A Couple of Nomads

Tomorrow we are going to Chiang-Mai. I should be excited to reconnect with my old friends and breathe in the fresh  cool air, but right now I am sitting on my couch, nose sniffing and eyes puffy from crying. I have been in Nonthaburi for almost a month and just begun to feel TRULY at home –  to be able to handle the humidity and the heat without losing my temper or cross the busy road full of cars without panicking; to walk down the footpath and enjoy watching street vendors searing, grilling, and frying their food with smokes billowing over their heads; to be suddenly satisfied when I sip iced “Cha Yen” or milk tea from a tall cup in the middle of the day; and to have real conversations with my family members about what’s been going on in their lives. I just started to feel like I belong…

visiting grandma

Visiting my grandma or “Khun Yai” with my mom, Nonthaburi

River taxi

On a river taxi to see the flowers market in Bangkok

Despite saying this, Chiang-Mai has always been my home away from home. It is one of the reasons we have to go there – to revisit people and places as well as to look for an opportunity to maybe take root while our time in Thailand lasts. I am looking forward to introducing Joel to the people I call friends and to different ethnic groups I have come to love and respect. I am excited to show him different aspects of Thai culture and way of life. There are old rituals that I want my husband to be a part of, like strolling along the Ping river at night, shopping at Rimping supermarket, going out for coffee on Sunday afternoon and riding scooters around the old town.

IMG_0489

Nawarat Bridge and the Ping River at night, Chiang-Mai

It is a cliche to say, but it’s still the truth – we always leave a piece of our hearts wherever we go. Whether it is Nonthaburi, Chiang-Mai or New Zealand, it is impossible to not shed tears because these are the places that we make fond memories with different people and communities. It is funny how I never feel fully satisfied. Just this afternoon, I was homesick for Tauranga where I spent my last two years studying. And I bet this will always take place – the longing for some place else.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Though I desire to take roots and to establish a home, it seems that God has something else in mind. We will probably be on the road and have to pack more times than we want for a little longer. Though I long to settle in a place and build a nest where Joel and I can start our little family together, we have submitted our lives to being nomads for the time being because we believe that God is sending us to different places for his purpose. This constant relocation will mean that we may not have regular income, work benefits or government support, but we are comforted by the fact that God is on our side.

We will go wherever He goes; and stay where He stays. Like the Israelites following the pillars of cloud by day and fire by night, we are following His footprints on the desert sand. Like Paul, we want to penetrate into cities and villages the way he reached the Athenians with his awareness of the local religions, the Philippian jailer with humbleness and understanding, and the prisoners on the ship to Rome with boldness and no shame. Being followers of God does not mean comfortable living. It is to follow him with obedience. And in spite of hardship, we are comforted because God is our peace.


Reunited!

Joel and I are finally together again! Yeah! It has been good to reunite with my man. Our plan was for me to pick him up from the airport and drive off to a town three hours away for a little get-away. But since we are the Goughs, mayhem and mishap tend to be a norm of our lives.

When Joel bought his plane ticket, he told me that he would arrive at Don Muang airport, which is closer to my home. So a day before his arrival, mom and I went on a test drive to see if I could remember the way and how to anticipate the traffic in different intersections. After the drive, I felt pumped and ready to pick up my husband! When we were in New Zealand, we were teasing each other about doing a slow-motion run like in the movie…just for the drama effect, when we see each other at the airport. Monday came. I left my house four hours early because I did not want to get stuck in the busy-hours traffic. I packed my bag, took a shower, said goodbye to mom and drove off to Don Muang airport where I could greet Joel with a big bear hug. An hour and a half later, I arrived with plenty of time on my hands before the flight landed. So I grabbed a cup of iced-cappuccino and my Bonhoeffer book…and relaxed.

Fifteen minutes before Joel’s flight arrival, I walked over to the arrival board to check the schedule. I scanned it once, twice and three times…but I saw nothing that looks remotely similar to his flight number! Having gone through so many ups and downs in the past few months, my mind assumed the worst. I must have come to the wrong airport! I ran to the information booth, where a kind staff checked the flight number for me. She looked at me and said, “I’m sorry but we can’t find your flight number on our system here and we can’t cross check with the other airport. The best bet is to go to Suvarnabhumi.” My jaw dropped and my heart sank. It is another hour drive to the other airport, granted that the traffic is not too dense, but I had no time to get panicky. So I shook all my nerve and fear off; and drove as fast as I could to reach Joel. The problem was – I had not driven in Bangkok for so long that I was not sure of the direction. I relied on my GPS at first but it took me on a route with traffic lights. Frustrated and desperate, I called my mom for the direction. Things were getting crazier as my phones (both of them) were EXTREMELY low on battery; and I was trying to reach Joel who had not contacted me yet.

