What makes me believe?
The sound of sirens kept getting louder & louder. As I looked at the window, the flashing lights kept beaming brighter & brighter. 'This is really happening', I said to myself. I have to rush down to the front door and let the paramedics in.
After more than 2 years, Jeanette and I can still vividly remember what happened that day. It can't escape our minds and it was no fun recalling the moment, the event and the day. But I can say with certainty that the Lord God our Father & his angels were there with us. And more importantly, a prayer was answered. Our God whose love is boundless & infinite is also compassionate & merciful.
So what makes me believe?
I guess it all started when I was a kid living in a small town in Batangas, Philippines. My mom, who was a prayerful person, taught me my first prayer as a child. This, I recited every night while I stared at the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 'Bless Papa, Bless Mama, Bless Kuya Jay, Bless Ate Donna, Bless Ate Grace and Bless Farley. Give us long life, give us bread, and give us money and Thank You Jesus'. That was it and my tantalizing eyes would then secretly rejoice as I headed to bed. For years, I have recited that same prayer every night. I didn't know how much it means back then, but at the time, I thought it has everything I needed to pray. The Angelus, which my dad used to pray every 6pm, was the next big prayer I learned. I thanked them for imparting in us the most significant means to communicate to our God.
"Prayer makes a difference. I can't tell you how it works...I know that circumstances change when people pray. Diseases are sometimes healed, strength is imparted, guidance is given, hearts are softened, needs are met. I know that when I pray for others it helps them. But I also know that when I pray, I am changed."
As a teen, I had the opportunity in joining a church group in our parish called altar servers or sacristan. Together with my childhood friends, we served our parish church for several years.
Years have passed & even the time when I met Jeanette, my outlook and religious ways remained the same. I mean nothing much of a 'calling' as far as I can remember. When we were dating, I just waited for her in the car until the prayer meeting is done. I never bothered to ask what was going on in there. I always felt it is something too heavy or serious for me.
When I came to Canada, things worked out mysteriously for me. I got a job in my field in a month's time and started attending prayer meetings with Jeanette in open arms. That doesn't sound right, does it? But it is quite true.
The feeling of lightness, acceptance, respect & sense of belonging came into me in a very mysterious way. I was introduced to the most welcoming community. I heard sharings of experiences on how God touched their lives in a way that I never imagined. The experience gave me a new meaning to the Sunday's Gospel. I now understand better that God is sending messages to us through the Holy Eucharist. If only we open our eyes & be sensitive to His words.
"O good, gracious and loving God, thank you so much for calling us to be a part of your church. Thank You for the people whose lives and faith have touched our own. Thank you for the many ways in which we are led to be comforted by you."
The following year, Jeanette and I got married. There were so many things that we were thankful for that we cherished silently in our hearts and boldly in our prayers. But not all came smoothly as far as we can remember. And later on, we realized that it led us to something even better.
Our Lord God, our Father & our Savior, has always something in store for us. They are sometimes mysterious, heart warming &, even, heart breaking. But they are here to mold us to be with him in a very special way.
"And this small and temporary trouble we suffer will bring us a tremendous and eternal glory, much greater than the trouble." -2 Corinthians 4:17
It was a changing summer weekend in 2008 for the two of us. She just finished taking a bath that morning when she called. She couldn't take a step and was complaining about a back pain. I directed her to our bed and later noticed she was sweating heavily. I kept on monitoring her temperature when finally, I decided to call 911 which she realized & refused. She said that perhaps it's just a regular symptom of pregnancy. Yes, it was her 8th week at the time. I thought she was feeling better and called off the attempt to dial for an emergency completely.
I told her to rest and hoped it will go away. I sat beside our bed, paused for a moment, looked at her and uttered a prayer, "Lord, please give me the wisdom to know when is the right time to call for help".
"Long before I speak O Lord, you hear.
My heart waits in silence.
And the Lord said,
"I will never forget you'."
Minutes later, Jeanette called me again and that she needed to go to the washroom. I assisted her to go up but the moment she left our bed, she fell to the ground. But good thing I was able to catch her on time.
Immediately, I brought her back to bed, grabbed the phone and called for an emergency. Within five (5) minutes, the operator said, the ambulance will be there. Jeanette's face was noticeably pale at this time. The ambulance came and the two paramedics attended her without a feeling of any rush at all. Initially, they couldn't assess what was going on with her. Then they checked her blood pressure, it was 40. Right that moment they prepared her & packed everything and got her into the ambulance and we left.
Upon reaching the hospital, I was redirected to the triage section to fill-out some forms.
Jeanette, on the other hand, was taken directly inside for further analysis & checkup. I got a word that a surgery will soon take place. We saw each other again before they took her to the operating room. I was in the waiting area trying to understand what this would eventually mean but was afraid to ask. Knowing silently the answer but still in denial. I said a few prayers that I kept on repeating each time. The silence in the hospital & people passing by made me uneasy. Next thing I realized, I was on my way back home in a taxi. I immediately gathered some clothes for her and hurriedly drove back to the hospital.
How things transpired in God's order came to our senses only when we looked back & connected the dots. The gynecologist had just completed a surgery by the time we arrived at the hospital. This made her readily available to see Jeanette. She was warm & very engaging. She later told us that a ruptured ectopic pregnancy is very dangerous and can lead to death. A special part of us was taken away, but we are still thankful of what was left to us. I was less worried about anything that moment as I had Jeanette right by my side.
Truly, a struggle builds you. And I can say with a bit more certainty that the event made us much closer to each other We still fight, truth be told, but the Lord's caring & loving feeling always get the better of us.
The prayers & support of our friends in the community & relatives back home let us see more clearly that God has always been with us the whole time. That he will never forget us. He is our strength when we are weak and our courage when we are afraid.
"Heavenly Father, we give you all the honor, the glory, and the praise for answering our prayers. We thank you for sending us friends, families & our community to pray for us in times of discouragement & trials, and for always being there for us when we need you. Amen."
There were numerous events in our marriage that made us unwelcoming in anger & sometimes, even repulsive in frustration. But the interesting thing is that, even in those times, we can still say a quick prayer. Even in anguish, we quietly look for the Lord's guidance, wisdom, courage and direction, especially His Light.
And here I noticed from Jeanette's personal experiences, armed with deep faith, trust and belief, that just when we need to hear a truth from God, He directs us right to the very passage in the bible that we need to understand, embrace, and impart to others. All these are His words of assurance and comfort.
Truly, the Father's Holy Spirit & angels are always with us, guiding us in our decisions and assisting us to be closer to him.
"So do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Farley & Jeanette Gutierrez
"Lord, we thank you for keeping us together and for all that You have done for us. Thank You Lord, for Your Spirit & the courage when You ask us to do something we are uncomfortable doing. Thank You Lord, for the opportunities which You place in our lives each day to touch others with Your love. In Jesus'name we humbly pray. Amen."