Longing for Home

Mary sat comfortably in a large reclining chair, her hands folded on the knitted blue blanket that rested on her lap. Her eyes, the color of the sky heavy with clouds, gazed ahead as if she was re-living a moment of her past while she was talking to me. A bustling lady she must have been because she loved her garden. And she told me she had many beautiful flowers planted in her own backyard. And she misses that – her home.

Being in a rest home, a place for the elderly who needs attention and care, was not easy or enjoyable for her. She said that she had to come here because she lost the ability to walk. She is now used to it. But I bet that if she could choose, she would rather live at home, with her colorful garden and the ones she loves.

Singing at the rest homes is a ministry I am involved in while here. When I was a child, I used to be scared of old people. But now that I’m a grown-up, I realized that each elderly is more than a wrinkling and frail body. They are like books, maybe with dog-eared pages and yellow stains; but they are full of adventures, cool stories, wisdom and life lessons.

Today we, SPBC students, spent some time at one of the rest homes. After the singing, we were mingling with the elders and talking with them. That was where I met Mary, and learned of her story. She was not the only one who was homesick though. Sometimes I saw a few people wiped away tears from their eyes when they listened to us – not because we were good singers (oh, especially me who sing out of tune all the time) but because the words meant something to them.

I’ve been pondering about homesickness recently actually. Before the school was over, many people asked me if I had felt homesick, or if I was ready for the blow of homesickness during break. If I were to be honest, I will never be ready for that. Though I had lived in Chiang-Mai for five years before, homesickness was always unexpected and difficult. It isn’t something you can avoid or brush away. It’s something one needs to accept, and linger on until the moment passes because it reminds you of your humanness, and of your true home.

I’m now reading a book called “Longing for Home” by Lynn Anderson. The writer ponders about his own restlessness and wandering while searching for his roots by tracing his family history back to his European ancestors who were first settlers in Canada. In one of the chapters, he wrote, “Home is not so much being present somewhere as it is a presence that can go with us everywhere.”

Yes, most of us have homes where we belong to – a place where we get to tend our garden, cook (or for some of us “burn”) meals for our families, snuggle together in a couch on rainy days, cry and pray over difficult decisions and simply make memories. But the longing in our hearts for the true home will never be quenched because eternity with God is where we ALL belong. Only then will we never feel homesick again.

Before we left the rest home, we sang this song “When we all get to heaven” together. I was full of emotions and excitement as I sang and shouted the words with my fellow students and the “frail and wrinkled” people. Mary said that when I get to 87 years old, I will understand what it feels like to want to go home. I guess I may not have to wait that long. I ache for home now, and always will – home with my family, and home with my God. But in my homesickness, He walks with me. He takes me by the hand and leads me home.


Looking Through the Rain-Dropped Glass

the clouds have hovered low over Tauranga for two days in a row now. the rain is still sprinkling outside. and i am sitting cross-legged on a carpet floor wearing two layers of long-sleeve shirts, pink checkered pants, socks and gloves. since this is only the beginning of autumn, i begin to realize that i will need to get more warm clothes for winter here.

today i went into town with one of my friends to look for gifts for our friends, and simply to hang out. what could be a better thing to do on Monday, with no school, than going shopping with your girl friend? :) though it was raining, we were excited because we both love rain. i love rainy days because it seems to slow everyone down. people walk slower, become more considerate and linger long in the conversations as they wait for buses. the rain also brings calm and soothing spirit with it. after walking for about an hour in the cold, we decided to warm ourselves up with a cup of coffee and hot muffins. with coffee mugs in hands, we sat back and talked about life today, life before Tauranga and life tomorrow.


 while indulging myself in the aroma of coffee, my mind drifted  beyond the rain-dropped glass windows and the misty ocean. i was  searching for answers about my future. i wondered what God was  doing in my life; and how it is going to be after next year. the more i  sought the answers, the road to question stretched longer than ever  before.

yet in my wondering and wandering, He spoke, “I am the vine; you  are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear  much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:15)

His word was like a hot cup of freshly brewed Americano – powerful and assuring. i in Him and He in me – apart from God, i can do nothing. He calmed the waves in my heart with His simple statement – “I am God, and I will lead you. I have a purpose for each stage of your life. And all you need to do is to keep walking and trusting and giving your best shot for everything.”

this devotional by Sarah Young was of great encouragement to me.

