Exploring North Shore

We’re supposed to attend a wedding in Canada this summer. Besides seeing relatives and friends we’ve planned to explore some places there as well. But COVID-19 changed our plans. US residents are not allowed to cross the border. Well, the wedding still happened, albeit without us in attendance.

Though I did not cancel my vacation altogether, for I needed to get away. The stress of this pandemic to us, healthcare workers, is wearing me down. I needed a break.

So my family and I drove up North.

View from our lodge

Since Canada is still close to visitors, we stayed within the US border for our vacation. Yet we ventured really close to the northern border. We explored Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive, which is Lake Superior’s rugged westside coastline through Highway 61.

Highway 61 stretches from Duluth, Minnesota up to the Canadian border. Photo below is the aerial lift bridge at the Canal Park in Duluth.

We passed some lighthouses along the scenic drive and went down to check them out. Lighthouses nowadays don’t serve the same importance as it used to, as ships and boats usually navigate now with the GPS instead of just relying on visual cues. Yet lighthouses are still of iconic beauty.

Since we don’t have a tight schedule we had time to stop at a beach on a whim and just enjoy the scenery. Or also skip some rocks.

Skipping rocks requires both skill and knowledge of basic physics. Having the right spin, speed, shape and angle is needed in order for the stone to “skip” on top of the water. It may seem impossible at first to have a stone jump on water, but it can be done. Maybe life is like skipping rocks. We need to have the right elements in order for us to have our heads stay above water.

Here’s my son skipping rocks: (How many skips did you count? It was about 10.)

Although we were near the water, we spent much of our time in the mountains. The mountain resort where we stayed is a known ski destination but it has a different appeal during the summer months.

We rode the gondola up to the mountain peak. The view on the top was something to die for.

Then we rode down the mountain via the Alpine slide. This was half a mile of exhilarating ride.

This was a first-time experience for us. You can control your speed with a brake as you slide down the track. You can go slow (if you’re cautious) and enjoy the view, or go really fast and everything is a blur. My wife was so slow that it spoiled the fun of the kid behind her on the slide. I overheard the dad asking the boy if he had fun after the ride and he vehemently said no. Poor kid.

We like it so much that we did a second run. I thought of offering that poor kid a free ride but I couldn’t find them anymore. My wife did much faster on her second run. Maybe we should try bobsledding for our next adventure.

We also did some not-so-serious 2-mile hike up the mountain. Most of our activities were staying away from crowds as we practiced social distancing. We chased water falls while we also chased our breaths.

We followed up the river where it has less turbulent rapids and rested there. We ate our pack lunch while watching the river flow.

The morning we did the hike I received a phone call from our office informing me that one of my partners died. It was sudden and unexpected. Our life is in such a precarious balance that it could topple any moment. We should always be thankful for every precious time we have. (I’ll write a tribute for him later.)

We drove further up towards the Canadian border which was a little more than an hour drive from where we were staying. Again stopping along the way to enjoy the road-side view.

There was a last rest stop just before the border. Since it was in a state park, there were hiking trails in that area. So we hiked again.

We followed the trail that leads to the Canadian border, where at the end of that specific trail, we found this marker stating, “International Boundary Commission.”

We can’t get any further so we headed back. While we were hiking to this international boundary marker, we were interrogated not by Customs agents but by insects. And all we took back as souvenirs from the border were bug bites from friendly Canadian insects. At least they were duty-free.

From the North Shore,

Pinoytransplant (with my signature jump shot).

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Hugot Lines sa Doctor’s Office

Mahal kong mga readers, heto na naman po ang bagong installment ng mga hugot. Kung merong Hugot Cafe, welcome naman po kayo dito sa Hugot Clinic.

Duktor: (Habang iniineksyunan ng local anesthesia ang pasyente para sa simpleng operasyon) O Hija, konting kirot lang ang injection na’to, pero pampamanhid ito at walang ka nang mararamdaman pagkatapos.

Pasyente: Kahit wala ng anesthesia Doc. Sanay na akong masaktan. Manhid na manhid na nga ako.

**********

Duktor: (Habang tinatanggal ang bondage sa sugat ng pasyente) Magaling at tuyo na ang sugat mo dito sa iyong braso.

