A Stranger

(Day 8 – A place you’ve travelled to and where else you want to travel)

I met a stranger yesterday*. A fragment of my past. A glimpse of a probable future.

She was wearing a flowered sleeveless dress which fell stylishly just past her knees. Her shoulder length hair was set in a perm and her almond-shaped eyes and porcelain skin showed that she was of Chinese descent.

A lady sporting shorts and a casual boycut introduced me to her. I don’t know, however, if the brief exchange that we had was even a proper introduction.

“Hello,” The sporty lady greeted me. We were at the Putrajaya KLIA Transit station and I was on my way home from work.  She spoke to me in Malay, thinking that I was a local.  “Awak pergi Bandar Tasik Selatan?” It was a good thing that I understood what she said. Was I going to Bandar Tasik Selatan?

I nodded as I fed my ticket into the machine at the station’s entrance. The gate opened and I hurried in.

“Dia nak pergi Bandar Tasik Selatan,” she said, motioning to the girly stranger. “Tapi, dia dari Sydney so dia tak tahu macamana.” She said some other words in Bahasa Melayu which I couldn’t understand. But I was getting a distinct feeling that she wanted me to escort the woman, if not show her the way. “So can you please tell her where to get down later, when you reach the station?” She finally asked.

I didn’t think that I really had that much of a choice. “Okay, okay,” I replied.

“Thank you ah,” the lady in shorts said as she fed her companion’s ticket into the machine and waved goodbye.

“Which platform do I take?” My new travelling companion asked once she walked through the gate. She looked a little lost.

“This one,” I said, pointing to the one we were already making our way towards. I was thankful that she spoke to me in English. That meant it was okay for me to speak to her in English too.

We made our way down the escalator and to the platform where the usual commuters were already waiting. “We still have six minutes,” I told her. She nodded.

“Thank you, ah. So, is Bandar Tasik Selatan the next station or…?”

“Yeah, it’s the next station. After that is KL Sentral. Bandar Tasik is around ten to fifteen minutes away,” I informed her. “I’m Mari, by the way. Where are you from?”

I neglected to ask her for her name, and she neglected to give me that information as well. But she replied to my question promptly. “Actually, I’m from Sydney. But I actually just came there 25 years ago. I’m from Ipoh, originally. But now so many things have changed here. I don’t know where to go and how to get there.”

My eyes widened at the revelation of two significant details. Number one, she was from Sydney, Australia (her friend did mention that earlier, but that important fact became lost in the jumble of Malay words that I didn’t understand) and number two, she had stayed there longer than I had even stayed on planet earth.

“Oh really?” I said, trying to hide my surprise. “I’ve actually been to Sydney. Do you know Armidale? I lived there for a couple of years.”

That got the conversation rolling. In the span of six minutes, we were able to talk about Aussie weather, schooling there, outback schools, the rise of mamak stalls in the city, and the rise of the cost of living as well.

It was funny because I had been thinking about Australia for the past days. And there I was, conversing about the Land Down Under with a stranger whose name I still didn’t know.

“Do you ever think of going back there for a visit?” She asked me at some point in the conversation.

“I do. I’m not sure about the visa though. I was a kid when my parents processed them and everything.”

“Oh, it’s very easy,” she said. “You can just do some applications online.”

That made me think. Occasionally, I did imagine myself walking up O’dell Street again. I’ve had thoughts of the bike track, of the Armidale Town Centre, of the town library, of UNE and of Point Lookout. It would be nice to go back to those childhood memories again, one day.

Our train arrived and interrupted my reverie. “Train’s here,” I chirped. We made our way in and found a seat. I told her she could sleep since she mentioned that she still had jetlag.

She closed her eyes and I, tired from a long week, tried to doze off. I peeked at her through half-opened eyelids. In her, I saw a traveller and a settler. How she managed to stay put in a foreign land for such a long time was beyond me. I guess it helped that she had her husband and kids with her. Plus she was able to go back to Malaysia from time to time.

