One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.

Paulo Coelho

As I reflect on 2015, I realized that I did a lot, learned a lot, was challenged a lot, and, as a result, grew a lot. Yea.. a lot happened. And I thank God for this year, despite the heartbreaks (#THB!), the trials, the tears, and the moments when I wanted to say, “I QUIT!” but stayed anyway. It was in those moments that were the most life changing. And I want to continue changing and growing into the woman God has called me to!

Inspired by my friend, Avah, who created a list of 101 tasks to accomplish in 1001 days, I want to create my own list. There are so many things I keep saying I want to do but never wrote down. Since 30 is SO close (1227 days! aka < 3.5 years), I thought I would do the 30 by 30 bucket list instead. (:

  1. Solo travel (of course, this is number 1 – lol). – 7/26-30/2017: Chiang Mai
  2. Move to a new city. – 10/27/2016: Hong Kong
  3. See the Northern Lights.
  4. Backpack across Southeast Asia.
  5. Take a roadtrip. – 1/28/2016-2/2/2016
  6. Get another tattoo. – 4/21/2017
  7. Finish my rainbow earring series.
  8. Go skydiving and/or bungee jumping.
  9. Learn to swim.
  10. Visit/hike 5 national parks in the United States.
    1. Yosemite
    2. Zion
    3. Rocky Mountain
    4. Acadia
    5. Shenandoah
    6. Great Smoky Mountain
    7. Petrified Forest
    8. Cuyahoga Valley
    9. Saguaro
  11. Read the entire Bible.
  12. Attend a [multi-day/weekend] music festival.
  13. Tip 100%. – 9/4/2016
  14. Create that website/campaign/nonprofit I’ve been dreaming about.
  15. Visit 25 states.
    1. New York
    2. New Jersey
    3. Connecticut
    4. Massachusetts
    5. North Carolina
    6. Texas
    7. Delaware
    8. Maryland
    9. Colorado
    10. Oregon
    11. California
    12. Missouri
    13. Minnesota
    14. Utah
    15. Nevada
    16. Hawai`i
    17. Vermont
    18. New Hampshire
    19. Pennsylvania
    20. Illinois
    21. Alabama
    22. Mississippi
    23. Oklahoma
    24. Virginia
    25. South Carolina
    26. Arkansas
    27. New Mexico
    28. Maine
    29. Ohio
    30. Arizona
    31. Georgia
  16. Get my master’s degree. – 8/2016
  17. Own/cut down to 100 items.
  18. Couchsurf.
  19. Be part of a protest. – 11/25/2016
  20. Attend a charity ball.
  21. Take my mom on a trip.
  22. Fix my teeth.
  23. Save $5k.
  24. Watch all of Miyazaki’s films.
    1. Castle in the Sky
    2. My Neighbor Totoro
    3. Kiki’s Delivery Service
    4. Porco Rosso
    5. Whisper of the Heart
    6. Princess Mononoke
    7. Spirited Away
    8. Howl’s Moving Castle
    9. Ponyo
    10. Arrietty
    11. From Up on Poppy Hill
    12. The Wind Rises
    13. The Table of the Princes Kaguya
    14. When Marnie was There
  25. Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
  26. Learn to fight/take a self-defense class.
  27. Roll perfectly. – 2/19/2016
  28. Catch a last minute flight to a random destination.
  29. Conquer my fear of balloons.
  30. Put $30 into savings for every goal I finish.
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It’s official. I leave Hong Kong on June 15th. I don’t know how to feel. I feel so much, but I can’t feel anything. That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? But that’s what it feels like. My heart feels so overwhelmed that it can’t process anymore and shuts down.

How do I process 18+ months of service?
So much has happened.

How do I say “good-bye” (more like “see you later”) to those I’ve journeyed with here?
So many stories I’ve heard.

How do I say “hello” to a country that never felt like home?
So much has changed.

How do I interpret my heart’s song into words for you to understand?

That is the reality.

🤔

Abuse is such a taboo and triggering topic. I think it’s important to acknowledge that:

  1. Men can be abused.
  2. Any type of relationship can be abusive.
  3. Abuse is NOT just physical. Abuse can be psychological, emotional, and spiritual.

