Post Undergrad Reflection

          I graduated from college! and I still can’t believe it! In my last blog post from 12 weeks ago, I was buckling up to finish strong in my final weeks of college and here I am now…its been a month since I’ve received my bachelors degree., oh how quickly these last 12 weeks have flown by!

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….graduating from college was certainly one of the biggest milestone achievements in my life and certainly one of the most fulfilling ones. It was rather bittersweet as I said goodbye and parted ways with many great human beings that I have met over the course of this 5 year journey. I am a first generation college graduate in my family and holy shit the journey that it took for me to attain this degree was quite rigorous and down right hard work.
Quite simply, my insecure old self never thought I would be able to graduate college or see myself as someone who can actually be educated. Seriously guys, that was my perception of myself and I usually put myself down with self defeating thoughts. A lot of this self defeating thoughts greatly affects some of my day to day behavior (insecurities, fears, unconfidence). It was all stemmed from the social environment that I grew up in and was influenced by as a child.
 In Social Work, we call this Person-in-Environment theory, in which theorizes that a person(s) social environment to include his/her social status, and ethnic background greatly contributes to how an individual behaves and the barriers, discrimination, and injustices that he/she will more than likely experience in life.
 In my case, my “Person-in-Environment” was confounded on the beliefs that I was not good enough, simply because my mother had left us at the age of 10, and having come from a broken family left with little to no means, my automatic thoughts were simply that of which sets low expectations for myself.  This state of hopelessness, derived simply from constant experiences of having gone through repetitive cycles of failures and being let down as a kid, perpetuated my mindset to be filled with no hope.
When my mother had left us, my father had to work seven days a week just to make ends meet and put food on the table. As a kid, I remember there were many times where I would go with my father to help him on his side jobs on the weekends fixing homes and structures and whatever it is he could earn some living out of. In one particular experience, when I was 12 years old, my older brother and I were helping my dad complete a home renovation for a wealthy family, the Chinese contractor (my dads boss) suddenly steps in the home and directly gets mad at my dad saying that we need to move faster because we are behind schedule. During this time, my dads divorce was just finalized and I could only imagine what was going through his mind.
Going back to angry Chinese contractor , he continuously emphasized to my dads face saying ” Do you want money Wilson? this is Money $Money $ Money” he said this while signing with his fingers the money sign. At that instant, I wanted to smack the hell out of that Chinese guy, but that would mean all our hard work would go for nothing, and so I didn’t and resumed putting tiles on the floor.
As I entered middle school and well into high school, I continued to help my father with his side jobs on the weekends. I remember he would give my siblings and I, $1 to $2 on school days for our daily expenses. It was all that my father could provide at the time, and to us, it was more than enough and allowed us to seriously learn how to do some budgeting in middle school and junior high. I remember seeing some of my classmates bring their latest gadgets to school (PSP’s) and show it off, and here I was thinking, “man that would be awesome to have”. But deep down inside, I knew my dad wouldn’t be able to afford it, outwardly it was okay, but deep deep down inside, I had so many questions of why can’t I just have a normal family just like those other kids. 
Life was rather tough earlier on as a child, my childhood experiences treamedously shaped the way I thinked, for example, my insecurities stemmed from seeing other kids have everything (i.e. complete family & all the more) while I didn’t. Another was my thinking of being “not meant for anything more in life” is directly stemmed from constantly working for other people with my dad, instead of just being a kid and doing what kids normally do, and not have to worry about the cares of life.
These insecurities and self defeating thoughts carried well into my young adult years., but it wasn’t until life somehow took me to Social Work (of all things) that I learned that we CAN break and reverse these self defeating thoughts and behaviors no matter how long we’ve been perpetuating these in our life. Its quite ironic becuase you would think a person like myself who is insecure and antisocial will certainly not mix well with a profession that requires you to have a shit load of confidence and not be afraid to socialize with people of all things., but somehow, this is where life led me and I found great breakthroughs in my life learning Social Work.
Society’s perception and my perception of myself was that I am not suppose to graduate from college and get a degree, because I come from a broken family, I am a second class citizen, my parents were migrants, and we lived on my dads paycheck while growing up. Amidst of all these learned negative traits, negative thinking, negative beliefs and behaviors, in Social Work, I learned that I DO NOT have to be a victim of my past circumstances nor do I have to live under society’s stereotypical views as someone who comes from broken families, but instead, I can CHANGE the way I think, and use my skills and discover strengths I did not know I had. All of these breakthrough discoveries were all discovered through my education. Being an educated young man has been the greatest asset to me, knowledge, as they say, is truly POWER.
