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New Beginnings Editor’s Thoughts: “New Beginnings” Raylene Ann Rodrigo-Baumgart, BSN’78 Devotional: ………… “Being Organized” …….Raylene Ann Rodrigo-Baumgart

Featured Items: “Together, We Hope, We Pray, We Share”……………………………… Edwin Gulfan “A Clutter-free Life”………………………………………………………………… Ainor Aganeo-Ombiga “Christmas Experiences & Perspectives”………………………………….. Alfredo Agustin Jr. “New Year’s Thoughts & Resolutions”……from contributors: Ruth Montano, Mimia Sanchez, Lou Branzuela, Gilbert Correces, Cheryl Lee Rodrigo SULADS Corner …....................…. “A Soldier for Christ”…………. Daniel A. Roa Patch of Weeds ………………………………………………………………………. Jesse Colegado LIFE of a Missionary ……………………………………………………………… Romy Halasan

CLOSING: Announcements |From The Mail Bag| Prayer Requests | Acknowledgements Meet The Editors |Closing Thoughts | Miscellaneous

Editor’s Thoughts: “New Beginnings” Raylene Ann Rodrigo-Baumgart The year 2017 is about to come to its close. On the first of the New Year 2018, millions of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution (or two or three) that they won’t keep. Still, despite the ritual’s repeated failings, year after year, we keep trying. This yearly tradition, which dates as far back as Ancient Rome, is a reminder that humans can't stop believing in new beginnings. How does your list look like? I think it can be really daunting when our list of New Year’s Resolution is as long as our Christmas shopping list. I firmly believe that setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1. By making our resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that we will be able to keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into our lives. It is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is simply a time for us to reflect on our past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes to better our lives. Theodore W. Higginsworth, an American Unitarian minister, author, abolitionist and soldier (December 22, 1823 – May 9, 1911) once said, "A fresh start - a new day - a new month a new year. Do you see each day as a fresh start or are you carrying yesterday into this brand new day. See the possibilities of beginning anew." The New Year 2018 stands before us like a fresh chapter in a book. To me, this means another opportunity to make myself into whatever I want to be. It is my chance to start fresh and evaluate my goal for the person I really want to be. What will you write for the next chapter of your life? It is entirely up to you. It is entirely up to me too.


Devotional ~Raylene Ann Rodrigo-Baumgart

1 Corinthians 14:33, 40 – “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. But everything must be done in a proper and orderly manner”. I had one more Christmas card to make and I realized I was missing one envelope. I then decided to go to my ‘junk room’ where I usually store all my crafts. The sight just bothered me. What a mess! I simply could not find the thing I needed! Clutter. Junk. Stuff. Call it what you like, I got so much of it and drowning in it. I must admit my cupboards and filing systems can't cope with it all, so it spills out on to floors and table tops, gradually taking over our house and in this space I called “junk room”. My daughter Alexa is always asking me. “How many clothes do you own? (and still insist you have nothing to wear) Can’t you just bring them all to Goodwill or Salvation Army?” It is true that we're the most materially endowed generation in history - and that's our problem. Without being aware of it, the stuff we spend our lives and money acquiring has become a constant,

overwhelming source of stress, affecting everything from our lifestyle choices to our personal development.

Our overfilled, cluttered houses aren't sanctuary from a hostile world anymore, or even sleek machines for living. They're messy, never finished, a constant source of stress, guilt and anxiety. Most of our time is spent working to get more stuff or to maintain the stuff we have already (cars to service, collections to add to, consumer durables to repair or replace, all that furniture to clean, objects to dust), leaving us exhausted, time-famished. Although we live in a culture of unprecedented plenty, we have the mindset of hoarders. My husband still keeps a boxful of his textbooks from college, old welldarned socks and gifts we didn't want and will never use. We can't throw anything away. We've become hostages to our stuff. I always find excuses such as “I will need them at my next Women’s Ministry party!” or “I hate to throw them away when I spent so much money on them?” Dejunking or decluttering- clearing out all that clutter and living a cleaner, simpler life should really be one’s goal. I know it is mine now. Done properly - which means approached from an emotional and philosophical point of view as well as a practical one – I know dejunking will be far more than an extension of spring cleaning. When I go to my junk room, I keep asking myself, “How did I accumulate all these?” Last month, I decided there and then to start getting rid of stuff. It was not easy. I started gradually, one corner at a time, one cupboard at a time and got boxes and sacks. I made a plan and labeled my boxes and sacks as “Trash,” “To Donate,” Too Important-Will Store in Attic.” I decided at that very moment that if I clear the physical clutter in my home, I can breathe better, be more relaxed and will find other things to pursue which will help me live a life with a purpose.

