*FAITH, The World (TRAVEL)

I Traveled to 23 Countries… and Not Counting (For Now)

The fact that you’re reading this means you also have the desire to TRAVEL! Haha! If that’s correct, then GOOD!

I had the same desire right after I graduated from college and started working in the real world — with entry-level salary and meager savings. Even though I’ve been traveling since I was five (you know, the usual family trips), it was only after a decade (in 2006), when I was already in college, when the travel bug “bit” me for real. It started with visiting my sister in Sydney, Australia as she finished her fellowship/sub-specialty training to become a Pediatrician slash Human Geneticist. When I came back, I yearned to visit more places outside the Philippines and Asia. But I had to start small first, so my travel journey began by crossing off Southeast Asian countries off my travel bucket list — mostly because there’s no visa required (thanks to the ASEAN agreement!), and of course, since local budget airlines frequent these routes (yay for promo fares!). Little did I know, now that I’m nearing the end of my twenties and about to go on being “thirty, flirty, and thriving” (of course flirty only to my S.O. and bonus points for you if you get the movie reference!), I’ve already traveled to a total of 23 countries (the Philippines — my home country, and Europe — my dream continent, included), and to be honest, I’m not quite sure how I did it! 😛

But if there’s one thing I’m sure of, everything was, is, and will always be God’s grace. Call me religious or spiritual, but I believe that the main reason why I was able to do it — to travel even when I’m not rich — is because of His unlimited provisions in my life. He planted the dream to travel in my heart (especially the dream to travel to Europe) all the way back in 2006, and He has been faithful in that promise. He always is.

So yes, I owe it all to God’s grace. That, and my unceasing faith in Him, my never-ending hope that my travel dreams can come true, and my unconditional love for this life that God has blessed me with! Sure, God works on His own timeline, and it’s our job — it was my job — to be patient and trust Him fully. Take my dream destination for example. I wanted to travel the world in 2006, but my dream to travel to Europe specifically was planted in my heart in 2010. In 2016, I finally got to travel to my ultimate dream destination: the UK! 🙂

2016 travels

And I thought that was it. But you know what they say, when God blesses, it’ll be “siksik, liglig, at umaapaw.” We can never outrun God’s generosity. Lo and behold, I didn’t expect that I’ll be able to travel again to different parts of my dream continent in the next two years after my first travel dream fulfillment. He even allowed me to travel to other local and Asian destinations in between — and lose 30 lbs. to boot! (But that’s for another blog entry altogether! Haha!)

2017 travels

2018 travels

The Philippines. Hong Kong (China). Singapore. Australia. Malaysia. Vietnam. Cambodia. Thailand. Brunei. Guam (USA). The UK. Ireland. Taiwan. Japan. Germany. The Czech Republic. Slovakia. Hungary. Austria. Greece. Turkey. Italy. The Vatican.

I’ve been to those aforementioned countries (separate posts for each can be found here)… but I’m not counting anymore. For some, that may be a lot. But still for some, that’s not even half way through all the countries they’ve been to. For me, that’s more than enough. All my travels are personal, none of which is work-related (though I wish some are!), that’s why I’m not complaining. 😀

Sooo. Why is this post entitled like that?

Well, after reaching my travel dreams in my twenties, I believe God is calling me to a different season as I enter the next chapter of my life in my thirties. In short, my priorities are changing, I don’t see myself splurging on travel again the same way I did before, and this is my “swan song” to my “Wander Mika” self — at least the traveling part.

I say the “traveling part” because I don’t just limit the word “wander” to “traveling.” The dictionary defines “wander” as “to walk slowly across or around an area, usually without a clear direction or purpose.” When I came up with my “Wander Mika” concept for my social media accounts (including this blog), I defined “wandering” as living a “pointless” life without God in it (referring to the last line of the dictionary’s definition: without a clear direction or purpose). And that is where FAITH comes in. Because thankfully, I have the best “travel” buddy: JESUS. And through this blog and my other travel-related posts, I pray that you find Him in your own journey, too, and live a life full of LOVE (as defined in my life verse — 1 Corinthians 13:2) ❤

misc. travels from 2006-2015

So no, you won’t see me traveling as much in the coming year (and probably in the years after that). Yes, I’ll still travel from time to time, but my next “splurge” trip will probably be in the next five years or more (I still want to see the Northern Lights! *hint, hint*). But rest assured, I’ll always be Wander Mika regardless of the season I’m in, and I’ll always have the “best travel buddy” in this journey called life: GOD!!!

