To say that this is one eventful year is an understatement. CJ Sereno got ousted. Parker and Kawhi left the Spurs. Kids in Thailand got trapped in a cave. Elon Musk almost saved the day. Facebook had lots of issues. Catriona won Miss Universe. Ateneo won in the UAAP. There were storms and floods. We voted for new local officials. What a year that was, really.
2018 has been such a year of endings and beginnings, and so much leveling up and stretching that I know is going to spill over to the coming years. I experienced so much MULTIPLICATION AND INCREASE that I’m just so overwhelmed with the year that was.
Here are some highlights of my 2018:
JESUS + MEKI MULTIPLIED
I had a fresh encounter with Jesus and His grace this year. I’ve always seen Christianity to have a list of do’s and don’ts, but God revealed a fresh side of Himself to me this year by showing me that my relationship with Him is so much more than that. More than the stuff that I do / do not do, it’s my heart, my attitude of humility (or lack of it), and my intimacy with Him that is central and essential. From it, all behavioral changes shall follow. This tweet captures what 2018 has been like:
To me, @chancetherapper exemplifies the kind of freedom that we have in Christ — one that is not so much concerned by the “can I do this” or “can I do that” but just overflowing with joy and celebration because you’ve encountered God’s love in a personal way.
— Meks (@mkcarolino) August 25, 2018
It’s also been a year of learning to be more sensitive to God’s voice. I have never before felt this much attuned to what God wants to say to me. There are still days when I feel like I don’t know what God wants to tell me, but it has become more common to get revelations from my quiet time, from Bible verses, and from songs. That’s precisely why I started doing my #MomentsWithMeki sessions – as I wanted to share what God’s been telling me. (I remember New Wine, Don’t Stop at 6, Build Build Build, among others.)
Side note: I thank God specially for this prayer book I’ve reading that’s been such an encouragement, this book on waiting that helped me at a low point in my life, and Steve Furtick whom God has been using to challenge and encourage me through his sermons.
EVERYTHING OF ME, USE IT FOR YOUR GLORY
This truly has been a year dedicated to doing ministry.
Inside the church, I continued serving as Programs & Creatives Head. This year, we revived P&C Team Nights which meant I got to share God’s Word every month and encourage our ministry teams. We also started livestreaming our services!!!! Ahhh what a milestone, really. It was one of my main highlights this 2018 as it was done without help from any experts but just our collaborative minds & Google. The most important church-related milestone however is organizing our 50th Anniversary! It’s been like a lump at the back of my throat that I couldn’t ignore for the past 3 years, and preparing for it while in the midst of changes in other aspects of my life proved to be challenging. Thank God for our amazing team who stepped out of their comfort zone!
For one month in church, we were challenged to reach out to those in need and the FSY department stepped up and visited one of our kids from church who was at PCMC. Little did I know that it would be a visit that would change my heart as I learned to care as Jesus did. Makoy became my friend even after his hospital stay.
Other than learning to pray and care, I also thank God for the opportunity to share the Gospel during our Christmas on the Streets activity. Usually being so busy with sending people out, I enjoyed being the one to go & spread the Good News. It’s so much fun to talk about Jesus!
While in the topic of talking about Jesus, I had the chance this year to speak in out-of-town events:
- Last April in San Vicente, Palawan for their FY camp
- Last November in Bacolod for their FY summit
- This December in Bay, Laguna for their FY fellowship
If you know the real me, you’d know that I’m not a fan of public speaking despite my being very talkative and loud. I used to think that I was a good speaker until recently when I realized that I express my thoughts way better via writing. I thank God for empowering me though through the Holy Spirit. It’s always a refreshing experience of dependence and trust in the Lord whenever I come up on stage.
This confidence in Christ is something that I learned years back through our office Bible study — Connect and Grow. I’m glad that we got to revive the group during the first half of the year. I’m forever in debt to this group for expanding my knowledge of God and for helping me appreciate other denominations. Looking forward to level up with them this 2019.
CAN YOU BELIEVE WE GET TO DO THIS?
A key ministry focus this year which deserves its own section in this blog post is leading the Youth department (FY) of our church organization on a national level. As I’ve said last year, this really is a role that I NEVER thought I’d find myself in ’cause youth ministry was something I’ve been trying to avoid. I thank God though for molding my heart especially this 2018 to have a burden for the “now generation”.
