Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year 2006

So here am I. Protagonist of the ending and beggining of a new year. Mixed emotions when thinking of different things. When thinking of my home country, family and friends I get a bit sad, not that much though, perhaps because I am getting used. However I know we are togueter in the spirit of God. This is my third year in a row I spend my b-day, christmas and new year out, and only God knows how many more will come to pass. However, even though it might sound horrible, I get to keep the joy of God in my heart as I know that I am not alone at all. He fills my heart with the joy, love and tenderness only He can give and He makes me complete. The Word of God assures me that He will be with me until the last of my breaths or until He comes for his church, and in the time being, He's sent his Spirit to work wonders through my life. So that compensates the fact that I can't be with my family during these times. When thinking about the way the world celebrate the upcoming of a new year, that get me mad. It's incredible how millions of people turn out to the streets to celebrate in such a pagan way a simple pass over of a year(when they should be celebrating the victory of Jesus Christ above the death for our sake). Millions and millions of people thinking that drinking and partying and doing all kind of evil things to satisfy themselves is gonna make them feel good. And the truth is that they are wasting their lives and the time is ticking away. Yeah, the time is passing by and their opportunities to repent and get saved by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) is about to come to a halt. Very soon, all these useless celebration will mean nothing for them, cuz that's not gonna help them when the moment of truth comes. So I am standing at the uppest part of the ship watching the people dancing, getting drunk and celebrating and I could just think about the sacrifice of God toward these humanity and how it has been turned down for so long by so many. They've heard about Him, they have no excuse. They simply don't want to change. It's a matter of will rather than a matter of knowledge. But the time of truth is coming soon. I pray that us christians who have been saved by his grace stand up firmly and open our mouths and keep speaking out loud about his love and mercy and chance of repentance for all the people. And I pray that I let myself be used by God every single day of this new year, I pray that His perfect will and purpose for my life keeps running and that the sin that lives in me be decreased every day more and that the Holy Spirit that lives in me grows more and more. I have many expectatives for this new year and I pray that God bless me in an overflowing sort of way. Amen

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Spiritual Battle is Won Already

The glory and the honor be to God my Lord Jesus whose love for me is as big as the inmensity of the universe. These last days has been of furious battle in the spiritual sphere around my life. I am even more convinced that I am walking in the right direction. Somewhere, sometime I read or heard that when the devil attacks you the more fierce and brutal is because you are doing something or you are living in such a way that affects him directly in the spiritual sphere. It's not easy, though, to be under constant heavy attack but at the end of the day even those situations makes you tougher and makes you mature emotionally and spiritually. praise the Lord for it. So one day after I started my training as an Assit. Mgr. I was informed that I had to report in the crew bar with the rest of team of supervisors and a couple of high ranking officers of the dept. It was my celebration for my promotion. I had to go, because I had to, there was no other way and when they asked me what I was going to drink, I simply said, "redbull" They said "are you nuts" and they ordered for me a vodka and mixed with the redbull and handled it over to me. I knew that it was gonna get tense as I said that I wasn't gonna accept it and only a redbull I would drink. One thing is to describe the face the high ranking officer put and another very different is to having seen it. They were totally offended by me firmly negative that they just turned their back to me and completely ignored me for the rest of the night. I managed to say thanks to the dept. manager for giving me the opportunity in this new position (but what I really meant was that I was thankful to God for having used him to grant me the position) and tried to present the gospel to him, but he just said, he didn't want to hear about it. So after that day things got real nasty for me, cuz as a trainee I am supposed to rotate in every single sub-department of the huge F&B dept. Nobody wanted me, nobody wanted to teach me and tutor me. The first day I started as a cook, I got myself all dressed up as a cook and started to learn with some of the cooks, and then suddenly one of the chefs, practically kicked me out of that kitchen and sent me to some other place. The next day then, I was assigned to work as a server in the exclusive restaurant of the ship and then another chef came over and practically kicked me out of there. Then in the afternoon of that day I was assigned to work in the bars and the bar manager didn't want but this time he was pressed and he accepted in a bad way. So while all this was happening I was feeling real bad emotionally and devastated but then I reminded that God put me here and he was gonna take me through in complete victory. So I had to spend a lot of time talking to him and listening in order to keep myself there and I think God hasn't abandoned me, not a second. Now, the bars. I've never drank beers, smoked cigars and liquors, so my knowledge of these thing is as much as is my knowledge of the chemical and physical properties of the sun. So in a few days, I have had to learn tons of things regarding the bar service and how to prepare cocktails and drinks and the names of all the liquors and all their differences and all the crap. Due to the fact that the manager pass every day at the bar where I am at and come over and ask me all kind of question about liquors and cigars and stuff and he expects me to know. So I have been doing a lot of memorizing lately. As I was thinking about this particular situation, I thought that many people that know me would think that it's not right for me to be selling beers and liquors and preparing drinks and stuffs. But I think that even in this kind of apparent contradiction in the christian values God has a purpose for and the question would rather be "what is it God, show it to me"
I thank God for my family support in prayers. I am so happy for I saw them today in Colon for a few hours and we shared togueter a good worthy time.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Promoted to Asst. F&B Manager