Pasyente: Pero ang sugat sa puso ko Doc, hindi pa rin gumagaling. May band-aid ba para dun?

**********

Pasyente: Doc, ang pait naman ng nireseta n’yong gamot.

Duktor: Ganyan talaga, ang mapapait na karanasan ang magpapalakas sa iyo.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, may gamot ba kayo sa constipation? Hindi ko kasi mailabas-labas ang mga sama ng loob ko.

Duktor: Namputcha, hindi laxative ang kailangan mo. Halika, daanin na lang natin sa maboteng usapan.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, ano po ba ang sanhi ng madaling mapagod?

Duktor: Baka may cardiomyopathy o kaya ay heart failure. Sige, i-check-up na kita.

Pasyente: Hindi po ako, ‘yung boyfriend ko. Sabi niya ayaw na niya, kasi raw pagod na ang puso niya.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, meron pa bang lunas ang kalagayan ko? Lagi na lang akong pinapaasa.

Duktor: Naku ‘Te, wala ng pag-asa. Walang gamot sa tanga.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, feeling ko ako si Invisible Man. Kasi andito lang naman ako, pero bakit hindi niya ako nakikita. Hindi pa rin ako pinapansin.

Duktor: Next patient please!

**********

Duktor: Bumibigat ka. Kailangan mong tumakbo at mag-exercise.

Pasyente: Pero Doc, sabi ng misis ko takbo na raw ako ng takbo.

Duktor: Engot ka pala eh, hindi exercise yung tumatakbo sa responsibilidad.

*********

Pasyente: Doc, hirap na hirap po akong gumising.

Duktor: Ah, baka may narcolepsy ka. Sige, resitahan kita ng stimulant.

Pasyente: Magigising po ba ako sa katotohanan sa gamot na yan Doc?

Duktor: Ah meron din gamot diyan…….tadyak!

**********

Duktor: (Habang pinapakinggan ang baga ng pasyente) O clear naman ang tunog ng mga baga mo.

Pasyente: Pero Doc, sumisikip ang dibdib ko at hirap pa rin akong huminga. Lalo na kapag naaalala ko ang kumag na iyon.

Duktor: Teka, hindi Pulmonologist ang kailangan mo kundi Psychotherapist.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, may gamot ba para magka-amnesia? Gusto ko lang kasing kalimutan na siya.

Duktor: Ah, may mabisa akong gamot diyan. Heto, inumin mo na ang tabletang ito.

Pasyente: (ininom ang gamot)

Duktor: O eto na ang iyong doctor’s bill.

Pasyente: Ano ho ito? At sino ho kayo?

**********

Duktor: (Matapos i-test and vision ng pasyente) Wala namang diperensiya ang mata mo Hijo. 20/20 nga ang vision mo.

Pasyente: Pero Doc, sabi ng mga kaibigan ko nabubulag daw ako.

Duktor: Ah, meron din kaming lunas diyan: kontra-gayuma. Pero meron ding mas mura…….batok!

**********

Duktor: Hindi mabuti kung lagi mo na lang pinipigilan. Kahit ano pa man ang sabihin ng iba, mas giginhawa ka kung iyo na itong bibitiwan at papakawalan.

Pasyente: Pero Doc, hindi ko po talaga kaya.

Duktor: Kabag ang tinutukoy ko. Dapat itong pakawalan at iutot.

**********

Pasyente: Doc, ayaw ko na pong maging sanitary napkin.

Duktor: Huh? Anong ibig mong sabihin?

Pasyente: Kasi ginagawa lang akong panakip butas.

Duktor: Kahit ganyan ang kalagayan mo, taas noo pa rin. Dahil pwede pa rin “with wings.”

**********

Hanggang sa susunod na Hugot sessions na lang muli. Making Hugot like a Boss.

(*images from the web, all other materials are original)

Hail Summer!

We were driving to a destination that is about an hour away from our home yesterday in the sweltering heat of almost a hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Not unusual for this time of year here in Iowa, for it is summer after all. The sun was gloriously shining when all of the sudden the sky turned gray. Maybe it was more than gray. Black clouds abruptly hid the sun and flashes of lighting started streaking across the horizon.

