The Gift of Life

Recently, there has been a rather loud cry, voiced by the Christian communities of the world. This cry is to protect the lives of what some call fetuses. I call them 'babies'. There's been a voice calling from the general population that a woman has a right to choose. They never really say what she is choosing. But, the general idea is that if she gets pregnant... if the pregnancy is unplanned, then she has the right to choose what to do with her body. But, in aborting the child, is that choosing what she does to her body or choosing what she is doing to another being's body? If the pregnancy is planned and something goes wrong. If a defect is seen in ultrasounds or in tests that are run, she can terminate that pregnancy. If the child is not perfect then, many people choose to abort. But, who are we to say that that is the right choice? Who are we, in our stupidity, in our imperfection, to say whether a child is perfect or not?

In my opinion, we are all made perfect. We are just as we were meant to be. Even if we feel that our lives are headed in the wrong way. If we feel that we are imperfect. We need to remember that we are just as we were meant to be. We have no right to play God in this world. No matter how bad things get, there are still many things that we have in our lives, in our surroundings, that we can be thankful for. There are people out there that love us. There are many happy memories that we all possess. When we think of a child in the womb, we should try to remember that we all have that right to make happy memories. We all have the right to live.

Recently, a friend of mine shared a video with me. It had my whole office in tears. When I watched it, my heart went out to the parents of this child. To see the joy that these parents experienced in the short time they had, made me value life a little bit more. To see how the child developed and the progress he made, brought a smile to my face. It's a short and beautiful video. So, if you have about 7 minutes, I encourage you to watch it.

They joy that one experiences with a child, for however short a period that you have with him/her. The love that you feel for someone so precious. To see a smile brighten the face of your baby. To see the trust in the eyes of a life that you had a part in creating. To hold someone so tiny and fragile and feel that overwhelming sense of responsibility. To feel the protectiveness. To experience the joy of parenthood. In my opinion, all these things, and more, are worth the pain of child birth. It's worth the changes it makes to your life. It's worth the changes it makes to a woman's body. For however long you are gifted with a child, it is worth everything.

I have vowed over and over that if I were ever to conceive a child, I would do everything in my power to protect that life. I will value every second that I have with that child. I will protect that child with my life from conception to natural death. It is the least I can do in exchange for the many graces that I've been blessed with. There is no question in my mind that the greatest gift is the gift of life.


Lift Up Your Hands

Yesterday, while talking to Lawrence about the lineup for the Sacred Heart mass, I looked up one of the songs. It was a song entitled Lift Up Your Hands. This song holds many memories for me. It was a song that I sang at the funeral of my grandmother about 12 years ago. I suppose, by today's standards, the song is old. But, it doesn't make it any less significant to me.

Below, I've inserted the lyrics of the song for those of you who are not familiar with it.

I found it a bit ironic that, after talking to Lawrence about this, I went to the celebration of the word and the gospel that was proclaimed was that very one. Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. After a very trying and tiring weekend, I was actually looking forward to being able to sit for a couple of hours and just listen to the word of God. To relax and rest in Him. To think about the way I've been living my life.

For the past couple of months, I have found that I have turned elsewhere for comfort... for rest. Whether it be in friends or in a man. What I didn't realize... or maybe I did but wasn't willing to see, was that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. I can't find true, lasting, unconditional love in man. I can't find it in the world. What I have found and continue to find, is contempt, disappointment, pain, anger, frustration. Nothing that I need or truly want.

Do I learn from all this? No! I continue to go out in to the world. To seek happiness and love in people who could never give it to me. To seek comfort in vices with which I have no business dabbling. Where does that end? When will I finally open my eyes and turn? I know the answer. But, am I willing to actually commit to it? Probably not!

SO.... without further ado... Here are the lyrics:

Life is not all that bad, my friend, hmmm
If you believe in yourself
If you believe there's Someone
Who walks through life with you
You'll never be alone
Just learn to reach out,
And open your heart
Lift up hands to God,
And He'll show you the way.
And He said, "Cast your burdens upon Me
Those who are heavily laden,
Come to Me, all of you who are tired
Of carrying heavy loads,
For the yoke I will give you is easy
And My burden is light,
Come to Me and I will give you rest."
When you feel the world
Is tumblin' down on you,
And you have no one
That you can hold on to,
Just face the rising sun
And you'll see hope,
And there's no need to run
Lift up your hands to God,
And He'll make you feel all right.
And He said, "Cast your burdens upon Me
Those who are heavily laden,
Come to Me, all of you who are tired
Of carrying heavy loads,
For the yoke I will give you is easy
And My burden is light,
Come to Me and I will give you rest."



