Life is a Struggle

         By Vic Odarve

Life is a struggle whether one is poor, rich, and powerful. Poor people, which constitute the largest segment of the world’s population, have to struggle in order to meet both ends …foods, shelter, and education. Wealthy and the bigwigs of the society have to fight drugs, alcohol, relationship, sickness, and many more. World leaders, too, powerful as they look to be, have to struggle for the survival on their leadership due to political adversaries, deteriorating economy, and failed foreign policy. Whatever the colors and society, people must have to struggle in order to survive and prosper!

Life in the rural areas

         Life in the rural areas

According to a UN expert, nearly one-fifth of the world population or 1.4 billion people cannot fulfill the most basic needs every day. A few decades back poverty is concentrated in rural areas in most developing countries, but a recent study showed that urban poverty is also increasing as fast as cities are growing. These areas are refugees of drug addicts, criminals, and many epidemics that ravage a nation wholesome environments. Inadequate access to safe water, poor sanitation, overcrowding, and insecure residential status make the poor people’s life a miserable!

Living in an overcrowded city, this kid struggles to learn computer

Living in an overcrowded city, this kid struggles to learn computer

Life struggle does not spare the rich and famous. Although not on basic needs, they suffer in life lingering sickness, drugs, alcohol, relationships, and scandals. Singer Celine Dion is struggling in pain trying to make the best of last Christmas with cancer-stricken husband Rene, who is now battling a throat cancer for the last two years. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, had reached the pinnacle of success in the business world but ended his life struggling from pancreatic cancer in 2011.  A few years back, the singer-actor Chan, son of Jackie Chan pleaded guilty in a Beijing court for providing a venue for drug users and was sentenced to six months in jail. Life is a struggle, poor and rich alike!

Russian President Putin

Russian President Putin struggles on his foreign policy

History always reminds us that in order to survive and sustain their autocratic governance leaders have to struggle to stay in power. Countries like Russia, North Korea, and China, the leaders have  to consolidate their power with super wealthy backers, torture political opponents in jail at a moment’s notice, and maintain secret agents. Putin, for example, also struggles over his foreign policy in Syria and Ukraine, a problem on oil’s freefall causing the ruble to crash and slamming Russia with a depression. The lives of these leaders are in deep trouble and struggling in pain.

There is no way to avoid the struggles in life. And in every struggle, there is heartbreak, emotional trauma, and setback. But all these things can make people stronger and better.

Believe it or not, human struggle ends when life ends.

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Nature’s Christmas Tree on Display

         By Vic Odarve

Seemingly unseen by many urban people and usually taken for granted or forgotten by the rural folks, nature’s Christmas trees are displayed in some parts of the African continent in a scintillating beauty…simple, unique, and awesome. From the ordinary palm tree hang a number of bird’s nests resembling Christmas toys, cards, and gifts. Unique as it is, birds are jumping in the bough of the trees as if singing the Christmas carols; celebrating the incoming Christmas seasons that Christians also rejoice. It is an awesome reminder for mankind that the tree, untrimmed and untouched by human skillful hands, looks like a Christmas tree. It is a nature’s Christmas tree on display!

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Nature’s Christmas tree, Rivers State, Nigeria, Africa

Simply from the common palm trees, they are decorated similarly to our own made Christmas tree. The tree is real and untrimmed; simply the birds’ nests hanging on the leaves as decoration, and birds gather around the nests reminded us like children exchanging gifts. Birds sing in unison as if a choir calling their presence of God the Almighty; they do this at the end of their daily activities before going to rest. The tree attracted everyone and people know how they loved the nests hang from the leaves of the tree. And it looks like a man-made Christmas tree. Absolutely beautiful and so simple!

This nature’s Christmas tree is something unique as it brightens the spirit of everyone. Instead of cards, expensive

Mayana Village at night

Mayana Village – Christmas season

gifts and long ribbons and garlands made out of beads to accentuate the color of your choice, birds’ nests were hung on the tree itself. Nature’s decors it for an elegant look! It never fails to bring smiles to people’s faces and proudly invites everyone for the perfect holiday season. People say the tree was the coolest, prettiest, and perfect Christmas tree. It is a unique Christmas tree; keep the people fully reminded and exactly what they wanted on a Christmas tree.

 

Christmas tree at home

Christmas tree, Davao City, Philippines

It is an awesome nature’s reminder! This tree reminds us of our strong spiritual connection to our Christian belief and to some extent, its display gives us a more joyous celebration; hence glorifying our God. It also shows our strong kinship and oneness with nature; the palm tree once again painted the scenes of serenity and grandeur described by the psalmist in the word of God. Although Christmas tree tradition dates back to the 16th or 15th century, which devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes, to date we would do well to remember that they are ultimately symbols of the One who gave himself to mankind.