As for me, it has been barely three years since I have been in this foreign land. I’m betting that I’ll be staying here longer, but how long exactly, I know not. Will I be a settler like her as well?

Of course, I’d still like to go out and about, hop from one country to another. I want to travel to Vietnam. I want to travel to Europe – to France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and England. I want to go to India, to Africa, and all the other nations that I type out every Friday. And yes, perhaps I want to go back to Australia, back to the US, back to Hong Kong, Cambodia, and Singapore. Travelling runs in my blood.

The train slowed down and Bandar Tasik Selatan came into view. I opened my eyes and smiled at her. “We’re here. After this, I’ll escort you to the taxi stand. It’s also on my way, so it’s okay.”

We joined the sea of commuters and weaved our way through them. We continued to make small talk, this time about Malaysian public transportation.

When we arrived at the taxi stand, she said, “Good thing I have you, or I would have been lost.”

I laughed.

She patted me on the shoulder. “Alright, goodbye ah. Thanks again!”

As she walked towards the line of taxis, I just shook my head and smiled.

I had an encounter with a stranger – a fragment of my past, a glimpse of my probable future.

The Stranger.

*Yesterday being a Friday, since I wrote this down on a Saturday.

More fun in the Philippines

Tourist. Dependent. Master’s Student. OFW. I’ve been to different countries under different travel visas. I’ve lived in two other countries under different travel visas. But despite my extended leaves of absence from the beautiful Pearl of the Orient, I’m like Dorothy who, in the end, would say that “there’s no place like home.”  I may not be living in my home country at the moment, but I love the Philippines. And, despite its imperfections (hear me rant about the traffic and LRTs) I’ll keep loving it until the day that I die.

My family spent two years in the beautiful land Down Under back when I was a kid. My father was taking up his PhD in the University of New England. And you know how awfully lonely it gets, being away from family. Thus we spent the time that we could spend with him there, in Australia.

I remember being so proud of my home country that I may have annoyed my playmates to bits with my “In the Philippines…” lines.

“In the Philippines, we had this wooden ‘hanging bridge’ that would rock back and forth when you’d try to cross it. And it’s not just a bridge – there are holes and it’s way, way, way high up and there’s this huge river under it.”

“In the Philippines, they already taught us long division in the third grade.”

“In the Philippines, our whole clan would go out to the beach on my birthday… and guess what? The sand at the beach is black.” (I’ve never been to Boracay and I haven’t been to the white beaches of Pangasinan and Batangas yet, during that time of bragging).

Twas a good thing my friends were polite enough and didn’t abandon me when they got an earful of all those lines.

However, in 1999, my mom, my brother, and I went back home because circumstances called us to do so. We had to leave Dad behind, but I was so, so glad to be back home. Glad to be back home with the rest of the Lubricas, glad to go back to my old elementary school, glad to actually see jeepneys once again, and glad to walk over that much publicized hanging bridge.

And taking the cue from the Department of Tourism’s new tagline, I was just so glad to be back because, indeed, it’s more fun in the Philippines.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because when you step out of your front door, your whole neighbourhood becomes an extension of your family room – all your cousins, extended cousins, nephews, nieces, what-have-you’s are all already there, just one holler away.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because most elementary school kids go through a folk-dancing, poetry-reciting, declaiming, slogan-writing, poster-making, or an all-of-the-above stage.  (High School kids get in on the fun as well, but eight-year-olds  would always be the best kunday-kunday dancers.)

It’s more fun in the Philippines because journalism and sports events enable kids and teens to hone their talents early and allow them to travel from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao.

It’s more fun in the Philippines because seven people can fit into a five-seater car and twenty seven can fit into a jeepney that’s supposed to hold only twenty.

And it’s more fun in the Philippines because only the typhoon Ferya could bring down an unofficial tourist attraction like Balili’s hanging bridge. (And okay, I’m not saying that typhoons are fun. Okay, maybe they are, compared to the predictable Malaysian weather. But you have to admit, as students, you’ve looked forward to those days of no-school. And, as professionals, you’ve seen the humour in trudging through knee-length water just to get to the workplace. Admiiitttt ittt…)

So what on earth am I doing here still in Malaysia? 