“WHEN I GIVE YOU no special guidance, stay where you are. Concentrate on doing your everyday tasks in awareness of My Presence with you. The Joy of My Presence will shine on you, as you do everything for Me. Thus you invite Me into every aspect of your life. Through collaborating with Me in all things, you allow My Life to merge with yours. This is the secret not only of joyful living but also of victorious living. I designed you to depend on Me moment by moment, recognizing that apart from Me you can do nothing.

Be thankful for quiet days, when nothing special seems to be happening. Instead of being bored by the lack of action, use times of routine to seek My Face. Although this is an invisible transaction, it speaks volumes in spiritual realms. Moreover, you are richly blessed when you walk trustingly with Me through the routines of your day.”

looking into the unknown future now is like trying to see the view outside Starbucks through that rain-dropped glass window. although the vision for future looks blurry, there is surety – the assurance of now, with God in my everyday’s life. so i shift my gaze back to the cup before me, be content with God’s presence  and give everything my best for His glory.

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Separated For a Purpose

God is wooing me to Him. There is no doubt. Each day, He fills me with His love and keeps pouring more and more. While I try to take in as much as I can, I am aware of my human limitation. Have you ever felt this longing for more of God so much that it makes your heart ache…because you know that you can never have enough of Him but if you have too much of Him all at once, you may just suffocate? That is exactly what I experience. 

God has been working in my heart through school, nature, people and His word. Sometimes that urgent feeling to worship comes crashing in the middle of a class, during a walk along the beach or while listening to people’s stories. It usually flashes in and rushes out…always leaves me desiring more – this beauty in brokenness.

God breaks my heart through people’s brokenness. I see under their smiles the yearning that only God can satisfy. I hear the cries beneath their laughter for help…for rescue. I feel their struggles and pain to survive and to live well behind that confident look. But I do not know what to do besides seeing, hearing and feeling.

What can one do when she has already allowed God to break her heart for what breaks His? What can one do when the King shows her something she is afraid to see? What can one do when obeying Him means separation from her own dream, passion, comfortable life and even her own self?

Separation.

Was not this what the Lord did when He created the world? Did not He separate the light from darkness and, therefore, create time for us? Did not He separate water so there would be land and oceans for us to work and enjoy? And did not He separate man and woman from other animals, and call them His own, so they could tend and rule with Him? In the beginning, everything came into being for a purpose – God’s purpose.

One thing I learned during class the other day was – there is order to God’s creation. Before Genesis 1, there was nothing in the world except darkness. Nothing was functioning or serving a purpose. The void was just one useless space. For people in the ancient near east, where the word of God was originated and spread around, anything without use, function, role or purpose would not come into existence in the first place. So when the Lord began to separate this and that and started to call the names of the sun, the moon, the stars, the ocean and the animals, He had something specific in mind for each creation. And He definitely had a grand purpose for human as well. 

When God made human, He imparted something unique and extraordinary that other living things did not share – feelings, or I would put it in this post – yearnings. Being created in His image, we partake in His heart for the broken world – this longing for healing and reconciliation. When you see a child naked, will you ignore him or clothe him with your own shirt? When a mom with frail baby slung over her shoulders beg you for food or money, will you walk away or will you quickly go into a nearest shop to buy some bread for them? When a homeless man wanders into your lawn, will you shoo him away or invite him in for a cool shade and a cup of cold water?

Brokenness we see nowadays is not what He intended: domestic violence, corrupted governments, resentful nations and bitter church congregations. We all know that when the Lord created this world, everything was good and in order. His purpose for humanity is so that EVERYONE can enjoy this relationship with Him and worship Him. But until we realize and truly understand how fearfully and wonderfully we were made, whom we belong to and why we are even here, we will not be able to fulfill God’s purpose in the world. 

Will we not help one another to bring the beauty within each of us out? Will we not allow our hearts to be broken for what breaks Him? Will we not use our god-given talents to serve our families, neighbors or even strangers? And will we not pour our hearts, thoughts and spirits in seeking and searching for Him in order to have more of His love every day?

We are children of the King. Let us do all this, and many more.