 Through my education, I was EMPOWERED to break these false beliefs of myself and how society viewed me because of my “person-in-environment” or “past”. My breaking of this so called dominant paradigm (popular beliefs, even if not always true) in society explicitly is summed up in what Rapper Eminem profoundly elaborates in his message song entitled: “Not Afraid”
“I don’t give a damn what you (society) think, I’m doin’ this for me, so fuck the world feed it beans its gassed up, if it thinks its stopping me, Imma be what I’m set out to be without a doubt undoubtably, and all those who look down on me, I’m tearing down your balcony”.  -Eminem 
Okay… maybe not the tearing down of the balcony part, but everything else I strongly believe.
Going to college was certainly a hard decision at first because I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do in life. In the end, I simply made the move to go college regardless if my circumstances permitted it or not, or regardless of what society expected of me. Throughout my 5 years in school, I worked my butt off and took on different jobs just to make ends meet. The struggle was real let me tell yah. There were times where attaining the goal of graduating college seemed so far away that whenever I pondered on the thought, only discouragement and despair filled my mind. Nonetheless, I persevered and constantly moved in a forward direction (even if at times, I felt like I was moving back). Regardless, I put in hard work and chose to be better.
         Throughout my 5 years of college, like many of us, I continously experienced life in the front row seats, and by that I mean having gone through loss, loneliness, depression, failures, anxiety, isolation, suicidal ideations, and the ever presently recurring thoughts of “what the Fc$K am I doing in life”, or “am I doing the right thing?”, or “What if this is a mistake?”, were the constant thoughts pulling me from behind. Yet amidst ALL this.., I somehow made it through and got my degree in Social Work.
It may sound like I am really proud of myself, I actually am, but not just entirely because I got my degree, but more so,  because I just proved society wrong and those people who never thought I would make it in life. I proved to myself, to society, and the critics that REGARDLESS of what background you come from and what painful and self defeating experiences you’ve gone through early on in life, you CAN STILL achieve GREAT THINGS & SUCCEED in life, RIGHT NOW. And if I could do it, YOU CAN TOO.
Iv’e also learned that it’s good to be humble, but it does not mean you can’t have a killer mentality. Having that killer mentality got me through my college journey, even if at times, the self doubts were always present. Throughout my academics, I made it my priority to invest in my education and everything else became secondary. Despite going through hardships, I did my best not to let life and its trials and stumbling blocks stop me in my pursuit into excelling in school.
 It got real hard at times, especially during my depression stages which lasted for 2 years, but none of that mattered because my vision of getting my degree far outweighed all the burdens that life had thrown at me. And truthfully speaking, problems in life will always be present, and there will NEVER be a “perfect” or “problem free” moment in our lives before we wait to make big decision.
What I learned throughout these last 5 years in college and in my nearly 25 years of existence is that you;
(ONE)—- YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A VICTIM OF YOUR PAST; you may not have had the best opening, but you can certainly STILL have a GREAT ending!
(TWO) —-Take risks, and go ahead and make your choices regardless of your circumstances, don’t wait for a perfect time;
(THREE) —-have faith & DO NOT let anyone distract you from your goals (you have to believe in it more than anything regardless of what people say, even your family may not agree with you!);
(FOUR)—- hang the fck on, there will be times where you feel like you are in the beginning phases of climbing a mountaintop, that you don’t think you will ever reach the peak, have faith that you will reach it overtime! its a process!
(FIVE) —-Don’t get so focused on the destination; enjoy the journey! Most of the great things and discoveries in life happen when you’re in the MUD or VALLEY. Flowers only grow after it rains! You discover greatness in your most painful times!
(SIX) —-JUST DO IT (like Nike 😉 YOU WILL have doubts and YOU WILL fail often, but it is in the doubts and failures that you discover your strengths and purposes!
(SEVEN) — NEVER, and I mean NEVER, allow life to defeat you. You may stumble at times (THAT IS A GIVEN), and that is TOTALLY okay my friend! but you will not fall! The hell with what people say or what society thinks of you, do you, be yourself (being true to yourself is VERY important), be authentically you, be awesome to somebody, and above all, walk in love, don’t waste time with negative people.
(EIGHT) You can’t do it alone, I’m gonna say it again… YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE! Life is already hard on its own, and doing LIFE alone will only get you so far! Surround yourself with people who uplift you and believe the best in you;
(NINE) have a role model(s) in life, someone who you aspire to become like and inspire that shit out of you, emulate how they lived life and tackled challenges and overcame, and  finally
(ten) HAVE FAITH.

