It was January 2010 when I first witness a live wedding proposal, it was the breaking of the fast when I’m so dying to eat a lugaw after 7 days without a solid intake. A couple of minutes after a pastor announced that a lugaw will be served, another pastor came up on stage with a man on his side; and this man proposed to this girl. (The girl that I want to honor with this blog.) After the proposal, the entire church celebrated with the lugaw, and it was no ordinary breaking of the fast anymore. Every time I see this girl in church, I am reminded of the breaking of the fast, the wedding proposal, and the delayed lugaw. (I was just so hungry at that time that I can’t forget that experience.)
Two and a half years after, I found myself in Shakey’s Festival Mall very hungry again because it was the third day that I don’t have any solid intake then this girl who used to delay my lugaw arrived, and she feed me with a Cream of Mushroom (I only had the cream, she ate the mushrooms); and it was again no ordinary night, it was our last date together, as we ended our preparations for the new chapter of my life.
I was not able to check my weight, and how much I had gained ever since I met this girl who once delayed my lugaw. All I know is that she treats me with a lot of food and drinks that are far better than lugaw.
Well, this is not a food diary about what we eat, so I will now go to my main point. Who is this girl, and why do I honor her?
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. ” – Proverbs 31: 30 (NIV)
The first time I saw her, she was Ms. Catherine Guillermo, but when I finally met her, she is Mrs. Catherine Guillermo – de Torres, a submissive wife, a loving daughter, a caring eldest to her 3 younger siblings, an achiever, a nurse, a woman of faith, a leader in the ministry of Christ, a kids’ church teacher, an intercessor, an usher in church, and the woman who sits in the front row every Sunday services with her husband.
I could not remember when was the first time that I ever received an invitation from her asking me to join her Victory group. She was the 3rd girl who invited me; and for a year and a half maybe, I have been replying the same old lines to her every Sunday, “I’m sorry I could not make it today because of blah, blah, blah”, but she continued to send me invites. (I only realize the importance of those invites and why she is doing it now that I am also leading my own group.)
One Sunday, I finally said a “Yes” to her invite; and from that Sunday, Ate Cathie said I was never a new member for I made friends and best friends easily with the group. Ate Cathie is a wonderful woman as I fully met her, and the thought of having turned down her invitations for more than a year made me feel so guilty.
Personally, I could say that she was used by God to inspire me, teach me, heal me, bless me, rebuke me, and love me unconditionally; she knows my past life and yet she embraced me and calls me her sister. How I wish I could turn back time and meet with her the very first time she invited me, maybe things were better for me, but every time I would regret about it, Ate Cathie would say, “everything is part of God’s plan and things do happen in His time”.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” – Ecclesiastes 3: 11 (NIV)
She was already prepared to leave the country when I finally meet her in person. I may sound selfish about what I am going to say here, but I always say this to her jokingly before, “Maybe part of God’s plan was to delay their departure, so that she can be used by God to win me back and be saved.”
Ate Cat got hospitalized and needed an operation weeks after we meet; honestly, I asked God if I was a blessing or a jinx in her life. Months after, their travel papers were on hold and so they will be staying longer. We started and were able to finish our 1 to 1, thanks to Kuya Ryan’s approval (I will go into details about this later); and Ate Cat was still able to prepare me for my Victory Weekend; although she was not there during my water baptism, she was there all throughout the preparations. We meet almost every other day, and even if Kuya Ryan did not want us to go home late sometimes we did went home late because of our long talks and our love for food. (All those food are freely given by this woman; she really takes good care of me by treating me and by counting all our calorie intake but still we eat without regrets.)
Ate Cat has prepared me well not just for my Victory Weekend but for the life thereafter. Now I could say, “Thank you Lord for allowing her to stay for awhile to meet me, disciple me, and lead me back to you.”
“Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve.” -1 Peter 5:2 (NIV)
I have learned a lot from Ate Cat especially during our long talks, it was a summer affair with her because we did spent an entire summer dating, talking about God, Jesus, our lives, our stories, our families, Kuya Ryan (the leading man of my main character in this blog), and many more. She never missed to laugh with my jokes, and she never takes her attention from me when I speak. Sometimes I wish I was able to record our talks, so that I will have a podcast of her advice when I needed them again.
There are tons of things that I have learned from Ate Cat, few of these lessons are on how to be humble, to fully surrender everything to Jesus, to realize my worth, to see the light in every situation, to know when to listen and when to speak, to obey and to honor my parents, to love my siblings more, to pray and have a daily devotion, to forgive others and myself, to move on, to let go, to continue to grow, to seek God’s will, and to submit. These lessons are taught not just by our small talks but on how I see her live her life.
“6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. 7 In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8 and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” – Titus 2:6-8 (NIV)
“22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
– Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)
Submission – a lesson I fully understand from her, it was in the Bible but I could not really grasp why and how. Every time our groups meet we will just stay near the group of Kuya Ryan, they almost never separate. When Ate Cat needs to leave or do any thing, she would ask Kuya Ryan’s approval; and before we could start our 1 to 1, she asked permission from Kuya Ryan. I super admire Ate Cat’s love for Kuya Ryan.
Being raised away from my parents, I really don’t know what submission is. “I own my life” that was my principle that even to my mom I didn’t bother or care to ask permission when I will be staying out late or travelling away for weeks; it’s not really in my nature. But seeing Ate Cat and Kuya Ryan, I can see how to submit (to my future husband) not because of fear or because it was written, but because she loves him and she honors him. Now, I even have it on my list of husband-to-be, a Kuya Ryan-like man. Ate Cat, also discussed this future things (the husband material) to me. Well, she indeed prepared me for a new wonderful life in Christ. I will never forget what Kuya Ryan told me after one service, “Hanapin mo Papa mo, kasi kadalasan yan ang dahilan bakit mahirap mag-submit.” I replied saying, “Oo Kuya, invited siya sa kasal ko and I will honor him, pero di lang siya yung maghahatid sakin.”
And because this couple really love me, they blessed me with a book entitled “Under Cover”. Ate Cat told me that the book is indeed fit for me. I am just so blessed with this couple that they never complain answering my questions about Theology and even dinosaurs and ice age.
When I was in college, we have this saying, “a nurse is made for an engineer”, Ate Cat is a nurse and Kuya Ryan is an engineer, but they were not just meant to be because of their professions but because they both allowed God to write their love story; and I’m grateful to know their story and be a witness to Kuya Ryan’s proposal. I just never know how those two people whom I was watching at the stage before for their wedding proposal could be used by God to touch my life. I was a mere church goer but then with them I learned how to be part of the church. I am sitting now in the front rows during services because of them and I’m not alone anymore. And as I dug down deep, I know they will always be my shovels from God that will help me dig more.
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10: 24-25 (NIV)
Ate Cat and Kuya Ryan may be far from me right now, but I know I can still count on them when I need advice or questions; and I really thank God for the wonderful 5 months of being with them. I will have a wonderful and meaningful journey in Christ because they were there in preparing the path. There are some things that a pastor can’t do on all the people of God, but thanks to all the disciples of Christ, thanks to the awesome Victory Leaders, and thank God for sending Ate Cat and Kuya Ryan to disciple me.
For the many grateful lives that they have touched here in the Philippines, I believe God has send them out to another season to be more blessed and be a blessing to others.
Their lives are simply amazing knowing that they allowed God to use and lead them, and even if this is more than a 2,000-word post already still I believe words are not enough for me to say “Thanks” to you Ate Cat and Kuya Ryan.
I am so grateful that when this couple fished for men, I was still able to fit in their nets.
I love you both Ate and Kuya. Continue to shine as the salt and light wherever you are. May you touch more lives there in North Carolina.