Sunday, July 26, 2020

Between Worlds - Podcast 1

A few months back God pop an idea in my head, to start a podcast interviewing Third Culture Kids. I, of course, am a TCK and I felt like our stories sometimes get "oohed and awed" at a lot, but sometimes it is hard to build relationships that goes beyond the cool story. Many of my fellow TCKs live lives trying to fit in with the world and it becomes very difficult. I, for one, struggle with showing my true self mostly 
because I am afraid of offending someone, hurting someone's feelings or tired of being placed on a pedestal. I wanted to start this podcast to give a door for others to share their story, no matter how crazy or
uneventful it might seem to others. Also I want to learn from other TCKs by asking them these questions:

How have they learned to navigate between the worlds?
How are making friendships easy or hard?
How they battle the question "Where are you from?" 
How do they handle goodbyes? 

My cohost is Phebe Sistoso. She is a nurse midwife who does an incredible job helping mothers deliver their babies! She grew up in Korea. Her dad worked for the military and now is married to an Army man who was born in the Philippines, but moved to California around age 10. They have four kids!

I moved to Colombia, South America at age 8 and then we moved to Ecuador where I finished high school. My dad was a teacher at an international school in both places. I got the pleasure to experience a different culture after college when I moved to Bangkok, Thailand working for a missionary for two years. I married a California boy and we have a very princess daughter!

We want to interview military kids, expat kids, and 1st generation kids in the States. If you are a TCK and would like to be interviewed please let me know by email:

Enjoy the podcast!!!

Monday, June 8, 2020

Sea Slug's Weapons

My daughter is a bug lover. Our daily walks are full of stopping and checking out everything that moves. Sometimes if a creature is caught she now has a little pet. I try hard to get her to return them back into the grass for the sake of the creature’s life. She is a curious little girl and I love it! Watching animals shows is definitely a daily routine in our household. I, with my biology background, is thrilled that she wants to learn more about God’s creation. 

Recently we were watching a video about a sea slug called a nudibranch. Their beautiful coat usually is a protection from predators since these slugs do not have any shell. What I found most interesting wasn’t their color, but how they got their stinging nematocysts (these are the same cells that jellyfish and sea anemones have). These clever slugs eat their enemies. They create a special mucus to prevent the stinging cells to fire at them. After they ingest them, the immature nematocysts are stored away. When they have matured and are needed they will shoot their stinging cells to paralyze their prey. 

While listening I was stunned by how creative this creature is. Since they don’t have a shell they need a way to protect themselves. Stealing another animal’s weapon is very clever. It made me think about how to apply that today in my life. Right now we have been face with the enemy of fear. Satan has been trying to choke us with fear. I hear the words I am fearful, scared, and worried. While under the mist of a pandemic we have stopped looking at Jesus our Savior, but have chosen to look at the waves of worry and fear that surround our feet. What if we took what satan is using to sting and paralyze us and us it against him.

We can learn a lot from these sea slugs. When we feel the words of anxiety and fear creep deep into our heart leaving us breathless we need to block them with words of scripture, like “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 and “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…” 1 John 4:18a. Then in turn we need use what the enemy has used against us and throw the stinging cells back at him. As soon as the lie of the enemy sneaks into your mental space we immediately shoot right back out Jesus’ name and the enemy will flee. 

I know that we are all doing our best to understand the world around us, but there is a difference between being safe and wise versus only focusing on the negative of the story. I am not saying that what is happening with this virus isn’t devastating and horrific, but I am saying when all we read is the news and facebook posts instead of mediating and reading scripture then we are only fighting this virus with the fear the enemy is throwing at us. Yes, we need to stay informed so we can make wise choices, but isn’t God the ultimate wisest individual. Doesn’t he have better knowledge of this virus than even the CDC or White House. Shouldn’t we be asking him what we should be doing. 

Deep down I think God wants us to surrender our fears and pray. Pray for those in leadership to have Godly wisdom. Pray for families that are facing this horrible virus. Pray for those that are suffering from job loss. Pray for a miracle in the world. First and foremost the miracle we need is not a cure to this disease it is a cure of the heart of pride that is in this country. We might have the smartest individuals and scientists, but are they relying on their own strength or God’s strength to find the answers. 

