I ran and ran until I bumped against the altar. The red catholic bible and the fragile icon of St. Mary fell on the floor and turned into pieces. I was alone then but my mother heard the sound. I was afraid to look at her because she might scold me. As she entered the room where I was, she hurriedly picked up the bible which was an open-leaf when it fell. She was startled and stupefied when she read a verse in that Catholic bible saying not to worship gods which were made by the hands of men.
By Michelle Lou V. Samson
I am Michelle Lou V. Samson, 16. I am the oldest daughter of Thelma and Ernesto Samson. I have two siblings who are in the Kawan ng Mga Cordero (KNC) show, Mikee Louise and Marie Elisha. I was born in Marikina City but later on, my siblings and I were raised in an extended family in Pasig City. I was a Lolo and Lola’s girl and I felt more the parental love through my grandparents because my parents were married at a very young age.
The race of Samson family who were native citizens and dominant in our street was devout Catholic except from my father who was affiliated to a Born Again Christian Church when he was in high school. But since that Catholicism dominated in the family, he quit attending his church and raised us as Catholic. During those years until late 2000, my youngest sister was not yet born so it was only Mikee and I who used to enjoy celebrating Christmas, as if it was a day for kids, We were aware of different celebrations for fake gods such as Valentine’s day, Saints’ feats and the like. At night, we were not allowed to play outside the house.
As a playful kid, I used to run inside the house. I couldn’t remember how young I was then, maybe 6 or 5. I ran and ran until I bumped against the altar. The red catholic bible and the fragile icon of St. Mary fell on the floor and turned into pieces. I was alone then but my mother heard the sound. I was afraid to look at her because she might scold me. As she entered the room where I was, she hurriedly picked up the bible which was an open-leaf when it fell. She was startled and stupefied when she read a verse in that Catholic bible saying not to worship gods which were made by the hands of men. That was the start of my parents’ search for true church. They attended different churches but none of those satisfied my mother. Finally they found a church Locale of Manggahan in Pasig City, a locale of Ang Dating Daan, or Members Church of God International where Bro. Eliseo Soriano is the Presiding Minister. My parents were baptized on separate days after the indoctrination.
My family stopped attending Catholic gatherings therefore. Although I used to have questions in my mind because of many changes that our parents told us to do so such as the requirement to wear long skirts, no more accessories, no more attending and eating in catholic weddings, feasts, Christmas, baptism and the like, I just obeyed my parents because they knew better. I could remember I was in grade one when Mikee and I were brought to the KNC room. We used to attend Sunday school in God’s Grace Christian School so we were not afraid being sent to other kids’ gatherings aside from the school activities.
Our school was directed by non-catholic sect. The principal asked my parents why Mikee and I stopped attending Sunday school. I felt like they had a little debate at the principal’s office. When I was in grade two, my parents transferred us to a public school where I became antisocial with my schoolmates. I became antisocial because when my hair grew longer, my teachers and schoolmates teased me especially the Handog kids of Iglesia ni cirsto (INC) ni Manalo. They used to debate with me whether Christ was a man or not. Whenever they couldn’t win their rebuttal, they would tease me about my physical appearance. Worse was that at their young age of 7, they were already saying many things against Bro. Eli. The Manalistas were proud of themselves because they believed that they (INCs) were the only people to go to heaven. But I never believed them!
Mikee and I participated in different activities and competitions in KNC. She was more active than I was because I cared more about my studies. When I reached my puberty stage, I grew tall for my age. I got shy attending KNC because my height was emphasized. The KKTKs too in our locale were of the age of my uncle in his 20s, so I decided to focus on my studies instead.
I was in first year high school when one of my former KNC workers introduced to me the Bible Readers (BREAD) Society. I opened myself to people but there was no BREAD in Santolan High School so I just attended assemblies and few meetings, but not a bible study. It lasted for a year and a half. I really gave my time to arts and academics since that I belonged to a special class, Special Program for the Arts, for my entire high school life. I was not able to attend prayer meetings and thanksgivings. I almost lived inside the school.
When I was in second year, I became a choir member in our school wherein our adviser and our choir master were from Sumulong Baptist Church. I was able to join their 4-day summer camp in Tarlac, believing that we would perform an intermission number. As a youth, I enjoyed because of the mimes, worship songs in lively rock music and different extreme challenges. But whenever the pastor spoke on stage, most of us (schoolmates) were found sleeping on our seats. When the band started to play, we became alive again. On-stage, the hosts of the camp read love letters from the campers. And there was a time I heard the pastor spoke and I was as if listening to a storyteller. They gave stories for the youth to be encouraged to join them, and then read some verses from the bible interpreted literally with the so-called “Once saved, always saved” motto. How deceitful!
Before I stepped to my junior year in high school, a controversy my mother and I investigated proved that our hypothesis why my father was not regularly going home for a couple of months was correct. At my age of 14, when Mikee was 12 and Marie was just 5 and the two of them were part of the KNC Show, our father replaced us by a slut and completely left us with his words, “Hindi kita pag-aaralin. Wala kang makukuha miski piso sa akin.” (I won’t let you go to school. You won’t be able to get even a peso from me). That was the only vow he didn’t break. He meant it until now. It was good that I had been a Mayor’s scholar since first year high school and my allowance increased each year.
