It was a strange experience riding a plane with only 3 passengers on board! Yes an exciting chartered flight indeed.
We worked in an offshore oilfield. Our crew changes usually were arranged in such that the relievers would come on board on time for the other outgoing team to leave. Otherwise the manning would be adversely affected if arriving crew would be delayed. In this case the Company would charter a private plane to ensure timely crew changes on board.
This is interesting in the sense that spiritually speaking not everybody has this exceptional journey when you seem alone inside an airplane. I consider this a “meant to be” event in our lives which is simply intended to be shared. So here it is, that many should know that it is possible and has really happened in real life. For me, inside of me, I believe that Father God allowed this to happen for a purpose.
In 1998 I was assigned on board Castoro 10 which had a
pipelaying project in Offshore, New Orleans, USA. The job was named “Destin
Dome Project” by Shell. It was an exciting work because I would be seeing America
for the first time. Moreover, my mother and my sister’s family had been staying
in Chicago and I would have the chance to meet them.
Manpower Resources of
Asia, our office in Manila asked me to prepare well for the interview knowing
how strict the US Embassy was during that time. I readied myself with personal
documents and work certificates which I presumed would be necessary.
Fortunately, the Consul simply wanted to see the endorsement
by our Company, Saipem, an Italian Oil Company. Upon verification she
immediately issued a visa release date. I was asked to return after four days.
It was worth waiting – I was given a Business Visa!
Upon entry, the US
Immigration stamped on my passport the length of stay according to the expected
duration of our pipelaying activities. The next day I took a helicopter flight
which brought me to the Pipelaying Vessel offshore New Orleans.
The campaign was so short. It took only about two months.
Castoro 10 then prepared for departure from the Area. Customs and Immigration
formalities took place. All documents on board were inspected and checked.
Surprisingly most of the crew were holding a Seaman Visa
which was so easy to obtain. It was assumed that the work activities were to be
done in the sea, thereby that type of permit. Logically speaking it was
The visa issued to me in Manila US Embassy was a Business
Visa! The good professional lady Consul approved of it after assessing the
Company letter I showed her. Our Agency was surprised too! They thought it was
a mistake or rather something impossible.
The US Immigration Law however stated that Offshore Workers
should have a Business Visa. In that case, mine was correct but because it was
different from the rest it seemed to be wrong.
Upon completion of the project I flew to Chicago. There was
no problem at all with the Immigrations Office. I was in possession of a right
visa! That occasion proved that indeed God’s Plan would always prevail! Sometimes
it looks sad we do not recognize His loving works in us. How could we ever not recognize
His caring power and trust that all would end well?
On the 6th of August 2019, I was hospitalized at
St Luke’s. Doctors saw through MRI, a blot clot in my brain. Their diagnosis- a
mild stroke! Somehow, numbness was felt in my right arm and my pinchers
(pointer finger and thumb) could hardly move.
My wife was beside me
all the time. She was weary and sad but I knew she prayed intimately. It was
her comfort that Father God will just be right there to stay with us. She knew
that all will end up in His glory. She is a breast cancer victim and she is
surviving it. Oh, how noble she was by watching over her sick husband. All we
had was to trust in God’s mercy as we have always done in the past. He has never
forsaken us who sincerely beg for His help.
Another day of observation at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
was necessary for a possible deadly recurrence. Doctors advised a regular check
of vital signs. For me it was a moment to call on Father God again. Coming to
Him has become a recourse whenever we encountered an emergency situation like
My blood pressure began to normalize surprisingly! The
attending doctor told me I was fortunate because nothing worse happened. Except
for the slight numbness in my right arm the rest of my motor skills were
functioning well. I saw it as another blessing instead! Now my right fingers
are back to normal. Father God, once again, has made Himself felt in us.
Today there are two witnesses for you of God’s love and
sincerity- my wife who has a breast caner (3rd stage b) and I who was
hit by a mild stroke. These are only among many miracles we experience in our
daily life. Obviously, He touches us to return to Him. He is indeed real!
In 2017 my wife,
Melba, was diagnosed with cancer. She submitted herself to a laboratory test
and it was indeed confirmed that she had breast cancer, a very unwelcome news.
It was however an opportunity too to become more closed to the Almighty who makes all things happen. He will do something great again as He has always done to us, we believe.
A friend helped us to a very good doctor of a Foundation.
She was asked to undergo six chemotherapies with an interval of three weeks
each. The protocol was later changed to an additional of 12 weekly sessions.
