Saturday, September 24, 2011

God is so good, He's so good to me

I was in Thailand for 3 weeks. This is the summarized record of what I have learnt.

Before

Honestly, all I was thinking the 2/3 days before I left was why in the world did I sign up for this. I had a choice. I actually went looking for mission trips to go on on my own during the 3 weeks of break I would still have after my internship, and now I was kind of regretting it. I just came back from family camp, I had a lot of fun with everybody, and just when I was getting some freedom and realizing how much I enjoy it, I remembered I signed up for 3 weeks of loneliness and uncertainty. The night before I was almost sure I made a mistake. We played monopoly deal all night, and I wasn't ready at all to go. Let's call this feeling Feeling 1.

I have totally forgotten the certainty I had that it was God's will that I go, when I planned the trip 2 months ago.

During

So I arrived, I wasn't exactly homesick, but I sure could think of a whole host of more 'fun' things I could be doing. First few days was alright, Jessica and Hannah were there, and they helped me adjust faster than I would have done by myself. I met many new people on the first day itself, but I was so ready to just fade into the background and mope in solitude instead of making the effort to make friends. They hardly spoke English, and those who did spoke it minimally. Sign language was important. I smiled and went through that whole motion of meeting new people, but I was sore inside, already counting down the days to going home. I am not proud of Feeling 2.

As the days passed by, it got better. I mean, I was sure this is one small step God wanted me to take, so as hard as it was learning to speak Thai and trying to make friends with adults and children there (children of course were easier), I started making the effort. It's not like I was gonna be there for a couple of years, just 3 weeks. I had to make the most out of it. People there don't open up to you easily. They are friendly, but that is what everybody (or most people anyway) is to a stranger. Building relationships from scratch with the language barrier seemed almost impossible. One thing I held on to when I was there, was that famous quote,

Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.
-St Francis of Assisi

I knew I could not use our language barrier as an excuse not to love these people, so I resolved to serve in deed, wherever I could, however small the deed. I also always replayed the words of Andy Stanley in my head - Where there's a need, meet it. When there's something to be done, do it. (Principle taken from Galatians 5:13) My struggle in this was when it came to washing the dishes. No really. I hate doing the dishes. It grosses me out, especially when you're doing other people's dishes. And honestly, no one sees it when you do the dishes. But it was just another lesson to be learnt in real life. You serve in the smallest way you can even when no one will ever know/appreciate that you ever did it.

When you live daily routines of consciously serving others, it starts off really hard. I don't know if it's just me, but when I start to try to do something consciously, it suddenly becomes 10 times harder than before. It seems to take every fibre in my body to carry out the deed.

After Jessica and Hannah left, I was faced with about 2 weeks of living alone. New dreading feeling. Now I don't have handy Thai translators (they were there for 2 months helping out!) and I would be alone in new terms again. I moved to a new place to stay, and at first coming home to an empty room, with absolutely nothing to do at night, was quite a daunting thought. Feeling 3. Phrao (the place I went to) is very small, and shops close around 8-9pm. And when people say they are going 'shopping', it means they are going to 7-Eleven. True story. And that happened to be where my breakfast and dinner came from after Jess and Hannah left.

Guess what? I started memorizing Scriptures in my solitary time. God's word became so important to me, because when I was alone, I was forced to face my fears/struggles in life that I could conveniently run from when I am around many people, or when I am busy. God did not fail me. He showed up every morning, with renewed mercies for me to go through my day with, always always meeting me where I am that morning, whether it was a good one or a really lousy one. I started enjoying the routine of waking up real early (5.45am) everyday, go to the kindergarten, finish work at 6.30pm, grab dinner from 7-Eleven and go home. Either I watch DVDs to pass the night, or I would be playing the guitar.

At first, without Jess and Hannah, with whom these people spent the last 2 months with, I felt like a stranger again. They didn't really know me, and I sure as anything didn't really know them. But I replaced those silent moments where there didn't seem anything to talk about (or indeed, did not know how to talk about it in Thai) with serving wherever I could. It didn't feel good to feel so friendless and alone, but that's that- Feeling 4.

Working with children, besides giving you good workout and near heart attacks (exaggeration hehe), it shows me how I should live my life. It shows me the ways in which God means when He said

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
Matthew 19:14

Honestly, I have learnt principles of living life from observing these children.

