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Raoul’s Two Cents: July 8, 2022

Interruption

As I shared last week, I was on an extended travel to a beach house in a little village named Dalipuga in Southern Philippines. While I was there, so many things happened back in the States (both in business and personal matters) that needed my attention so by the first week I was already pinning to go back home. It was an excruciating countdown to return to the USA.

Despite the short “prison term” I made good use of my time. Almost every morning I had a goal to accomplish for that day. And so for the next couple of weeks, I intend to share some lessons from my stay over there. I hope that’s okay.

My brother Paco
That isn’t his real name but that’s what his friends called him. To me he was always Gary, my little brother who thought a lot, laughed a lot and dreamed a lot. His philosophy in life was greatly influenced by Atticus in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In fact, that was one of his names. He became a lawyer and a scientist … a Director for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in Washington DC for about 30 years. A series of events (like his dissatisfaction with the previous administration who “didn’t believe in science”) made him quit his job and he found himself alone in a village called Mindo in the jungles of Ecuador which is the northernmost tip of the great Amazon Rain Forest. All throughout his career, he saw the importance of preservation. He made feasibility studies of Ecuador, and then plans which he presented to scientific bodies and received a huge grant from MIT. Two of his articles are published in Travelingboy.com. He was building his dream of a sanctuary for birds and lost souls (people with broken hearts). He invited all of us siblings to retire there. He would shoulder all expenses –“come … just come … all I want is your presence here” he said with excitement. One of my sisters and Paco’s daughters planned a trip this September. I too was seriously considering a trip early next year.

In the morning of June 9, I got a call from my sister. She was sobbing uncontrollably. “Raoul, I need you to sit down. I have some very bad news … Gary is dead. He’s dead!”

“What?!? We were just talking to him a few days ago. Dead?!? How?! Why?!?” My questions rattled out in rapid succession.

The hotel maid found Paco dead in his room just a few hours ago:  his face peaceful; his body wrapped inside his blanket; his right hand clenched. Apparently, it was his first and last heart attack. Paco had no enemies. In fact, the whole village knew him and loved him. He was last seen alive playing with the children of the village. Later, we learned from his wife that Paco had a history of unchecked high blood pressure and cholesterol. We assumed he was healthy because he would hike 45 minutes up and down the hill that he purchased almost everyday. We were wrong. And he was gone. My dear sweet genius of a brother had gone on to be with the Lord.

Night fell and I could not sleep. I crept out of the house around 2 in the morning and walked to the beach and looked at the dark horizon. The stars were hidden by the clouds. I asked God so many questions. I started to write a song with the thought that “it should have been me.” Gary had so many wonderful plans for mankind. My dreams were nothing compared to his. It should have been me. I’ve lived a long enough life. No more mountains to climb. I’m near retirement. My kids are grown and independent. My wife could survive without me … in fact, I always joke around that she could benefit from my insurance. My different circle of friends (including YOU) would miss me for a time and then life would go on. Life is short.

In the gospel of Luke chapter 20, Jesus tells the parable of the rich fool who had plans to increase his storage for more profit:
v.20
“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’ Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”

Paco had done his research. Out of all the spots in this great big planet, Ecuador was where he could make the biggest impact for society. But beautiful and noble though his plans were, they were not God’s plan.

What, may I ask, are your plans? What are you to do today? Tomorrow? What does your big picture look like? Is it centered around you?

Luke 20
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! And the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

I’m thinking about this myself. Perhaps our plans may not be as grandiose as saving the planet but take heart —we are not all called to save the planet. God called some of us to be Kings and some to be pawns.  Both are important. Some of our plans are never meant to come to fruition but the process is meant for us to grow closer to the Lord. Let’s not miss the sign posts in our life journey. Think about it: Why have you survived Covid? Why do you still occupy space among the living?  Whatever our purpose, let’s do it well.  Let’s ponder it together.

TGIF people!

Raoul

Joke of the Week

Thanks to Peter Paul of South Pasadena, CA for these riddles.

Original artwork by Raoul Pascual

Parting Shots

Thanks to Tom of Pasadena, CA

Thanks to Maling of Manila, Philippines

Thanks to Efren of Manila

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23 Comments

  1. Jacqueline

    July 8, 2022 at 8:42 am

    It is really painful but true. I sometimes wonder myself about my own family. We ran away to be in a safe place but there isn’t any place safe but only God.

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Jacqueline

    Reply

  2. Joel

    July 8, 2022 at 8:42 am

    Sorry to hear of your brothers passing. He is home now with our God.
    May Paco’s soul Rest In Peace with Him .

    Reply

  3. Belen

    July 8, 2022 at 8:43 am

    Hi Raoul,

    Again sending you Bert’s and my sympathy and condolences in the passing of your youngest brother Pasky (Eucliff shared in our group text). What a loving tribute to your brother, it warmed my heart.

    Our best consolation is we have a God who cares and loves us. Continued prayers for peace and comfort for you, and all your family.

    Reply

  4. Edgardo

    July 8, 2022 at 8:43 am

    Thanks Raoul for sharing. Sorrow from the loss of someone who is part of one’s life. N then humor on the use of words.

    Take care, stay healthy meanwhile.

