My desert story

I wanted to share my testimony of patience and endurance but I couldn’t figure how to say it the right way without blabbering. Therefore, let me just give you an almost-detailed timeline of this long and trying season of mine.

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Me, figuratively. Illustration by my good friend.

December 2014

I quit my job, left the apartment I shared with my friend, went back to my grandmother’s home and flew to Hamburg in the hopes of staying there for a long time.

January – March 2015

I enrolled at a language school, travelled to Prague, spent a huge amount of time with my family and collected information regarding my plans of staying in Germany. I found out I couldn’t ask for any kind of extension and/or conversion with my kind of visa. I remembered feeling overwhelmed with the requirements that I have to fulfill in order to stay; take into consideration the disappointment I felt. I was blinded with rejection that I couldn’t see what my parents and the Lord wanted for me. With the grace of God, I understood what this three-month trip meant– to just enjoy and let God do His work in my life. After all, it is His plan not mine. Towards the end of my trip, the Lord blessed me with so much favor especially in terms of my future plans. It gave me hope and obviously, God turned those disappointments into a reappointment.

April-May 2015

A few days after I landed in Manila, I put my full concentration on fixing my papers and setting an interview at the German Embassy. Everything went smoothly and I was amazed by how God provided for my expenses, given the fact that I was jobless. I literally lived by faith. I also had someone who had been a great help with my application. God’s hands were present in every single step I made—in the menial tasks up to the important ones.

June 2015

The waiting began.

June 2015.b

I applied for a  job at an online ESL school. I figured since I was just waiting for my application, I might as well earn money and work at the comforts of my home. This was also the beginning of my “hermit” life.

June 2015.c

Towards the end of June, I got a rejection letter from the Embassy. Boy was it tough. I remembered crying over the phone with my parents and my bestfriend late at night. Fortunately, my disappointment didn’t last over a day since I figured out a way to continue with my application… by challenging the Embassy’s decision through remonstration.

July 2015

Another trip to the Embassy and more waiting. This was also the time where I (slowly) surrendered ALL of my plans to the Lord. It wasn’t easy. Let me tell you why:

As I was maturing, I picked up a habit of being very meticulous with the way I handle my schedule and my plans in general. Everything has to be set in advance. I like when everything has been planned out and I just have to execute my tasks on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, the results have been also “planned” out as well. I wasn’t always like this since in the past, I was a happy-go-lucky woman. My spontaineity comes out in the little things I do but in the major (even minor) decisions in my life, I have to stick to my plan. I’m almost an over-thinker but not quite. Hmmm maybe more of an over-planner, if there is such a case. So when God decided to break the vision board of my future, I was dumbfounded. I felt so small, which is great by the way, because I saw how big God is. Again, it wasn’t easy. I had to fight with tears and sweat before I gave up my plans to God’s hands. But you know what? God made it all so easy.

During this time, our church was on a fasting period. I fasted along with my church family for three days and decided not think of anything but focus on God alone. Focus on His goodness, His love, His sacrifice and be sensitive to His voice. It was on the second day of fasting that God decided to show off…

1
The Embassy accepted my appeal!

Right after I opened their mail, I quickly locked myself up in the bathroom. I was sobbing and praising God joyfully. The Embassy’s reply wasn’t the main reason why I was so grateful that day but how good God is. Right when I surrendered ALL of my plans to Him, He gave me this wonderful news. I remember telling my friends, “This is why it so easy to surrender because you’re giving up for a loving God.” Surrender is never a defeat. Look at what it gave me… a true victory.

August 2015- November 2015

No news from the German Embassy and at some point, I got really, really impatient. Everytime I got stubborn, impatient or anxious, I just directed myself to the Word. Along the way, I met new fellowship friends and even attended a Singles Retreat at church. See, waiting doesn’t have to be passive! It took my mind off the long wait. From time to time, I check the internet for cases similar like mine and I found out that remonstration really takes a long time to process. Holiday season was fast approaching then and I was hopeful to celebrate it with my family in Hamburg like what we always do. I thought, “Wow, Lord. This could be a great Christmas gift if I can be with my family then”.

December 2015

N O P E. It didn’t happen. For the first time in four/five years, I celebrated Christmas without my brothers and parents. But before it happened…

2

Because of this reply, I was expectant to be with my family for Christmas. But then again, God has his own plans and He has a habit of breaking my expectations. Christmas went by peacefully, nevertheless. I felt God was really stripping me off of my personal desires until He only remains in me. I prayed to have a David-like heart and let me tell you, don’t pray that prayer if you’re not 100% decided because my oh my, to have a heart after God means to be broken again and again until your love for God remains.