Of course, as things would go, I started to see fruits of the slow but sure building of a relationship. We still had language barriers, but I learnt quite well to communicate via some English, some Thai, and a whole lot of sign language. I always somehow thought we'd never get far, cause honestly, we can only talk about so much with such language struggle. But people started opening up to me. Especially a girl about my age, who told me a lot about her family and her life when we were having dinner together once, although our language barrier still existed. It came out of nowhere, and I didn't expect it cause usually they prefer to talk about general stuff. Hey, language or no language barrier, it didn't matter. I found out so much about her life and why she is the way she is. And I became friends with older adults that I thought were way out of my generation. With 1 week left to going home, I was starting to feel heavy-hearted. I felt like my work here was not done, and God knows how much more there is that needs to be done. Feeling 5.

I didn't feel good, to leave just when I start seeing fruits of friendship and trust blossoming. But God is Sovereign, and that was my only comforting thought.

After

So I am back, and of course, as you would predict, I miss the people and children there excessively. Feeling 6. My final year of school starts on Monday. It's going to be another chapter of my life and I am nervous to see what God has in store for me this year, and after that. Feeling 7.


So, numbering all those major feelings in the post above, what does it really mean? I mean if I were to number all the feelings I encountered during my trip, it would be a very very long post. But I think we all know where I am getting to. My feelings change like the second hand of the clock. One minute I feel great, the next second I don't. If I were to live my life guided by my feelings, chances are my life will not be very effective for God. Are my feelings more controlled now after all that I have experienced? Fat chance. They continue to change and change and affect me. But I am learning to distinguish between feelings and the truth. I keep failing, but by God's grace, I am going to keep trying.

I don't know what God's plan for me is tomorrow, or for the new semester, or for after I graduate. But I know His promises are true, and that

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

If there is one thing I have learnt from Thailand, it's that every smallest thing that happens in my life is part of God's big puzzle of my life. Whether I feel it's wrong or right, it will fit together. What I need to do is in this moment that I have, right now, is do the thing that honours God. Although I have a worry about something that's happening later, right now I honour God. Although I am burdened by tomorrow, I surrender it to Him and right now, just honour God.

Like a child, I try to live life by every moment that comes.

And at this moment, I think I am going to grab a snack! :P

Monday, August 15, 2011

season by season i watch Him amazed, in awe of the mystery of His perfect ways

It was late evening when she killed the engine and stepped out into the slight drizzle. Running across the street towards the sheltered area, she started to climb the familiar staircase that she usually frequents every month or so. Coming to a halt at the locked doors, the scene that met her eyes was that which was slightly out of the ordinary. However, since it was the weekend, the crowd was nothing she did not expect. As the owner lets her in, she is told that she has to wait for two more customers to be done before her turn came. Resigned to the fact that waiting is part of getting her hair cut during the weekend, she settled down on a chair, pulled out her phone and logged onto Facebook. After replying to some notifications, she logged out, put her phone away, and just sat and observed the conversations ensuing between the owner and the customers, allowing herself to just relax comfortably after a fun but tiring day.

As the owner ushers one customer into another room to have his hair washed, she was left alone in the vicinity with another stranger who was getting her hair dyed. As she picked up a comic book and pretended to flip through it, not understanding a single Chinese character printed all over the pages, she suddenly heard someone call her name. Looking up, she realized the stranger was addressing her. The momentary feeling of surprise was dwarfed by the activity that started going on in her head, despite keeping a calm fa├žade and answering politely. In her mind, she snapped a mental image of the stranger and started running it through the database of her acquaintances, desperately trying to find a match. This desperation was peaked when in the ensuing conversation going on outside her mind, the stranger revealed to know a lot about herself and her family. It did not help that this stranger was having her hair dyed and had it bunched up in a peculiar (if not humorous) way and was also wrapped in the usual hair salon protection sheet, watering down any trace of familiarity at all.

After awhile, it was as if her mind beeped and said “No match found”. Giving up trying to identify the stranger, she continued the conversation with good grace, taking down some features of the lady, making a mental note to describe the stranger to her mum later, at the same time doubting she would ever find out who this stranger was.

