Tag Archives: Asia

closing chapters

How do you close a chapter in life?

I think it’s similar to finishing a really superb book – the kind of book where you eat up every line until the last line, consuming and enjoying every word and minute. It’s the kind of book you get lost in, where the characters seem as real as the man sitting next to you in the songtaew (Thai taxi). Great books make you feel you’re a part of the drama.

When the last chapter ends and the last line is digested, there’s a sense of sadness that it’s over, that the journey you were just on has ended. You close the book, thinking, wow, that was good. You close it half wishing you hadn’t read it so quickly.

This happened for me recently with “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens. I’m not sure why I’d never read it before. Well, actually, I do know why. I think God had me read it this year.

I finished Dickens’ masterpiece on the Thai Airways flight home from my last media coverage as a journeyman. I sat between two coworkers and friends and ooh-ed and ah-ed over the last scenes and sentences (they can attest to how verbal I was).

Now I realize how symbolic my reading and finishing the book was. I’m closing a chapter of life – just as I closed out on my final voyage with Dickens’ book about two cities and the adventures held within them.

During my almost three years here, I’ve spent time in more than just two cities. I’ve been a part of stories that are in some ways just as dramatic if not more so than “A Tale of Two Cities.”  Sans the guillotines, of course, but these stories had dangers just as real as the French machine of death. It’s been an awesome “book” and I feel so blessed to have lived it. Thank you Lord, for the lessons learned, the adventures had and the challenges I’ve learned from.

Finishing “A Tale of Two Cities” felt a little like grieving. It’s that good. I was sad to say goodbye to the characters, action and drama. Finishing my time here as a journeyman feels like grieving.

The feeling of the loss of something great happens with some TV series too. My brother and I were immersed in a British TV-series called “Foyle’s War.” When we finished the last episode, our shared memories seemed to end. We finished something great – something we’d spent hours together watching over Christmas. This happened to me when “Lost” ended too. All those years spent, waiting for resolution and it never came. We won’t get into that.

While some people may feel like instantly reading great books and watching TV series again, I’ve found that I don’t. When I say this, I mean, I don’t feel like closing the book then re-open and start reading it again or watching the TV series again. I do re-read and re-watch and I want to do this, but I’ve found I need space in between the reading and watching – time to absorb and remember. For me, re-reading and re-watching are never quite the same as reading or watching the first time either. The suspense and mystery are known.

It’s the same with my time here as a journeyman. I can’t and won’t go back to “re-live” it right now that it’s over – as good as the past three years have been. The adventure won’t ever be as fresh as the first time living and experiencing it. And it shouldn’t be.  You can’t live in the past. You can remember the past and you can re-visit it.

I’ve found that after reading a great book, I’m inspired to find and read another that’s equally as epic. Great books have a tendency to do that. Excellent books put you on a manhunt to find and discover a book that have the same immersing effect on you.

I think it’s the same with life. I’ve just closed out the last chapter of a “book” of my life – my time here in Chiang Mai as a journeyman. I’m inspired to find the next book that will so move me as the past three years did.

Yes, I will be returning here next year, but the “book” will be different. I lived here in Chiang Mai as a elementary, middle and high school student and that book was VERY different from my “journeyman book.” Little did I know when I graduated from high school that I’d be returning to Chiang Mai for a very different adventure.

In the next saga of “Tessa’s life in Chiang Mai,” there will be new drama, new characters and new challenges.  I don’t know what these are yet, but just like you don’t know the ending to a great book, you wouldn’t want to because it’d spoil the journey of reading it.

Now, I know of some people who read the ending of books first. I have plenty to say about that but I’ll save it for another inspired-blog-writing-moment.

In a few short days, I’ll be closing the final chapter of an epic book. There will be grieving at its end – at the end of this fine adventure. But, I’m inspired to see what God’s written in the next book of my life.

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Art of Misunderstanding

It’s easy to misunderstand. This is especially true when your home country isn’t the one you grew up in.

There are a lot of things about American culture that I don’t know about having lived in Asia most of my life. Going to college was enlightening for me in many ways.

There are still many times when I miss a cultural cue or pop culture reference, just ask my friends. They have many a funny story of me embarrassing myself or saying something silly.

It happened again recently.

On a recent media coverage I met a girl who just got engaged. I asked how they met.

“Playing Cooties,” she answered.

I wished my coworker had taken a picture of the expression on my face at that moment. Having lived in Asia, I do try to monitor my facial expressions, but sometimes it’s just plain hard.

Boys have cooties, that’s what every elementary and early pre-teen girl thinks. But, how do you play cooties? This doesn’t sound PG and I am not sure this is something you tell someone you just met.

“Excuse me?” I asked.

“Yeah, we were playing in the basement around New Years’ Eve.”

Sketchy. I think this might be TMI. I won’t tell you what I thought she meant by that.

“Will you tell your children that’s how you met their dad?” I thought. I had enough of a filter not to say this out loud.