So I prayed and tried to recall the things mom said on the phone. I also kept my mind sharp and focused on the road instead of things that could go wrong. Then slowly I was making progress to the other airport. Joel finally was able to reach me just before my phone died. I had enough information where he would be. As I slowly slid into the arrival terminal, my heart began to beat faster; and there I saw, standing by the side of the road, my Australian husband who I had been longing for the past two and a half weeks. I was jumping out of my skin; and literally did jump out of my car when I saw Joel. It was a moment of joy and of being rushed because we could not linger there long.

After the airport adventure, we drove to Hua Hin, where we could relax by the beach and catch up. It was delightful to see Joel taking in every sight and sound. He has not had any troubles with jet lag or culture shock, YET. In fact, we have been eating mostly Thai food for every meal. He has been learning heaps of conversational language. AND (he would be so proud of me to put this) he has been driving all over the place, including Bangkok. I am very proud of my husband, who is doing all he can to get himself adjusted to this foreign and unfamiliar place. Sometimes I get frustrated at him because he doesn’t always listen to me when I think I know best (it’s my own culture after all). But I have to remind myself to cut himself some slack, especially when this is JUST the first week of his time in Thailand.

So please keep praying for us. We are trying to get used to each other in this new environment while learning to interact with others as a couple. With all the excitement and happiness, I have been quite overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted at times because of my own reverse culture shock that I’m currently experiencing and of the need to translate for my husband and my family (which I love to do…it’s just hard sometimes). When I’m stressed out, I get really emotional and snappy at the ones I love. I am always left feeling remorseful. We are also looking for work  and praying where God would send us to. There have been opportunities presented to us but we are just not yet sure. Pray for our spiritual walk…and for this time to draw nearer to God. We know he has got a great plan for us here in Thailand, for however long…he only knows. Instead of worrying, pray that we would follow where he leads.

Thank you for keeping up-to-date with our journey. Please do not leave us yet. This is just the beginning of another experience of a lifetime for us. Below are a little bit of our time at the beach.

bus 1

Joel’s first bus trip to a local mall. We got photobombed!


The Detour

Joel is going  to be in Thailand in exactly 24 hours from now. I cannot be more excited! This is the moment we have both been waiting for and praying about for the past several weeks. Clarity and direction. Even though it has not turned out in the way we wanted, we are able to accept that this is God’s plan.

During the time I struggled with God, a friend of ours posted a thought-provoking comment on one of my Facebook’s status about going on a detour. He mentioned the story from Acts 16 about how the Spirit prevented Paul and his companions from going into Asia to preach the word. Instead, Paul had a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come and preach the Gospel to them. So they went. Now we are reading letters to Christians in Philippi and Corinth and accounts of people’s conversion in Berea, Athens and many more.

My friend told me that sometimes God intentionally brings us on a detour journey and leads us through the scenic route for the purpose that He will only reveal when the time is right. So now we find ourselves almost thrown into this big Land of Smile, where people everywhere need to hear the Gospel. And it is not going to be easy.

Thailand is a Buddhist country. Even though there is freedom to worship in any religions, the spiritual environment is oppressive. Buddhism may teach people to do good but it does not provide the answer that most people are seeking – the meaning of life. It teaches followers to renounce everything that they have and basically pursue the state of nothingness. It says that there is no god; and our “self” is just an illusion. With nothing to hope for or grasp, many combine Buddhism with superstition. The perfect outcome for hopelessness and oppression.

In Paul’s account, he inserted himself in the culture wherever he went to and reached people where they were at. Some of them became followers of Christ but all of this came at a cost. Imprisonment. Jealousy. Accusation. Indifference. Rejection.You name it. Paul had it all. One thing he never did, though, was giving up. He used every opportunity to speak about Jesus even when it cost him dearly.

I suppose the reason why we are directed here is because there is so much need in Thailand. I am not saying this proudly or thinking that we have got all the answers. In fact, we barely have it all together. From our past experiences in New Zealand, we learned that ministry is hard and complex work. But the one thing we know and are sure about is that God is with us; and that he is going to use us in some ways.

