Divine Travels (17 Cities in 7 Years): An Introduction

"God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His spirit deeply and gently within us." (Ephesians 3:20 The Message)

“God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20 The Message)

I recently wrote about an “upgrade” experience on my birthday and my dream to travel since I was a kid here. This week, as I transition to another season in my life, I also reflect on all the blessings that I’ve been receiving. One of these blessings is the opportunity to learn and live through traveling.

As I write this, I also want to remember how my purpose changed me and the way I perceive traveling now.

WHEN TRAVELING IS A MIRACLE

“Every travel is more than just a wish come true. For me, they’re a miracle.”

As I examined my life, my past, the sweet and rough times, and all the sojourns that I experienced – they were indeed a MIRACLE. Who could have thought that the same 7-year old girl who wished to see many places will start living her dream at the age of 24? And for 7 years, that same girl lives in this woman’s heart. Every travel is more than just a wish come true. For me, they’re a miracle.

There’s something that I’m also grateful for while I was growing up – I never got every thing that I wanted. Weird right? And contrary to what other people thought about me, as the youngest and only girl in the family, I was never spoiled. And that’s something that I’m thankful for. Whenever I asked for something, my Mama would say, “pray for it”. I didn’t get every thing that I want (including my dream doll and Barbie house), but I always had what I need as a child.

(*A good tip for parents: It’s good to provide for what your child needs but don’t give every thing that he wants. Let him know the value of prayers and money.)

When this value was instilled in my life, I also got a sense of contentment and faith. Growing up, I began to be more grateful for what I have, but at the same time dreamt and prayed for big things.

“To be contented of what I have but to have faith to dream big as well.”

REMINISCING HOW IT ALL BEGAN

“During those days, I’m still not aware of other wise investments (stocks, mutual funds, et al), so I invested more on myself (a wise investment too).”

My travel journey started while I was having my on-the-job training at a hotel in Ortigas Center. I was still taking my Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management course back then at De La Salle University – College of St. Benilde when I got hired during my OJT and had my first job. I remember having my first pay check and having the means to treat my family at a nice restaurant – that was fulfilling! And since I was still living with my parents that time, I was able to save.

During those days, I’m still not aware of other wise investments (stocks, mutual funds, et al), so I invested more on myself (a wise investment too) – I attended different seminars and workshops that I missed during my school years and pursued photography classes afterwards.

I also read somewhere that one of the best investments that you can treat yourself with is to TRAVEL. My eyes and my heart suddenly sparkled with fresh enthusiasm as I read the letters T-R-A-V-E-L. And just like that, an old dream was awakened!

TAKING THE STEP TO THAT DREAM

One of the essentials if you want to travel abroad is to have your FILL IN THE BLANK? You guessed it right! Passport. So when I learned that there’s a travel agency at our hotel, I took advantage of the opportunity and had my passport processed. I got my first green-colored passport in October 2004. I was 21 years old.

“Don’t just dream, take the steps toward that dream!”

(*Some kids today are very fortunate to travel at a young age. Take advantage of the things that you can learn! Take advantage of the experience. And if you’re one of those people who had been traveling since you’re a kid, be thankful. You’re blessed!)

Years passed by and I got zero stamps on my passport. I resigned from my work as I was hired to help at our family business, continued investing on myself, partied, and partied more (even thrice in a week).

Then a couple of friends invited me to go to Hong Kong with them. That was my first international travel – with my brother and friends. I finally got the first stamp on my passport on July 16, 2007. I was 24 years old.

My first travel to Hong Kong. Warming up! ;)

My first travel to Hong Kong. Warming up! ;)

“You’re never too old to wish nor too young to live that dream and travel.”

It was worth the wait as I experienced my first travel abroad. But still I was lost. A minuscule me lost in a massive world.

WHEN A DREAM IS TAKEN TO A NEW LEVEL

“Every dream has a purpose. Every traveler has a worth and calling.”

I remember when I had my first photography class back in 2005 that was the time when I was questioning a lot of things too. I’m not sure what to pursue and what to do with my life. Besides my daily routine, I was partying a lot; I go home really late or very early in the morning, greet the morning sunshine and sleep through the day. I was unproductive. I was lost and confused. The main question that I always had was “what on earth am I here for?”

