Intercultural Adjustments: Hanoi Experience part 2

After a month of discovering many things of how my life would look like for the next remaining 8 and a half months I got quite acquainted. I decided that no matter how different and difficult it may be I was gonna learn how to live with it. I'm gonna try to enjoy each discovery despite the pain it may also bring me. I had it in my mind that I will fight till the end of this commitment no matter how challenging it may be. I knew it in my heart that the differences I saw weren't the only ones that will make it difficult for me.

I'm glad that despite the drive to give up and go home I continued and it is because of God's grace. Many times I have asked the question "Why?", "Why me?", "Why here?", "Why now?" but as the months progressed I begin to see the big picture of it all. I began to meet people who changed my perspective. I began to have encouragements and mentors who are willing to listen whenever I need to unwind at the end of the week. Though it was not right away that I was able to build relationships with these people.

I started with the motivation my director gave me, "There's no such thing as there's nothing to do. If you do not have something to do at the school, go out there and make friends." I am not much of a people person. I hardly approach new people to introduce myself. Especially when I don't know their language. The next question is "How do I establish rapport with these people?". Seeing I do not have anything to do that afternoon I decided to take a walk around the streets and see if I can meet new people. I was praying hard to God to help me meet people in His way because I don't know how I'll start. I was walking not too far down towards the main road when the lady at the laundry shop my friends wash their clothes at greeted me. So I said hello back and tried to continue walking when it dawned on me that they were the new friends I was praying for. They invited me to sit down, eat some fruits, and have a cup of tea. The tea was not very good but I didn't mind because I never thought they'd become my friends. They lady practiced her English and taught me some Vietnamese with the dictionary she has and by showing me different things and naming them. I had spent the time I needed to do something with and I am very blessed to have spent it meeting two new friends. I decided I'll start with them as my new friends.

The next few weeks I had a chance of meeting more friends from the Vietnamese church and from an English class for University students in Hanoi. We were asked to teach them for free. There was quite a few of them in the beginning and we were really trying to find out how to teach them. We started teaching them vocabulary words from the different stories we were reading. Then we began to invite some other students to join us. We became friends with these students who were desperate learners. We tried thinking of new things we could teach them and new ways to improve their English language.  We had conversational times and we invited them for a street dessert once. I also started joining the international church which is quite awesome. I was refreshed of finally understanding the messages and the songs of worship. I realized that I needed some place I could relate to outside my Vietnamese experience. I needed a place where I can find strength, support, encouragements, and new friends who share the same values and belief as I do. I met friends who came from different parts of the world who were very welcoming. I had a constant friend for some time until I met some other Filipinos like myself whom I got to meet with regularly.

Let's Talk About It: Hanoi Experience 1

My first months in Hanoi, Vietnam was not I would call amazing but it was one of the most shaping moments that made my stay for 9 and a half months awesome (if I may borrow the word). Everything is new--new type of bed--the hard one; new transportation situation--no jeepneys instead the city is full of motorbikes so if you are new you either ride the motorbike taxi or the car taxi (which makes your wallet empty most of the time); new language--of course English is rare and so if you don't know anything about their six tones language, sign language is probably the best way to communicate which is often not understood exactly how you want it; new people--everyone is a stranger in the beginning and the best person to talk to is yourself because surely you will understand; new food--almost every meal is eaten with rice noodles which lasts in your stomach for maybe two hours and then you are hungry again (if you know me I am more for rice or bread); new environment---walking in the streets seems to be walking in a very huge mall because almost every house is a shop as well; new kind of attention--it seems that it is not normal to see someone like me so as I walk in the streets people stare at me.

The easiest way to get adjusted to all these new things and way of life when you are in a foreign country is to have an open mind. When you have an open mind, no matter what differences you have with the people you meet you are willing to understand culture shocks and think through how you can work with the differences. In the beginning of these new things my mind is battling with all the differences and how to deal with them. I must admit it is easy to adjust to one or two differences but with these many I had to have the heart for learning from the Vietnamese people. God had to shape my heart and mind to be flexible to all these changes and learn how to live with it. The first two months were those of which I asked myself and God "Why am I here?" and those were the months that I have to be constantly reminded that I came for the people and for God. I love learning about culture but I never thought that I will have moments in my life where I would say "Ok, enough of new things. Please bring me back home." We all have the tendency to reject change especially if it is so evident that it brings us out of our comfortable place and breaks a lot of fragile things inside us. But then, it is in those changes that we are little by little brought into this world as more mature, more able, more prepared, and with more strength to face higher battles. It is in those moments where we learn that we have to depend on someone else besides ourselves. It is in those moments that we treasure the friends we discover who help us find strength to face the day. It is in those moments that we realize we need God to take control because we cannot do it.

