26 Pieces of Advice From A New 27 Year Old

The best way to share birthday cheer is to share advice no one (really) wants to hear. -me

What would you tell yourself a year ago? What would you change if you could? I don’t know that I would change anything about the 26th year of my life, but I do know that I’ve learned (and relearned) a few things along the way. Might as well mark the passage of time and celebrate my birthday with a few little tidbits I’ve learned along the way.


1. First and always first – pray and read the word more. This is the one thing that you can never have in excess. Rejoice in that!

2. Don’t stress so much!

2.a) Do less of the peace sign in pictures. We GET IT










3. Celebrate every milestone! Happy 10 months!

4. Be kind to others. You’ll never regret being kind.










5. Remind yourself of the grace that is given to you, and live in that truth. How can you give grace to an imperfect world if you think that the Father withholds grace from you? You can’t. Remind yourself of the grace that is given to you.













6. Go to sleep early!

7. Stay up late and talk to the people you love!

7.a) If you can’t get the family together, use your excellent photoshop skills to put them together.

9. Work hard and serve others.

9.a) Keep wearing your retainer!!!









10. Remember the rules of contentment. (11-15)

11. Never allow yourself to complain, even about the weather.

12. Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or place.

13. Never compare your lot with another’s.

14. Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.

15. Never dwell on tomorrow–remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.


16. Plan your goodbyes well and tell people what they mean to you. Eulogize people while they are alive. It will be hard- but always always worth it.


17. Expect to meet a lot of new people and don’t limit the depth of the relationship based on the amount of time you expect to spend with them. The goodbye will be harder the deeper the friendship, but the hurt is always sweeter than the regret of not getting to connect with people in a deep and meaningful way.


18. Do hard things. And when you do them- don’t be surprised when they’re hard.

19. Be courageous in the face of anxiety.

20. When you want to laugh – laugh LOUD.

20.a) Make your friends become a girl band and then take pictures of them. 

21. Tell someone when you’re sad.

22. Use ALL the language you possess as you acquire it. No waiting. Go for it.

(Side note) This is the first time I’m wearing something above the knee since thanksgiving so…that felt new.

23. Don’t ask what unknown food is until after you’ve already eaten it. Trust me. Usually it will taste great. And usually you will not want to know beforehand.

24. Never go somewhere empty handed. Bring food. A gift. A note. Something tangible to say ‘thank you’.

25. TRY to learn when to say “no” to certain things. (but #noRegrets AM I RIGHT?!?!?!)


26. Thankfulness is a cure for all kinds of heartache. From homesickness to loneliness. From anxious hello’s and tearful goodbyes. Be thankful for what you have, and you will remember all that has been given to you and entrusted to you.

26.a) And also make your friends come visit you so they can take pictures of you! 

(And *bonus* for all of you who made it this far)

27. While you never “technically” know when you’ve hit the middle of your life because you don’t know when you’re going to die, statistically speaking you’re still pretty young if you’re in your 20’s. Let this be my final advice to myself – don’t think so far ahead that you think and feel that you’re older than you are.

    Me: Wow look! I’m old!                                          Everyone else: (screaming)                                  












If I was a baby I’d be born because it’s officially been 9 months! Hooray for me!

June was a whirlwind of activity, featuring fantastic highs and unfortunate lows. New friends came to join our team and we held an english camp! It was an exhausting week, but incredibly fun to work with some incredible people and I loved seeing the kids grow in their english skills.

Korean Snow Floss is a thing and WE ARE HERE FOR IT
Reading books and loving life! 
Whatever they did I bet teamwork was involved! 

I got mystery hives that came and then went and then came back again during my vacation (bummer summer…). Maybe I’m allergic to my detergent? Maybe I was stressed? Maybe the pollen in the air decided to mess with my skin? Survey says – things like this just happen so take your Benedryl and have the best sleep of your life and get over it. Vacation was great though!


Oh hellooooo! Yes, do you have anything for a mystery allergic reaction? Oh, Earl Grey? Don’t mind if I dooooo. 
The last time I had Krispy Kreme I was at a solar eclipse I think so…I was pretty jazzed.

I got letters that were missing for three months and finally was able to respond to my grandmother (sorry Mommom), but thanks to modern technology I’ve been able to entertain my nieces and nephew, hopefully placing myself in the “Best Aunt from far away” category. (Currently unchallenged…but come August that’ll change…gotta get my points while I can!)