“I want to LIVE in full and to leave this earth with something beautiful. But I didn’t know why and how.”

Then I read the book Purpose Driven Life but even before I finish it, I stopped when it came to the topic about Church. I couldn’t relate. I grew up in a Catholic church and school but when I got to college, we didn’t have a church as a family. And honestly, I thought church was boring and was full of rules. I believe there is a God but I really didn’t know who He was.

Then my brother and I met Mags at one of my photography classes. Mags was this cool girl sporting an “F1-Korean-boyband” hairdo, rockin’ getups, and a cheerful personality. We instantly became friends and before I knew it, we were talking about faith and got an invitation to go to her church.

I went to church once with Mags but it was after a year when I finally went to church regularly with my family. That’s when I also got more curious. Long story short, it was there where I found my purpose, my worth, what on earth am I here for. I got acquainted with God. Then we got really close. I didn’t know you can get close to God and that He can reveal Himself to you. But He did. It was a personal encounter.

This experience took my dream in traveling to a whole new level. It made a difference with my purpose and my outlook in life. 2007 changed the reason why I travel. It changed me. And since then, I didn’t stop traveling.

“Now God has us where He wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join Him in the work He does, the good work He has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.”

(Ephesians 2:7-10 The Message)

WHY I TRAVEL

Discovering who I am and my purpose changed the way I live and the way I do things. My life is still not perfect, I actually encounter more rough roads and heartaches but it’s been different. It really makes a difference when you live with and for Someone. 

Now, being a traveler makes me appreciate the vastness and glory of God’s work in every city and landscapes that I visit. It also makes every encounter with people from all cultural backgrounds extra special. It makes me wonder about the kind of great wisdom God has, as He designed such marvelous workmanship and diversity in every place, history, and individuals. We have such a beautiful world to explore and appreciate. We have a Master Creator!

Photographed by my new and first Greek friend Dimitris in Goa, India.

Photographed by my new and first Greek friend Dimitris in Goa, India.

As a photographer, I get to capture, document, and even preserve a moment and an adventure of these opportunities. And as a writer, I get to tell the story behind every picture, life, and encounter. As a photographer and writer, I get to share.

DIVINE TRAVELS

I have so many things to be grateful for. As I totally move forward from the “old” and approach a new season in my life, I will begin to count my blessings more and all my travels as divine. They are really something from God and they are very good.

I hope that this new blog series will not just document and preserve my divine travels, but they will ultimately inspire others to dream big, travel more, and find their special purpose.

I never thought that I could travel in 17 Cities in 7 years. But it all happened the moment I got acquainted with the One who made all these things possible. Maybe He was just waiting for me to be ready? To have the eyes to see more behind every place and to have the heart to capture them differently.

I’m counting for more cities to travel and special experiences to gather in the coming years to come. I’m looking forward to explore more beautiful places here in the Philippines too.

17 Cities in 7 years, and some of the items on my bucket list ticked.

Let’s reminisce these Divine Travels

______________❤_______________

What are your dream places to visit? What’s on your bucket list? I want to hear about them. Comment or leave a message here. ☆

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3 Comments

  • April 25, 2014

    Diane

    Love this entry! I love having a glimpse into your past and what started it all, what made you who you are now that encourages and inspires so many others in the realm of faith and travelling :) I was born and raised a Catholic too and also read Purpose Driven Life in 2005, the start of my own spiritual journey as well, and do reading the first part of your story felt like such reliving a part of mine as well 😀 One of these days I would love to hear of this and maybe some of your travels over lunch or coffee, but for now I guess this will have to do! 😛 beautifully wrotten, as always! Looking forward to your stories of divine travels! <3

    • April 25, 2014

      jmdelarama

      Hi Diane “Mrs. Muffin Man”! :) Thank you for your gracious words and encouragement. Haha wow same start of our spiritual journey. I actually tried to summarize my story haha. Lots of details in between that I would also love to share with you as I also hear your personal journey soon. That would be lovely. Looking forward as well! :)

  • April 25, 2014

    Diane

    Typo: *written 😛