Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Day 13: It is over

They arrived back safely, each one of them.
I still smiled.
I was happy for them.
I mamak-ed with them.
Wactched a game of world cup with them.
Heard their stories.

Somehow, it didn't ache as bad as I thought.
God is good.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 12 : Like a thorn in the flesh

Today would be the team's second last day in the Philippines. Since the weekend, I haven't heard any news from them. Don't know what prayer needs they need. Sometimes I forget that they even went.

They should be touching Malaysian soil about 8.20pm tomorrow. Since before the weekend, I haven't had any contact with them. I managed to overcome the pain and the hurt. And somehow found other things to focus my attention to. I felt good for a while. But just getting into contact with them to plan out their return plan, brought back alot of painful memories. It was a flashback of all the things that could have. I thought I was all right. I thought I was strong again. But in a split instant, I was feeling where I was when the team left. It should have been me. Those thoughts keep coming back.

I don't know if they'll ever understand the feeling of being left behind. 'Why Me?' questions keep popping up. I'm shredded to an emotional mess again. A part of me still wants to meet them up at the airport to welcome them back tomorrow. But a part of me feels that I would break down and cry when I did see them. I really do not know how the whole scenario would be like. I think about it all, and it freaks me out. My meeting them at the airport will be accompanied with intense emotions. I hope I can handle it all. I hope I would be strong enough to put up a cheerful face. I hope I can forget that I wasn't supposed to be part of the team. All hopes. What happens when reality sets in? I wonder how it would feel like as they tell all their stories while I just listen? I don't know. I pray I have enough grace to carry this out.

Lord, help me to let go....of this....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Day 11 : It's Monday

It's been 4 days after my papers. Life is a lot easier now. But I'm still seeking purpose. I'm waiting for the results. There is so much to do. Don't quite know where exactly to start. Been trying to start somewhere, though.

It's been about 2 weeks since this whole ordeal started, with me getting the news of my failure. 2 Weeks later, it feels like it was just yesterday, yet as if it never happened. When I really want to think of it, it feels like just yesterday I was down and feeling out. But when I let my mind wander, it's as if the whole thing never happened. It's so easy to forget it all, sometimes. I'm wanting to learn.

I have to keep reminding myself that all this did happen. I have to constantly look out for the reasons all this had to happen. But when I slack, I forget. Is it such of human nature, that even in hardship, we can forget so easily.

Sometimes pain allows us to be closer to our destiny and dreams. Without it, I would slip into the comfort zone effortlessly. And soon forget what I was fighting for....

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Day 10 : Celebration Sunday

Parents came up today:) Another day that we could worship God as a family under one roof. I'm beginning to treasure these moments. As me and my sister step out of home, I realize we're spreading our wings to fly. And sooner or later, we'll go our own ways. It won't be the same. So whenever we meet as a family, it's just priceless.

The chairman for today did a small mistake. It's funny. He said let's pray for the MMU Mission Team in the Philippines. And as he read out the names, he mentioned my name as well. It felt weird. Cause, the people around me were looking at me in puzzlement. What was I still doing here if they were still praying for the missions team. Then the chairman saw me amidst the crowd and told the congregation the team was probably back since I was here in the service.

Thinking about this whole thing, there's so much that I'm experiencing here that I wouldn't be able to if I had gone to the Philippines. Some of the more important things, is celebrating Father's Day with my dad. He said it was the best Father's Day gift he's ever had. I felt bad that I couldn't get him anything. I was planning to get him something from the Philippines. But he said me being here with him to celebrate was the best thing I could give him. This Father's Day, not one of us was missing:) We were all 'intact' as a family.

Other than that, me being here in Cyberjaya during this period, I've been able to help me sister settle down. She's doing fine so far. But I manage to hook her up with some fo my friends that would be able to advice her in the course she's going to take. Then I also introduced her to most of my friends that are in the CF. And I also got to meet her friends. I never thought I'd be one brother to look after my sister. But I guess I'm doing my job as an older brother after all.

Then today, we manage to celebrate my sister's 'early' birthday....as a family. Her birthday is not till the 27th, but my parents wanted to celebrate for her because they might not be able to see her during the week. So it was good that I was around. At least I was there and not becoming a 'hole' in the family. And it's the same for my dad's case; I was hoping to buy her something from the Philippines as well. So much for it:)

I guess there's so much to thank God for :) More than I can even think or imagine.