    Reply

  5. Heather

    July 8, 2022 at 8:44 am

    Oh Raoul, my heart aches for you. To lose a younger brother who epitomized all the traits he needed to take the many life steps that he took is amazing. The bravery it took in leaving the government must have been one of the most daunting things he ever accomplished! He walked the road less traveled for sure and left many footprints on your heart.

    Without ever meeting him, I am proud of him for his life choices, and you were fortunate to have him in your life. I am sure that as the elder brother you impacted his life in many ways and I am sure that you must have loomed large in his life, FOR SURE!

    XOXOXO, MY SWEET FRIEND. Heather

    Reply

  6. Rene

    July 8, 2022 at 8:45 am

    Hi Raoul. Pls accept our sincerest Condolences on the demise of your brother Gary aka Paco. We will pray for the eternal repose of his soul. May he Rest In Peace🙏🙏🙏

    Btw, thanks for the nice jokes, shared them with my wife. You made us smile😂😂

    rene

    Reply

  7. Audrey

    July 8, 2022 at 8:45 am

    Raoul,

    My deepest condolences on your brothers death. I will pray for his soul and for the families – wife, children, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, in-laws. I will pray for all who loved him.

    Reply

  8. Tom

    July 8, 2022 at 8:46 am

    Sincere Condolences regarding the Death of Paco . May He Rest In Peace and Perpetual Light Shine upon Him. Condolences to his Wife and Family as well. He sounds like a fascinating person that loved Life and what He did.

    Tom of Pasadena.

    I will pray for the repose of his Soul.

    Reply

  9. Rick

    July 8, 2022 at 8:46 am

    Hello bro,
    I am sorry to hear about the early passing of Gary. My condolences and prayers to you and the entire family. May he rest in peace.
    Take care,
    Rick

    Reply

  10. David

    July 8, 2022 at 8:47 am

    Hey Raoul,

    So sorry to hear about your brother.

    What a nice tribute you wrote for you blog.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Peace be with both of you.

    Best regards,

    David

    Reply

  11. Mike

    July 8, 2022 at 8:47 am

    Raoul,
    I am so sorry to hear about your brother. However he is with the Lord now.
    Your friend
    Mike

    Reply

  12. Oscar

    July 8, 2022 at 9:01 am

    Good morning Raoul, sorry to hear about your Brother Paco . Sounds like a very grate and intelligent man. Sad, 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply

  13. Warren

    July 8, 2022 at 9:08 am

    So sorry to read about the loss of your brother! Praying for you, brother! 🙏❤

    Reply

  14. Mandy

    July 8, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Hi Raoul.. condolences for your brother’s passing. May he find eternal peace with the Lord.

    Hope you are coping well.

    Stay well…
    Mandy

    Reply

  15. Ed

    July 8, 2022 at 11:04 am

    Nice narrative!

    Hoping the best for your dad!

    Reply

  16. Hilda

    July 8, 2022 at 11:05 am

    Sorry for the loss of your brother. He sounds like an awesome man. May he Rest In Peace. 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply

  17. Debbie

    July 9, 2022 at 12:26 am

    I am so sorry for your loss; my prayers go out to you and your families.

    Debbie

    Reply

  18. Chuck

    July 9, 2022 at 12:27 am

    Hello Raul,

    My condolences on the passing of your little brother. The consolation as you shared; is, “He is in a better place.”

    Blessings to you and your family,

    Your Older Brother Chuck

    Reply

  19. BM

    July 11, 2022 at 6:45 am

    Very very sorry for your loss Raoul
    Sincerely,
    BM

    Reply

  20. Mike

    July 11, 2022 at 6:46 am

    Please send me your home address
    Would like to send you a Mass card

    Reply

  21. Gary

    July 11, 2022 at 6:49 am

    Good morning Raoul,

    Your email had a bit of a personal affect on me, not only because your friend Gary and I share the same name but because I’ve had thoughts about doing more for the Lord and for this world. I am very sorry for your loss. I pray that the Lord will carry you through this season and help you to be a blessing to your family through your pain.
    I am 55 now and I to do not regularly see my doctor for updates on my health. I do my Best to eat right and get exercise but I know we have no guarantees on tomorrow. It’s a good reminder to take care of the body that God is giving me and to maintain the relationships in my life.
    I do appreciate your emails. They are thoughtful, encouraging and good humored.

    I will pray for you and your family through this time of grief. The Lord is faithful and his promises are the only thing that will carry us through times like this.

    James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

    All the best,

    Gary

    Reply

  22. Betty of Australia

    July 13, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Hi Pasky, so sorry to hear about your brother, Gary. May his soul rest in God’s eternal peace. We really have to live life to the fullest as life is short. Look after ourselves and spend more time to with family… you’ll never know what will come next. Ingat lagi,

    Betty

    Reply

  23. Terry

    July 29, 2022 at 7:35 am

    Hey Raoul,

    I am so sorry to hear of your brother’s passing, and at the same time impressed with your admirable guardianship of your ill father. I know these are difficult times for you, and your family, and my wife I pray for your healing, your strength, and your better spirits as the days slowly pass.

    Terry

    Reply

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