The entire trip with the Hagar staff and supporters was a tremendously blessed one. Apart from seeing the wonderful work done, it was also meeting people that have the same heartbeat and have gone ahead of me.
Just wanted to write down how each of these people have touched my life, for that blip of shared time in Hanoi:
Firstly, it became such a joy being somewhat of a wallflower and looking at Lynette laughing so heartily at the smallest things. There was always something to laugh at or be playful about, and the van was filled with boisterous laughter throughout the 4 days. The sisterhood with Camy was also something so beautiful, and both of them really exuded that joy in service and in working for Hagar. It must have been a leap of faith to work in Hagar with only 3 staff and no office (until recently), being in the stable job of MSF. Kelda's dedication to take photos which meant she would always not have a nice shot of her inside the group photos was also something which caused me to reflect on how much I was willing to fade into the background. "He must become greater, I must become less." John 3:30
The social workers at the Hagar shelter to provide safe accommodation for the women/children who are have survived the trauma of sex trafficking, sexual violence or domestic abuse had so much love for the clients. Truly strong women are they, to face these hurts head on and continue to find joy in their work. I hope I can embody such love and hope for my future clients. Chi's humility and eagerness to be supervised really impressed me, and I am very glad that Cecilia is linking them up to be supervised.
Cecilia is one person God must have wanted me to know and talk to. Apart from flying back to Singapore on the same flight, we could be together the whole way because my hostel was just a corner away from the hotel where she was. So we were on the taxi to the airport together, and then something which floored me was that she chose aisle seat 22C and I chose the window seat 22A! The airport staff locked the seat in between us and so we had our space while being able to talk.
As a counselor and donor to various NGOs she had so much to share. And give she did, I was a recipient of her wise counsel and generosity. On the plane I asked her: "Did you choose to be single?" Her honest sharing prompted me to share about myself as well, which is something I have been very hesitant to even with close friends. And verbalising really helped; as I shared I found myself saying what I should do already. Trait of a good counselor haha, to be able to facilitate thinking for oneself in the other.
Angeline and Chen were two others which I naturally gravitated to. Both were in legal practice and well I am generally more guarded with lawyers because I place them in the category of 'system maintenance' by default. Yet I grew to enjoy talking to them very much because they had a heart for the needs of people that shone brightly. Chen was such a good listener that I talked for almost an hour (something which my throat is clearly not used to; developed sore throat partly because of this). What impressed me about Angeline was her belief in her practice and the legal processes, that it served to mete out justice, while not discounting the changes needed to the law. Also about how she constantly seeks to remember that it is a person behind every case, and to balance the firm's billing target with truly serving the clients' best interests.
Yen, for her good kind heart for the boys in the orphanage. I will forever remember her sending me back to the orphanage to pick up the things I had forgotten on her motorbike, and then heading out to get ice cream for all the boys.
And so, echoing Cecilia, I think God must have wanted me to go on this trip, for I came back slightly changed. Till the next.