Power in weakness

GOD'S WORD TODAY - Ruben M. Tanseco S.J. - The Philippine Star

Allow me to quote the Lord as quoted by St. Paul in today’s second reading:  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”. (2 Cor. 12:9).

What follows is the life-story of one such disciple of Christ, a close friend of mine and his wife Baby as associates in our apostolate for couples and families.  He is Toto Malvar.  He and his family responded to the huge reforestation project in Mt. Purro that was necessitated over the years by illegal logging, kaingin farming, and charcoal-making.  All this would cause massive flooding in Marikina and Metro-Manila if not reforested. 

At my request, Toto wrote the following in regard to what they have done and are doing.

“I am now seventy years old and I still feel very energetic and full of life.  I get a restful sleep and look forward to the days ahead.  I am very happy and my wife, Baby, is happy with me.  I feel like singing and shouting with joy.

The secret?  I am so much in love.  I feel like a teenager again exactly the way I felt towards Baby when we were boyfriend and girlfriend.

But this time, it’s deeper.  Am still very much in love with Baby.  But am also very much in love with God, our creator.  I am very grateful!  My heart is full of joy, a joy that has to be shared!

About 30 years ago, I answered the call of God to live in the mountains, bring both the beauty of the forest and interact with poor people in the upland community, especially the Dumagats, the indigenous tribe, the original inhabitants of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

Through those years, God has taken care of us through so much pain, struggles, and difficulties – I became deep in debt, we had to sell our house to pursue our dreams.  We experienced forest fires, even an NPA attack.

But I have carried on… just trusting in God’s faithfulness when He said, “Do not be afraid.  I will be with you till the end of time.” 

And now, I have survived all the above.  And so much blessings I am now financially independent.  I now have a nice house in the mountains, our Mount Purro Nature Reserve Project is making money.  We have been successful in our community development activities like housing, medical/health care, and water provision.  We have been able to provide livelihood opportunities to about 100 families.  We love the Dumagats and they love us dearly in return.  And I want to do more for God.  I want to make Him more happy.  And now, I am no longer alone.  My whole family support me (my wife, my seven children and their spouses, and my 17 grandchildren).  In fact, together with friends, my family has put up a MPNR foundation to carry on.

As of today, we have planted and maintained hundreds of thousands of trees, sent to school hundreds of scholars.  We have already graduated school teachers, nurses, agriculturists, and engineers.  We have also provided sustainable livelihood opportunities to about 100 families.  We also have a clinic with a full time nurse/ clinic manager, a pharmacy, and an ambulance.

My youngest son TJ who is a doctor has joined me fulltime in our mission.  He takes care of the community development activities such as the primary health care program, (clinic, small pharmacy, and ambulance), the water supply project to the community, the Dumagat housing project, and scholarship program.

Toton, our second to the youngest son, has also resigned as a senior officer in a bank to join us fulltime in our work.  He makes sure that the ecotourism business does well so TJ will have money to spend for the community development activities.

We can see the day when Dumagats will have a full life (free from hunger, thirst, sickness, ignorance).   We see the day when the forest will again be lush and green.  We will visit and appreciate nature and people from all walks of life and experience God!

Thank You Lord!  You are the best!”

All that and more is the Malvar family.  May God call more Filipino families to be FAMILIES FOR OTHERS.  Amen.

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