We have been given the greatest opportunity to during this social fasting to be still. To wait on the Lord. To rest in his presence. I believe that being still in God’s presence is the weapon that we need to shoot back at our enemy. Right now we need to be strategic like this nudibranch. We need to use the word of God to be chemical slime to help protect us when digesting the enemy’s darts of lies and worries. Then in turn use those poisonous darts to shoot right back at satan.

When satan lies - Fear the Virus         You shout - Fear God

When satan lies - Blame others and God You shout - Blame satan

When satan lies - Worry                 You shout - Pray

When satan lies - Fear death                 You shout - Death has no hold on me!

Each day we need to treat as a battle zone over our minds and hearts. We need to be prepared that this journey isn’t an easy one, but God has given all we need to fight this war. Part of the fight we pray together even if it is over the internet. Making sure we reach out to friends even it is a text message or call to say we are thinking or praying for them. We need to read and study scripture together. We are not meant to fight is battle alone. Memorize what Jesus said in John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Pretty in Pink - Thai Style

The sun streaming through the window crept up from the bed base onto my sheets and light blanket swiftly warmed up my whole bedroom. When the sun reached my face it made me opened my eyes. The sweat that was dripping off of me into my bed sheets was all a confirmation that it was hot season in Thailand. Which only meant that no amount of fan or breeze could cool down my bedroom during the night. I was too cheap or too stubborn to turn on the built in air-conditioner placed right under my 13 story window, which meant that waking up sweaty was a common occurrence these days. 

I sat up alert to the day I had before me. For today was going to be epic event for this single twenty something woman. I was asked to be apart of a Thai friend’s wedding. This would be my first exposure of a true Thai cultural experience. I had never seen a Thai wedding and being not just invited, but apart of the wedding’s festivities was a huge honor. The first part of the day was the traditional Thai wedding, but the second part of the day was the western type christian wedding where I was asked to be one of the candle lighters. 

I showered and dressed in a traditional Thai skirt which was full of colorful material with various embroidered designs that wrapped around my waist a few times with a tie in front. I picked out a simple dress shirt that was cool and loose thankfully matching the skirt perfectly. I packed up my makeup, hair supplies and my second dress with dress shoes that I would need to change into for the second wedding event.  

My roommate and I headed to the bride’s house where everything was adorned with vibrant colored decorations. We all sat on the floor of the upstairs room in their open air wooden house. The bride looked extravagant with a reddish fabric embroidered with designs of gold running up and down the skirt wrapped neatly around her petite waist. Another piece of ornate fabric was draped across her chest and over her shoulder on top of another glittery type shirt. Soon we heard the sounds of chatting and singing coming down the lane they lived on. This act showed how he and his family were asking for her hand in marriage while walking down the street towards the bride’s house. The groom was also dressed with decorative fabric as pants and a long sleeve tailored coat. He joined the bride upstairs in the main room on the center mat. 

There were plates of various fruits and foods placed around the edges of the room. One plate looked like a fish that had just been recently caught and cooked, but in reality it was a perfect sculpture of a fish made out of a gelatin mixture. The designs and artistry work took my breath away.

The words the Thai officiate spoke rapidly went through one ear and out the other during most of the ceremony. Near the end the dowry which was many stacks of the Thai currency was gently placed on a plate framed with exquisite jasmine flowers that gave off a calming fragrance. The dowry was tied up into a cloth and given to the bride’s family. 

After the ceremony had finished, my roommate quietly grabbed my attention so we could gracefully head out, while taking the bride too. We were heading out to prepare for the next ceremony. Since we had the bride in the our car we were surprised to see my roommate’s SUV trimmed with a gigantic ribbon in the shape of a bow on top of the hood. Thankfully it wasn’t blocking her view while driving. From now on everyone that saw us knew we had the bride!

Our friend, the bride, wanted to do the traditional Thai ceremony with their families, but she and her future husband wanted to still have a traditional western christian wedding with their new church family. That is where my roommate and I were key. A few months back when the bride wanted to find a dress for the candle lighters, I truly thought it would be impossible to find a dress that would fit me. I had learned that past year while living in Bangkok that I had to buy from the “fat clothes” stores. Not because I was fat, but mostly because I was a head taller than most Thais and their clothes were mostly meant for petite individuals. This is why I was doubtful that we would find a dress, but to my surprise there was one dress that they found that actually fitted perfectly. As I placed it on for the wedding, I was reminded that wearing this dress was not for my beauty or show, but for honoring the bride. My dress was bright pink, almost sparkly, with a halter top. Right in the middle of my chest was a gigantic pink rose that could easily cover up my face. The bottom half of the dress had a jagged trim around my knees with pink tulle layered between the material with the same design. When I first tried it on months earlier the only thought that crossed my mind was that I was a Pink Tinker-bell. Even though I thought I looked a little over the top, this is quite normal for Thailand. They love the color pink and anything that looks “cute.” I might have felt a little awkward in it, but I still blended in with the whole wedding party and the guests. 

