Kony 2012 Cover the Night

After a long, anticipated wait, I received my Kony 2012 “Take Action Kit” just in time for the “Cover the Night event”.  On April 20th. , our family got together to promote justice for Joseph Kony. Despite of all the hype and criticism received by the Invisible Children movement, we decided that it is not our job to judge whether the movement is legit or a scam. Let it be to God to decide. We were glad to do something good regardless of what’s being said and hung up posters with the intention of making a difference.  As we drove around town looking for places to hang up the posters, our daughter, Karymar, read Kony’s story to us. We want her to understand who is Joseph Kony and the terrible things he has done. It was a good night despite of the rain. We bonded, as a family, for what we think is a great cause, speaking out for those who can’t.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

‘Tis the Season to Give

There is something that makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year.  If giving was your first thought as of why this season is so wonderful, you would be correct! Giving should be an all year around thing, but we tend to focus on Christmas time to give things to the people we love or to be kind with others. How long this being going on? Well since as far as we can remember. Giving goes way back in human history; it is rooted deep in family values, passed on throughout generations from childhood to adulthood. Since we were little our parents taught us the importance of being grateful for what we have and kind with people who are less fortunate regardless of their circumstances that led them to where they are.  As we grow, the responsibility of maintaining this value passes from the parent to the child. If done well, carried on through persistence and leading by example, the values that the parents teach to the child will be carried on in their belief system way into adulthood and for life.  If this value was not nurtured during childhood, it will not be carried on into adulthood. It is here where that belief of being grateful and generous with others changes. As we grow, our views in life changes and we judge them based on our own experiences and the experiences of other people.  We all have problems of our own, bills to pay and so on that we feel the need of self-gratifying one first and if there is time and resources think of others.  We can see this trend everywhere and today’s TV commercials send the word out of “self” first hand to the masses.  We see commercials where parents give their kids video games and lots of stuff they already have. The kid’s reply is always the same “you’re the best Dad /Mom ever” and then presents the parent as the “cool parent”.  Very few if any shows people giving things or items they don’t need any more to the other less fortunate. You would see this demonstration of generosity in small, local communities. I would like it to see people being generous  with others  on a national level.

In the meantime, I make sure that my children learn the meaning of being generous with others. With the help of a friend and my sister we planned a little “toys for tots” home drive contacting a family of lower resources and with a lot of children. We asked our children to pick up the toys they like and to give away the toys they no longer use. At first there was no reaction; children cannot comprehend this until they see it. Fortunately there are cartoons on TV that foster generosity and kindness to others. Every time my daughter Karymar watched a cartoon where the characters were nice and kind with each other, I would stress the morale of the story and encourage my daughter to think in ways of how she can help others. However, no matter how much we prepared for it, choosing which toy to give away was not an easy deal. In countless occasions Karymar was unwilling to give away her stuff and it took more time and explanation to convince her to give away some of her toys. At the end, we end up with two bags full of toys to give away.

The day came when we were ready to deliver the toys to the family. When we got there we were literally surrounded by children unaware of why we were there.  Entering the house we gather all the children in the living room and after explaining why we were there, they toys were handed to our children which in turn and some reluctantly gave it to the other children.  Soon the living room floor was littered with toys; our children and the other kids were talking and showing the toys to each other. I heard my nephew saying something like “oh I had lots of fun with it” while other kids were eyeballing the toys re-considering why they were giving their toys away. Before anyone could back out of the deal and reclaim their old toys, we exit the house leaving the other kids raving about their “new” toys.  After saying goodbye, we had a small talk with our kids; congratulate them for a job well done and recalling why we did it.  With time and practice, they will get the idea gist of it and soon will be part of their values for ever to be passed on then to their own children.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Random Selfless Acts: give to feel better

I have been working non- stop creating a sales letter to promote my book and let me say it is not an easy task trying to put together a compelling sales letter before the year is over. The deadline is looming though it is 20 days away. Creating this letter is part one of a much bigger project that rolls out at the turn of the New Year. I was feeling in a rut; ideas were not flowing and I was not making any progress. So I decided to take a break to go to my Arnis (Filipino Martial Art) class to take my mind off the project for a couple of hours. However, I was not really feeling like going to Arnis class at all and drove around aimlessly undecided on what to do going through my options since I was out of the house already. Then I received a phone call with an unusual message that really got my attention. It was from the Central Florida Blood Bank telling me that my blood type is needed and that I should go and give blood now. And just like that, without giving it a second thought, I called the number on the message and made the appointment while steering over to the nearest blood bank. I learned not to question these messages when they appear and just to go with it. Nothing bad can come out for doing something good.