Thus is our conviction – to share the Gospel where we are. New Zealand. Australia. Thailand. We are God’s missionaries. We are his hands and feet. We are his light. We may not know our exact destination now but we can travel with God, enjoy the scenery and take every opportunity presented to us to make his story known.

And fingers-crossed, we’ll finally get to go back to Australia because I want to see some kangaroos. :)


The Reverse Culture Shock

 

Before leaving New Zealand, Joel and I sat through a weekly meeting with a couple, who are now our good friends. This couple had spent years as missionaries in Ukraine but God called them out of the country, and they had to move to different places for a while until they are settled in NZ, for now. They told us that reverse culture shock is to be expected.

Well, this evening, I realized that I am probably experiencing the said reverse culture shock. After a long week in the humid weather, aggressive driving, coarse language and visiting with a couple of people from church who are going through hard times, I finally had a longing to go back to the cooler New Zealand and the classroom where I was protected from the chaos of life. I wanted to travel back to our flat in Tauranga and hide under the blanket for a few days without having to meet anyone but Joel. Basically, I wanted to have my own space where I feel settled and safe.

Goughs and Nelsons

Joel and I with Olivia and David- we met together weekly for 2 months. It was a blessing to spend time talking and praying with these two godly people, whose cross-cultural experiences are so much of value for us now! 

With that said, I am not, by any means, implying that Bangkok is a bad place. I was born, raised and have lived in this city my whole life. If anyone is to claim she is a true daughter of this city, I am one. This is my stomping ground, and I love it to bits. However, having been gone for several years, a lot have changed including me. There are things I view or do differently BUT it does not mean that my way is right and the others’ is wrong. My body will eventually get used to the humidity and the heat. I will finally have the guts to drive on the busy road (in fact, I need to be able to do that in two days when Joel arrives!). Hopefully, I will soon be able to give a big smile to those people who are probably having a bad day. And maybe when I am ready, God will use me to help these friends or others who are in desperate need of kindness and tangible support.

But for now, I need to be patient, to allow myself some time to get adjusted to the groove of things, and to give myself grace when I seem to be losing temper over silly matters. It is okay to not feel satisfied with the lifestyle here straight away. It is not that bad to have to eat out almost every day because I am not yet used to the kitchen at home. It is fine to lounge and lay around in bed at home while everyone in the house has gone to work because it is not yet my time. In fact, this is a perfect opportunity to rest and to catch up with my mom. During this transitioning period, it is important for me to remain positive and to establish some kind of routine, even though it is just waking up early to go for a run every morning and going to sleep early at night.  God does not expect me to get it all together in the first instant of arriving. He moved us here for a purpose but there is time for everything.

So here I am, taking time to get used to things, to heal from the stress of the past several months and to pray for direction in the future. One of the Psalms that has spoken to me recently is from Psalm 131:

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

Joel and I are going to need this sense of calmness when we are reunited because the culture shock will be doubled…and who knows what can happen? I know for sure that we will need to cling on to God our Rock and Anchor more than ever before.


Back Home at Last

So some of you might not have been aware of what has gone on in my life. Here is a little heads-up. Joel and I were married in April 2015. I applied for the partnership  visa, which took 9-12 months to process, in August. We wanted to be together while the visa is processing so we applied another visa to get into the country short term. We got rejected. We tried again. And we were told we would be rejected again if we didn’t withdraw the application. At the end of the year, we graduated from the college. We were going to travel together but Joel’s dad passed away. So we were separated – he in Australia, I in Thailand.

Basically, things never really went our ways.

——————————

I have been home for a week now. The weather has not been very kind to me. It is so HOT and HUMID that, after I stepped out of the cold shower this morning, I started sweating profusely straight away. Adjusting to the weather will definitely take time. Another adjustment is going to be driving on the road. I have been driving for about 6 years now but I have never driven in Bangkok before. My mom taught me how to drive in Chiang-Mai, a city up north, where there were lesser population and the streets were not as busy. Then I went to New Zealand for two years. The town I lived in was so small that it took me only 5 minutes to go to the nearest store and 30 minutes at the most to go to the farthest part of the town. This past week I have tagged along with my mom to different places. Sometimes I found myself sliding further down in my seat with two palms on my face because I was so scared that someone would run us over. Drivers are reckless and, sadly, selfish here.