I got to go to Baguio in February for the National Leaders’ Strategic Conference and Retreat (NLSCR), and it was a great chance to build relationships with fellow youth leaders in the Philippines. It was the first time that my team and I got to bond, and it was when our vision for the youth started to get shaped.
Other than that, we had quite a number of meet-ups this year (which will actually turn into more in 2019) at Long Weekend, at the Shang food court, at Ptr. Juville’s church, at the National Office, at Gino’s and Luna in BGC, and even online. All this was to prepare for our regular department operations and also for one of the biggest events I’ve handled in my life: #NFYC2018.
We wanted to take the bi-annual National Foursquare Youth Convention (NFYC) to greater heights, and I of course was up to the challenge. There were a lot of firsts in this event – like holding it in Tagaytay, providing food and housing to attendees, having breakout sessions and a different program format – but truly, God proved to be faithful to our team. I worked with one of the most masipag teams ever for this event, and it was such a joy to me to see MMND and MMSD young people getting along and serving God so efficiently that it feels like they’ve known each other for years. Other than our church anniversary, this has been on of the main milestones for 2018. (See FB post for more details haha.)
Another favorite thing I have for this year though is that our FY program didn’t just stop at the convention. Thanks to a God-ordained re-encounter at Max’s, I got to build a relationship with Kuya Jomer (my childhood best friend’s bro-in-law and my former churchmate) who serves at Campus Crusade and Indigitous, and has been the “wind beneath my wings” challenging me to have a clearer vision for the youth. We ended up with having MULTIPLY as our battlecry until 2020, and because of that, we held campus ministry and digital outreach trainings in Metro Manila, which we will then take to everywhere else in the Philippines (this we started in Mindanao last October). It’s such a privilege to lead the FY department that I hope to use this chance to serve our youth at full capacity through empowering them with such programs. Other than the Multiply bootcamp, we also had other firsts this year: SAYO, AmpliFY, UniFY, and our curriculum release for 2019 Q1.
Serving in the FY department has really been my main thing in 2018 and I’m just thankful to God for giving me a great support group, a great mentor, wisdom, creativity, and even resources to give Him the glory in this space.
EVEN ITCHIER FEET
I thought last year was already a “jet-setter” year for me, but 2018 proved to be a time of even itchier feet. I am honestly so amazed and floored in awe and wonder when I think about where God has taken me geographically this year. It really is all through His providence.
- Singapore in January – Went to Singapore with the clan as the adults were going to attend Ate Helen’s wedding. Took the opportunity to take the cousins and parents around. Walked thousands of steps everyday! Ate good food (as always; YAS CHICKEN RICE), and had fun at USS!
- Taiwan in January – Seat sale trip with my travel buddy Mayks in Taiwan. Cold weather huhu. But REALLY REALLY REALLY GOOD FOOD which we want to come back for.
- Batanes in February – Finally! A dream come true for the block! Batanes is the most beautiful place I’ve been to. Seriously.
- Baguio in February – For NLSCR! Stayed in the city proper though so got to have night-outs. Yey!
- Davao/Tagum in April – Soul-searching trip without a planned itinerary. Thanks to the Davao/Tagum folks for taking me around and feeding me. Went back home recharged and inspired (with a crush at that time hahahaha)
- Palawan in April – For FY camp! Challenging as we stayed somewhere pretty remote, and because I commuted alone from San Vicente to Puerto Princesa (a good 3-4 hours).
- Sydney in June – Thank God for the opportunity to travel for work! ALL EXPENSES PAID TRIP TO AUSTRALIA YAHHHHH!!! Have been praying for this and it was indeed a dream come true. I’d have moments when I’d laugh when I’d remember how tipid I was when I visited Australia in 2017 hahaha. Fun moment from this trip: I ALMOST lost my 1-month old phone. (Yes, I FINALLY got a new phone this year thanks to Globe.) Aussies are wonderful though as I found it ’cause someone turned it over to the barista in the nearby coffee shop.