It really took me a while to I realize what CLUTTER really is! It does not have to be messy. They can be boxed well or arranged well. Our homes are still considered cluttered and disorganized when we cannot find things, when closets are bulging and drawers are spilling over. Our time is cluttered when we have too many activities on the calendar and the ‘to-do-list’ is too long. Our relationships are cluttered when we continue to hold on to dysfunctional, hurtful, negative and toxic people or when we fill our days with meetings, parties and conversations that have no true meaning and value to our lives. Our emotions are cluttered with too many unresolved issues and unforgiveness and too much drama and unnecessary arguing or fighting. Our lives are taken over with clutter and we lose our way. We cannot find the path because so much is in the way. For this New Year, I resolved that I will never allow clutter to steal my energy for life. I need to take a deep breath and realize that God wants me to live an orderly life. I am assured that no matter what state I have allowed my life to become, He is still here with me, every step of the way. He is still here for me and for you and willing to help us clean the mess of the past. We just need to walk with Him through our homes, work places, emotions, relationships and allow Him to show us what we can get rid of. Let us formulate a plan on how to start the decluttering as the New Year comes. Work on it a little each day and you will see a much more peaceful tranquil life emerging from the rubble. I am still on a decluttering mission daily. How about you? When can you start?

Happy New Beginnings!

Quotes for the Week

“Every moment is a fresh beginning.” —T.S. Eliot “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” —Joseph Campbell “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” —Meister Eckhart “Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you'll get to where God wants you to be”. ~Joel Osteen

“Let's forget the baggages of the past and make a new beginning”. ~Shehbaz Sharif “Every minute you spend looking through clutter, wondering where you put this or that, being unable to focus because you're not organized costs you: time you could have spent with family or friends, time you could have been productive around the house, time you could have been making money”. ~Jean Chatzky

“Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

When it comes to New Year celebration, people have some of the strangest New Year’s traditions. While champagne, confetti and counting down to midnight have become the standard way to celebrate in many countries, some cultures still have their own specific ways of ringing in the New Year, including some very original practices.

**In Denmark they save all of their unused dishes and plates until the 31st of December when they affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends and family. **In the Philippines it’s all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food, round clothes, as long as it’s round. They also wear polka-dotted dresses for fortune for the New Year. **In some South American countries wearing colored underwear will determine your fate for the New Year. Red underwear means you’ll find love. Gold means wealth, white signifies peace. ** In Columbia, Cuba and Puerto Rico families stuff a life-size male doll with things and then they dress it up in old clothes donated from each family member. At the stroke of midnight, this "Mr. Old Year" is set on fire. This is done with the simple belief that a doll thus stuffed have bad memories or sadness associated with them, and that the burning of these will help one to do away with past unhappiness and usher in happiness in life with the coming year. **In Greece, children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year’s Day, which incidentally, is also the Festival of Saint Basil, with the hope that Saint Basil who was famous for kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts. **In some parts of Puerto Rico they throw pails of water out of their windows to drive away evil spirits.

** In Japan, everyone gets dressed in their new clothes on New Year’s. Homes are decorated with pine branches and bamboo, both of which are considered to be the symbols of long life. In Japan eating noodles is very important. Late on the evening of December 3st, Japanese folks eat a bowl of buckwheat noodles called “toshikoshisoba” and listen for the sound of the Buddhist temple bells, which are rung 08 times at midnight. The sound of these bells is said to purify the listeners of the 108 sins or evil passions that plague every human being. **In Spain, people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes at midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year’s Eve. This peculiar ritual originated in the 20th century when freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. Not able to decide what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the king of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual. **In Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and Mexico, those with hopes of traveling in the New Year carry a suitcase around the house at midnight. Some people may even carry it around the block to ensure traveling at greater distances. **People in China believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year’s Eve, they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of many homes can be seen sealed with paper to keep the demons out. In China, many people war a new pair of slippers that were bought before the New Year because it suggests stepping on the people who gossip about you.

**In Bolivia, coins are baked into sweets and whoever finds the coins has good luck for the next year. **In some parts of South Africa, they throw old furniture out the window **In many parts of the USA, people celebrate the New Year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas are considered good luck in many cultures. **Jewish New Year is known as Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when Jews recall the things they have done wrong in the past, and then promise to do better in the future. Special services are held in synagogues, children are given new clothes and New Year loaves are baked to remind people of harvest time. ** In Peru, they celebrate Takanakuy Festival. Every year at the end of December people in this small Peruvian village fist fight to settle their differences. They then start the year off on a clean slate. ** In Siberia, they jump into frozen lakes carrying tree trunks which is placed under the ice.