2012 travels

If God has been faithful to me even in just my simple travel dreams,
I trust that He will be even more faithful when it comes to my bigger life dreams! 😉

I pray the same abundance and provisions for YOU.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!


Got travel questions?
Don’t hesitate to send me a message or two!

Standard
*FAITH, Creative Writing?, Down Memory Lane, The World (TRAVEL)

That Rainbow in Prague (A Short Memoir)

Prague, Czech Republic (July 2017)

Prague. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? After all, I know of some people who dream of visiting it. Praha, some of them even say. The Czech Republic. But not me. I didn’t dream of going to Prague. It just so happened that it’s included in the tour package me and my sisters booked for this trip. This Euro trip — now that, I’ve always dreamed of. And for some reason, I’m now living it. Maybe it’s God’s way of telling me that it’ll be alright? Because this is just good timing. I’m currently moving on and healing my broken heart, I’m embarking on a trip of a lifetime, and I’m emo as emo one can be — ain’t that the stuff of movies? But hey, I’m not complaining! I know that my life is a story and if the main author of it, God Himself, is orchestrating something to help me make something good, even great, out of this heartbreak, then why not? God did it to me before, and I know He can do it again. He always will.

So no, I didn’t really plan on going to Prague. But as I step on this wet floor after some rain, overlooking the city’s skyline, I was reaffirmed. There it is on the clouds above, perfectly positioned for all to see, for me to see, in all its seven vibrant colors: a rainbow. There’s a freakin’ rainbow in the city of Prague, and I love it! I always love seeing rainbows! It’s always like a dream come true after each rain.

And now that I’m standing here, seeing this rainbow in front of me, while I’m still going through my own “life storm,” it’s like God is telling me, “Mika, it’ll be alright. Just like this rainbow, life will be colorful for you again. Just trust Me, I got you.”

Looking back, it has been alright. Prague has been more than a year already, and I’m glad to say that life, indeed, has never been more colorful for me. And I’ve nothing left to say but, “thank you, God!” 🙂

And that, my friends, is actually a product of the most recent writing workshop I just attended: Scribblory‘s Your Past at the Tip of Your Pen: A Memoir Writing Workshop by Elaine Marie Factor (author of Kerygma Books’ Finding You: A Memoir on Dreams, Detours, and Destiny). We were given a few minutes to choose something to write about, and me, out of panic (haha!), the first thing that came to mind was my phone = photos — including my travel photos. And this rainbow shot taken during my Euro Trip last year is actually one of my favorites despite not considering Prague as one of my favorite destinations. Hence the post above that you just read. That’s the unedited version straight from my notebook, so apologies if there were some grammar/writing style issues. Wahahahaha! I wanted to keep it that way to help me in my progress as I start venturing into this whole “memoir writing” stuff. I’m loving it, by the way! 😉

I know I need more practice because one of my dreams is to actually write my own non-fiction book! There, I said it. Writing has always been a passion of mine (hello blog!), but I believe it’s high time to take this whole passion project into a whole new level. Sure, I’ll still blog — blogging is another form of writing I’ve loved doing since my college days (this blog alone is turning nine years old this December! yaaay!), but I’ve to get more serious with my God-given craft. And the best way I can think of to do that is to finally finish my book! Of course, all for His glory! 🙂

So yes, I’m on the road to writing my memoir in book form! Pray for me, yes?

TO GOD BE THE GLORY ALWAYS AND FOREVER!

Standard
*FAITH

“I Love You” Means…

Has it been more than three months since my last post?! Haha! Well, I’ve been meaning to update my blog and I think it’s just fitting to finally publish this today, the first day of a new month. 🙂

Sooo.

One of my favorite Catholic lay preachers, Bro. Bo Sanchez, once said that if someone said “I love you” to you, you might as well reply with this question: “Are you willing to die for me?”

And I actually agree! As of this writing, I’ve been single for a year and a half already, and if there’s one thing God taught me in this current season I’m in, it’s what true love really means — it’s not a feeling, it’s not just a decision, but it’s about dying to one’s self for the good of the other. Did you get that? Authentic loving means dying — selfless, not selfish. What does this mean?

For this one, it’s best to turn to the Greeks’ definition of love (the English one is just so vague! haha). The Greeks have these different terms for love:

  • Eros – more on feelings and/or romance (also the most fleeting!); this is the one that makes us say, “I fell in love”
  • Philia – more on friendship (the best foundation); this is the one we can offer to everyone, even non-romantic prospects
  • Agape – more on dying to one’s self for the good of the other — the ultimate form of love! This is the one modeled by Jesus on the cross; for couples, this is the kind of love you ought to show to your partner when the honeymoon phase has already faded away; for the rest of humanity, this is the kind of love we’re all called for in order to have happy, healthy, loving, and peaceful relationships

So how exactly can we apply agape (the highest form of love) in our lives? As a follower of Christ, my best guide is the Bible. Saint John Paul the Great‘s Theology of the Body is also a good place to start! (And thanks to catholic-link.org, I was enlightened more through this infographic!)