And while we’re talking about it, July 4th! Yes! There was red, white, and blue. There was hotdogs. AND there were indoor s’mores. Cheers to the first 4th of July I’ve had outside the US. There are some things that get sweeter from living overseas, and one of those is how much I appreciate America’s freedom. If you (like I did) take our freedom as American’s for granted, please pause for a moment to consider that many parts of the world do not understand or live in such freedom.

Betsy Ross was known to enjoy a good indoor s’more. 


Wait…am I in America? 


At a Glance – Summer’s comin’

May has come and gone and so has 8 months! Yay for me! Look at how different and the complete same I look!


What’s been happening? How have you been?

Well let me tell you friend! I’ve been doing stuff and takin’ names! Here’s a snapshot of some fun things we’ve been up to!

May 2 – No! That’s not Chick-fil-A, those are some frozen chicken wings I heated up for a school study at our house! Cool right? Did I set that up? Oh Techno, Heck no. My roommates are the masterminds behind that beauty.


May (the) 4(th) (be with you) – Volleyball and cake baking. I was inspired by some friends to host a baking party at my house. We baked a classic Victoria Sponge Cake (#GBBO) and a box mix of brownies. We also played Volleyball…though it got pretty hot so…that didn’t last super long.

Volleyball in the heat. Find the shade. 
Two recipes. One Kitchen. 10 people. 
If you don’t take a picture of it, did you even do it? 


May 14 – Some friends from America came to help out at the school and I showed them our evening English class! And by “showed them” I mean I made them do most of the work! Great day for me! Learning!

Question and answers. Pay attention! 
Vocab charades! 

May 22 – It rained pretty hard. So I took a picture. I guess other stuff probably happened too. It’s rainy season baby!


May 25 – We were able to visit a nearby city and check out a finished park! A new statue had been erected, though it hadn’t been uncovered with a ceremony yet. Sad…so I modeled what I believe the statue will be doing and I think it’s pretty clear.


May 26- We went to a nearby temple to explore and hang out! My language teacher asked to get a picture with me on the see-saw. He kept trying to get me to lift my feet and prove that I was heavier than him. I don’t exactly know why he wanted “proof” of this but…anyway…#cultureStress


As far as the eye can see. 

May 30 – Our kiddos graduated! And I had a 48 hour flu! But I pulled it together and danced my little heart out and watched them dance their little Ducktales* off and it was a great day! Hooray for Summer!

This was my dance partner. She is a picture of health. I am a fake picture of health. 

May 31- In the afternoon we took our language translators that help in our evening english class to a fancy lunch. Here they are looking gorgeous! We love them!


Then that evening we wrapped up our class with our last fun Friday for the summer! We danced the Cha Cha slide, handed out awards, and made balloon towers!

Boys and girls often sit on separate sides of the room. We didn’t make them do this! 
Tallest balloon tower wins! 
Our beautiful class! (Or the ones that showed up anyway!) Love them! And while I’m grateful for a break, I’m going to miss them this summer! 

June 1 – We celebrated with one of our teachers who finished building her house. It was a service of thankfulness and prayer, and then finished with food and singing. I love having friends here because now I don’t have to sing alone!

ME NOT SINGING ALONE! (Not pictured, our guitar player) 

June 3- While doing a Visa run I saw some sprinkles and coconut ice cream at a night market stall. I think I stopped in my tracks and was like “I. Will. Buy. That.” and then felt like it was my birthday the rest of the day. And these weren’t the weird colored sprinkles either. They were the good colored ones.


Life is sweet. Annnnnd so is ice cream. Happy 8 months to me!


Newest Newer New Year

Ladies and Gentlemen. Today I would submit to you that NO country, that’s right- NOT A SINGLE COUNTRY can celebrate the New Year too many times. Perhaps you think that once would be enough, considering the calendar and what not- but I would challenge this belief and say to you- why celebrate once when you could celebrate two – NAY – three times in four months. (Thank you China, Western calendar, and SEA)


That’s right everybody. We have officially arrived at our 7th month. We passed this milestone gracefully and (just as every single person ever predicted) I have been taking far less pictures than when I first started. Ah well. Here’s an update anyway.

When you’ve already sang the song 5 times but your current class hasn’t heard it yet.

Also – just in case you were wondering what SEA’s favorite outfit was- this is it. I can’t go anywhere without people stopping me and asking where I teach, where I’m from, and how beeeaaautifuulll I am. 😍 What can I say. Teacher uniforms really bring out the beige paleness of my skin.