- Japan in September – Had some quality time with the mother in Japan as we visited Nagoya, Kyoto, Tokyo and Osaka. Really a grace-filled trip as we got welcomed by some old and new friends. Highlights: Got to stay at Conrad Tokyo (best hotel I’ve stayed in so far) for FREE thanks to Tita Cynthia, ate LOTS of good food (I’m a sucker for Japanese food), went to USJ alone while it was raining hahahaha (skipped all the lines yehhhh!!!), and almost got stuck in Japan as my flight got cancelled and moved 3 days later due to airport closure. Mama’s flight back home was 2 days before mine, and had 2 days to myself in Japan. Got an email bigla that my flight is cancelled so I rushed to have it moved earlier instead. Was so scary at the time — thank God for the presence of mind!
- Davao/Tagum in October – Got to have our first run of the Multiply Bootcamp! Just stayed there for 24 hours to support the group as it was actually Kuya Jomer and Nonats who facilitated the training.
- Malaysia in October – Attended the ECFC and just worked there, really. Hahaha. Missed a few sessions as I was tired and sleepy, but met a lot of new people! Glad to see our Foursquare family in Asia. Also, ate SO MUCH FOOD as it was buffet after buffet after buffet.
- Bacolod in November – Went to Bacolod with Ptr. Stephen and Jear to support the Visayas FY Summit!
- HK in December – What was supposed to be a trip to Brisbane turned out to be 24 hours in the HK Airport. Terrible and traumatic experience, especially as it was supposed to be a work trip. But thank God for paving the way for me to get home safe and sound.
There were quite a lot of milestones in the family + clan this year, and some of them are the following:
- Had some hotel visits and stays with the family. My favorites being at Dusit (because it meant getting to eat at Nihonbashitei), and at Diamond Hotel (well, it also translated to eating at a different branch of Nihonbashitei). I think we also did a Manila Pen lunch, but my memory’s a bit hazy.
- We spent time during the Holy Week at BGC, which is a feat because Mama doesn’t want to drive long distances.
- Pauline came back from Singapore and we had dinner at BFF with loads of mangoes and alamang! Really missed just spending quality time with the cousines.
- Had pastor’s appreciation time at Ahavia again. Just great to be with family and other pastors.
- Had a 1:1 moment with Coy to eat Samgyupsal.
- Had lots of sissums moments thanks to BFF. Even though we quarrel a lot, I really love my siblings so much. I’d take a bullet for them, really.
- Got to meet my Carolino cousins again! Chim dropped by and got to say hello, while we got to have dinner and attend Sambang Gabi with Mariechie and Ikay + the kids. Thankful to God for leading me to reconnect with them during one devotion day.
One of the main family things for this year though is the grand “reunion” as all the titos and titas went home in November, along with Micro & Toni!!! I haven’t seen Micro in more than a decade so it was really good to catch-up and just get to spend time with him. Loved our stay in Baguio with all the kwentuhans, jokes, eating out, and even the boat ride race. And also our eat-outs at BFF, and bowling games. I’m really grateful for having a tightly-knit family with God at the center of everything.
And, the BIGGEST thing for this year: WE FINALLY MOVED TO OUR OWN HOME!!!!!!!!! When Nanay passed away, her house was left with Mama and Tito Ray. Reconstruction had to be made to split the place and to modernize the look. Renovations finished this year and we got to move in during the -ber months! I’m still in awe of God’s mercy and love whenever I wake up and see that I have my own bed and room now. For years, unbeknownst to many, I’ve been sleeping either on the couch or on a cushion on the floor, since the parsonage really was very small for our family. Thank God that we have a new home now — not really for bragging and showing off, but more because we love inviting people over!!! HAHAHA! I love having places where people can stay and tambay. Still need to continue paying for our loan, but already thankful to God for this wonderful blessing He has given us!
MATTERS OF THE HEART
I liked a friend and medyo “dated” (it’s complicated; very millenial) for a while. Won’t really talk about it much anymore but I learned a lot of things from the experience. I’m thankful to God for the kiligs, as I haven’t felt it in quite a while really. Looking back, it was also a chance for me to see how I can improve in terms of my relationships. I also grew as a person — learned to think of myself less and focus on how the other person can grow. I have no regrets about it as I knew I gave my best for whatever we had. Most people would say that if they had a chance for a do-over, they’d do things differently, but for me, it was something that I probably had to go through. Despite the tears & sleepless nights, there were moments when it was good and fun. But as Taylor Swift says, “People are people and sometimes we change our minds. People are people and sometimes it doesn’t work out.”
