God will not allow tribulations which are impossible for us to overcome
God allows tribulations into our lives to make us stronger than before
I have been holding onto the promises of God for the entire semester. On many occasions when the difficulty and the workload of my assignments overwhelmed me, I stared at my laptop screen for what seems like an eternity, succumbing to defeat due to my inadequacies .
The promises of God kept me going despite my weaknesses. When the situation was bleak, I believed in God that things weren't gonna end just like that because I know He has given me a life of destiny.
In my previous post, I was helpless and had to rely on my friend. I made a silent vow to complete the challenge of the next assignment and reciprocate the help which my friend has blessed me with.
The new assignment was even more difficult than the previous one. Pessimism gripped my heart and I almost fell to self-despair again. Yet, after yesterday's service which spoke about "hope comes by trusting in the Lord", I cast away my doubts and renewed my faith in God.
God never disappoints us. He always listens. The wisdom of God brought forth enlightenment and I managed to complete the assignment. And yes, I helped the same friend who helped me the previous time. Besides securing my grades, God has also gave me an opportunity to strengthen an important friendship.
No matter what happens, keep believing in the Lord
My girlfriend's right. I'm such a pessimistic person. I guess it's an inevitable outcome when my eyes opened up to the reality of the world. As the saying goes "ignorance is bliss", and I have chosen the path of uncertainty in my arduous battle toward my dream.
Pessimism has prepared me to expect the worst scenario but also caused me to imagine the worst of humanity. I am blinded by gloom and I couldn't see the goodness of people but merely the fallacies of humanity.
Since I came back to Singapore, nothing has been going right for me, because I had subconsciously compelled myself to focus on the failures of the world around me. Yet, life is beautiful, and it doesn't take much effort to realize that simple fact if we clear our heads.
In the previous 2 blog posts, I lamented my plight of being ousted to the sidelines by my social circles. I was particularly hurt and disappointed by a friend in university because she had a new clique when I was away in Japan and we became tangibly distant.
Just a few years ago, we would have lunch together, take the bus to school together, SMS each other everyday, do school projects and assignments together. Our current relationship is a shadow of its former self.
Assignment submission deadline was looming ahead in less than 2 hours time. I couldn't identify the problems and I lost hope. My friend graciously offered help earlier in the afternoon but he was busy when I needed his advice. The only road left open to me? The friend whom I dearly considered my good buddy in the past.
I was conflicted and struggled within myself for a moment. Would she violently reject my request? Would she mock at me for my inadequacies? I didn't know. I had lost this battle. Giving in to despair, I posted a tweet to 'commemorate' my defeat.
The following sequence of events were beyond my scope of belief. My friend swiftly offered her assistance, sacrificing her time and effort to correct my assignment and even gave explanations to my errors!
Right at that very moment, I realized that she still cares for me although we aren't as close as before anymore. I felt blessed. Yes, God places everyone in my life for a purpose. Whether they are against me or for me, everyone plays a significant role in my journey of life.
Everyone has their own right to live the life they want. I have no business constraining her within the boundaries of our friendship if she feels that there are other friends better than me worth living and caring for.
However, some battles have to be won on my own merits. And this final 1 month before the end of semester will be a test of my endurance, faith and strength.
My friend recommended me this video and it drew my attention because of the funny robotic moves. Before I knew it, I was hooked! Not because it's just another catchy song, but the message behind the MV and the lyrics. It's extremely powerful.
The beginning of the chorus is "Success, depress, ambition. Progress, regress, recognition". With this piece of information, you don't have to know Japanese to absorb the essence of the song. Not gonna post a lengthy explanation, but I'll leave it up to you aspiring philosophers to figure out the mystery!
Once again, I complicated myself in the affairs of others which I have no business dabbling in. What is wrong with me? I don't know... For my pitiful efforts, I was inflicted with the worst migraine of my entire life, to the extent I lost my appetite due to nausea. Why do I love punishing myself? Do I not have enough problems of my own?
Being away for 5 whole months, I came to the conclusion that no one actually gives a damn about me, except for my mum and my closest friends. Even people whom I called "good friends" disappoint me. All these years of dedication and effort in building these friendships, it means nothing to them at all. As the realization crept into my heart, I finally broke down in tears.
