Film with Surf

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It’s about time I wrote about Surf and the Film Workshop I’ve been attending the last few weeks. It’s been weirdly awesome.

“The Weird became flesh, and dwelt among us.”

Let me tell you about Surf, my teacher.

“Have you heard of the saying, ‘The Weird became flesh and dwelt among us’?” Surf asked us at our first session. “That’s me.”

He is like no one I have ever met, and is therefore by far the most interesting character I have ever met in my life so far. He is an artist through and through.

I went to CCP with him last Saturday. It was for the 100-year celebration of Gerardo “Gerry” de Leon, National Artist for Philippine Cinema.

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At the Dream Theater of the Cultural Center of the Philippines

There were esteemed guests – most of whom are veteran filmmakers, actors and producers themselves. Surf Reyes, my teacher, was invited at the screening, and he thought it a good idea to bring his students with him.

During the screening, Surf was recognized in public for the fact that Surf actually worked with Gerry de Leon back when Gerry was still alive! The Screening was in celebration of Gerry after all, so they gave Surf some time in front of everyone to share a bit about his experiences working with the esteemed Gerry.

That was when it hit me: Surf is the real deal.

It was a special moment for me when Surf pointed at us, introducing us as “his students”. I felt honored to actually learn from this unself-conscious (is there such a word?), crazy, weird, and extremely talented 69-year old man.

I didn’t mind that nobody knew us. The fact that I had a right to tag along Surf and stand nearby while directors and cinematographers and whoever in the film industry shook hands and chatted and took pictures with Surf were enough.

That was when I had the second hit of the night: everything that Surf is doing to us, with us, and for us – everything! – is no less than discipleship.

Indeed, Surf takes every moment as a teaching moment for filmmaking – whether it’s in the technical aspect, the creative storytelling aspect, or artistic / mystic philosophy.

With my film teacher, Surf Reyes

With my film teacher, Surf Reyes

On that note, let me just say: Surf is prolific evangelist of his own philosophies and beliefs. And while these are beliefs I do not necessarily agree with, his boldness and strong proclivity to share his faith is a characteristic I respect.

Surf practices what he teaches. At sixty nine, his passion to keep mastering, re-mastering and improving in his craft still consumes him. I love that about him. I am impressed that he is neither daunted nor intimidated by technology. He sees technology as a means to “better tell his story through images”. In fact, he is currently finishing up a documentary he’s been working on for about three months now.

Surf is a mentor forever – lifetime discipleship. At yesterday’s session he told us so: “You can come to me for consultation! All we need to do is schedule it.” I just love how devoid of snobbery he is.

I miss Campus Field Time

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I didn’t realize how important Field Ministry is for me… not until my Field Time was reduced to just two afternoons a week.

After the Digital Day of Outreach and all the hustle and hassle it brought, everything right now has winded down back to normalcy, and unfortunately, boredom.

Sigh.

Because last year was exhausting and expensive (compared to my lifestyle now), but was also full of life and laughter and all the unpredictable happenings of campus field ministry. I immensely enjoyed talking with UP students, connecting, playing Dutch Blitz or Monopoly Deal (so much so that our senior staffs talked to us about how inappropriate it was to play that much Monopoly Deal at the tambayan. Oh well.).

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ADG with Danielle. I love this girl.

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Some of our disciples playing Monopoly Deal at the Tambayan. Is that a guilty look on Jeff’s face? :)

I especially loved talking to students whose worldviews are worlds apart from mine, and I loved getting to share my own perspectives about life and faith and whatever else. And when these conversations actually led the person to re-think his or her own worldviews, I was a happy person.

Probably best of all, I loved finding the girls who would eventually become my disciples (such a weighty word! It gives me chills just thinking about it). I loved getting to know each of them, getting to be part of their lives, getting to pray for them. Some of my most treasured moments were when each of these girls opened up and allowed me into deeper levels of relationship with them.