And as we greet the Christmas celebration, this palm tree decorated with birds’ nests is indeed the simple, unique, and an awesome Christmas tree that nature wants to display to mankind!

Merry Christmas to all!

Why do People Flock at Elele Pilgrimage Center?

                     By Vic Odarve

In spite of the weakening of Christian faith in our modern world nowadays, the monthly program among the faithful at Pilgrimage Centre, Elele town, Rivers State is still a big draw to thousands of Christians, and even non-Christians from all parts of Nigeria, Africa. Usually held every first Friday of the months, pilgrims come to the place for breaking of curses/yoke, pray for special favors such as healing from life- threatening illnesses, and for life-changing counseling and transformation. This power packed monthly celebration, brings all Nigerians from all walks of life to this place of worship.

Pilgrims attended the celebration

Pilgrims attended the celebration

Most Nigerians believe curses from ancestors such as shedding innocent blood, demonic societies, rituals and manipulations, and many others. The ministry runs the prayer to guide and teach the people how to free from satanic strongholds and complete freedom from curses and yoke. The pilgrims with the guidance of the priests, through prayers, provide sound, salient and scriptural insight on how to discover, destroy and be delivered from these evil power. The gatherings, they believe, lay them to be sincerely and completely free from curses and the yoke.

Easter Sunday celebration in Rivers State, Nigeria

Sunday celebration in Rivers State, Nigeria

While some are interested freeing the bondage on yoke and curses, others join the pilgrimage for special favors. Couples, barren or not, come and attend hoping to bear more kids. In Nigeria, most women do not embrace birth control as it goes against many of their cultures. That is why couples want to have as many children as they can. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, and previous attempts by the government to encourage adults to have fewer children have failed. The United Nations has estimated that the population of Nigeria could grow from 160m to 400m by 2050. In some cases, sickly and some people who could not afford to see doctors also attend this spiritual celebration to seek miracles for healing and cure; others have also joined for the solution of their numerous problems such as, unemployment and fiscal troubles.

The peace that Jesus gives is not fragile like the peace the world gives.

Pilgrimage Center at Elele, Rivers State, Nigeria

Of course, higher intellectual in our modern society in the pursuit of peace and happiness yearns to do closer communion with God Almighty. These people, most of them suffer from heavy burdens in life and lifelong struggling in pain over the devils, feel the journey to this pilgrimage center more life fulfilling and challenging. They will receive life counseling and transformation; receive religious grace and peace of mind. There they seek, in concert with thousands of our Christian brethren, spiritual nourishment, and deliverance. Priests who have distinguished themselves are chosen and be used as instruments of such purpose. The pilgrimage symbolizes the return to our Creator and hopefully to find peace and tranquility of this troubled world. Like Solomon, with all its riches and glory, these pilgrims want to find peace by surrendering themselves to God.

Highlights of the pilgrimage activities are day and midnight masses, testimonies, and inspirational talks from Catholic priests and bishops. Father Edeh, a Catholic priest and a man of deep religious faith, is the founder of the pilgrimage center. He is a household name in the area of breaking of curses/yokes, and healing of the sick through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His miraculous works remain very popular and unequaled in the history of the Catholic Church in Nigeria. His counseling and teaching have molded the daily lives of these multitudes, giving them spiritual and moral guidance, certainty, and comfort.

With all the confusion of life and broken dreams from curses and yoke; asking special favors and healing; one must join the pilgrimage to Pilgrimage Centre at Catholic Prayer Ministry of the Holy Spirit at Elele, Rivers State, Nigeria, and the largest pilgrimage center in Africa. Attending this power packed monthly celebration will bring you peace with God.

My Math Visitor

         By Vic Odarve

Except for private institutions, the country’s federal state universities and colleges were plagued with teachers’ union strike. Students stayed at their homes waiting for trouble to settle and resume their classes afterward. But one student refused to stop her schooling!

So I am lucky to teach in one of the private universities. No teachers’ union strike!

School Campus

School Campus

In one of my visit to the university library to read some local newspaper, one of the students approached and requested me to have some explanation on the math solutions previously discussed in the classroom. “Okay, what part of the topic?” I told her. She opened her notes and showed the steps where she got the problems and I did the explanation and discussion. Satisfied, she said, “Thank you, Sir, I understand already”, she said. Then I said,” How was the result of your last quiz?” “I got 90 % score, Sir”, she smiled. “Good, and on next quiz you must get a perfect score”, I replied. Then she slowly walked quietly and slip away. I paid little attention. She got a good score. So nothing to worry!  She may just serious enough and want to do more on her study every day.

Engineering students

Engineering students

Then, the next quiz came. Only 5 out of 234 students in a class got a perfect score. And she was one of them!

