World Youth Day

Last Feast, we learned about the Pope. I was only 8 years old when World Youth Day was held in the Philippines. I did memorize & learned “Tell The World of His Love”. I saw Pope John Paul II as he passed by in his cool Pope mobile. But that’s basically it. It was only now that I’m 32 yrs old that I really immersed myself with what World Youth Day was all about.

After visiting Holy Land, I registered for World Youth Day Panama. I wanted to learn more about my faith & my church. Meeting a lot of new friends has been an amazing part of the journey. Mostly because we’ve had a lot of struggles even before reaching our destination. And it didn’t stop when we reached Panama. We constantly reminded each other to be extra patient & kind and to always keep in mind the real purpose of why we joined the pilgrimage –to experience Jesus. Is this not what life is all about? We sometimes forget how to be good when we are pushed to the edge by our circumstances. We forget why we are here in this world in the first place, and that is to tell the world of His Love.

WYD also got me closer to the Pope. Not literally, but I got a sense of His importance in my walk towards Him. As I listen to Him, and as I see his effect on people, he reminded me so much of Jesus. He is so humble. He loves Mama Mary and is full of so much hope and love for humanity. When asked in Poland last WYD if he can make it to Panama, Pope Francis said he is not sure but he is certain that Peter will be there. I was reminded that Pope Francis is the descendant of Peter, the rock from which God builds his church. The church that is us.

By Grace

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Super Mario

One early Friday morning, my brother woke me up with an anxious expression in his face. Mama was calling from Manila. I got up in bed, trying to absorb what caused the panic – my father was rushed to the hospital, unconscious due to stroke. Taking all emotions aside, I focused on knowing the facts and getting updates on everything that is happening. I even remember talking to a friend, who happened to be a nurse, about the possible physical therapy needed after his recovery. He will be paralyzed for some time, but the therapy will help him get back to his old active self. I knew a few who had undergone the same and was able to recover.

Two days later, on my way to the office, I got another call from my mom. It’s time for me to go home. My father suffered from another stroke. He was no longer responding to his senses unless inflicted with pain. I rushed back home and booked the earliest flight to Manila with my brother.

Unable to sleep during the flight, I pondered what to ask Jesus during this hard time. Should I pray for Him to keep my dad alive? Or will He take his life away to alleviate him from his sufferings? Am I even ready for it?

It was a constant struggle to see my dad’s body deteriorating each day. Neurologists and all sorts of specialists came from time to time to talk to the family. More often than not, we had to absorb painful developments that we battled to accept. As the eldest child, I bore the unenviable task of updating my father’s state to every family member and friend. The worries and sleepless nights almost took its toll on me, yet I had to be the firm decision-maker and thus managed to stay strong through it all.

On the 7th day in the hospital, the battle was over.

It was my most painful heartbreak. I couldn’t describe, let alone write about, the agony of losing a parent. But since Day 1 of my painful journey, I never questioned God. Never in my prayers did I blame or bargain with Jesus. I kept my faith and surrendered to His will and prayed for more strength and wisdom to accept His will.

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I have my mother to thank for the faith she instilled in me until this day. Painful as it may seem, Jesus walked with me through the storm.  He entered my world of agony and lifted me up in my darkest trials. By fixing my eyes on Him, I never felt alone in this experience. Acceptance came easy. Blessings overflowed.

And just when I thought that life will remain dark for so long, here I am sharing my story hoping that it will bless your life the way it has blessed mine.

By Lia

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Bruised to Blessed

It was nearly 4am. My body is exhausted.
And I still feel dizzy as a result of who knows how many shots of alcohol I took.
My mind was awake, actually floating and wandering.
But my heart was feeling the pain. The guilt.
I knew I am in trouble. I knew I am in deep sh*t.

I was in my room. Not alone. But so lonely.
I was with a man, I don’t even know.

He left after a while and said goodbye.
I returned in my room and stared on the wall.
I felt nothing. I felt empty.

The following day seems normal.
After work, to the club I go.
That night, I did it again.
The next night again.
And the next…

For almost three years in Dubai, I only knew 3 things – Work, Alcohol & Men.
I have friends but I stopped seeing them.
I have family in the Philippines, but I seldom communicate with them.
I isolated myself from everyone who cares.

I was trying to prove to myself that I can do things my own.
I had a good-paying job, met new people, traveled to places and experienced new things.
I thought I needed no one anymore because of my independence and new found environment.
It was already late when I realized I was drowning – I became workaholic, alcoholic and a sex addict.

I was so scared and helpless.
The guilt that I was feeling was killing me day by day.
I look ok on the outside but I was so broken and weak inside.
I knew I needed help.
But I had no one. I was ashamed.

Hand Covering Flowers at the Garden with Sunlight

THIS IS HOW MY LOVE STORY WITH GOD STARTED.
I started praying.
The addiction was still there but I kept on praying.
I knew then only God can help me.
I believed in His powers.
I believed He can do miracles in my life.

It took some time before I can finally fight my addiction.
Then I started to reach out to the people who truly loves and cares for me.
And I met new people. New friends.
God used them to redirect my life for good – I ended up attending THE FEAST.

I know God saved me from my years of misery, darkness and sin because I BELIEVED.
I was in my hell and He literally pulled me up.

I was bruised and now I can say, I am blessed.
And for that, I am forever grateful.

By Anonymous

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Believe and Remain in Faith

I remember that day when I was called in a meeting room after I came back to work from an amazing vacation. There was no meeting invitation so I thought it must be a new project and I was chosen to participate. But I was wrong as I got the unexpected surprise of my life. I lost my job and I had to pack my stuff and leave the office within 1 hour. It was harsh and I was in shock as I was not given the chance to bid farewell to my colleagues.