The beginnings of staying in Hanoi, Vietnam were difficult days, and months but those were beginning of new things in my life that molded me into more than I can ever imagine I could be. As I tell you more about my experiences you will notice how my point of view of everything changed.

Looking back and discovering more about Malaysia

It's funny looking back and seeing my post about Malaysian culture. When I wrote about chivalry culture in Malaysia, refer to (, I've never been to Malaysia and never thought I'd be going there. I learned about it by reading didn't actually realize I'd learn it in person. True enough you will not see Malaysian men saying "after you" or opening the door for you. But although you would not see those obvious chivalry some of them who I got to interact with are gentle and respectful in their own way. Just by simply giving necessary precautions or driving for us or serving you extra food when you buy. Yes it's not so much but it is something. For me, chivalry doesn't have to be so dramatic; it can be done even in the simplest ways.

As for the other aspects of their culture. Malaysia is divided into three races: Malaysian Indian, Native Malay, and Malaysian Chinese. All three differ in way of lives because of their backgrounds.

So when you buy food you have three choices: Chinese food, Native Malay food, and Indian food.

My experience in a Chinese restaurant is adventurous and wonderful at the same time; it's where I usually eat my lunch with my classmates when I was there for two months training last year. A couple of times I do not understand what I really ordered until I get the food because the owner doesn't understand English so much. There is great adventure in not knowing what you actually ordered and then end up enjoying it. I'm blessed to have Malaysian Chinese friends with me most of the time that ordering food did not have to go into the extremes. On the top of your mind you'd probably think of sweet and sour dishes, noodle soups, or tofu and you are right!

Indian food is so much different and I eat it mostly for dinner since it's close to the place we stayed. Roti and Nan w/ dips, Curry (seeing it already satisfied me, I don't think I ever bought it),  Lamb w/ rice, Tanduri chicken, and fried chicken w/ fries (actually American food). So many other choices but all are displayed everyday so just seeing them is enough.

I didn't really get to eat so much native Malaysian food. But I've tried it a couple of times and you usually eat it with bare hands somewhat like Filipino. Their food is rice with 2 kinds of cooked vegetable side dishes and the meat of choice (mostly spicy). Yummy! The fun is eating it in a banana leaf (so much like Philippines in the province).
More to come my friend as I discover more about Malaysia! I hope you enjoyed.

Travel for a reason

Ask me. I feel like I had just unpacked and tried to settle down then I have to pack my bags again. I am a traveler by heart. Traveling inspires me; it opens my mind and heart into a whole new world. So when I was in high school and found out that you can be a flight attendant by profession I wanted to do it. Anything that involves traveling makes my heart beat faster and dream bigger.

Yesterday I found myself reading books with stories of people and their travels. As I read through those books I got myself into thinking. What is the purpose behind their travels? Did they experience temporary joy or is it something that will last. Growing up in the Christian faith and by choice I've always Learned that everything you do must have a lasting purpose. The purpose that goes beyond earth life. One that is eternal. These people may have purposes for their own travel experiences that I do not know. What I need to be sure of is my purpose as a traveler? Is it then just for pleasure which is not bad in itself? No, I travel with a higher purpose in my heart placed by the highest being I live by and live for--God. I believe that He wants to use me wherever I go as an instrument for His glory. Whether be it to make friends by breaking culture barriers; teach children; dance; share His love; discover cultures; or simply "Be still and know that He is God" through my experiences it doesn't matter. As long as I know that wherever I go I have maximized my time there to do what He wanted me to do and oftentimes it might not be what the people around me wants.

Traveling can be for temporal joy or can be for everlasting significance. What do you travel for?

What defines your nation?

Last Friday, I was going through the books about different countries in the library and ran into a book about the most dangerous countries in the world. I scanned through the book out of curiosity on what dangers the author have encountered and which countries were included. The author/s wrote about the different sicknesses and diseases you could accumulate from different countries; the weapons being created or used in those different countries; and many different facts I believe of whatnot dangers you could encounter. In short this is a pretty scary book so if you're easily scared because of the negative facts throughout the book. Not wanting to waste my time going through all the stated "dangers" of the different countries I decided to check out what the author had to say about my countries of interest--most especially what it had to say about the Philippines.

