Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Follow Me Camp

During the Malaysia Day public holiday last month, I attended a 3D2N Church camp organised by STM Lifeline at Marist Brothers Champagnat Youth Centre, Port Dickson. I realised that 5 years ago, I was also in Port Dickson attending a Church camp as well and now, I am back in PD for another one. This camp actually came just at the right time and also when I felt that I finally can have the time to sit and talk/pray to God one on one, just me and Him. I know...again I just wanna say that I am not gonna be the 'holier-than-thou' person for writing this...I just thought that I'd share my experience throughout this camp and also as a personal reflection so that I can/may read again in the future. I was invited to go for this camp by my friend Ivan (I'm sure you know who he is if you've been reading my blog lol) and to be honest, I didn't put a lot of thought about it but instead, I just said yes and ended up registering for this camp. But back in my mind, I always have this 'worry' whether I am able to be comfortable in an environment where I have to meet new people...I mean I can't help it, sometimes I just felt awkward being around with new people and social skills level isn't the best. I think I've written a couple of posts on how awkward I feel when I need to meet new people. Imagine my surprise when I was told that I am going to follow the Church van to PD instead of taking the bus like everyone else on the day of the camp. I was thinking, "Oh man...I am gonna be separated from my friend and gonna sit with all these new people?" Not that I am clingy or sticky towards my friend but I just find it to be comfortable to have someone that I know well sitting beside me.

I know you'd probably be thinking...grow the eff up you 30 year old lady hahah but I am just still working on my 'social anxiety' okay and in my defence, I do think I've made big improvements over the years. I attended the Alpha course all by myself last year without knowing anyone there and I survived :) Anyway, the ride to PD was actually alright...met and had little conversations with all the new people and even met a fellow Sabahan girl who's also from KK and thought that I have sisters studying in SFC because she heard about my surname before. The said 'sisters' are actually my nieces and also my next door neighbours back home and they're like the remaining ones who are sharing the same surname as me :) Alright, I shall not continue this grandmother story but to just go straight to the point. I am going to share my experience based on this new term that I've learned during the camp called 'JJJ'. I have no clue what does that triple J meant when I first heard about it and initially I thought it was 'Jesus, Jesus, Jesus'...I mean, I didn't go the the Krakow World Youth Day, so I thought it was really something only the people who went to Krakow knew about, you know like their secret code or something haha. But then, I was given an explanation about it and finally understood what it meant. So here goes:

1) Joy moment
I could think of several joy moments in this camp...actually the 3 whole days of camp did gave me joy. The first thing was, being able to get away from the city life even if it was just for 3 days was so so good and finally being able to feel the beach breeze just totally calms my mind.  The past months, as you know was crazy hectic for me and everyday I've been on this repetitive routine that eventually makes me feel like I am on an autopilot mode everyday. So when my hectic days were finally over, I got so not used to it, like what am I going to do when I don't need to stay late in the office anymore? So I guess just being away from the same damn routine and just to be able to be somewhere out of the city life was really something that I needed. We didn't get the chance to have a lot of beach time though but I did had fun during the game session although I was really embarrassed when I had to be carried by a guy who definitely weigh less than me! My weight issue is truly another thing that I hate to talk about but sometimes I have no choice to accept the fact that I am a plus size person, even all the zumba classes and gym time doesn't exactly make any difference haha.

Another joy moment would definitely be meeting these bunch of new people for the first time. Like I said, I was worried things could get awkward but it turned out to be okay. I met these Sabahan girls who were also from KK and instantly felt like we can vibe so well haha. Met a lot of young youths who are all mostly college students and you know what, it was actually interesting to learn about the field that they are studying because they're all different and I was also glad that these young youths are so open and friendly to talk to. Oh, I also should mention that one of my student was there too...well, technically she was my ex-student cos I don't teach her class anymore but yeah, it wasn't awkward at all to see her there haha. I remembered she was the only one who sincerely said thank you to me during the last day of class so I will always remember her kind words :)

The last night of camp, the lights were supposed to be out by midnight but knowing me the ultimate night owl lol, I didn't want to go to bed early so I stayed up to continue writing affirmation notes with a few bunch of people down at the hall. I ended up talking with people I didn't had the chance to talk much with during the camp and it was really a nice feeling :) There's this girl, Diana who is super funny and friendly...she practically entertained all of us while we were all busy writing the notes. I did shared about this joy moment during lunch the next day and to be honest, it was something that I actually never expected to know meeting new people and actually truly felt good about it haha. Compared to the two Church camps I've attended before, I think my social skill is so much better in this current Church camp and I am very thankful for that.