I enjoyed the challenge of motivating these girls to share their faith, and casting the vision (over and over and over) of helping fulfill the Great Commission! Then there was the burst of wonder and amazement and awe when they finally told me, “Yes ate, I agree with you. I will share my faith”, and actually going with me in Witnessing Blitzes!

I loved the messiness and complications of the relationships I created and built in Field Ministry.

And now… I’m at an office. Facing a computer.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate my job now. 

Being in Operations certainly has it perks and funsies, like I wrote here.

But in the two weeks I’ve been here, I’ve arrived at the inevitable conclusion that working with Operations (Ops) is a calling.

Sitting at a desk and getting things done so the rest of the organization could function, the rest of the Field Missionaries could actually “report to the Field” is not a joke. I have nothing but respect and admiration for my Ops teammates who really, actually love what they do.

I’m not sure if the rest of Philippine CCC fully understands nor appreciates what Ops does. The Finance Team, for instance. Few know that ate Nancy willingly cuts her lunch break short to arrive at the office before 1pm. “Kasi may magtu-turn in na,” she says.

Or how kuya Jojo, the Finance Manager, stayed at the Dorm for an entire week just so he could study the finance systems.

Or how incredible and immense kuya Jess’ patience is, being the lone IT person.

I’ve also arrived at the conclusion that, while I appreciate my teammates, and while I see the value of our work, I think I’m getting certain that this kind of job is not something I can do forever.

Still, I am here. I do want to make the best of my time. I do want to honor God with what I do. I do want to always operate with joy. Pray for me?

How about you? Have you ever been stuck doing something you don’t really hate, but don’t actually love either?

Forgiving my Bully

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High School: Teen Girl Upset at Others' BullyingLast December, I met a childhood friend, after about 8 years!

I went to school with this girl. There were very few of us in our class, and as little girls do, we bonded. Naturally, we reminisced a lot of our childhood, elementary days.

We talked about our how chubby she was back then, we talked about our teachers, we talked about the crush we shared... aaand about our bully.

Man, he was such a bully like no other. Of course, to anyone who was bullied, his/her bully is always someone like no other. So, to me, he was a bully like no other. He consistently terrorized me with what mattered most to me in those days, and even now: WORDS.

He teased (and “tease” is a rather conservative word, trust me) me endlessly!

About my nose. My eyes. My height. My skin color.

He called me names I would rather not repeat and choose to forget but some I simply cannot erase from memory.

He called me ugly.

That I went to a private Baptist elementary school mattered little, not to mention the fact that this boy was a pastor’s kid. Actually, that made matters worse. I felt he was untouchable, that the reason he could get away with everything was because his dad got up in the pulpit.

No one, as far as I know and remember, told him off.

The one time I finally got the moxie to talk back to him and tease him back for his dark skin, his mother (who was also a teacher at the school), called me to her office and scolded me. So unfair.

I went to high school bearing all the damage elementary school and this kid gave me. I became very insecure. My previous experiences with him taught me to be as unobtrusive as possible, to try to not get anyone notice me, and as a result I became very quiet, always hesitating to participate. I had no real friends.

Why bring up all this past?

I bring this all up because this is part of my life that God redeemed for a very long time.

Because kids constantly hurt each other, and those wounds can scar for a very long time.

Because these wounds can cause significant impacts, and we grow up one way, sensing that something has gone wrong, but not knowing what it is, and what caused it.

Because adults can take a proactive role in teaching children that this is wrong. In my case, no one told me that I was wronged. No one told my bully that what he was doing was wrong.

I’m still single and do not have a kid yet, but I can say with certainty that parents’ and other adults’ roles in the formation of a child is important and cannot be taken lightly.

It is with peace in my heart and ease of conscience that I say that I have forgiven my bully.

Years of encouragement from loving people around me, years of discipleship and mentoring, years of learning to get affirmation from God  and His Word has helped me forgive him and realize that he has likely been going through some difficulties I could never even imagine.

He is a pastor now, just like his dad, and the last time we spoke, I learned that he is helping out to get a new ministry started.

God has redeemed me, and He has redeemed my bully.