After years of anticipated fear, at long last, I am all alone to fight my own battles. I am weaker than I thought. Given my current state, I am fighting a losing battle. I have no more strength to confront my fears. As a stop-gap measure, I shall emotionally shut out myself, be a reclusive hermit who dedicates his all to his studies, and lead his uneventful life quietly by the sidelines, waiting for an opportunity to leave this nation which has burdened his heart with disappointment and frustration.
Benedict, please f**king abide by your own words. And it shall start from this moment on...
Ever since Papa Pollack introduced the concept of "reverse cultural shock", fear gripped my heart because I knew it would inevitably happen to me. All was well when I first returned home. The familiar environment. No emotional distress. It seemed as if I never left Singapore and I thought it would be no difficult feat to adapt back to the Singaporean lifestyle.
I was wrong. I was naive to think that everything would return to normal as it was before I left for Japan. My Singaporean life has been halted for 5 months, yet the people around me have moved on to their next phase in life.
I am elated to discover that a good number of my CG friends have matured spiritually after availing themselves for the recent mission trip to Indonesia. Yet, they have moved so far ahead that I find it difficult to catch up with them. Considering that my calling is in Japan, I may never catch up with them at all...
I have come to the realization that it doesn't matter how much time and effort I had invested in the lives of my friends. If I weren't relevant to their lives at any given point in time, I will be left behind. That's how I feel in school now. Friends around me talk about professors whom I don't know, lingo which I couldn't understand. I just can't relate to them anymore...
I've become utterly irrelevant in Singapore. Just another 9 more months to go before my life as a student comes to a closure. Eagerly anticipating my rebirth. But can I really make my way back to Japan? Only the land of my dreams can grant me a second life.
Joy, fun, laughter, tears, sorrows, heartbreaks. As the JTW closing ceremony commenced, emotions ran high as the defining moment of our lives as students in Japan dawned upon us. In a short period of merely 4 months, I have made lifelong friends from all over the world, as well as learned valuable cultural lessons, sometimes the hard way...
Ironically, the moment we had all been waiting for, as well as the moment we dreaded the most (because we have to leave Japan...)
My moment of triumph... :)
Maki-san, my program coordinator who has been taking care of us. I was expecting an old hag at first, but was pleasantly surprised to realize that she's so beautiful! :D
Alamak, I'll see you guys again soon... :P
Sarah, send my regards to your Totoros! :) Momo, I will miss your friendship...
Hey Dan, I think you're the biggest weirdo in JTW (lol). But also, a dear friend with a big heart. :)
Cute German couple, Annika and Philip, who have become my friends for life :D
The Rino Cafe 'gang' is complete with Vanessa! (together with Sarah and Annika) :P
Mengmeng, you've been like a little sister to me. :) Your cheerful attitude has brightened many days of my life here in Japan! :D
Windy, it has been fun studying Japanese together with you! Take care back in Hong Kong and continue loving Kinki Kids! (^-^)
Awesome friends from Hong Kong who help me keep in touch with my Cantonese roots! :)
Rong Yi, I would want to visit you in Shanghai sometime in the future!
Me, Chris and Allen - the fearsome Otaku Trio! (with a guest appearance from Mengmeng)
Big Marc, I'm rather amused when I communicate with you in Mandarin. :P Take care, buddy!
Kieran, you're always seeking to further your knowledge, and that inspires me greatly as a student. :)
Hari, thanks for your encouragement and praise. :) You're an awesome guy too!
Adit (is that right?), you're a nice and gentle guy and thanks for your friendship. :)
Elaine, a bubbly girl who never failed to ease the 'tension' in our solemn Japanese class. :P
Haley, I regret that I never hung out much with you in the last 2 months due to certain circumstances... All the best in your upcoming career :)
I never had such a pretty Korean friend ever in my life! :D And you also have a genuine heart, Christina. Thanks for everything. :)
Hiro, a genuine friend whom I can rely on :)
Yuki, it'll be hard to continue our respective LDRs (long distance relationship) but hang in there!
Takafumi, thanks for your help when I first came to Fukuoka! :D
Kouji, thanks for being such a great friend to me although I didn't put in much effort to develop our friendship... I'll make it up to you someday...
