July has always been my favourite month; probably because people tend to be biased towards the month that they were born in. But this July has been, without a doubt, the most blessed that I have ever felt. Maybe it was because of the time I got to spend with family during a time of high emotions, maybe it was the multiple reunions with old friends, maybe it was the hugs I received from my Sunday School kids, or maybe it was just catching up over dinner.
Whatever it was, the one thing that I decided to do was to be present in each and every moment. I wanted to give my fullest of attentions, to feel the emptiness of loss, to reminisce with smiles and laughter, to absorb the warmth of deep friendship, to speak truth and blessing, and to share in the experience of blossoming love.
My visit home was meant to be a time of catching up old friends and celebrating new beginnings but life has a way of throwing a wrench into your plans.
Turns out, grandma ended up passing away suddenly. I say ‘suddenly’ because when I came back home to visit her back in March, she started regaining a little strength back; she was improving. So I was expecting to see her this time around and I didn’t get the chance, I was both sad and angry. Angry that she couldn’t just wait a few more days for me to see her one last time (I say that semi-facetiously, by the way, in case you couldn’t hear it through written word). But when I was there, standing over her coffin, looking at the woman who had played such a huge part in sculpting the person that I am today, all I could think about how glad I was for her. Glad that she is now free from the physical struggles, free from eating that crappy food at the retirement home, free from loneliness, but mainly glad that she is in the hands of our Lord and Maker. I will miss her dearly but this world is but for a moment. We will have eternity to see each other. Love you grandma.
Beginning your trip home by saying goodbye to a loved one pretty much means the remaining time can only go up from there and go up, did it ever. What a blessed time!
Here are some of the highlights.
The main reason for this trip home was to attend the wedding of one of my closest friends; would’ve been hard to be the best man from Asia. One of my favourite moments was spending my birthday flying under the radar at the cottage for my friend’s bachelor party. I never liked making too big a deal on my birthday so being able to spend it with old friends with the focus being on my buddy was the perfect birthday present to me.
It was a beautiful wedding. Inspiring, if you will 🙂 Blessed to be able to be there for my good friend in this new stage in life. Because of this wedding though, I was able to reconnect with old friends I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Catching up over meals means that I ate enough Chinese food and drank enough coffee to last me for at least a couple of years.
My trip home wouldn’t have been complete without a trip back to my second home, Victoria. One of my favourite memories was surprising my church kids at a day camp. Sitting in the back of the church, absorbing all the smiles and laughter as the camp leaders were attempting to corral 170 excited kids for a group picture. Seeing all my little kids that weren’t so little anymore, all I could do was smile. The best and worst moment of that whole experience was when the kids exclaimed, “you’re finally back!” It broke my heart to have to tell them that I was only back for a visit. Seeing their genuine sad faces both hurt my heart and healed it at the same time. It hurt to know that they were sad and that I was disappointing them, but at the same time, I was touched that they remembered and cared enough about me to actually be sad.
I suppose one of the subtle lies that I was starting to believe was that, perhaps, I was forgotten. Before I left for Thailand, I had questioned God’s timing in all this. I felt like I had just started picking up some momentum with the Kids/Pre-teen ministry at church and wondered why He wouldn’t let me develop that more, why He wouldn’t want me to build deeper relationships. I wondered what difference I was able to make in the 2 hrs a week for 4 years that I spent working with kids. I wondered whether or not I’d just be forgotten. Clearly, I wasn’t and God helped me recognize that with all the hugs and love that I received from those kids.
The most surreal moment I had, though, was when I was speaking to my church on Sunday. I was a little nervous as public speaking isn’t exactly my forte, but God knew that, so He sent me an angel, quite literally. Sitting in the pew in front of me was a little girl and her parents. We seemed to have connected almost instantly. So much so that after I walked off the stage from my talk, she had switched seats and was now sitting between me and my friend Barb. From that point on, she never left my side for the entire morning. She follow me into the gym for coffee and just stood by my side as people came up to me to share a word of encouragement. We went to Sunday School and she saved me a seat next to her. It was the sweetest moment ever. I felt like God sent me His angel as a physical reminder that He was there.
Being in Victoria was a blessed time. Catching up over BBQs, sharing our stories of what’s been going on, catching up on laughs, reminiscing with old roommates, talking about the future with old co-workers; all was an amazing time of refueling for the next stage.
As I was consciously trying to be present in each and every moment, I noticed that it also allowed me to see more clearly what God was doing. The thing that I noticed was that God was giving me each and every one of these moments as a means to refuel me for the new journey ahead. The past year and a half has been both amazing and yet the most trying thing that I have ever done in my entire life. It had drained a lot of the spirit, drive, and optimism out of me. I guess I didn’t realize that I had nothing left to give until I noticed myself absorbing every moment, every encounter, every smile, and every hug. But God knew. God knew that this was exactly what I needed before I even realized myself.
So what’s this new journey, you ask? Well, over this past year, I have been really felt a call to continue to work with children in the area of education. Which means what was once a 2 year plan is quickly becoming an extended plan. What’s also been interesting is that I am beginning to feel a real strong pull towards the Burmese people and Burmese children in particular. Listening to the stories of their situation and the plight of the Burmese people has really put a burden on my heart.
So, in just a few weeks, I will be moving to Mae Sot, Thailand. This is a city that sits on the Thai-Burma border in the Northwest. My organization has been working up there for a few years now, partnering with the migrant schools providing them with access to clean water. It’s the perfect opportunity to begin working with Burmese children. The exact details of what I will be doing are still yet to be determined but there are a lot of different opportunities that I can get involved in. There are a lot of people and organizations up there doing great things and what I hope to do is partner as best as I can filling in the gaps with my passions and skill set.
Even though the move is still within Thailand, everything will be different. New city, new house, new friends, new co-workers, and a new language. Yes, since I will be mainly working with Burmese and Karen people, this means I will have to learn at least 2 new languages. Nervous about that but confident that God is in this and He will give me the capacity to learn it.
Extremely excited and yet frighteningly nervous about this big change. But through it all, I know that I will draw closer to the one who’s leading me for strength.
Originally posted to Life Passions