Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Light at the End of the Tunnel/ The Gift of Friendships

"True love it is a rock
Smooth over by a stream"

~"Shimmer" by Shawn Mullins

It's been about a month and a half that I've been in transit. Now I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm smiling as I write this because of the incredible joy that comes after suffering.

God is always at work and He never wastes pain. And yes, He's answered my prayer regarding work and family matters. I have a teaching job offer in Jakarta, Indonesia with an international school run by disciples. I'm excited, nervous, and scared. I'm starting to enjoy being with my parents after some major adjustments. I love them so much and don't know if I want to leave again but, deep down, I feel that I have to find and fight for my own destiny. They have theirs and I'm so glad to see my parents taking care of each other. It's been a recent phenomenon in my family after my parents have come to know Christ. I've said it before and will say it again that we are still together ONLY because of God.

I guess I can stay in Thailand if I choose to, but I still want to travel and throw myself, once again, into the midst of a new culture. The school in Indonesia, Sekolah Lentera Internasional, offers many benefits: a full-time teaching job, free accomdations, a decent pay, low cost of living, a round trip airfare to the US at the end of the contract, school run by disciples, work colleaques from various countries, a strong church, close enough to Thailand, Australia and Papua New Guinea. I'm not expecting this endeavor to be smooth sailing, but the package is pretty attractive. Also the school doesn't discrimate against Asian teachers like some do in Thailand. (Sadly, the last time I went for an interview in Thailand, I was told that I'd get half the pay all because I've got an Asian face! Needless to say, I was enraged. Foreign, actually Caucasian, teachers get paid more even if you have the thickest German accent and show up at an interview after ten hours at a bar with bloodshot eyes, beer breath and faded jeans!)

On to better things...I just got off the phone with my best friend, twin, and sister in Christ, Susan Wangai. It was such a delight to speak to her. Even though I've left the US for about eight months now, our friendship is still the same if not stronger. We continue to be in each other's life even though we live on different continents. I thank and praise God for this kind of friendship where we can speak the truth to each other in love and be there for each other through thick and thin. No, our friendship is far from perfect, but we've learned to look for the best in each other. We shared about how we're still single and happy in God's kingdom. Mind you we've had our share of suffering in that department. By our age, late twenties, people start to think there's something wrong with you if you're not dating or married. I believe that in God's time and if that's his will, he'll find each of us the right man who loves God more than anything in the world. God makes things beautiful in its time, but I think the problem is that we don' t like to wait on God. I get miserable when I focus on getting things my way. Right now, Susan and I are waiting for the best from God, and I tell you truly, deeply from the bottom of my heart that I'm happy and excited about my life more now than ever. No, it's not the superficial kind of happiness that happens because I had a good day or won a lottery. It's the kind of joy that comes after years of wrestling in my heart to let God be God in the love department. As I'm waiting, I'm also learning more about myself and what I want. There are hard days, but nothing is more than God can handle. I'm not denying my desire to be married, but hey, life's short and you can only live once. Carpe Diem before it passes you by. As for me, I choose to find happiness in pleasing God.

And then there are my friendships with Pat Hutasevee and Necie Royer, both residing in the OC. They are both single moms and have known me before I left the US. I also talked to them today. These women inspire me to persevere. If we single women have it hard, these single moms have it harder and I thank God for puttting them in my life as examples in the faith. They continue to live vibrantly for God through all kinds of challenges and share with me many of life's wisdoms.

There are more to say on God's blessings that if I were to record them all, the list will go on and may bore you. Let's just say that when Jesus said the kingdom of God is like "a merchant looking for fine pearls [and] when he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it" (Matthew 13: 45-47), Jesus knew what he was talking about...

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Tribute to Disciples

I love disciples of Jesus. I've visited many of them during the past seven years. In the US--LA, NY, LV; in Europe--London (England), Cologne (Germany); in Central America-- San Jose (Costa Rica); in the South Pacific-- Melbourne (Australia), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea); in Asia--Bangkok (Thailand), Seoul (Korea), Phonm Pehn (Cambodia), and Hong Kong (China). These were the places that I either had lived or simply visited, not counting disciples from all over the world that I've met along the way. (Well as a single woman, traveling is a perk. I do want to be married, but while single, I intend to live it up and to the full, which is the kind of life Jesus has promised to ALL who believes in him (John 10:10))

I've been given a privilege to see the work of God in more places than some, and one of the things that continues to amaze me is that the spirit and heart attitude of disciples are essentially the same everywhere. How amazing! Praise God!

Ok, I've traveled the world somewhat. I can honestly say that what makes each trip so amazing has to do with the people, especially disciples, that I meet along the way, so much more than what a place alone can offer. My heart is stirred when I see people who, despite their struggles to make ends meet, give of their time and money to love others whom they have adopted as moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters. My life is rich, not monetarily for sure, but with friends. Also the depth of friendship among disciples is incomprehensible to the world. I believe it's because we are connected on a deeper level, a spiritual level. We are not just friends, but brothers and sisters and fellow soldiers in Christ.

I met a Thai sister who's possibly in her thirties. Her name is Kop. I was moved by her heart because, despite her poor health, she adopted a five year old girl who was abandoned by her mother who used to attend church. Kop gave up the freedom of her single life to take care of a child when she didn't ask for it. It's that of heart that inspires me.

This time in Thailand, I've made a special effort to spend time with the disciples in Bangkok. It's special because I have to commute three hours each way from Chonburi, twice a week. Each time I go into Bangkok, I would spend the night with different sisters: Julie, Pom, Ari, Anna, Aae. I prefer to do the rotations and don't want to overstay my welcome. The other night we fellowshiped with Sally who was visiting from Burma and played cards till one in the morning. I think the Thai disciples really know how to have fun with the little that they have.

Right now some of us are planning to go to the Jubilee in Manila, the Philippines. I'm so excited. What a feast of fellowship will that be!