January-April 2016

I started my year with another fasting and at the same time, read the Bible from the very beginning. The story of Moses strucked me the most because it was speaking to my situation. It gave me an assurance of the Promised Land and taught me how to endure a tough season. It didn’t matter if I sprint, run, walk, crawl…what’s important is I’m moving. I was still teaching around this time but I’m already looking for other work opportunities. I even considered moving to a new country (NZ or AU) and checked for possibilities. My pending application, however, held me back from moving forward. God has been quiet during this period but nonetheless, it gave me more motivation to keep on seeking and hearing His voice. Around this time, my focus wasn’t on my plans anymore but on God alone. I was so fixated on Him and His Word. It was lighter.

May 2016

A silver lining decided to show up. The Embassy requested for my health insurance and at the same time, requested for an interview with my (super gracious) sponsor. I was so giddy with excitement! My birthday was coming soon but unlike Christmas 2015, I didn’t pray for a birthday gift.My heart was still on the attitude of surrender. If this is what God wanted for me, then so be it. If not, it only means that I’m up for something better. Of course I still prayed for favor but my heart was completely ready to accept any decision.

June 20, 2016

I woke up late which is very unusual and saw a missed call on my phone. I googled the number and found out it was the German Embassy! Of all the days that I’d wake up late!! I waited the whole day to see if they’d call back but they didn’t. I tried calling them but to no avail.

June 22, 2016. FINALLY.

All the waiting came to a closure. I thought I’d scream with so much happiness but I didn’t. I just let out a big sigh of relief. Here’s why:

Day 1 of this journey and I knew in my heart that God will come through for me. He was the one who approved of my resignation, my 3-month vacation.. He gave people who are of big help to my application, provided for my finances, etc etc. He was the one who taught me to wait for His go-signal. When the world told me to give up, He was the one who encouraged me to persevere. He taught me how to believe 100% on His promises and having the visa on my hand is just a cherry on top of the delicious cake. I also read this great analogy once that stuck with me the whole time:

A son asked for a car for his birthday. His father told him that by the end of the month, he will get his car. The son, in his mind, already acted as if he’s now a  car owner. Even without the keys or the car itself, he knew, he has a  car because his father says so.

I knew I already have His promise because He said so. Even if I didn’t have any visa or I wasn’t physically with my parents, I knew that someday it will happen. Why was I certain? Because my Father said so. The approval of my visa was the finish line I successfully ran and crossed over. It was the end of my desert season and a beginning of a new one. It tasted so sweet because I knew I did everything with utmost perseverance to finish the race that God has set for me. Through every step, God was there holding my little, sweaty hands.

June 23-28, 2016

I saw my friends, some of my relatives,bought pasalubong and a ticket (God’s provision, suffice to say), final trips to the Embassy, packed my bags—all in a span of one week. Ironically, things moved quickly this time around. Just before I knew it, I was on my way to Hamburg.

June 29, 2016

And there I was.

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That exact moment when I saw my family after more than a year of waiting.

July 2016

The processing never stopped though. I had to fix my registration, my permit, and my school. It was harder this time because my Ma wanted me to do these things alone. I had limited German skills and I had to talk to people with limited English. It was really scary but thank God, everything went smoothly as possible. Even when I’m here, God’s hands are evident. God indeed never add trouble to His blessings!

Present time—

I started school two weeks after & I have been enjoying every class since then. I think I’m learning quickly this time, maybe because I came from a trying season and I know that I shouldn’t miss out on every good opportunity that God brings. I also received my residence permit card and a TIN number (even when I’m not really working) two weeks ago. God has been showering His blessings to me and to my family lately; I sometimes catch myself wondering if all of these are real. Am I really with my family? Is this is where I’m truly going to live now? I even asked God, “Did the Israelites also feel this way when they finally stepped on to the Promised Land? Because me, I couldn’t believe it myself. Every single thing has been a dream.”

I’m glad I walked through that long, desert season because I still carry and live out all the lessons I learned from it. The fruits I bore has been a great help and guidance, too. I never thought what I had been praying for a long time is now a reality. This is so much better than what I only imagined and planned before. Better, only because, God orchestrated this and it didn’t come out of my vision board. I made the right decision of seeking God first and foremost. I am currently experiencing the season of adjustments but I take comfort in the fact that as long as I have God directing my every path, all will be well. I just have to walk, run, sprint, crawl, whatever… as long as I’m moving. 🙂

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