For my JTW friends who are still around for the fireworks event at Ohori on August 1st, I hope to see you fantastic peeps one last time before I leave Japan! Keep in contact on Facebook, alright? (^-^)
It is often said that life as a Christian isn't a bed of roses. God puts us through the fires of trials and tribulation to strengthen our capacity. I learned the lesson firsthand. As a exchange student in the country which I absolutely adore, I should be indulging in the pleasures of life and liberated from worries...
But alas, that is not the case... I have come to the realization that a friend whom I initially thought would be my best buddy turns out to be a hypocritical liar who bore a grudge toward me for months. I may not have handled matters the way which each of my friends think is right, but I always have my friends' best interests at heart. I say this with a clear conscience.
To avoid him, I "exited" the clique we were in. Or rather, I was silently "ousted" from the group. He puts on a mask so easily and readily. Greeting me with a smile when I know a dagger is hidden behind his back. But I can't. Honesty has been one of my core principles ever since I was a little kid. And I expect that much from my friends. I just can't pretend everything is fine anymore. Looking at him in the eye became a chore. Hearing him boast about his extravagant life as a rich man's son to naive girls around him disgusts me to the very core of my being.
I almost succumbed to depression. Thank God for His comfort. Thank God for Fukuoka Harvest Church. Thank God for the wonderful Singaporean friends. Thank God for my girlfriend who has been by my side whenever I need her the most.
It's fine by me... Superficial booze parties are not my cup of tea... Neither is cooping myself up in the little world which they create for themselves... I'm here with a purpose and I'm moving toward my dream, so it doesn't matter to me anymore. I'll make full use of my last month in Japan to learn as much as I can about Japanese culture, to develop deeper friendships with my Japanese friends and to strengthen my relationship with my girlfriend.
I'll also be busy helping my Japanese buddy to settle in the Singaporean lifestyle when he comes to NUS for the following academic year. No time for worries... Time to move on...
Time flies, eh? I remember just awhile ago, I was feeling bewildered yet excited when I stepped into the departure hall all myself for the first time. Fast forward, it is already my final month in Japan.
Having said that, I should be seizing my final moments in Japan to have as much fun as possible, right? Yet, a heavy burden is weighing down on my weary heart... And I have no strength to carry on...
What could potentially be a lifelong brotherhood has crumbled to become a bitter, silent dissension. A misunderstanding has escalated into a grudge. As the saying goes, "ignorance is bliss". In cases such as this, I wish I never had the God-given gift of discernment...
He continues to greet me with a smile but I know behind the facade, things are not the same anymore. Confronted with hypocrisy, I was consumed with anger.
I didn't want to look like a sucker by initiating a reconciliation for the umpteen time. So, I chose the cool way out and acted as if I didn't need his friendship. He, on his part, wanted to prove to me that he's doing fine without me in his life. Lamenting the fragility of human relationships, for a moment, the devil had victory over my entire being.
I was tempted by the evil one to post derogatory comments on FB to spite him, but the lingering presence of the Holy Spirit hindered me from doing so. I'm a person with strong moral beliefs, but my lack of spiritual discipline would eventually lead me to the ruins.
I thank God for a fellow Singaporean sister-in-Christ, but most importantly, a fervent Christian girlfriend. Their words and advice offer me spiritual comfort. My sanity is kept intact despite the pain.
I have been too far away from God, and I cannot hear Him anymore. Despite so, I made a prayer to Him and I have hope in my heart that He is listening and He is guiding me back to the path which I have strayed from. I release the resentment which I have been harboring in my heart into His merciful hands.
One major conflict resolved! (^-^) But another conflict lingers on and which would never seem to cease... Conflicts, misunderstanding, distrust are inevitable when a bunch of international students with vastly different way of life and thinking try to live in harmony. I just need to stop being a SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) and focus on the more important issues at hand - experiencing the Japanese culture in its authenticity!
First dinner gathering with my lovely Japanese host family!
Everyone is crazy about World Cup these days. I mean it's understandable. It happens only once every 4 years and famous players from all over the world pit their skills against one another.