Sabi sa Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) na kinailangan kong daluhan noong nilakad ko ang mga papeles ko sa POEA, ang mga OFW daw ay gumaganap bilang “ambassador of goodwill” sa mga bansang pinagtratrabahuan nila. Lubos akong sumasang-ayon sa pahayag na iyon. Nandito ako para itaas ang bandila ng mga Pinoy! Hindi ako umalis ng Pilipinas dahil hindi ko ito mahal. Subalit, isang dahilan kung bakit ako’y nandito pa ay dahil sobra ko siyang mahal. Sa aking mga taon ng pag-aaral dito sa Malaysia, napansin ko na may maling kaisipan nabubuo laban sa mga Pilipinong nagtratrabaho dito. Gusto kong mabasag ang kaisipang iyon. Nawa’y sa aking pamumuhay at sa aking pagtratrabaho dito, makikita ng mga tao na sikat at kakaiba talaga ang Pinoy.

Gusto ko ring makakuha pa ng karanasan at kaalaman na maibabalik ko pa sa Pilipinas, pag bumalik na ako doon. Hindi ba’t tumira si Pepe sa mga bansang banyaga ng ilang taon din? At tingnan niyo naman ang naging epekto ng buhay at mga kasulatan niya sa bansang Pilipinas.

 Marami pang ibang dahilan kung bakit kahit na madalas ay uwing-uwi na ako (at kahit na madalas ay pinaglalaban ko pa ang pasaporte ko), pinili ko parin na manatili dito. Kaibiganin niyo ako at mag-usap tayo ng masinsinan at malalaman niyo rin. Pero wag niyo sanang isipin na lumabas ako para lumabas lamang. At hindi ko rin sinasabi na ang Pinoy ay lumalabas para makalabas lamang. Marami akong kilalang mga Pilipino na saludong-saludo ako, subalit dahil sa kanilang sakripisyo, nabubuhay, napapaaral, at nagkakaroon ng masmabuting buhay ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Inuulit ko, hindi madaling tumira sa ibang bansa, lalo na kung malayo ka sa mga taong importante sa iyo.

So. I just chose to write all my reasons for staying here in the Filipino language, because it seems ironic that I’ve been writing a whole post about how much I love the Philippines in English. But for anyone reading this blog who’s from outside the Philippines, and for those who wouldn’t understand a word in Tagalog… Well, I am promoting my country to you. Google translate if you will (it’s inaccurate, by the way), but I hope that everything else I’ve written shows the sincerity of my love for my country.

We have our imperfections. But it’s a fun country and I love my homeland nonetheless.

I’m proud to be Pinoy. It’s more fun in the Philippines! :D

It's not as witty as all the other ones spreading in the net, but it's a start. ;)

Welcome Back

I’m back. Back in Malaysia sweet Malaysia and – after two months of silence – back in blogosphere sweet blogosphere. So bring out the confetti, turn the music up, and let’s paaaarrrteeeey!!!!

Really. My returning to Malaysia deserves much celebration after what happened with my passport this December. Long story. Let’s just say that a whole new chapter has been added to “Mari’s Adventures with the Immigration”.  One day, I’ll write that book out. One day, one day.

But for now, let me just pour everything out into this blog once again. Last Monday, I met up with a friend and his colleague for dinner. The colleague mentioned that she read this little ol’ blog (huwaw!) and sorta asked why the latest entry was dated two long months ago.  I laughed and admitted that this blog has been in hiatus because so much was happening in my life in those 11 weeks of silence. Some things have been too personal to share to the Internet world and all other things rendered me too harried, leaving me little time to write and contemplate upon each extraordinary event.

