As a child, I understood Heaven to be where God and his saints and angels are found, up in the sky beyond the clouds, “beyond the blue yonder.” But when I rode the plane up beyond the clouds, I did not meet St. Peter or any angel up there. Where could Heaven really be? The Bible in Colossians 3:3 says: “Your real life is in Heaven with Christ and God.” This was written by St. Paul when he was in jail. And we know that God is everywhere. Therefore, Heaven is everywhere the moment we are born again in the Spirit of God with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when we no longer live carnally, but spiritually. That is why I used to say, “One does not have to die to be in Heaven,” because I’ve already been there myself when I was baptized of the Holy Spirit in August 4, 1973 during a Full Business Man’s Gospel Meeting in the S&S Cafeteria of Tampa, FL at Florida Street and I started talking in tongues! PTL.
After my baptism, I was asked to speak before the congregation by the President of the FGBM, Atty. D’Angelo, who said, “Before we call on our Guest Speaker, the Lord is telling me to call someone out there,” pointing at my direction. He described me by my Pilipino dress and beckoned me to come forward. I told them how I got baptized in the Holy Spirit a week ago and found myself telling them about my being punished with my younger brother for being naughty by our father and then told to kneel before a crucifix inside our room. I said that although we were crying and started praying that our father should die and that we were laughing together. Then I started crying unashamedly. Somebody stood up and started talking in tongues as the congregation became very silent. Another one stood up and interpreted saying, “Go forth my child and witness for me. I will sustain thee.” That was the sign I’ve been asking for to start witnessing for the Lord.
Since then, I had many opportunities to witness for the Lord before members of the former P.O.W.’s in their anniversary meeting in St. Petersburg, in a Baptist Church, in prayer meetings, in a class of senior citizens, and groups of elderly in Hillsborough County and Pasco County as Senior Paralegal of the Bay Area Legal Services of Florida, going around with a big van converted into a legal clinic from one city to another bringing along Pat, my wife, with me as Volunteer Asst. Paralegal Officer, until I retired in 1981 to take care of her until she died of cancer in 1982 on Easter Sunday.
As founder of PAAT and its first President, I said in my inaugural speech, “Someone during one prayer meeting predicted that we were being prepared by the Lord to lead a group of people during the coming perilous days, to show them the right way, and to follow Jesus Christ – the light, the life and the truth. This is the fulfillment of that prophecy.”
And as President of the newly organized Church of Jesus of Nazareth, I had several opportunities to lead the congregation in prayers. I also was a Bible instructor and delivered sermons aside from reading the Bible during church services. When Pat, my first wife, died, her wish not to be left alone inside a funeral parlor was fulfilled. We kept her body inside our chapel and was with her until the following day when she was buried in the Garden of Love, Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Hillsborough County, Florida. I was then the President of PAAT. The chapel was filled with people who attended her necrological services which were performed on the same day she died, April 11, 1982. I was ordained sub-deacon by Bishop Loreto.
During her necrological service, a very unusual incident happened that very few will believe. Our family picture shows us smiling beside Pat’s body. Our taped songs and conversations reveal our willing and joyful acceptance of God’s will with music and songs. But before that, just as we knelt to receive communion, Maria heard a voice saying: “This will be your husband.” She let go of my hand she was holding, turned around, but only saw the statue of the Black Nazarene behind us. She told this story to Father George when we went to his house several weeks after our marriage.
That accounts for the fact that I failed to realize my plan to go to the Philippines via Japan three times. First, when I can’t find my passport and Tony had to leave me behind. Second, when I was asked by Dr. Lourdes Loreto to cancel my flight to attend the ordination of her husband, Rev. Eugenio Loreto, as bishop. Third, when the Braniff Air Lines I’ve booked myself to go to Texas to board the Korean Air Lines for Japan, became bankrupt.
Then I called up the Korean Air Lines in Houston to mail me my airline ticket so that I won’t have to look for their office when I get to that airport. I called up on a Friday and expected to get it next Monday. I called up again and was informed that it was mailed by registered mail. I said, “Lord, if the ticket won’t arrive by Friday, I know you don’t want me to go.” When the ticket failed to arrive, I said, “Maybe I’ll have to first have a tombstone made for Pat’s grave, then I’ll plan to leave later on.” I called up Tony who bought the ticket that I’ll mail it back to him after I got it the following Monday, saying that I’ll first put a tombstone on Pat’s grave after which I’ll plan later on my trip to Japan and to the Philippines.
All my children contributed for the tombstone which I ordered with the help of Maria. On our return trip from the stone marker manufacturer, Maria told me that there are lots of fish in the lake behind her house and suggested that I could fish there if I am feeling lonely. I went to fish there one day and I caught her! Can you beat that? I guess that’s the biggest fish story ever told. And we got married on Sept 3, 1982, and lived happily ever after. Praise the Lord!
Now I really believe that: “God has a plan for everyone.” “Man proposes but God disposes,” is true indeed. Since then, I’ve learned to live in complete submission to God’s will. It is the best assurance of a blessed, peaceful and happy life, ever praising and thanking God for everything every time.