Nina Arnejo Precillas will be missed.
While alive, she made a difference in the lives of people around her. In death, she did the same. We were not close but she was a dear sister in our charismatic community.
And a sister will always be a sister.
The few things I’ve learned after her death moved me to devote today’s column to her. There was something about how she embraced life that is worth sharing.
Nina was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was operated on in 2011 and underwent chemotherapy. We didn’t see her for some time in our prayer meetings. At home, she was looking gaunt and losing her precious jet black hair.
Miraculously, doctors declared her free of cancer a year after that. Soon enough, she was moving around with her sweet smile and doing service for the Lord in Cebu Country Club, a branch of Elim Communities which we both attended.
Little did we know that pain was wracking her body again. If you saw her sweet demeanor, joyful disposition and energy in service, you would have no inkling that the lumps were back in her chest.
One day, her close friend Gemma noticed wet smudges on her blouse and sensed something was wrong. She was able to convince Nina to show her chest in private. A binder was wrapped around her chest to absorb the discharge and keep stains from showing on her blouse. There were already a lot of painful lumps. Yet she was quick to smile so that people had no idea that she was in great pain. She went consistently to our prayer meetings and continued her mission work with all her heart. She held on to God’s Words to sustain her. Even when she was in a coma, God’s words comforted her until He closed her eyes. She was 47 years old.
What Nina taught me: Whether it be physical pain or emotional pain, the word of God is a comfort. We should ask God’s grace to always use them to give us peace and inner strength. Nina suffered quietly knowing that her pain would lead her to God.
Isaiah 55:3 (Nina’s favorite verse) – “Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
Gemma also shared with me how an officer in the company she worked for found an empty plastic bottle on her desk. It was labelled “Singapore.” This was days after Nina breathed her last and everyone was gathering her things.
Nina was single so by default she was a member of the Singles group in Elim. The group was planning their annual conference to be held in Singapore this time. And since last year, the group has been enjoining other Singles to participate in this beautiful activity.
Nina knew she was not in great shape for this conference. Since she was still taking her various medication, it was hard for her to raise the registration fee. Still, she started saving up for the important gathering and deposited what she could in the alcohol bottle in her desk. It was almost full when they found it and would have been sufficient to buy her plane fare to Singapore.
Her imminent death didn’t stop her from desiring to attend the conference– to continue to be happy with life—to do what she would normally have done. She was living every day as it came.
What Nina taught me: Carpe Diem ( Seize the day)!! Do not die regretting the time you lost. Live life to the fullest.
Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
For me, the last lines of Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” sums up how Nina lived her life: “Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”
Nina, your pains have now been turned to joy. Your weariness has changed into your dancing in heaven (I believe you are there!). You will be missed. Greatly.
From all of us in Elim Communities: thank you for showing us what hope is, how love is and what life is.
Rest in peace, my dear!