We had to wait for the bride for over an hour before the ceremony started, but over all the wedding went on smoothly. Thankfully I could wear a jacket during the reception. The jean jacket was mostly to help keep warm in the powerful air-conditioned room, but it nicely covered the massive rose on my chest. At the reception all guests sat around round tables where we had a spinning tray in the middle. Since I hadn’t eaten lunch I was starved by the time the food arrived. When they placed the first appetizer, which was fried pork rinds, on the spinning tray I quickly devoured about a third. Next we had another appetizer which I mistaken to be the main meal and ate a good portion. It wasn’t until the seventh dish came out did I realize I hadn’t planned my eating journey well. By the time we got to the fifteen dish I was more than full. My tight pink dress was definitely getting close to ripping at the seams. That is when they brought out the the wedding cake. Even the thought of eating another bite was sickening. In true Thai culture the bride and groom approached the wedding cake with a long sword and together they cut their first piece of cake with the traditional saber. 

That night laying in a cooler bedroom I went to sleep dreaming of pink tulle and gigantic swords. I knew that my wedding one day would probably be quite different, but my memory of this Thai wedding day would last forever. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Beyond the pine forests

As the wind blew past me and swept my hair in front of my face again, it was only another reminder that I had allowed another train to pass me by. In my head I knew that I was suppose to get on that train, but the actual action of it was paralyzing. There were so many unknowns in this world and this next leap was the biggest of all. 

I turned around with my suitcase in hand and started walking back towards the box office. Deep down I wanted to go, but I couldn’t do. I couldn’t make the change. It was just too difficult. As I approached the box, the sweet elderly gentleman gave me the most delicate of a smile. I dropped my baggage and placed my hand in my pocket to grab my train ticket.

“Hello again!” He greeted me.

“Hi” I voiced weakly.

“I am not sure I can give you a refund, love.” His southern accent started to break through.

“I know you can’t.” I paused. “I just want to give it back. Maybe someone else can use it.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

I stared at the crumbled ticket in my sweaty hand. I was so torn. Stepping on that train would acknowledge my fear and would admit to myself that I wasn’t ready for the real world. I had been living in this small town in North Carolina since I can remember. Everything was simple. I could walk everywhere if I needed to. I had miles and miles of majestic pine trees in our backyard where I took my daily hikes. All my friends are here, well, at least some of them. Most have decided to move to the big city and embrace the changes of the coming age. 

“Are you going to keep it, deary?” the gentleman interrupted my train of thoughts. 

“Why should I go?” I pleaded.

“Why do you not want to go?” He responded with a question.

“Everything I know is here!” I expressed solemnly. “Should I leave my family?”

“Why should you not go?” Again he answered my questions with another question.

“My mom has many kids to take care of and she could use my help. Everyone loves me here.” Those words brought tears to my eyes. I still remember as they waved goodbye to me while I was walking down the street with my suitcase crammed full of mostly worn out clothes and a few books I treasured. 

“Would your mom want you to go?” He challenged me.

“Yes, I believe so. She really wanted this for me.” I looked back down at the almost withered ticket. I could hear the train coming. 

“This is the last train to Raleigh.” He grabbed my hand through the window. “I have known you since you were a little girl. I believe this is the best thing for you and your family!”

As I looked up from my hands into his eyes, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I knew deep down he was right. I had to go. This was my dream even though it was probably the scariest dream I have ever experienced. I whispered, “Thank you!” and turned around picked up my suitcase and walked towards the platform. 
I could feel the train approaching through the rumbling of the platform into my feet. It slowly crept to a full stop.

“Next stop Raleigh” yelled the conductor a few times. 

I looked back behind me and waved goodbye to the gentleman and took that gigantic leap onto the steps of the train. As I walked inside a sense of excitement and relief enveloped me. Even the fear that I was so trapped by seemed to dissipate a little. I couldn’t believe that I actually did the first step. All the steps after that first one seemed to grow increasingly easier.

