3 Things I have learned from our Japan Trip

Marc and Ef in Kinakaku-ji Temple SignWe love Japan! We enjoyed the weather, food, people, and the places that we saw. We went to Osaka, Kyoto, Narra, Kobe, Tokyo, and Mount Fuji. Kyoto was most probably the best place that we visited because of its scenic nature sites. It was the first time for me to have a vacation trip for more than 5 days and indeed, it was very memorable for us. This post is not to detail our itinerary or costs, but to share lessons that I have realized as I reflect on how our trip went.

Here are the things that I have observed during our 12 days in this country. 

  1. The first thing that I have observed is how Japanese people want things to be done efficiently and fast. They have va ery good system when you ride trains and it’s always on time. How restaurants serve their customers is also amazing. The process is well defined from getting your order, serving your food and paying your bill. We even documented the process for eating in a revolving sushi restaurant. Revolving Sushi Restaurant in Tsukiji MarketAlthough one downside I saw is since they want to be fast and efficient, people come to restaurants to just eat and not necessarily take their time to bond with their friends or family. There are bar stools set for solo eaters wherein one would just sit down, order, eat and then leave. This made me realize that even though the Philippines is a third world country, and we have inefficient systems, people still find joy in the simplest of things. People go to simple restaurants or fast food chains excitingly and just enjoy their time with their friends and family. This is something that we should be grateful for. This is something that I believe we should cherish and enjoy – joyfully fellowshipping with family and friends.
  2. The second thing that I have noticed is how rich this country is. In Tokyo, we stayed at Ginza where most of the big fashion & luxurious brand stores can be located. Just for the experience, we went inside stores like Louise Vuitton and Chanel. Inside Louise Vuitton, there were so many people.Road in Ginza with Lots of Stores In Manila, stores like Louise Vuitton would only have a couple of people inside their shop, but not in Japan. It made me realize that people who live there might really rich because they have the money to buy expensive bags and clothes. Even tourists go there since there are brands that sell their items at a cheaper price compared to their resident country. As I was observing, I realized the need to really GUARD MY HEART FROM LOVING THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD.
    1. 1 John 2:15-17 – Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
    2. While exposed to this kind of an environment, it’s so easy to be tempted to buy things that you don’t necessarily need. And to be honest, I think there are a couple of things I bought that I don’t think I need. That’s why when we arrived home, I started to look inside my closet for clothes to sell or give away. This is to give way to the new ones I bought. My wife and I have this principle that if we buy something that we don’t need we have to give something away – buy one, take one out. I’m just so grateful that I have a wife who is not fond of shopping which really prevents us from buying more things we don’t need.
  3. Lastly, I have observed how Japanese people are engrossed with their work. Despite the holidays, we still saw so many people riding trains to go to work. That’s why Japenese people are admired for their hard work. Lots of people in Shibuya CrossingThere was even a day when I went inside a convenience store early in the morning to buy food and then I went to the same store late in the evening again to buy food. I noticed that the staff who served me in the morning was still the same person who served me in the evening. It made me think if the reason why this country is so rich is because of their people’s work ethic? Are they happy despite working for long hours with no time to celebrate Christmas or New Year with family and friends? I really don’t know the answer. Twelve days are not enough to derive a concrete conclusion. I can only give my thoughts based on my observations. One thing is certain for me though, work is important but there should always be balance. Work should not be a means to get rich, but it should be enjoyed as you work for the Lord and depend on His provision. Your security should be in God and not on your work.

Marc and Ef in Mt. Fuij 5th Station with SnowOverall, we really like Japan! If given a chance I would love to live there, and if that is what God wants for me and my family, I would love to start a church there for people to know Jesus and to find joy in Him alone. I leave this in God’s hand though. Wherever He directs me and my family, we will go. Because no matter if you’re in the Philippines, Japan, Malaysia, America or whatever country – Jesus needs to be shared and known.

 

 

 

3 Things I have learned from our 1st year of Marriage

This one deserves a post! It’s been a year since we got married, and time goes by very fast if you are in love, and happy with the person that you are married to.

The night before our anniversary we were watching our same-day-edit video. While watching it, each scene flashed backed in my mind. It was one of the most memorable and happiest moments of my life. The past year has been great, as I realize and experience the joy of being married to someone that God has gifted me with. Honestly, some say that the first year is hard because there are lots of adjustments, but in our case, it was really very smooth and easy. Here are 3 things I have learned from our one year of marriage.

#1 – IT IS REALLY A JOY TO BE MARRIED TO SOMEONE WHO LOVES THE LORD THE SAME WAY THAT YOU DO.