My trusty motor bike takes me and all my supplies back and forth to English on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. My roommates always tease me saying “Seng Chan! Where’s your pizza? You work at Pizza Hut?” I love it. “Get your Pizza! Pizza here! Cheap!”


Me and the rest of the entire world went and saw the new Avengers movie and since it was three hours we thought we’d spring the extra dollar to get the big popcorn. Yes. That is fake Pixar plagiarized on the side. I won’t tell if you won’t.

We’re getting ready for our graduation program and I am DYING at how cute they are.

I love fun Fridays. Every month we take a break from our regularly scheduled English lessons to play games, dance, and eat snacks with all the English students. It’s a TON of fun and a great time to get to know the students in a more relaxed way.

If these girls don’t look super jazzed it’s because I made them take like five of these until all of their faces were in the picture. THEY LOVE IT.

And then- of course- We have our water fight New Years celebrations. Just imagine getting “blessed” by tons of people as you drove around- water guns and hoses spraying, buckets of water flying. It’s bedlam, but bedlam can be pretty fun. Every time I left my house I took a change of clothes and usually would make it almost the whole way without getting too wet. Then some people would run in front of my bike, stop me, dump water down my back, while someone else rubbed baby powder on my face. Happy New Year blessings!


At the school we had a more traditional water blessing celebration in the morning and then a water fight in the afternoon. It was so cute! What a blast!

You probably can’t tell- but we managed to it fit 10 adults and two kids in my car. I drove around my friend’s family as they went to the temples around the city in their way celebrating the new year. It was a good cultural experience though I wasn’t totally prepared for the crowds or prepared to get a flat tire! Haha so glad we found the one shop that was open!



The days are long but the years are short. Didn’t I say that seven months ago as I boarded a plan? It feels far truer now than it did in those first months here. As the temperature skyrockets and we get closer to a new school semester I’m amazed at how swiftly the year is moving, and how much I want to do, and how insufficient I am to do anything on my own.

217 days.

What a short long time.


Unnecessary Congratulations Are In Order!


(please sing to the tune of “Happy Birthday” (traditional American folk melody))

Happy six months to you!

Happy six months to me!

Though six months may not seem like much…

It’s a lot overseas!

Aaaahhhhh the sweet traditional melody sung to commemorate my own achievement of living my life. Sure it may not seem like much (and hey, I didn’t have exactly anything to do with sustaining my own life beyond…actually anything -PTL- real talk) but it’s good to recognize this achievement nonetheless. Speaking of self-congratulatory moments, I’m not one to ignore an opportunity to congratulate myself on things that I received for doing basically nothing– so here are some bonus prize experiences I had this week! Each one felt like winning the lottery in their own way. All of them somewhat random, and requiring zero skill from me- all grace.

So proud of our musicians!

Congratulations! I survived my first really bad case of the stomach bug (or virus…or bad food) something! It was terrible! There are no pictures of this. Nor further explanations other than I am grateful for your continued thoughts and supplications and I’m grateful to my team for taking care of me! What a great experience to hopefully never experience again!

Congratulations! I have now taught for three weeks at the local fellowship! We have a great group and have been teaching the very basics of english. Beginning vocabulary, alphabet, and beginners conversation. My teammate and I brought with us a few capable english speakers from the school to help translate when needed and it’s also been amazing to see them grow as leaders and translators! We have a lot of fun playing games, imitating one another, and recently, on a “fun friday” we played even more games, passed out prizes, danced the hokey pokey (which they loved), and realized far too late that I was super dehydrated! Water sometimes isn’t enough people! And cheese is not enough to eat for dinner by itself! Ahhh the lessons we learn in our youth.

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Congratulations! We celebrated yet another wedding! Each wedding is a little different than the last, but this one we had the privilege of being invited to see the actual ceremony…well when I say invited, I mean my friends were invited and they kindly brought me along for culture lessons. Woo! The picture here is of the groom waiting to go into the house of the bride. He has a dowry of money, gold, and a car to give to the bride and her family, all of which was discussed and bartered for at the engagement ceremony (hello? America? Can we reinstate this maybe? K thnx…LOL…maybe not. sort of.). Unfortunately, after we arrived, his family quickly realized that most of the dowry was sitting at home, forgotten, so we had to wait about an hour for someone to go get it before the procession could continue! Ah well. It was sort of raining so…good luck overcomes bad luck?

