It was an overcast day on December 17, 2011 with occasional rain showers but the skies lighted up with heaven’s approval as the second floor assembly hall of the National City United Church (NCUC) at 96 Times St., West Triangle, Quezon City bustled with activity for the first ever assembly of EPCALM patients and their families.
The EPCALM staff led by husband and wife team EPCALM president Engr. Justice Demerre and EPCALM Chairman of the board Dr. Erlyn Cabanag-Demerre, Executive director Mr. Cesar Dumogho and excom member Marie Beth Lorenzo prepared weeks in advance for the activity as a thanksgiving to the Lord for His faithfulness throughout the years and to celebrate the lives of the EPCALM patients.
The youngest EPCALM volunteers Gabbie Demerre, 10 and 6 year old twins Kurt and Kyle Demerre, busied themselves in preparing the giveaways.
On the side, EPCALM choir member Alicia Dumogho saw to it that the feast banquet was set and ready. A simple meal for the body yet an enriching feast for the soul as the servers, also members of the EPCALM choir gave attention to every detail of the sumptuous food served.
The event started with a prayer by EPCALM youth director and volunteer Lukas Nelson followed by the powerful prayer of blessing on EPCALM by Outreach director Pastor Norma Manuel.
“Give me a handful of passionate men and I can change the world” asserted EPCALM president Demerre as he related the story of Gideon’s army commissioned by God…
Songs of praise were rendered by the EPCALM choir that set the mood for thanksgiving to the Giver of life…God the Hope, the Healer and the Provider. Rap artist Mark Solano brought his band to glorify the Lord through their original rap compositions. The Christmas message was given by NCUC administrative Pastor Rene S. Padrelanan after the formal signing of the memorandum of agreement between NCUC and EPCALM as partners in the Spiritual arm of the foundation. NCUC associate pastor June Allegoyojo gave the benediction. NCUC is the first church to be officially linked to EPCALM in the foundation’s thrust to link up with as many churches nationwide.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Panginoon na nagka leukemia ako kase nakilala ko siya at sa malaking pagbabago na nangyari sa pamilya namin.” (I thank the Lord that I have leukemia because through my disease I now know Christ and a big change for the better has happened to my family) testified Arlene Bismanos, (30 years old, mother of 4) EPCALM patient diagnosed in January 2010.
“I want to tell my fellow leukemia patients not to lose hope and to thank the Lord for every day of our lives!” exclaimed EPCALM patient Anna Carmela Kho, 21 year old single mom to a 2 year old son.
Dr. Ela Cabanlet, post bone marrow transplant leukemia survivor shared how the Lord transformed her through her disease and how the Lord provided for their needs.
EPCALM shirts with “I am willing…are you? “ studded the hall proclaiming the spirit of volunteerism for the furtherance of God’s purpose through EPCALM. It serves to challenge everyone towards a willingness to be used by God. “It all starts with your willingness…” quips Dr. Demerre in her closing remarks. Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte, advocate and supporter of a cancer free QC was the guest of honor who was represented by Dulce.
Tim Moore, an applied scientist from Seattle Washington and a member of EPCALM was among the many who came as an expression of unwavering commitment to the mission and vision of EPCALM. The fun continued as excom Mabet Lorenzo led the group in games and group dancing that entertained the patients and the staff. Before goodbyes were said, the children took turns at Breaking the Pot (see separate article).
EPCALM patient beneficiaries received on that day God’s manifold blessings represented by cash gifts, a Noche Buena basket that contained food for the physical body as well as spiritual food in the form of Jesus video DVD and Daily bread devotional, poinsettias to signify new life and above all a chance to glorify the Lord through their individual testimonies that touched and blessed everyone in the room.
Special thanks go to everyone who helped make the EPCALM thanksgiving party a success. We also acknowledge the following for their support: Mekeni Food Corp for the hotdog stand, Innogen for the photo booth, King Louis Flowers and Plants, Inc for the poinsettias, Pfizer and Glaxo for the giveaways. And to the many generous hearts who purchased the EPCALM Donor Card 2011 edition, our most sincere thanks. Through you, EPCALM patient beneficiaries indeed will have the glow flowing from Christian giving this Christmas.