Day one. It’s been difficult as expected. Reverse culture shock.. knowing about it is not the same as being prepared for it. And I am woefully unprepared. I think I have been prepared for the most important things, such as family, and finding a church. But i haven’t been prepared for smaller things, such as finding my way around the city, getting accustomed to a different transport system. London has been home for five years now, I could navigate it comfortably, even if it meant taking a bus or a route that I have not travelled before. But back ‘home’, my anxiety has not lifted. I seem to be doing well on the depression front, though I still get tired quickly, and still find it hard to be sociable. The anxiety often comes unbidden, but not as much as it used to, which is good. But at the moment, time stretches out interminably before me, and it is a frightening prospect to even attempt to plan for the future in a now foreign city.
It feels odd being a stranger in my own country. It’s very hard to be godly when you are feeling awkward and tired and frustrated…. The weather is a factor as well, but luckily I am getting used to the weather and try not to go outside when it is too hot, so I am not really that grumpy.
The two biggest challenges at home are my mum and sister. The other challenge is our family domestic helper. Trying to communicate with my mum and sister is difficult, as we are all very stubborn, and my sister is often tired from her daily work and other commitments, and tends to be quite grumpy. She flashes quickly between moods like my mum, so it is sometimes hard to know where you stand. I think I am glad that God has taught me to be more patient, so that I shout less, and turn away from violence instead of choosing to express my frustration. Please pray that I remember that they are my family in Christ first, and that despite how isolated and frustrated I might feel sometimes, I will treat them rightly. It is very easy to get distracted by discussing the day’s events or future plans, and not talk of God, particularly when we are not accustomed to it.
With the family helper, I find it a struggle to know how best to relate, as she is, in one sense an employee, but she is also a human being. Members of the older generation tend to treat helpers (or maids) as second class citizens, with many facing verbal and physical abuse from employers. Ours is quite lucky as we treat her like family. She has served us for nearly 16 years now, and remains cheerful. It helps that she is a Catholic, and has many Godly attitudes towards her work, which I admire. But my mum does sometimes still say “she is just a maid”, which makes me feel very defensive, as I find that statement rather condescending. Please pray that I would know best how to relate with her, without upsetting my mum. It is not currently a problem, but please also pray that I will stand for what is right if the opportunity to do so ever arises.
Another thing is struggling with the idea of wealth. Having moved into a new home, my mum is currently near the end of the furnishing process. She is by no means ostentatious, but does have a different idea of spending from what I have been used to in university (as a ‘poor’ student). I would like to remember that what I have is all God given, which means preparing to know how to utilise it for His work when my mum’s money and assets are passed to me for stewardship. This reminds me of the parable of the talents, where I have come to learn that a talent is not necessarily monetary wealth, but also time, patience, and the threshold for being sociable.
Today is Hari Raya Adilfitri (or Eid), which is the end of Ramadan. To celebrate, old family friends invited us over to an open house. Their house is huge. It is beautifully furnished, and when we visited, was full of beautifully dressed guests. Just as my family and I dress well for the Lunar new year, the hosts and guests were attired in a variety of traditional dress, in a huge array of fabrics and adornments. I could not help but be jealous of what they had, despite what I have myself. I then saw a plaque above their front door which had a verse from the Koran on it (in Arabic), which reminded me that this family was Muslim. I do not know much about the ways of Islam, but I had to remind myself that I should not be jealous of what others had, nor should I want for a big house and worldly success. Because what is coming, is far far better than I can imagine, and the glory greater than anyone has known. The only problem is getting to the end of the race..
It is harder here as I am not yet involved in a church, and am not surrounded with a multitude of Christians as I was in St. Helen’s. In addition, I think I might have seriously upset a good friend of mine whom I had introduced to the Crossing Church. (A St. H. style church led by a guy who had attended St. H. as a student). I upset her by complaining about the Singaporean public transport system (which is a bit slower than the Tube, but cleaner because they don’t let you eat or drink on the trains/platforms). I did not deal with the situation very well, and although I sent an apology text, I do not know whether she is still upset. I don’t know when I will see her next, but I really must remember to be gentler with her as she struggles with being heavily burdened by her own sin, and to come to terms with how her sins have all been forgiven. Thankfully, she is part of a CG (Community Group, which is the RML/IGG equivalent), and someone is reading Romans 1-2-1 with her. I really must be more patient and gentle.. after all, it is not like I understand God’s word completely either. I do not think I have lost her as a friend, although friendships have dissolved over less, but I am in dire need of having Christians to remind me what is most important. As she is a younger Christian than I, there are very few opportunities where she will remind me of the gospel, and our relationship tends to be that of an RML leader and a group member. Please pray for our relationship, that I will be patient and gentle, without losing any excitement of sharing what I have learned. Pray for her understanding of God’s word, and that despite past misfortunes and sad events, she will come to see God clearer each day.
Tomorrow is my birthday. It is also Singapore’s independence day. My grand aunt and uncle are hosting a National Day celebration lunch, which will be very nice. But I am afraid of the social side, and pretending to be happy and excited when it really isn’t in my nature to be super excited about national day OR my birthday for that matter. Also, my grand aunt has offered an extremely generous angbao (money in a red packet) incentive for us to dress up in red and white (colours of the Singapore flag), or to dress in military uniform or the uniform of a uniformed group if we were a part of it. This rather upsets me, but I cannot upset my grand aunt on this ‘double’ occasion, and should at least try to make an effort to be festive to keep the peace. I would much rather come in my usual black.. oh well.
This is a terribly long post, but there is so much prayer that I need, and I need to develop a habit of daily prayer.. so hopefully this blog will help me see how I can pray for the people around me, and to pray for my own pursuit of holiness.