The Groom has the blue pants. OBVIOUSLY

So the groom and his family and friends began their march towards the bride’s house, singing and shouting to announce their arrival! They then passed through three different “gates”. Each “gate” was just a piece of chain or rope held by members of the bridal party. separating the groom from the house. Each time the groom approached the “gate”, the bridal party would shout “No! No! You can’t come through here!” and the groom would then offer/get a drink and exchange some money to finally get to the house. The house was too small for everyone, so for the actual ceremony we waited outside while the wedding continued. This whole time though, the bride wasn’t there, she was inside the house with her family waiting, only able to hear what was happening, trying to figure out when her groom would finally arrive.


The bride and groom receive blessings of money tied to their wrists.

Speaking of culture…Congratulations! I had my first uh…I don’t know how to say it in English…Basically it’s a festival named after spicy noodle soup? And each village temple has a different day (though around the same time of the year) to celebrate. You go to your friend’s houses in that village (or even if they’re not your friend you can go. you won’t get turned away…I did not try this) and you eat spicy noodle soup! And you sit and talk and have a good time. The festival itself has to do with “merit earning” as a part of the Buddhist culture. While I don’t believe the same things as some of my friends, I love them and love any chance I get to spend time with them! And I enjoy eating food, so…it was a good day of driving around (until I got a flat tire…congrats!) And spending time practicing language, meeting new friends, helping others practice their English (always a teacher!), and eating way too much soup. Oh well. It’s once a year.


Birthdays and holidays! Teaching! Learning! Studying! Life right now looks really different than it did six months ago. In so many ways I feel like “Yes! I’m using so much of my potential! I have filled up my time well! I’m getting to do all these cool things!” and then in a lot of other ways I feel like “Is this actually a good idea? What does this look like to the nationals? To my team? Why is life still sort of hard?” And then I remember that I’m in a foreign country and six months isn’t really that long and I’m able to give myself some grace.

Major Overthinker…salute! – Also…this is how I hold my hands in pictures now. I think it’s the humidity. 

So…Congratulations! I’m now entering month seven, able to attend and (sort of) participate in holidays and festivals and birthdays joyfully with my team and with more confidence individually. I still make people laugh with my miscommunications (I mixed up the word for animals and occupations today…they were pretty confused when I was like…well I like dogs…), but I join in on the laughter, knowing that it really must sound odd sometimes…this familiar language coming out in such a foreign way, and at times out of no where. But the usual questions-I’ve got in the bag now. And I always like when they ask about my family, because their reaction is exactly the same as it is in America.

“You have four brothers? Just the one girl? Ohhh! Wow!” They laugh, looking amazed, though I don’t have anything to do with it.

What a funny coincidence. Even here it’s worth congratulating –

being a daughter among sons.



Exponential Potential

A lot of new things have been happening this month, and it’s been busy and fun and exciting! Here are some of the highlights!

I started tutoring my roommate and her friend in English three weeks ago, and had a fun time just talking and going through a little powerpoint. Then two week I had five girls show up and we laughed and talked in English and (of course) got ourselves a selfie. Last week we starting a new partnership with a nearby fellowship to do some english classes in the evenings to about 15 students. So who knows how many students will show up this week! (Well…probably just the 15…)

The gals speakin’ some english. 

I’ve been telling people I have a car for three months and then following it up with “So…where do you wanna go? Eh? Eh?” And I love it that people have been taking me up on my offer! I went with two good friends from the city to explore some nearby waterfalls. They showed me a gorgeous, adventurous, quiet, oasis that was a balm to my soul. I kept thinking of Psalm 23 about still waters and goodness and mercy. I kept thinking about the power of the falling water, and the beauty that it provides.But the most delightful thing was sharing the time with good friends and taking a day to relax and enjoy creation (and, I admit, it was nice not to worry about being gawked at or doing the wrong cultural thing…even expats who love where they live need a break every once in a while!)

The entire trip = “Do you think it’s okay if I take a picture of this?” Answer “Uh…yes. 100%. Today we’re tourists.” 
It’s like I’m on a ropes course without signing a waver…

In the past few weeks we had International women’s day (shout out to my Main woman- my Mom! Love you!) One thing about celebrations here – we go all out. I mean decorations, days off, singing competitions, you name it! I even got to judge the singing competetition at school and let me tell you- ridiculously hard. I mean…can you imagine telling a three year old they’re a terrible dancer? Yeah, no. They’re too cute for that!



