Trust in God’s Timing

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Of late, I haven’t been able to sleep well. We didn’t have school yet because of the NCov outbreak in Vietnam so we were just asked to stay at home for two weeks after Tet Holiday. I usually sleep late after Netflixing. But then again, after only an hour or two, I will wake up again and couldn’t go back to sleep anymore.

I don’t know maybe I have been thinking subconsciously about my current situation. You see, I am in a dating relationship with this guy from another religious sect. He is a believer of Jesus but we don’t have the same religion and that’s what’s stressing me out. Every time my church friends will ask me about him, I always feel pressured to ask him to ”convert” to my religion.

Yeah, I know. Even the term that I used is inappropriate. I just felt pressured and stressed. I even asked God why would He let me meet this person and be in this complicated situation. From the world’s view, this isn’t a complex one. People might even say, just enjoy and when You get married, just marry twice so both of you can marry on both of your churches.

But that’s not how it goes for me. You see, I value my relationship with Jesus so much and I don’t want to compromise my faith and standards. I always say I want to marry a guy who has a relationship with God and who is responsible and a good provider.

Then one day, my sister told me that you didn’t put a specific quality there. She said I just put there a guy with a relationship with God and God answered that becuse this guy I’m dating has a relationship with God. He is even a devotee of Nazareno. He is a provider and very responsible especially when it comes to his work. So clearly, God answered my prayers for a man. Only that, I view it with complexities because he is not a “Christian.”

Before we started dating, I laid down all my standards to him and told him I will not have a relationship with someone who doesn’t share the same faith with me. With faith, I meant religion. He said he is willing. So when we met, he even attended the church service with me. Whenever I’m home, we would go to the church together.

But then the pressure to actually plugged him to the church comes whenever my friends would ask me about him. And I let these come to me. I even thought about ending it with him just because I don’t want to be pressured anymore.

So one saturday, I asked him what’s his plans are. If he is still willing to ”convert to my religion.” He said he stays true to what he told me before but I should not pressure or rush him. He said if I really believe in God, I should let God do His will and not manipulate the situation. I asked him if he thinks I’m doing it for myself. And his answer was a crisp ”yes.”

And it struck me.

All along I thought I’m concerned about his salvation, his relationship with Jesus. In his three-letter answer, I was rebuked and had a heart-check and I realized that I’m pressuring him to convert because I don’t wanna deal with the pressures around me anymore.

And it was life-changing.

Then the next day, God showed me the parable of the landowner.

“For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.‘‘ It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God‘‘s mercy” (Romans 9:15-16). In the matter of salvation, His grace and mercy are given to those whose self-righteous works could never obtain it. We are all sinful and “fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but His grace is sufficient to redeem all who believe. Whether God calls someone early or late in life to partake of His grace, the glory and praise for our salvation is His and His alone and in no way amounts to unfairness. Just as the landowner has a right to do what he wishes with his own money, so does God have the right to have mercy on whom He will have mercy.

It is like God telling me to not stress myself with changing this man because it is by His grace that this man will be saved. All by His grace and His timing. I should not pressure myself with my own timeline but trust in the timeline of God.

I prayed and fasted for three days after that. And in all those days, that’s what God’s been telling me. His grace. His mercy. Not my own works. I should trust God more.

And today, my last day of prayer and fasting, God showed me this:

Numbers 20:12

Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

I cried after I read this and while talking to God. I thanked Him for rebuking me, for exposing my heart enough, for letting me hear Him. I was really in so much awe. Now, I have peace that He is in the works. I should just trust His timing.

Ending This Decade with….

Ending This Decade with….

A grateful heart.

The decade 2009- 2019 was a roller coaster one. It had its share of ups and definitely low points. Hills and valleys. But in all those seasons, I was assured and kept secured that God was with me. That alone is enough reason to be grateful.

This decade saw me mourn the deaths of my precious loved ones — that of my father, grandma, uncles. But it also saw me rejoice in the truth that they are home in the arms of Jesus and someday soon, we will be reunited again.