I’m not saying that I’m in an abusive relationship, but I’ve been thinking about it more recently, especially about the church and toxic relationships. I have nothing substantial to say except I’ve been thinking and evaluating my own life and relationships. 🤔

“Though you cannot go back and start again, you can start from now and have a brand new end.”

Let’s be real. My diminished spirit is crying out… has been crying out for months. I am tired. I am drained. I am done. I don’t know what Jesus was talking about when He said that His yoke being easy and His burden light ’cause it ain’t. The once joyful, enthusiastic missioner that left New York seemed to have disappeared into the Hong Kong stressful bustle, into a relationship that required more giving than receiving, into friendships that tore down rather than built up, into the pressure of a society that cares more about profits than people.

Perhaps Jesus’ burden is lighter than what society tells us what we should do? Perhaps that I don’t have to listen to what culture tells me what I need in order to be enough? Perhaps it’s knowing that me being me is enough?

If it is, it doesn’t feel like it. Me being me doesn’t seem to be enough for my partner, for my friends, for my job applications. I am being slowly undone, and some things have to go. So, I choose to let go of my toxins. I choose to say no to the people and stressors that do not give me life in the past few months. Easier said than done. When you build a majority of your life on something and it’s gone, what do you have left? Little pieces that resemble your life that you know are not your life. Break down to rebuild. Is 3 months enough time to rebuild, or am I too late? Is it ever “too late”?

No.

Start now.

And I did. I started to design more, to write, to crochet, to boulder. I started to do the things that made me happy. It’s difficult to flip off cultural expectations, but it’s even more difficult to live with cultural expectations that drain you. Slowly, I will feed my spirit. Slowly, I will relight my flame.

Happy New Year! 🐶

As a child, Lunar New Year stood out the most of all the holidays. At home, it meant red packets, new clothes, fried foods, and loads of sweets. But at school, it was an ordinary day.

As a young adult, Lunar New Year meant a family dinner if we were home. Outside of our Chinese community, for the rest of the United States, it was an ordinary day.

As I serve in Hong Kong, Lunar New Year is an enormous holiday. It means multiple days off, shut down of most businesses, and a quiet over the busy metropolis. Such a contrast!

But it doesn’t feel like it’s my holiday. I don’t own up to it. I don’t get excited about it. I never felt I was Asian enough to make my own tradition but never American enough to ignore it altogether. Because I’m both and neither at the same time, a complexity that I didn’t understand growing up.

Holidays always make me nostalgic but also contemplative. It’s interesting the topics I choose to contemplate though. Apparently, for this one, I chose to think about my Asian-American identity (do you sense a pattern)?

The tension of my hyphen as an Asian-American has been the crux of my adolescence and young adulthood. Instead of trying to understand the complexity of this hyphen, I ignored it.

But it can’t be ignored.

It couldn’t be ignored in grad school as we explored the world through anti-oppressive lens. Where did my Asian identity fit into the talk about race? Where were my Asian brothers and sister when it came to advocating for our Black brothers and sisters?

It couldn’t be ignored when I moved across the world to serve with migrant workers. I am constantly reminded that I’m a Westerner. My passport holds more weight than my ethnicity. (“You’re not Chinese! You’re American.”)

It couldn’t be ignored during the 2016 presidential election. We are not exempt from racism. (“Go back to where you came from!”)

It was time to embrace the hyphen, my space in-between two worlds I called home. What does it mean to be both Asian and American in my passport land where I am praised as a “model minority” but criticized as a perpetual foreigner? What does it mean to serve with other Asians while raised with both Eastern and Western values? It means sitting with tension and being uncomfortable; it means accepting my hyphen for what it is; it means learning self-awareness and dismantling the systems of prejudice and injustice wherever I may be.

2018.

2017 came and went. I had no resolutions for last year because let’s be real – will I actually keep it? Nah. Is 2018 going to be any different? Probably not. And that’s okay too. There’s not going to be a “new year, new me” because the me that I am now is the me God created for me to be. I will continue to grow and change as my life unfolds and as I learn to fight with, serve with, and love with those in the margins.

