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Getting Through The Fog

posted Dec 20, 2011, 5:38 PM by Alfredo Pacaon

By: Larry Tiamzon

Have you ever experienced being lost in a thick fog with no flashlight on hand? I have and here is my story….

In the summer of 2006, my business started to have a big financial setback. What used to be a smooth sailing suddenly became huge, rough waves that were very hard to handle, and it really terrified me.  And to top it off, our business was audited by the IRS and was assessed to pay a huge six figure amount plus interest and penalties.

That was when I began losing my reins. I started to have sleeping and eating disorders. I could no longer force myself to have the same enthusiasm to go to our office and take care of business. The only thought that occupied my mind was FEAR. Fear of losing our business and fear of losing our house. My family became so concerned that they stopped me from managing our business. My wife, Ellen, took over. I also had to take a leave from my service in City On The Hill (COH) because of frequent anxiety attacks. My ability to concentrate had dissipated, coupled with terrifying thoughts so intense that most of the time I became immobilized with fear.

During all this time, my family was always with me, praying unceasingly to God so they can lead me out of the thick fog that had rolled in. Yet, it was very difficult for me to see my way out. Our Men’s and Women’s Group (MWG) fully supported us in this difficult period of my life. They were always there for me and my family.

It’s been years now and I am sharing this to stand as witness to God’s unfailing love and faithfulness.  Our God is an awesome God and He will lead us out of the thickest fog we can ever encounter.  In June 2007, God opened up another door for us to venture in. Our business started to pick up again.  And my despair turned to hope. 

The result of the IRS audit, which we have contested, was reversed in our favor.  Instead of paying for that huge amount, we were even given a refund - enough to pay for a month of our house amortization.  This was made possible through the persistent efforts of our accountant, a fellow member of COH, to whom we will be forever grateful. God really works in mysterious ways.

The ‘state’ I had been in was very hard to explain, but with the prayers and support of COH members, I was able to overcome it. I want to thank God for the new life He has given me and the clarity and understanding to appreciate it even more.  I realized that I would have never seen our God with the same eyes if it were not for the trials and tribulations in my life.  The Lord has made me strong and He will make me even stronger.

In ending, let me share with you my thoughts.  An angel once whispered to me:  “Never borrow from the future.  If you worry about what may happen tomorrow and it doesn’t happen, you have worried in vain.  Even if it does happen, you have to worry twice”.  To our God be the glory!!!.

Where the Lord Leads, I Follow

posted Dec 20, 2011, 5:16 PM by Alfredo Pacaon   [ updated Dec 20, 2011, 5:16 PM ]

By: Rica Cabigao

Years ago, a friend of mine invited me to join her company, I said no, thinking that it is not possible for my current visa status to change employment.  She left the offer open in case I change my mind.  I am already settled where I am.  I don’t have second thoughts or regret in my heart rejecting her offer.  I was not even curious about the position or the offer, or even with the possibility of getting certified again.  It is clear in my mind that I am not changing work.  Mid 2006, a strong prodding combined with unfavorable work conditions and bigger financial needs led me to do the exercise of laying down pros and cons of my situation.   Professionally and financially the job can’t be beaten but somehow my spirit was unwilling.  Nevertheless, I researched its legal feasibility.  To my surprise, I learned that the new guidelines now allow a transfer of employment legally.   Though the news turned out to my favor, it also brought fear in my heart.  I started to pray about it and brought it up to my pastoral leaders for guidance and discernment.

In Terry Modica’s reflection on Jesus’ first call to the disciples, she said the Lord has a pattern in His interaction with all of us: 1. To know Him; 2.To see Jesus’ help in unexpected ways; 3. Jesus turning the gift into a call and; 4. His disciples giving up everything that would prevent them from answering His call. (Terry Modica is the primary speaker, retreat director, and Catholic evangelist for Good News Ministries.)

As events in my life unfolded and in my years in City On The Hill, I have grown in knowing Jesus more and more.  I have seen the hand of the Lord working as I went through five immigration application approvals (not to mention the waiting and finances involved) in such a short time.  These I have to do even before I accepted the offer.  In every stage, He provided me with the support of people who gave me encouragement and a promise of prayer.  Still, my prayer is to show me if this is what He really wants for me.

When I finally got the final approval on my papers, my current employer decided to downsize.  In the process of this downsizing, they decided to take out my position.  While it seemed like a rejection and a painful event, to me, it was the Lord taking out the pressure in resigning and clearly directing me to push through with this new job.

I further quote Terry Modica, “Whenever God intervenes in our lives, he does it to benefit us and others.”  Because we already know Jesus, we belong to a community of believers; we are not in relationship with God as isolated individuals.  Our prayers for help are never answered only for our own sake.  If it seems like God isn’t responding to your pleas, it’s because He’s working on a bigger plan and He’s not yet finished fitting all the pieces together.  He’s coordinating how the answer to your prayers will help many.  By thinking beyond ourselves while waiting for our troubles to end, we find peace and hope and value in our sufferings.  This is the vocation of daily life.”

The Lord has spoken and He wants me to be in Charlotte, North Carolina.  This is His call for me for now and so I am here.  Yes, I have friends, a place and a community in Los Angeles, but the Lord wants me here.  Where the Lord leads, I follow.

The Brothers’ Household

posted Dec 20, 2011, 5:00 PM by Alfredo Pacaon   [ updated Dec 20, 2011, 7:46 PM ]

By:  Ryan Japson 

Nine single men embarked on a journey of impossibilities to live together for 29 days in a single household. 

For so many reasons that I can care to mention, a lot of these men involved had valid and superficial excuses on why we shouldn’t have participated. But when it comes to The Lord, you run out of excuses real fast. We all had our reservations and frankly thought that our household’s success was a long shot.  Our leader, in his own words, felt like “it was the blind leading the blind men.”   For the only one with any real household experience among us was the youngest and most recent member of the group.  He was our Joseph, and like Joseph, he was indeed the dreamer; it was so hard to wake him up for morning prayers.

From the very beginning, the logistics were daunting.  We had to find a house that could accommodate all these men for one month with space for a prayer room, for talks and sharing, and most importantly, a place we could also afford.  The household also had to be in a centralized location that would allow all nine men to go about their daily schedules.  We also had to find speakers for our talks, secure the financial resources for our needs, and most importantly, find out how to run a household.  Faced with so many obstacles, our household leader still felt led by the Lord to persevere and commence with the household.  So we did.  With blind faith on the Lord’s leading, our leader made the household date official and invited these single men one by one to participate and make the commitment.

Indeed our God is no ordinary God.  He is a God of impossibilities.  One by one, all of our obstacles miraculously disappeared, just like our excuses.  So unto the household we went, not knowing exactly what will transpire within the next 29 days.  We had a demanding schedule of morning prayers at 5am, sometimes 5:15am and most of the time 5:30am.  We set forth everyday worshipping and praising God and lifting up each day to Him.  We then proceeded to go about our normal schedules and came back each night to have dinner with each other, listen to a talk or had an activity and ended the evening with night prayers.

We took turns on the household chores as well as in leading both morning and night prayers.  To make this long story short, we SURVIVED!  Let me take that back, we not only survived, we LIVED!  For 29 days, we lived out our faith in everything we did.  Out-serving each other whenever we saw the opportunity and realizing in some way how true brotherhood and Christian community living was like.

It was amazing to realize that some members of the household came from different communities in other parts of the world and how we were all brought together to learn from each other and share our common faith.  We were truly blessed.  Nine single men set out seeking to know God more, and concluded the household seeing God in each other.

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