 

…and of course, if you’re struggling with any of these, I am here for you and here to listen! You are a lot stronger than you think my friend.
All the best,
Mike

 

My Social Work Journey..

Last few weeks left of senior year… and I still cannot believe that I am almost at the finish line of earning my first college degree. <— this statement should have ended with an exclamation point “!”, but for some reason, I am not feeling it. So please don’t judge me for not being excited..LOL. If you asked me 5 years ago if getting a college degree was something that I would consider, I would have probably told you “HELL NAW..”

IMG_0374….and maybe give you a reaction like this photo. A “Bye Felicia” kind of thing. LOL.. The answer of Hell NAWW…was 99% stemmed from my insecurities, anti socialism, and lack of confidence in my learning capabilities. But to think that I am about to receive a degree in “Social” Work in less than 6 weeks is quite ironic… the profession is called “Social” Work for a reason, meaning a main component of being a social worker is that we must be able to “Socialize” and interact with people and help people tackle and overcome life problems and obstacles. If my high school counselor told me that my calling was to help people solve their own problems, I would have probably threw her my notebook, LOL. because I have enough problems of my own! But really though, I would have never believed my counselor because never in a million years would I have thought of doing this profession of Social Work as a career. But as much as Social Work is a very emotionally demanding and stressful profession, the privilege of making a difference in the lives of people far outweighs the emotional and physical demands of the profession. We all have a unique calling in life, and it is up to us to choose to answer that call. As for myself, there are days when I just want to pack up all my belongings and go somewhere far away in place where I don’t know anyone and escape from all the affairs of mankind and problems in the world, but I don’t think I have the courage to do so because it is like running away from something that I am wired to do, something that I am good at. I feel a sense of identity when I speak up for the voiceless, when I stand up for justice, when I protect the oppressed and when I connect with people, all of this feels like it is engrained in me as much as I want to avoid it.

As far as I can remember in my 25 years of existence LOL…I have always wanted to help people, but I just didn’t know how. Thankfully, life guided me to where I am today and for that I am extremely grateful. On another note, with graduation coming near…the more sad it is I become. Haha. But shouldn’t I be happy instead because I am graduating? Well.. not entirely.. maybe this anticipatory feeling of sadness is caused by the thought of parting ways with the people that have become part of my family these last 2 years… my senior class. I will certainly miss all the times I get to joke and mess around with each and every one of my classmates through our unique individual relationships. I will also miss the times where I was able to be a part of hearing their life stories and what each and every one of them is going through in their own unique walks in life. It is an absolute honor when my classmates choose to share their personal stories to with me, stories of struggle, resilience, sorrow, grief, doubts, and life stories in general.

Each person in my graduating class has had an instrumental impact in my life, through them, I saw how okay it is to be broken, down and out, lost, and unheard. It is moments like these in which I felt like their struggles have become my struggles. And it is also through their stories that I also saw how it is to be resilient and a champion in life. We never know what life may throw at us, and I learned through my cohort that we all face life struggles and hardships, in which most of these struggles and hardships are unknown and unseen in the naked eye. And for someone to be a listening ear for someone in need can be the most profound experience for someone going through life struggles. I am getting a little emotional as I write this blog, thankfully the cool breeze coming from the beach is helping my eyes dry out and prevent the tears from coming out… HAHA. Or maybe the Hawaiian pancakes I ate were just as good and I am in tears of joy. In closing, just like anything in life, all things come to an end and that we must keeping moving forward. As much as this is true, it is the profound memories of inspiration, connection, and laughter with my fellow future colleagues that will last a lifetime. I think of life as pages in a book, where I finish reading (experiencing) one chapter, and eventually move on to the next. Sadly I am nearing the end of reading (experiencing) this chapter of social work in college and moving on the next. And I am humbled and grateful that whatever chapter is next, my Jesus is always with me. IMG_7186

