Good evening everyone. My name is Jen. I am from the Philippines. I just came here in the US last October… The struggle I had before coming here was unbelievable and it all became believable, that as you can see, I am now standing in front of all of you.. So please allow me to share my experience..
My mom was the one who first chanted NMRK way back home in 1990. Since I was a child, my mom always took me to meetings and I have grown up with it. My faith really developed because of my training as a member of the drum & bugle corps –or as what you also call the fife & drum corps. Since I grew up in a well-off family- everything was provided by my parents. But I wasn’t really able to appreciate everything I had because I thought that it was normal to lead such a life. But it wasn’t. That in 2001, our family business got bankrupt; left us with nothing- our properties, our house, car, everything, - they were all gone. My parents decided to come to the US primarily for financial reasons because we had no source of income there plus the fact of having 7 siblings in the family…
Our eldest sister stood as our mother, father and as our guardian. Me- being a father’s girl, took me a whole lot of time to adjust to our new lifestyle. I was not really used to living a simple life- but despite all those obstacles that we have had, we never felt discouraged in our practice instead we took it as a challenge and all the more deepened our faith in the Gohonzon…
A life without your mom and dad at home is difficult. It’s like they taught us to really ride the bike on our own, but with our helmets on. We could only talk to our parents through the phone, since they don’t know how to use the computer at that time. But now they’re learning. (**smiles) Our parents cannot see all of us everyday growing so beautifully. All we have at home as our second parents is the Gakkai. Because of this kind of connection that we have in our organization, we were able to go through everything. We were able to make our parents proud!
Deep within me is a dream, a desire to come here to be with our parents, without even knowing how I could get here because I know it’s too hard and it would also take time. Ever since my parents came here, I have always been chanting to the Gohonzon that in time, I could be with them here in the US. That was what my heart yearned and I just wrote it down on my yearly targets- I did that for 9 years. The Gohonzon knows what’s inside of you, what’s inside your heart. It is really a reflection of your life. And indeed, no prayers are left unanswered.
When I was still in the Phil, I did my best to finish my studies. I finished High school; I got a degree in college while surmounting every obstacle I had during my school days. I really couldn’t quite imagine that I was able to finish college in four years straight. After I’ve graduated, I haven’t thought of coming here yet because I thought it was really impossible. So I chanted a lot and fulfilled my childhood dream first – which is to work in a bank.
And I did it. I did not have a hard time applying to the bank of my first choice. I came to realize – that the things that had happened were the things that I kept in mind and wanted it to happen. I knew things would happen in its own time—so during my stay home, I really made the most out of it because I know I won’t be staying there for long. After I was appointed as Vice Chapter YWD Chief, I chanted to realize my mission as YWD for my members. I enjoyed doing Gakkai activities- house to house, general meetings and everything- I felt happy. I felt joy to be with members. I am happy to say that I have no regrets and I just fully know that I had made the most out of my stay in the Philippines. All my life I have dedicated 100% in Gakkai, school, work and family as much as possible…
Then came the unbelievable yet believable part… Just early last year, they filed a petition but I didn't take it seriously.. I just chanted for it but didn’t really think about it. Then July came, my petition was approved. So I got a visa interview yet it was quite hard since I was caught up in the middle of either keeping or losing my new found job for it was really my dream- i just didn’t want to give it up. But still I just chanted and chanted. September 1 was my interview, and fortunately, I got approved and planned right away to fly all the way here as soon as I can. Although I felt excited to come--- but with the thought of moving here, I felt that I just can’t leave everything behind.. That decision wasn't easy for me because I love my job and I don't want to leave my members there, my friends, my family, my life I had way back home. But again this was what I wanted. So I stick to the decision to really move here and be with my loved ones – my parents and with my new parents, my new family- to start a new life here. AND NOW I AM HERE!!! Everything just happened really fast.
My first 3months were not at all easy as I thought it would be. I have to face unexpected things. I really have to face everything. I did it through my Gakkai activities here. Even without friends, I always went to NYCC to chant in my free time. I never lose connection with the organization--It is great that we have a Filipino group and was so thankful to Tita Maria for inviting me to join this district-Union Square. As Ikeda Sensei said that to encourage one’s self is the hardest, but I was able to continue my practice, even if I wasn't used to attending meetings alone.
I learned to apply the stand alone spirit and have the courage to face my fears. As I’ve said the first 3 months wasn’t easy- I felt Homesick and all. Sometimes, I felt confined and too absorbed with my weaknesses..But when I started attending ROCK THE ERA, it woke me up, especially that I got the chance to join the fife & drum and be able to play the fife-- which has always been my passion (char!!!). I found myself looking forward to practices and meetings because of the encouragement it gives me plus the fact that I could meet new people and find new friends. This also gave me strength to face head on all my challenges here. That there’s a wide horizon out there.. I am the one causing my own limitations. Last January, I did try applying a job and just after the January rock the era kick off meeting. That day after- I got a job and was asked to start right away!! Rock the era is a big part of me now. I was able to further develop myself, realize fully my potential and show my confidence through playing the fife.. It feels like I am now living the same life I had in the Philippines but with a BIG difference. I am adopting the NYC lifestyle which is always on the go!!!
I am still working and have been receiving continuous benefit for my legal status here. Just last Friday, I got my approval for my resident status. (pakpak!!!!) That same day I was about to tell Amy that I could not do the experience tonight. But I just got to show my appreciation. And now here I am telling all of you how great Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is!!
I'm still struggling a lot right now especially in my relationship but I just continue to chant and be confident with my daimoku. I am still going through a lot of things emotionally, but I am not discouraged and the more I feel weak the more I do daimoku. I believed and am very determined that I will create my own victorious drama here in the US together with my mentor Daisaku Ikeda. I will continue to chant for courage to never be defeated.. I will win.
Personally, I realized many things from this experience. It was like a turning point for me, to wake up from the reality that life isn’t a bed of roses; that we really have to challenge, especially now that I came here. I've learned how time flies so fast –that it’s useless to spend a moment of your life idly. I’ve learned to understand life more deeply.
I also came to appreciate everything that had happened in my life. I really appreciate the Gohonzon-- it’s the greatest treasure I have.
That is why I always put my best effort in everything I do because I know that no effort for Kosen-rufu is ever wasted. For My Conviction: to develop indestructible faith, and to strive more in my practice, most especially in doing shakubuku.
As President Ikeda said and I quote “EVERYTHING that happens in the world of faith has deep meaning and value. Please be convinced that nothing is meaningless in the realm of faith. A life spent day-dreaming about, “If only I didn’t have this problem….”, is a life of failure. In contrast, one who continually makes constructive efforts, approaching things from the standpoint of, “What can I do to overcome these circumstances and turn them into a source of value and victory?”, is a winner.”
Lastly: As the Gosho states and I quote, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the greatest of all joys.” Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the fundamental law that moves the universe. It enables you to reveal the most joyful, dynamic condition of life. Because we chant this great daimoku everyday, we can always live with joyful vitality. Therefore, we should naturally live our lives youthfully, no matter what.”
Daghan salamat sa tanan.