This decade saw me shifted careers. From working in a posh 5-star hotel as a public relations officer, I am now enjoying my job as a preschool teacher. It was a shift I never regretted, though. Everyday that I go to school and get to see and experience the funny antics of my students, it’s an everyday reminder that I am exactly where God wants me to be. I am also grateful that I am still able to continue my passion for my writing as I still get to write for certain projects every now and then.

This decade saw me grow my faith in God and flourished in my walk with Him. It’s true when they say that you can experience more of Jesus if you spend more time with Him. I’ve come to know Him more and not just as a God resting in Heaven. He is my personal God and Savior. Year 2019, specifically, was the year that I’ve experienced God as my protector and shield. I am blessed to be experiencing this unconditional love from Him everyday. I am not a good person but His love is making me want to be better everyday.

This decade saw me answer the call to go to the nations. A calling I didn’t know I am actually deserving to have, but God qualified me for it. I went on a short sojourn in Medan, Indonesia and is now enjoying my season in Vietnam. Apart from the Philippines, these nations hold a special place in my heart. I got to enjoy their beautiful culture and share the beauty of knowing Jesus at the same time.

This decade also saw me keep the friends I knew from way back then and gain new friends I now call my constants. There were some I lost along the way but nevertheless, I am glad to keep those worth keeping. There were hellos and goodbyes as there were healings and restorations.

This decade saw me opened my heart again. I lost my first love in 2004 and I thought my heart won’t be able to love again. This new love isn’t the same as the old one, but who would want a repeat of an old love? I’m thankful that this new love is something I could enjoy discovering the beauty each new day. I like that it isn’t predictable and I like that I feel more secured now. It wasn’t the usual “highschool kilig” feels when we met. Rather, I felt more at home with him. I felt home with him. Will this love be until the end? Only God knows. I have offered this new love to Jesus and anchored it to Him because I know that only Jesus could make it work. I want Him to not be a special guest in our relationship but a very essential part of it.

In a few hours from now, I will be saying goodbye to this decade. This decade that gave me a different look at life. I am just thankful that God didn’t let me end this decade with unanswered prayers. I am grateful for the gift of family and friends who never fail to make me feel loved and cared for. Most of all, I am forever thankful to Jesus for choosing me and for loving me unconditionally all the days of my life.

Year 2020. I am ready to create new memories on your blank pages.

Laos: Indochina’s Hidden Charm

Laos: Indochina’s Hidden Charm

I have lived in the IndoChina region for four years now and among all the countries in the region, Laos was the one I kept delaying going to. First off, the fare isn’t that cheap. There’s another way to go there by land but it’ll take so much time. Second of all, I’m a city girl and I’ve always loved huge malls and skyscrapers and I feel like there’s nothing much to see in Laos– that if I will go there, it should be because I’m called for the mission. Which brings me to my third reason: I’m quite anxious that if I go to this nation, I might have a feeling of never wanting to leave anymore–and which I’m not yet ready to. So there.

After letting three Tet holidays and a number of Christmas breaks pass, I finally decided to book a ticket going to Laos.

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How did my Laos trip begin?

Direct flights to Laos from Vietnam could be very expensive. It could go from 300-400 usd roundtrip. Hence, I opted for the cheaper option, which is to go to Bangkok first.

Here’s an overview of my fares (and some options for you to choose if ever you want to try overland) :

  • Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok (via Don Muang Airport) roundtrip – P6,000 + (NokAir)
  • Bangkok to Vientiane (via Don Muang Airport) one way – P2,500 + (AirAsia)
  1. from my hostel in Phrong Pong, Bangkok, I rode the BTS going to Mo Chit station. From Mo Chit station, I rode the bus A2 (or A1) going to Don Muang Airport. If ever you are flying from Suvarnabhumi airport, just take the Airport Link and get off at the airport station.
  2. Another option would be to take the train from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok going to Nong Khai station. The sleeper train costs from 898 (upper berth) to 998 THB (lower berth) and around 500 THB for the seater. The train ride is approximately 10-11 hours and the train leaves the Hua Lamphong station every day at 6:30pm. Get off at Nong Khai station and ride a Tuktuk (around 30-50 THB) from the train station to the Thailand border. Do your visa processing at the Thai border and then ride the Friendship Bridge shuttle. This will take you to the Thai-Laos border, and once you clear immigration and cross into Laos you can take local transport (bus fare is 8,000 kip) to Vientiane.
  3. You can also opt to ride a direct VIP bus departing from Mo Chit Bangkok at 8pm and arriving at the Talat Sao bus station in Vientianne at 7am the next day. Bus fares range from 500-1000 THB per person. It isn’t as comfortable as the train but they do provide water and snacks onboard. There’s also a toilet inside the bus for your convenience.

