By Joyce Ivy Esteban
When we talk summer, almost everyone thinks of long vacations, exciting trips and outings, the long stretch of sandy beaches, splashes of water and almost everything that is associated with the scorching heat of the summer sun. Looking at the other side of the coin, summer’s extreme heat also sparks up numerous fires and other related mishaps.
It was in the summer of ’98 when an incident happened that changed my life…and my faith, for the better.
I was watching the evening news hearing numbers of fires occurring in different areas in the metropolis. I have seen videos of men using pails of water in desperate effort to fight the fires but to no avail. Some were running to and fro carrying their belongings and their children.
“Nakakatakot. Ganun pala yun!” (How horrible! So, it is like that?), I said to myself. I felt so thankful that fires have not occurred in our place. After that, I fell asleep and forgot everything.
It was two o’clock in the morning when I was awakened by screams from nearby houses shouting, “Sunog! Sunog!…Bilis, tubig!” (Fire! Fire! Hurry! Water, please!). I hurriedly got off my bed and joined my mom looking out to know what was happening. We saw that the house just across the street was on fire. People were running with their belongings. Men were coming out with their hoses and pails – the same scenario that I have seen earlier on the news on TV.
My mother hurriedly packed some clothes in a huge blanket, telling me to do the same. My father went out to contact the firemen. We hurriedly left the house carrying some personal belongings. Going out, I could almost feel the heat from the fire across the house. I felt my knees tremble. I almost wanted to cry in fear. I could hear the sounds of the burning materials, as well as the screams of women in fear. The fire razed as it gobbled up the properties across. In our relief, the firemen came.
I lost track of time. The fire was put out around 3:00 am. The fire happened in just an hour – an hour that dramatically changed my life. I offered a silent prayer of thanks to God. It was the first time that I prayed with tears falling down my cheeks.
I never had a good night’s sleep after that. Fear and uncertainty surrounded me. Questions were lurking in my mind. Will I be ready for such sudden change? Will I be sure that if anything happens, I will be safe? Am I ready for death? If God will take everything from me now, how can I handle it?
I have realized how great God’s power is – How His hands can move and work for people to know and call His name.
I found myself clamoring for God’s words. A day is not complete if I did not watch Bro. Eli’s program – the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path program on TV). I soon attended locale gatherings and expositions with delight and interest that I have never felt before when my parents would oblige me to attend. They were then already members of the Church of God, International led by Bro. Eli.
Time came that I did attend the gatherings and bible expositions with faith and willingly attended Mass Indoctrination sessions that led to the day of my baptism. And then I found the peace of mind and serenity that I have always wanted.
Recounting what had happened in the night of the fire…remembering the fear…the nervousness…the trembling of my knees, I have never been afraid in my whole life before that night. But that fear drove me to seek for the truth, to assess my life, to know God and serve Him. Well, now I know, it was a blessing in disguise.
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