I want to do justice to those events though. So here goes a riveting entry for all you netizens reading my blog out there. *wink*

These two months have been filled with a lot of things related to life, love, and everything else that starts with the letter “L”. Haha. Like LRTs, labour (and employment), longsuffering, and long distance stuff, to name a few.

Lemme start with the LRTs. I was in Manila during the last week of December. I was also there this first week of January. And it’s strange. I always get this immense “I’m lost” feeling whenever I’m in my homeland’s capital city. And when I’m in the city LRTs (or MRTs), I in turn get this “I’m lost and I’m stressed” sentiment. What with all the lines, the checkpoints, the people, the lines – and oh, did I mention the lines? – well, I just salute all my friends for having the patience to take these means of transportation everyday. I’d probably die if I were them. But then again, I may be exaggerating. I may just be in a state of culture shock and I may be missing my handy touch n go card way too much.

But hey. I survived Metro Manila! With minimal bloopers at that. Minimal. Meaning there were still some. Haha.

So now, what about labour and employment? Gosh. Labour and employment. Contrary to what some of you may be thinking, I wasn’t in Manila for a pleasure trip. I was there to settle matters with the Malaysian Embassy and with the Philippine Overseas Employment and Labour Association (POEA). Ugh. And here’s where much of the longsuffering comes into play. But I am thankful. I am thankful for the grace and for the favour. Amazingly, the process was swifter than I expected and I was not left cramming at the last moment. (Although I had to resort to a lot of flight rebookings because the “cramming at the last moment” thing did happen. See my side comment on “Mari’s Adventures with the Immigration.”)

Longsuffering indeed.

But of course, the trip had some “cherries on top” (quoting a friend). I was able to catch up with a lot of friends living around the area. According to www.travelmath.com, Kuala Lumpur is 1,532 miles away from Manila in terms of flight distance. From Baguio, it’s 1,575 miles away and from Los Banos, it’s 1,533. I have no idea what flight distance is, but these miles are far enough. True, today’s technology bridges gaps like never before, but nothing compares to honest to goodness face to face interactions. I am grateful for those few hours spent with those special people. And… long distance as those relationships may be… well… the miles in between make me treasure the uniqueness of those friendships all the more.

: )

I’d like to write more, but all other insights about all other things that happened in November and December (and this first week of January) will be saved for another time. I do hope this entry made up for the weeks of silence though. Oh, and as a follow up on the entry before this one – I did pass my exam and I will get my P License soon. Yey!

And as a final word that I’d like this entry to speak out… Well, God is good. He is good, He is awesome, and He is able. The past two months have drawn me closer to Him. There were certain points when the process became too painful but He always came through. And He always provided people who helped me come through. And through all the “Ls” I encountered… He was always with me, in them.

Even in the LRTs. Haha.

Party people!

I'm still so glad to be back in Malaysia. :)

Chasing Train Tracks

chasing train tracks
Sorry, Adele.

Oh. No. This post won’t be about lurv and all that jazz. It’s about me doing exactly what the title says.

Chasing train tracks.

Well, just trains, to be more accurate. Trains and busses. Sometimes taxis. But mostly trains and busses.

A huge chunk of my life these days consists of those daily two to three-hour commutes from home to work. Oh, but that’s only one way. Multiply it by two, then by six (I work on Saturday mornings), and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating about the “huge chunk” part.

In a day, I take a total of six busses (three times two) and four trains (two times two). The bus rides last 10 to 15 minutes each, and the trains 15 to 20 minutes. But of course, there are those waiting times in between.

Ugh. Those waiting times.

I try my best to escape them. Hence the title.

Because I do my share of chasing just to avoid all those periods of waiting. When I see the one minute sign flash at the KLIA Transit signboard, I make a mad dash (in heels, skirts, dresses) up the escalator, through the overpass, and down another escalator. Have to let go of all poise, because if I won’t, it would be another 30 minute of waiting for me.

Those 30 minutes matter since office hours start at 8:30AM.