Midway along the weekly therapies my wife decided to stop because
the regular blood tests prior to the chemotherapy were hurting her hand. She found
recourse to taking natural and fresh food. She would prepare fresh juices in
the morning like lemon grass (tanglad), avocado leaves, and cucumber among
Our meals included
fresh vegetables for her salad and mostly unprocessed fish for the main menu.
She takes meat once a week.
She gets good sleep,
drinks plenty of water, keeps herself busy with spiritual things and most of
all avoids stressful thoughts.
Her daily routine consists of praying after rising, fixing the bed, going to toilet and preparing the breakfast. Most of the day she reads and listens to wise discussions and teaches our grandson, Zion.
This year, 2019, my wife Melba, by the grace of Father God is doing well. She feels no pain. We could only thank Heaven for keeping her healthy and strong! Then we remember- in 1997 we decided to offer tithes (10% of our gross income) and even now we continue to be blessed by the promise (in Malachi 3:10 ) that He will take care for those who obey His commands.
In July 1997 my wife and I decided to pay our tithes- ten percent of our gross income. We did it to thank Father God of the blessings He bestows on us and my children.
Saipem, an Italian Oil Company in which I have been employed for many years, assigned me to work offshore Baku, Azerbaijan exactly when I had just finished my duty as the 1st Councilman in a Philippine community in Pasig City. Obviously, it happened by the grace of God. The timing was indeed perfect!
It was however, an unusual experience because just after a
few days of commitment an incident happened on board the Pipelaying Vessel “Israfil Guseinov”, where I worked as a Purser.
One of our crew, seemingly having a
personal problem came to my office and confronted me. I was upset by the way he
raised his voice and so I shouted back. Angrily, he punched my face three
times. I did not fight back! Perhaps I was in a high spirit at that time having
paid my first tithe. I felt God was just there around to protect me!
The news spread fast. My boss offshore, Carpaneda Renato
heard about the story and he was not happy about it. On the other hand, after
an hour, the man who hit me, returned to say sorry. He wrote a short note of apology
highlighting that he would pay US $ 3000 to compensate for the moral damage
I immediately informed my wife about what happened. Jokingly,
she said why I did not offer the other cheek? I was amused. I laughed!
Today, we are enjoying the promises of good returns of doing God’s instructions of tithing as according to the Bible in Malachi Chapter 3:10. My wife who was diagnosed of a breast cancer (Stage 3b) three years ago is surviving the trial. I, myself, was confined to the hospital on the 6th of August 2019 at St Luke’s in Makati of “stroke” and it did not harm my body. I was released three days later with my motor skills all intact. We believe that better things are coming ahead in the next days to come, by God’s grace.
To us tithing will never be a burden rather it is like a “key” to peace of mind and joy of heart. Please try it because the Lord promised He would “open the gate valves of heaven and pour out the blessings”. My wife and I are continuously seeing the miracles it brings.
[This photo I took from the internet is of Savina Dawood, an Assyrian. Her face looked similar to the one I met in Baghdad]
In 1988 I was in Iraq when my father died!
One afternoon of July that year , after my siesta I saw a brown butterfly inside my room in Nassiriya Saipem Base. I wondered why!
Later I would receive the news that my father had passed away.
The main Office of Saipem in Baghdad asked me to come and I immediately did.
There, I was told that the Philippine Embassy has conveyed the message of my father’s death.( My brother-in-law , the late Romy Millan has sought the help of the Consulate because at that time communication was not that easy. Cellphones did not yet exist!)
I wanted to get home but thinking that no one at that time would cover my duties I decided to stay.
Meanwhile, I passed by the lobby of a hotel coffee shop to buy me some sandwich.
A strange thing happened that I would never forget!
A young beautiful girl in the queue talked to me. She asked if I were a Philippine. I said yes and responded with a question.
” How did you know ?
You look like one, she said.
But what about you?, I returned.
I am an Assyrian!
After that very short conversation I left but could hardly forget her pretty face.
For a few days she had occupied my mind. I had forgotten my father had just passed away.
Years later I would realize that Assyrians are natives of an old known civilization in the northern part of Iraq. To note, even our father Abraham was an Assyrian too! Interestingly they speak Aramaic, the same language our Lord Jesus used.
So was that girl I saw in that July of 1988 in Baghdad, Iraq an ordinary person or was she an Angel?
Whoever she was or whatever it was, what I could be happy about was that I felt so blessed to have seen Iraq and witnessed an ancient culture having met in real life an Assyrian!