Happy New Year in Different Languages Afrikaans

Gelukkige nuwe jaar


Sana Sa-eeda


Shuvo Nabo Barsho


Soursdey Chhnam Tmei


Feliç Any Nou



Xin Nian Kuai Le 謹 賀 新 年


Sretna Nova godina


Godt Nytår


Gelukkig Nieuwjaar


Kiortame pivdluaritlo


Felican Novan Jaron


Onnellista Uutta Vuotta


Bonne Année


Bliadhna mhath ur


Prosit Neujahr


Kenourios Chronos


Hauoli Makahiki Hou


L'Shannah Tovah


Naye Varsha Ki Shubhkamanyen

Hong Kong

Sun Leen Fai Lok


Boldog Ooy Ayvet


Selamat Tahun Baru


Saleh now mobarak


Sanah Jadidah


Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit


Felice anno nuovo


Farsælt komandi ár


Akimashite Omedetto Gozaimasu


Saehae Bock Mani ba deu sei yo


Newroz Pirozbe


Laimīgo Jauno Gadu!


Laimingu Naujuju Metu


Is Senat Tajba


Nawa Barsha ko Shuvakamana


Godt Nyttår

Papua New Guinea

Nupela yia i go long yu


Saleh now ra tabrik migouyam


Manigong Bagong Taon


Szczesliwego Nowego Roku


Feliz Ano Novo


Nave sal di mubarak


An Nou Fericit


С Новым Годом (S Novim Godom)


Manuia le Tausaga Fou


Sretna nova godina


A stastlivy Novy Rok


Sreèno novo leto


Iyo Sanad Cusub Oo Fiican


Féliz Año Nuevo


Heri Za Mwaka Mpyaº


Gott nytt år!


Warsa Enggal


Eniya Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal


Sawadee Pee Mai


Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun


Новим роком!


Naya Saal Mubbarak Ho


Chuc Mung Tan Nien


Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Dieting – New Year Resolutions 2009: 2010: 2011: 2012: 2013:


will will will will will

get my weight down below 180 pounds. follow my new diet religiously until I get below 200 pounds. develop a realistic attitude about my weight. work out 3 days a week. try to drive past a gym at least once a week.

Ode to January 'Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house nothing would fit me, not even a blouse. The cookies I'd nibbled, the eggnog I'd taste at the holiday parties had gone to my waist. When I got on the scales there arose such a number! When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber). I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared; The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared, The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese And the way I'd never said, 'No thank you, please.' As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt And prepared once again to do battle with dirt I said to myself, as I only can 'You can't spend a winter disguised as a man!' So - away with the last of the sour cream dip, Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip. Every last bit of food that I like must be banished 'Till all the additional ounces have vanished. I won't have a cookie - not even a lick. I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick. I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie, I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry. I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore. But isn't that what January is for? Unable to giggle, no longer a riot. Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet! (

“Soldiers of Christ” By Daniel A. Roa SULADS Comprehensive High School for the Lumads Sto. Domingo, Lumintao, Quezon, Bukidnon Life in the mission field was not as easy as we thought it would be. We have been through many of tests of our faith. We had engaged trials and tribulation, which were God's way of molding His armies in the battlefield. Being a soldier had always been my dream. I didn't know why I really liked to be a soldier or a police officer. God has a plan for our lives and our plan is sometimes not His plan. After our wedding, my wife asked me to join her in the mission field to be a missionary. It was not in my plan and I never even thought about it. But she had always told me beforehand, that if I want to be a soldier for God, He needed me. God needs a soldier to help push His divine work. Not killing lives but bringing lives to God. I thank God for bringing me to SULADS’ mission work. The mission is reaching the unreached and not killing lives. My wife and I are now in the mission field. Together, we are growing and learning daily the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

© SULADS International, Inc. If you would like to support this mission program dedicated to taking the Gospel to the people of Mindanao, please write a check to Gospel Outreach. Mark it for the SULADS and send it to: Gospel Outreach P.O. Box 8 College Place, WA 99324 You may also donate to the SULADS using your credit card by logging on to Gospel Outreach's donation site ( and follow the directions. Again, mark it for SULADS. If you would prefer, you may write your check to the General Conference of SDA and mark the donation for SULADS and send it to: General Conference of SDA Donations 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 Thank you for your support of this very important project. If you do not want to receive any more newsletters, Unsubscribe To update your preferences and to unsubscribe visit this link Forward a Message to Someone this