Today, instead of going in to morning prayer, I was waylaid by a baby! He was about 8 months old and had the meanest face that I'd ever seen on a child who wasn't throwing a temper tantrum. When he saw me, he just threw himself at me. So, what other choice did I have but to carry the child? Woe to me!

I had the opportunity to play with this child while his mother and grandmother were in prayer and it got me thinking... again! To hold this child. To be able to make him giggle uncontrollably. To smell that scent that babies seem to secrete. It was a little overwhelming. I wanted to keep holding him. But, you know... duty was calling and I had a very important person to phone.

While speaking to James, I mentioned this brief time in which I had with this child. You see, both of us are taken with children. To hear him speak of his nieces and nephew like an adoring(and adorable) uncle, it makes me smile. I'm sure that I've said my fair share about my experiences with the children in my life. I'm sure that anyone who knows me has heard their fill of Jess' obsession with children.

I don't know what it is... Maybe it was in thinking of my godson and the time that I'd spent with him as a newborn. Maybe it's the approaching birthday and the prospect of turning 30. Maybe it's all the people who seem to be popping out children all around me. Maybe it's seeing my parents grow older each year and watching them with the children and grandchildren of friends. I can't sat for sure. But, whatever it is, it makes me want it. It makes me long for the opportunity to love someone so unconditionally as a mother loves her child.

I pray for the day that I can raise a child. To be willing to lay down my life for someone so precious. To be able to watch this child grow in to a man or a woman whom I could love without bounds. To be able to say that I, Jessica Blas, have made an impression on this world as a mother. Not only as a mother... But, as the best mother that I can be.

Getting a little ahead of myself here?


Bill 111

Bill 111 was introduced by Sen. Matt Rector(who tries to friend everyone on facebook). If passed, this bill would incrementally raise the minimum wage on Guam from a mere $6.55 to $12.00 by April of 2010. While I am an avid supporter of increasing the minimum wage, I believe that to raise it like this would hinder the development of our island's economy. It would hurt the island's businesses that are just barely able to survive. The mom & pop stores that we are quite fond of will probably be the first to go. Followed by the small, locally owned business firms. Leaving the large corporations that have been introduced to our island.

Needless to say, it would place individuals earning minimum wage right bellow those who have the educational background and experience to be making a fairly decent wage. Where does that leave the middle class? Do they get a pay raise also? This is highly unlikely.

So, while more money for the lower income bracket may seem like a pretty picture, it may hurt our island more than help it. Prices will no doubt rise along with the minimum wage, in order to help defer the costs of paying employees. Which would, ultimately, leave us back at square one and wondering why we were in this predicament to begin with.

Yes, raise the minimum wage. But, keep in mind what will happen in the long run. Maybe the solution is hidden here somewhere. We need to hunt a little better. Contemplate our options. Raising minimum wage to $12.00 without the backing of federal funds is highly detrimental to our economy. The money has to come from somewhere and it's definitely not available through our local government.

So, Mr. Rector... unless you've got a few billion dollars hidden somewhere in your deep pockets, please rethink your bill. Our people should not be made to suffer because of decisions that were poorly thought out. Take the island in to account, as a whole.

People of Guam, please don't let the dollar signs attract you any more than they already do. Like I've said before, the amount looks appealing. But, in the long run, is it really worth it? Would seeing businesses, like Chotde', go out of business after being around for over a couple of decades, really be worth it? Would going through the hardships of rising costs really be deferred by the ~$6 raise? Really think about this before acting.


My Ham

Today, the 5th of June 2009, my godson, Brandon Patrick Blas Respicio, turned 8 years old! It's hard to imagine that just 8 years ago, he was not in my life. His parents had been praying for a child and after a few mishaps, they were able to conceive and carry one to term. This little boy, a true gift of God, was delivered in the early afternoon to an ecstatic father who didn't know exactly what to do. Laugh... or cry!