Though I was not born in the Philippines, growing up in that country as a half-citizen helped me develop great love and knowledge about it. Sometimes I feel like I know it more than I know my birthplace. As I was reading what the author was relaying about how dangerous the Philippines is my heart grieved for a couple of reasons. First, I grieved for how the Philippines was described in a way that an ignorant person about the Philippines would not want to consider going to the country. Unless that person is brave enough to face it's "danger". The second thing that I grieve for is that too many negative is relayed and no positive about the Philippines was relayed. Again a foreigner might perceive very different and could forget their desire to discover the country. No matter how dangerous the Philippines could be, there are many good counterpart to it that makes it a wonderful place to live in. Third is the reality that struck me that the Philippines and any other country can be as dangerous as it could be because people are sinners. Danger could be or is available anywhere as long as man remains selfish enough to steal, rape, murder, covet, and any other danger resulted from selfishness.

If you value safety, do you think you are contributing to making your community, or your country a safer place by rejecting selfishness and choosing to care? Or are you the person who choose to contribute to the danger of the world by not choosing to care for the needs of others above your own?

How would you want your country to be interpreted by others? What would you want your country to be defined as? You choose. Every individual of a certain country plays a big part in defining their nation.

Joining Tortured hearts of the Khmers

I still remember walking through the prisons cells where innocent Cambodians were tortured by inhumane leaders of Pol Pot regime known in history as the Khmer Rouge. The cells still had the marks of blood drops of the people tortured inside the prison. As to how they were tortured you wouldn't want me to describe because it's more than cruelty--it's too evil that you might throw up. The torturers even managed to take photos of their innocent prisoners their numbers pinned to their skin. They even allotted killing fields in different places in Cambodia where they take the prisoners and kill them. We also visited the killing fields and saw thousands of people's skulls, bones, and ripped clothing throughout the field. I cannot imagine how the relatives, friends, and even co-citizens during the Khmer Rouge in 1975. My heart joined the tortured hearts of the Cambodians who were victims or family-members of the victims.  This could not only be a simple heart ache but is a torture to the hearts of the Cambodians maybe even till the day they die. With tortured hearts how can it be possible to forgive such an inhumane act?
Toul Sleng Prison, Pnom Penh, Cambodia

Finding out that most of them do not know Christ made my heart sank even deeper. The Khmers having experienced so much mind, heart, and physical torture--for those who were killed need to find hope. They need someone to tell them about the one who was innocent of all sins yet tortured and crucified to death--Jesus Christ. He who died from physical torture did not remain dead but rose again to give us hope. Whatever pain, no matter how hard the suffering was, no matter how tortured our hearts and minds are Jesus is here to set us free because He already paid for those sufferings. He who experienced for Himself the meaning of inhumane torture can set the Khmer free from the enslavement of anger resulted from the Khmer Rouge. He can heal them from the wounds of the past that stayed in their hearts for the longest time.

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5

You can be an instrument to let them know about Jesus Christ.

The unpredictable

How are you? Did you feel that everything wasn't going to work right? Everything around you seems to show that it is not gonna be okay. But did you consider for just one second that there must be someone watching over you. Someone bigger than any body else. Someone you can count on. Someone who will never let everything to fall apart because He will catch you.

I felt that hand holding me together with all the others. "He's got the whole world in His hands".

Whenever I thought of giving up a voice reminds me that there is Hope in God. Whenever I feel like being broken into pieces a voice reminds me that He will take care of me no matter how fragile I am.

God was right. He is always right. Whenever we think of worrying He replaces it with comfort and hope that there will be a brand new day where He has made everything beautiful in its time.

God is my sunshine after the rain. The moment I choose to entrust everything to Him everything worked out the best way. Everything was more than I wish it could be.

"Our God is Greater. Our God is Stronger. God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer. Awesome in Power. Our God. "

"The God I know righteous and holy. the God I know faithful and true. The God I know my heart beats within me. As He is so are we."