Fast forward, a few minutes later, the owner comes back out, expressed surprise at the unexpected acquaintance and thankfully, as the owner continued talking, reveals the name of the stranger. The name rang no bells, but it would be sufficient for her mother to identify later she was sure. She silently uttered a word of thanks to God that the owner liked to talk.

Conclusion: Apparently it is not as hard as it may seem to be, to hold a conversation with a person whom you consider a stranger, but does not consider you so, and yet make yourself appear to know perfectly well who that person is. The trick is to just answer their questions obediently and occasionally ask about their general well-being. Do not ask about their family as you do not know who they are and may make a costly blunder. Of course, it may very well be that the stranger identified your ignorance, but was gracious enough to play along. I sure hope that wasn’t the case.

....................................................................................................................................................

I can't believe it has already been more than a year since i posted on this blog! My brain feels saturated working on drives and motors right now, so i grabbed at the first non-technical escape i could think of.


Yes, Facebook is banned at work.

Friday, June 11, 2010

as i walk from earth into eternity

Wanted to share something that I learnt in bible study training on Tuesday, that I found really interesting. We were learning about how to study the Bible more effectively, and one of the ways is to examine the culture of those times in the Bible to better understand the context of a passage or verse. During the time when Jesus was on earth, it was normal for people to go to toilets which were probably just a bush, and do their business. Then they would wash with water by themselves, not wipe because they didn’t have toilet paper. So that was a bit of a hassle. So the slaves thought of a way to make money, where they put a wet sponge at the end of a stick, sit behind everyone, and wipe for everybody. They would dip the sponge into water and wipe it. So obviously there was a problem of it being not hygienic because they were using the same sponge to wipe for everybody, because sponges were expensive, and people started getting sick and stuff. So then they put the sponge vinegar instead which helps kill bacteria and make it more hygienic. You probably already see where I am going.

When Jesus was on the cross, about to die, he said he was thirsty, and a roman guard dipped a sponge into vinegar and used a stick to feed Jesus. I always wondered (I guess never to a very curious extent cause I never bothered to find out) why the guards who mocked him all the way, tortured and hit him, would even bother to answer Jesus’ request for water. That was a little too nice. Well, they weren’t being nice. They took what people used to wipe others’ behind and put it to Jesus’ mouth. That was a total mockery of Jesus.

So yeah. Well, i am almost done with my orientation with Disney, i hope i can officially start work (or training) soon, should start by monday. Missed out on evangelism on wednesday because of orientation, they went to a mall. But i signed up for mercy ministry on saturday morning, where if there's opportunity groups of about 20 people will go and serve the community. I am not sure where we are going, i can't remember.

For social night on wednesday, we had a hoedown. So everyone dressed up really southern, played games, had baking and chilly cookout contest and danced to country music. I am going to the disney water park later, i don't know why but for water park we only get free entry until end of this week.

Thank you for praying for me. I feel like this is a great opportunity if anything, for me to grow deeper in my walk with Christ. So whatever comes, i am not gonna waste the chance to grow in my relationship with Jesus, and just build relationships with God's people, and serve in whatever way i can. I do miss home, and am excited that i can experience this but at the same time be able to go home not long after. Only thing i am not looking forward to is the heat at home. It is hot here, but it's just not as burning and sweaty like back in Malaysia (though the americans would beg to differ haha) and the whole room is air conditioned 24/7. My roommate said to go about in jeans and sweatshirts during the last week here to get used to the heat haha

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Kau yang terindah, di dalam hidup ini

Woohoo!! It's been awhile.. haven't had time to go and get internet. So i had my orientation at disney and it's called traditions. Basically, we sit in a classroom from 8am- 5pm and they teach us about disney history and tell us how to be happy as disney workers, and how we must always keep the magic alive. The goal is to create happiness with entertainment for people of all ages. It wasn't as boring as i thought it would be. Halfway we spent about an hour going to magic kingdom (one of the disney parks, the most famous one) finding examples of work ethics. It was hot, but i saw the cinderella castle for the first time, it looked amazing! it was like seeing something on tv come to life!

