Eugene: We are Eugene and Ann. We’ve been married for twelve years, and we have two daughters, aged 8 and 10. We used to live in Manila, then we left to spend a year in a school for families in Italy. Coming back to the Philippines almost three years ago, we decided to relocate to Iloilo, to give our children a better environment to grow up in.
Neither of us was from Iloilo, and, except for two families, we did not know anybody. But for some reason, it seemed to be the place where God was leading us, and we took the leap. But soon, the challenges presented themselves, the biggest of which, was finding work. After many months, I still didn’t have a job, and I often found myself asking God how He wanted us to move ahead.
Ann: We prayed endlessly for a job for Eugene, but after many months, there was still none. Our savings were getting depleted. At times, we asked ourselves if we had made the right decision to move here. But there were also many times when we would remember the circumstances that led us here, which made us feel that it had been God taking us by the hand.
Eugene: At one point, I thought of going back to Manila to work, while Ann would remain in Iloilo with the children. I even envisioned myself in the same company that I used to work with. Ann was not happy with the idea of the family being apart, and said that if I move, we would all move. But out of love for the children, who would have to make adjustments again, we ended up remaining in Iloilo. Little by little, we also got to know other people here, including the small Focolare community.
Ann: For more than two years, we rode the roller coaster of uncertainty. What helped us very much in those times was keeping reciprocal love alive between us, and asking Jesus for the light whenever we needed to make decisions. Eugene took on consulting projects, while I continued with my work as a freelance writer and editor. Money came, but erratically and very slowly. What was constant, instead, was God’s Providence, which always arrived on time. In fact, we got to eat in the best restaurants in town, and go to many places. We even had a free vacation in Boracay, and as I watched the beautiful sunset from the beach, I couldn’t help but think that Jesus was a real gentleman to have given us so many gifts! He was truly making us feel that we were worth so much more than the birds in the air, and the lilies of the field! (Mt,10,24-33)
Eugene: Last September, we were in Manila. Coming home, I met a former colleague on the same flight. Surprised to see each other, we agreed to meet the day after. He was setting up a company in Iloilo that belonged to the same group of companies I used to work with. He asked if I could work with them. Most of the people in the team were colleagues from my previous job in Manila. So, I found myself working again with the very same people I used to work with! It had only been a desire, but Jesus had granted it, without the need for me to leave Iloilo at all! Because of my other projects, I initially worked with them as a consultant. But after a few months, they asked if I could work fulltime. Since the salary was still a bit short of what our family needed, I was initially hesitant to drop the other things that I was doing. But Jesus took care even of this. The management gave me flexible working hours and allowed me to continue two of the
other projects that I was working on!
Ann: Eugene signed the full-time contract last February, just a month before the COVID-19 crisis began to be felt in the country. The timing was impeccable, and in the midst of the crisis, we, instead, began having a regular income stream. We felt that even this was an expression of God’s love, and, as He has taken care of us, we could also help others experience this love, and the maternal love of Mary, who always thinks of her children. When the quarantine was imposed, we immediately tried to see if anybody in the community needed help. With contributions from others, too, we have been buying rice and groceries for families whose incomes had been affected due to the quarantine. The love comes back in unexpected ways. One day, we asked someone to deliver a sack
of rice to a family. On his way there, he dropped another sack at our house telling us, “This is for you; don’t pay for it.” The same thing happens with fruit, fish and even with clothes!
Eugene: With the quarantine, we also have more chances of building relationships with our neighbors. Ann offered to do their groceries because they didn’t have a car. They, too, helped us get cheaper vegetables from their friend. Our daughter also recently gave their daughter a bike she had outgrown. We treasure these experiences of God who has made great things happen in our lives. His ways may sometimes appear very slow, but in His greater plan, His timing is always right.