Soaking in Beauty

It’s 12:42 am. And I’m wide awake. Today has been a day of being introduced to people, resting and unpacking. My body is still trying to get adjusted to the time in New Zealand, which is six hours ahead of Thailand. Since I’ve been here, my usual “exhausted” time is around 9:oo am. This morning, my friend was almost late for church because I thought I would nap for 10 minutes. It turned out I was out for almost a half and hour. I was still very groggy during the service and tired most of the morning. Then, as usual, you get that back-up energy when you’re past the sleepiness or exhaustion. All afternoon, I cleaned my room, did the unwashed load of laundry from Thailand, unpacked, arranged my room, went grocery-shopping and took a walk to the beach! I should have been wiped out. But I am not. I did try to go to sleep but I had to turn the computer back on because I would just lie there with my eyes closed but my mind running crazily in the dark.

The highlight of my day was strolling around the neighborhood. Otumoetai is completely different from where I have grown up – both in Bangkok and Chiang-Mai. The air is crisp and clean with sweet fragrance of trees and flowers whereas all one can smell in Bangkok is smog and the rotten-sweet scent of garbage. The street is spotless with no litter, stray dogs or beggars.  Each house is carefully planned and constructed with beautiful touch of a beach-resort feeling. And almost every family owns a car – some normal and some fancy.  To me, this community is a whole new world. There is no trace of poverty. No tattered shirts or grimy faces. No yucky smell that makes you gag or the sound of stray dogs barking at night. No city’s pollution or webs of entangled wires dangling from power poles. This is like a Stepford town…except that these are real people, not robots…thankfully. ;)

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And I enjoy it – this beauty…this convenience. It’s like God allows me to take a break and to recharge my battery through His beauty and richly-blessed time with people who are head-over-heels with Him. But I miss the dirt, the grime and the smell sometimes…because that’s where my root is…where my heart is. And I think this is the reason that God sent me here – to ascertain the plan of His life for me and to train me for His people in the developing world.

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It’s a humbling experience – being reminded of the purpose. It’s so easy to get excited about new things and get distracted by them. Food, friends, church, people, environment, culture are all new. My eyes go wide when I see dairy cows grazing on the hills. My heart skips a beat when I watch the sun sinking and the sky changing colors from bright blue to pink to orange to purple and to navy blue. I almost break into a run when I breathe in the scent of fresh clean air with pinewood fragrance. I rejoice in everything around me and give thanks to God for the blessings! But, while walking back home, God reminded me – that I am His, that all I have is His and that it is my deliberate obligation and willful responsibility to live for Him, in every way.

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And it’s not easy. When you ask God to give you patience, He doesn’t thrust you that abstract faceless “patience”. Instead, He shoves you into a situation that tests your endurance and stamina. Likewise, when I ask Him to help me live for Him, I am put in situations that test my faith in the Lord and give me a chance to practice what I learn from the Bible. The ways I respond to people when they are harsh or mean or when things are going exactly opposite from what I have hoped reflect my commitment to be all God’s. So my prayers come down to two things:

- To rise over each situation with wholehearted faith in the Lord no matter how hard situations seem to be

- To practice living out of the word

…That I may not forget why I am here…That classes will not be just mundane responsibilities…That this degree will be more than an education success…That I will continue to press on towards the goal that Christ has set for me…That eventually I will stand before Him, out of breath and all sweaty, hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.

So if you’re reading this, pray those two things I mentioned above. And, last…pray that I will be able to finally adjust to the time here and go to sleep at normal hours! :D

Thank you! Kawp Khun Ka! Dta Blu! Whakawhetai ki a koutou!


A Little Update from Tauranga

I am now sitting on a soft bed, drinking tap water from an orange cup for the first time. The weather is cool for a summer evening, at least for me whose summer in Thailand is always hot and sweaty. The gentle breeze from the ocean across the flat guarantees that tonight’s sleep will be pleasant. Yes, I made it to Tauranga, New Zealand, the destination I had been dreaming of – not just its natural beauty but of the place God called me to indulge in His word and to grow even more into His likeness.

My journey from Bangkok was bearable although definitely not enjoyable. The total time of flying was 11 hours, excluding 2-hours layover. Before I departed, I was so busy making final in-country arrangements and packing my bags that I forgot to be emotional (which was a good thing…somehow I have gotten used to leaving and saying goodbye) and that I would be on a different side of the ocean from my family for two years. This is different from me living in Chiang-Mai because New Zealand is a whole different culture. Plus, the distance is great; and the freedom of coming and going to visit each other is limited. So when I turned to wave goodbye to my family for the last time, a wave of emotions surged into my heart. Suddenly, there was a lump in my throat; and I had to blink away my tears.