I remember when Uncle Pat came out of the delivery room after hours of a distressed labor. He looked like a blue monster, all dressed in hospital garb. The joy that I saw in his eyes and the relief and love I heard in his voice. The strength in his embrace. It was what every father should possess. He got exactly what he had been praying for for so long and couldn't wait to share it with the world.

When I first laid eyes on this little being that was to be my godchild, this tiny baby boy who was to fill my hours during the day... I had such a feeling of pride. An overwhelming wave of joy for my aunt(Monica) and her husband. How was I to know that we'd have such little time with them, as a family? How did we know that, after being given this precious gift, Uncle Pat would be taken from us? The only thing we knew was that he was happier than we'd ever seen him before. That he was ready to take on this duty of being a father to this stranger.

Eight months later, on Feb. 15, 2001, Uncle Pat was electrocuted and suddenly, our lives were torn. I questioned God. I couldn't understand why this had happened. None of us understood. All we understood was that we would never let a day go by that Brandon didn't know, beyond any doubt, of his father's love for him.

Now, nearly eight years later, Brandon knows his father. He dreams of him and knows exactly the type of father he has. Brandon is this young boy who is growing a little too fast for us. He's ready to take on the world. He's a brilliant child who excels at what he does. I am proud to have this child in my life and to call him my boy. I look forward to watching him grow up in to a man that his father would be proud of.

To my baby boy, know that your Nina loves you and always will. I, Nina Therese, Nino Frank, Dwayne, Mama Patti, Uncle Clifton are so proud of you, my boy. Happy Birthday, Baby!!


Guam on the Quarter

Today, whilst perusing Facebook, it came to my attention that the long awaited Guam quarter has been released. This may not seem like a huge deal to most people. But, to people on Guam, the Chamorro people(either on-island or 'displaced'), it is something that we can be proud of. Something that acknowledges the existence of our island. Of our people. I guarantee you, if you were to walk up and ask an average American where our island is or anything that has to do with the Chamorro people, they will look at you with a puzzled look upon their faces. Either that or they will convince you that Guam is in Africa.

I've actually had someone argue with me and tell me that I'm not in the pacific and that Guam was in South America! I couldn't help laughing at the ignorance displayed by said individual. Then, I frown. Because, however proud I am of my tiny island, my people, my heritage, I realize that there is a large percentage of the world's population that don't even know about this little gem of the pacific that I call home. Maybe this event, the appearance of our tiny island on something as insignificant as a quarter, will put a little curiosity in to people's minds. Maybe it will encourage them to find out a little bit about my home.

So, without further ado, I present to you, Guam's mark on U.S. currency!!

Proposed designs:

Final outcome:
Another issue that has come up over the past couple of years... War reparations. On one hand, I feel that the wounds inflicted on our people have had nearly 60 years to heal. Those who were most effected by the events have since passed and the wounds should be left unopened. On the other, those who were left behind, those who were old enough to understand are still around. Some people think that the people of Guam are owed an apology. But, must we keep letting the descendants of these men pay for the misconduct of their fathers? If this were the case, shouldn't we, as Americans, keep paying for the deeds done to the Vietnamese, the Koreans, the Native Americans, or whatever race or nationality we have suppressed at one point or another? If we keep trying to pry apologies and compensation from someone who has done us wrong at any point, we will be stuck in an endless cycle of pain and it would cheapen the significance of our history. It's time to learn from our pasts and start moving towards something better. To heal old wounds rather than peeling the scabs off and letting them fester.


Did I Miss It?

Yesterday, I had a very brief conversation with Fr. Jason Granado. He is a newly ordained priest here on Guam who also happens to be one of my catechists. He was recently assigned as pastor or Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Agat and is getting settled in to the parish. So, in the midst of getting to know his parishioners and learning the ropes of being in God's fold, he also has to set up a marriage preparation program for Agat. This involves getting married couples together and developing a parish based counseling system for couples who are looking to get married in the Catholic church. What it came down to is this. He is looking for married couples to help him establish this program.

