I am going to divide this blog post in 2 parts. The reason for that is that when I finished writing the first draft I wound up with an enormous post that no one would ever read. So I decided to chop it in a couple of parts to be easier to read and publish the next part in a week or so.
Lets do something before we start. When people tell me they enjoy my blog I sometimes ask them “Hey that’s cool, did you subscribe?” and they tell me that that no, because they don’t know how to do so. Lets try something different this time: click on the picture below to subscribe!
In the first blog post, I wrote that we felt drawn to Palawan Island in The Philippines as if guided by someone. And when I say someone it is because God is not something abstract and unreachable, but He is actually a living someone, who can do amazing things with your life if you actually let Him.
Getting here was a 48-hour odyssey. First, we took a flight from Düsseldorf to Paris. Then another flight from Paris to China. Then a flight from China to Manila. From then another flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. Then hopped in an 8-hour van ride from Puerto Princesa to El Nido. Then a 1-hour tricycle trip to El Nido to Nacpan.
The moment I first saw the ocean I felt completely at peace with myself. I knew in my heart that I was exactly where I needed to be. And even though I just made it through the longest trip of my life, it felt like I just believed Him and was instantly transmitted here in the blink of an eye.
I have in the last couple of weeks swam with turtles, attempted so surf, got stung by a jellyfish on the face, ate a complete grilled-squid and got my glasses stolen by a monkey. This place really looks like paradise on Earth.
Ok. I came all the way here. Now what?
I came to Palawan because I believed Him. He spoke to me and told me to leave. He told me I was ready for the next phase in my life. I was hoping to maybe find a bunch of people in the airport holding a sign with my purpose written in it, but that was not the case.
The thing about Faith is that it has to be 100%. Anything less than a perfect score in the Faith department has a counter-effect on the blessings He wants to give you. I have learned by experience that Faith preceeds miracles.
I learned also that there is something quite powerful in putting God first in everything you do, – so that’s what we did to figure our next steps. How does it work? Well, before finding a house to live in, we went to find a church we liked.
We went to 4 different churches:
- The first one we did not like so much.
- The second one was pretty ok. We had dinner with the pastor.
- The third one was terrible, something like a cult.
- The fourth one was perfect.
As a side note, I do not like many churches. A couple of them are pretty amazing, but most tend to over-complicate things, and in my brief experience here I have seen churches in The Philippines cause more separation inside a community than unity among their people.
This quote that I took directly from the book The Shack describes it well:
Again Jesus stopped. “Those who love me have come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions. I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous. Some are bankers and bookies, Americans and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa.”
Being close to God is not about an institution, – it is about a personal relationship. Once you have an institution with a hierarchy in place, you need rules to protect and administer it. And then you need law and the enforcement of the rules, and you end up with some kind of chain of command that makes this type of personal relationship hard to achieve rather than promoting it.
I do like my new office a lot
In my last job I had a beautiful office with a great view in one of the best buildings in Guatemala. I can’t say that I have a job now (and happily so for the moment), but the office space around here is not bad at all.
We read that the Internet in The Philippines was terrible, but we were able to purchase a decent package of 800mb/day and a personal hotspot that shoots Internet wherever we go. And just to be sure, we have three of them. Some nights we can even hunt down a pizza and stream Netflix in HD.
After my last post a someone wrote asking me if he could help out in some of my new businesses as a way for him to learn what I am doing. I thought it was a pretty good idea, and today is actually his first day on the job. Shoot me an email if you’d like to do the same!
Being guided by the Spirit of God.
What does this mean? When Jesus left this planet after being crucified, he left us with something very cool, – His Holy Spirit. It actually lives inside of the people who accept God as a Father, and in my opinion, could be compared with Jiminy Cricket from Pinocchio, which is portrayed in the movie as a conscience.
An example of the way I experience it.
When we came to Port Barton a couple of weeks ago, the place was completely full. Everything was booked out. We went to 5 different hotels looking for a place to stay (while carrying our huge backpacks on the sand), but it seemed impossible to find something, – the receptionists told us that it was high season and the upcoming Holy Week.
I closed my eyes for a couple of seconds and just talked to Him “Father, please help me find a place to stay.” I opened my eyes and went to the beach again, to continue our search.