My father challenged me so much so I decided to prove that I could live without him. Because he would never give support, my mother, together with Mikee, had to live and work in Bulacan so Marie and I were left to our grandparents. Without the guidance of parents, I got spoiled and became a little feminist as I focused on school. Though I was not really intelligent, I got myself busy doing research, projects, writing scripts, speeches, etc as I was a part of stage productions. Our section was discriminated so we had to fight scholarly. I became more passionate to writing especially those with dramatic themes. It was hard for me to trust anyone “My father who is my blood left me, so other people can do worse!” but I became sociable at the span of doing a group thesis paper until summer vacation. I had my three closest friends: a Born Again Christian, a Roman Catholic and an inactive INC member. I considered myself as having no religion. The four of us made up most of the research paper. Once we visited our adviser/Research teacher’s house for the checking of our draft, he tried to convince us with the principles of Jehovah’s Witnesses until 12:30 am. It was only I who contested what he said. That time, I was really trying hard to remember what Bro. Eli had taught but I couldn’t remember the verses for my arguments so I lacked proofs.
When I was in fourth year, I tried harder to the extent that I ignored my health. It was not my habit to bring umbrella with me so rain or heat of the sun was not an excuse to me not to go to where I should be. I rarely ate in a day and rarely slept for more than four hours just to give time to studies and friends. This was the pressure caused by the absence of my parents. I won school contests but on the half of the school year 2008-2009, I was diagnosed with suprahilar bilateral pneumonitis and was impression by a public doctor as slight tuberculosis. Because of that disease, I was not allowed to join a regional investigatory project contest. I had many absences and late records in school. My grades were affected. I disappointed people when I was only ranked 15 during graduation.
I knew God wanted me to learn something so I accepted that consequence. I failed to make the honor roll but I received bliss more than the honor students could realize. I felt like within me was a voice making me realize that I had committed big shortcomings. I had learned to forgive. Forgiveness is something that Bro. Eli would emphasize as necessary before one offers the weekly thanksgiving, the quarterly international thanksgiving, and even before one prays.
I realized I had become so selfish when God did a lot of favors for me. Yes, my biological father walked away but the Most Loving Father never left me alone. I felt so bad, sorry and regretful when I realized how stupid I was for ignoring God’s tender love and care. I stopped attending MCGI gatherings for 4 years but still He watches over me, the lost sheep. I owe Him so much more than my life. But I only took antibiotics for two weeks and month of vitamins since I was diagnosed with disease, then no more medical aides after that. I thought it was too late until I started re-attending MCGI gatherings since April 4, 2009, the start of my college era.
I was not able to take a talent test for Creative Writing in UP-Diliman because I lacked money for the expenses in my requirements. I gave up the university, but never my dream to be a writer. As an alternative, I passed the entrance exam for AB Broadcast Communication in PUP- Sta. Mesa but I became reluctant to study in PUP although my closest friends were enrolled there. I had gone there for many times but whatever I do, I couldn’t memorize the place. I also considered the factor that I had to kill the developing activist within me since high school. But where should I go?
For my comparison, the entrance exam in LVCC was harder than my exam in PUP so I was afraid that I might not qualify as Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel’s scholar. But thanks be to God! I saw my name on the passers’ list. Yes! I passed the exam but how about my lung disease?
It’s only God who heals or kills. I didn’t consult a doctor for months but my x-ray in PUP reported that my lungs were clear and normal. I couldn’t explain and I felt so little and shy because despite that I neglected, God still heard my prayer. Now, I don’t have a lung disease. My lungs are clear and normal. With God’s help and mercy, I am a scholar in La Verdad Christian College taking up Mass Communication Technology. Thanks be to God for giving Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel incomparable, pure and good heart despite the persecutions of enemies of the truth.
The time of my youth is my opportunity to do what I want but on my high school days, I forgot to preserve my energy and health. What I did would take effect after some time. My second x-ray in PUP declared good news about my lungs but it also brought a bad news. In the same x-ray I was diagnosed with mild dextroscoliosis (right curvature of spine). It was a day in October 2009 when I was found with astigmatism with combination of nearsightedness although I had been feeling bad with my eyes before.
When I was not a member of MCGI, I heard the topic about the bad days. I thought then that those bad days already came to me when I ignored God during high school. But since I was indoctrinated, I learned to fight. The most important was I learned to forgive my father. Grudge would never do me good. Now I learned from my experiences and from the doctrines of God. I learned the true meaning of. “My weakness will strengthen me” I used to tell this to myself since my father walked away. But when I heard Bro. Eli read II Corinthians 4:16 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
My weakness will strengthen me. My weakness is my fear. And I fear God! All I have to do is to give my life to Him and He will take care of me until eternity. I don’t pray for a longer life, but for the strength to do good things while I live. It had been my inspiration especially when I was one of the souls baptized on September 25, 2009.
The next day after my baptism, tropical storm Ketsana/Ondoy praised the Almighty God. It cleaned a big part of Luzon especially Pasig City and Marikina City where most of momentous events in my past life took place. Those were the place where I wrote my stories and other writings, where some of my documents and credentials were vanished away by the flood. Truly, I was a new born baby on that day not on the land of men, but in the Church of God.
There are possibilities that I might be already dead because of the flood if I didn’t study in La Verdad Christian College in Apalit, Pampanga. But God’s love and His words didn’t let them happen to me. News reports said 464 people died.