When I got there, I was asked if I wanted to donate using the new state of the art Alyx System. I knew about this type of automated blood collection system that allows you to donate two units of red cells in just one visit… meaning that I could touch more lives in one visit. I was feeling great already. While donating I was watching CNN reporting some breaking news: a bomb factory house found in a Southern California neighborhood. The headlines read that the house contained the nation’s largest cache of homemade explosives. Authorities couldn’t remove the materials safely out of the house so they burned the house down. Unbelievable news I thought when the nurse technician told me that I was done. I didn’t realize that thirty-five minutes have passed. I left the blood bank happy with a “Be a hero” T-shirt and a coffee mug in hand. From now on every time I feel down, stressed or mentally blocked I know I better start giving to feel better. That is the best tonic anyone can have.

Interested? Check out this link from the Red Cross

http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/types-donations/double-red-blood-cells-donation

Doing God’s will

Drove Karymar to school today. On my way back home I saw a homeless man resting on a corner, reading.  God told me at that moment to turn around a pay a visit to this man. Two traffic lights later I made a U-turn and parked by where the man was seated. He was a white man in his 50’s and he was reading the bible seating on top of his belongings. His bicycle was couple feet away, holding a sign that read “need $3.00 for shelter, God Bless”.  I said good morning and he replied back with enthusiasm. I asked him how he is doing. He said that he is improving, that now he realizes that it is his fault and he is paying for his sins to be saved by the grace of God.  I mention that God wanted me to stop by and talk to you and he told me that that is God’s will. I asked him to read a passage of the bible and he did. He read John 3:16 to 20 explaining in his own words the meaning of God’s word. I never had anyone that I remember read the bible directly to me and I smiled in appreciation for this moment. We talked for a little while and then I departed. I offered him the $3.00 dollars he needed for the shelter and a little more. He explained to me what he will do with the money and what he used to do with it. I am glad that he is using it well and that he is, despite of his current situation, at peace with life and with God.  What a morning blessing! I was filled with emotion on my way back home, filled with happiness because God employed me to do his bidding and I responded to his will. Nothing can ruin this day for it started on a much higher note and I will reflect this joy I am feeling back to the people I meet and interact with  today because that is what God wants me to do. So thy will be done…

Random selfless acts: giving back

It was late Sunday night; my wife just asked me to help taking the laundry to the Laundromat. I  was underneath my office desk, flashlight in hand trying to figure out why my computer won’t turn on. The machine just stopped working couple days ago and I was in between the desktop and my laptop, googling on tech forums for an answer. I was feeling frustrated and in no mood to go anywhere but to fix the darn thing. I reluctantly accepted the task and give the computer issue  a rest to do something else instead. I drove to the Laundromat in silence, still thinking in all the stuff that have been going on but more into reflecting what has happened and letting go of things I have no control over it. I put the clothes in the dryers absent minded and walked out over looking the homeless man that was sleeping on the floor inside the porch of the Laundromat. I did give him a second look. It was the first time I see a homeless man here, in our neighborhood for that matter. Here I am thinking about the little things that bothered me and here is this man sleeping on the floor with nothing more than the clothes he has on his back. Taking one last look, I drove off home. An hour later I came back to pick up the clothes and the man was just waking up. As I walked inside he said  “how you doing man?” and I mumbled a “hey” without looking directly at him. I was thinking of what I was going to do tomorrow and where I was going to take the computer for repair not paying much attention of what was going on around me. Suddenly I saw a $5 dollar bill left inside of the dryer. Surely it was inside of one of my wife’s jeans and I picked it up and put it in my pocket without giving a second thought. Walking out to my car, with three loads of laundry, the homeless man said “ have a good one” . I, busy putting my stuff inside of the car didn’t reply but thought of him as being a nice person for what he just said. As I drove off a moment of clarity came over me. There was a reason for me being there at that place, late that night and the homeless man just waking up being right there where I was and then finding the $5 dollar bill. It all added up, at least in my mind it did; I stopped dead on my tracks, made a u-turn back to the Laundromat. As I pulled in the man graciously guided me to the parking spot from where he was seated. I got out and handed him the $5 dollar bill I found inside the dryer. He looked at me surprised and thank me.  I drove away feeling like a better man, closing the day on a high note and thanking the man upstairs for his subtle yet ever present messages telling me that he is right there when I need him and  if I just slow down and pay close attention to the present I will see the opportunities it has to offer. I came back home, relaxed, didn’t care for the computer for the rest of the night.