What's the point of babbling about this? Well, you see, Fr. Jason had a bright idea... He asked me to help as a sponsor. To be a sponsor, you have to be married! I pointed this little known fact(I'm kidding) out to Fr. Jason. He laughed and asked me when I was going to get married. The conversation went on for a little while longer and I took the opportunity to point out the fact that the right man hasn't come along yet. That apparently, God is taking his time with me and keeping that man in hiding. That's when he said the thing that led me to this blog entry. He said... 'Maybe God has shown you the right person or the right path. But, you didn't follow it.'

Damn you, Fr. Jason, for putting me in to a mini crisis! *laugh* No, really. It got me to thinking about things and evaluating the life that I've been living. In the short time after he left and when I got home, I thought a lot about it. What if he was right? What if God has indeed, shown me the way that I need to go and I chose not to see it? Am I too wrapped up in self-pity or doubt, that I can't seem to make out the way through the murk?

Which leads me to another conversation I had with a friend. One in which we spoke about asking God for signs. I find that, in my life, I spend most of the time praying for these signs and just living my life the way that I want to and I get so caught up in it that I miss them. He puts these huge, flashing neon signs in front of me and I'm too busy looking the other way, distracted by the pretty scenes of the world, that I pass the signs by without reading them.

So, what if I've chosen to walk the wrong road? The easier, prettier road that attracts so many people? What if the less scenic route was really what I was supposed to choose? What if it's too late?

But, then again, what if this is exactly where I need to be right at this moment in time?



It's another beautiful day today. From my desk, I can see the waves breaking on the reef and the calmer water, closer to the shore. It's a little overcast. But, this just means that it's not too hot outside. The breeze is blowing through the leaves of the trees in the foreground of the view and you can almost smell the hint of salt in the air. Beautiful and picturesque!

Alas, I am stuck inside! But, you know what? Just to be able to sit and enjoy this beautiful scene is a blessing in itself. To add to that, there is an arrangement of flowers sitting on my desk that is filling my senses with sweet smells and vivid colors.

For the past week or so, I've been in vacation planning mode. Granted, here on Guam, a cheap and easily attainable vacation would be a weekend at a hotel in Tumon with friends. Possibly, a trip to Saipan to remove yourself from being summoned by family, friends, or community for the weekend. For now, I'll go with Tumon and switching off the cell phone or screening calls *wink*.

I was lucky enough to spend a day off with some friends on a tiny island off the southern end of Guam. For some people, this is as close to being 'off-island' as they've ever been. It's just a small resort for spending the day on the beach, away from home. Our trip to the pier consisted of a 'road-trip' from central Guam to the south. I was able to observe the beauty that surrounds us. Once you get out of the central area, the island is fairly undeveloped. You see, when you live in central Guam, you get used to seeing all these tall buildings(by Guam standards) and cars everywhere! But, once you hit southern Guam, you're surrounded by nature... views of the ocean... cliff lines that stretch for miles. The only drawback to living in the south is that it's so far from everything(again, by Guam standards)!

Back to the island! In all my years of living on Guam, I had never been to Coco's Island. I'd always heard of it and all that you could do there. But, I'd never taken the time to visit this little gem. I'm glad to have had the experience with S.O.U.L.(Andy, Ted, Lawrence, Jamie, Zack, Chrissy, Damian, and Karen). They added to the beauty of the experience. Not to mention, the endless stream of entertainment! I've heard that you used to be able to overnight on the island. But, in recent years, the island has seen some damage from typhoons and they have yet to fully rebuild the facility. I'm not quite sure if they ever plan on rebuilding. But, it would be a shame if they chose to keep it as it is today.

So, mini-vacation number one out of the way! Next stop? We're thinking about The Reef Hotel or the P.I.C. for a couple of days.

It's funny how, here on Guam, we think of hotels as nothing to boast about! I recently had a conversation with a friend in the UK who thought that it was funny that we spend so much time in hotels. He thought it was an upper-class experience. But, as far as I can recall, we've spent holidays or weekends at hotels just to get away from the house. To break the monotony of home living without the huge expense of plane tickets and accommodations in foreign lands. I suppose, for many, this is also the reason why they never feel the need to leave the island. You have all the necessities of a vacation without being too far from home.

Summer will be spectacular this year!