But there is the plus side. Since being home, I have been able to indulge myself in Thai food, speak Thai language and drink the true “ice coffee/ tea”. I said “true” because every time I ordered something “ice” in New Zealand, I ended up having some kind of thick shake with ice-cream on top. It was not so bad but there is so much sugar in those drinks. And there is NO ice, not the visible ones anyway. So I am very happy to be chewing on the crunch of these ice cubes in my drink. :)

Anyway, those are my little updates on my one week back in Bangkok, Thailand. I have gone through the lowest of low and the highest of high in these past several months. I graduated from the bible college with Excellence at the end of last year and received the student award of the year. Then we plunged into the valley when Joel and I had to part ways temporarily because his dad passed away; and I could not be with him because I did not (still don’t) have the visa to enter into Australia. Soon after I arrived Thailand, I had a spiritual meltdown. I was so angry at God for “causing troubles” in our lives, and not giving us what we wanted (duh). Then, slowly and with difficulty, I am climbing back up again with the help of family and friends. I have been reminded that nothing, not even my vilest words and ugliest thoughts, will ever stop God from loving me and giving his best for me. I am learning to put my  trust in him daily, to not give up hope and to obey him at all costs.

The good news to top all this is that Joel and I are going to be reunited in 3 days! Because I had to withdraw my visitor visa application, we are now going to live in Thailand until we hear of my partnership visa (and we hope it is a yes from Australia). Joel is flying in on Monday night; and we will be spending 4 days on a beach before plunging ourselves into the culture. It will be a huge shift for Joel. Thai culture is opposite to Australian in almost every aspect. It is going to be a challenge and a learning curve for both of us.

At this point, we are not sure yet where we will end up living, whether in Bangkok or Chiang-Mai. It all depends on where I get a job. I am beginning to feel stressed out again because there is so much that is unknown…and a lot we have to prepare for. I am also feeling  a little sad because this concept of “leaving and cleaving” has become a reality now. When we were in New Zealand, I was already away from home so it was not as difficult. This time I will have to make a choice of leaving my family to be with my husband, wherever it will be…and being a mama’s girl, it is undeniably hard. But, at least, we will all be in the same country. And that makes traveling much cheaper and easier!

There you go! A little update from us. Giving you a sweaty and sticky goodbye for now. Until my next post. :)


An Encounter with the Prophet

Learning about what Jesus did in classroom is much easier than living it out. It is so easy to write an essay about what God stuff and discuss about what being a good Christian means. But if we cannot live it out, what is the point? Today I was confronted with a harsh reality that perhaps I am a hypocrite. Going through a bible college does not make me a better Christian. Yes, I am equipped with knowledge. I am more theologically sound. Yet what God is really after is not only what I know but how it is expressed in my life.

There is a neighbor who has come knocking on our door a few times. He calls himself a prophet. This man is a local and always bubbly and smiling. He told us that he was raised in a Catholic home. For some reasons, his choice in life has led him into the path of alcoholism. Joel and I are both aware of this but we also know that he is harmless. The last time he came over, Joel took him out to a nearby shop to get some food because he had no money. This evening while we were having dinner with our bible study group, he knocked on our door. Joel asked if he wanted to join the dinner with us (instead of taking cash) but he insisted that he needed to borrow some money. Since we have been on a good standing, we lent him the money without prying. However, while we were talking, I noticed that he was slurring and a bit too friendly to everyone (although my husband argues that he is always like this). So after he left,  I asked my friend if he was drunk, to which the reply was yes. That was when I began to realize that maybe he was on his way to buy alcohol.

(Before I go any further, I need to tell you that I am against alcohol addiction. Yes, I occasionally have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine, but I always make sure that I do not go beyond my limit. My view is that it is okay to drink as a Christian. However, I do not think it is okay for us to drink to the point where we cannot control ourselves. Though I have not been exposed to a lot of alcoholics in my life, I know the deadly consequence that comes with over-drinking.)

I was horrified when I realized that perhaps we might give the prophet the reason to drink more. I know that with or without us, he would find a way to get more drink somehow. But it feels worse when you could be that person who might encourage it. My fear became a reality when he came back to our house, took a can out and drank it. Granted, Joel gave him the permission to drink because he misinterpreted his intention. My husband thought he was going to drink it at home before he came back to join the study.