It was then that I gave her an attention. I noticed that during the class session, she sat at the end of the last row of the seats in a packed and overcrowded room. She listened intently and focused to my discussion. No friend, no talking even on her seatmates as if she knew none of her classmates! “She must be too shy”, I guessed.

The semester math course was about to finish. I gave the final quiz before the final exam. “This would be the last quiz”, I told the students. Then what was the result? She got perfect score again! She had done it! “She is a good performing student”, I told myself.

The next meeting I returned the quiz scripts. She was absent. For almost two weeks, I could no longer see her. Then I inquired the course representative and her classmates what happened to this girl. To my surprise, none of her classmates knew her. She vanished and I received no word from her and her whereabouts! I was completely blank!

Math students

Math students

After two weeks my phone rang. The girl informed me that she returned to her school at the federal university since the teachers’ strike was over. She thanked and told me that she learned and enjoyed math during her stint in my class. It was then I knew that she was my math- visitor. She was not my student! She refused to stop schooling! Then she returned to where she belonged!

Want to Work Abroad? Think it Twice!

                        By Vic Odarve

All over the world, people want to work away from their homeland to find a better life but  a startling number have awful stories to tell … maltreatment and poor working conditions, homesickness, and untimely job services termination. Working hours and environment are too hot and cruel to endure with; security problems of work areas makes their world smaller and isolated. But the most stressful and hardest thing of all is the pain of leaving one’s homeland …where loved ones, precious family, and friends are left behind. In some cases, overseas workers are caught unaware that termination of their services could be done anytime as their employers wish to. Want to work abroad? Think it twice!

OFW Nigeria

          OFW Nigeria

Less fortunate overseas workers, particularly OFW, revealed that working hours and environment are too hot to endure with; security problems of the workplace dictates not to leave the area without a police escort. Extended working hours, vacation leave without pay, and absence of bonuses or incentives feature the working conditions. These conditions are common to those working abroad as household maids or domestic helpers.  These workers often tell their harrowing stories of extreme oppression from their employers; sometimes a darker side of the stories include fleeing from their bosses. But there are also beautiful pictures; some more successful expatriates hired on respected high management positions, are treated and cared like royalties in a strange land.

Dubai Airport

              Dubai Airport

Leaving one’s homeland is a litmus test…where loved ones, precious family, and friends are left behind. Missing many moments …sitting on the bench enjoying the moonlights, sharing the joys and laughter with your wife and kids, relatives, and many more. The comfort, joy, and the memories of a place where someone grew up always haunting and playing the minds of the workers. These are gentle reminders how homesickness affects their lives in a strange land. That is why one of the workers wants to go home after a few months working in Africa. He realized that money, material and other lures of any kind are not as important to his family at home. He said. “I want to return to my precious family, even if I die of hunger.”

 Picnics and celebrations at home


       Picnics and celebrations at home

There are stories on fake working contracts signed at the homeland with the company representatives only to be altered with another one upon arrival at the working station. Others, too have the working contracts duration but not followed persistently by the employers.  Employers can terminate your services anytime at their own will. Some are unexpectedly fired from their job with no explanation given other than telling that his services are no longer needed. Still others, due to worsening peace and order situation were sent home immediately for their safety. That is, whether contracts are expiring or not. Such was the case of OFW working in Libya, Iraq, or Syria and other African countries.

OFWs' claim baggage section

                OFWs’ claim baggage section

Lack of job opportunities, lures of a better life in the future, and meeting all the financial needs for the family drive these OFWs to work abroad. Sending money back home becomes a source of fulfillment and a sense of responsibility. And for those who retire and have savings are fortunate when an awful golden age comes. But for those who returned home due to untimely work termination, abusive employers, and homesickness, have to find alternatives at their homeland to make a living.

Life is a struggle. The option to work or not to work abroad is yours. It has a brighter and darker sides, too. So, think it twice before the sun sets in the western sky! God bless!

Why do some Universities Teach Better?

         By Vic Odarve

Some universities teach better than others; hence producing the best quality of graduates. People believe that the performance of these universities largely depends on their management style; may a private or federal government funded. Whatever the reasons, these universities that teach better have common denominators, as follows;

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1.Highly qualified lecturers/teachers. This is the main factor that contributes to the student’s academic success or educational quality. Mathematically speaking, knowledge to be imparted from the lecturers is directly proportional to what lecturers are having.With highly qualified lecturers, there is a predetermined body of knowledge that the teacher should pass on to the student.

These universities believe that the qualifications and competency of the lecturers bear some direct correlation to their work as lecturers.  Retention of these lecturers/teachers maintains the good performance of the institution.  Good lecturers foster student mastery of more rigorous and challenging academic contents. They can create a positive learning environment in the classroom. These lecturers allow students to feel comfortable, safe and engaged – something that all students deserve. The academic success of any school depends on the instruction provided by the hands of able, high quality and committed teachers.