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RISE UP pt.1

WOW… where do I even begin!? It has been nearly 2 years since I’ve last written a blog! And let me tell you friends… it has been once HECK of a RIDE!!! It’s still all surreal to me that this journey I have embarked on since my rise from depression has taken me to meet the most amazing people and experience the most life changing moments right before my eyes. In my last blog post which was **ahem** 2 years ago in May 2016… was about the Festival of the Pacific Arts which was hosted here in my island of Guam; where more than 27 island nations from the Pacific came and showcased their cultural arts and talents! Up to that point I have been battling depression for 2 long years… then in that summer of 2016, I came across a book called UNBROKEN, a story of Louie Zamperini, a young olympic runner from Torrance California and the ordeals he faced as a prisoner of war during WWII.

This book would eventually help change the course of my life from that moment forward. More on this later. The story of Mr. Zamperini is based on true events during WWII. Mr. Zamperini was known by many as “The Torrance Tornado” or “Zamp” due to his incredible raw speed in running. To many, Louie would have been the first man to break the 4 minute mile barrier in running, but his hopes of the 4 minute mile in the 1940 Tokyo Summer Olympics would dissipate due to the outbreak of WWII. When Japan declared war on the United States, Louie instead enlisted as a bombardier in the Army Air Forces. During one of his crews search and rescue missions, their B24 Bomber also known as the “LIBERATOR” malfunctioned during flight, he and his crew eventually had to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. Together, Louie and his surviving crew members floated in the Pacific Ocean on a small dingy raft for a total of 47 days (the longest known record of any human staying adrift without provisions). With nothing left to eat and their bodies severely depleted, Louie and his remaining crew member, Lt. Russell Allen Philipps spotted an island from a distance. This was the very first piece of land they had seen since their plane crash.

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At 19, Louie (center) became the youngest runner to represent the United States in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

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Louie third from the left and his B24 Liberator Crew right before there mission. On the far right, is Lt. Russell Allen Philipps shortest man on the crew and also the pilot of the B24 Liberator. Lt. Phillips and Louie would be the only survivors of the war from this crew.

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Cynthia Applewhite and Louie in 1949 at the Billy Graham Revival in Greater Los Angeles.

But just as Louie and Philips were in sight of the island, a Japanese vessel spotted their yellow raft and eventually held Mr. Zamperini and Mr. Russell Phillips as prisoners of war at Kwajelin in the Marshall Islands before being transferred to multiple prisoner of war camps in Japan (Omori and Naoetsu POW Camps).

Louie along with Lt. Phillips would endure two long years of torture and starvation by the Japanese, before Louie, Phillips, and the remaining surviving prisoners at the Japanese internment camps would eventually be liberated by the United States in 1945, immediately after Japan surrendered to the allies. Louie in particular, suffered the most inhumane tortures possible. Louie’s “status” of an Olympian made him notorious in the eyes of his number one tormentor, Sergeant Watanabe, would torture Louie for the remainder of the war, but Louie never faltered. With Japan’s surrender and defeat, the war however, did not end for Louie. Now back at home in California with his family, he went through a period of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Severe Nightmares, and Alcoholism which had affected his relationship with Cynthia Applewhite whom he met in 1946 and marry just 2 weeks later. This alcohol addiction of Louie was stemmed from his tormentors haunting him in his dreams and so Louie used alcohol as a form of coping to numb his suffering even for just a little while. Then one night in 1949, Cynthia Applewhite who was now married to Louie, encouraged Louie to attend a revival sermon led by Billy Graham in a circus tent in Downtown Los Angeles. It was then that Louie gave his life to Christ after Billy Graham had prayed over everyone inside the circus tent. Ever since then, Louie has not had nightmares and problems with alcohol as he recalled in his interview in 2010 with author of Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand. Eventually, Louie traveled back to Japan and went to different prison camps which held Japanese war criminals, and forgave each and everyone of his tormentors.

