Sunday, January 4, 2015

Welcome to America

It’s been a week now since I landed here in New York, in the U.S. of A. It’s been exciting, just experiencing the culture and visiting world-renowned places first hand; not via TLC on Astro or some media-inclined stereotypical interpretation of America.

Getting connected with my relatives definitely gave me a glimpse of what the country has to offer. My grandaunt and her family offered a tonne of insight into New York and generally, life in America. Although, they moved to the States a few decades ago, their enthusiasm for the place they’ve called home hasn’t faltered. My granduncle certainly hasn’t hesitated in sharing his love for America. He kept going on and on about what a great place the States is and how it made him feel over breakfast this morning. To reiterate (and translate from Cantonese to English) his point, America is a place that makes him happy. America offers many things, material and non-material; both of which fulfilled man’s desire to be well, happy.

“You can do anything here. In America, you are free to become who you want to be.”

They said I was a genius to have chosen to study in America. Well, I guess I’d have to agree (c’mon they be complimentin’ my decision makin’ skills whaddup).

On the other hand, this same liberty I am learning to embrace is equally as daunting. Given that America is definitely notches higher in the liberalism scale than in Malaysia, things are bound to get crazy (on the grand Malaysian scale of things, that is). Suddenly the sky isn’t the limit anymore.  And if I choose to be terribly negative and not focus on the hope that is in Jesus, limit ceases to exist in the pre-existing thoughts and vocabulary of people here.

Things probably differ from state to state, but people here in New York are pretty vociferous. You could be as loud as you’d like here, and it’d be “your right” to do so. People might raise an eyebrow or have their attention stolen for a second or two, but generally, people don’t care much. Americans are pretty vocal about everything; they’d tell you to get out of the way if you were in it and it’d be okay. If you were being a douche on the road and taking up way too much parking space when you could have moved forward by a few inches so another car could slide into a spot (true story bro), they’d say it to your face how douche-y you are, and more. Well, I guess I’d expected vulgarity every now and then, but I’m still quite taken aback by how “okay” everything can be. Sometimes it just seems like there aren’t any rules here, like you could do what you want and measure it against your own moral and ethical rule.

To me, this begged a question. A question easily answered, but a question nonetheless. And you  know how much I like asking questions. How would I then know how far is too far? When then will things be okay, and how will I know if I’ve made the right choice?

That’s why Jesus came, and when he left, the Holy Spirit. Lah. Yes, that lah was necessary, because I honestly like speaking Manglish a lot better than this ciplak version of an American accent. Pai seh.

In the last couple of days I’ve been having some doubts about coming to America. Some incidents that occurred here (which I will not care to mention because you know, TL;DR) have managed to conjure a sense of fear and anxiety about what is to come in the next two years. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to discern accurately who is good or bad. Not as in a ‘I-hate-you-because-of-your-skin-color-way’ or ‘I-like-you-because-we-both-listen-to-Coldplay’ kinda way, but rather in a ‘I-need-the-Holy-Spirit-to-teach-me-discernment’ way. I definitely lack in that department.

But if there’s one thing I realize, it’s this – God has made a way for me here. Sure, it’s over fifteen thousand kilometres away from home, and I’ve been pretty sheltered by both my physical and spiritual family all this time that coming out here and attempting to thrive and not just survive is a lot to behold. Yet, deep inside, I know I’m exactly where I need to be.

I’ve always felt like there was a need to get away from the comfort and confines of my nest in TTDI, KL and embark on this journey of studying abroad. I know I’m not going to be perfectly fine in the first few months I’m here in the States, but I’m going to make it. I’m going to work through the trials and temptations with God by my side, and come out strong. I’ve been given a chance by my loving Heavenly Father to experience life a different way, and perhaps my faith in a spectacular way as well. I don’t diminish the experiences I’ve had in Malaysia, with CF and the youth church, but I’m all for growth. I’m all for stepping out of the culture and expectations of my home church and learning and encountering God anywhere else in this world.

And right now, that’s here – in the U.S.A.

Only time will tell how I fare, but until then, keep me in your prayers. Whoever you are, at any time zone, reading this blog post, I ask that you intercede for me. I’ve been struggling to keep my head above water in this really emotional and fragile time of transitioning from the old to the new and it has taken a toll on my walk with God. The word of God that I once regarded so highly has suddenly gone to the bottom of the list. It’s almost off the list, actually. And that’s scary. I can’t let that happen.

I know my walk is my responsibility and it’s a choice I have to make, but I’d still like you guys to pray for me. Not out of obligation, but out of love. Out of relationship. I haven’t shared this blog with many people, and those whom I have shared this with, I truly trust and consider my dearest friends. I have allowed myself to be vulnerable to people, something I have found very difficult to do all my life, but can do with the strength of God. So keep me in your prayers. I’ll do the same for you, fo sho.

Uni starts in over a week, and I’m really excited! I’ll be flying to Texas tomorrow, where I’ll call
home for the next two years. I guess journey mercy would be a great thing to include in your prayer for me, haha. But yeah, that’s about it.

And here we go!

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