There’s not much to tell about flying, except that I was surprised by the amount of food and drinks they served. I flew with Qantas to Sydney. During the flight, their dinner included biscuit and cheese, Thai glass-noodle salad, pasta with creamy chicken and mango panna cotta with lychee pearls. In the morning, after only a few hours later, they served breakfast of spiced apple muffin, yoghurt and coffee! Then I flew with LAN airlines from Sydney to Auckland, and they served ham and cheese sandwich with fresh fruit. What surprised me more was not the quantity but the quality. I have had the impression that the food on board was crappy. This was not the case for me! Everything was tasty with right temperature for each dish.

Some of the blessings I wanted to count out loud were getting to watch the sunset and sunrise with just only seven hours apart; seeing the Sydney Opera house from the bird’s-eye view and smooth transits in all customs and immigration. After landing in Auckland, two school staff drove me here. I am grateful for arriving on the weekend because I have time to get adjusted and settled in. My flat is very close to the beach. So I reckon that it will be my next favorite walking spot. I share the flat with a Chinese girl, who is three years older than me. Tomorrow I’ll get to meet my classmates at church for the first time. Then Monday is first day of school for me.

So this is a short update. I will write some more in the upcoming week and post some pictures. In the meantime, please say a quick word of praise to the Lord for His carefully laid-out plans and faithfulness in my life. Thank you for reading. Good night, everyone!


Bangkok: No Longer a Guest in My Own Home

It is my first full day at home as a permanent resident, and not a guest. It feels weird…to be walking up and down stairs, having a kitchen with proper pots, pans and propane and also sharing this home with three more ladies – my mom and my sisters. After five years of living by myself in a small studio room, this is definitely an adjustment. I teared up a little when my mom said to me this afternoon, “This place is also your home. Don’t act like you’re visiting.” So Mom and I spent the whole day building a nest, which means lots of cleaning and shuffling things around. My sisters were overjoyed when they came home and realized they just escaped from an enormous task of helping me and mom. They always joke around that if Mom and I team up, they do not want to be in the house…because it means there are a lot of chores to do. :P

The drive back yesterday was 10-hour-long, even longer than the usual bus ride! Mom and I left Chiang-Mai at six o’clock before the sunrise. Initially, I was a wee bit scared because our car had a tiny heat problem, and it could not be fixed in time of my departure. But the mechanic who took care of “Grandma” (that’s how I call the car) said that as long as we drove slowly and did not try to accelerate the engine, we should be fine. The last order he gave us was, “And store a lot of bottles of water. You may need them along the way.”

Knowing too well that the car might overheat any time while I was driving, I prayed fervently before and during the ride. At one moment, I heard a still small voice whispered, “Do not be afraid. I am going with you.” In the dark, I drove…with increased trust and confidence…knowing that whatever happened, God would be with me and help me through difficult circumstances. He had used this experience to emphasize the theme of wholehearted trust and reliance on God that I have received since the beginning of this year. I have learned to not expect that all my problems will be solved for the sake of convenience. Instead, God has taught me to fully expect His presence in both easy and tough times; and to cling to His promise, “Do not be afraid for I am with you.”

Thankfully, the engine did not overheat and we did not need those stored water bottles at all! The drive up and down the mountain during the first five hours was pleasant. The early winter morning air was crisp and clean. We enjoyed the rolling hills and lush green fields along each side of the road. The most wonderful thing was the sunrise – the fiery orange ball that slowly glided up the sky and caused arrays of colors to streak through the mist. It was phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the latter half of the ride home was not so enjoyable. As we put more kilometers away from Chiang – Mai, half of me wished we could turn the car around. I started to experience some culture shock with continual change in environment; brown flat land, scorching heat, central dialect, industrial districts, pollution and, the worst of all, Bangkok traffic jam. At five o’clock in the evening, I was so ready to  jump out of the car and stretched. When mom parked Grandma in front of our house, I breathed a prayer of thanks and almost ran to the door.

With all that said, I must admit – it is good to be back home, not because of the conveniences of a house (although it is definitely a part of it) but because of the interaction I get with my family – swapping stories, telling jokes, discussing plans and eating dinner together. Though you may have gone away from home for a couple of years, and many things may have changed; one thing is always the same – love. In 10 or 20 years from now, I am certain that I can always come home and be accepted the way I am today.