2) Jesus moment
A lot of the Jesus moments actually came from the sharing by Fr. James and Fr. Iwao, who were specially flown from the Philippines as guest speakers for this camp. Fr. James is Scottish while Fr. Iwao is Japanese and both of them work as missionaries in Philippines. I'm impressed hearing their life stories because both of them actually had a pretty good life back in their countries, with good family, education and well paying jobs but decided to take the plunge to give it all up and be missionaries instead. It definitely took a lot of guts to change your paths 360 degrees, but it showed how faith has been put truly upon God and letting Him plan where He wants you to be...and what we'll do is to go and follow Him. Similar to the two camps I've attended, the topics discussed were also things that again, giving me constant reminders and to learn and apply it in my daily lives. Things like to always be thankful...although I do say thank you all the time when I pray especially when I am attending Sunday mass but you know how life is, sometimes I'll end up wishing I had more of this and that...I mean we're humans and it always seems like we always can't get enough of wanting things. Sad reality, but it is true. This had happened to me so many times, I kid you not. Seeing my friends having the chance to travel to different places and putting it on social media and there I was trying to strategize my time so I could finish my assignments and work before the deadline. Things like this can sometimes make me feel really shitty about myself but when I really think about it, am I not supposed to feel content with how my life is now? Cos I am sure there are other people who probably are not as lucky as me but yet, they don't let it affect them that much.

Sometimes, simple things like being thankful or finding joy in ourselves can be one of the hardest things to do because even I am struggling with this. So, I really liked how Fr. James are talking about these topics during the camp as it is very on point and applies well to everyone. One of the sharings by Fr. Iwao that I liked was also when he was talking about 'Aiming High'. It is when we fully put our faith in God and by keeping Him by our side then we are able to be clear with our direction. This is also something that I feel like I need to work on because to be honest, I am not exactly a big risk-taker person and it felt like whatever I've done in the past even until now has always been 'safe'. It felt like I am too afraid to just  leave it to God for once, although I do know that I should let God do his job and not be skeptical with his powers haha...but yeah, I have no idea why am I not daring enough to fully out my trust to God. I've seen my friend who's facing so many obstacles throughout the years and yet, he doesn't seem to be that worried...or maybe he is but he just didn't want to show it out. All I know is, he does leave it to God when the going gets tough and eventually, things will come in place.  Fr. Iwao mentioned that, "Have God's same mind, same feelings and same way of loving. To follow Jesus is to widen our horizon." That was indeed a very good point. If we are able to practice having the same values as Jesus, I am sure our horizon will be as wide as the pacific ocean. Really trying to work on this and I don't think I will see a definite result yet but I'll continue praying, that's for sure.

The adoration during the night was also where I had my Jesus moment because I knew that I needed a one on one moment with Him and thankfully I managed to spare that time to do that. Almost everyone said all their 'thank yous' to Jesus and unfortunately, I didn't say it out cos...I don't know if my thank you would be as good as theirs haha...oh man, I need to freakin' stop with all the overthinking! Actually, I wanted to say thank you for the constant guidance and protection. I just didn't managed to say it out loud...sigh. On the second last day, I also managed to finally go for confession after having missed so many (yes, I do feel guilty about it) and what Fr. James had advised me was to also learn to be thankful and look for joy instead of trying to compare with others. It might be a very advice but, it definitely spoke to me so much. People who knew me really well would also know that my never-ending battle with my self-esteem hence I always tend to be envious on other people and that's just plain bad. I think these issues are like the MOST hardest one that I have to deal with because it is an everyday battle, a battle that is so much harder than my Masters Study to be honest. To look beyond being envious is also something that I truly need to work on...I have no idea how people like Pope Francis or Mother Teresa can have so much compassion and love to people that there's probably no single trace of envy that can be found in them. I think one of the best way is to constantly pray.