The temperature dropped more than 40 degrees in a matter of minutes. Strong gusty winds blew dust from the farm fields and torrential rain poured down making road visibility very difficult.

Then we heard loud pelting sounds on the windshield and roof of our car. Hail!

Some motorists sought shelter under the bridges, but we continued to drive, albeit slowly. We took a wrong turn and got delayed a little to where we were supposed to go.

Perhaps it was Divine providence that we got lost for when we arrived at our destination, people there told us that we just missed an awful hail storm. What we encountered on the road, which was marble-sized hail, was not bad compared to what it could have been if we did not get “lost.”

Leaves and branches from the trees loitered the ground. The cornfields were whipped down. Many of the parked cars in the area when we arrived had dents, and windows and sidings of the houses were damaged from the hail.

Here are some hailstones on the ground.

Here are bigger ones.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), hailstones form when strong currents of rising air, known as updrafts, carry droplets of water high enough that they freeze. The higher these droplets get, the cooler the temperature, even during a hot summer, that in fact, warmer weather might actually result in a stronger updraft. The hail falls when the thunderstorm’s updraft can no longer support the weight of the hailstone, which can occur if the stone becomes large enough or the updraft weakens.

Can you imagine if you’re hit with these golf-size hail coming to you at more than 100 miles per hour? That would be serious “bukol”(swelling).

But the storm did not last that long. In less than 30 minutes the sun was shining again, as if nothing have happened. Except for the cracked windows and car dents for souvenir.

Hail summer!

**********

(*photos taken with an iPhone)

Amazing Grace

When I was asked to give a message to my home church in the Philippines via Zoom last month, they also asked if my daughter can give a special music for their virtual church service. We recorded her playing the piano and send them the video. Friends from New York and New Jersey also asked for this video and played it in their virtual worship services.

I’m sharing it here too. Blessings to you.

(Music piece is “Amazing Grace,” piano arrangement by Joel Raney.)

A Room with a View

Our planned trip to Canada this summer went kaput. Because of this COVID-19 pandemic, the northern border is still not open for tourists. Instead of giving back the vacation days that I already took, we scrambled to look for an alternate local getaway.

As we were booking for a hotel or a lodge, we were looking to have a room with a view. I for one is really particular of having a view. Even if I spend the whole day doing nothing, as long as I enjoy looking outside the window, that’s more than enough for me. Thus on many of our trips we hunt for a room with a view. And if we checked in to the hotel and we’re given a room that was different than what we imagined, we would request to be moved and not settle until we get the room that we wanted.

Who wouldn’t like a room with a view?

I don’t know if this can be applied when being hospitalized. First of all you cannot really pick your hospital room. Second, most hospitals don’t have a view. And lastly, if you do have a beautiful hospital window view then you may not want to leave at all, which is counterproductive.

I am not saying that hospitals should not have a good view if they can provide it. After all I believe a serene setting or view could be in itself therapeutic to patients. In our hospital we have a central garden with pretty flowers and some rooms overlook this garden. While a few of the rooms have a view of our city’s skyline. While many rooms in our hospital have brick walls for their view.

Recently, one patient of ours told me that he was surely glad that he was referred to our hospital. He was transferred from a small regional hospital to our tertiary medical center for further management of worsening respiratory status from COVID-19. He told me that besides the advance medical care we can provide in our facility, the view from his window at the regional hospital where he came from was not “reassuring.” In fact he said it was downright depressing.

A couple of years back, we started going to that regional hospital once a month, which is an hour and 45 minutes drive from our main office, as part of our outreach clinic, so I fully understand the comments of that patient. Across the street of the regional hospital is a very “serene” park, though it is probably not what you want to see when you are sick. The said hospital, believe it or not, is overlooking the town’s cemetery. That could be depressing. Though it could be an incentive to get better too, or else you end up across the street.

I remember a story* I read years ago about two hospitalized men who were sharing a hospital room. Both of them were suffering from serious illnesses. One patient was by the window and the other one was across the room. The one far from the window was unable to get out of bed, so everyday he would ask his room mate what he sees in the window. Every time the patient who was lying by the window would tell the other one the beautiful view outside. Like how the sun was shining in the sky, or the children playing at the park, or the pretty flowers blooming in the garden, or the ducks swimming at the pond. This lifted the spirit of the other patient and gave him encouragement to get well so he could go outside and see for himself the beautiful view.