Rascal Flatts’ Bless the Broken Road didn’t really make sense to me until this year. Despite all the emotional turmoil of the first half of the year, I thank God for giving me a person who’s clear with what he wants and who makes an effort to show me that he chooses me everyday. It’s a kind of love that reminds me of God’s grace, and that’s what I’ve been praying for anyway–an AGAPE love. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for us for the past 3 months because of issues we need to address and time needed to adjust to each other’s personalities, but through it all, there’s been peace. I’m really excited for what’s yet to come for us in 2019!
FRIENDS ARE THE FAMILY YOU CHOOSE
Ptr. Jhun’s family left for Canada. Still trying to get used to not having them around. Really miss Gabgab :(
Had time with the Beshiewaps through birthdays and lots of tambays at BFF (support!). I also had a coffee date with Bimb, watched a movie with Agay and headed to Eastwood to have dinner with Muning, and had a Christmas gathering at home.
Glad to have spent time with the CC and church tropa via eating at Vikings on my birthday, watching movies, organizing Det’s proposal, meeting with Sambs and Kim in church, visiting Walkway, having an artsy day at Pinto, eating at YOLOWA with Yuri, dining at Rustic with Lulu, watching an SS gig in Sta. Elena, singing our hearts out at 121, celebrating Philip’s birthday, celebrating Chichi’s birthday, being adventurous at Enchanted Kingdom, and basically being at BFF whenever possible.
Still loved spending time with the block for moments such as visiting BFF then having videoke time, being with Driz for grocery shopping and eating out at Shang, Attending Loopback + having Korean BBQ (WHICH ALMOST KILLED US SA KABUSUGAN), watching RPO + having Korean BBQ, watching Lion King with the girls, ranting with Driz sa High Grounds, and more catching up with him at Whitewall, fixing Kara’s wedding stuff, having videoke moments in the middle of the storm for Yan and Dolf’s birthday & spending hours at Sbux after, Rai coming home and having a bonding night with her and Kara + Ooma and Recovery, and visiting her in Pampanga!
Also got to spend more time with other friends–both old and new:
- Bogdan: Empot’s friend from Korea came over and stayed at our house. Had loads of time hanging out and my favorite trip was going to Intramuros/Luneta/National Museum as in via commute & with the babies.
- F4: Spent Valentine’s lunch with DL, had coffee with KJ, and caught up with Lem at Rue one night
- FSY: Had Singles’ Night (with other Foursquare friends), a Prayer Mountain visit, held our own Digital Outreach, hosted our PF, walked sa Riverbanks/Riverpark, and attended AmpliFY. Of course we also ate at BFF A LOT.
- Spent time with Kate, Meann and Jovelyn at Plum & Glam, and bid goodbye to Julie as she went home to the province :(
- FY – Watched Deadpool 2 with FY friends and ate at DTF after, headed to Kandle for coffee and watched Jinky Vidal at Historia, Nonats accompanied me to my WV 5-year appreciation night & visited me at work for a ranting session, celebrated the success of NFYC via an eat-out at Yakimix Prime + played at Timezone, watched Granny to support Keds and had BK after, spent lots of time with Kuya Jomer in coffee shops, and hung out as well at Feliz!
- Work – BGC tambay with Carlo and Alvin, Nihon+TGIF-ed with Carlo and Alvin, Ooma with the Usi gang, went to the bonfire and said hi to AJ + Alecx, Tim Horton’s with AJ and Gelo, TGIF with Seph, and PPM Reunion at Friday’s (yet again)!
- Team Transfiguration was formed. Thankful for my core group composed of James, Nonats, and Ptr. Ruru!
- Girls – Had lots of good times with the ladies of MFGC, including the fun overnight for Dora’s bridal shower & Ate Jez’s send-off! Side note: Ate Jez came home for the anniversary! So fun to be with her again!!!
- #IBelongTuyo – Found a bunch of non-judgmental friends who were up for some kalokohans and deep conversations over some beverages. Hahaha!
- Attended Christmas parties with SPACESHIP, WLT, CC, Office team, and the family!