 

 

I need more non-Christian friends on Facebook (and other thoughts about the Digital Day of Outreach)

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We had our Digital Day of Outreach last Tuesday… and I’m still trying to take it all in. 10505555_704033839664553_7561683648455893440_n

What. Just. Happened?!

Over A THOUSAND AND SIX HUNDRED exposures to the gospel and spiritual conversations? What?! Where did that come from? How did that happen?!

GOD, of course. Amazing, amazing. As one of the people who planned and oversaw the event, it was amazing to see this come into fruition. Because truth be told, I was not expecting that.

I was not expecting everyone to be so game.  Because we were trying to anticipate tech difficulties, especially in setting up the WatchThinkChat platform*, we were worried that people, especially the not-so-techie people, would be overwhelmed or get discouraged. But everyone was so game! Oh, they were!

The students, predictably, easily got the instructions and were able to immediately use WatchThinkChat for their conversations. The older people, despite some challenges, were so teachable and patient in learning how.

And what about the other 5 teams in the regions who also did DDO simultaneously with us?

It made me realize: We have a gold mine of human resources, a vast pool of laborers just waiting to be mobilized.

I need more non-Christian friends on Facebook. I’m picky when it comes to Facebook friends. I reason, “It’s my privacy at stake here! I need to protect myself! We don’t talk anyway!” And all that jazz. Still, that reasoning falls flat when I realize the time, influence, resource and platform I waste when I don’t consider Facebook as a mission field. That goes for all the other social media.

I am not really that intentional in sharing the Gospel online, one on one. Not yet. Sure, I blog. I write. I use online resources. But I haven’t developed the habit yet. I have yet to develop that mindset. When I go on Facebook, I don’t instantly think — “Hmm, who is online at this moment? To whom can I share the gospel?”

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Prudy Verzo from YouVersion the Bible App, Jeff Lucas from YesHeIs Philippines, Mike Medlin and Lyn Balasico from UCB Media Philippines

How cool was it that people from YouVersion the Bible App, UCB Media Philippines and YesHeIs Philippines showed up? I don’t even have any words for that, except: AWESOME. It is so encouraging to talk to like-hearted people with a Kingdom mindset. Already we are talking about partnerships!

“How did you get wind of our DDO,” I asked them.

It was Jeff Lucas who saw the link (a friend showed it to him, actually). Then his boss required him to attend. He in turn invited Mike, Lyn, and Prudy.

Also, it was so funny how they all but pounced one me when they found out that I’m a writer. Apparently, in this kind of ministry (maybe just in the Philippines), there is a deficit of writers or content-creators.

Makes me wonder — what would it take to raise up a pool of content creators for the digital ministry?

What do you think about Digital Outreach?

Did you join our Digital Day of Outreach? How was your experience compared to mine?

 

 

 

 

*WatchThinkChat is a platform for online evangelism. Ask me about it! Send me a PM or email at sglawagan@gmail.com

I feel powerful in Ops (and other thoughts about my new team)

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194476This Thursday I finally started my new assignment — with the Operations, specifically in the Media / IT Team, or Digital Strategy Team, as we prefer to call it. 

And so, the first two days of my life with Ops has come and gone.

My first two days, and I’ve been so used. I mean that in a good way. See, we’re working on a project, and it’s been really busy. Although, they say it’s only this busy during projects or events; the rest of the time, the team just chills.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve been writing like crazy. It is an exaggeration, of course, to say that I have never written so much in my life. Though I have been writing in such speed as I have never done before, except maybe when I’m tasked to take down minutes of a meeting, which doesn’t count.

And because I’ve been on a writing frenzy, I have lots of material to prove that my grammar and syntax suck. I should really get myself a copy of The Elements of Style and all my other grammar books and brush up. So embarassing. (Look at that, even with that idea in mind I still write in fragments.)

This project we’re working on, the Digital Day of Outreach, gives me a certain feel, the kind of feel I have whenever I work on productions, which simply gives me a thrill. I don’t know why, but there is something about working on a production that makes me feel alive. I might talk about that some other time.