Then one day the patient who was by the window died. The one across the room felt very sad for his room mate, yet he felt good at the prospect that he could transfer to the bed by the window.

When he finally got transferred to the bed by the window, he was terribly disappointed. Why? The window of their hospital room was facing a brick wall. No view of a park, nor of a beautiful garden, nor a pond.

He realized that his former room mate made it all up to inspire him and to keep his hopes alive. That hope that sustained him through his illness and pain.

The next day, there came a new patient who was laid in the bed far from the window. This new room mate ask him what he sees outside their window. To this he replied, “Oh, there were children merrily picking flowers……”

**********

(*Original short story is by Harry Buschman, “The Man by the Window.” I added the last twist.)

Fleeting Fireflies

I am re-posting “Catching Fireflies,” an article I wrote nine summers ago. It was a time when my son had a fascination of capturing fireflies. He has outgrown that. After working in a summer camp as a “Nature Director,” he even now forbids us to keep our porch and driveway lights on through the night, saying that the bright lights will prevent the fireflies from finding their mates. Time have changed.

**********

Fireflies. Also known as lightning bugs. There is something in these twinkling insects that fascinates us. And kids, or the kid in us, wants to catch them. Maybe we think that if we capture them, we will hold magic in our hands.

Catching fireflies has become a summer tradition for my children for the past few years. My son had his container with perforated lid for catching fireflies, prepared way back in February (late winter) this year. He even labeled his jar with a hand drawn picture of a firefly.

When June rolled by and there were still no fireflies, he became impatient. He asked me when will the fireflies come. I jokingly told him that maybe all the fireflies migrated out of Iowa, since they learned that there is this boy who wants to catch them.

When we came back from our California visit on July 4th (we flew back home on Independence Day), my son got very excited when he looked outside our window and saw glittering bugs hovering above our lawn. Fireflies! In fact, he was more excited to see the fireflies than the fireworks that were firing in the sky.

(photo from shutterstock)

My son hurriedly took his jar and ran outside. I also went outside to enjoy the summer’s breeze, and shoot some hoops in our driveway basketball goal, while my son catches fireflies. Though there were other bugs, aside lightning bugs, that hovered and buzzed in our ears and feasted on our arms and legs. We did not catch those bugs -we swatted them.

While we were outside, our nearby neighbor had a “private” fireworks show in his yard. We did not need to go very far, just in our driveway, to watch the fireworks. Yes, it may pale from comparison to the fireworks show in New York, but I thought it was entertaining enough.

My daughter also came out, not to catch fireflies, but to watch our neighbor’s fireworks display. Perhaps she was past the fascination of catching fireflies.

My son proudly showed me his jar with a few fireflies that he caught. He placed some blades of grass inside the jar, and asked me if fireflies eat grass. I told him, I don’t know what fireflies eat that make them glow. Maybe fire? Or sulfur? Or kerosene? But I told him that even if we feed them, they will not last very long in his jar.

The stunning fireworks sparkle for few moment, but fade in the dark. The alluring fireflies flicker, and then grow dim. This beautiful summer will also soon disappear, as well as all the fireflies.

And that is true with everything in life.

I know not long from now my son’s childhood innocence will wane and he will be off to chasing other fancies. My kids will soon be going to college, and to their own lives, pursuing their own dreams, and we will be left with an “empty nest.” I also know that my life’s summer will soon (I hope not too soon!) fade into autumn, and my strength will decline, and I will not be able to shoot hoops anymore or chase fireflies.

But for one magical night, I soaked it all in, while it lasted. And now I hold them in my memory forever………. or at least until my memory fails me too.

As for the captured fireflies? My son set them free into the fleeting summer’s night.

**********

Post Note: I still can shoot hoops in our driveway basketball goal.

Added Feature:

Our neighborhood’s Independence Day fireworks for this year 2020.

Who Will Roll Away The Stone?

(I was invited by my home church in the Philippines to give a message during their virtual church service through Zoom and this was viewed via Facebook live. Here’s what I shared, though it was in Tagalog.)