Why not hurry in Love

Remember? You woke up late today. Again. You had to rush to the bathroom. You ziplocked your breakfast.
You got your bag then ran to ride the jeep or drive your car. When you were in the jeep you remembered you forgot to bring your notebook for the class you were going to have quiz so you forgot to pay the driver because you already arrived school. You realized when you got to school that you also forgot to bring the project you had worked hard for if not for your sister who didn't have school today you will not be able to pass the project. Your bag is a mess. When you get home everything is out of place. Many times in your life whenever you were in a hurry you forgot at least to do or bring one thing that you planned to. Why? You were in a hurry. Hurry means you get panicked and when you're panicked often times you don't know what to do first.
The same goes with entering relationships. Once you don't take things one step at a time and hurry you skip the most important things to consider in relationships. You get so excited, so enamored by the flattery words, so "in love", and you feel like everythings "right". But then, when you are already there, you realize you forgot to consider the character or you realized you were not ready. You get too occupied thinking how to get out of the hole you got trapped "falling in love" so you forget to listen to the voices of your family members then you realized you've neglected your friends and even your time with God seems to get shortened and shortened. Everything seems to be out of place. Then something inside you says, "is this what true love is?", leaving all the other people and responsibilities behind for one person? You realized, you made the wrong decision; "this couldn't be right" so you break up with your boyfriend/ girlfriend whom you promised you are gonna be with for the rest of your life. You tell yourself, "this should not happen again", I will have to make it right next time. But the next time, you checked your age, you feel you are getting old,...I hope you don't commit the same mistake again being too IN A HURRY. Didn't you learn from it before?
True Love Waits. If God is the center of the relationship then everything will fall in the right place. No hurries.

tears? He can give you joy:)))

There were tears in her eyes…almost flowing but she was trying to stop it…then and there I knew she NEEDED the prayer I was offering her…I feel that SHE couldn’t believe it in her eyes that someone wanted to pray for her…that she was that important to God…she wanted the gift of everlasting life with God but she was very shy or maybe OVERWHELMED with Joy and cry in her heart that she just didn’t want to say anything…she probably didn’t know where to start…

I was hesitant at first because of the people around…”I AM NOT ASHAMED” isn’t Stancy?”…it was as if a voice was telling me…”you have to find a way to tell her that Jesus loves her and want to bless her”…You experienced the joy of being with Jesus…Don’t let them miss the party of being Saved from the Wages of Sin which is death from relationship with God…

She hasn’t declared it yet but I know she will…Pray for her…Maybe you are like her filled with problems and you need prayer…don’t hesitate to ask me…I will help you approach Him…He is just a prayer away…no matter where you are…

The Worthy Conqueror's Triumph

She was born into this world where everything was “beautiful” before; not anymore. She had grown to know this world as the cruelest place to be. Like in every child’s heart, she was a searching for never ending joy but everywhere she looked it seemed a never ending nightmare. Around her was every EVIL thing beyond her imagination. She herself is a VICTIM of this evil, she belong to a family being BROKEN by a WOMAN who took away the LOVE of their Father because of her HARLOTRY.

She did not know; her tears were never stilled but something inside her encouraged her to keep on HOPING and having faith that all of this will end. She knew could not do it but the one that had been with her through it all can and will.

Her Hope is not deferred; there is someone who is not pleased with her suffering; there is someone who is FAITHFUL AND TRUE that has done something to end her nightmare. He is the Worthy Conqueror, who was slain to give us our life back and live it to the full if we believe. He has already overcame evil when he was slain, now He will help us overcome those sufferings.

This SOMEONE judges and makes war through righteousness. There is NO ESCAPE for those that made this “beautiful” world CRUEL—the Great Dragon, master of deception, destroyer, murderer, thief, He is called the DEVIL and SATAN. He will be bound for a thousand years and can deceive nations no more and in these thousand years those who chose to become FOLLOWERS OF THE WORTHY CONQUEROR—THE LAMB THAT WAS SLAIN—FAITHFUL AND TRUE—THE WORD OF GOD will REIGN with Him, these followers were not deceived by Satan and the beast to put mark on their foreheads and wrists. Satan will be released after a thousand years and while he deceives people, he will be devoured by the fire that will come out of heaven from God. He, the beast, and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone: There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

The Worthy Conqueror will put an end to this cruelty. Then there will be a NEW BEGINNING for everything--everything will be made beautiful again; no more death, suffering, sorrow, pain, and crying; it will be all never ending joy.

Like her, you must hope and believe in the Worthy Conqueror’s saving power overcome all deception to the end. Your hope would not be deferred too.

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” –Revelations 21:8

(See for yourself in the Holy Bible, book of Revelations, NKJV.)