Here’s what it says and my understanding of each:

Agape means answering without arguing (Proverbs 17:1). For example, if you’re a Christian from a different denomination and I’m Catholic, let’s focus on sharing our common love for Jesus. Arguing about doctrine/dogma just isn’t Christ-like. The same goes to discriminating other religions. Let’s just not.

Agape means speaking without accusing (James 1:19). We all have the right to voice out our concerns. But we have to remember that sometimes it’s not about what we have to say, but how we say it.

Agape means promising without forgetting (Proverbs 13:12). I’m sometimes guilty of this! Haha! But yes, we gotta learn to be accountable of our own words — whether it’s as minor as doing a favor for another, or as major as staying faithful to your partner. That’s agape looove!

Agape means listening without interrupting (Proverbs 18). As a very talkative person (wordy pa!), this was a very hard lesson to learn. But gradually, I’m happy to say that I’m now able to apply this to the point that sometimes I’m already mistaken for being an introvert (sooo not me! wahahahaha)! But yes, I’m still a work in progress in this aspect, and I can only thank God for His grace.

Agape means working without complaining (Philippians 2:14). You know that feeling when you’re willing to do anything for someone you love? Well, that also applies to someone or something you don’t necessarily like or love but is required of you. For example, if there’s a major reorganization at your workplace and you don’t necessarily like it but you still do it nonetheless for the greater good of the entire organization, then that, in itself, is already showing agape love to your workplace, boss/es, and colleagues! Besides, thank God that you still have a job and you still have the capacity and means to work!

Agape means trusting without wavering (1 Corinthians 13:7). For most singles, trusting God in the waiting season is probably one of the hardest things to do! But we gotta keep on trusting lest we end up settling for not His best — and that’s just sad. So trust God fully, and use this time to love and seek Him all the more!!!

Agape means forgiving without punishing (Colossians 3:13). More than forgiving others, this is about forgiving yourself too. After all, forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. And when you don’t forgive, you’re the only one who’s punishing yourself. Don’t do that. Show yourself some agape love. And just like hurt people, hurt people, people who have sufficient self-love are also the ones who are able to give love to others more!

Agape means praying without ceasing (Colossians 1:9). It’s easy to pray when things are going well. But when they don’t? I say that agape love is when the going gets tough, the tough get to praying more! This includes praying for your enemies. It’s not easy, but God will be very proud of you!

Agape means giving without sparing (Proverbs 21 and 26). For example, if you’re going to donate pre-loved items to a charity, make sure that those items can really still be used. Don’t just give for the sake of giving. Give with a purpose and it’ll be more meaningful. Also, agape love means loving freely without expecting anything in return. Easier said than done, but through God’s grace, anything’s possible!

Agape means giving without regret (2 Corinthians 9:7). When my ex and I broke up, there was a point that I considered him as the biggest mistake of my life! Haha! But no, that was just the high emotions talking. When I realized that I’ve already moved on, I have nothing but thanksgiving to my ex and our past four-year relationship because that experience brought out the best version of myself — and I wouldn’t have it any other way! BUT we need to draw the line. When it comes to sin, though, we must learn to repent, recover, then restore. So yes, regret the sin/s, but not the love.

I’m sure there are still other examples apt for each of the aforementioned points, so you’re free to reflect on your own. Ain’t it fun? So many ways to show authentic love! 😀

Basta ako, sabi nga sa isang commercial, wala man akong “love life” ngayon, hindi naman nawala ang love sa buhay ko — not just love from my family, my friends, and myself, but most importantly from God, who is Love Himself.

So now, before I utter those “three words, eight letters” to anyone, I reflect first if I really mean it. Am I really willing to die to myself for the good of that person for me to say that I love him or her? ‘Cause if not, then I might as well just keep my mouth shut. This way, when I finally utter the words “I love you,” God, me, and that person will know that I really, really do.

I guess it’s also timing that I’m going to Greece very, very soon. I bet there’s a thing or two I could learn more from the Greeks.

Less eros, more agape, and then some. 😉

Happy agape loving,
Mika

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.”

-1 Corinthians 13:2

When was the last time you exemplified agape love to others?
Share your thoughts!

Standard