On a different note, I am still waiting INTENTLY for my visa to New Zealand. This week and next week will be a nerve-racking time for me as I am expecting a call from the embassy. This is the 2nd week of  the application process. And from their website, it usually takes about two to three weeks to know the results. So it can be anytime now or another week. If I could have my way, I would love to get the visa tomorrow, book the plane ticket and leave the country by January 30…because school will start on February 7. Yet the possibility is slim. And I am trusting in God’s plan and timing. However, I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with some people who either live or have gone to New Zealand before I moved down to Bangkok though. So now… I kind of have some ideas of what to expect and what to do. And let me just say – feeling excited is an understatement! :D

Anyway, I am going to call it a night; and go watch the Hobbit’s behind-the-scene. Tomorrow is a day of cleaning, unpacking and doing laundry. But I hope to sneak in some grocery shopping and brownie making (I just learned how to make some gooey, fudgy brownie…and I am stoked to try it!).

So…with no further adieu, good night. Thank you for reading! :D


Goodbye, Chiang – Mai…

After 5 years, 6 months and 21 days, today is my last day in Chiang – Mai. It is still unreal to even ponder the thought. But looking around my room, with boxes, bags and furniture all taped and tied, there is no denying it – I am saying goodbye to this city I love. For real.

During the time I have lived here, God has stretched me and enlarged my world. When I first came, I was only 24…eager to go on adventures and conquer the world. The same spirit still lives in this 29-going-on-30 lady, except that she is now aware of and knows the bitter feeling of pain and suffering  in the world; but also the richer, sweeter and more grace-filled blessings of God through brokenness.

For the past couple of days, I have been walking to different places to indulge myself in reminiscence of my time here – the Ping river, Rimping supermarket, the iron bridge, Warorot market and many more. Mom and I were walking past the main road, into small alleys and out on the main road again. It was neat to submerge myself in the Chiang-Mai way of life one last time before hitting the road into Bangkok, the capital city that is bubbling with political turmoil.

I will miss the mountains and the lush green jungle

I will miss the mountains and the lush green jungle

The iron bridge, Ping River

The iron bridge, Ping River

Chiang Mai - Lamphun road, where my apartment is located. My favorite past-time activity is to walk on the other side of the street, along the river and watch the sunset.

Chiang Mai – Lamphun road, where my apartment is located. My favorite past-time activity is to walk on the other side of the street, along the river and watch the sunset.

Cycling has become a popular activity not only for locals but also tourists.

Cycling has become a popular activity not only for locals but also tourists.

Nawarat Bridge

Nawarat Bridge

My little space that I crave coming to at the end of each day

My little space that I crave coming to at the end of each day

Smiling faces after school day is over

Smiling faces after school day is over

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I will miss chilling in my favorite coffee shops. Bangkok will have a large shoe to fill in when it comes to coffee.

What I will miss the most is my friends. These guys. And a few more that are not in this picture. I would not have survived and enjoyed living here without these guys.

What I will miss the most is my friends. These guys. And a few more that are not in this picture. I would not have survived and enjoyed living here without them.

And this...too.

And this…too. The culture. The people. And the love for them.

In this season of life, I am yet reminded again of J.R.R. Tolkien’s song:

The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say.

My journey in Chiang-Mai may end today; but my walk with the Lord still continues. And I am looking forward to many more.

Prayer points:

  1. Please pray for Mom and I as we drive down to Bangkok tomorrow morning (Wednesday). It is an 8-9 hour drive down. And who knows what we are going to find when we hit the city.
  2. Pray for me as I wait for the visa approval. It has been a week after the application submission. The process usually takes 2-3 weeks. Pray for peace, calmness and productivity as I wait for something to happen…that I would make the most of every moment instead of complaining and making myself and those around me bored because of my complaints. Hahaha.

Visa Submitted! Woohoo!

My visa was submitted. Finally. One major task – checked.

I feel very thankful to God for the love and compassion that He has given to me through many people. This visa application would not have worked out if Annie, a very trusted friend, made a trip to the hospital to get the health check-up result for me, reviewed all my documents and sent it to Bangkok, while I was driving through bumps and potholes up to the mountain. Then, another friend, Sam went to the bus station in Bangkok to retrieve the package and then to the embassy (twice, because I forgot to mention that it was moved to another building) to submit the application for me. I would not have gone through all the fuss and complications with surprisingly calm manner if my family and friends had not spent their time praying for me. So thank you all so much!