They gave out little disney figurines if you participate in class. I got mickey and minnie. Mickey mouse came halfway to our class for about 5 minutes, and he handed me one figurine when i answered a question, and he hugged me. Everything was complete. Kidding haha. But it was pretty cool. We got out ID, meaning this whole summer we can go into any of the disney parks for free! So obviously we wanted to go immediately. the 11 of us went back, took a short nap and went to Magic Kingdom at 7.30pm. Let's just say it was GREAT!! I really felt like a kid, and i had so much fun! We took only about 3 rides, cause it closes at 11. We went on the space mountain, which was like a roller coaster in the dark. It was fun, but i kinda felt a little scared halfway cause it was so dark and you're just rolling about, i kept telling myself maurice is in front, maurice is in front haha. If you would talk to my sister hannah, you would know just how much i am afraid of wild rides.

Then we went for speedway which after space mountain was kinda mild, just driving a bit. Then we watched the fireworks display over the castle which shows every night. It was a.ma.zing. Just like in those disney cartoons, when at the end there's fireworks. It was for more than like 5 minutes, i tried to video, but in the end i just watched it and savoured it. It really really was beautiful, and i figure expensive too. Then we went for a final ride, just about 10 minutes before they closed, the splash mountain, and we all got wet but it was really good. After a whole day of traditions, we were beat. So we headed back, but got a little glimpse of the parade which runs every night too. It was great.

The official schedule started yesterday, we have this slot on Wednesday afternoons where we go out to public places to evangelise, but what sucks is this week I got orientation on Wednesday, usually we have no work but this week we gotta go for orientation. I was really looking forward to it. Oh well. We went to River of Life church, the whole project go to 3 different churches. We go with our teams. It was quite the same as back home.

I’ve been learning a new method of studying verses from the Bible, and I find it pretty thorough and effective. Been having a good time getting in the word each day.

I fried egg for the first time today. I wanted to make a normal sunny side up egg, but it failed so I just scrambled it but it came out weird too haha. Apparently you need oil to fry your egg, yeah I just fried it like that. Oh well, good first time =p Okay, that’s it for today. Don’t wanna have information overload right. Be back!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

i close my eyes and i see your face

Hello! If you’re wondering why I’m so free to update my blog, it’s cause I haven’t started my work yet. I start on Saturday. Yesterday, the 11 of us who are going to work at Disney (great opportunity, cause there are 100+ students and all the others work at seaworld and universal studios which is just as cool la) went to Downtown Disney for a work interview where we basically just filled forms and got told where we’re working in Disney. I haven’t got it all worked out yet, but what I know is Disneyworld has parks all over Orlando, not just one specific place. Downtown Disney is like a place where people can go in for free to walk and buy Disney stuff, and we went to the casting office, that’s what it’s called. That place itself is so cool! Everything has a Disney feel to it. And we even got this Disney folder with all our booklets and pamphlets about the job.

We’re divided into 3 groups, with each having a group leader with a car. We all work with food. My group works at Everything Pop, don’t ask me what is it, I just know it has something to do with Pop Century. Apparently we serve food that is classier than hamburgers and fries. We don’t get free food though, but there is gonna be a staff cafeteria or we can pack food. The other 2 groups work at All Star, and Caribbean Resort or something. I think none of us are at any of the parks, more like at the hotel area. But we can go into the parks for free on our days off, and each time we go in, we can take 3 friends. We can go in 6 times over the summer! Working hours are 3pm-12am everyday except Wednesdays and Sundays, cause Sunday we go to church, and on Wednesdays I think the schedule for the project is full. I don’t have the full schedule yet. Oh and here they refer to it as ‘the project’, like some covert government secret operation haha.

I guess cause it’s the Summer Orlando Project. A lotta people are on their 2nd/3rd project, it’s a yearly thing. If you’ve been twice, you have a chance of going to Malaysia for the summer trip. There are a few teams in Malaysia now, and it think Connexion Semenyih or Uncle Rodney is hosting some of them. They will be back here before we leave, so we can meet them later in the project.

I am free till Saturday when my job orientation starts. I am trying to wake at 7am while i can to skype with my sisters and mum. Tex Mex is not open yet, but i just sit outside and use the internet haha. I am still quite amazed by the fact that i am in the United States, that everything around me is so new and interesting, hence the truckload of pictures.