A pastor said that delays are costly. And Mraz sings, “Timing’s everything” (Make it Mine). I super agree with both of them. Delays cost me taxi coupons that are equivalent to a nice meal at a nice fast food restaurant. And timing? You have to time your travel really well. Because if you don’t…You’re either chasing or waiting.


Truth be told, the daily commute isn’t that bad. Many times, I come across many interesting characters. When I’m bored, I make up stories about them in my mind. Sometimes, they even provide their own dialogues. (Okay, I don’t mean to eavesdrop. But when conversations run right next to your eardrums, it gets rather hard to tune them out.)

Most times I use the commute to catch up on my reading. Also on my sleep. Try dozing during those 10 to 15 minute intervals. I’ve become an expert at taking powernaps. I’ve also become an expert at waking up at exactly the right stops. Most of the time.

Still, the evening squishes can be stressful. “Squishes” is a cute word for what actually happens during the evening rush hour. It’s the phenomenon that occurs when every person in Malaysia tries to fit themselves into three train coaches and… well, you get the picture.

But anyway. I’ve gotten used to it. Still, I don’t want to be stuck with this routine forever. I have my heart set on a better, more convenient means of transport.

My own car.

Yey. It’s going to take some more effort just to get that license though. But like many things in life, you have to give (read: sacrifice) a little (read: sometimes a lot) first. You’ve got to wait a bit more, but in the end, you know and you know that you’ll say, “It’s all worth it.”


Parang pag-ibig. It’s going to be oh so worth it! Now where did that random thought come from?

Okay. So… Here’s to a few more weeks of chasing!


Change is inevitable. You can either try to ignore it, accept it, embrace it, or dive straight into it.

Because really, change will come whether we like it or not.

A couple of days back, I entered a Rapid KL bus bound for UKM and was greeted by the sight of passengers flipping through a couple of blue and red pamphlets. There was a pile near the bus driver’s seat and since the encik was still with his bus driver comrades, I helped myself to a pamphlet of my own.


Pamphlet for the new system

“Introducing the NEW bus ticketing system!”
The red and blue paper said. “BIT! On entry! BIT! On exit! Sooo… Easy!”

Interesting. When I came here to Malaysia 1.5++ years ago, Rapid KL had these RM 1 tickets that the passengers could use the whole day. It was like a ride-all-you-can experience. After some time, they probably realized that the busses were getting low on dough. So they told the passengers that the tickets would now be good  for only a single journey. That was fine with the people who’d soon readily present the magic blue bill every time they’d enter the red, blue, and yellow bus.


So now they’re promoting the use of touch-n-go cards, like the ones Singaporeans use when commuting.

“BIT! Sekali masuk! BIT! Sekali keluar! BIT! BIT Kad Rabbit!”

Really, the Rabbit Card that I bought from the bus driver yesterday made me laugh out so, so loud. It’s the year of the funny bunny, alright.

I bought a card yesterday though I had been planning to get one ever since I read the Rapid KL pamphlet. I figured it would do me good. I wouldn’t have to worry about keeping RM 1 notes in my wallet all the time, plus I’d save up around RM 2 a week. I use Rapid KL busses like Filipinos use jeepneys and RM 2 is sorta a lot. I could buy a nice cup of teh tarik with that. Anyway. Well, now, I’d just bit, bit, bit away at the cost of RM 0.80 per way. However, I couldn’t help myself to a card immediately because the Rapid KL drivers were still easing up the transition stage.

Transition. I watched how the drivers discussed and had these impromptu tutorials inside one of the empty buses behind us the other day. I reckon they didn’t know how to use the card readers yet, so they had to get acquainted with them first. They had to, before they could even expect their passengers to do the same.

They had trouble implementing the whole thing during the first day, but yesterday, this guy rode with all the passengers and explained how the whole thing worked. I watched how the encik patiently explained everything to the passengers. I listened as one Malay girl asked all the FAQs running through every passenger’s mind. I had already decided that I would buy a card from him, but it was interesting to watch the whole introduction process unfold before my eyes first.

Bit! Bit! (more like, Blip!)