To be honest, I had expected to be anxious and stressed out, especially when I have only three weeks left before the school starts…and I still have not got my visa or booked my flight. I should have been. But the Lord has instilled in my soul the confidence I can have in His plan, acknowledging Him in every step I take and trusting in who He is. So, when a hard question like “What will you do if your visa does not get approved?” comes my way, I am ready to answer that I do yet know but God will direct my path exactly as He wants. I have made a choice to follow at all costs. Uncertainty does not scare me anymore.

An answer that I can give to you is this – I am moving back to Bangkok. I have been living life on the edge, traveling to places I would never dream of and doing things I did not expect myself to do – like climbing cave or traveling solo…all included me struggling and being forced to overcome my fear. And I have to be frank with myself – I am a bit travel – worn. I would love to spend more time with my mom and sisters, feel the warmth of evening sun on my cheeks as I ride on river taxis and try out new baking recipes. No, I am not yet done with adventures (and I am sure that there will be many more when I go to New Zealand) but a girl needs a time off from excitement.

So my plan is to leave Chiang Mai by the end of next week (or a little before, depending on when I can get my car back from fixing). I am making the most of my final week – in between running errands and packing – by eating, meeting with friends and going to places that I know I will surely miss like the riverside, markets, malls and Rimping supermarket. It feels weird to be saying goodbye to this home I have been living for five years. But the time has come.

Something that God spoke to me this morning, while I was having breakfast, was:

“Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.”

And I take that as His promise. I have done all I could. Now is the time to watch God at work.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2014

Well, I hope it is not too late to say this to you:

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!

…Okay, it might be a little late for Christmas but it is still January 2…and I think New Year period goes on until everyone is all back to work or to school, which could be a week after. ;)

Anyway, first things first – I am fully funded for my two-year study in New Zealand! Praise be to the Lord for His provisions and blessings through friends and family. I have both people whom I have known for quite a while and strangers whom I have never met before supporting me, which makes me stand in awe of God’s handiwork. Thank you for your prayers, honesty and encouragement. Your thoughts and words have lifted me up as well as allowed me to see my circumstances from all angles. Thank you.

Christmas was eventful and heart-warming. I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Jesus with my family and friends at church. This year’s celebration involved watching the Hobbit late at night at a theater with my mom and sisters; brewing and drinking my own coffee at home; admiring all the lights and colors of Christmas trees at home and all over the city; eating mom’s cooking; baking a lot of cookies and cakes; spending time with the Word and looking for His presence in everyday’s life.

One thing I had learned over Christmas was being present. In the flurry of Christmas preparation and activities, Jesus stilled my soul with stunning sunset one evening as I rode a truck back from seeing a doctor at a local clinic. I was spent with flu and tired from the visa work. Then I looked out the truck’s window, and the fiery orange sky captivated my attention. God spoke to me, “Be still, my child. And be present. Linger just a little longer, and you will realize how rich an experience with Me you can get…just being present.”

And I prayed,

“Lord, this Christmas, You have taught me how to be present. Thank You for giving me the beautiful glimpse of Yourself through the sunset. And I wanted it to stay just like that. I lingered in the moment, appreciating You. Then I remembered all the fun I usually have when I am all in the present with no other worries in my mind…like when I was working with the world racers for three weeks or traveling in Burma for two weeks. At those times, I realized I could not do anything else regarding work or visa, except to leave everything at Your feet. And I was there – ALL there for the people and the experiences. Those were the best times of my life.

So this Christmas I want to be ALL here with my family and You. I know that many churches are busy with programs and activities. Lead us, Lord, to Your rest…that we would not be caught up in the services and forget to be present before You.”

My prayer is still the same for New Year. To all of us, who love to make resolutions and take matters into our own hands, be present before the Lord each day. Linger long, and press into His presence because of who He is and not because of what we want Him to do for us. We will be amazed at how much He reveals Himself to us if we seek Him for Him.

To end this post, in order to replace my loss for words these days, I am posting some pictures from home for you to enjoy. May your year be blessed! Thank you for following me on this blog. I wanted to post more pictures but it is almost midnight. And I have to see my doctor for a follow-up blood test for my visa application tomorrow morning (which I will come around to tell of the story soon). So I had better go to bed.

Merry Christmas to you!

Merry Christmas to you!