Long story short, we finished the bible study and sent everyone home. When the house was quiet, I was shaking like a leaf, not with fear but with anger. I was surprised to find myself in such state. I was so angry that I had to go for a walk, dragging my poor husband along with me because it was getting dark outside. This is the similar shaking I used to have when I visited children in a bamboo hut with nothing much to protect them or when I interviewed a girl who was abused when she was 8 years old. It is not our neighbor or even Joel that I was angry about. It is this wretched sin labeled as “alcoholism” that enraged me.

But my dilemma is – do I let myself become so angry that I turn our neighbor away the next time he comes around? I must admit that my carnal instinct is to let him go. Why care for the people who do not even care about themselves? Why do we even bother showing our love constantly when he might wake up not remembering the next day? The pure and simple answer is this – because Jesus cares. It is not about us being recognized but about Jesus being glorified.

At the heart of this issue is our brokenness. This is why God sent Jesus into this world – to bring healing and restoration to this place that is so full of selfishness and pain. Who am I to turn away one of God’s children? But oh, how I struggle! I struggle because I know better but I still cannot live out my faith the way I have written in my essay – to love the poor, to embrace the marginalized and to accept all kinds of sinners. My self-righteousness is screaming at me and saying that these people do not deserve a place in my life!

Unfortunately, Jesus’ love goes beyond our comfort zone. He did not stop loving and pursuing God’s plan even when he was being betrayed or beaten to death. This is where my struggle lies – I am willing to serve God as long as it suits me. But God has brought Joel into my life to tell me that this is not the way! Unlike me, my husband has a natural gift to embrace people of all kinds and from all backgrounds. It is difficult to chew when I realized that I am no different from other Christians whom I judged before. My love is limited.

The good news is – God never gives up on his people. Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for me to be called God’s child even though I do not deserve it. We deserve to be punished but he put it all on his Son’s shoulders. We do not deserve this life but God has given it to us anyway. Therefore, this is a higher calling – to love one another just as he first loved us.


A Confession of an Introverted Wife: On Serving God

It feels strange to come back to my own blog again. It is like revisiting your old bedroom. It is familiar and yet, so foreign because you have been gone for a long time. I have not updated this site for almost a year. Even before that, I was not even good at updating. But I miss this space where I get to share my thoughts and feelings. So I will make an effort to write more frequently.

Having lived in New Zealand for almost two years, I thought I had the Kiwi culture figured out. But I discovered recently that there is still so much to learn. Just this week, I came across a cultural aspect that shocks and upsets me. Although I am from Thailand, an oriental country where punctuality is not essential, I have learned over times that time management affects other people. Therefore, I do my best to be on time whenever I have any appointment or specific activities going on. Also, as an introvert, I respect individual’s privacy. So if I want to visit someone in their homes, I usually ask them for permission in advance, as in several hours before, if not a day, whether I can come see them. To me, punctuality and respect for privacy are the signs of respect. And I highly value them.

This past week, I have had a few circumstances where these values were overlooked. Joel and I have had people randomly knocking on our door just to visit; or someone asking for a place to stay but not being specific about when they would come and go and not letting us know that they were not going to come anymore. At one point, we were invited out with 20-minutes notice. Of course, we could say no to all of them but these were good things any Christians should do. So most of the times, we said yes. But our “yes” is different. My husband’s “yes” is a willingness-to-serve kind whereas mine is a more reluctant and dragged-into-the-circumstance kind.

This has been my struggle. My husband, if you know him, is an open book and loves everyone without any prejudices. He welcomes people from all background; and is passionate about sharing Jesus to everyone through serving them, especially those who are marginalized. Because he had gone through some extremely rough and violent environment before, he can relate to those who are going through similar things. He never hesitates when someone asks him for help even though it might cost him sleep or money. I admire him deeply because of his conviction and passion. And I feel like, as a wife and a Christian, it is my job to support and encourage him. But I had two meltdowns today because I just had enough of people randomly calling and demanding help from my husband.

This guilt has been eating me up inside because I know that Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it mean? How does it translate to a life of an introverted woman who has been married for only six months to a man whose life has always been in service to God? (Now don’t get me wrong because I love serving God, just in a very different way from my husband.) Does this suggest that one of us is wrong? I do not think so. So how do we balance this tendency to say “yes” to everything and the inclination to shut oneself inside a room and not see anyone for a whole day?