Where to start? I am so overwhelmed at this point of my life to see what's going on with it. When people find out that I have a degree in PT in college they usually ask me in huge disbelief the reason why I am spending or wasting (as per them) my time on a ship away from home and friends when I could be making good money doing what I studied in college. Well, ever since the beginning of my story on the ships, I knew it was God's plan for my life. Every single step I took in order to get in here my family and I prayed for it asking for God's direction and approval. My dad used to pray "God, if it's not yours, destroy it and close the window and give peace of mind to us about it" and yet everything went smooth and I got everything I needed (which was a lot of requirements) including the money I needed to travel the first time to the ship in based in New York. So I conclude that even when it appears to the normal mind that there is something wrong with my life I know that I am in the right place at the right time, which is the time of God. Every second I am more convinced of that truth and when I tell this to people who ask I feel myself more and more confident about it. So thinking about all this, the question in my mind for the last year was, "now where?" I've been in this position for the last 2 years and I was feeling that there was nothing else for me there, but I didn't know which way to go. There were basically two main direction. On the one side there was the position of waiter. Now, in terms of money, they make good amount of it, and since I am here one of my purpose is to save as much as I can. However, I never saw myself doing that job and it's not that I have anything against waiters, but I always felt that that was not for me. On the other side there was the position of Food and Beverage Manager Asst. and even though it's sort of glamorous to be in that managment position with all the priviliges and stuff, the amount of responsabilities and stress surpasses by all the present ones I had as a lower level supervisor. And yet I wanted so bad to go forward, but had no idea where. Although everything pointed to me that my next step was F&B Magr.Asst. but I resisted the idea for so long and finally got to the conclusion that I was not gonna pursue it. If it was gonna come and be offered to me, then I would gladly accept it, perhaps in a coward way to be able to say if it went wrong that I didn't ask for it. I spoke to my dad about it couple of weeks ago and he said, well keep that in prayers and see what God has to say. So I have been doing. Almost two months ago I was having a conversation with my boss (current F&B Magr.Asst.) and I told him about my intentions to ask for it as soon as we were done with the US public health audit. He said, yeah you should. And that was it. Never talked about that with anyone else. Couple of days before he signed off for vacation he sent an email to our Dept. Manager telling him that I was up to the position and he salt and peppered it a little bit with my skills and stuffs. That same day he left we were hit by USPH and we passed and everyone was happy afterwards. Couple of days ago my other boss told me, get ready you have an interview with the manager. So I prayed about it and asked God that above all things, his will for my life was done. And I suited my best short sleeve shirt and got myself ready for it. I presented to his office and from there on God took control over my mind and mouth. I said what I was supposed to say in a very confident and wise way. The interview didn't last more than 6 minutes. He said, ok, I am recommending you to the head office to get promoted based on your supervisors strong recommendations and on your good performance. Praise the Lord, I thought and I said thanks. Few hours ago, as I started to get ready for work my roomie came in and handled me a piece of paper with an email from the manager saying that I was promoted starting inmediately from the next day (today). So there are no words to express how happy I feel today and how grateful I feel toward God who hasn't given upon me and continuesly gives me from his grace and mercy. Recently I have discovered the power of the knees. When you kneel down to pray you basically are telling God, you know what, I humble myself to the dirt and ask for your way and blessings over my life. All the Glory and Honor to the King of Kings, Lord of Lords and my Saviour who is in control of my life. Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