I found my seat instantly and placed my suitcase in the above compartment. Thankfully I was next to the window and could catch a glimpse of the majestic state I lived in on this trip.

The roll of the engine started up and a big leap jolted us forward. I glanced around me and noticed that the train was quite full, but the seat next to me was empty. I grateful that there would be no potential small talk with a stranger. I enjoyed staring out the window at first until all I saw was the same tobacco fields over and over again. That is when I decided to get out one of my books to read. As I stood up to grab my suitcase the train took a curvy turn throwing me across the aisle on top of some young man. 

He looked down at me and asked, “Are you okay?”

Quickly I tried to scamper out of his lap, but realized my foot was caught under the empty seat next to mine. 

“I think I’m okay.” I replied meekly. 

“Do you need help?” He obviously saw that I was struggling and bent down sideways to free my foot from its trap. 

As soon as he did that I was up and standing, brushing off what could be nothing on my dress, but only seemed to be the most lady like thing to do after a fall. 

“Thank you sir.” I responded with a nod. Then I went back to my seat and tried to settle myself back into my original position hoping that everyone would forget what they saw. 

“Ma’am,” the young man whispered, “Do you want your suitcase, still?”

Surprised at his words, I looked at him with a puzzled look on my face. I had completely forgotten the reason I stood up. “Excuse me?” I challenged.

“You got up for your suitcase, right?” He inquired. 

Finally realizing he was right I blushed at the thought of being so absent-minded, “You are correct, sir.” I paused to look up at the suitcase and wondering if it really would be proper for a young man to open a young lady’s belongings. “Maybe not now. I can just enjoy the view.”

“Where are you going?” He pried.

“To Raleigh.” I answered.

“Me too!” He expressed with glee. “May I sit next to you.”

I looked at the seat and back up at him. Would people think he was with me? Is it improper for a young lady, like myself, to allow a single man next to me? Maybe he can make this train ride go by faster? My thoughts were jumping all over the place when I realized he was still staring at me waiting for a respond.

“I guess so,” was all I could muster to say.

He hastily grabbed his briefcase and switched seats. “Is this your first time to Raleigh?”

I knew this was inevitable, talking to complete strangers was going to be apart of this new adventure of mine, but I was not very keen on it. My dad had always told me to be weary of strange men. How could I trust this guy? I thought. My words came out softly, “Yes, it is.”

“Me too!” He responded promptly, “It’s my first time. I am quite nervous.”

A small smile creeped across my face, at least I wasn’t the only one nervous about this new experience. I thought maybe I could venture out and quiz him about his life, but fear kept my mouth firmly closed and I returned my glaze out the train window.

He continued on with his one way conversation, “You seem nervous too. Why are you going to Raleigh?”

Here he goes again with personal inquires. I thought. Should I respond? Deep down I had wanted to tell someone all that happened to get to this point, but what if he wasn’t trustworthy. What if he didn’t understand. My family had sacrificed so much for me to go on this trip. Why should I spoil it to a random stranger? This was my story, not his! I thought.

I confidently stated, “I am not liberty to say.” 

With that comment, the young man drooped his shoulders. He leaned over with his elbows on his knees and let out a great sigh. I had just crushed his fresh and young spirit with a few words. I was mean! He had been so nice and I repaid his kindness with anger. I have never been mean like this before. My thoughts examined my actions.  I was always known to be too nice, but in reality I hid my anger and today it came out. At that point I touched his back to hopefully give comfort, only to feel that he was weeping inwardly.

“I am sorry.” I offered up. 

He didn’t move, but it seemed that his inward shaking stopped. He slowly sat up making me move my hand that I had forgotten was still on his back. He glanced at me and smiled. “I get it,” was all he responded with. “Let’s start over. I am Winston.” He put out his hand towards me hoping for a hand shake.

I glanced down at Winston’s hand. It had scars and callouses his palms. See these made me realize that he must of grown up as a hard worker, which gave me a small sense of peace about him. I took his hand and gently shook it and replying with a meek voice, “I’m Annabel.”

For the next hour or so Winston rambled on about his small town he came from and kept me entertained on what could have been a long boring ride. He talked about his family and their family’s fishing business. He explained where he got all of his scars on both of his hands. He then was about to show me some of his body scars, but my face blushed and I turned away immediately. He recognized my shock and lowered his shirt back down. 

