Saturday, 30 October 2010


"I wanted to go places where the pain outside would match the pain that I was feeling inside." ~Anderson Cooper

I read Anderson Cooper's Dispatches from the Edge before I left the US in 2006. The book deeply inspired me and his quote about the pain inside matching the pain outside stuck in my head. My obsession to go to war-torn countries seems to be alive and well, only it's been in hybernation.

How do I know? Because today's event sorta triggered this low-lying obsession. But before I recount the story, let me fast forward my life from the beginning of this year till present. It's been almost a year since I wrote my last blog.

In a nutshell, this year has been full of self-discovery and personal struggles. Being 3o made me comtemplate about a lot of things that I wouldn't have otherwise. There's something rather magical about having a 3 instead of a 2 in front of the two-digit number that automatically propelled me towards the desire to take life a little more seriously.

After I quit my full-time teaching job, these are the events that followed: My mom got mad and took the car away for a time; Thailand was undergoing a political chaos; I worked various odd jobs as well as trying to help a guy from NZ start a charity walkathon from Bangkok to Chiang Mai; started my Amway business and loving it; went to an amazing conference in Manila; did a mission tour in Thailand and Laos; and most of all, fell in love with a man of God I met in India. We met in April 2009. I fell in love with him in January 2010. In October, he spent 2 weeks in Thailand and asked me to be his girlfriend. I had never thought that God'd bless me with a boyfriend when I'm 30. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around this truth that I now have a boyfriend. His name is Graham Saunders.

Back to the whole pain inside matching the outside thing. So Graham went back to Canada last Tuesday. It's been a pretty painful past few days. I didn't cry when I dropped him off at the airport. It took about 3 days for the tears to come. Mind you, I'd wanted to cry, but tears just wouldn't come. The older I get, the longer it takes for me to cry. But cry, I did.

On top of trying to recover from the pain of missing my boyfriend, I had to attend my cousin's wedding today. I was happy for the couple, but something about the wedding bothered me.

It was because everything seemed so perfect! The image of the perfect couple, their families and friends, looking beautiful, wealthy, and happy. I didn't bring a camera, so I don't have any pictures unless someone send them to me. But allow me to tell you what I experienced today.

My cousin married to an Englishman, probably from a well-to-do family. They got about 20 of their friends flew in from London just to attend the wedding, looking all glam! Their friends must all be around the same age and are young professionals. The couple actually had a "church" wedding in a beautiful cathedral somewhere in London with a female preacher presiding over their ceremony. Then they went on their honeymoon in Kenya before coming to Thailand to do a Buddist marriage, of which I had to translate a long, tedious ceremony that started around 6.30 am! They also had their photographs displayed on a monitor. Each shot was, oh, so glam. Pictures of them skiing somewhere in the Alps, on a Safari in Kenya, and in front of some archaic Thai buildings. I must say, they are a very good-looking couple. The husband is a doctor of some sort, not sure if he's a medical doctor or a PhD. All in all, everything about their lives and marriage seemed flawless, leaving many guests jealous of their existence. I, for one, had to pray to God to help me to keep his eternal perspectives and for him to forgive me for struggling with jealousy.

But later in the day, I met another group of people, unlike the one in the morning category. This afternoon, I had to deliver an Amway moisturizer to my old colleague Helen. It was so good to see her. She's a British lady in her fifties whose husband lives somewhere in Brighton. She is rather eccentric, and I see a lot of flaws in her character, of which I felt comfortable with.While at her place, her other friend also came over. He's a new teacher at the school at used to work for. A middle-aged man who happens to be rather gay. But man! We had such a good time talking and many hearty laughs. I felt so at home with odd characters, I have to admit. They are my kind of crowd. I feel so relaxed and at home with them. I know that they don't uphold many Christian principles, but they are so down to earth and I love the fact that I see their flaws, and they aren't trying at all to hide them. They even joked about it, especially our new gay friend. I tell you, somewhere deep down, I don't feel comfortable being around "perfect" people. The half hour I spent in my friend Helen's apartment was so refreshing. I feel more at home with common people whom high society looks down upon, and yet they've learned to laugh it off. Maybe it's because a part of me that's broken finally finds a kindred spirit. Strange how God heals us, isn't it? Sometimes, he uses the weirdest circumstances or people to heal the brokeness in our hearts.

Equalibrium is a state of bliss.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come

I'm supposed to be back to the US, according to my original plan. But you know, plans don't always pan out the way you plan them, if ever...

I quit my job at the Japanese school. The best decision yet. I had been afraid of leaving and the place was getting more and more comfortable to leave. I was gripped by fear. If I'd let go of my comfort zone, then...

But thank God for giving me courage through my friend Joe Cameron, an excellent teacher and colleague. He had been at the job 3 months and decided that it wasn't for him. I asked if he was afraid of leaving since he didn't have a new job lined up. Now Joe is almost 50. He said, I'm an old man Nina. If I were younger, I would be afraid, but not anymore. Life's too short. I woke up feeling sick in my stomach every morning. When you know it's not for you, it's not for you. Leave. Move on. When I quit my last job, I had nothing waiting for me, and then I found this. Something will come along. Something will always come along.

Joe is known among us teachers as the 'wise one.' He's a Southerner with a baptist background from Alabama and we'd often go to him for advice. He'd spew out a 'quiver of knowledge' and say that 'he ain't no preacher.' Joe knew what he was talking about most of the time. He was always polite even though he disliked someone. I admire that. The strength to control one's feelings. And he smiled a whole lot more after he gave his notice.

A few days after he gave his notice, I followed suit.

Of course, there was conflict at work, but that wasn't why I quit. I quit because I finally found the courage to do it. And that's that. It was the right thing to do.

And of course, parents freaked out. Mom was angry and Dad was worried. But eventually they got over it. I knew I had something else to do, like following my calling.

Teaching will always be there. I still hope someday to go back to teaching, but right now there's something more important like rebuilding Jerusalem's wall here in Thailand. (a reference of which my Christian friends can understand.)

I'm seeing the light now at the end of the tunnel but don't want to jinx it just yet. Once I enter into this light, I'll make a public record of it, but for now let's just is well, with my soul.