She explained that Cooties is a game that many kids in America play growing up. I completely missed this phenomenon. She said you play it by adding parts to a cootie bug. You add limbs etc.

“It’s really intense,” she said.

Really intense? Adding plastic legs to a cootie bug is an intense game? I don’t understand.

I did look up the game and it is a legit Hasbro game, so she was not a sketchy of a person as I had initially thought.

Oh the joys of being a third culture kid. Experiences like this add to my arsenal. Next time, I’ll be prepared to joke about how wonderful cooties are.

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If we are the body

“A church is just a building if there’s no one in it.”

I think, many times, in the West we associate church with the building and not the people.

The church is the body of Christ- not the building they meet in. The church is the men, women and children sitting crossed-legged on cold tile in a living room, singing worship songs loudly and with total abandon.

Mike Yankoski’s book, “Under the Overpass,” is a wonderful reminder of who the body of Christ is.

Yankoski spent several months as a homeless man on the streets of six different cities. Why? He felt God leading him to walk into the shoes of the homeless.

I have great respect for what Yankoski did. I’ve seen the homeless in Asia and it breaks my heart every time. I loved that Yankoski took the time to do as Jesus did, walk in the people’s shoes.

It reminds me of the Casting Crowns song, “If We Are the Body.” If we are the body, why aren’t our arms moving and reaching the homeless?

The book confirmed in me the desire to help the homeless here in Asia, through buying them food or stopping to acknowledge them.

I’d encourage you to do the same.

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for auld lang syne

So long 2010.

Every year flies in and out faster the older I get. My elementary years seemed like an eternity packed into 10 years. Middle school seemed to slink slowly by. Each year in high school went by progressively faster. College went by in light speed, or what is it called on Star Trek, warp?  I somehow ended up a college graduate with a job.

Now, I’m sitting in my apartment in Chiang Mai, wondering where 2010 went.

I’ve been reminiscing about what’s taken place the last year. Here are just a few thoughts.

In the past year I:

-Celebrated Christmas and New Years in Taiwan

-Moved back to Thailand

-Begun my first full-time job, which has been my dream job since middle school

-Studied Thai again

-Traveled on my first work trip

-Learned to see poverty through God’s eyes

-Visited four new countries

-Was in my best friend’s wedding

-Had six months where my brother and I were both in Chiang Mai

-Watched my brother graduate high school

-Traveled through Turkey and Greece with my family

-Got to be a part of media relating to the World Cup and the Lausanne World Evangelization conference

-Traveled back to China

-Learned more about Thai festivals

-Made many dear Thai friends

-Hung out with awesome journeymen

-Swam with whale sharks

-Learned how to surf

-Zip lined through the jungles of Thailand

I am praying that this next year God becomes more and I become less. Last year was a good year. But, there are a lot of things from last year that I wish I could change or do differently.

“God is the God of our yesterdays, and he allows the memory of them to turn the past into a ministry of spiritual growth for our future. God reminds us of the past to protect us from a very shallow security in the present,” Oswald Chambers.

I’m looking forward to a year of closer intimacy with God.

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Beijing blast from the past

If home is where the heart is, then my home is in Asia.

I am at home in the pungent Thai marketplace and Hong Kong’s Stanley Market. I am at home sailing down the picturesque Li River with a backdrop of mountains holding centuries-old secrets. I am at home on the train in Taiwan and the MTR subway in Hong Kong.

Whether it be perched on a waterfall ledge in northern Thailand, or wedged in a cable car ascending to the Great Wall— I am at home.

But, I am discovering the part of me that is American too.
I studied abroad in Asia this past semester. I enjoyed it immensely.
Oddly, I am finding myself ready to go back. I am missing my friends, and I am looking forward to my senior year.

Written in 2008 in Beijing

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Khrang naa

Next time, I’ll be better.

I’m aware that I’m not the best blogger.  I’m sure that seems ironic since I’m a writer. It’s not that I don’t want to blog, I truly do.

I find though, it’s hard sometimes to come home and blog when writing is your job. I’ve been writing all day, bein’ all creative, artsy and word-smithy and such.

But, next time, I’ll be better. Khrang naa means next time in Thai. So, next time I’ll be better at blogging.

Realization of the day: I’m an Asia girl. I realized I can’t see myself living in Europe. Europe is a whooo place to me–it’s seems so exotic. Asia feels like home. Africa feels like the ‘hard core continent’ and South America feels too traditional for me.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t live anywhere the Lord called me–because I would. In or out of my comfort zone, I’ll follow.

That’s one realization I made. Another is that I really like coffee. But you and I already knew that.

So, stay tuned for next post! Khrang naa!

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asia again at last

I am back in Asia!

It is good to be back in familiar stomping grounds. I am currently in Taipei, Taiwan, with my family. I will be here until Jan. 2nd then I head to Thailand.

My brother Taylor and I will fly to Chiang Mai together.

Stay tuned for more news from the Orient!

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