“God wants us to choose to love Him freely, even when that choice involves pain, because we are committed to Him, not to our own good feelings and rewards…Job did not seek the Giver because of His gifts; when all gifts were removed He still sought the Giver.”
~Philip Yancey, Where is God When it Hurts?
Today’s supposed to be Papa Benny’s 59th birthday. He peacefully slept in the Lord without bidding goodbye, in the loving arms of his Beloved, my Mama Belinda. He passed away 2 months and 25 days ago, to be exact.
Remembering my friend’s statement after his burial, “I thought you’ll sulk, …good thing you don’t. Take time to grieve for your sudden loss, you’ve been through a lot!”
Healing Amid Hurting
The dawn of December 1, 2013 was still vivid! The night of November 31st was full of fun and laughter since we’ve been visited by family friends and lingered until almost midnight. Only to be awakened by a call that chilled my spine and gave me a shock. “Ate, wala na si Papa…”, my brother Franz tearfully uttered.
That devastating news was another nightmare, it petrified me. It didn’t sink in, until I received a call from our family friend neighbor who assisted my mother in our province. If only I could fly and attend to my mother’s dire need of our presence. But how can I? when I felt so helpless, as if my wings were utterly broken. I was torn. Then after several minutes, I was able to bitterly cry.
During the five-day wake, I never cried. Even during the internment, I didn’t shed a tear. The excruciating pain almost benumbed me. Maybe because I’ve been through major heartaches with the quick successions of death of my younger brother BJ (March 2011), and eldest sister Leah (12.12.12), and then my father’s.
I never forced myself to cry, though I was greatly hurt within. Now that the grievances resurfaced, I could cry and I’m grateful for the gift of pain and tears.
“Our sufferings are not for nothing.
The trial of faith is a thing worth much more than gold.”
Family Day Out on Dec. 17th, the day after ate Leah’s cremation. (Dec. 12th her death was Franz’s birthday, Dec. 15th was JR’s birthday). Sort of celebrating despite the great loss.
Legacy of Love Lives On
During his last week at the church, he had a special funeral service at our home church, Pinamalayan SDA Church where he also served. I was spontaneous in updating my Facebook timeline for the sake of friends and relatives who weren’t able to come to our province. I thought of blogging about it, but soon lingered.
tough guy at tough times, he’s got a tough FAITH!
Here’s the caption of this old photo which I made my DP (display photo).
I bid my first love, my father, good bye.
He’s the man who introduced me to the Redeemer, Restorer, and Returning King; one who reminded me to make Him the first and last, and best in everything.
The fight of faith of this brave and brilliant man might have come to its end, but its legacy would last in my heart until we meet again on that grand & glorious day.
I would surely miss his baritone voice, his mega-watt smile, his warm embrace, his corny yet entertaining jokes, his intuitive advises, his never-ending tales, and his high hopes for our future.
I can’t thank God’s unconditional love that was channeled through him.
At a very young age of 8, he was an orphan. Lola Indalecia died after giving birth to their youngest sibling who died right after too! At 21, Lolo Blas died too, leaving him with all the responsibilities as the first-born, a quasi- mom and dad to his brother Wency and sister Ercie.
At early 20’s he received his black belt in martial arts, Judo Karate. He won tournaments and even survived fights, defending others and himself.
But when he got to know Jesus as his personal Redeemer and Defender, his outlook in life drastically changed.
Down memory lane, I saw myself begging him to train me (Judo Karate) for self defense. He never did, he even discouraged us to learn. He taught us to have full trust in God instead; advised us never to repay evil for evil, for “vengeance is mine, says the Lord” (favorite verse). For him, that’s the true measure of a man.
He’s a faithful husband to mama, and a friend to us. Despite some flaws and shortcomings as a hubby and a father, he’s still the BEST for us.
Til then Papa Benifredo Geronimo Fronda, Sr.
March 26, 1955 – December 1, 2013
*This photo was taken on December 9, 1978. (He’s 23 yrs.old)
She’s an epitome of love, faith, patience & prudence. She’s my unsung heroine and wingless angel. She brought me in her womb for 9 months and took care of me since then.
Without her, I won’t be here. I’m more than blessed having mama Belinda.
Bravery During Bereavement & Beyond
Here’s my musing on the day Papa’s death sank in (Dec.1):
On November 15th, my beloved parents celebrated their 32nd wedding anniversary with us beyond the distance.
On Nov. 21st, we celebrated again for mama’s birthday; and on 23rd, for Zola’s birthday.
This month was full of mirth and memories, not knowing that December would come with another cry-clad crucible for our family.