Going back to Bangkok from Vientiane:

Thankfully, I have friends from Vientiane who taught me the way to go back to Bangkok the easy, budget-friendly, and convenient way, which is again, by train. Here’s another overview of the process:

  1. Ride the bus from the downtown area going to the border. Fare is 8,000 Kip. This bus will bring you to the Laos Immigration. Once you are done with your visa procedures, you can buy the shuttle ticket (4,000 Kip) on the left side of the immigration counter. This shuttle will take you through the Friendship Bridge going to the Thai Immigration in Nong Khai.
  2. Walk for about 5 minutes and you will see a number of Tuktuk drivers waiting outside the border gate. Hail a Tuktuk and ask the driver to bring you to Nong Khai train station. Fare could be between 30-50 THB.
  3. Buy your train ticket at the station. You can choose between sleeper train (First class ranges from 1300-1700 THB; Second class ranges from 898 THB for the upper berth and 998 THB for the lower berth), or the seater ones (ranging from 400-600 THB) You can also pre-book your ticket online. 
  4. The train will stop at the Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok and from there, you can just ride the MRT (Hua Lamphong station) going to your destination or hail a taxi outside.

Make sure to check the train schedules to rid yourself of any hassle schedule hassles.

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Expectation versus Reality

Before I went to Laos, I have been carrying a picture of a very old-school, countryside images in my mind about this country. Friends who have been to this nation, particularly in the capital Vientiane, told me that it’s very laid-back in there. Hence, I expect a small town with fewer people and fewer cars and quiet roads. Imagine the picture I’m picturing in my mind?

Upon arrival at the Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, I was welcomed with a really nice and prime-looking airport. It was quiet and less traffic compared to other international airports but still, it was exceptional.

Yes, Vientiane was a quiet city compared to other major cities I have been to, but it did not give me an outmoded feel. This city was not as vibrant as the cities in its neighboring countries, but it definitely is not very old-school. Rather, this city welcomed me with a serene and calm atmosphere. And yes, my expectation was different from the reality that greeted me in Vientiane. There were not many skyscrapers and their malls were not as huge and posh as the others but I like that the people here were not in a rush and they have the time to stop and smile at you. It’s like you stepped into a familiar town and you won’t feel scared because you know there will always be people who are willing to help in case you need it. It’s very homey and relaxed.

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I am fond of coffee shops — not primarily of the coffee but more of the interiors and the ambiance — and I like that this city has a lot of cozy and chic cafes to offer. I specifically liked the Chao Anou road near the Mekong River as you can find a good number of cafes and restaurants there to suit your taste and budget. There’s actually a lot of Western restaurants and cafes you can try here if you are not very adventurous with food. One of my top favorites would be the Indigo Cafe  (I could still remember the taste of its Fried pork in Tamarind Sauce with its signature blue-colored rice and its delicious Mango Sticky Rice) and Bakery by Boris  for the dessert (the Snickers cake is definitely a must-try!). And of course, Joma Cafe  must not be left out with its heavenly signature cinnamon bun.

Experiencing Luang Prabang

Since I’m already in Laos, I might as well explore the other parts of this country aside from Vientiane. So my friend helped me book a bus ticket going to Luang Prabang. Sleeper bus costs 180,000 Kip one way. And it’s a really lying-down-on-a-bed-kind-of-bus so you better be prepared for whoever you are going to share the bed-bus with. You can either pay for the whole bed so you won’t be sharing it with a stranger or just pray that you’ll be fine or pray that you will share the space with the same sex.