My friends and I greeted 2016 with a sunrise at Fire Island, and I pray-sang a song that spoke to me during the winter of 2015 – for the Spirit to lead me where I am called, to have faith in my Creator. God has yet to fail me. 2016 was when I left for Hong Kong, and I rang in 2017 with my newfound migrant kasamas. This year, instead of going to the ocean, we went to the mountain to see the first light of 2018.

DSC00086.jpg

Lantau Peak overlooking Sunset Peak at 7am on New Years Day

With the countdown to the new year came a countdown to uncertainty, a feeling I am quite familiar with. This year brings with it uncertainty of the future. Where will I go after Hong Kong? What will I be doing? Who will I be with? How will I live? ..y’know, the usual. I can lie and say that I’m not worried because I have faith that God will provide, but honestly, I’m a mix of emotions. I’m scared but excited. I have faith but am also doubtful. We’ll see what adventures 2018 will bring and what becomes of this young adult missionary living out her ordinary adventure full of amazing days.

Today marks the halfway point of my service.

50% complete! 298 days behind me, 298 days ahead of me.

50% progress bar

Where has the time gone? What have I done during those 298 days? Honestly, it doesn’t seem like much, but then again, what is “much”?

Co-writing a research? That’s cool.
Advocating for migrant workers’ living conditions? Even better!

Providing x numbers of migrant workers with trainings and services? Nice.
Engaging with and hearing their stories? Awesome!

Society would want to know about the research and numbers; my resume would boast those quantitative information, but it is the qualitative “much”-ness I’m learning to enjoy. The first half of my missionary service’s “successes” are in those moments we cannot quantify, in those moments future employers will not ask about, in those moments that I will sorely miss when I leave. It’s struggling, fighting, and laughing with migrant workers for their rights in Hong Kong and back in their home country. It’s being present in an invisible community that radiates love while fending off oppression. It will be in this “much”-ness that I will leave part of my heart.

I know I will return home to statements and questions of Hong Kong (“Your Cantonese must be so good!” “There’s so much good Hong Kong food there!”), and I know the answers I give will not satisfy (“I spoke mostly English and very little Tagalog.” “I ate a lot of Filipino dishes.”). I will not know how to sum up 20 months of service in 2 minutes. “It was good. I learned a lot.” But that does not encompass the transformation that has happened and will continue to happen for rest of my journey here.

The next half of my journey will push me to be ever so present in the communities I’m a part of as I prepare to leave and to connect with my communities back home in the US. In the meantime, I will continue to love, advocate, and stand with those in the margins as Jesus did during His time on earth.

The people united will never be defeated!

6 months.

The past 6 months have been a blurry dream; reality never quite kicking in. “I’m really in Hong Kong. This is real,” I would tell myself. I never thought this would happen to me, but alas, I’m no exception. I’ve come to the conclusion that – despite how much Hong Kong felt like Chinatown “home” in NYC – I suffer from (dun dun dun) culture shock. According this lovely picture Google provided, I am in the depression/crisis stage(s) of my culture shock wave timeline.

culture shock

I know that these feelings will pass, but when you’re in that funk and all you want to do is eat Mexican food and go on camping roadtrips with your friends, it really sucks. I just have to ride it out, diba (right)? I know Jesus walks with us as we grieve and comforts us during our best and worst times. I believe, but I can’t feel anything but tired.

Quote

I choose my own way to burn.

The real damage is done by those millions who want to “survive.” The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don’t want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won’t take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don’t like to make waves — or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honor, truth, and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It’s the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you’ll keep it under control. If you don’t make any noise, the bogeyman won’t find you. But it’s all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny little balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as wide avenues, and a little candle burns itself out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.

Sophie Scholl

Status

Does it even matter?

I’m beginning to question the impact of my fast.

Who cares if I buy bottled water or use a plastic utensil?

I’m just ONE person.

Do my actions even matter? I’m barely making a dent.