ANOTHER YEAR TO WATCH, WAIT, AND WORK by Margaret Cagle Some questions come to my mind At the beginning of a new year. Will Jesus come back real soon? Is His second coming drawing near? Could this year be the year That I'll be meeting Him in the air? Before this New Year is over, Will I be in Heaven so fair? Christians should watch and wait And love our Savior's appearing, For maybe it will be this year That the trumpet we'll be hearing. We should be willing to work While we diligently watch and wait. We must spread the Gospel story Before for others it is too late. I am anticipating Christ's coming, Though I know not the exact date, So come quickly, dear Lord Jesus While I work and watch and wait. Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? (NKJV The Word For Today Bible)

A NEW YEAR’S PRAYER Anonymous Dear Lord, please give me‌ A few friends who understand me and remain my friends; A work to do which has real value, without which the world would be the poorer; A mind unafraid to travel, even though the trail be not blazed; An understanding heart; A sense of humor; Time for quiet, silent meditation; A feeling of the presence of God; The patience to wait for the coming of these things, With the wisdom to recognize them when they come. Amen. (From Cup O'Cheer)


New Year Resolutions You Can Keep ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gain weight. At least 30 pounds. Stop exercising. Waste of time. Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow. Don't jump off a cliff just because everyone else did. Stop bringing lunch from home -- eat out more. Don't have eight children at once. Get in a whole NEW rut! Don't drive a motorized vehicle across thin ice. Don't swim with piranhas or sharks. Spread out priorities beyond the ability to keep track of them. Never make New Year's resolutions again.

(From Doc's Daily Chuckle)


How To Observe the New Year * Count your blessings instead of your crosses. ** Count your gains instead of your losses. ** Count your joys instead of your woes. ** Count your friends instead of your foes. ** Count your smiles instead of your tears. ** Count your courage instead of your fears.

** Count your full years instead of your lean. ** Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. ** Count your health instead of your wealth. ** Count on God instead of yourself. From Andychap) *********************************************************************************************

STEER CLEAR OF NEW YEAR FEAR! What do you fear most about the year that lies ahead? Does your budget make you wince? Personal relationships may give you the most anxiety. Raising children can be intimidating. You never know if you will be the next victim of violent crime. Maybe the increasing possibility of contracting AIDS scares you to death. How about death itself? Life is full of unpleasant memories and future uncertainties. Both produce fear. There is a way to overcome our fears. Let someone else do the worrying for us. That's not as impossible as it sounds, but it is a little hard to learn. Take Julie, for example. As bedtime approached, Julie was afraid her mom wasn't going to get her clown outfit ready. Tomorrow evening was the school play, and Julie's third grade class was to have a dress rehearsal right after morning recess. She fussed and worried until her mom finally said, "Just go to bed and let me do the worrying." Julie went, but 20 minutes later peeked around the corner and asked, “Mother, are you still worrying?" God is still worrying for us. He took care of our biggest fear when his Son Jesus suffered the consequence of our sins in our place. Our failures won't come back to haunt us. Our future is in the hands of a God who's on our side. God won't just worry for you; he'll do something about it. Jesus invites us: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" (John 14:1). It isn't that Jesus doesn't understand our fears. He's a realist who warned: "In this world you will have trouble." But he's also the Lord who continued: "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). Trust like that is a little hard to learn. Jesus is a patient teacher. By Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

New Year's Eve *A

New Year's resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.

*My New Year's resolution is to stop hanging out with people who ask me about my New Year's resolutions.

*I have only one resolution: to rediscover the difference between wants and needs. May I have all I need and want all I have? Happy New Year! *This New Year's I resolve to be less awesome since that is really the only thing I do in excess. *I'll remember 2017 like it was yesterday. *I wanna kiss you on Dec.31st from 11:59pm to 12:00 am, so I can have an amazing ending to 2017 and a beautiful beginning into 2018. *Every year I make a resolution to change myself -- this year I'm making a resolution to be myself! *My New Year's resolution is to break my New Year's Resolutions -- that way I succeed at something! (From Doc's Daily Chuckle)

Together, We Hope, We Pray, We Share by Edwin Gulfan “Together, We Hope, We Pray, We Share!” One of the interesting experiences most of us would cherish well in our memories while we were students of our Dear Alma Mater, is the ‘togetherness’ in practically all our undertakings. We did things together, we ate ‘colorum’ together, we hiked together, and we led and participated in religious, academic and extra-curricular activities together. We just had so much fun – together!