Thank You Lord!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Day 9 : Teenacity

I've been approached to serve in Teenacity, the teens ministry in my church. I've a heart for young people and I would love to serve in this area. I want to be a part of these teenagers life and build it. But when I think of the time and committment, I shudder. It's really an investment of your time, money, sweat, tears, blood....

I told them I would be in the Philippines around this time, so I wouldn't be able to help out just yet. But God had other plans. So, here I was, without an excuse not to go for their meeting. Today was my first Teenacity experience!

It was in a way fun. More relaxed than normal service. It really brought back alot of memories of my teenage days, when I was serving in my Youth Fellowship back home. It's almost the same. Painting the Wall of Faith, reminded me of painting the wall of my youth hall back then. The worship session was raw....as in, there weren't that many songs or fancy bands, but just a simple setup, yet exuberant worship. It was just awesome. Sometimes, worship sessions should just be stripped down to this. The rawness of it, yet with full sincerity. And the sight of so many teenagers. Reminded me that I was once their age. Mien! I feel old! Then the message. It was downright like a pep talk. It was simple and applicable. I felt, this is what I want to do. Invest in young people's lives. Someone believed in me, that's why I'm where I am today. Someone prayed for me, that's why I am where I am today too. I get a feeling that serving in this teens ministry is gonna suck the life out of me. It's gonna be alot of emotional and spiritual investment, as you start clicking with the teens and getting into their lives in a positive way, sticking up for them and spurring them on. It's tiring, but at the end of the day, when you see them realise their potential and start to soar, you know it's worth it.

Today was a whole good day in church. With sister and friends. I'm still trying to see the bigger picture. Why am I here....

Lord, show me. I don't want to miss out the reason.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Day 8 : Redemption

Today is THE DAY!! yeah, I know the Lord made it too. But today is the Big day. All my days of preparation will be summerised in this 2 hours.

I really thank those who woke me up. In the event that I might carry on sleeping and not wake up, I informed a few people to wake up, just in case.

It's either do or die . I couldn't afford to worry anymore. I decided, just do it. I memorised all the formulas and then headed to the exam hall.

I made it a point to read through every single question, like how my tutor asked me too. Then I attempted my first question. Praise God! I could complete the whole 1st question. It was different from the tutorials I did, but all the days of training helped me define the objective of the question and answer it.

My tutor and lecturer both told me that I needed about 40 marks out of 100 to pass. I had a good carry up mark. So I needed this 40/100 to add on to that carry mark and pass. They both told me, you need to answer 2 complete questions. Try a 3rd, if possible. They said that this time, it's not about scoring, but passing. So, it was important that I do the sufficient few that I could and do it well. And have some for backup. My lecturer told me that as long as I could write down the proper formulas for the question and substitute it properly, I could get some marks. So the summary, just do 2 questions. 1 more just in case.

It was difficult choosing the 2nd question because all looked equally tough, with some part I didn't know how to do. But the 1st completed question gave me confidence. God was with me in the examination. The 2nd question, I could do more than half, but the last bit, I got stuck. So instead of thinking how to do, I hopped on to my 3rd. The 1st half of the third, I didn't know how to do it. Could be due to the panic, I forgot it's application. But I manage to come up with something for the 2nd part. Then I was checking over and over again.

If all goes well, I should be able to pass. I did the required 2 questions. Then add the few more parts I did to cover the parts I couldn't do, it should suffice. Even if I pass by the skin of my teeth, I don't care, I just want to pass this and move on with my life:)

Thank you Lord for being faithful. Even when I am faithless.

The team would be doing their second concert tonite. I so wish I could be there to join them. There was no outgoing Air Asia flight for the day. The earliest would be the next day. But after much checking, the cheapest ticket would cost RM 1075. *Sighs*. I did ask God for a sign if I should still go after the papers. The sign would be someone would give me sufficient cash to purchase the ticket, or that Air Asia would have a promotion or something that would make it more feasible to make my trip to the Philippines. I concluded that since none of this happened, it wasn't meant to be then. *double sighs*

It's written somewhere in the Bible that man can plot and scheme, but it is the Lord who determines their steps. So there goes all my planning and scheming. The Lord has determined I shoudn't go. Well, maybe there would be other things to look out for while I'm back here. I should keep my eyes open.