Ef Sorongon Speaking in CCF Sta RosaThis year opened a lot of speaking opportunities for me, and in those speaking engagements I really try partnering with my wife. I have asked her numerous times to share a testimony or story of how God worked in her life and in those moments, she has always said “yes!” This made me realize how crucial it is to marry someone who has the same faith and passion as you. Truly, there is wisdom with what God said in 2 Corinthians 6:14. She has also always supported my meetings with my small group and ministry team. There are even times, wherein she will wait for me in church until my small group and I would finish at 11:30pm in the evening. Plus, when we had our discipleship outing two weeks ago, she was there to serve and cook for us even though she was the only girl amongst seven boys. She never complained and always showed joy in her service to me. Being married to her is really such a blessing.

#2 – THE ROOT CAUSES OF OUR CONFLICTS IS ALWAYS MY SELFISHNESS

I can count the number of conflicts that we had for the past year with my fingers. We rarely fight, and when we do I normally know what caused it – it’s my selfishness.

Bag of Bean Tagaytay with my small group

Bag of Beans Tagaytay with my small group after our outing

I remember one time, we had a fight. It was my rest day and I just wanted to relax. I saw my wife stressed because of work and I asked her what was wrong. She didn’t respond. Deep within my mind, I thought that she was ok since maybe she was just stressed and she didn’t want to talk about it. So I left her and started playing with my tablet to unwind. Then after a couple of minutes she came to me, wanting my attention. That irritated me because I felt it was unfair for her to suddenly want my time when I was willing to give it before unwinding – so it led to a fight.

The root cause of all conflicts is selfishness. Think about it, what was the cause of the previous conflicts you had in your life? Was it because YOU did not get what YOU want? Was it because YOUR expectations were not met? Was it because YOU were hurt? Look at all of those reasons and you will see it’s because YOUR focus was on YOURSELF. But if we will all learn to be selfless and love like Jesus, this will help our relationships be more peaceful and Christ-like.

#3 – THERE WILL BE REAL JOY IN YOUR MARRIAGE IF GOD IS AT THE CENTER OF IT.

Sorongons in Bellevue Hotel BoholThis is the main reason why I believe our marriage had a wonderful first year. Without God, I know I will always allow my pride to get the best of me resulting to conflicts and arguments. Without those moments I spend with God, I know I won’t be able to draw strength to love my wife unconditionally. We love because He first loved us. We draw love from Him, to love others. And I know I won’t be faithful with my thoughts and actions if it was not for God. Every time I think about how good He has been and how much of a precious gift my wife is, it makes me really want to be loyal to her and be faith to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ

One year has passed and we are looking forward to more years ahead. Thank you for all those who prayed for us and has supported us. With God by our side, I know we’ll be able to finish the race set before us all for His glory and name! God bless everyone!

 

Learning to lead with Permission

Leadership is hard. It’s not easy to be a leader. People can sometimes expect so many things from you. When you fail, you are judged. When you succeed, not everyone will celebrate with you. But as a leader, when you are able to develop others to be the leader that God has called them to be, there is that great fulfillment that outweighs the downside of leadership.

osition, permission, production, people development and personhoodI am just started to read John Maxwell’s book, developing the leader within you and I have learned so many things already. According to John Maxwell, there are five stages in leadership – position, permission, production, people development, and personhood. I started to think what stage I am in. I wanted to convince myself that I am already in the 4th level (people development), but as I assess the characteristics per level, I realized that I have so much to learn. I might still be in the permission stage.

The permission stage is the stage where from being given a title or position you don’t lead through authority but authenticity. In short, you lead by building a relationship with your people. I must admit I need to develop that. I am the type of leader that wants action and results. I want to immediately develop leaders. The downside of this personality is the lack of relationship with your leaders – all work.

I prayed and asked God to show me where in his word tells us to love first rather than focusing on the tasks and results. By God’s grace, I remembered 1 Corinthians 13.

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance

It’s amazing how God speaks through his word. How I pray that I’ll be able to really apply this passage in my life. How I really pray that I’ll be an authentic and loving leader first to everyone. How I pray that I’ll learn to love through:

  • Being patient with the growth curve of people that I lead (Love is patient)
  • Rejoicing in the success of our cluster teams (Love is not jealous)
  • Not being demanding and forcing what I want (Love does not demand)
  • Forgiving others (Love does not keep a wrong record)
  • Always believing the best in people (Love is always hopeful)

It’s not easy to be a leader, but through God’s love and grace, you can lead well.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Leadership begins with the heart, not the head. – John Maxwell