I didn’t talk much during our trip. He was enjoyable enough, but I was looking forward to getting off the train and heading to my destination. 

The conductor came through the train belting out that Raleigh was the next stop. It wasn’t long before the train slowed down and pulled into the main station in Raleigh. As I started to stand up Winston put out his hand to help me up, like a true gentleman. I reluctantly took it and waited for him to lower my suitcase. 

“Are you going to need any more help, my lady?” Winston inquired. 

“No, but thank you.” I glanced down at my baggage then back into Winston’s eyes, “It was nice to meet you. Good travels Winston!” And with that I skirted by him and heading down the aisle to get off the train. I knew he wasn’t too far behind, but I didn’t want him to get the idea that they were together when they got off the train. 

As I stepped off the stairs of the train, I glanced around looking for some sort of sign that would guide me to my next step in this venture. Through the masses of people I started to get a bit overwhelmed. I had never encountered so many people before.

Then someone whispered in my ear startling me, “I just imagine them as a school of fish that need to be caught.”

I turned abruptly to see Winston standing right next to me. I didn’t want him to see that under my tough exterior I was a frighten little girl. I walked off in a huff hoping to lose him in the crowd. When I thought I had lost him I finally saw in the distance the sign I was looking for. My heart jumped with excitement. Then reality hit me square between my eyes. Did I have to go? I could be lost in this crowd and no one would know the difference. I could head back home. Or…I could make a new life for myself. My thoughts started running away from me. I snapped back, refocusing on the sign. I squeezed my way through the crowd, finally reaching the man holding the sign. There was a dozen or so young ladies and men with simple suitcases like mine. 

The realization started sinking in as joy bubbled up inside of me. I had made it. I had been chosen to be one of the future students of the nation’s medical research facility. I had been applying every year since I was sixteen. I knew that joining this school of study was everyone my age’s dream. Finally, I had gotten an acceptance letter two months ago with a full scholarship. I couldn’t believe that they had chosen me. 

“Are you Annabel Ventlend?” an older man with a clipboard spouted out.

“Yes, sir.” I replied and started pulling out my papers, “Here is my identification.”

He glanced at my papers and back at me, double checking my identity. “You are cleared. Stay with this group for now.” He pointed over to the girls all lined up.

As I was walking towards the girl’s line, I overhead that same gentlemen ask, “Are you Winston Howard?” I swiftly turned around and saw my train companion talking to the clipboard man. What! Is He apart of this too? I thought. Winston turned and gave her a wave.  A grin appeared on his face that reached from ear to ear. 

“I see you got accepted to the National Medical Research Center too.” He yelled, “I guess we are going to see much more of each other.” He smirked.

“I guess so.” I stated back. A little miffed, I turned sharply and headedntowards the end of the ladies line. I took a quick glance back seeing Winston’s silly smile still pasted across his face. Outwardly I wanted him to think I was annoyed, but inwardly I was glad that I would be seeing more of him. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

For a 2 hour tour - Part 2

         When we finally got to shore we were soaked from head to toe and even though we were in the tropics we were all cold from being drenched in rain. As we walked the dock, we noticed these long black pipes laying on the side. They were pretty hot to the most people’s touch, but just perfect for what we needed. We all laid on them to warm our bodies. It was our way of kissing the ground thanking God we finally landed. Even my uncle took off his sweatshirt he had worn and left it on some bushes to dry out while we went to find lunch. 

         I wish I could say that I had finally relaxed now that we had landed, but I was still worried about my group and our return trip. Many of us from the group didn’t want to step foot back on that boat. We also knew that if we did return on the boat we still had to get more gas. The small village we arrived in had one small gas station miles from the dock and very few vehicles for a possible ride. To get more gas we would have to carry the empty containers there and back. Even then if we did get all the gas for the return because our trip was 5 hours long we wouldn’t have enough time to get gas and back to the main island before it got dark. After that rough 5 hour ride during daylight there was no way I wanted to go out in those waters at night. 

The next option was to just stay the night and go back the next day. We could all sleep on the floor of the small church building we were visiting. Waiting to leave the next day had its own dilemma our group’s flight back to the mainland of Ecuador was the next day and the day after that was the church group’s flight back to the States. Typically at this time the Galapagos Islands only has two flights in and out for each day. If they missed the flight out of Galapagos they would have to wait for the next day to get back to the mainland.  In turn they would miss their flight back to the States. From my perspective and from various calls to my parents we needed to figure out how to get us off this island today. 

