by Lani Gador-Johnson
It all started on Facebook. Friend invites and conversations for a reunion had led to the creation of FAN-ANNA (Fil-Am Nav Alumni Network of North America). A bit lengthy but it readily distinguishes itself from PhilNavs groups, which is quite confusing in the Facebook world. Decisions were made through online polls for the group name and the reunion details. Hence, our reunion was set on June 21-23 at the Hyatt Place, Hoffman Estates, Chicago, Illinois, with the theme “Blessed to be a Blessing.”
To go or not to go was the big question on my mind. In the end, I obeyed God’s prompting with the main motivation of presenting Blessings of Hope, the ministry that my husband and I are starting to get established. So I embarked on a journey from Seattle to Chicago.
Each session started with worship ably led by Ernie Pinzon. Ernie also set the common expectations: to get the most from this gathering. He said in a joking manner that we didn’t want to go back to our respective homes asking the question “Unsa ba to?” or “Ano ba yon?” or “What kind?” (an old carabao English joke)
Mike Merrit traced the promise of blessings to the patriarchs in the Old Testament, that we too could be a blessing to others. Ton Alcantara emphasized in his sharing that the blessings that God had bestowed upon the patriarchs often involved relocation, that the scattering of God’s people brought blessings to many, and that we should be ready for this calling.
These became the springboard for the sharing of individual life stories—the real moving drama of our gathering. They were stories of struggles with life’s realities, hurting, grieving of the loss of a loved one, or a broken marriage. We laughed, cried, and pondered upon each story. For a few minutes, we were with the person at the rock bottom of his/her emotional journey. Vulnerable sharing has drawn out subsequent healing especially for those who had the listening prayer session. Each was a movie of its kind—God’s own story. I had a glimpse of the final products of the masterpieces that God designed us to be. Beauty in diversity.
Aside from achieving my ultimate goal, God allowed me to experience wonders in this reunion. I met mature Christians whom I haven’t had the chance to meet before in my journey with the Navigators. It was like a homecoming— to a common bond due to our spiritual heritage. “A foretaste of heaven,” as many commented.
Blessed to be a blessing in all aspects—in our current locations and other parts of the world. With around 30 participants, at least 15 US states and 2 Canadian cities were represented. The various ministry involvement/endeavors and directions of the participants gave me a picture of God’s blueprint of His redeeming work in the world.
We are all grateful to the responsible team composed of Deb Meyer (session facilitator and prime mover of this reunion), Mike Merrit, Ernie Pinzon, Tony and Pollie Alcantara, Ruby Bonjoc (logistics), and Julieta “Jec-jec” Johnston (treasurer). Their prayers for Reconnection, Renewal, Reveling in Him, Remembering, Repenting, Re-imagining were all answered.
I’m so grateful of the friend invite to this Facebook group and to those who in one way or another have encouraged me to join this reunion. On a lighter note, I would have missed the natural outstanding performances of Jec-Jec Johnston (in a comedy) and of Helen Chu Hamman (in a drama) if I hadn’t joined J
God taught me personally so many valuable lessons in life, one of which is this: When it comes to spiritual blessings, there is no cost benefit analysis; regardless of the cost, what matters is the blessing.
I obeyed. I joined. I was blessed to overflowing.