Blog by Lorna Joannes

 

On this special day, I would like to honor three special people in my life, three fathers who helped me to become who I am today.

My Lolo Inciong

lolo

macadangdang family

My lolo (grandpa) was a quiet man of few words, loving, inherently intelligent, and unwaveringly courageous.

He was a U.S. veteran who was awarded with a Man of Valor award. He was Filipino, and alongside his American counterparts, fought the Japanese during World War 2. He nearly lost his life when a Japanese soldier’s grenade exploded next to him. I remember him telling me the story. As he laid there on the ground, ears ringing, brushing death, a tall man in white picked him up and he fell unconscious. The next thing he knew he was at a clinic. An angel? He thinks so. Had he not been rescued, the Macadangdang family name would not continue on.

He was a writer and editor for the Department of Public Works and Highways during the Marcos regime in the Philippines. Because writing was his passion, he loved to help me with my research papers during my college days. Every time my siblings and my birthdays would come, he would fashion hand made cards and personal letters for us. After moving to China as a missionary with my husband, my lolo was the only one who would regularly send me hand written letters—something you rarely receive now that everyone is using email. I miss those days! I wish he is still alive today. I’d go check our Chiangmai mailbox for a nice hand written letter during this unique transition to Thailand.

When he responded to my question of what he did on a particular day, or what his plans were, my lolo would say, “sa awa o grasya ng Diyos” (by God’s grace and mercy). I came to appreciate that about him, reminding me to always consider that whatever I do is a direct result of God’s grace and mercy.

My grandpa passed away on Christmas day, 2006. It was his eighty-fourth birthday. The day before, my husband and I had surprised my whole family with our arrival from China, just in time for Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner). I remember sitting next to him while having dinner that night. I did not realize it would be his last night with the family. He was himself, quiet as ever, but in his eyes I recognized the fullness of love and concern for me.

There are days when I see my miracle daughter, Cara Liana, and wish my lolo was still alive. She would have loved her great grandfather

 

My Father, Jorge

dad and mom

dad and family

Like my grandpa, my dad is also a man of few words. He is a gentleman, caring and humble, hardworking, a wonderful provider, and an industrious man. He is a faithful husband to my mom.

My father is a mortician. Never once would he let us go to his work place, because he knew that as a little girl, I was afraid of seeing dead people! In the Philippines, morticians are grossly underpaid for their hard work. My dad would sometimes work for more than fifteen hours a day just to make ends meet. For nearly forty years, he has provided for our family’s needs.

I remember the early years, when I would awake at 5:30 in the morning to see my father making us breakfast before going to school. From dawn to dusk he worked, and late at night before going to bed, he would return. When his job allowed, he would try to compensate for his many hours at work by simply spending time at home together as a family, cooking a delicious Ilocano meal, cleaning the house, hand washing clothes and watching TV with us. After giving birth to my daughter, and realizing the work involved with raising a little one, I recently asked him how he and my mom managed raising five children without any outside help. “Sakripisyo din,” he replied. “It was quite a sacrifice.” He told me that instead of resting after long day of work, he would cook, hand wash clothes and help around the house so much that he never had “Jorge time” for himself. He rarely hung out with friends. He would give his last cent to my family and I, making sure we had what we needed for school. He was truly a provider. I am so proud of my dad. Through his many sacrifices, he was able to put my four siblings and I through college.

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I used to wish that we could go on an occasional family vacation, but we were rarely able to because money was tight, and we were forced to save money for our schooling. That’s how stormy days during monsoon season became my favorite time of the year. The waters rose, the floods came, and school was cancelled. Those were precious moments, spending time stuck at home as a family together! Oh, how I loved those days—sleeping in past dawn, waking to the sound of torrential rain on our tin roof, chilled under my sheets, smelling the aroma of champorado and dilis or tuyo (porridge and dried fish).

We lived in Tondo, historically the notorious part of Manila, and my dad was very protective. Whenever I would come home late at night, I could see my dad from a few blocks away, standing on the street corner, waiting for me, making sure I would make it home safe and sound.

Not only is my father a great dad, he is also a caring son. Even until now, he is patiently taking care of his mother—my grandmother—who has had Alzheimer’s for nearly six years. I hope he knows that we will always take care of him how he takes care of my grandparents. He is a prime example and model of honoring your parents.

I rarely saw my dad cry, but there are a few times that stand out in my mind. I saw him cry on my wedding day. He wept with me as I left for China. He cried when my daughter was born. My father is a quiet man, reserved and introverted, but when he speaks, there is always wisdom and sweetness to be found. I am so thankful for my dad and mom blessing me by releasing me for the mission field in spite of the financial needs they knew my departure might incur.

 

My husband, the father of my miracle child, David

david kissing cara

David has always been a wonderful husband, so it was natural for him to grow into his role as a loving father. We have been together on this missionary journey as a married couple for almost 10 years now, plus the seven years that he chased me!

After many years of incredible experiences traveling and ministering throughout Southwest China, I developed stage four Endometriosis. I was barren and broken after doctors around the world told me I would never conceive. But David was always there to love and care for me.

In January, 2012, I went through the most painful time of my life. The surgery to remove the endometriosis was almost unbearable, but four months after the procedure, I miraculously got pregnant! Pain has been a part of my life for many years, and my pregnancy was just as difficult. David walked with me through every painful and joyful step.

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In December, 2012, After a nineteen hour labor, my daughter, Cara Liana, was born. The moment she came out, she knew the voice of her father. She knew she was loved because David would talk and sing to her daily when she was inside my womb. The doctor gave Cara to the nurse, and the nurse laid her on my chest. David spoke. He called her name. Her eyes opened wide. Her eyes found David’s. They gazed at each other, and I saw the sweetest smile on David’s face. Tears of joy welled up in his eyes, and the sight filled me with emotion as well. Cara cried. Laughter filled the birthing room. Cara met her dad for the first time. My family was made complete. I was weak after nineteen hours of labor, but suddenly strengthened by an instance of love that I had never known before. It was a sweet moment to see the love of a father for a child.

David never ceases to express his love for our daughter. He writes poems and songs for her. He sings worship choruses for her, and dances silly dances with her. He puts her to sleep and tells her how important and special she is in our eyes and in the eyes of God. He prays for her and blesses her. David knows how to speak over Cara the bright future in store for her. He comforts her through our transition from Manila to the mission field of Thailand. I believe that Cara Liana will become a great woman of God, gifted and purposeful, because of the love she sees modeled by her father and I.

To me, one of the highest forms of love in the world is the love of a father toward his child. This is how our Heavenly Father designed humanity to interact, to catch a glimpse of his love for us as expressed through our own father’s love. They are not the one who carries a child through pregnancy up to the time of birth, but they are the providers, the protectors, leading and guiding a family with care and concern. This is powerful and moving. It is very life-giving. True, fathers may not be perfect, but our Heavenly father is. He gives his strength to fathers around the world, inspiring them to love unconditionally, model care and concern, provide and protect as best they can so as to illuminate aspects of God’s own tender heart for his children

To the wonderful men in my life: Happy Father’s Day!

 

Lorna wrote this original article on the tiny keys on a smart phone while nursing her daughter! She is a missionary, co-founder of Within Reach Global, successful discipler and church planter, motivational speaker, and happy homemaker. She lives in Thailand with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @lornajoannes.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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