My first time of baking peanut butter cookies. They turned out quite well. :)

My first time of baking peanut butter cookies. They turned out quite well. :)

Merry Christmas from our family!

Merry Christmas from our family!

My two beautiful sisters - Mai and Mo.

My two beautiful sisters – Mai and Mo.

Mom and Mai with their Christmas drinks at church

Mom and Mai, my sister, with their Christmas drinks at church

Christmas program at church

Christmas program at church

christmas at home

Me, my family and one of our friends from church around the Christmas tree

Church members came to sing carols at our house and fellowship over God's word, warm noodle soup and baked desserts.

Church members came to sing carols at our house and fellowship over God’s word, warm noodle soup and baked desserts.

My mom and Auntie Pat, our neighbor, who hosted the night
My mom and Auntie Pat, our neighbor, who hosted the night.


New Zealand Update: Preparation and Progress

So I am going to New Zealand. But what I have seen in commercials or movies – about how easy and convenient it is to make a trip abroad, has definitely failed in comparison to my reality. While I was in downtown Bangkok today to run one of the visa errands, I longingly gazed at a billboard in a mall, showing a caucasian woman enjoying her time in Thailand just like “a local”, with a tinge of envy. Travel agencies and financial institutions make us feel like everything is possible and we can go anywhere in the world we want. But when reality comes crashing in – with the to-minute preparation, tall piles of documents, snail-pace progresses and the snarling threat of embassy workers, one has to brace herself with grace, dignity and strength; and holds on to the confidence she has in the Lord’s plan despite everything that screams against her hope.

Since my last post, there have been many things going on. I recently came back from visiting Burma, the country that has been on my heart for the past couple of years. Now that I am back, the most important thing to do is to apply for the student visa – the most daunting task I ever have to take on. Every time.

Before I can hand in the pile of application form and other documents, there are so many details involved that I will not bore you with. But to help you be better informed, I need to submit my visa application by the first week of January the latest so that I will be able to board a plane at the end of January. Such a crunching time!

Currently, I am working on to get a police clearance and health check-up, which will take about 2-3 weeks to get done. I am also gathering money – both from my work and from my sponsors, so that I will be able to show the embassy that I will have enough money to survive for two years. The requirement is that I have 15,000 NZD in my bank account, which I have only 1/4 of what’s demanded.

In spite of everything, I want to praise God for:

1. The official acceptance into the school! I am now an official student of the South Pacific Bible College in Tauranga, New Zealand. My degree is the diploma of advanced biblical studies.

2. The discount of tuition fee from 7,200 NZD to 2,400 NZD! Because of the discount, I am now able to pay the tuition fee in full for both years!

3. The monthly living cost about 1,000 NZD, which I now have supporters committed to sponsor for the rest of my time there!

Because of these blessings, I am now down to the airfare and the traveling insurance, which are as followed:

- Plane ticket from Bangkok to New Zealand             1,000 USD per trip

- Traveling insurance                                                                756 USD for two years

I am so excited! God is so good, and always surprises me with wonderful news each day! With that said, here is my prayer points.

Please pray for:

1. The amount of support money that will come in time and be able to cover all necessary expenses. Right now, I have to raise more for the airfare (one trip) and the traveling insurance, which is approximately 2,000 USD in total.

2. Applying for the visa – I am planning to go to the embassy right after New Year in January. Please pray for God’s favor upon me as I compile all the papers and go into the interview with the officials. Pray for the speed of processes too. Usually, the work of bureaucratic offices take 2-3 weeks. My time frame is quite rushed. So pray for peace, calmness, wisdom and discernment as I tackle each task with grace and strength.

3. Booking and paying for the plane tickets – as of now, the agency informed me that the seats are all full from mid to the end of January. School will start in February 3. So I need to be there by January 30 at the latest, if not before.

4. My health – After I got back from Burma, I am down with a slight cold, mostly cough, congestion and running nose. I need to get a medical check-up on December 24. So please pray that God would bring healing and there’ll be no problem with the check-up.

5. My spiritual health – Pray for open heart and mind to the Lord’s working in this period. There are certain issues I need to work though, mostly with fear. Pray that this period would be a fruitful time I can spend with God and rest in Him.

If you wish to pray for me, to hear from me or to bless me financially, please let me know by leaving your comments here or send me your email. My email address is mink.mijji@gmail.com

Thank you for reading! I know it is long. I am working on writing with more preciseness and trying not to elaborate too much. ;)


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