So unlike the usual travel posts that has been dominating ze blog lately, this is one of those rare, melodramatic-moment posts where I just pour my heart out. Partly because it’s healthy for me, partly because I’m reminded of the perspective I should have while writing this, and partly because I hope this can encourage someone who’s going through something similar. 🙂
Anyway, here it goes.
If you’ve been following this blog, you would know that starting the past year, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to go back to China again – in fact, to places I’ve never been before. With the exception of Beijing which was for study and training purposes, the rest – Guilin, Nanjing, Hainan and maybe some? – are all because of some volunteer work I’m doing with our church, CCF (Christ’s Commission Fellowship).
I’d be lying if I said that I only cared about the volunteer work I’ve been doing. To be honest, after our first time – which I believe was Guilin – I started enjoying the travel part of it as well. However, that enjoyment remains an insignificant part. Yes, I get excited about going somewhere new, but as soon as I meet the people we work with, that excitement is superimposed by a bigger one, which is the pure joy of being able to see and work with those people again.
With that context in mind, we had another trip coming up this end of February, extending to March – it was going to be our longest trip so far, spanning eight days. Not only that, we would be in three places during those eight days – Xiamen, Shanghai and Suzhou. Xiamen’s the only place I’ve been to previously, but I was equally excited for that as well because it meant that I might have time to go visit our relatives, who live there. Shanghai, of course, is a given – if only for less than a day, I was excited to see what “the New York of China” actually looked like. And then there’s Suzhou, which I happened to have taught my Chinese class about mere weeks before. The place has stunning scenery.
And then – shoot. I had to go renew my passport. Due to the no-travel-on-the-six-months-before-expiry (whew) policy, it meant that I actually couldn’t travel any more starting mid-February. I started beating myself up already because since January, I had already thought to go and renew it in preparation for upcoming travel, but forgot about it in the whirlwind of school activities that followed. However, we decided to go ahead and renew, crossing our fingers.
To make the long story short, I was absent from work for two days (yes, I care about salary deduction quite a lot haha), ran to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila and back, and all for nothing. When we left the DFA building for the last time, knowing that there was no way we were going to be able to make it, that’s when I broke down. Broke down and cried.
Actually, we were inside a McDonald’s at that time, so I just grabbed a tissue to cover as much as I could of my ugly crying face and just left the eyes exposed. Much less dramatic and attention-grabbing that way…
But that incident really humbled me. In reflection, I realized that I had actually gone quite a long time without any major disappointments, the type that would really twist your heart and hurt you again every time you think about it. Without realizing it, I had really come to enjoy travelling, and this really hit the gut. For a long, long time, the closest to major disappointments I had were – well, I couldn’t think of any. This incident made me think that, man, have I really been pampered these past few months – heck, this past year – or what?
And you know why I got the feeling that I was pampered? It was because God was infinitely good to me. And you know what they say – count your blessings. And so I did.
God gave me a smooth school year so far, with minimal bumps here and there. On the whole,
my students have been really behaved, sweet even. I love them to pieces. Of course, I got to travel to places I have never been to before, and they just seemed to happen every two to three months. Guilin, Nanjing, Hainan, Siargao, Boracay… was I fortunate or what? I was able to save an amount of money I never thought I could have ever saved, and now I’m on my way to buying the laptop of my dreams. (Off with you, crappy Compaq! LOL)
And so, so, so much more. In no way is this boasting – ticking off these things and more in my head just made me realize that: yes, not making the trip and all is still disappointing. However, it’s a hiccup in the otherwise steady stream of undeserved blessings that I have been receiving.
For me, though, the most important take-away from this experience was how God spoke to my heart. Prior to this incident, there were a lot of problems with me, my personality and my treatment of other people that I was too stubborn to correct. This disappointment, though, was something like a painful spank God gave me – as if He was saying, “It’s time to change. Listen to me.” And so while I can’t say that now, I’ve changed and like this like that, I’m on the road to changing – and that’s important, too. Without this incident, my pride would have swelled to bigger capacities, and pretty soon I would have been unreachable.
Does it still hurt? Yes, but there’s no crying about it any more. In fact, I’m writing this with a smile on my face, and – believe it or not – right now, I’m telling God, “Father, Your timing is absolutely perfect. Truly, Your ways are better than my ways.”