I believe those moments of ‘bonding’ is the single most important chord that has distinguished our brand of kindred spirit from other Alumni groups. How many of us have kept in our hearts the pride in our collegiate identity when we hear whispers from observers saying we are different? And what a contagious positive difference! It may not be an exaggeration to say that our beloved little hilltop college, compared to other Philippine colleges and universities, has one of the significantly high percentages of graduates who has served overseas as professionals. During our latest year-end meetings at the Division headquarters, we heard the Secretariat report that MVC is among the top producer of missionaries who have been sent by the church to different regions around the globe. We heard the very popular adage which says: “A Family that Prays together, stays together.” But how can that be true in our being members of the MVC family when we all part ways after graduation? I understood that better in our own family experience. There was a time when all five of us (myself, my wife and our three sons) were in five different geographical locations in the globe. But we felt the strength of the chord of spiritual togetherness that has preserved our being one despite our distance from one another—because we agreed to pray for each other. We all are in our place now in the world of service. Some in distances that are close in proximity to each other, some a little farther. But if we all resolve to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3) then we have truly upheld God’s purpose for us individually and collectively as ‘beacon lights to all the world’. Fellow MVCians, the world can become smaller, the work can be done faster, the coming of our Lord can become sooner if “TOGETHER, WE HOPE, WE PRAY AND WE SHARE” with others the ‘hope that is in us’ (I Peter 3:15). I am humbly proud to be an MVCian,

New Year’s Resolutions?

The New Year 2018 is slowly nearing, and with the holiday season already upon us many people are indulging in retrospection and reevaluating some of their life choices. We all know that more than half of all resolutions fail. But this year, they do not have to be yours. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, next month, or perhaps when winter starts. We just have to remember that we are going to give ourselves our best shot at success if we set a goal that’s doable and meaningful as well. “I stop thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. No more thoughts of losing weight because I have completely lost my food temperance. I am on ‘see food diet” and I eat more than I usually do. But what I do want to work on is to be a better person every day. ~Ruth Montano “To simply trust in the Lord and ask God to use me in whatever way He can be a blessing to my family, friends, colleagues and students.” ~Mimia Sanchez “Eat less. Love more” ~Luz Espiritu-Brown “Now that I am retired from my regular job, I intend to grow more flowers and veggies and I will continue to travel with my best friend.” ~Lou Branzuela My plans for 2018 is to retire from my profession as a Registered Social Worker with the Ontario College of Registered Social Workers and Social Service Workers. I am looking forward to spending my time doing volunteer projects for the community aside from looking after my kids and grand kids. So far, I have park cleanup projects like basketball and tennis going on which is for a community group called Action Neighborhood Change which is funded by United Way. My spiritual goal is to give God al the glory in all that I will be doing in the year 2018. ~Gilbert Correces “Greetings from Thailand! We praise God and rejoice over the thought that in 208, California Prep International Scholl, Central Thailand will be celebrating its 7th year of operation. The first Grand Anniversary Celebration will be on February 4, and this will feature an award-winning violinist Filip Pogady from New York City and CAPrep Voices. CAPrep Voices has 25 members, out of which only four are Seventhday Adventists. What an amazing and great opportunity for witnessing for our Lord and Savior for the year 2018. ~Ade & Charity Libato This year I decided to seriously consider writing down my New Year’s Resolutions. I am targeting physical, mental and financial wellness: PHYSICAL: maintaining a healthy BMI, following a strict Mediteranean diet and running 12 miles a day.

MENTAL: practicing healthy stress management through exercise and deep breathing meditation. FINANCIAL: preparing for retirement by increasing 401K contributions. Happy New Year everyone! ~Cheryl Rodrigo At the beginning of 2017 I had several New Year's resolutions and I was set on following them but like most people it was not accomplished at all. So this coming year 2018 instead of making more resolutions I will reassess myself and by God’s grace, I hope to overcome those habits that can stunt my character growth. May God give me a stronger will power. ~Gwendolyn Ferraren-Cabrales

A Clutter-free Life By Ainor Aganeo-Ombiga

I grew up in a tiny “bahay kubo” which consists of only one bedroom, a small receiving room and a separate “dirty kitchen.” I have three siblings: two older brothers and one younger sister. With that in mind, imagine how cramped it was for the whole family to live in that house. But as a child, everything looked huge in my eyes so I never remember complaining. I was happy and content. My parents were Literature Evangelists or colporteurs and life was not easy. My brothers were attending the Adventist Academy while my sister and I were homeschooled at an early age. We never had fancy clothes nor did we have shoes to wear. We hardly have any furniture nor did we have any special home appliances. All we had of worth were a radio and a guitar. We grew our own vegetables and had dozens of chickens, ducks and goats. We even have our own small fishpond with tilapias, mudfish and guramis. I finished my elementary grade in my hometown and shoes were not required then. We wore slippers (flip flops). When I went to High School things changed. We were required to wear shoes. Poor as we were, buying shoes was not an option. And I was always punished for