Good morning to all of you, though it’s night time here where I am. Thank you for inviting me to share the word of God today. It is strange that when there is a time of travel restriction and stay-at-home order, that’s the time I am able to go back to my home church. In fact I have been worshiping with you for more than 2 months now. We must remember that the church is not the building in Sampaloc. The church is us, the group of believers wherever we may be.

Unprecedented Time

We are living in an unprecedented time. Never in our lifetime have we seen so many parts of the world placed in lockdown. For you people in Metro Manila you have been in community quarantine for more than three months now, and I know you are longing to get out.

Never before in my lifetime have I witnessed the police guarding stock of toilet paper. Who could have imagined that I would go to the bank teller asking for money and I was wearing a mask? We have problems right now that we never knew we would have. Like, can I trust my wife to give me a haircut? Or, how many type of dish can I make out of a can of sardines?

More seriously now, yes we have problems in this world currently that we don’t have an answer for, and we’re looking for someone who can help us solve them. As a worker in the medical field, I have witnessed first hand the deadly effects and devastation of this COVID 19, especially in the place I work – in the ICU.

I would like to review a story in the Bible, where people had a situation and they asked who could help them with their problem? I entitled our study today as “Who will roll away the stone?”

Mark 16: 1-3: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

Extravagant Burial

It was Sunday morning, and the women, the two Marys and Salome, were on their way to Jesus’ tomb. The mood among Jesus’ followers were doom and gloom. Their Messiah died, and many of them went into hiding. They went into self imposed quarantine. I am not sure if these women were the only ones with quarantine pass so they went out, but the men were afraid to go out not because of a virus, but because they were afraid for their lives. These women’s hearts were broken, yet they would like to show their devotion to their fallen leader by anointing his dead body with fragrances.

It was the custom of the Jews to anoint the dead. The anointing of perfume was not to do mummification, but to put spice and fragrances to cancel the bad smell of decomposition. The most common spice used to anoint the dead is myrrh. Where else have you heard about myrrh? If you said that it was one of the wise men’s gifts given to Jesus when he was born, then you’re absolutely right. Do you see the theme here? Jesus was a baby destined to die.

We may ask, was Jesus’ body not given proper burial rights before being buried that the women have to do it again? Let’s read:

John 19: 38-40: After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus. And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.

One hundred pounds of spices (some Bible version says 75 lbs; the original Bible manuscript in Greek says 100 litras). That’s a lot of spices! Twenty pounds of spices was the usual burial custom in those days. Forty pounds was for the rich. So 100 pounds was really extravagant. I read that it is estimated that the cost of 100 pounds of this mixture of myrrh and aloes would cost about $150,000 (7.5M pesos) in today’s market. Those men, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, gave Jesus a burial fit for a king.

Do we have that extravagant devotion? Do we give honor to God that is fit for the King of Kings? But even how extravagant our devotion to God is, one thing for sure, we cannot out love the Lord. Do you know what extravagant love is? This is extravagant love – when Jesus exchanged his divine and royal crown for a crown of thorns and gave His life for you and me.

Very Large Stone

So back to those women, why did they have to go? I don’t think these women thought that the anointing of Jesus’ body was not done right or not enough, but rather they only wanted to show honor and respect to their fallen Savior in their own little way.

So while the women were on their way, they asked: Who will roll away the stone? This implies that they alone cannot roll away this stone.

me trying to move a large stone in Jordan

Archeologist have found many tombs around Palestine that they believe were first century tombs. Most of the time the opening of the tomb was blocked by a stone. It could be a large mill-like stone, though some experts say that it could also be a square rock that can slide. Though to me when the women said “roll” away, original Greek word apokylio, it must be circular that it can roll like a wheel.

The books of Mathew and Mark said that it was “very large.” If we say it should cover 4 to 5 feet of tomb entrance, then a disc stone would have a diameter of at least 6 feet. That rock could weigh 1.5 to 2 tons. That weight alone even though it can roll like a wheel, would be hard to move.

But there’s another factor that was found by archeological diggings: usually the groove where the stone rolls was in an incline or had a deep ditch where it would drop. Meaning, it may be much easier to close it, but a lot harder to open it, as you have to roll it against an incline or lift it out of a deep rut, and put a wedge to keep it open. In a conservative estimate, you need more than 10 strong men at the least, to roll away the stone.

