Roger and Elaine

25/01/2013 13:15

Elaine Ferranco  - “I grew up in the Philippines,  Caloocan City, in a Christian home. My parents were from a mixed faith tradition but after marriage mom joined dad in the Baptist Church. Every summer since my early childhood I attended Vacation Bible Camp. As a child I didn’t understand much on what it was all about and was good in order to get the rewards, medals, and so on,  not yet realizing the importance and value of my faith.”

Roger Datinguinoo – “I grew up in Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  I grew up in a Catholic family and was baptized and raised Roman Catholic.  I went to a Catholic school from elementary to high school. I have the fondest memories of riding colorful jeepneys (a traditional Filipino mode of transportation; a lengthened jeep that can accommodate up to 20 people), with its blaring horns, music and hair-raising rides to and from school during those early years.

 

 Jeepney                                

                                                                                                                

 I did go to Vacation Bible Camp while mom was still a home maker.  When she went abroad to find work, I was then in grade 3; we stopped going to Vacation Bible  as nobody was willing to accompany us, and I started just attending mass on Sundays with my dad.  I remember that my relationship with God was one of fear.  My dad would tell me the consequences of sin but on the other hand there was always a treat for us children if we attended mass, so that kept us going.

Elaine—“In high school (at 16) I stayed with my grandparents who attended the Catholic Church in the area, and joined them out of convenience and companionship.”

Roger - “During my high school years I attended weekly Catechism classes.  I questioned the Sister who taught us why we had to memorize the Bible verses, Hail Mary’s and the Lord’s Prayer. I still remember her reply that we should not question what were being taught.  This was a first warning for me.  When I asked her about the seven days in Genesis, I got almost expelled from Catholic school, maybe because such question demonstrated a lack of respect on my part and was not seen as my natural curiosity for all things scientific. Science has been my passion since my earliest years; I started reading voraciously from the time I was in grade school.”

Elaine –“In the Philippines we dress up to go to church - out of respect for God - and I never questioned this, so I was quite shocked when I came to Canada on how informal people dress.  For instance I would never dream of wearing jeans in church; this was quite surprising to me.”

Elaine –“As young adult – around 19 - I started teaching Sunday school and getting involved in youth work. There were times I contemplated becoming a pastor.  I was so close to God at the time that I felt this was His calling.  I had no interest in going to Canada, which would only constitute a move for economic reasons.  As I kept praying about these options, my friend, who was already in Canada, encouraged me to make the move; she felt I could serve God in Canada as well.” 

Roger –“I still continued going to church with my father out of habit.  I started talking to God during those times and prayed to thank Him but did not want to ask for anything maybe out of a sense of pride.  During those times I would hear others praying for what they wanted and I didn’t want to be like them.”

Elaine – “When I arrived in Canada in 2003 I became totally lost spiritually.”

Roger-- “The isolation from family, loneliness through culture shock, among other things, contributed to you losing your spiritual focus.”

Elaine -“Yes, I started attending First Baptist Church faithfully but without becoming really involved. I made a point of going every week as I felt this was the only way that I could reconnect. Although I suffered much in the beginning I felt that no matter what, I needed to tithe.  Now, looking back, I can see that God has showered me with blessings in many ways during all that time.” 

“And I,” says Roger “used to earn lots of money but didn’t believe in tithing and I never seemed to have any money and only had debts.  As Elaine has taught and encouraged me about tithing I now do this in obedience to God and see it really working in the ways God has been blessing me.  I have been imparting this discipline to my nieces and nephews who hopefully will apply this in their lives.”

Elaine – “After about a year, I went to Ebenezer on and off.  For one it was closer to home.  Then, as I moved further away, I attended Willingdon for a couple of years.   I already knew Roger as a friend but we became serious about our spiritual growth and decided that we should have a home church. That is when we became regular attendees at Ebenezer.”