But I don't know... I just don't feel anything about it. I even got my masculinity questioned by a friend cos' "soccer is in the blood of men" haha! Maybe the rumor that tofu produces estrogen is true in some sense? I don't like soccer. I don't care about sports cars. I prefer strawberry ice-cream over chocolate. I prefer the color red over blue or black. I LIKE TEDDY BEARS! =P
Yet, I am secure in myself to say that I'm more man than what society defines to be a 'man'. I feel that true masculinity is the purity and integrity of character, unwavering amidst the winds of change. God made me just the way I am and I have no desire to conform to become someone else.
I promised not to talk about my girlfriend on my blog, given our circumstances... But I just need something, somewhere to pour my woes onto, and there can be no better place than right here on my own blog...
In a short span of 3 weeks of our relationship, we had 2 major conflicts. And both arose due to lack of proper communication. She's not telling me honestly how and what she feels, and thus I try too hard to communicate with her, and she thinks I'm imposing my will on her.
Never knew that love can be so tough... and painful... :'( I used to be a stoic guy i.e. believing that a real man doesn't shed tears, until I met God and wept in His presence. But crying in agony for a girl... That's something new to me...
We agreed to iron out our differences on Thurs but till then, she wants to keep a distance between us. I've grown too dependent upon her. Meeting her for dates every 2-3 days, keeping my fingers busy messaging her throughout the day. Thus, I reckon it's gonna be excruciating 4 days ahead... =(
I also got myself entangled in my best guy buddy's love matters (not as a third party, but as a busybody mediator, however I believe my interventions have eased misunderstandings between him and the girl and now, they've become a couple too) and incurred his wrath. We've made peace but I know he would never trust me anymore. We used to go to each other's rooms to chat regularly, and there was zilch for this whole week.
Remember I dissed the students who didn't dare venture beyond their country's clique? I bumped into a bunch of Hong Kong friends just now and envy crept into my sullen heart. I realize how pathetically vulnerable I am despite believing that I've become stronger through the trials which I had gone through in 2009.
Singaporean dinner with an elderly Japanese couple who stayed in Singapore for 20+ years
How would things have turned out if I played safe and invested more time and effort in my Singaporean friends and international students whom I am well-acquainted with? I would be consistently happy, but wouldn't achieve anything which furthers my future in Japan.
It doesn't mean I don't care about them. They're definitely friends whom I would like to stay connected with when I'm back in Singapore. I've been moving into denial of my identity as a Singaporean (I would refer to Singaporeans as "them" sometimes), but these wonderful people reminded me of the redeeming qualities of a Singaporean.
No matter how tough, no matter how painful, I will continue to press on and engage the risk bravely. I can't just stop after doing so much so far... Please keep me in your prayers, guys... :)
As the day of my return to Singapore inevitably draws nearer, I'm compelled and motivated to live the remaining days of my student life in Japan to the fullest. =) Which is why I seldom have time to update my blog regularly nowadays. But here's the overdue update on my trip which is almost a month ago. (>.<)
On day 4 of our trip, we went to Kyoto, THE place to go if you're into Japanese traditional culture. The city boasts of splendid, exquisite temples and shrines, traditional streets, bolstered by a rather vibrant modern youth culture in the town centre!
But the crowd was horribleee... =( It took us 1 hour to get to one attraction, when on normal days, it would probably take 20 minutes or so. Moral of the story: Don't travel to Japan during the Golden Week. =S
Gateway to the magnificent Kiyomizu-dera
A shrine dedicated to matters of love... Only in Japan! =D
Tired from climbing but still happy =)
Next up, another wildly popular tourist attraction, Kinkakuji (goldennn)
Waaa~ It's blinding my eyes!!! (okay, that was lame)
Back to the same spot I sat 2 years ago when I came to Japan with Jeffrey, my Japanese class buddy
Apparently famous spot but we only looked at it from a bridge. Should be interesting to dine with that ambience! (if it weren't that cold =S)
Everything is falling into place... Establishing strong friendships with my international friends, getting to socialize with new people frequently, re-connecting with Fukuoka Harvest Church, and of cos', meeting the love of my life. =)
I don't want to leave... But all things good must come to an end... Whatever it takes, I'll work my way back here someday...