For dinner, my tutors friend, who was also my friend treated me to dinner. He said it was for the hard work I had put in for this paper. I felt so bad. I'm putting in hard work because I failed the first time...and still he's treating me. I really enjoyed the talk over the dinner. Made me realise that there is more to life than exams. And after every failure, to pick yourself up and move on. Sometimes, university is the preparation for bigger things to come. It's boot camp. It does not show exactly the world for how it is, but it's just a preparation stage. The most important thing is to accept the situation and move on. Don't stay there in the mud. Pick yourself up and carry on, mud-stained and all. Just move along. God willling, things will become better. But first, admit your situation. This whole process has taught me some valueble lessons in life.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Day 7 : Desperation

Today, I studied alone. My friend's paper was this morning. So while he was in the process of becoming a free man, I was still going through the motions of perfecting my studies. I was more afraid that he couldn't wake up for his exam. So I woke up around the same time just to make sure he was awake. Imagine studying so hard to pass this final barrier, only to miss the whole paper because you snoozed the alarm a bit more than it should.

Being alone in the library was all right at first. But then, it got really boring. Kinda makes you wish you were the world. But I knew I had to be on campus so that I could ask my tutor or lecturer anything I didn't understand. Today will be the last day in the library for me. After 5 pm, I knew I would be on my own. All the help I could get would be packing their bags and heading home at 5.

By nightfall, I really felt alone all over again. Intense alone. And I panicked. I started having doubts. My feet got cold. I really had to cry to God to grant me assurance that I'll make it. I pleaded for peace. I still tried my best to Praise Him. I couldn't sleep.

This is the 4th time I'll be sitting for the same paper. The first time was the main paper, and after I failed, I had to sit for a supplementary paper to pass. I failed that too. I had to retake the subject, and again I failed. This would be the 4th time, being the supplementary paper. It's traumatic for me. When I think of it, it's like staring at a brick wall. How am I going to scale this thing? With each exam I sit for, my confidence is shreded to bits. With each exam I sit, the feeling of incompetency sets in deeper. I feel useless. I really wonder why God allowed me through this path. It's not that I'm not workign or studyign hard enough.

Lord, don't fail me now. Ask I go through this valley, do not leave me nor farsake me. Be the light for my path. Be my pillar of strength. Be my hope. Right now, all I need is hope. Help me Lord. I need a breakthrough.

Tonite would be the first concert the team will be holding in the Philippines. I was supposed to lead worship for this concert. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Day 6 : Numb

I don't feel anything anymore. Not feeling sad, but also not having a high. Just doing the routine of going to the library to study. I got to make it through. Just keep pushing. So fast, it's already the 6th day their in the Philippines. Sometimes when you're in a new country, 6 days could seem like forever. But for those back home, it might seem like seconds.

I wonder, am I still supposed to be in that state of feeling down? So that I can somehow cry out to God for a breakthrough? I just don't feel anything.... maybe it's like a 'come what may' situation.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Day 5 : It still hurts sometimes

I managed to talk to some of the mission team people online. Felt the need to cover them in prayer. So asked them to update me and hand me any prayer request, so that I can forward to the CF to pray as well. As I heard the exciting news from them, somehow, I felt heavy within. The same recurring feeling - I should have been there - kept surfacing. I couldn't help it. I so wanted to be happy for them. But each second, my heart grew heavier. Regret crept in. That left me feeling down for a bit.

Sometimes it's hard to share the joy....especially when it should have been you....
But I'm trying....

Lord, I surrender all these feeling of failure, regrets, hopelessness......into Your loving hands, believing that You have it all planned out way before. Lord, teach me to trust You. And to have the strength to carry on, day by day. Whatever lesson that I need to learn, help me learn it, and quick.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Day 4 : Hoping to find purpose

A friend of mine also failed his paper. And I've been accompanying him in the library. At least I know I'm not alone. Having company helps ease the burden.

Maybe I'm supposed to stay behind to keep him company.I don't know. Just maybe. I'm still trying to make sense of everything. I'm trying to see how the puzzle fits. Everything just doesn't seem to have meaning. As the saying goes, " everything happens for a reason". I'm seeking that reason.