I guess now that I’m in the Digital Strategy / Media Team, I can officially call myself a Media Missionary. Huh.

But the access to most of our organization’s social media – I suddenly feel powerful! Mwahahahaha. Oh, but I do! I still have tons to learn, but I kinda feel like one of those mutants in X-Men who’ve suddenly discovered their powers for the first time and are still learning to control it, or like Harry Potter when he first learned he was magical.

Oh yeah, I like my new team. My tech supervisor is cool, my new “big boss” (team leader) is amazing, my teammates are awesome, and like I said before, I like the “yuppie” feel from my peers in Ops.

Tunnels: Savoring the Bitterness without Turning Bitter

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“Some tend to forget, some tend to dwell. Me? I will do neither”

-from the short film “The Places We Should Have Gone” by Wong Fu Productions

 

I have been praying, for the last several months, that God take away the pain. It is so inconvenient, and I am afraid that it might turn me into a selfish, bitter, (word that rhymes with witch). If I have any fear, it is that this experience will turn me into a nasty waif.

I have prayed so hard for God to take away the pain, to not make my heart involuntarily twitch every time I see, or hear, or remember about the Painful, Awful Happening, if only for the reasons that I want to do my job more effectively, and be able to rejoice with my friends.

I have prayed for this Tunnel to end.

But the Tunnel is still long, and the darkness is still thick. At times I think I see a pinprick of light in the distance… then I wonder if it is nothing but a trick my mind plays on me.

Four months since the Painful, Awful Happening, and only now am I beginning to understand and accept that this pain is here to stay, like an unpleasant cloak I must wear, like some terrible-tasting medicine I must take — to make me better, to hone my character, to remind me to keep trusting Him.

Now that I’ve accepted this, my prayers now have changed from “Lord, take this away” to “Lord, help me still love with this” and “Lord, let me not be bitter”.

I doubt if anyone starts out dreaming of becoming Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge never dreamt of being the old, mean, thing that he was.

It is in the tiny decisions you make along this dark, painful journey that’ll turn you into one though. And it will require tough concentration and consciousness to NOT give in to the temptation of becoming bitter.

Still, His grace is sufficient.

 

 

Read the first post in this series:

Introduction: Tunnels: Journeying in the Dark

Tunnels: Journeying in the dark.

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“Never doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light.” ~ Edith Edman

Four months ago, something happened to me.light_at_the_end_of_the_tunnel_by_dragonwolface-d5xlooi

It was a very painful something — in a nutshell: I poured my life and my heart expecting something. People encouraged me, urged me on, coaxed me. There seemed to be affirmation on every side, and from God’s word.. I believed I heard God right. 

Then it all fell flat.

As a result, my life right now is a tunnel. A dark tunnel of lingering and fleeing possibilities, massive hopes and dreams, but a dark tunnel nonetheless. The weight of the darkness and uncertainty presses all around me, and I struggle. Oh, how I struggle.

To be really, really honest. I want to disappear. I wish to leave. I wish to be elsewhere – out and free, to bask in the sunlight and breathe fresh air. To take flight! To have a renewed sense of purpose. Surrounded by such heavy darkness of possibilities and unrealized dreams, the temptation to succumb to despondency grows ever more frequently.

Only knowing that sunlight and freedom and purpose are at the other end of the tunnel keeps me fighting and hoping. Tunnels, no matter how dark they may seem, are finite, aren’t they?

Now I am in one. Still, could this darkness have been given for me to have a better appreciation of the sunlight?

A time will come when all this will be a memory, that I have no doubt of. I will look back on this, and my heart… my heart will quicken as it remembers the pain it had to endure, the ways it had to stretch and carry so much beyond its point.

Then I will smile, because all that pain notwithstanding, my heart had grown purer, stronger and larger. After all these testings, I know that my heart will become purer, because it will be able to look beyond its own pain and into the pain of the rest of the world.

It will be stronger, tougher, and less susceptible to break from the stings and agonies the world may bring.

It will be larger, large enough to carry burdens more worthy to be carried. His burdens.