going to school wearing slippers. I exhausted all excuses as to escape punishment until my ingenuity almost killed me. One day, I decided to poke my toenails with the pointed tip of a compass until it bled. Then I told my teacher that I could not wear shoes because my toes are bleeding and swollen. So, for a while, I was exempted from wearing the required shoes. But then, my toes really got infected and I ended up seeing a doctor. I had cellulitis and was prescribed antibiotics. Unfortunately, I was allergic to the medications that I almost died from it. I simply had to stop poking my toes. Then my mother bought me my first sneakers which I wore for many years. When I arrived here in the United States of America, the first thing I bought was a pair of shoes for work. Then I added shoes for church and for casual wear. Before I knew it, I had over 50 pairs of shoes, over 100 Sabbath dresses and two to three dozens of scrubs. Over the years, my wardrobe accumulated to the point where I didn’t have enough space for them. Then, I started sending “balikbayan” boxes to get rid of some of them. And yet, our house is still full of junk. Last month, I had to go to the bank to process some documents for refinancing our house. The mortgage officer told me that an appraiser will be coming to our house to take pictures of the house. I panicked. MY husband and I started cleaning up and getting rid of our junk. That was the beginning of our de-junking routine. After two weeks of cleaning, sorting out and getting rid of junk, there was still so much left. One day, as I was squatting on the floor, sorting out things for Goodwill and for the balikbayan boxes, I realized how cluttered my life has been. I whispered a prayer to God, asking Him to help me in this process of de-junking and getting rid of unimportant things in my life and to keep only the important treasures. I then and there decided to live in minimalism. The task of minimizing our possessions can be overwhelming. The act of decluttering a house is attractive, even necessary but starting the task is not easy. We had to figure out what we want to do with the stuff we are getting rid of. Fortunately for us, we did not have to decide when to declutter. The scheduled arrival of the appraiser helped us with the decision. We first got rid of our second sofa, our big dining table and sold other unnecessary furniture online. Sending a lot of clothes to the Philippines was a wonderful idea. Now, the house looks more spacious and I feel better. Truly, de-junking is good for the soul. I am looking forward to seeing a cleaner home. And we can celebrate our success as we keep working towards a clutter free and minimal home!

My Christmas Experiences & Perspectives By Dr. Alfredo Agustin Jr.

Through all the years of my life, I have been through many Christmas experiences. I want to share with you some of my experiences and perspective on Christmas. As a student at Mountain View College, I found myself spending Christmas break at the college. Due to financial constraints, I could not go home. My best memories of my MVC Christmas experiences was the most awaited Christmas Cantata I had the privilege to participate in the Church Choir. It was “The Messiah” cantata by Georg Friedric Handel, directed by Mrs. Loida BulataoRodrigo. In my 5 years at MVC, Christmas holidays were not that memorable except for the usual free food served at the cafeteria during Christmas Eve. As an SDA denominational worker, Christmas was the season of Christmas parties and workers' retreats. These were times of receiving gifts from the employers either in cash or in kind, and of course also receiving the13th month bonus. In all of these gatherings, sumptuous food was always there to be enjoyed. Furthermore, we often enjoyed singing Christmas songs as parts of the programs. My most memorable and enjoyable Christmas experience as a worker was in MVC. The different “barangays” of MVC would have presentations. Unfortunately, I didn’t have pictures or video of those because I didn’t have a phone like today to capture those moments.

With all these experiences, it is time for me to share my perspective on Christmas celebrations. I do not want to put myself as a judge whether those celebrations are right or wrong because as a Church we do not prohibit those celebrations. But, I just want to give some suggestions in order to make Christmas season celebration wholesome as Seventh-day Adventist believers. For me, the overarching principle in our Christmas celebration should be the principle of “Unselfish Giving.” It is actually a Biblical principle initiated by God: “ For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son . . .” (John 3:16). As a result we have Christmas celebrations. In fact, when the Magi found Jesus, they gave Him gifts (Matt 2:11). Thus, Christmas season must not be spent in voracious eating. I noticed Christmas season usually is a time of “gaining” and “increasing” for ourselves: gaining weight, and increasing cholesterols and blood sugars. I do not condemn eating, but as a Church we need to uphold our health principles even during Christmas seasons, that is: “Eat in order to live, not live in order to eat.” Hence, I suggest that some of the money spent for food could be used for worthwhile Mission for the marginalized of society giving them: Love, Hope, and Joy because of that little Baby born in Bethlehem. This means that Christmas season must not be focused on ourselves (this is Christ’s birthday not ours) but on Christ’s Mission: feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and proclaiming the good news through our unselfish giving (Matthew 25:34-40). Another point, in the Christmas season is, more time should be spent on WORSHIP and PROCLAMATION than fellowship and parties. The first Christmas was a time for these two acts. On the first Christmas, when the Magi found Jesus, the first thing they did was that they worshipped Him (Matt 2:11). The angels also proclaim and worship God for the birth of the Messiah (Luke 2:1011). The Shepherds of Bethlehem too, after they found Mary, Joseph and the Baby (Luke 2:16), they proclaim to the people presumably of Bethlehem (v. 17), and also praise and glorify God for what they experienced. Thus, on Christmas season, it would be better as a church to spend more time on WORSHIP and PROCLAMATION and less of parties and overeating. In other words, it should be: “Merry Christmuch”—more on Christ and others less of ourselves. ~Alfredo Agustin, Jr. - Dean faculty if religious studies Asia Pacific international university. Muaklek Thailand.