We’re never aware that it would be the last November with Papa.
With all the terrifying trials we’ve met, I’ve learned and unlearned a lot of things in the vicissitudes of life.
With my parents’ inspiration, especially Papa’s, I’ve scrutinized life and learned to focus on a query “how will I maximize the abundant grace provided?”, rather than wallow, asking “how come Lord?, why?”.
I may never fully grasp God’s purpose, yet I’m hopeful of that glorious day I would be able to sit at Jesus’ feet and find the right answers to my wondering.
Christmas Selfie with photobomber sweetums, Who would have thought that this pic was taken 24 days after my father’s death?
We have a gracious God, our true source of happiness. *Dec. 25th
Miracle, Mirth and Misery
During my recent vacation at home last Oct. 28 – Nov. 10, I’ve witnessed how papa struggled with difficulty of breathing. Almost everyday, he’s got asthma attack; oftentimes, mild, sometimes, severe.
Aside from natural means to help him ease the pain & hardship, he’s been dependent with the use of nebulizer.
I had my worst dilemma when super typhoon Yolanda struck our province, Oriental Mindoro @ signal #4. We’ve got block-out, and we’d been praying for him to be spared of possible severe attack. He had on that Friday night, but God intervened. He wasn’t brought to the hospital.
For him, being confined in the hospital was a nightmare. He told me he doesn’t want if ever he gets really worse.
Actually, he had the worst attack on May this year, and was brought at the ER with only a lil’ chance of survival. He almost died, but praise God he was revived! He no longer has BP and very low respiratory rate, he’s already turned blue-black. Grateful, my bro. Ifo was there to rush him to the nearby hospital.
We’re so shocked that after 6 months of survival (with another confinement on July), he would give up the fight. He told mama that he’s so tired already on the wee hour of December 1. He had a severe attack and when my mother told him he should be brought to the hospital, he told her, “wag mo na ako dalhin, bukas na lang, pagod na ako, yapusin mo na lang ako at haplusan” (don’t bring me there, let’s go there for check-up tomorrow, I’m tired already. Just hug me and apply vapor rub at my back).
My mother developed calmness and constant reliance upon God since my younger brother died in her arms on March 31, 2011 (sudden death due to typhoid encephalitis), few days after Papa’s birthday on March 26th.
So my mama just did what he requested, few moments later, he’s lifeless. However heart-breaking the scenario was, mama said, papa was peaceful as if he’s just deeply sleeping. He was declared expired soon after, due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), he didn’t have any vice, but during earlier years, he was exposed to many strong chemicals due to work and our own Nata de Coco business (we used strong chemical which is harmful to health, esp. to the lungs), air pollution in the city where he stayed for many years, etc.
He died at mama’s loving arms. I admire our wonder woman more! God is indeed merciful.
Too ironic, mama and some brethren told me, he was at the wake in our neighborhood and was so lively, cracking jokes to the bereaved family friends earlier that night. Not knowing that it’s the last time he’ll laugh and would be emotionally stressed.
Even us, with my friends who visited at home in Cavite, we were laughing a lot as we bonded that Sat. night, only to receive the horrible news few hours after.
Life is fragile and temporary indeed! Our only surety is God’s will and the Blessed Hope.
During my vacation before his death, I was requested to speak in our church on November 1, 2013, focusing on the State of the Dead. I shared our family crucibles, the terror and trauma of death among family members and how we had “Healing Amid Hurting”.
Who would have thought that after exactly one month, December 1, Papa would be in the state of the dead! My mom even sang before I spoke! She sang “Keep Looking Up”. My parents used to sing duet when we were at an early age, and I found them very lovely singing together.
Here’s the second stanza and chorus of the song my mom sang:
So when your faith is sorely tried
And earnest pray’rs have been denied
Whene’er you need a faithful guide
There’s just one thing to do.
Keep looking up, Thy God is still the same today
Keep looking up He will not fail thee
Come what may, keep looking up
The darkest night will roll away
So do not doubt, but keep on looking up.
I actually made a blog in Tumblr, dedicated to my mom’s exquisite faith and bravery. The first entry, “Looking Down is Never an Option” is all about her and Papa’s sudden death. Here’s the link:
Just keep on looking up. There is where God paints a rainbow after the rain!
The Last Song
For many people, both related by blood and not, they considered me a very strong person. “I can’t imagine myself if I were on your shoes Lanie, you’re so strong! I admire you! God is with you!” utterance of the former principal of AUP Academy told me. Aside from a strong and supportive family, we’re blessed with awesome family friends and prayer warriors!