One more factor, according to Matt 27:66, it was closed with a Roman seal and thus cannot be opened without the permission of the Roman authority. Besides, there were Roman soldiers guarding the tomb. A usual Roman guard unit is 4-16 men, most of the time 4 men stay on guard while the rest sleeps, and they change shifts every few hours, to keep them fresh.

We must give credit to these women, even though their faith was imperfect as they did not expect that Jesus would be alive as He told them He would, yet they went out anyway even if they knew there would be barriers in accomplishing their mission.

So they asked, “Who will roll away the stone?”

People have the same question today? Who will help us if we get sick of this virus? Who will provide us our daily provision? Who can stop this world pandemic? Who will release us from our quarantine? Who will roll away the stone?

Rolled Away For Us

But when they came to the site, what did they see? The stone was already rolled away! How? Let’s read:

Matthew 28: 2-4: There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

No need for ten strong men, one angel is enough. No need to put a wedge on the stone, for the angel sat on it. No need to contend with the Roman guards for they became like dead men. Heaven took care of their problem!

The women seeing that the stone was rolled away, came in to the tomb, and the angel told them that the Jesus they were looking for was not inside the tomb, for He is alive!

Yes my friends, we serve a risen Savior. Our God is alive! The tomb was empty! That stone blocking the entrance of a tomb was rolled away!

I believe that the stone at the entrance of the tomb was not rolled away so Jesus can come out. What? Before you accuse me of teaching heresy and false doctrines, just hear me out first.

Remember when He appeared to the disciples when they were inside a house with closed door? Let’s read:

John 20:19: On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

The disciples were staying at home and in lockdown. Doors were closed and locks were securely fastened, yet suddenly Jesus stood among them. How? He came through the walls! I believe Jesus when He was resurrected, can verily come out of the tomb even with the stone locked in!

But why was the stone rolled away? It was not that Jesus can come out. It was for the women and His disciples to come in inside the grave, and see that the tomb was empty. The stone was not rolled away for Jesus. It was rolled away for us, so we can believe.

Are we still asking who will roll away the stone? The stone of this pandemic. The stone of our failing health. The stone of our unemployment. The stone of our financial difficulties. The stone of our broken relationships. The stone of our addiction. The stone of our day-to-day struggles in life. The stone of our unbelief.

If we are asking the question “Who will roll away the stone?” then we are asking the wrong question. The answer is already clear.

The question for us is: “Do we have faith to believe that God can roll away our stone?”

David wrote a psalm during the time that he was running away from King Saul. Or maybe he was just doing social distancing from the king and his soldiers. During that time he was hiding from one mountain to another, staying in one cave to another. And he wrote:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalms 121:1-2

Faith Moves Mountains

Few years ago, we were blessed to visit Israel. During one of our trips our bus was traveling to Bethlehem, the tour guide asked us to look beyond Bethlehem hills and direct our sight to a strange-looking mountain in the distance. It was truncated and cone-shaped.

It was a strange-looking mountain because it was man-made. The mountain was named Herodium, a fortress that Herod the Great constructed, about 5 kilometers southeast of Bethlehem. This was the same King Herod that tried to kill Jesus by slaughtering all the male infants in the region.

As history recorded it, when Herod the Great, was searching for a place to build his home and fortress, there was not a mountain high enough for him to build this structure. Instead there were two hills near each other at the site where he wanted it.

So what did Herod do? He cut down one hill and with an army of laborers he placed the pared hill on top of the other hill to make it higher, one bucket of dirt and rocks at a time. He literally moved a mountain.

When Jesus and his disciples were having discussion about faith, they were probably looking at this Herod’s mountain, which was hard to miss in the Judaean desert. Its dominating presence was a constant reminder of an oppressive regime. It was a common knowledge of that time how Herod moved a mountain.

Jesus told his disciples: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

What Jesus was telling his disciples is that faith, is much powerful than what Herod can do. With faith they can be greater than Herod the Great. With faith they can be mightier than the mightiest ruler of their time.

