Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thailand Mission Trip

This post is long overdue. I wanted to blog about it before Uni started, but i couldn't find a right time and the right frame of mind to write. After a hectic first week of Uni, I'm convinced that if I don't blog about my amazing trip to Thailand tonight, I'll probably not do it at all. Hence, I've put all my books aside tonight to reflect on my life-changing trip to Thailand.

Qynn lead a group of us - Gab, Grace, Andrew, Haney, Brian and myself - on a 12 day mission trip to the North-eastern part of Bangkok, Thailand. I don't intend to invent the cure to insomnia, so I'll just blog about the breathtaking significant highlights of my trip.

Grace's Miracle

We had done 2 months of fund raising and preparation for worship, skits, teaching, games, etc. We were set to leave for Thailand on the Tues 13th of Jan, only to be notified at the airport that it was impossible for Grace to fly with us on that day! All international flights require a minimum validity period of 6 months, but her Malaysian passport only had 3 months!

Our cheerful and expectant moods were absolutely CRUSHED. Our enthusiasm was replaced with uncertainty and panic in just an instant. It's amazing how quickly the tides can change. Grace was a VITAL of our team - she had done heaps of preparation for the skits, the games, and the worship sessions. We would have struggled greatly without her. Qynn spoke to the manager, made several phone calls to the embassy, etc. He was desperately trying all he could to get Grace on that flight - but God had other plans for her.

Reluctantly, we got on the plane to Thailand without Grace. The 7 hour flight was torturious for Qynn because he couldn't do anything except to pray and to trust God - we were all forced to have faith in God and to trust in his sovereignty. I learnt a lesson too: many times we SAY that we trust God, but immediately after saying so we strategise and act to solve the problem ourselves. I've got to learnt to REALLY place the situation in its ENTIRETY in God's hands; and just sit and wait on the Lord in silence.

"And God was faithful..." He allowed Grace to join us 3 days later on the Thursday; just in time for all the real action! It was great having her around, I personally got to know her a lot more. I find her to have an extremely helpful spirit, and a teachable heart. I couldn't imagine the trip without her.


The absolute highlight of my trip would definitely be getting to meet my sponsor kid, Nat. Gab, Grace, Haney, and myself donate $44/month to Compassion to provide for her education and some food. However, we didn't know her personally, and it felt like we were just donating to a generic charity.

Meeting Nat transformed my sympathetic "donation" of $11/month into a life-long commitment of true and genuine love. I still remember meeting Nat for the first time at project TH-422. That adorable 6 year old girl with light brown silky hair, eyes of perfect innocence, and a sweet smile that makes krispy kreme doughnuts taste bland.

Despite the language barrier, we had a lot of fun with Nat. We would communicate with her mainly through hand signs and facial expressions. She LOVED our cameras. She loved taking photos with us. She loved taking photos of herself too! That was really cute!

We visited her family at their home one evening. Her mum sells food by the road and her dad is a janitor at the local school. They're too poor to afford a house, so they currently live in a small room in her grandmum's house; and sometimes they stay in a provisional house provided by the school for her dad when he works late shifts. We feel compassionate and somber as we toured around her house. Her mum showed us 6 concrete pillars already erected in their backyard which were the foundations of their future house. They're currently trying to save up enough money to finance the materials and the construction. I was distressed when she told us that she had to take up a 3000 baht (~$150 AUD) loan to buy a rice cooker and food for the family. So the four of us (Gab, Grace, Haney, myself) decided to pay the debt off for them - just to relief them of the interest burden.

I remember taking her out to dinner twice. She'd always order the Thai fried rice - I think that's her favourite. She'd always get her food before me, and I would tease her by acting like I was hungry to see if she would offer me her food. haha! She just stare at me with innocence topped with a hint of cute annoyance. I remember feeding her with the "aeroplane routine". She absolutely loved that! I even got her to feed Gab with the "aeroplane". haha!

Nat's fortunate to have 4 sponsor parents because that meant that she was to receive presents from each of us! Gab bought her a special towel from Disneyland that expands when you soak it in water from the size no bigger than two 50 cent coins to a full-sized face towel. Nat was VERY excited about that! haha! It was probably her first time witnessing "magic". I remember her picking it up from the jug of water and walking off briskly without saying a word. We all looked to each other in shock at her poor mannerisms, only to realise that she was drying the towel in the sun! haha! I love that girl. She's got this shy attitude about her that really intrigues me. She's really shy initially and that makes it hard to win her trust. But she's just so adorable once she opens up to you.