Just 10 meters away from us there was a German-looking guy, and I felt in my mind His voice telling me: “He has a place for you.” I went to talk to him, and it turned out he was the owner of a small property in front of the beach, – he just finished building two cottages and one just happened to be available for us.
We have a cottage for our own, in front of the beach, for a fraction of the price of what the other places were asking. This type of things happen all the time, every day.
If you believe God has the power to create universes and make up a complete race, then you have to believe he can (and will, if you ask nicely) find you a good deal for a hotel.
It also works the other way around.
If you are thinking of doing something but are not sure whether you should do it or not, you can ask him to “block” the path if it’s not good for you. Let me give you another example that happened recently.
Elon Musk, the world’s raddest man, recently unveiled the Tesla Model 3 in Los Angeles. It is by far the coolest car in the world. And being the impulsive and person that I am, logically I wanted to buy one.
So I prayed and told Him “Father, I want to buy a Tesla. I know there are no charging stations in Guatemala, and there are also no mechanics who can fix it. And well you know, I don’t have the money right now to pay for it. But still, it is a pretty cool car and I want it. Please, if it’s a bad idea, prevent me from doing it.”
I went to the Tesla preorder page and wrote down my credit card details to pay the $1,000 reservation fee, and this happened:
- The website did not have Guatemala listed on the drop-down menu of countries for me to write down my billing address, so I had to call my bank to give me a valid US address.
- As the guy on the bank was about to give me the address in the US, the Skype called dropped. I ran out of Skype credit.
- So I went to Skype to buy more credit, but the Internet was not working anymore because we spent the Internet on one SIM card. I changed SIM cards.
- I bought the Skype credit.
- I called the bank, they gave me the address, I tried the purchase and the guy told me “Sir, you can’t to this purchase, because you have $17.00 of balance due on your card, so until you pay $17.00 on one of our agencies, you can’t use that card for online purchases.“
Message received God, no Tesla right now. At least I got the message in time and He didn’t make my computer explode or something. I know he will help me have it (if I deserve it) soon enough.
And he sneaks up on you.
Sometimes He just leaves you messages or clues for you to find during your day. It’s pretty fun actually. Like the picture below, which shows a sign we found after walking 45 minutes away from our place. During the walk we were discussing purpose, and how He speaks to us and things like that. Then we see this written on a sign:
- If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29.
- Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4.
- I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20.
- I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3.
Meeting some new friends along the way.
We have been able to strike nice friendships with lots of cool people during the last weeks, and I have found Phillipino people to be extremely warm, – many have opened their homes to us.
We have met lots of cool locals (An, Mama Cherry, Eden, Mercy) and internationals like us (Jan, Emma, Rich, Robocop, Serena, I’m talking about you guys). Serena is actually in the same God-purpose-seeking situation that I am, and had some good conversations about it. We might venture into something together later on.
It’s fun to meet so many new and wonderful people, but it sucks to say goodbye so soon, so often.
Back home in Guatemala, with my good pal Enrique, we like to make full Puzasos, – a traditional guatemalan meat similar to Sirloin Steak. In The Philippines people rarely eat cow meat, since they mostly eat pork and chicken.
I wanted to make a special lunch for Sunday on Easter, so I rode inside a minivan 4 hours away to the nearest city (Puerto Princesa) to go to the market and get me some pieces of dead cow. Andy actually built a grill out of a broken window pane, and we cooked some delicious puyazo and drank wine with friends.
Could I be dead?
One night when it was completely dark we were walking on the beach. Not a single light or house was in sight. I looked up, and realized I’ve never seen so many stars in my life. What made things strange is that with every single step we made the floor lit up, as if we were stepping glow-in-the-dark paint, and you could actually see our trail of green footsteps under the starry night.
On several occasions, I asked Kylie “you know what, sometimes I have this feeling that somehow I died while doing something reckless some time ago. God is making me think that I am alive, brought me to this place and is just trolling me. Do you think it’s really possible?”
Want to follow my journey?
Footnote: Google says the glowing is caused by Noctiluca, an unusually large dinoflagellate, visible to the nake eye (about 0.5 mm diameter), which feeds on phytoplankton and zooplankton. Like fireflies, these “creatures” exhibit bioluminescence and can be seen clearly with the naked eye. Cool stuff.