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Louie meeting his family for the first time in over 2 years. Here he is hugging mum while his two sisters overwhelmed with joy. His family thought he was dead.

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Louie (right) traveled back to Japan to forgive his tormentors.

Through forgiveness, Mr. Louie Zamperini became a devout follower of Christ, an evangelist, and a motivational speaker for the remainder of his life. Louie also establish a summer camp for troubled youth, as he was once a troubled kid growing up. Louie continued to share of his experiences during WWII to the people he met and shared the power that forgiveness can do. Just as I was nearing the end of reading Mr. Zamperini’s story at a coffee shop (2 years ago) similar to a place where I am currently writing this blog (present day), up to that point 2 years ago… I had not forgiven those people whom hurt me in my past, which is why I was still battling depression up to that point.

But then… in a small subtle voice… I just felt God spoke into my heart and said something like “if Louie could forgive those who hurt him, you (mike) could forgive those who hurt you”. It was clear as day when this statement spoke to me, and in that moment… I chose to FORGIVE those who have hurt me in my past. Ever since that day in the coffee shop… I ran away from the life of depression and the heaviness of bitterness and anger fell off from me. I felt all the burden go away in the moment my heart chose to forgive. I was now free! Mr. Louie Zamperini’s story changed the course of my life and propelled me to where I am today (will continue with Pt. 2 on “My Social Work Journey”). If it wasn’t for Louie’s story of resilience amidst overwhelming odds, love for the unlovable, and story of redemption through forgiveness, I would probably still be in depression. You see… Iv’e learned that when I choose to forgive, I was not only set free from the things that was weighing me down… (anger, bitterness, frustration, no peace, resentment, hatred etc) but more so, when I chose to forgive, it opened up NEW DOORS for me and took me HIGHER in LIFE and PROPELLED me to my future. Your future is too precious and too important to let unforgiveness weigh you down and poison your future, choose to forgive and be set free. God got your back. For me, it is amazing to think that God can still use people’s story from the past (an entirely different generation like that of Louie) to help inspire people in today’s generation. This happened for me.. and I am beyond grateful and humbled. Mr. Zamperini passed away on July 2, 2014 at the age of 97, the year his movie “Unbroken” launched, directed by Angelina Jolie.

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Louie skateboarding at the age of 81

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Unbroken by: Laura Hillenbrand (2010)

 

 RISE UP pt. 2…to be continued.. “My Social Work Journey”

12th Festival of the Pacific Arts

The Opening Ceremony of the 12th Festival of the Pacific Arts was Grandiose in scale. I was very privileged to have been selected as a volunteer guide for the entire ceremony. So I took that as an opportunity to capture these behind the scenes images featuring unique cultures representing 27 island nations. Below are 35 images. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

 

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Arrival of “AOTEAROA” New Zealand Delegates #Maori

 

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Amidst the scorching heat and waiting time most delegates were in good spirits, apart from the Maori woman with a tattooed forehead starring straight at me.

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The Stadium quickly filled up despite delay in schedule.

Parachute landing with the Guam Flag attached to signify the start of the opening ceremony.

 

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The Solomon Islands were the 1st to perform ahead of the 26 other participating island nations.

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Tahitian Delegates waiting in the shade dressed in their stunning red and white attire.

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Tahiti is the 8th island nation in line to showcase their cultural performance. Small groups of delegates wait in line while others take photo opportunities with other participating countries.

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The Maori weren’t ready, but they sure were during their HAKA performance. World Class

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Native Maori Warriors hold nothing back when it comes to photo opportunities.

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A native Maori warrior dressed in his family lineage tattoo. Each Maori family having their own set of unique ink inspired by their family history. These are real tattoos.

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Maori Warriors are quite photogenic.

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War hakas (peruperu) were performed by warriors before a battle, to declaire their strength and prowess in order to intimidate their enemies. By displaying fierce facial expressions and grimaces , waving weapons, sticking out the tongue, bulging and showing the whites of the eyes, and uttering grunts and cries, the Maori hoped to invoke the war gods and frighten their opponents.