3) Junk moment
There wasn't exacly any junk moment during the camp except for Digi's reception is kinda sucky so I couldn't go online most of the time but maybe it is a sign cos I can be too dependant on my phone just to check on social media which isn't exactly a good thing but I guess, it was a sign for me to lay low with my phone and focus on the main purpose of the camp instead. Kinda wished the blanket that we were given to use can be a little thicker too cos I know some of the girls in my dorm are practically freezing their ass off while sleeping at night. But so far, the venue was good, clean and well-maintained. Oh, I also did kinda wished that the lights didn't have to go off at midnight so there would be more fellowship but I guess the only time we are able to talk more with others are during the meal time.

So the question is, have I changed after this camp? Well, the answer is probably not BUT it does helped me to see and understand things more clearly and also to be able to sort of put 'things in persepctive'. Like I've said, just because I attended this camp it doesn't mean that I am now a holier person or anything,  I do know that I will end up sinning doubt about that but what made me think about was how and what can I do to contribute more expecially for the Church. The last session shared by Fr. James was about mission and how by having/doing missions can provide stability spiritually. This indeed relates to what Pope Francis has been doing for the past year when he launched the Jubilee of Mercy. It was his mission to show and provide God's mercy to the people which is why he has been visiting so many places, preaching the good news and not forgetting all his wise words, guiding and loving them in the same way as God. When I was discussing with my group about mission, we did agreed that even if we can't do big missions yet, we can always start small. Of course, there are people who can be all gung-ho and can do the mission immediately but I guess everyone do have their ways and time for this, as long as you are following the right path. Maybe some missions are not big yet but maybe eventually, it could turn out to be a lifelong mission. As quoted from Mother Teresa, "Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love." That's what important too...applying love in what you do. As for now, I am also starting to take small steps...I recently decided to join this working adult ministry or the easiest way to translate is 'cell group' that meets every Thursday for fellowship and also worship/spiritual sharing. I decided to give it a go because I also wanted to be in a Catholic community and of course to also meet new people. It is something that I felt so concious/awkward about but so far it has been okay. I only started going two weeks ago actually haha so I am still super new on this. Then gradually and hopefully will contribute more in the Church maybe?

Continuing to do good and also providing support to my friends and family is also a mission right? So, this I definitely will also continue to do also not forgetting, I also wish that I can contribute something through my art too. Is sending out Christmas cards consider a mission too? Cos I am definitely gonna do that in December haha. Anyway, I did received nice affirmation notes from the camp participants and I really appreciate it! I am so not used to people giving me compliments or affirmation but I am thankful for all the nice notes :)

The aftermath of this camp...I actually had a long talk with my friend and poured out all the stuff that I have been keeping for a while and it didn't turned out good, cos after that I just realised I've done some mistakes and all I can say is, I am sorry. Maybe you won't agree with my opinions but it's alright, I hope everything's still good. Writing this post took me days, I felt like I really have to re-evaluate myself in alot of things lol but this camp really did come at the right time and I did learned a lot from it, even if it was only 3 days. To have faith, to believe, to pray and to follow God's path is what we always should and apply in our daily lives.

“These are the two conditions in order to follow Jesus, hear the word of God and put it into practice. This is the Christian life, nothing more." 
- Pope Francis

1 comment:

Ivan Ho said...

Wah. A very pure and true post. The whole post is alive when you stress the message of Papa Francisco. So powerful!!! I like the way you highlight the important points from the camp. A good reminder and very enlightening. The words are expressed in a very daring way. A good post only happens when you have gone through a lot of hard times(achievement for master). Anyway congratulation for your big achievement(for the Master). It was so difficult for your situation but eventually you made it through. Good job and excellent post. What a master kind of writing.