Engineering students

       Engineering students

2. Strong management supports to teachers/lecturers/students. These universities do have a strong support to the lecturers as well as students by having seminars, upgrading activities, incentives, and other forms of relevant enrichments.  Some do have programs for students such as allowing them to spend time in a clinic, establishments, or school to observe the work of a professional in the field. In most cases, the students may participate in the work in addition to field trips and on the job training.

3. Sufficient and modern laboratory facilities. These universities do have better and updated laboratory equipment and apparatus to meet the advancement of science and technology. Hands- on- training develops student skills and first -hand knowledge application from the classroom lectures. Students can conduct experiments that replicate or illustrate a scientific principle introduced in the course. Laboratory experiments are important in courses such as Physics, acoustics, thermodynamics, and mechanics. Laboratory sections usually augment lectures or discussions in the classrooms. Speech laboratories allow students to listen to audio tapes or use other interactive forms of instruction. These laboratories can provide necessary training for students’ creativity, insight, and analytical skills.

Advising student

                        As adviser

4. Offer competitive salaries. These universities offer attractive salaries to the lecturers. Good salaries tend to attract more competent teachers. The managements believe that with good salaries, lecturers would stay longer at the university, meet the cost of living, bring contentment to the teaching profession, and drive motivation in the day to day activities in the classroom.  The management does not focus too much on monetary profit.

 Universities with the above features teach the students better; hence producing world class graduates – extremely well prepared for high skilled-level jobs globally and potential for future world leaders and great statesmen. In contrast, low-performing schools do not give much attention to the above school environments.

Search on Aliens Thrills Humanity

                 By Vic Odarve

To date human effort to look for aliens still without success.

Although there is no direct proof of any aliens existing beyond Earth, the presence of many stars that harbors planets, liquid waters are found abound in some solar  system, and biblical account that recorded their visits make it difficult to believe that we are alone. Our universe is truly big and there are Earth-like planets located in the so-called Goldilocks zones- neither too cold nor hot.  Further, liquid water, which is the key ingredient of life, is common in some of these stars. The historical accounts written in the bible and other sacred documents, coupled with remains from ancient civilizations such as big stone edifices and the likes, prove that civilizations far advanced had once existed. And looking for these aliens thrills mankind.

These kids learn aliens from pictures and stories.

These kids learn aliens from pictures and stories.

Just think! Our universe is big with billions of stars spreading out in the vast cosmic ocean. Our Milky Way is just like a tiny drop of sand in long and winding beaches in our planet earth. Scientists think that there are aliens out there in the midst of these stars. An aggressive search for intelligent aliens started in 1970 when we sent Pioneer and Voyager missions carrying messages from Earth to the journey into interstellar space. And what’s more, astronomers do round the clock monitoring on radio waves and laser pulses to enhance the chances of detecting civilization many light years away. Scientists believed that the number of habitable worlds in our galaxy is certainly in the tens of billions. Recently, scientists have found a star flicker-light years away- known as KIC 846-2852, maybe an alien megastructure, a sign of alien civilization. And it draws an excitement, but still not yet conclusive.

Billions of galaxies are out there.

Billions of galaxies are out there.

And there is good news! Water seems to abound in some of these solar systems. Water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. And liquid water, it turns out, is fairly common out there. In our own solar system, Europa, a moon of Jupiter, appears to have a liquid ocean. Recently, the Curiosity rover found liquid water on Mars, a condition that could support life. Further, Comet Orbiter Rosetta has already sniffed out oxygen molecules…all that are important in life. But still, no intelligent beings exist there.

Stonehenge

Stonehenge is ancient works with help from aliens.

But wait a minute! These extraterrestrial beings had already visited Earth! Abraham received three alien visitors! They came down from the kingdom of heaven. They were our Lord and the two angels. They even talked and dined with him. Genesis 18:1-10Moses, too, had seen and talked with one of these visitors in Mount Sinai. He was allowed to see his back only, but not his face. Simply because he was a sinner! And He said,” Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live”. Exodus 33:20. Then, there was a man named Jesus, who claimed that he was not from this world. He even claimed that he existed with his father before the world began! Luke 23:45 Then, there are some more! Ancient peoples could not have built gigantic and amazing structures such as Machu Pichu, the Great Pyramid, the Nazca Lines or even Stonehenge without a help from outside. The aliens must have done it. These structures are the living proofs that they were here before.

Pyramid of Egypt

Pyramid of Egypt

Our consistent effort to search for aliens still without success. But the thrill to meet them at least keeps our imagination fertile. Some scientists believed that if universe’s other intelligent beings have all died out, we are likely to, in the future. But if we find them, we may have hope to survive.

But the bible says, “Yes, they are coming soon and we can see them face to face! (Rev 22:4). The time is at hand. Believed and be saved. He is coming soon. This is the time when the thrill of our search on aliens may be over!