God is in Control

My only concern I had when I was told I was being transferred to M/S Liberty was that I knew it was gonna be very hard to get in my hands the guitar I bought on ebay a week before the news; specially because when I asked to the ship's office personel they told me that they would not mail anything to europe. So it's being almost 3 months since I purchased my guitar and finally after a lot of emails and struggle they sent it to me. I kind of lost hope to get it and if it was to come I thought it might be broken or something. So when the office personel of this ship told me that my guitar had arrived I was anxious and it's not that I hadn't pray that God send it safely, but still I was still doubtful. Big box. I thought, well, at least it's still protected. I took it, came into my cabin, looked at it for a while, still in some kind of disbelief and then thanked God for it. I took a couple of pictures of the unopened box for the record and then started ripping apart the box and everything until I got in my hand my so awaited guitar. Took some more pictures and a small video clip and then started playing it. It is the very first guitar I've ever bought myself with my own money and I can't help but to think that God is good. It has a great sound plus I can plug it into a speaker system. So this last couple of days, I've been practicing, playing and singing a lot. It's really good. I thought I was gonna get it as my b-day present, but instead I got it as my own christmas present. Blessed be the Lord for He had it all sort it out since the beginning.
On the good note of the day, couple of hours ago, God gave me the opportunity to share my faith with a friend. I had been praying for it for a while now, and today God crossed our ways and so I talked to him and presented to him the gospel. I recently read a book of apologetic by Josh MacDowell and I learned a lot about all the legal and historic evidence of Jesus' resurrection from the death and these powerful tools I got to use today with my friend. I think that we christians have to be prepared at all time as the apostol Paul said to present defense of our faith, not like if we were believing blindly but with a strong conviction of our faith in Christ. I believe strongly that it is by faith in Christ and not by deeds that we come to be saved, but I believe that such faith has to be knowleadable and full of wisdom in order to be able to present our testimony in a way that people get out of their confusion and world of lies. I've been reading the book of Acts these last days and to me, it is quite amazing to read how Paul had always a word of wisdom to tell. He was crystal clear about the message he was delivering plus he was wired constantly with God so the Spirit of God was putting in him what he had to say. Thanks God for the blessings upon my life.

Monday, December 19, 2005

They Came Finally

After finally a long period of time the so promised and so waited visit of US public health department came to pass. And it was a huge headache for everyone in the department, cuz we were almost 100% sure that they would come as soon as we landed in America after our european season. But they didn't. The sense of urgency from the team had decreased seriously and people were getting really psicologically tired about the whole thing. It was an hectic morning, right after the announcement over the PA system voicing that they were onboard, everyone started running up and down and around, panic everywhere, yelling and screaming and cursing and a general stress filling the air. I think that over the time I have come to handle better the stress under this particular circumstance. The first 3 or 4 times it was a very shocking experience to me and it would make me feel down and overwhelmed. However this time, I think I did a better job. I don't feel myself emotionally, psicologically and spiritualy drained and exhausted to the point where I would not give a sock about everything the following days. I think I am maturing in this particular area of my life. Finally after the good inspector came and inspected my areas and he left I was allowed to finish my shift and I went for a good well-deserved rest. I was physically exhausted though, but happy and satisfied. Later on I found out that we passed with 99%. The dept. manager was dissapointed cuz he would've wanted us to score the perfect score, specially because this is a brand new ship, but didn't happen. Honestly, I don't care a bit how much the score was, as long as we pass, scores don't make me sleepless.
On the other note of the week, these days I've been struggling seriously with the well-doing of my spiritual life. It hasn't gone as smooth as I would like and to me it seems like I am loosing more than winning my daily spiritual battles. I can't help but to feel terrible and disappointed toward myself. I think it is not even more about the fact that makes me feel vulnerable to the enemy attacks or sad and unhappy but the fact that I am not complying with the mission God has given to me and nothing else fills me with such terror as to know that I am failing to comply with the purpose assigned to me since before of the creation of the world, when God chose me and designed his perfect plan for my life. To realized that the time is passing or flying and I am not sharing and praying enough to the people that surrounds me about his sacrifice in the cross for them to be saved just make me feel as unhappy as a man can get. I keep praying that God helps me find a way to change all this.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Visit to Colon, Panama

Have you ever wondered why is it that the best days ever in your life, you get only to live from time to time? While my wondering is not far from the reality that when you have Christ in your heart and you walk in obedience and in victory, everyday would be "the best day ever". However my line of thinking here refers to the God-given emotional feelings when you enjoy something in particular so much that drive you to the conclusion that certain day was just great, yet not a ordinary day.
I am really happy and joyful for I got to meet part of my family yesterday. As I wrote before, part of the wondeful itinerary of this ship, includes Panama. So my parents came over to visit the ship and to spend some nice time together after a little more than 6 months of me being out of town. So I went off the ship at 8:00 am and called mom, and she said they were delayed, but they were on their way. While waiting out there in the pier, I ran into my friend who used to work in the ships also but not anymore, and we talked about the old times. Finally my parents and my sister arrived and we started our way into the ship. We went to my cabin and talked about everything and then we started to walk around the ship, trying to show them as much as I could, in our limited period of time. My sister shooting pictures everywhere she turned, guess she is gonna do some bragging about them with her friends at college. And so we spent a nice end-of-the morning and beggining of the afternoon on the ship and then we went out for lunch. It was so much good to see them and be seen. They loved so much the ship and its interior. One remarkable thing was that most of the crew members, some of them which I don't even know, went out of their way to politely welcome and show a huge smile toward my family. That I loved it and am thanked to them. Well, I guess it'll be till next month when we come to Panama again, that I will be seeing them again.