- Spent time with Nonats in Dakasi with Ptr. Bong and Ate Sha, and at Long Weekend with Kuya Noolen and Ate Ayuth
- Met up with some old friends like Yvan and Jay
- Continued to disturb the life of Kara and Jojo
I LOVE MY JOB
I thought 2017’s Program Manager pasabog was enough, but God’s not done with me yet. I moved to a different organization (within the same company still) this year to start a new role as a Bid Manager. My team’s composed of more senior folks, and the role demands more wisdom, strategy and leadership, and of course insecure Meki is starting to come out again. Yet, I thank God ’cause He’s been with me through it all.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
Life update: Pumayat na ako kahit paano. I gained back all the pounds this month due to the parties, but I lost about 20 kilos during the middle of the year thanks to going low-carb! A bit expensive, but worth it to shed the weight and to get the discipline of self-control when eating. Also had a few bouts of physical activity as I bought a fitness watch ahahahaha!
Tried to lessen transpo expenses this year so I re-learned how to commute. I tried out using the shuttle again, and even carpooled via Wunder. It’s been fun and so much tipid so I can use the money I save to eat more food instead (lols). I started taking driving lessons though (for the 2nd time) as my goal was supposedly to drive myself to work. Car yet to follow.
I had a bout of anxiety in March, which was the first time for me. I thank Jesus for granting me the PEACE that He has promised. Also had two haircut moments this year, and if you know me, I only get haircuts for life-changing seasons hahaha.
I got addicted to Dakasi’s coconut milk tea with konnyaku pearls and no sugar, heavy cream latte from Sbux, YOLOWA and basically all samgyup stuff, Sari Roti’s double soft bread, Burger King’s Whopper Jr without the buns and onion rings, BLK513 (which seems to be on my list every year grrr), staying at Long Weekend, everything avocado, and Rite N Lite & Coke Zero & Pepsi Max.
Attended quite a lot of weddings — 5 to be exact: Jeremy and Chiqui, Lecks and Det (which we helped organize), Twinks and Pegiel, Jabez and Faith (which we helped organize too), and Jade and Rhei. In contrast, I didn’t go to that much gigs. I think I only went to two — one for Silent Sanctuary in March, and another for Hale & Sud. Really missed the boys. I got to catch Hillsong United live though, which was such a treat as I went with Gia, Philip, Muning and Karins. Always love worshipping with the Hillsong fam! And, also caught Ang Huling El Bimbo at Resorts World with office friends and Muning, and Lion King with block girls. Great play, really. (An unpopular opinion, I know.) God seems to not be getting tired of making my dreams come true this year as I finally got to watch Chance the Rapper live at MOA Arena. Haaaay, he is just so awesome and inspiring! Love you, Chano.
I still spend so much time with the Mayo kids (my favorite children), which I am grateful for. I dread the day when they don’t have time for me anymore. We had bonding time at Kidzoona, I visited their school for their recognition days (like a true stage mom), we had lots of mall visits and overnights, we headed to Ayala Marikina, commuted to Feliz and played & drank milk tea, shopped at Trinoma, and watched a movie at Eastwood.
I’m really so proud of my favorite children. The girls joined the kiddie concert, and Zyrkx now plays the drums for our worship team. So glad that they’re all still close to our family!
OTHER STUFF I LOVED
It’s been a great year for movies. We were blessed with The Greatest Showman, Black Panther, Ready Player One, Avengers: Infinity War, Sid and Aya, Exes’ Baggage, Goyo, and many more. Mike Ross left Suits. Huhuhu. But, we were blessed with the best Black Mirror episode ever in Hang The DJ. I continued falling in love with Hasan Minhaj — congrats to him and his new show! Got hooked with Grey’s Anatomy (hi McDreamy), The Good Place, Elementary, Designated Survivor, and… Brooklyn Nine-Nine!!!!!!!!! Got really LSS-ed with some Marikina blogger’s parody of Havana, and had the new Hillsong Worship and Hillsong Y&F stuff on rotation. Still though, Housefires, Steffany G and United Pursuit remained as my steady plays for the year.
WRAPPING IT UP
2018 has been a year of GOD SPACE and GOD’S GRACE. And for that, I am just so so so grateful, Lord!