – a little town in Baden-Württemberg, south of Germany. It’s a pretty place to be in. This is the Lake Constance (or Bodensee in German). I can see three countries from where I was standing. See that land across the lake? That’s Switzerland already. And when you look to the left, that’s Austria. And of course, I’m in Deutschland. Too bad I don’t have a panoramic shot (or maybe I do, I just don’t know how to use my camera properly). The lake acts like a border. I wish I was able to ride a boat and reach the middle of the lake so I can brag about being in three places at the same time.

No, this isn’t their house yet. This is just the street they live in. Their place is around 1.5km away from the city center. You can only go there by car or by foot. There are no bus stops around the area.

View from their second floor. If you go right, you’ll end up in a forest. We spent one afternoon there walking and marveling at the trees and greens. We passed by this part of the forest where we could see Bodensee and the Alps. It’s a very beautiful sight. I didn’t bring my camera that time because it was too cold outside and there’s no way I could take decent pictures with frozen fingers.

I didn’t get my white Christmas but I got to see snow. And hail.

It could only get as thick as this. Come midday, they will all melt away. Unlike last year, they said snow started as early as end of October and there were lots and lots of snow. *sigh*

Just like the ones I see in postcards.

White houses

Just me being giddy at the sight of everything white (well, almost).

This was taken on another day after all the snow melted and everything was colorful again. I challenged myself to go to the city center by foot. I was halfway there when I saw a McDo nearby. You can pretty much guess what happened after.

Anyway, I sat on that bench for 10 minutes and had my quiet time. It felt so good to inhale fresh air and not think about anything stressful. Il dolce far niente – the sweetness of doing nothing. :)

Simple but breathtaking.

Yes, my legs got longer because of the long walk. ;) =))

It felt like Fall again…

…except that the trees didn’t have leaves anymore.

And of course, a Biergarten in the middle of a highway.

And oh, about Christmas…

The Raubers gave me a jigsaw puzzle of Santorini – my second dream place next to Italy. I still feel bad that I wasn’t able to go to Greece. Going there was one of the things I was looking forward to when we were planning our travels. But because of a misunderstanding with the residence permit, we decided to cancel Greece since we’re already 2 weeks behind our plans. We thought we could not go out of Germany without the residence permit. Turns out we can because we have Schengen visa. We waited for the residence permit to arrive first which only came at the last week of October. :/ ANYWAY. It’s not like Santorini’s gonna sink anytime soon, is it? I’ll be back.

New Year’s Eve here wasn’t as special as it always is back home. They don’t hang 12 grapes on their windows and doors, they don’t make any noise during countdown, they don’t fill their cooking pots with coins and jump three times because I don’t think they would still wish to grow taller next year. They don’t really have these traditions. They have fireworks too – but not a lot since you have to have a permit from the Rathaus first before you can light up the sky. And they have very very very few firecrackers.

I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend Christmas last year than spend it with the Raubers. They’ve been so kind to me. Tita Dang treated me like her own and she was actually the one who helped me and gave me advice about what to wear, what to buy, what to do, the moment I stepped foot in Germany. We even went to a thermal bath before I left. I miss them already. And I do hope God would continue to bless them because they really are a nice bunch of people and they never failed, even for a second, to make me feel loved during my short stay.