Today, manage to get help from one of the tutors. He's been a tremendous help. I'm learning alot. He's doing what he can to ensure I make it pass this exam. On my part, I really have to humbly ask him to teach me all the forgotten fundamentals of this subject. I really appreciate him making time to teach me things I should already know. For this, I'm indebted to him. My reward to him is to make sure I pass this paper.

As I was walking out of the office, I met his other tutor friend, which also happens to be my friend. This is the guy that got me connected to the tutor who is coaching me. He's also been very helpful in giving me advice and encouragement in a time like this. I'm thankful that he hasn't given up hope on me. Therefore, he says that I shouldn't give up hope on myself. On their part, they are doing all they can to make sure I make it. So I have to do my part and finish it well. Before I left, he reminded me not to lose faith.

Somehow, faith did play a part. He reminded me, that there must be a reason why I had extended my apartment contract to the end of June instead of ending it in May. At least now I didn't have to run around looking for a place to stay while having to rpepare for the exam. There also had to be a reason why I got to know him only in the last trimester. The fact that I personally befriended him at all, in this lifetime, is a divine 'coincidence'. Our paths hardly crossed beyond an acquaintance hi-and-bye. But somehow, we're more than just acquaintance now. And he was the one that manage to hook me up with the tutor who's been really helping me. Everything did happen for a reason. Not just mere coincidence.

So as I wait, I'm still wanting to see the bigger picture. What is the main reason for me being here. There's definitely got to be something that I needed to do. I don't know.

On a more encouraging note, my friend who also failed just told me that he is giving up smoking for good. So far, it's Day 14 without cigarettes for him. When I met him, he couldn't stop smoking. Now, he's trying his best to put an end to this detrimental habit. And I applaud him for that. The courage to want to stop smoking. This has to be the best news I've heard today. My prayers are with him:)

Still seeking purpose....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Day 3 : Beginning to see the Light

Began the day in church....doing the most painful thing for me....Praising God.

At the missions trip training, I had to preach, and so did everybody else. My message was titled, The Power Of Praise. At that point, I was still expecting God to work a miracle for me. A miracle of passing my exams and going to the Philippines. I spoke about praising God at all times. I spoke about the life of King David, how his soul praised the Lord, even when things weren't going all good for him. I said, that praising God helped us to put into perspective the troubles that go on in our lives. When we praise God, we are saying that God is bigger than the situation we are in. I told the rest that when we praise God, we are looking beyond the current circumstances, to the end product, where God will make all things beautiful. I even added in my sermon an, 'add testimony here' clause. In the event I did go to Philippines, I was gonna testify God's goodness in seeing me past my exams so I could be there. But I guess God has other plans. As I spoke, I was believing, so sure that in about a weeks time, I would be in Bagiuo, speaking to all the Filipino college kids; challenging them with 3 words, to "Praise The Lord". I closed my sermon with a challenge for God to give each of us a new song of praise to sing to Him, even when at times we didn't feel like it.

And then, my world caved in. And here I was, in the presence of God, struggling to praise Him, so contrary to the confidence I had just a few days ago. But I told myself, live what you preach. And as I did, I cried. Coz it hurt so much. The ironic thing, the first song that went up had Praise The Lord all over it. Felt like God knew my hurt and He was rubbing salt all over it. Or so I thought. But praised Him, I did.

Halfway through, I realised my my heart wasn't so heavy anymore. By the end, I was smiling, my spirit uplifted. Somehow, praising God also lifts up your spirit to rise against the challenges that lay ahead.

Praise The Lord!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Day 2 : still why Lord?

Look to the Lord....

Sounds easier than it looks. I'm still wondering. When I think of it, it cuts me.
But Lord, help me to praise you in a time like this......

Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Lord?

Today, I was supposed to be on that morning plane to the Philippines. I was supposed to have touched down in Manila and take that bus to Baguio together with the rest of the missions team. I was supposed to be staying at the Asia Pacific Teological Seminary and be at the youth meeting right there in Baguio. I was.....

Lord, I don't understand. What's Your reason with keeping me here? There's got to be some sort of explanation. I'm ready. But why can't I go? Everything seems to be blocking me from going for this mission trip.

Lord, why the failed paper? Isn't it enough that I've failed more times than I want to remember? Isn't it enough that I've got to fail a paper in my final trimester? Isn't it enough that I can't go to the Philippines?

Broke....Alone....Left out....