Grace got her a recorder and Haney got her a barbie doll. I got her some crayons, coloured pencils, markers, and a drawing book - everything she needed to wield her creative prowess. Our hearts melted when she opened the drawing book immediately and started drawing a picture of us (she only drew Grace, really). She drew her red dress and the buttons on it without even taking a 2nd look at Grace!!! That's amazing! I couldn't have done that! haha! And she topped it off by writing: "Nat loves her (sponsor) dads and mums" in Thai. She stole my heart then, and it's been with her ever since. I love her. I think about her everyday. I pray for her everyday.

Andrew's Amazing Adjustment

Andrew's complete transformation is the most radical one I've witnessed. Prior to the trip, many would have labelled him as "anti-social" or "disinterested in socialising". I personally tried to chat to him in Fungus, but I found myself confronting a brick wall of single-word answers. Even during the bonding sessions prior to the trip, there was some obvious tension between Haney's enthusiastic fervour and Andrew's indignant attitude. I remember this convo:

Haney: So Andrew, have you got any prayer requests?

Andrew: No, my life is perfect.

Haney: Nor-ma-gi-le!!!!!!!!!

Through the trip, Andrew started to open up. He really is funny and talkative by nature, but several things have supressed that through all these years confining him to a hermit shell of alienation: Alienation to reprise the Fear of Rejection. There were many glimpses of his amazing hilarity (I LOVE his jokes!! And the way he gets on Haney's nerves all the time!!) and he started to open up to us in devotions. There was a point when he even agreed to do a mock-up serenade to Haney! He sang "Fall For You" by Secondhand Serenade for her with the most hilarious gestures! Unforrunately, the video's too huge to upload, but i'll see what I can do! :P

It was really encouraging to see him get involved in our activities with the kids, and to hear him pray with such sincerity. Nevertheless, he would always revert to his alienative self once in a while.

It was not until the 2nd last day when we were all having a real conversation that the real change happened. Andrew told us the reasons why he had been so "anti-social" in the past, and how he didn't see the value in developing our friendship when he's going to be in Adelaide for the next 5 years or so. I know it sounds pretty gay, but I told him that we weren't being friends just because we had to on this mission trip. We were friends that prayed for each other because we genuinely loved and cared for him. I don't think he believed me right away that night.. but I'm sure it simmered in because he was just a completely new person the next day! haha!

Qynn, Gab and I bought him a makeover at a high-class hair salon. Hence, his new hardcore hairstyle. That cost us 1300 baht! The most hilarious thing was when he wore the Mr. Jihad T-shirt that I bought him through the customs and onto the plane back to Australia!!! LOL!!!!!!! That was classic! He even wore it through the Aussie customs!

Andrew, you're a legend. Don't ever forget that, bro! :)


Kids at TH-422

Compassion plants one project in each poor region,I'll never forget the innocent faces of the kids at the project. They were so excited to see us when he got there.




Hilarity TV in the Van

Prayer: Adjustment of Faith



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

I need Strength..

It's been too long since I last blogged. I've been wanting to do a massive blog post about my mission trip to Thailand; but I've been too busy with packing my room and sorting other things out. Amidst all that, I think I'm going through a rather important time in my life right now where I'm evaluating where God's leading me this year and in the future.

I didn't want to blog, but I'm been inspired to do so by Jon's encouraging emails elaborating excerpts from my previous blog posts! I'm truly grateful for such a friend like Jon. He's overwhelmingly encouraging. He's the only person I know that would search the archives of my blog for inspiration and encouragement. Hence, I've decided to share what I wrote in my journal today. It's a rather long post about how God's spoke to me specifically today:

" Sha and I had our first driving lesson today. We got our instructor, Susanne, through a recommendation by the Hoe's. Susanne alerted me to all the knitty-gritty things that I negligently overlook when I drive casually - to the extent that I got nervous before every maneuver. Nevertheless, I started to get the hang of driving cautiously and getting into the habit of making pronounced headchecks and mirror checks. I finally learned the proper technique for the 3-point turn and the reverse parallel park. They're very simple low-speed maneuveres really.

My willingness to be completely detachd from Fungus/101, coupled with my immense apprehension about joining Vive; shaken together thoroughly; sprinkled with my enthusiastic eagerness about treading the unfamiliar and daunting grounds of University minitry through Studentlife; has been an overwhelming burden upon my weary heart, mind and soul.