First, we need to accept that our ways of serving God are different. God has given us different talents and gifts so that we can use them to make him known and to create unity among his people. Joel may be good at helping people hands-on and reaching out to those others might want to avoid. But I can maintain long-term relationship and provide food and bedding for those who are in need. Often, I beat myself up, feeling that I am not supportive of my husband enough. But I was reminded that we have unique personalities and gifts. At the end of the day, it is a matter of the heart. Am I doing things for the right reason? Am I serving God, my husband, or myself?

The second point is still something I need to work on – to communicate my needs in a healthy way. My usual defense mechanism, whenever I get angry or frustrate, is to start a cold war. You know, the classic stuff – cold shoulders, silent treatment, blaming myself, and the ultimate heart-breaker – teary meltdown (Yes, I have done all that). But this is not going to get us any further in our understanding of each other; nor will it influence our ministry positively. So I am training myself to verbally communicate how I feel and what I need in an edifying way. Our goal is to reach a point where Joel understands what my limit is and where I am comfortable enough to let people become more involved in our lives as a couple.

Last, and the most difficult of all – we need to rest. We live in a busy world. In a success-oriented culture, we tend to bite off more than one can chew. It is so difficult to say no. And our calendar is packed. Currently, in addition to my full-time study, I wait tables part-time at a Thai restaurant, work on my visa applications to Australia (and if you have done this before, you know what a pain it can be), participate in two weekly bible studies, teach a children’s class on Sunday, translate documents to earn some bucks in Thailand, etc. This excludes random occurrence during the week that require our involvement. As you can see, I have a lot on my plate. And I know that many people do too. My question is though – how can we take a rest from all of these events in our lives?

This morning, I came across a blog post that talks about the real rest. Apparently, it has nothing to do with sleeping in until noon or lying around facebooking all day. Real rest should shift our focus back to God. It needs to restore, re-energize and rejuvenate. In my Hebrews class, we recently talked about people being burnt out because they throw themselves into the ministry but not allow enough time to pause and to refocus. Resting, therefore, is important. But we need to rest wisely. Be specific about how we want to spend our time and choose the activities that match with your spiritual needs at the moment. The goal is to meet with God. It can be lying in bed reading, watering plants, walking along the beach, going out for coffee with a friend, or listening to music. Whatever we do, let us be intentional about listening to God and resting in His presence. There is so much noise surrounding us already. It may be good to unplug all the devices and spends time in quietness for a few hours, if not a day.

Serving God is not easy because it involves people. And we are imperfect. Often, we have to deal with other people’s mistakes. Yes, it is unfair, especially for those who try so hard to do the right things. But remember, though, that there was nothing fair about Jesus, the son of God, being on the cross for the sins he never committed. We are called to love and to serve one another because that is what Jesus did for us and because this is how God’s kingdom looks like. And as difficult as it is right now for me, I want to be a part in bringing heaven into this world.


i am getting married!

so…i know that it has been a year (or probably more…i do not even know when my last blog post was) that i last posted. so many things happened. a lot of changes have taken place. one big news that i am obligated to announce (if not for my readers it will be for me in the future) is that i am getting married in 8 days! it is a bit hard to trace back the history of my relationship because, obviously, i have not written for a long time, and also because our relationship had developed quite quickly.

just so you do not feel perplexed about what is going on and who is my future husband, here is our picture together from a trip we took last year.

IMG_7935

that is me and Joel, my classmate…now fiance. we have know each other since last year at South Pacific Bible college, where we are both attending. he is from Canberra, Australia. his passion is in God, people, and evangelism. i am blessed to have been on this journey with him, and excited for more adventures in the future.

our wedding will be on April 11, 2015 in New Zealand. i am thankful that some of my family members, particularly mom and youngest sister, and friends can come to witness this day with us. i am looking forward to wearing the wedding gown, walking down the aisle, saying our vows to one another, having our first dance, and celebrating with our friends and family at church. if you have known me for a while, you will remember that i always wondered (out loud) about my future husband or whether i would get married. well, today, God has answered my prayer and given me the man who will cherish, love, respect, and walk with me for the rest of my life (or his life). it has not been an easy journey of waiting. and i would not say that i have done anything to deserve such a man. but one thing i am certain of is this – our pursuits of God have led us together.

and so…for young single women out there, whether you are Christians or not, remember always that pursuing something that you are passionate of will always lead to something worthwhile. it may not be that we will get husbands out of the pursuits. but we are making something of our lives. and what we meet along the way is actually the blessing and the gift that is beyond what we can ever ask for.


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.

rain drop


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 998 other followers