Going abroad for work didn’t appeal to me at all. It might have been some vague nationalist-idealistic bug that bit me in College. After graduation, I even thought that I’ll go back to our province and stay there for the greater good.
Neither did I entertain the prospect of working for a “mere call center” as I derisively called it on my graduation day in April 2003. As I told in a blog post, I ended up eating my words and worked for a call center between 2005 and 2006. It seems that wasn’t the last time I was wrong.
This May 2015, I will join the throng of almost 12 Million Filipinos working abroad. I’m going to Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States.
You could say that an opportunity presented itself and I just couldn’t resist but apply for the position. You see, I’ve been working as the Philippine Staff of Young People’s Ministries, a United Methodist Church agency, which is based in Nashville. But I loved my job! It allowed me to serve a lot of young people within our church and even in the society. I got to interact with awesome youth and young adult leaders, plus youth workers all over the Philippines. I also made several friends as a result of the ministries I pursued.
I wrote and presented two youth-related topics at the 2012 and 2013 Theological Forum, organized by the Asian Theological Seminary. One thing led to another and after my paper presentation in 2012, Ms. Haydee Sampang-Bernardo invited me to became one of the co-hosts of Family Matters, an award-winning radio show, which airs over at 702 DZAS.
I have published two books: “Start Up: Find your place. Engage the world. Sustain your life.” and “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic“. I’ve been busy.
But another highlight of my career in recent years involves the humongous responsibility of being the Philippine coordinator of the Global Young People’s Convocation and Legislative Assembly, a once-in-every-four-years event of the United Methodist Church. It was probably the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced in my career.
Not long after that event, the Board of the Division on Ministries with Young People decided to open a new position: Director for International Ministries of the Young People’s Ministries. Okay, the official title is a church bureaucracy sounding thing: “Director, Young People’s Ministries Program Development – Central Conferences”. Told yah, it’s a nosebleed-inducing kind of title.
The call for applications opened in November 2014. I got interviewed January 2015, and was informed I was the top candidate in February 2015. The visa process started right away, but I finally got my Religious Worker visa in the middle of March. My wife and my son have gotten their visas, too. I will leave for Nashville in June and by the end of July, my wife and son will join me.
Cha and Malcolm have always been part of the plan. Even before we got married, my wife and I agreed that if either of us wanted to go abroad, the family stays together. Yes, it’s more difficult and more expensive. Actually, some friends and family even advised us against going together as a family because of financial considerations.
But the truth is, I might just go crazy if my family won’t be there with me.
I am no stranger to packing up and boxing things up. As the son of a preacher, I have probably stayed in eleven houses, probably more, by the time I graduated from College. In fact, I have had stuff that just stayed in the box for a long time. But packing up to go to another house two or three towns away is a world away from packing up and leaving for another country.
I’ve been meaning to write about this process, including the anxiety, the worry, and the feeling of being overwhelmed by this transition. After all, we’ll be immersing ourselves in a culture vastly different from the one we’ve been brought up in. Thankfully, our son is just over two years old, so it won’t be that big of a challenge for him to adjust in terms of language and the culture.
I believe that God calls us to places and areas where we could help spread the kingdom of God. As I look back to where I’ve been, I can’t help but notice that this is where God is sending me next. As usual, there are lots of uncertainties ahead. But as is usually the case in the Bible, the Lord walks before us in places where God has called us to go.