Yesterday,  I was driving by the neighborhood and drove by the Laundromat. Guess whom I saw there? The same homeless man I found sleeping there couple nights before. I immediately thought of him, turned around and went home. During this week, there has been a lot cleaning and de-cluttering in the house so I took some clothes that though good I don’t need anymore, a pair of shoes and even some leftovers my Dad cooked early. I put it all in a bag, drove back to the Laundromat and gave it to the homeless man. I was feeling energized. He greeted me like he greets everybody else, not recognizing me from the last time we met. I handed him the bag with the goodies, he looked at it, beamed at me and said thank you. I left with a sense of joy, of appreciation, of doing a good deed for someone else. Later on when I drove by the Laundromat, I saw him talking with other people, my Dad’s food plate in one hand and I was beaming.

Random Selfless Act: giving blood

It was high noon on Wednesday when I visited my local VA clinic for a quick stop. I needed to pick up a pair of shoe inserts I ordered a while ago and it had arrived to the clinic about a week ago.  I have been busy the past week and it was until today that I was able to stop by the clinic. As I walked in, I saw the Florida Blood bank’s sign on the wall and immediately a thought came on me to stop by and give blood. Without hesitation I went there with the intention to donate blood for the first time despite my fear of needles. I picked up my inserts and I asked the clerk, a fragile old man “where is the blood bank?” “the bank?”  He asked and I said, “The blood bank” stressing the “blood” word in case he misunderstands me. Without hesitation he gave me the directions and as I walked down the hall and out of the building, my conviction level when up a notch. I was going to do this and it was going to be today. As the two double doors opened I saw my objective, the Big Red Bus. Walking the distance in the open, I felt the intense heat over me and started to sweat and uncomfortable, sticky sweat. When I opened the bus doors I felt a wonderful rush of cool air in my face and I could not resist entering inside to cool off. However, I quickly realized that I just entered the point of no return and it was time to back up what I said I was going to do. Then fear crept in; my palms and feet started to sweat and I felt uneasy.  That’s when the  nurse greeted me, breaking the anxiety that was building up inside me. “No backing out now man”, I said to myself and talked with the nurse who answered a lot of questions I had and also asked me a lot of questions about my health. After the first screening to see if I was a good candidate, I was feeling very comfortable with the nurse and the process was felt even welcoming.  After everything was set up,  it was on, the time of truth. I sat in a comfortable reclining seat and the nurse quickly took over everything else, keeping my mind occupied into something else than my arm and the needle. I was offered juice, got chocolate chip cookies for after the donation, and the good nurse put cold pads on my face and neck which felt like going to a spa, so cool and so relaxing. I didn’t even feel the first pinch of the needle and the whole thing took about 10 minutes. I was like “that’s it?” and she said “yes, we are done!” I was so happy that after all these years, in fact my entire life, I held a false believe about donating blood because of my fear of needles. Turned out to be a blissful experience. When I saw the amount of blood I donated I was shocked to see not a blood vial like the ones I have done for lab work, but a bag full of my blood. The nurse said “with this bag you can potentially save three lives” and I was elated just to hear that. There is life in that bag to help save someone’s life and I carry a lot of it to give over and over without me doing anything but to sit there, relax and be pampered for doing something so wonderful. I cannot wait to do this again on a regular basis, to do another random act of selflessness to help save a life.