Spiritual Reflections

A Firewall Called Faith

This is a follow-up story/blog/testimony from yesterday’s fire.

We finally were allowed to check our rooms. Since it was getting dark and there still was no electricity in our building, I opted (and was advised by Pastor Manu) to stay at their home for the night.

It was consoling just to have a surrogate family take me under their wing. I realized it more as the night drew on. I would catch a whiff of imaginary scents – the acrid odor of burnt PVC and pungent musk of charcoal. I would stare away and remember the morning’s events, worrying about my belongings… and in the background of my mind, hear the crackle of flames eating through the wood and concrete while a soft rain fell. I was aware that I am merely imagining these sensations, a memory of terror like a half-remembered nightmare. It was the light conversations with them that helped me focus on the present: that I am safe, the fire was gone… and my stuff…

What about my stuff?

I am a man of faith, but last night – I was just another boy looking for something to believe and hope in. All my shoes (actually, just 3 pairs – that’s all I have) were in my room. All my pants were also there. I couldn’t afford to transfer to another rented room any time soon. My wallet was there too, along with all my cards and IDs (and processing each one for replacement is certified semi-hell). And I just bought a pair of Everlast Muay Thai gloves which cost me around Php2,500 – and its been barely a month since I loved using them.

I couldn’t afford to lose any of my stuff. Or could I?

All I could do was wait for morning to come.

I went home this morning, preparing for the worst. I reached our floor, and I was amazed: a pile of charcoal was outside the door, but there was not a single burn mark on it. I thought, maybe someone just swept it against the door. But as I opened the door, I saw there were more charcoal inside – some even touching our wooden walls which served as dividers for our rooms.

Just one small ember could have ignited and burnt all our belongings. But despite the pieces of burnt debris scattered on our floor, we were spared. And I knew, God heard my resigned prayer – not last night, but even as the fire was raging.

[Side story: I left my house keys inside my room during the fire, and my room was locked. So I had to climb over my door – there was a small opening where I could fit through despite my size. I had to jump down, and thankfully didn’t hurt myself (yay ninja!) I found my wallet, but not my keys… then my floor neighbors texted, telling me that they brought my keys with them for safekeeping and locked the room when I was away. Super yay.]

I was expecting a roomful of drenched clothes and other materials. It was as dusty and dry as usual, instead. I realized that a few hours before the fire, the rain was beating against our windows, so I closed them… thus preventing the hosed water from the fire department from entering my room. Akalain mo yun. God was ahead of me all this time.

I am grateful to all the people who extended their love, support and encouragement to me as I went through this experience. I pray that God will repay their kindness abundantly, and that I may someday also be a blessing to others in need.

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