Vive is the uni-group in my home church, Crossway Baptist. And I rightfully should be part of and serving in it. However, my apprehension is greatly due to the drastic culture difference between Vive and Fungus. Vive is a lemon cake sprinkled with sesame seeds; while Fungus is a tasty mudcake with the most stringent spray of icing. Obviously, they taste completely different: it would take a great deal of confidence, motivation, and perseverance to overcome the inertia of learning to love lemon cake.

Fungus, on the other hand, is a place I feel at home. I sincerely love the people in it. I grew up in Fungus. I am part of it. And it definitely possesses a significant portion of my being. People like Qynn, Chris, John, Gab, Shaun, Nick, Aud, Alv, Sonjia, Lashes, Ruth, Jon, Franny, Pete, Vernis and Nicole have had great influences on my life; they have no doubt helped to shape me into who I am this day. I am eternally grateful. I've been serving as a Fungus leader for a year now, and I'm loving it. I feel that God has primed me up by giving me an opportunity to be part of the core leadership so that I can contribute greatly to the growth of Fungus this year. However, my parents feel that the greater church, FGA, has got flawed biblical teachings and would prove an unsuitable church to be part of. Hence, they have warned me not to continue serving, or being part of, a ministry in FGA. My parents are great, God-fearing, bible-studying, people-loving, Jesus-following people whom I respect greatly. So I take their opinions with considerable importance. And frankly, that is a tough nut for me to swallow. I wouldn't even call it a nut, it's more like a massive durian with razor sharp stainless steel spikes. I know it's going to hurt if I swallow it; I might even bleed. I know I will bleed.

About Studentlife. During my short mission trip to Thailand, God convicted my heart about doing something that significantly changes LIVES with my life. I was inspired by Mink, Prue, Alexandra, and all the other Compassion staff (interpreters, child workers, teachers, cooks, pastors, etc.) They've committed their lives to serving Christ in their profession - and in some way to bring joy and hope into the lives of poverty-stricken children. They have seized a marvellous opportunity to show the unconditional and unfailing love of God to those who would listen! Seeing the overwhelming joy that permeats through the childrens' smiles and actions because of our acts of love, brings such joy and warmth to my innermost being. It makes me feel as though my life was well-spent; truly meaningful. What could be more rewarding than to spend everyday sharing and multiplying the love of Christ to poverty-stricken children who would ever so openly receive it?!

That has inspired me to share that same love, the Love of God, to people in uni. I remember seeing somewhat of a vision of a group of enthusiastic CHristians worshipping God on a stage right in the middle of South Lawn. And everyone who walked past glanced by in awe and amazement. There's nothing we can do to save souls; but I envisaged the Holy Spirit flowing ever so strongly in that place to touch and convict the deepest parts of everyone that looked on. So much so that they too would worship the Lord our God. I foresaw a new revolution - a love revolution totally devoted to Jesus Christ.

Honestly, I lack faith, although I do beleive that it is possible. Hence, my worry; my anxiety; my doubt.

As I worshipped God just then, he subtly put images into my mind about what he wanted me to do in each of these 3 ministries this year.

Vive was first. As I sang, the theme of me surrendering my life to the will of God came up over and over again. now I know that altohugh it makes no sense to learn to eat lemon cake, God is saying: "Trust in Me."

O Lord, would you please have your way in me. I humbly offer my life to you. Give me confidence and strength by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Studentlife was second. I began to think about gathering all the Christian friends I knew in Uni and uniting us all. God put names into my heart to invite to Studentlife's kick-off camp: Alv, Aud, Chris, NIgel, Ven, Tim, Nic, etc. I thank God for showing me the first stop to take in making a difference in Uni.

I pray, O Lord, that you'd continue to grant me wisdom and vision from your Holy Spirit.

I didn't expect it: Fungus was third! God caused me to think about the lack of passion in the leadership; and what I could offer to it. I thought about the opportunity I would have to further encourage people like Jon, Franny, Harold, Tony, etc. And even to mentor the Assistant Leaders like Shaun. I take this as a clear sign that I should remain serving in Fungus.

I'm glad that you answered when I sought you, Lord. Forgive me of my short-comings and grant me strength."

I'll blog about my trip to Thailand tmr should time permit! :)