We asked about the little island ferry that takes people back and forth from the main island. We found that it only goes every three days and the last trip was the day before we got there. We knew that wasn’t going to help. Next we asked about the airplane taxes since that would be the quickest route. Sadly the last air taxi had just left the island. We were out of options. As a group we started walking around the little village, many of us praying for guidance. Until the American Pastor thought that maybe we could find a pilot that we could pay to take us to the airport island. Then the local pastor took us to what looked like the house of the pilot. Through translation we asked how much it would cost to give us a ride in his plane.
He gladly accepted 50 dollars per person to fly back to the airport island. In that very moment we were saved!! We did leave behind the captain of the boat sadly. He had to bring back the boat on his own the next day.

Soon we got on the air taxi. It was a smaller plane that held up to maybe 8 people. Flying over these islands was the most beautiful and majestic flight. Looking out over the waters with various colors of blue and green. Seeing the outline of each little island that we probably passed on our way in the boat, but didn’t see because of all the fog and rain. It was a precious time to pray over the people of these islands. I think I finally relaxed on that flight. 

Even though we were on a plane our trip was far from over.  The main airport is on a separate island from the main town and as I said there were only two flights in and out of this airport daily. So when we landed at the airport everything was deserted. Normally there are many buses picking up passengers from the planes and driving them either to their cruise ship docked on this island or to the dock at the end of the island.

As we got off the plane our only option was to walk to the dock where we could cross to the main island, but to our surprise a garbage truck was driving by us. We asked if we could catch a ride. Thankfully it was mostly empty, but the smell still lingered probably on us for a while. We made it to the channel in a matter of minutes. A smelly ride was better than a few miles of walking especially getting close to night fall. At the channel normally during there are tons of boat ferries and taxis that help her cross the small channel. It is key to remember that Galapagos Islands are a protected Ecuadorian National Park so building bridges and structures in the water was against the law. Since all the boat taxi’s captains were gone, we ended up begging a local hotel boat taxi to give us a ride across to the other side. After the quick ride across the channel, we climbed into a truck taxi, a few of the group went up front, but my uncle and I sat in the bed of the truck. For the next two and half hours we traveled over two dead volcanos and some small rain showers, but nothing compared to the hours of rain on a slow moving boat earlier that day. 

Looking back at such a crazy adventure, I still smile because first I’m grateful that we all survived such a scary ordeal, but I also am taken back at how many lessons I continually get from it even today. Never in my life have I ever ridden so many types of taxis, from a boat taxi, truck taxi, and plane taxi, but that garbage truck was a life savior saving us hours of walking. No matter what vehicle we rode in I keep thinking back to how important it was to follow that small dingy boat to the safe harbor. Many times I feel like I’m not good enough to lead someone or be an example of Christ, but it only took a small boat to lead a larger boat safely to shore. I keep reminding myself that in life it is the small habits, the small reactions that can guide my decisions. Sometimes we are the big boat following someone as they guide us on the narrow path and other times we are the small boat guiding others. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

For a 2 hour tour - Part 1

There it was the most picturesque water I had ever seen. A turquoise blue and with white pristine waves crashing into the finest grains of sand. All around me was paradise and I wasn’t enjoying it. I kept telling myself what on earth am I going to do. I had finally left the lunch hut to take a deep breath and talk to God. My uncle came out and said something along the lines, “It is going to be okay! Enjoy it.” But I kept thinking I am responsible for this group of people. I’m the only one that can translate and we have NO way to get back to the main island unless we return back on a half working boat. 

It all started with a supposedly 2 hour tour across the Pacific waters from one Galapagos island to the next. We had just finished a couple days of kids camp with the local church. It was a success even though our water balloon volleyball didn’t last long on lava rock. Our group thought this little boat trip would be a relaxing tour of the islands. 

Little did we know how far off from that picture we were. It was already drizzling as we got on the boat. But that was no problem. We had extra gas for the return trip. It was only two hours I kept telling myself. This trip was to try out the new motor that the church from the states had purchased for them. We still had two motors just one was new and other one a bit old. 
The start of the trip seemed to be going smoothly until my uncle realized that we were taking on water because the old motor was eating up all our gas. The new motor was not suppose to be used in full throttle. My uncle asked me to translate many times but boat lingo was not in my vocabulary. Thankfully my uncle was a skilled fisherman and without even knowing the language did he best to manage take over the motor situation without culturally offending the captain. The pastor from the States was shoving out water that kept creeping in. Myself and the pastor’s daughter weren’t sure what we should do.