The bus ride was bumpy since the roads in Laos are not as developed yet. We left the Northern bus station in Vientiane around 8:30pm and we arrived in Luang Prabang around 7:30am the next day (roughly 11 hours on the road). Upon arrival, I immediately booked a return ticket to Vientiane since I was afraid that there might be no schedule available anymore when I go back. I opted the VIP bus this time, not the sleeper one since I didn’t feel comfortable with the sleeper one. The fare costs 130,000 kip one way.

And oh, by the way, it was very cold in Luang Prabang. I was not used to checking the weather on the places where I will go so I wasn’t prepared with the cold weather of LPB. I didn’t bring any sweater or jacket or even shawl with me to help ease the cold. Good thing around noon, it wasn’t as cold anymore.

I’ve heard a lot of nice things about Luang Prabang. I also did some research about it before I came in (except the weather!) and I know that you can find one of the most beautiful falls in Laos in this city — the Kuang Si Waterfalls. You can also wake up early in the morning and climb up the Mount Phousi and catch the marvel at the beauty of the sunrise there. They said it’s one of the most awesome things you must do when in Luang Prabang.

And both of that, I didn’t do. I know, right!?

Instead, I went out for a walk around 3pm after I took a good rest in my hostel (Downtown Backpackers Hostel)– which by the way was a good choice since I only paid 51,000 Kip per night and it came with breakfast. After I had lunch at Indigo Cafe (yes, I was so fond of this restaurant!), I walked past the old street area and looked for Saffron Cafe — which I chanced upon while watching MarkAbroad‘s Youtube vlog about Luang Prabang. It was quite a walk from the downtown area to the cafe’s location but it was worth it. I super loved the relaxing vibe of this cafe. I ordered Iced Latte and their flourless chocolate brownie and opted to sit outside, facing the Mekong River. It was really the highlight of my LPB trip since I got to enjoy the serene view of the river while having a sip of my coffee and reading a book. It was really fresh from my this-is-what-I-imagined-my-chill-vacation-should-look-like box. Achievement unlocked!

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When it’s already getting dark and I had already finished my book and my coffee, I decided to go back to my hostel already and take a rest since I will be back to Vientiane already early morning the next day. I passed through the old town center and had some mango shake and Nutella crepe. The old town center reminded me of Calle Crisologo in Vigan Ilocos Sur in the Philippines — only that there were more backpackers areas in LPB. I also passed by the night market where they sell different kinds of Laos souvenirs.

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I only stayed one night in Luang Prabang since I still want to spend time with my friend who’s living in Vientiane before I go back to Bangkok. I just wanted to see and experience Luang Prabang even for a while. Plus, I think it would be nice to go there with friends so you can enjoy the activities more.

Laos: Simply Beautiful

Just like its tourism slogan, Laos is really simply beautiful. It was, in fact, a revelation to me. In my mind, I have a very humble image of this country. The people seemed to be content with the simplicity of life there and they’re happy about it. Simple joys, I would say. A part of me is wishing that when I come back to this nation again, there will a lot of changes when it comes to structures, roads, buildings, etc. However, a bigger part of me would want Laos to stay that way– simple and unpretentious. I know it’s selfish but if only I could keep this nation stay somewhat hidden so inconsiderate tourists could not ruin it.

This country is not something you will go back to for shopping or for grand amusement spots. But surely, you will go back here because your heart will cause you to. Once you step your foot in here, there’s already a part of you that would want to experience this nation again and again.

Special thanks to my good friend, Marianne, for adopting me and hosting me during this trip. I really appreciate the love and warmth I received even from the local friends there and some Filipino friends who went out of their way to assist me, making sure I am safe and welcomed me to their home. See you again, soon! 🙂

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God bless this nation.

First Day High!

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I wonder how the other preschool teachers all over the world are feeling on their first day of school? I think we all share the same sentiments — it was total chaos!

The night before, I was anxious because it’s the first time I will be handling Nursery students and to be honest, I don’t have any idea how to handle them. I have been teaching preschoolers for 9 years… wait. Nine years??? I didn’t realize I have been a teacher for such a long time now! Guess, I’m really loving this job that much 🙂

Ok going back. So I was anxious because I have been teaching preschoolers for a long time now but this year is the first time I’ll be handling toddlers. And I don’t even know what I will teach them!