Yes, our God is powerful and He can move mountains. And if we have faith in Him we can do that too. And if God can move our mountains, we should never be asking anymore, “Who will roll away the stone.”

(*most photos taken from the web)

Bugnutin

Sabi ng aking misis ay nagiging masungit at bugnutin daw ako habang ako ay tumatanda. Siguro dahil na rin sa stress sa trabaho, lalo na at napaka-busy pa rin ng aming ICU at sunod-sunod ang aking duty, at marami pa rin kaming kaso ng COVID-19. O marahil talagang gusto ko lang maging “grumpy old man.”

Pero may nahukay ako sa aking baul na magpapatunay na hindi ako tumatandang masungit at bugnutin. Ang aking ebidensiya? Bata pa lang ako ay bugnutin at salubong na ang kilay ko!

Post Note: Kaaway ko siguro yung litratista.

(*photo circa 1970’s)

Hugot Lines sa Quarantine

Halos tatlong buwan na po ang quarantine sa Pilipinas. Nabubuwang na ba kayo? Sige ituloy-tuloy na natin ang magpakabuwang. Heto po ang mga hugot lines sa quarantine:

Ang tagal na nitong quarantine, sana matapos na. Para makalabas na ako at magkita na ulit tayo. Pero ang masakit kahit wala ng quarantine, hindi ka pa rin akin, at wala pa ring tayo.

**********

Dahil po sa COVID-19 ay panatilihin lang nating dumistansiya. Lalo na kung hindi naman ikaw ang kanyang mahal.

**********

Ang tagal ko rin naghintay ng ayuda at ng mga relief goods. Pero buti pa ang ayuda, dumating kahit na nade-delay. Ang hinihintay kong pag-ibig, wala pa rin. Hanggang sa dulo na lang ng walang hanggan ako maghihintay.

**********

Sabi nila para makaiwas sa pagkalat ng corona virus ay magsuot ng mask kapag lalabas. Pero naiinggit ako sa mask mo, laging nakalapat sa iyong mga pisngi at nakadampi sa iyong mga labi. Sana ako na lang ang iyong mask.

**********

Payo nila lagi raw maghugas ng kamay o kaya ay magpahid ng alkohol. Diyan magaling yung mahal ko. Siya na nga ang may ginawang mali, naghuhugas kamay pa rin. Lagi na lang nagmamalinis.

**********

Ang tagal nang walang pasok. Miss na miss ko na ang classroom. Sa classroom may batas. Bawal lumabas, oh, bawal lumabas. Pero pag nag-comply ka……….teka, teka, iba na yata ‘yon. Sorry po.

Take two:

Ang tagal nang walang pasok. Kailan kaya ulit magkakapasok? Pero hindi na bale, lagi ka namang pumapasok sa aking alaala. Ako kaya, pumapasok din ba sa iyong isipan?

**********

Wala naman akong ubo. Wala rin akong lagnat. Wala naman akong virus at hindi rin naman siguro ako mukhang virus. Pero bakit lagi ka na lang umiiwas? Dinadahilan mo na lang lagi ang quarantine.

**********

Buti pa ang mga komunidad naka-lock down. Bakit ‘yung mahal ko, kami na nga pero hindi ko pa rin siya ma-lock down? Labas pa rin ng labas at panay pa rin ang papansin niya sa iba.

Champagnebloggen: 2008 Damien Hugot Millésime

Tulad ng champagne na ito, “Daming Hugot” pa. Hanggang sa susunod na lang ulit at sana makalaya na tayo sa hugot…..este, sa quarantine.

(*photo from the net)

Harvesting Peony

About this time every year, our yard bursts with colors with these big fragrant blooms. These are peonies, and their flowers only last for only two weeks at the most.

Even though it’s not officially summer yet, we are having a “heat wave” for the next several days as Iowa weather is fickly. These flowers wilt fast and they don’t like the heat so we decided to harvest them early. This also provided a photo op.

My wife agreed to be my model for this photoshoot.

We will definitely appreciate their beauty, even for just a few days. I mean the flowers. The model, that’s timeless.

**********

Bonus: While we were harvesting the peonies and doing the photoshoot, someone else, uninvitedly though definitely welcomed, came in to the scene. Here’s the video:

(*photos and video taken with an iPhone)