I didn’t waste any time and I started to look for a new job right away. I was so positive and I had the mindset that God will provide. But the thing that I didn’t realize was that the job market in the UAE was very challenging and competition was tough. I attended all the interviews no matter how near or far it was. I kept on applying every single day. I kept myself busy as well to retain my sanity. But as days & weeks passed by it got tougher and tougher. Instead of getting a job offer, I kept on receiving rejection letters. Back when I was working in Manila I used to be headhunted and work always landed in my lap swiftly. So it was more difficult for me and I was starting to lose hope.

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But at those moments when I was doubting and thinking of giving up, friends came and kept offering me help in different ways and forms. One friend taught me how to apply effectively via LinkedIn and in various job websites. Other friends asked for my CV and shared it to their networks. Some friends treated me for lunch/ dinners and invited me in some activities. Some friends offered to pray for and with me. Months went by and waiting felt like an eternity. On some days, I wondered if there was really something that I was waiting for. But still, I continue to believe that God has something great in store for me. And just in the nick of time before my visa was cancelled, I was contacted by a headhunter and I got a job in a great organization. It came in God’s perfect time.

This was one of the most challenging experiences I ever had. But at the same time, it was in this season where I learned so many things. It was a very humbling, character and faith building experience. It was in this journey where I learned that the most important relationship that I have is “my relationship with myself and with God”. I learned to never underestimate the power of prayer, hope, faith and love, and that miracles happen to those who believe in them.

By Juliana

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Did We Really Take A Break?

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I became a member of Feast Al Barsha (FAB) in 2014. There was something about the way they welcome people, like welcoming a relative whom you haven’t seen in a long time. While serving together at the Feast, I also found people I could talk to as an older sister/brother, an aunt/uncle, a parent who would scold me if I don’t drink enough water. It’s these little things plus, the fact that we pray for each other. Like a real family.

5 years have gone by. Servants have come and go, but the friendships still remain. And those who stayed, stayed —for the good and the bad. Even when Feast Al Barsha took an almost 2-year break, we stayed connected. I realized that FAB didn’t really take a break, rather, it expanded behind the scenes in preparation for its next chapter. Over this “break”, the servants grew their horizons — became business owners, got promoted, got engaged, got married, had babies, cleared their debts, got better jobs, triumphed over losses, grew in faith. Now, Feast Al Barsha Dubai opens again, with the same, but also not the same servants. Because we just got stronger.

God will do greater things, and we’ll be here… at His service.

Welcome to Feast Al Barsha Dubai!

By Grace A

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Even the Savior Needed Help

On Good Friday, I was blessed to be a part of visita iglesia organized by our Feast. Growing up in a very traditional, Catholic family, the Stations of the Cross is something that I memorized when I was younger, but eventually forgot when I grew older. It was like a lesson in school, say World History – something I know that happened in the past, but not really sure what I can make out of it.

Until we reached the Fifth Station – Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry his cross.

 Jesus Christ, son of the living God, our Savior, needed help, from an ordinary man named Simon, to carry his cross.

God's Saving Hand reaching for the faithful

It hit me.

I am prideful. I don’t ask for help unless I’m down drowning and hopeless. I won’t bother my family, my girlfriend, or even my best friends, for things that I feel do not concern them, like my work. I don’t like getting them involved because I know that they have their own share of problems as well. I don’t want them to think that I am needy and unable to get things done by myself.

But should I? With that kind of mindset, am I not closing the doors for people who might actually care to listen, to help? Would I rather sink down helpless than slowly rise by asking for a helping hand?

We all have our Simons. Maybe he is that friend who never gets tired of listening to your daily rants; your mother who always asks how your day has been; or maybe a kind-hearted stranger like Simon of Cyrene that you are yet to meet. Help is just around, so long as we admit and acknowledge that we need one. The eyes do not see what the heart does not seek. Never be afraid to ask for help.

The Stations of the Cross is not an outdated, useless piece of biblical history as I first thought it was. It is a timeless story of both suffering and resurrection, of defeat and victory, of pain and love. I realized that it is the story of my life.

 

By Eugene Cruz

Love Yourself

Ask any Filipino why he chose to work abroad and chances are he would tell you that he did it for the family – for a sickly mother who needs regular treatment, for a father who couldn’t work anymore because of old age, or maybe even for his younger siblings or cousins who need help so they could continue their education. And this is the story of most of us, with tears and a heavy heart, we left our family thinking that someday, we will all be reunited in a better, more comfortable situation.

I am a selfless son. I have been working in Dubai for almost six years now. A few years ago, I utilized my savings to help my family overcome their debt. I helped my cousins so they could get their college degrees. In the unfortunate circumstances when someone had to be hospitalized, they run to me for assistance. Until one day, I realized, I couldn’t give any more – not because I don’t want to, but because there’s nothing more to give.

loveyourself

At times, I find myself crying whenever I think of the last time I bought a gift for myself. It’s not being or wanting to be selfish. It’s realizing that in my efforts to be selfless for my family, I forgot to love myself. It’s the realization that I cannot give what I do not have.

Self-love and selflessness go hand in hand. It’s finding that balance between giving and holding back. There’s no need to choose, but we have to be careful. Being over-selfless could eventually lead to hurting yourself; and in the same way, loving yourself too much could lead to selfishness.

My love for my family will always be with me. It’s something that I will never be ashamed of. But if I truly want to support them, this time, I should choose to love myself first.

By Eugene Cruz

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