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. (:
Solo travel (of course, this is number 1 – lol). – 7/26-30/2017: Chiang Mai
Move to a new city. – 10/27/2016: Hong Kong
- See the Northern Lights.
- Backpack across Southeast Asia.
Take a roadtrip. – 1/28/2016-2/2/2016
Get another tattoo. – 4/21/2017
- Finish my rainbow earring series.
- Go skydiving and/or bungee jumping.
Learn to swim.
Visit/hike 5 national parks in the United States.
- Rocky Mountain
- Great Smoky Mountain
- Petrified Forest
- Cuyahoga Valley
- Read the entire Bible.
- Attend a [multi-day/weekend] music festival.
Tip 100%. – 9/4/2016
- Create that website/campaign/nonprofit I’ve been dreaming about.
Visit 25 states.
- New York
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
Get my master’s degree. – 8/2016
- Own/cut down to 100 items.
Be part of a protest. – 11/25/2016
- Attend a charity ball.
- Take my mom on a trip.
- Fix my teeth.
- Save $5k.
- Watch all of Miyazaki’s films.
Castle in the Sky
My Neighbor Totoro
Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Whisper of the Heart
Howl’s Moving Castle
- From Up on Poppy Hill
The Wind Rises
The Table of the Princes Kaguya
- When Marnie was There
- Go to the top of the Empire State Building.
Learn to fight/take a self-defense class.
Roll perfectly. – 2/19/2016
- Catch a last minute flight to a random destination.
- Conquer my fear of balloons.
- Put $30 into savings for every goal I finish.
Abuse is such a taboo and triggering topic. I think it’s important to acknowledge that:
- Men can be abused.
- Any type of relationship can be abusive.
- 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. 🤔
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”?
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.
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.
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.
50% complete! 298 days behind me, 298 days ahead of me.
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!
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.
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.
You know you’re super into your fast when you dream about getting a plastic straw at a restaurant and feel guilty (but forgiven).
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.
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.
For lent, I decided to “be more eco-friendly” and not use any items wrapped/sold in plastic/Styrofoam, plastic utensils/bottles/plates, etc. It’s day 2, and THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.
But God has shown grace yesterday when I was completely unprepared with food.
We had to get takeout (usually coworkers would bring some yummy Filipino/Indonesian dishes) because of an 8-hour meeting but found a place that serves its meals in cardboard. I wasn’t the happiest about using a takeout container, but it’s better than plastic… for now.
I didn’t have any vegetables to cook dinner and was already late. I was prepared to get my veggies from the wet market and be super late when LO AND BEHOLD! What should appear in front of me but a random vegetable stand in the middle of the ferry lobby!? I turned to my friend and said, “SEE?! GOD ANSWERS PRAYERS!”