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The sun was setting and the Maori of New Zealand showcased one of their native peaceful serenade. It was awe inspiring to witness.

 

 

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It was such a very rich experience to witness the Maori men and women display some of their cultural heritage.

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It was finally New Zealand’s turn to walk center stage and perform. (Some photos do not go accordingly to the order taken. I couldn’t be at all the locations at one time, so I organized the order in this fashion to create a story line from beginning to end, to feel as if you are in attendance at the ceremony and get an idea of how it all unfolded. 🙂

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Aotearoa, (New Zealand’s) performance was worth the wait.

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The Stadium was filled with thousands of spectators and performers. Such a breathtaking sight to see.

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The Solomon Islands were among the first delegation to showcase their cultural dance at the ceremony. Loved their uniform!

 

13293088_1090220864371474_1103887081_nHere I am sitting down with the New Zealand and CNMI delegations. Exchanges of “Biba Saipan” coming from the New Zealand party and “Biba New Zealand” from the CNMI group were heard amongst the crowds throughout the ceremony. The idea of “We ARE One Family” exhibited at this moment.

 

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Fest Pac is regarded as the Olympics of the Pacific.

 

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27 island nation flags surround the Paseo Stadium, Hagatna Guam.

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Chinese Taipei were among the last performers of the evening.

 

 

 

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The Republic of China (Chinese Taipei) brought 3 gifts to present to the Governor of Guam and first lady. One of which was a beautiful hand crafted boat made from leather.

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The Delegation of Guam was the last to perform and present their gifts. Pictured here are Chamorro Women wearing traditional skirts made from coconut leaves.

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Despite over 4 hours of waiting for their turn, a Chamorro woman remains in good spirits.

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Native Chamorro men and women dressed in partial native Chamorro clothing while waiting in anticipation.

 

 

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“Did you get the good side?” asked the enthusiastic Chamorro performer gazing at my camera. “Yes I did” my response.

 

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The Guam Delegation did not disappoint but delivered a performance worthy in the history books.

 

 

 

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After the performance loud cheers and applause echoed throughout the entire stadium signifying great pride and appreciation to the Guam Delegation and all the participating 27 island nations.

The night ended with a fireworks display. The cultural festivities will be on-going throughout the island of Guam for the next 11 days. Locations and Schedule of Fest Pac events are on a link below. Have a GREAT summer! God Bless

-Mike

 

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Grace

This morning I was awaken by my fathers knocking on my door room. He told me that my uncle, his brother living in the Philippines had just passed away from a heart attack. He was very young. He was my closest uncle. Didn’t know what to think of at first, and as I write this entry.. I can’t help but think of his Wife, little boy, and little girl that he left behind. This was a shock.. but it wasn’t a shock to God. Some how.. some way..things will work out for the good. Its very hard to say things like that or to think like that, when the current reality we face in life is very difficult and painful. But it will ALL eventually work out for the good. Some how. Some way. God will NEVER fail us.

Tragic events like this reminds me of just how short life really is, and also reminds me to live everyday to the fullest and to walk in love. Daily. Life is hard, but by only Gods Grace we try to carry on and Forge ahead. A constant effort. I will be flying out to the Philippines towards the end of this week. Though it has been very hard with me and God this past 2 months, I will still be taking him with me on this trip. I need him, I need him even when I don’t think I need him, I desire his presence daily. Even when I get overwhelmed by everything in this world – Jesus says “Just come sit a while”.

God does not cause all difficult things in life, but simply allows them no matter how hard.. for a purpose and a reason that we may sometimes not ever know while living in this earth, but only find out in heaven. This I know.. God can and will work out any circumstance and difficulty for the good, as only HE can, and He makes all things beautiful. Not in our time, not in our way, but his. Because he is a good and loving God. By  GRACE we carry on..

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I shot this photo earlier this evening behind our home. 