Title Greetings from Chiangmai! Merry Christmas and a Happy Prosperous New Year to You. Its vacation time, and this year we decided to go to Thailand and visit our relatives and friends in this beautiful country of smiles. This week, let me share with you the Thai Cherry Blossoms. When we think of Cherry Blossoms, also called sakura, we think of Japan. However, Cherry Blossoms grow not only in Japan but also in Korea, Taiwan, Washington DC and of course Thailand. The variety of sakura growing in Thailand is the Wild Himalayan cherry (Prunus cerasoides). Its name in Thai is นางพญาเสอื โคร่ง (naang phá-yaa sǔeakhrông), which means “Tiger Queen.” But because these cherry blossoms love the cool climate, you’ll only encounter them during the colder season, with the period between late December to late January being cited as the best time to visit. When I visit Japan and Taiwan, what I want to see are the Cherry Blossoms. I was able to see them in Taiwan, however, I was not lucky in Japan as the Cherry Blossoms at that time had just finished blooming. Northern Thailand has its own variety of wild cherry trees that grow in the mountains and creates fabulous pink blossoms each winter. The cherry blossoms in Japan bloom between April and May while in Northern Thailand, blooming season is between December and January. The idea of cherry blossoms blooming in a tropical climate like Thailand’s might seem a little unbelievable but the chilly temperatures atop the Doi Suthep mountain provide favorable conditions for these delicate pink flowers to grow.

Several places to see the Tiger Queen flowers blooming include Doi Chang, Doi Wawee, and Doi Mae Salong mountains, which are all located in Chiang Rai province. In Chiangmai, the best place to go see them is in the village of Khun Chang Khian, a tiny village way up on Doi Pui just over the Doi Suthep mountain. The best time to view the sakura at Khun Chang Khian is in the middle of January, but as anyone who has lived in Japan knows, the timing of the cherry blossoms is difficult to predict and can change from year to year by several weeks. Many tourists in Chiangmai visit the famous temple called Wat Phra at Doi Suthep overlooking Chiangmai City. Ban Khun Chang Kian is located less than 20 kilometers away from Doi Suthep temple of Wat Phra in Chiangmai. The Cherry Blossoms trees grow very well in this hill tribe village of Baan Khun Chang Kian because of the cooler weather.

Yesterday, we visited Doi Angkhang, Doi Mae Salong and today we went to Ban Khun Chang Khian to see the pink blossoms of the Sakura or Cherry Blossoms. The

trip to this small village is rewarding as you can see a beautiful sea of pastel pink colors of Sakura during December or January. We enjoyed the view of the mountains and magnificent flowers at Doi Angkhang. Getting to Baan Khun Chang Kian is no easy feat, though. The road leading up to the village has only a one lane road which is lined by tall trees. So there you have it – the best place to see cherry blossoms outside Japan is in Thailand. Maybe it’s not as extensive as Japan’s sakura trees, but the view is also amazing as these are wild Cherry Blossoms, although many Thais now plant the Thai Sakura trees.

So the next time you’re thinking of booking a flight to Japan to see these pretty pink flowers, why not consider traveling to Chiang Mai instead? With cool temperatures, flourishing cherry blossoms, delicious and affordable Thai food PLUS a whole lot of other tourist spots to see, this would be a fun and memorable trip. SDA Church in Northern Thailand Northern Thailand has several churches and some organizations. In Chiangmai, we have Chiangmai Adventist Academy which caters to students all over Thailand, we also have an ADRA office with several livelihood projects for poor communities and we have our very own Sulads Thailand. As we end the year 2017, look back and see our accomplishments, our shortcomings or failures and look forward to 2018 with a positive mind and a desire to change for the better. Happy New Year to all. ~Romy and Lucy, Chiangmai, Thailand

In Closing … Announcements | From The Mail Bag | Prayer Requests | Acknowledgment Meet The Editors |Closing Thoughts