Morning came and I had to rush to school because we have to be there at 7:00 am to greet the students and their partners by the entrance. Then 8:00 am came which means I have to be down to my first class of the day which was my nursery class.

As expected, the whole hour was spent trying wiping tears, trying to calm them and trying to keep the children sit down. But they just won’t. A lot of waaaaaahhhhhh and Mommyyyyyy and more waaaaahhhhhs and my morning class ended.

That was the longest one hour of my life.

I’ve got 11 little babies in my nursery class. SOme of them can’t even talk. Good thing I have my assistant teacher and the Vietnamese homeroom teachers as well as the nanny to assist me in the class.

I hope tomorrow will be better. I think I will be hoping for this for the next three weeks until these babies will finally get the hang of the school environment.

My afternoon class was with the preschoolers and they’re just the exact opposite of my morning class. They were calmer and they easily followed my classroom rules and routines. The afternoon went by in a breeze.

Oh well. First day’s done. On to a hundred more days with these little cuties.

I love being a teacher! 🙂

Teacher Orientation: Kind of A Drag… But….

I am a hundred percent sure that it is not only me, but most teachers drag the orientation cum training week.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally appreciate the efforts and the hardwork that our department heads had put on those training sessions, but I just wish they just cut it into shorter times and allot more time for classroom and lesson preps.

Oh well.

But one thing I like about the orientation week in our school is that we get to see our teacher friends from other campuses. It’s like one big reunion. And hey! I got to see my teacher happy crushes, too! Awesomesauce!

This year, we had the training sessions in my campus in Riverside so there’s less warming up for me and my colleagues there since that’s our turf.

And I must say even though I kind of drag some of the sessions which seemed redundant, still I could say I enjoyed most of it and I even got tons of ideas I could use for my classroom this school year.

Being a teacher isn’t an easy job. But knowing I’m not alone in this boat and I have a almost a thousand teachers in our school with me, experiencing the same joys ans struggles I am experiencing as a teacher, totally makes this journey fun and worthwile.

And double whamo for me since I have one of my closest friends here in Vietnam as my co-teacher:)))) Awesome, I know! :))

And yes, I’m pretty sure this is going to be another happy year with this school 😊

Back to School Teacher Blues

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After a month of rest (well supposed to be two months but I worked for the summer camp so it was trimmed down to a month of vacation), I’m gonna be back to work again tomorrow, the 1st of August. And I share with the sentiments of the millions of teachers all over the world who’s going back to work again, I am not yet ready to go back.

Not that I don’t wanna work ever again.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my job. I love my school. I always tell everyone around me how thankful I am to be part of that school.

But…I am just not ready. Not physically and emotionally ready for any back to work stuff.

But tomorrow can’t be escaped. And to sprinkle some positivity, tomorrow should not be dragged.

I should view tomorrow as another blessing because I’m still part of my dream school. It helps to remind myself of that feeling I felt when I finally got offered this teaching job in this school. It helped to motivate me for the first day of going back to school.

Plus! It helped that we got our salary today! Yeehaw! I love my school!

So tomorrow can’t be escaped but it can be enjoyed. Work for now so I can save up and travel more during school breaks.

Cheers to all the teachers who are coming back to school soon!

In The Midst of the Storm

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While the rest are judging me and looking down on me,

You restore me and look at me with so much love.

While they mock me for my mistakes,

You forgave me.

Though I might not see how You are holding me right now,

But I could feel Your presence surrounding me.

I could feel Your loving arms embracing me tightly.

In this moment of despair, I don’t know where would I be without You.

I am in deep pain and my heart is crying through and through.

The storms in my life just don’t seem to stop.

But knowing You are there for me gives me comfort and peace.

You have a thousand reasons to punish me and reject me.

I am a sinner

But still, you always offer your million reasons why You love me and why You will never let go of me.

You saw my true colors, but you see it not with darkness.

Instead, You see it like a rainbow glowing with real colors.

Never did I hear any blame from you.

Only love.

Only love.

Thank you, Jesus.

Thank you for being my strength when my knees are shaking and I’m trembling in fear.

Thank you for calming my raging heart.

Thank you for being my Savior in everything.

My heart is overwhelmed by Your love.