Deaths of my loved ones made me doubt the existence of miracles. Despite years of prayers and tears, witnessing a sibling suffer from incurable illness for many years (until he eventually passed away) led me to become a pessimist. I used to believe that most of the time prayers were futile. My young heart and mind was scarred by tragedies. I loved the idea of miracles but I used to console myself with the thought that expectation hurts. I used to believe in praying but Thy will be done. And His Will was often not the way I wanted.
Months ago, dramatic turn of events happened in my life which made me wonder, “Was it miracle? If not then what was it?” Let me share a long story.
A True OFW Story
More than a year ago, I finished my job contract and I found a new employer which promised a better salary and job benefits. We already found a new accommodation 5 minutes away walk from the new workplace. I shopped for new clothes for my new job. Excited to work with my new employer, I stopped working in my old company immediately after I finished my contract without waiting for my last working day notice. I was not able to sign any clearance because I was forced to continue working although my residence permit was expired. I told myself that after I finished my contract nothing can stop me from leaving. I left without even turning back. To my shock, my residence permit was canceled by my old employer right after I stopped working with them which means I was no longer legal to stay in this foreign country as an OFW. I must go back to my hometown.
My husband was telling me that I needed to stay because we just came from 8-month lockdown 6 months ago in the Philippines where I just gave birth to our first baby and we had not paid all our debts. I fought so hard for my rights to transfer sponsorship. For months I kept going to Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour, and Social Affairs (ADLSA) and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) countless of times to submit documents and ask for help. I even desperately called and emailed National Human Rights Committee and many other individuals who might offer help. As advised by the POLO-OWWA I filed a case against my old employer for not providing end of service benefits, one month overtime pay, half month salary, ticket and leave pay after cancelling my work visa.
It Was Dead End
I crawled my way painfully in hopes of reaching a greener pasture only to find an enormous barrier, a great wall of China, no window, door nor a small opening, a giant barricade as tough as a stone heart. I was like a dust among other sands on ground with no power to climb over it nor destroy its massiveness. I saw many people who struggled as much as I did. I was not special. The fierce hope I drew from the thoughts that I am a child of God and God is the Creator of all these things, was gradually fading. I faced people of different races with same eagerness, frustration and pain as mine. Perhaps everything people said to me was right.
“There’s really no chance that you can transfer sponsorship because your visa is cancelled.”
“You have to go back to the Philippines and apply for new visa again. There’s no other way.”
“Once your visa is canceled, your employer has the only authority to reactivate it. In your case, there is no hope.”
“How long are you going to wait for your visa reactivation? You’re waiting for nothing. Months already passed.”
“Better go home. Your daughter is waiting for you.”
The government officer in the ADLSA also told me, “You can’t transfer sponsorship because you need NOC. No chance.”
To say that I was weary from everything I had been through was understatement. I gave up my dream of transferring sponsorship. My burning hope lost its warmth and turned ice cold. I was ready to go home and meet my daughter. I bought and created decorations for my daughter’s first birthday and dedication which I would bring to the Philippines. Everything was set.
We had numerous times of hearing in ADLSA until it was decided that my old employer would finally provide the due amount they owed me in their facility as discussed. Money which I could use to buy flight ticket was the only thing I was waiting for. The next day as directed, I went to my old employer’s office to collect the money but they denied that they were informed about the agreement. I felt nothing but extreme frustration, hatred and exhaustion. To make my miserable situation even worse, my previous employer also filed an absconding case against me which led to another unending predicament. I became a constant visitor in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for a month.
Five months painfully passed and I could not go home to the Philippines due to financial issues. My daughter turned one year old without me. All the decorations we created left untouched. My unemployment made us move from spacious flat to cheaper, tinier, windowless partitioned room with my husband. I felt like a prisoner inside of our dwelling. I was whispering when speaking because my husband told that I might disturb other dwellers by my normal voice. I could not even play my ukulele which was the only thing that could help me cope. Because I felt like I was buried in a tomb, I barely slept.
Therefore, we used to spend our mornings in the park with my ukulele. I also hated going to malls or supermarket because stores reminded me that there was nothing I could afford.
I paid no attention to my appearance until one day while looking at myself in the mirror I just realized I was having the worst case of acne and pimple marks I ever experienced in my entire life. I looked like a different person, a lot uglier and prematurely aged. My knees ached and I could not walk with ease. I drank only a glass of water a day and my urine started to turn brown. I neglected not only my looks but my well-being as well. I was merely existing, breathing but not living.
After a month CID came to a conclusion that a case filed against me had insufficient evidence to prove its veracity. My residence permit was finally reactivated by the Ministry of Interior as ordered by the ADLSA. I was not anymore an illegal alien. I looked for a new employer because the previous one got tired of months of waiting for me. Most of the companies were asking for No Objection Certificate (NOC) which I could not provide since my old employer sole mission was to send me back to the Philippines. However, everything went the way I did not expect. ADLSA approved my request for change of sponsorship though I did not submit NOC. I got hired. Today I am earning more than I was earning before. If it was not miracle, was it luck? Some say it was luck but I did not wear some charms to attract good fortune. I believe that God placed right people at the right time and in the right place.
I remember the scripture in Psalm 27:11-13,
“Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path, for my enemies are waiting for me. Do not let me fall into their hands. For they accuse me of things I’ve never done; with every breath they threaten me with violence. Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.”
It is your choice to believe in luck or to believe in God and I choose to believe that the Lord put the right person at the right moment for me. When I went to ADLSA to complain after my old employer broke the agreement, the Lord placed the right person in the reception who could allow me to enter without a schedule (which was prohibited) at the right moment when the Qatari officer was in his good mood so that he could help me in reactivating my residence permit (which was not his job). What if the receptionist did not allow me to come in and just asked me to go home and wait just like other receptionists always said? What if the government officer was annoyed at that moment and chose to ignore me? Everything was possible but at that moment everything conspired for my own good. Things acted in harmony toward a common end which was for my own benefit. Even the indestructible walls crash. Who is stronger than those powerful barriers?
Though I pitied myself for living in a room almost as small as our queen size bed, for not being able to buy cheap things, still God provides. He taught me that we can still live with just having less. We are not enslaved by material things. What matters is not what is happening to us but what is happening inside of us. If experiencing all these issues will make me less materialistic and more grateful, then let me feel all these pain. I am confident still, that I can see the goodness of the Lord in this life. To God be the glory!