Alumni Calendar When 2018 June 24-July 1

What Where For More Info th SULAD 50 Anniversary Homecoming Reunion at MVC Campus

2019 Summer. TBD

MVCSN Golden Anniversary MVC Campus Reunion International Pathfinder Camporee. Oshkosh, WI

2019 Aug 12-17

Devaney Bayeta, Pres MVCSN Homebase Chapter

Meet The Editors This week’s issue of Cyberflashes was by Raylene Rodrigo Baumgart. Next week’s issue will be by Eddie Zamora. Please direct all entries to him or to any of the editors. NAME: Eddie Zamora Evelyn Porteza-Tabingo Jessie Colegado Joy Caballero-Gadia Lily EscaraLare Melodie Mae Karaan-Inapan Raylene Rodrigo-Baumgart Romulo ‘Romy’ Halasan

EMAIL ADDRESS: ezamora594 at aol dot com etabingo at gmail dot com Cyberflashes at gmail dot com watermankids at yahoo dot com LyLare at Hotmail dot com melodieinapan at yahoo dot com raylene.baumgart at gmail dot com romsnake at gmail dot com

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Acknowledgment A special thank you to the following who helped make this week’s issue of CyberFlashes:  Romy Halasan for “LIFE of a Missionary”  Jessie Colegado for chuckles in “Jessie’s Patch of Weeds”,  The Sulads and Gospel Outreach for “SULADS’ Corner”  Eddie Zamora & Evelyn Tabingo 



And to all the following contributors: Edwin Gulfan on “Together, We Hope, We Pray, We Share”, Ainor Ombiga on “A Clutter-free Life” and Alfredo Agustin Jr on “My Christmas Experiences & Perspectives”. Special thanks also to those who shared their New Year’s Resolutions: Ruth Montano, Mimia Sanchez, Lou Branzuela, Gilbert Correces, Ade & Charity Libato, Cheryl Rodrigo, Gwendolyn Ferraren-Cabrales.

Prayer Request

FOR THE CONTINUED HEALING OF: Marie Bingcang, Ching Rivera, Jerusalem Era, Ruth Fabella & Ellen Fabella (wife and daughter of Dr. Armand T. Fabella), Felix Sareno, Elmer Aguro, Rayelch Modillas, Rebecca Antemano, Roxie Pido, Virgie Osita, Pastor Oseas Zamora, Pastor Remelito Tabingo and members of the MVC Alumni & Friends who are sick. COMFORT FOR THE BEREAVED FAMILIES OF: Vinancio “Tantoy” Abesta, Sr. Paulino “Jun” Nebres, Lemuel Mantua, Pheobe Caballero Cagulada, Alan Magie, RJ Buada, Naty Caballero-Sanz, Anabel Quilog, and other families who recently lost their loved ones.

Closing Thoughts The Editor I found this funny prayer while reading a magazine. New Year's Day Prayer for One and All

Funny as it may seem, it is just the same with making New Year’s Resolutions. We start making a list of things we want to do to change for the New Year. Most of us will include trying to lose weight or start eating healthy food. Right after the New Year celebration, we sign up or renew our gym membership and we actually find ourselves going to the gym almost every day in the month of January. Then by March, it becomes a once a week appointment, if there is nothing more exciting to do. It has been pretty well documented fact that most New Year’s Resolutions fail. Yet, we keep making them. According to recent research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent are successful in achieving their goals. But that dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions in the next few days, after all, we’ve had about 4,000 years of practice since the ancient Babylonians started making the first ones. I am sure one of the reasons why they fail, is because most of us set those were unrealistic goals. So for me this year, I will simplify my quest for new beginnings. I am not going to write down a list of New Year’s Resolutions. I will not write down: “Lose 40 pounds.” Living life to the fullest doesn’t mean setting big goals like bungee jumping or scuba diving or high impact cardio workout. Instead, I will do things that I love such as spending more time in nature by walking and hiking through the woods since I love going to parks anyway. Instead of wasting my time and money by re-enrolling my gym membership, I will just urge myself to MOVE MORE. It doesn’t matter what I choose to do: join a Zumba class, or walk up and down the stairs, I should use my still unwrapped pedometer and take at least 10,000 steps a day and get up every 20-30 minutes to stretch. Instead of going to Olive garden for my Wednesday lunch date with my husband, I can surprise him with a picnic basket or we can meet at a nearby park instead of sitting inside the restaurant and splurge on unlimited breadsticks. So for this year, I will not make any new resolutions. Instead I will just try to stick to my motto all throughout the years. Be Grateful. Be mindful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.


Cyberflashes, December 29, 2017


Cyberflashes, December 29, 2017