 

I have been listening to this song for the past two months. The video was shot in Amsterdam by Hillsong. What a beautiful place 🙂 Enjoy

 

With love friends,

-Mike

On the Potters Wheel

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T2 (Bike Transition) Comprising 2,000+ athletes from all walks of life

This photo was taken in August of 2013 at the Shang-rila Mactan Resort and Spa in Cebu City, Philippines. This event was my very first attempt at the Ironman 70.3 distance race. I crossed the finish line in 6 hours 14 minutes after a frantic 1.2 miles of swimming, a fully spectated 56 mile bike ride (I’m not kidding when I say, literally all the townspeople were outside the streets!.) and after witnessing the spectacle of people cheering along the roads of Cebu, I tackled the last part of the half ironman leg, a grueling 13.1 mile marathon under the overcast grey skies. Being able to cross the finish line on that day was one of the best moments in my life… It was truly an unforgettable experience.

When I finally flew back to Guam in mid August of 2013, there was uncertainty lingering around because prior to competing in the Ironman 70.3 race, I had just resigned from my f&b hotel job in July of that summer, which was also the same month I became a christian. (A little more on that story on future posts). I told myself that I was going to make it over to Cebu to compete no matter the circumstance, so I left my job of nearly two years. My burning passion for triathlon was at its peak during that time. I loved the sport because it kept me away from the wrong crowd and kept me away from excessively drinking alcohol and spending late night outs in the clubs. I found a sense of direction in triathlon.

Having crossed the finish line and completing the goal of becoming a “Half” Ironman, I’m now nearing the end of August and after being back on Guam of a little over 2 weeks now, I was still unemployed and I had already missed one year of college because of racing triathlon, and now here I was at a standstill, innattentively trying to figure out “whats next?”. In early September 2013, I was offered a coaching job at my local high school. I became an assistant coach for the cross country team until mid October. Throughout the duration of that coaching phase, I just felt and knew in my heart that I wasn’t suppose to be there. I should be doing something else. It just didn’t feel right. I was still searching, and something was still missing. I was 20 years old.

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After the cross country season, in early November 2013, I landed a passenger service agent job at my local airport (A.B. Won Pat International). From November 2013 to late March of 2014, I worked split shifts, 4 hours in the afternoon beginning at 1pm and 4 hours in the grave-yard beginning at 12 midnight. The demand of working in a schedule of that nature really took a toll on my body, which in turn prevented me from any triathlon training. I wanted desperately to get back into my lifestyle of triathlon but I just couldn’t manage with the schedule I was in. I still however, tried to squeeze in any possible training that I could…

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I remember getting off early mornings at 4:00a.m. from the airport and driving my car down to central Guam (Hagatna) with my road bike already inside my car. Getting out of my car and onto my bike would take an insurmountable amount of effort. (Not kidding there). Once I finally got my essential gear accordingly attached to my body and having hopped on my bike, I would ride a southern loop around Guam that took 3 hours and roughly 50 miles of biking. The will and perseverance was there, but I just felt deep down inside me that it was very unhealthy for my body to be performing at that level with the amount rest I was getting. It was out of balance.IMG_1791.jpg

I was a part of the Jin Airlines team by way of (A.S.I.G), a Korean based company and throughout the entire five months I worked with this airline, If I could describe my experience in one word, it would be “Thrill”. Although I was still was out of the triathlon scene during that entire five month phase, while the rest of the island was asleep, there was something about working with international passengers at 3:00a.m, while going through security check points, and walking the hall ways of the airport, going in and out of commercial airplanes, being able to wear nice navy blue suits while simultaneously rolling my travel bag with chin held high from one side of the airport to the next ; ) . I felt like a flight attendant (little did passengers know I was just a gate agent, a rather enthusiastic one., Ha ha.)  and to top off eating unhealthy food that all caught my heart and attention, I loved it all. Being inside the airport was a thrill for me each and every time. What I relished mostly was the experiences of being a gate agent at 3am when arriving planes from Korea would taxi in. I was the first person the flight crew and passengers would see upon disembarking. I was also in charge of the planes security check measures, cleanliness, and overall number of passengers and luggages on board the plane before departure. Seeing off a plane en-route to Korea and welcoming back the same exact plane just 12 hours later with just a change in daytime is pretty darn amazing.