Today, after skyping, i spent some time 'getting in the Word' beside the pool with Billie (the girl from malaysia with me) and her roommate Lauren. Found out today 'get in the Word' is a slang they use in the project. No wonder everyone has been using that on me, although it's not hard to understand i wondered if it was a usual US slang. After studying Galatians 5:1 (which is the theme verse for this project), lauren and billie planned to go to walmart so i joined them. It was really exciting, i mean cmon it's walmart, we've grown up hearing about that right? haha, i went crazy snapping pictures, it looked just like a huge tesco, but there are some interesting stuff in there. The best part was i found twinkies and ding dongs which i always read about in books and see on tv.

Everything was so cheap and unique to me, i just wanted to get everything! But i practiced self restraint, i'll spend when we travel haha. I bought a bottle and some bowls. It only cost me less than 3 dollars. The other day on the way to the security office, we passed by a nike clearance store about 10 minutes from the hotel. Clearly i'm going to have some issues with self control long before my travelling haha.

After walmart, my roommates were back from seaworld for their orientation. They were having lunch in the kitchen, so i ate my mamee instant noodles with them and just hung out. Usually everyone makes their own meals, sometimes they drive out. What's weird for me is i am not used to this kinda independent living, but i guess it's good for me haha. I chatted with my roommate hannah (my roommates are hannah, rachel, amber and aly) for awhile after that, then they went down to the pool to sunbathe and read. So here i am in tex mex again with billie, updating on the net, and maurice just joined us. Every wednesday nights are social nights, they have parties. Tonight it's by the pool. Another thing is all of them love dancing, so that's gonna be awkward.. we'll see haha

p/s: sorry, i messed up the fonts!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

believe me i won't stop at nothing

Hello from Orlando!

WOW! It's been such a trip.. Let me try to recall the last 40 hours or so. So we reached Singapore from Malaysia around 11.45pm on Sunday. Hung out for the next 6 hours, didn't sleep. Could not sleep actually. Explored Changi airport a little before the shops closed up. Took loads of pictures. Trying to upload pictures to facebook now, will caption them accordingly. It's too much to upload them here, we are at a restaurant called Tex Mex near the hotel to use the internet.

Anyway, after Singapore, we flew to Chicago, with about 2 hours transit at Hong Kong in between. It took about 4 hours to get to Hong Kong, and then another 14 hours to Chicago. It was quite a torturous ride the first half of it, cause i had a bad case of flu and my flu meds were in my luggage. But there was a nice stewardess to Hong Kong, she kept giving me hot water, and asam cause she said it's good for my throat haha.

At Chicago, our supposedly 4 hour transit became 8 hours.. Our flight got delayed, it was so tiring, and there was no free wifi in the entire airport. So we just curled on the benches and slept. It seems we keep sleeping but still feel so tired. We reached orlando around 1 am US time, 1 pm Malaysian time tuesday. There were about 10 people picking us from the airport, they were really nice and welcoming. When we got back and got ourselves registered it was already almost 4 am. I wanted to take a shower, and it took me about 15 minutes to figure out how to switch on the shower. Everyone was sleeping and i didn't wanna wake them.. I slept on the couch for about half and hour after that. The room was so cold, and my 4 roommates were sleeping without blankets and with shorts. After that i couldnt sleep anymore, so i got up went downstairs and went online. Skyped with my mum hannah and bekah for awhile, felt a little homesick, but thank God for friends who are here with me.

The students here are all really friendly, i guess it's just the sudden change of seeing all americans around me. They love sunbathing at the pool. We stand under the shade for about 2 minutes and already feel like we can't take the heat haha. I can't wait to start working at disneyworld. We start working on saturday. Went to get our social security number done today. Going to disney for an interview in about an hour. There's so much about the project schedule i wanna share, it seems really interesting, but i will find our more, get more familiarised and blog more.

Thanks for the prayers!

Monday, May 24, 2010

for once i can touch what my heart used to dream of

In church yesterday, i met uncle tan's 5 year old son for the first time. I had a conversation, if you can call it that, with him. It was something like this.

me: hi, what's your name?
boy: timothy.
me: nice name! so is your nickname tim or timmy?

[pause]

boy: timothy.


Haha. He has a real patriotic craze for our badminton squad. If you ask him who won the semi-finals match between china and malaysia in thomas cup, he will say malaysia. And he has this contagious childlike faith and enthusiasm that malaysia will win. Childlike faith in Christ, something we often forget how to have as we mature and grow don't you think? ;)