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In High Places

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Have humans always been enthralled by high places? The Tibetans build their temples in the mountains to be closer to the heavens above. Today we trailed behind on the overwhelming kindness and generosity of a Vietnamese family as they ascended up the steep trail in Ba Vi National Park to worship at the shrine.

We had the privilege to be privy to this ritual for some special day. Looking at the offerings of money. fragrant branches, a whole chicken... and then their lips moving silently as they knelt before the shrine. What are they praying for, I wonder. How do they see themselves in relation to the gods they are praying to?


It was in that high fog-filled place that we had received so much grace freely given. We were so warmly welcomed into their fold, beckoned into the temple to see, invited (many many times) to eat their food, ushered up their van. At one point I remembered thinking: This is also a kind of shalom.

This short trip to Hanoi has really brought us to high places, both l…

Manusia Kesengsaraan// In the Hope room

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Hari ini Jumaat Baik. What a strange sounding translation of Good Friday. It is also strange that I am in Hanoi instead of Good Friday service. Listening to the intermittent honks from the traffic below our hotel and watching the sunlight slowly suffuse the 'therapeutic' room as Jas described. Dua kawan-kawan aku masih nyenyak tidur, seperti semua baik di bumi. Good Friday meningkatkan aku tentang Yesus Kristos terseksa di Calvary.

Thinking about it I realised that sufferings and sorrows are often reflected back to joy, in the Lord. Joy of a deeper kind, leaning on the full weight of assurance in a heartrendingly glorious eternity with our Creator.

Manusia kesengsaraan... Let my heart be broken but not despair.

I have come to see happiness with a tinge of sorrow, like the people sleeping in the streets even as I was really happy to be exploring places with my dear friends (I counted four in the short 2 hours we were out yesterday). And on the other side, sorrows …

Rest

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Because someone kept asking me to rest :)

This is my kind of rest and I foresee that I will be a fat Makcik in the future :o

Baking.

Eating. With good company, at a nice place. Licking batter off the mixing bowl is good too but I guess I have grown to enjoy people more.

Journalling, writing. More often in cafes now which is bad because it makes me plump and poor (good alliteration right).

I enjoy hiking and seeing nature too, but too bad I haven't really got the energy  motivation to do the local hikes. I miss waking up at unearthly hours and travelling on the MTR to hike legit mountains. I miss the carefree times, when I can just agree to a 12am hike after coming back from a short run in the cold. Well, no sadness in saying this. I have my Rest, in Whom nothing I have missed is lost.

FYI:
From Pioneer Woman, she's one of the first food bloggers that I followed at 14 years old. Recipe is diabetic though, cut back on the sugar like by ALOT.






Acknowledgements

And so. After exactly 24h from when I woke up yesterday, the work is done. Father, You have been so gracious to grant me the desires of my heart. When I have not always delighted myself in You. But still, You have given me such clarity of purpose, such strength, drive, such anointing of the Holy Spirit this semester. I guess that's why, in light of all these, 我要为自己别无所求. 不是不在乎,而是只要从神父手中领取.

I am thankful:

"Thesis is an individual research journey but I am triply blessed in this journey. My first supervisor, Dr Marcus Chiu, taught me to think more critically and pushed me to look beyond the superficial questions. What I'd thought was a straightforward research question became a conceptually fundamental one about human perception and behaviour. My second supervisor, Dr Choo Hyekeung, was ever so patient with my unprecise fluff and I owe much of my quantitative thinking and SPSS skills to her. I am also indebted to Mr Mohamed Naser, who made the research so much smoother and ea…

恩典的记号

Over breakfast with Dad, I got angry thinking about 大伯. There is still much unforgiveness and disdain for me I know it. On Saturday at the crematorium I was really trying hard to look at him full-on because I found that it was so hard to look at him with love.
So, I want to dispel any notions of romanticism in love within me. I still have this fuzzy-warm notions; which are not entirely unrealistic but they are sweet interruptions in the long journey of loving rather than love's characteristic. The very same Kang that discussed and affirmed that it is the church who extends scandalous grace to peoples that society will not and cannot care for, cannot have this thin definition of love.
不是讨人爱的才爱,爱是在那所谓不值得爱的最赤热. Perhaps for the love-er, this is a hard-won love. Further, it is not from ourselves, like we have this love without ourselves receiving it. It is really knowing that we are precisely also the ones so unlovable that Grace has found and redeemed.

Angst

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Partly to prepare myself for an interview for youth worker at Lakeside FSC, I revisited those songs I'd so identified with in my secondary and JC years. Realised that u still do. Linkin Park, Simple Plan, One Republic- the top 3 angst song bands for me. 

"I'm tired of trying to be what you want me to be // I've become so numb, I can't feel you there." (Numb, Linkin Park)
"But tonight I'm feeling like an astronaut, sending SOS from this tiny box. Cos I'm lost out there and the world forgot." (Astronaut, Simple Plan)
So I indulged in more of these emo-angst songs last night (way longer than just that one song because I was almost-desperately trying to find that song of which I could only remember the grave in the MV. It was Stop and Stare.)
Dangerous dangerous. As the lyrics play in my head and I associate them with things that I have experienced, they focus me on myself. 
But anyway. Aligned with the SW strengths perspective, it helps me iden…

清明,脆弱

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清明时节雨纷纷,路上行人欲断魂。借问酒家何处有?牧童遥指杏花村。

 好幽美的几句诗。

<subsequent images taken from the World Press Photo 2016 exhibition, gird yourself >


A strange kind of terrible beauty in this photo also. Ponomarev really composed it so beautifully; the horse bows its head, like how I'd imagine the hearts of the people. Yet the ethereal sunlight shines down on both the horseman and the people.






I stared at these nameless faces for a long time.

And then I saw this.

 And this. 
And this.

Was there the temptation to atheism again? I guess it was after Adam's photo while I was looking at the photos narrating the problem of sexual assaults against women in the US military. I just went "What the fuck, God." By grace, by sweet grace, it didn't end there, this almost-cowardly response.

I took photos of strength, of love, of resilience, of hope as well. Looked deep into these faces, as fleeting as those light-full moments were, there they were.



I reflected on the train back, that perhap…