The rain was coming down heaver. Not like a storm, but annoyingly miserable. It was foggy enough that it was hard to see land. At the worse of the trip I saw small parts of land that were looked like large fingers sticking out of the water. They were made of rock and for certain did not have a shore to land on. I thought we called for help on the radio, but from the looks of it no one was coming to help us maybe we were closer to our destination, but even so we were running out of gas. My uncle had to move the gas tube from the motors from one reserve gas container to the next. 

When we finally saw land and the sun came out it seemed like miles away. I even crawled into the bow of the boat hoping for rest and prayers or so kind of direction. The smell of gasoline was going to make me vomit like the poor pastor was doing over the side. What should have been a photo moment of dolphins swimming next to our boat only gave me a slight smile, but then back to worry. I just wanted to reach land so badly. I was just a college student at the time. I was suppose to be translating for the pastor, an elder from the church, and my uncle. Nothing in college or life had prepared me for this unlikely adventure.

When we finally reach the bay the tide was out so we knew there was only one path to get to the docks. Another sailor nearby, a foreigner on vacation, pointed for us the direction. Pointing the direction wasn’t enough for our captain. We all knew one wrong turn we would run aground or hit rocks which would damage the boat. Finally another foreigner got into his little dingy and guided us the along the narrow path to port.

The narrow path takes me back to scripture where Jesus says Matthew 7:13-14 ”Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” There are always Christians that can point in the right direction, but that could lead a new believer aground or hit rocky places. As believers we need to get in our boats and actually lead the lost, guiding them during their journey. How many of us like to go an adventure alone? Not many of us! We usually like a guide that has done the path before to show us the way. It is nice to have a person that can encourage us when we can’t see the next step. As Christ followers we need to show people the way by walking with them. Jesus walked and talked with his disciples. He didn’t just tell them the directions one day and let them do it on their own. Jesus showed them for 3 years before he sent his disciples off to lead others. Thankfully we had a guide in the small boat that took our bigger boat to shore.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Stop! Don't come, Mom!

“Don’t come, MOM!” yelled my four year old daughter. I turned around from my Sunday School curriculum and saw my little girl scurry away from me. I had to investigate, because those words don’t come out of her mouth for no reason at all. As I tried to follow her down the church’s hallway, she turned around and put her hand up to me and said, “Stop.” Then she disappeared into the classroom where she had been eating lunch. As I approached the classroom door, I peered into the window and saw her strategically trying to cover up her spilled chocolate milk with small napkins.

I’ve seen many types of clutter where young ones are trying to clean up their untidiness before the teacher or an adult sees it, but it ends up being too big for them to clean up. They either sweep it under the rug or throw everything into a closet. I, myself, have done the same thing in my own home after everything is left in shambles. I typically turn down help from my husband or friends. I too would say, “Stop, I’ve got it.” But…

Should that be my first response?
Should I turn away help?

I watched my daughter through the door’s window try so vigorously to clean up her spill. Her attempt at cleaning just made the puddle of chocolate milk grow bigger and bigger. She didn’t realize that if she would just ask for my help the clean up would be so much easier. The milk splatter was her mistake no matter how big it was. Her focus was on how not disappoint me and keeping herself out of trouble. That is when it hit me; I do that to God. When I become impulsive and spend more than my budget allows, I don’t ask God for help. Instead I try to fix it myself by doing extra jobs and usually it makes a bigger heap of problems in the long run. 

But God never peers into the window of our lives and says, “I’m disappointed in you.” He actually says, “My child, It’s okay. Let me help you. All you have to do is ask.”

In the end my daughter did finally let me help her clean up, and it took only a few minutes for us to clean it together. It was actually a small spill from my point of view, but an overwhelming one from hers. I wasn’t mad at her. I was thrilled that my daughter invited me into her mess. In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says to the church “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” 
God just wants us to invite him into the turmoil of our lives. Even if I am ashamed and embarrassed of my mistakes, I need to let God in. My daughter taught me an important lesson that day. It is never too late to say to God “Please come in! I need your help.”

Between Worlds - Podcast 1

A few months back God pop an idea in my head, to start a podcast interviewing Third Culture Kids. I, of course, am a TCK and I felt like our...