After the guy’s detailed explanation, a couple of people (me included) bought Rabbit Cards of their own. Today, quite a lot of people were already using them though some still had trouble “Bit-ing” the cards the right way. “Sila cuba kad sebelah lagi”.

Well, it’s going to take some getting used to, but pretty soon everyone would probably be doing it like it’s their second nature.

Sigh. So many changes this season. But like I said. It’s going to take some getting used to. But sooner or later, it’s all going to be second nature.

Cheers to change!


EPLT. Eating, Praying, Loving. And Thesis-ing.

I love my thesis. I do. Sure, it is often a source of headache. Sure, it is often a source of many tears. And sure, it constantly brings me to my knees. But though there are days that I have to pull myself out of bed so that I could work on it, it’s still one of the many things in life that I am enjoying right now. Enjoying a lot, I might add.

Okay. So sitting in front of a computer typing away about wood and service science and business-to-business processes doesn’t really sound that glamorous. It isn’t. But thank God that that isn’t the only thing this research requires me to do.

Because this research allows me to eat. To pray. And to love. Though it doesn’t take me to either Italy, India, or Indonesia, it does take me out of my UKM room into the colorful world of KL. And Kajang. And Rawang. And yeah, maybe in a way, it does take me to India (there are many Indian communities in Rawang).


EPLT. Hope Elizabeth Gilbert does't mind me borrowing the title.

For my research I have to conduct case studies on several wood-based companies. Not having the luxury of owning a car (and not having the knowledge and license to allow me to drive one), I have to pick companies which are walking distances away from any of the known train, LRT, and Monorail stations.

Having only UKM, Serdang, Midvalley, KL Sentral, Pasar Seni, and KLCC as my usual stops, the whole thing spells out A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E.

To find one company I had to walk around the Petronas Twin Towers’ perimeter for around an hour or so. The walk allowed me to discover the whereabouts of the Masjid As-syakirin, to find people who were shooting some sort of documentary, and to realize that the company’s wisma was like, a mere 500 meter or so away from the KLCC Suria.

To find another company, I had to ride the KL monorail for the first time. It felt like riding a rollercoaster. And because I was standing up, I was just clinging on to the handlebars, holding onto dear life.

After riding the monorail, I unwittingly found myself in the middle of a Friday Bazaar at Jalan Tengah (and yes, tengah means “middle”). After escaping all the sights, sounds, and colors, I surprisingly landed in the middle of this highly cosmopolitan area. And then I found out that my company was actually in the complete opposite direction of the road I was walking on.

And that the menara in which it was located in had changed its name. (I had to come back for another visit because I didn’t find it the first time.)

To find yet another company, I had to ride the monorail all the way to the Titiwangsa station. And then I had to walk all the way to Jalan Ipoh. And then I was stuck wondering if I would reach the Petronas Twin Towers if I just kept on walking.

Somewhere in the middle of my walking, I had to stop in front of this building so that I could have a breather and so that I could check my map. Afterwards, I headed off again. But when I realized that I had gone way too far, I backtracked.

And wouldn’t you know it. The map told me that the building where I made my first stopover on was the building that I was looking for. Funny lah!

And to find my last company, I had to travel all the way to Rawang. Yes, Rawang. There I found myself in the midst of an Indian community. And there I found myself (again) walking, walking, walking… until I couldn’t walk anymore. I would have given up, but persistence and determination kept me going.

So guess what? I so wanted to give up and turn around — but just when I was about to head back – there it was! The block where all the industrial buildings were located! Yey! The site of my final breakthrough company! Woohoo!

All that adventure wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t step out to visit my first company. In Kajang. Just a T430 bus ride away. It was this “obscure” little company which didn’t even use e-mails to handle business transactions.

But from that humble first step, I got to go eat, pray, love, and thesis all over KL and all over that Indian community in Rawang.

Like I said. I love my thesis. I do.

Now, if you excuse me, I’ve got some write-ups to do.


Dear God

Dear God,

All packed up.