Here’s my simple secret:
With Christ, I’M POSSIBLE!
Without Him, IMPOSSIBLE!
Here’s my post on Dec. 6, after the internment of my father.
Since last night during tribute until necrological service this morning, I talked much. I have no choice, since I’d love to and I am expected too! Sharing papa’s epic conversion story was a delight!
But to sing those three songs were offerings of a broken, yet grateful heart.I never thought it would be that rewarding to serve my family, relatives & brethren through music ministry. Coz to sing to my own papa’s funeral was a big, different story. Gone were the days when I rendered songs to other people’s funeral services, and to my sibling’s too. It’s just so special.After all, speaking and singing are the most obvious talents I’ve got from my father, according to my mother and other people.
Here’s the last song I rendered during the necrological service. (please click the link, This Day if you want to watch the video)
Friendship Lives Beyond the Grave
Papa’s misconstrued as a politician in our place, he’s been known throughout our province having myriad of friends throughout the country and abroad. But he’s just a simple person, rich with friendships. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable and annoyed having many visitors coming almost everyday at home.
On his last night of wake, the number of friends who gave testimonials surpassed the number of family members and relatives who did.
Best Friends Beyond the Grave
During the first night, his best friend who came from the U.S., delivered the message. It was a blessing because we longed to share to our relatives our faith and the HOPE of Jesus’ soon coming. Though it wasn’t a good reunion to gather with, all things work together for good! (Romans 8:28).
“Mahal ko po ang taong ito, sya ay isang tapat at tunay na kaibigan.
Mapagbigay, matulungin, (Para sa kanya, ibibigay pa sa iba),
masayahin…Nanghihinayang po ako!
Pero ito ay niloob ng Diyos na may kadahilanan…”
Tito Jerson Camposano highly regarded papa not because he’s his best friend since early 90’s, but because they’ve understood, accepting each others’ flaws & shortcomings; and help build each others’ faith. A true unconditional friendship indeed!
They’ve been brother-like buddies since he was assigned as our district pastor in early 90’s, according to him. He delivered the message on the state of the dead and the end-times, emphasizing the Blessed Hope of Jesus’ soon return.
I’m super grateful! It seemed a family reunion with a crusade. Most of our relatives aren’t SDAs yet. Our deepest desire is to reach out to them and uphold Jesus, our Wounded Healer.
Thank You Jesus isn’t enough.
Because You live, we can face tomorrow although we no longer have Papa Benny. You renewed that blessed Hope again and again.
*Ate Leah’s urn was finally buried with Papa’s remains.
Six days before ate’s death anniversary.
Our loved ones, Papa, ate Leah and BJ, left our presence, but never our hearts.
They’ve gone asleep in the Lord and we long for that blessed resurrection morn.
We simply miss them. Yet that doesn’t lessen our reason to celebrate God’s greatness!
“The very trials that test our faith most severely and make it seem that God has forsaken us, are designed to lead us nearer to Christ, that we may lay all our burdens at his feet, and receive the peace he will give us in exchange.
When you surrender yourself entirely to God, you fall all broken upon Jesus, you will be rewarded by a victory, the joy of which you have never realized.
As you review the past with a clear vision, you will see that at the very time when life seemed to you only a perplexity and a burden Jesus Himself was near you, seeking to lead you into the light.
Your Father was by your side, bending over you with unutterable love, afflicting you for your good, as the Refiner purifies the precious ore.”
~EGW, Gospel Workers p.372-373
“The TRIUMPH of Christian FAITH is
to SUFFER, and be STRONG;
to SUBMIT, and thus CONQUER;
to BE KILLED all day long, and yet to LIVE;
to BEAR the CROSS, and thus WIN the CROWN of IMMORTAL GLORY.”
~EGW, Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 300
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him. Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.” Job 13:15
*with Lolo Urbano Castillo, an evangelist whom God used to channel bring Papa in the faith and helped build our home church, Pinamalayan SDA Church taken in early 90’s. I’ll post his conversion story later on.
My father’s epitaph:
Benifredo G. Fronda, Sr.
March 26, 1955 – Dec. 1, 2013
“For to me, to live is Christ
and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
This is a blog tribute for my father. I longed to blog about him, but today is the right time. I pray that as you read this affirmation of God’s faithfulness in our family’s life, may you be strengthened in whatever storms you’re going through.
And if you’re plagued with pain, remember, the Wounded Healer is ever near!
© 2014 LAF
Note: Photos credit to Zola, and Google Image. Video credit to Zola and You Tube. This blog has a copyright . The photos and articles should not be used, reproduced and manipulated by any means without a written request and consent from the author.