Roger - “My mother brought us over as a family in the summer of 1999. I still remember my first month here in Vancouver, I really felt like something was wrong and/or missing here.  And then one day it just hit me, I cannot hear a rooster’s crow or a Taho (soya) vendor shouting every morning, or a Magbabalut (day old duck’s egg) vendor during night time.”

 

   Taho Vendor        

 

Roger-“My father was not allowed to join us because he didn’t pass the medical exam.  In order to satisfy the Canadian government and so as not jeopardize our immigration papers, Mom and Dad were forced to divorce for paper purposes. Sadly Dad passed away a few years later.  We had gone back home to visit him one last time when we found out that his illness had taken a turn for the worse.”

“I returned to Canada to work.  My family and I went to St Mary’s church but if the truth be told I was going to enjoy the female scenery. It was not until 2005 that I met Elaine.  When I first heard of her faith, I was skeptical about the Baptist church and was under the impression that there was some hocus pocus and brainwashing involved.  I was quite concerned about that. It took three times for Elaine to ask me before I joined her to church.  I enjoyed the music at Willingdon and it planted a seed in me, so I continued going.”

At some point Elaine and I started church hopping and we would go to Ebenezer once a month or so. After six months, I was really amazed and impressed that Pastor Ryan remembered my name.  Late 2008, when Elaine and I were going steady, we decided to make Ebenezer our home church. We asked Pastor Isaac whether he would marry us which he did in 2009, after we had completed a premarital counseling sessions with him.  I should add that I had told Isaac that I had reservations about the Bible.  I still hadn’t reconciled the seven days in Genesis and didn’t find it believable.  Because of that I couldn’t fully open up to the Bible.  Pastor Isaac gave the magic sentence: ‘Roger, these days could represent thousands or even millions of years’ and all of a sudden I felt flooded with relief and could now fully trust and believe in the Bible.

Elaine – “It was shortly after this that we started having Bible studies.  Rogers’ friend at work, named Erwin, had been implanting seeds about God and insisted that we should have Bible studies every Friday.  One Friday Erwin cornered Roger because of family issues.  Erwin encouraged Roger to surrender all to God.  As they prayed together, Roger broke down in tears, asking God for forgiveness and for the first time started really asking God to change him and that’s when God became his Lord.”

Roger –“I started praying for forgiveness but now instead of just thanking God, I felt free to ask other things from Him. This was truly a new relationship and a much more intimate one – a very personal relationship with God.”

Elaine – “While we have many friends outside the church, Krista and Brendan were the first Christian couple we met and went out with.  Our first get together was around a movie, remember Roger, it was Iron Man.”

 Roger – “I didn’t know we could have fun with other Christians.”

Elaine – “Krista gave me some background about the membership class, which we had seen advertised in the bulletin so we ended up attending.   This opened up opportunities for us to explore being involved in ministries at the church.”

Roger – “One of the highlights for me was when I took baptism classes with Ryan and was baptized.  I was both nervous and happy at the same time and this meant the most important step in my life. As soon as Ryan immersed me I was so happy and felt God’s love.  I was also happy because my mom and brothers and sisters attended this momentous event. My mom’s presence meant a quiet approval and for me it was a confirmation of her acceptance of my belief.”

Elaine – “When I think back to my church in the Philippines, we had a much closer relationship among one another. The Evangelical churches at home are so much smaller and therefore we know each other quite well, consequently   I was quite surprised that in our church we barely know each other.  We may know each other’s faces but don’t really know each other intimately.  I don’t know whether this is just a problem with me or Roger and me or whether this is something that is prevalent in our church.”

Roger – “Maybe, as I heard Pastor Ryan say one time, once or twice a month we should invite a different family over for dinner or even a snack or invite them for coffee so that step by step we can get to know each other and really be a family as God intended us to be. Maybe only then will we be ready to reach our neighbourhood effectively. All of us should start practicing, what do you think Elaine?”

Elaine – “Yes I agree, but maybe it should start with us then…”