I’m here right now sitting in front of my almost empty desk, staring at my almost empty wall. The only things in front of me are the necessities – my change of clothes, my shampoo and toothbrush, my purse, my hairbrush, and my mirror. Oh, and my laptop. Everything else is already packed up, cramped into four bags, one plastic storage container, one laundry bag, and – tsk, tsk, tsk. When did I accumulate so much stuff? Guess I’ll be building some muscles tomorrow. Have to lug all these things out of my room because it’s checkout season here at the dorm once again. But I thank You because my Malaysian family is here to help me relocate.

Sigh. Last night here in this room. But hey. I’ve only been in this room for two months. I’ve already been through five rooms (this being the fifth) so it’s really no biggie. But I guess it’s different this time, because as I sit here preparing to move, I’m also mulling over my stay here in Malaysia.

It’s been a year already.

Well, almost. I got here on the 24th remember? Flew off on the eve of the 23rd, landed in the morn of the 24th. And got swept away at once to the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

Funny, Lord. But that was one crazy experience. A one-in-a-million kind of experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in this world. Seriously. I thank You for that experience. And I thank You for all the other experiences here – good, awesome, weird, crazy, dramatic, freaky, whatever – as well.

Thank You. Terima Kasih. Maraming Salamat po. I guess that’s the very thing that this heart is saying right now. I just want to thank You for all that You’ve done in my stay here, all that You are doing, and all that You will continue to do.

I thank You because You’ve brought me to situations that bring out the strength of my heart, the courage from within, showing that this little crybaby is really more than what meets the eye. I thank You for giving me friends who understand that crybaby, who are always just an e-mail or a buzz away. I also thank You because You have given me a family here as well – I know I’m not alone in this land – I will always have them to share trials, triumphs, tears and laughter with.

And I thank You because You have given me a family supportive enough to release this little girl into a wild, wild world (according to Dad and Cat Stevens), allowing her to chase and live out her dreams.

And I thank You, Lord, most of all for believing in me and for bringing people into my life who believe in me as well. I cry whenever I hear and sing these lines: “I have never walked on water, felt the waves beneath my feet but at Your word Lord, I’ll receive Your faith to walk on oceans deep. And I remember how You found me in that very same place. All my failing surely would have drowned me But You made a way…” (Here in my Life by Hillsong United)

Me. One year ago. :)

I thank You, most of all, because you believed in me first.

I would never be who I am right now, doing the things I do, if it were not for You.

I love You, Lord. I always will. Thank You for this first year in Malaysia. And I look forward to “the more” up ahead.

Your Daughter,

Mari Anjeli

By My Window

I’m sitting by my window. Looking at the sky. Listening to the merry chirping of the Za’ba birds. Savouring the cool, crisp, early morning breeze as it gently blows through my window.

The morning is unhurried. Unrushed. I’m simply watching and praying, noting that my to-do list can wait until a little bit later.

I hug my yellow fleece blanket to my knees, getting lost in the comfort of its warmth.

The view outside my window is a semi-strange sight. Morning has just broken, and clouds still fill the usually clear and sunny Malaysian sky. But that’s not what’s so strange about it. What’s strange is that it’s Malaysian sky.

The view is different. And the sounds that resound through the air are different as well. My room is somewhat an earshot away from the Surau and my mornings are usually punctuated by the early morning call to prayer.

But different is good. I’m loving living out my life in this foreign soil. This is what I’ve always wanted, right?

Sure, the language is somewhat crazy. “Uhh.. boleh cakap perlahan-lahan?”

And the weather is often agonizingly hot. “Sangat panas. Sangaaat panaaaassss…”

And public transportation leaves a lot to be desired. “Ayy.. Alamak.”

But the benefits of staying here override all the sacrifices that have been and still have to be made.

I close my eyes for a moment and let one last breeze caress my cheeks and I rise, ready to move on with the rest of the day.

The 10:00 am sunshine has already broken through, and now it’s time to move on to the rest of the day.