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In April of 2014, I was hired by Delta Global Services a sister company of Delta Airlines. I worked with this company up until June 2014. That summer I decided to go back to college and get back to where I left off in 2011 when I first started college. I passed all my summer classes in 2014 as I was so motivated and excited to be learning again. Still however, no triathlon lifestyle. The reason being is, on that very summer, I had given up the sport that I loved (triathlon) for reasons that are still unclear to me today.

In August to the end of September 2014, I fell in love with a woman, someone that I adored and cared so much for. So much in love that words aren’t enough to convey.. God knows I really did fall in love. But then events happened one after the other, and I have no explanation for how and why things happened the way it did and I don’t understand it all. Buts that okay. Trying to understand is like catching the wind, where it has no end. But in Isaiah 55:9 of the bible it says: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Declares the Lord.

Beginning in October 2014 to May 2015, life was a blur.. and it was the most difficult times of my life. Not going  into details there, as only God knows it all, the tears, and pain I went through. In those moments of brokenness, adversity, what if’s, and confusion, I really did get lost in life. I had nothing because I had given up everything. I was in isolation and no one was there to listen. I was all alone and felt like I was in a desert. It was so hard.. but then something amazing happened… through that trial and emotional pain..

I experienced Jesus Christ.. He was the only one there. So strong that during one of the most pivotal points in my life when I was just about to give up… I saw his face smiling down at me while sitting on my bed during one stormy night. Its as real as it can get. (true story)

If I could get anything from these past two years of my life and what I’ve been through, it would be having a relationship with Jesus Christ. In Ecclesiastes 3:3 in the Bible, it says “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven, a time to tear down and a time to build.” In that case, God used a form of a heart-break to tear my walls down and get my attention, but it doesn’t stop there, I realize now that he was building his own wall and foundation in me, but before he could do that, he had to tear my walls down and change me from the inside out. I was humbled by the good lord and he now planted, rooted, and built in me a solid foundation for life.. and that is Jesus Christ.

Being a man of God is a lot more difficult than I initially thought. Its about being real, no cover ups, its about being real in the presence of the lord while walking in love even during the hardest of times and still being able to encourage and help other people in need far above the four corners of the church. Theres a lot of temptations out there. Not even kidding.

But to live a life for Christ is going to take a much more challenging route, a narrow road, a much more difficult process as I am still unsure if I will make it across the finish line. But I’m going to do it one day at a time. Like what my brother in Christ Eric so encouraged me with “its a daily process.” I am committed to following Jesus in this life and living a life of freedom, righteousness, and love because now I realize there is a much greater purpose behind all this… something greater than myself and triathlon. Something God could only reveal as I continue this journey with him. With God, you don’t have to be lost in life anymore. He is real.

Though I don’t have an explanation for every bad event, circumstance, or loss that happens in life, however… I do know this much… God is good.

..and that he is still on the throne, and that he cares for each and everyone one of us, and that he loves us, and he is only working for the good of his children that believe in him and love him -Romans 8:28. And even if I never understand why and don’t ever get answers, its okay. He is God and I am not. I know that he is real and that he sees and knows everything. And I believe only he has the power to make all things beautiful.

I have learned so much life lessons this past year alone and I thank the good Lord for being the great physician he is, however difficult the process may have been. He is the POTTER, i am the CLAY. i am the clay on the wheel, and he is the potter molding me into his sons image… that name of Jesus… my best friend.

Its almost the end of 2015 and its unfortunate to say that I wasn’t able to live 2015 to it’s fullest because of the decisions I’ve made. But thats okay. The past is over now… better days are ahead, God is good.. and I am going to make that sink deep down into my heart and soul that He is good. He is good no matter what happens to me in this life. He is Good.

In less than one month, 2016 will be arriving!

I call it Olympic year and gosh I am so excited to be getting back up on my feet and living life one day at a time to its very fullest. Even though this past two years in my life may have seem like a 360 circle, with me eventually going back to my passion of triathlon. The most significant difference this time around is that I have identified what is inside the 360 circle… inside the circle all along was Jesus.. and knowing that, for me.. is enough.

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Well, there you have it, thats the story of my life these past two years. Thank you for taking the time to read. God bless you.

P.S. my site is currently under construction as I will be making changes. Will keep you in the loop of things