Who wore it better? 

And I learned how to get takeaway at two of my favorite restaurants. What’s that you ask? Why did it take me so long to figure out how to get people to put my food in a bag? I don’t know, friend, but now that I’m more confident, nothing can stop me from ordering food and eating in my house!

Not doubled up on coffee. No one had ever asked for yogurt to be takeaway before so they put it in a coffee cup….the other cup is milk for the granola.

There’s a lot of things in the works for the next few months, which means a lot of potential! I’m excited for how this month has started and I’m looking forward to what’s next! Cheers to March!

You can take a girl away from Myrtle Beach, but the Myrtle Beach merchandise will find her anyway!



Thousands of Words (Metaphorical)

Google – as usual – says it best. “Five-month old babies can sit upright for longer periods of time. Your baby probably still needs to be propped up with a pillow…but he [she in this case] may also be able to sit unsupported for a few seconds at a time.”

Look at that…she’s sitting up. Neat.

Y’all can be thinking of my supervisors right about now.

I can say that I’m right on track and can sit by myself for long periods of time. The past two weeks have been packed with teams coming to help out at the preschool, holidays that involve fireworks (thnx China), and then some exploring.



Our school is getting a fun new makeover as a few teams have come to help spruce up the place. It’s been a fun way for me to connect with some fellow English speakers and bring out my “inner camp counselor” that lies dormant until it’s needed. (weirdest superpower ever – writing my screenplay right now- copyright!) The school has never looked better and it’s been fun to realize I’m a “veteran” now at five months. (You mean you don’t have any polos? Weird. Also, let me show you how to sit in these skirts…)

We took a head count of the children who desperately wanted to get in the “wet paint” area and counted ALL OF THE CHILDREN

Who knew that the holiday season also came in February! China is well represented in our city, meaning that many of my familiar places to shop are (surprise!) owned by Chinese immigrants and were closed for a few days! Good thing they hang those lanterns everywhere. It was fun to talk to a few of the families at our school celebrating – though the celebratory fireworks resounding loudly on my metal roof in the middle of the night gave me a bit of a fright.

Happy New Year China! You made it sound like my roof was collapsing!

The super bowl came and went and (I still didn’t care about it a whole lot) so we can just skip that and move on to Valentines day!!! We had a huge celebration at our house including decorations (that are still up…just in case someone wants to get married) and prizes, roses, games, spaghetti, music, and the story of St. Valentine. It was so much fun – one of the best valentines I’ve ever celebrated (second probably to 4th grade. You just can’t beat homemade mailboxes filled with 80 cards and candies to take home to your mom.)

They are definitely posing, but let’s be honest, I’ll never have this many people offering me roses again!
Selfie Game Strong
The Best.

So for the next few months I’m borrowing a car from a friend who is in the states who wanted someone to keep her car moving while she was gone. I said – “uh…YES PLEASE!” I was so excited and was like “I have learned stick shift for this very reason and can’t wait to get on the road and…wait it’s automatic?!?!?!? WHERE ARE WE??” I literally don’t think I’ve ever driven a car this nice, even in America, and therefore have taken it almost zero places.


However, there are so many advantages to having a car. Namely that you can drive it, and so I decided that  it was time to get outta dodge and use that air conditioning and cooled seats!!! (and like…explore…whatever…did you read that the seats get cold?!?!?!?!) Me and a few friends were able to get our tourist on, and check out some cool places around the city. Old places. Old old oooolllld beautiful places. I used as little english as possible, and found out some more words I don’t know, and also found out that I can communicate more than I thought.



Time wears away all things.
Me – (pointing at the top picture) “What is that?” L. – “A foot.” Me – “REALLY?!?!” L. – “Uh…yes”


It’s the eyes. I cannot stand painted eyes on giant statues. Here’s a pic. Feel free to agree with me.

I expected that there would be times when I didn’t know what was happening, and I was absolutely right. (I think we might have snuck in the back to visit a friend who was working there? Uh…sorry…tourist…place…) But it was beautiful and incredible and I’m so thankful that it’s nearby.

Friendship is asking how spicy you want your papaya salad. And getting you in for free. ❤
Bless the men and women who think to take attractive candid photos.

I’ve been trying to review the past few weeks, looking through pictures to glean what I can take from the time and rethinking how I can change. I think that pictures say the things that my self-critical mind cannot see. Relationships are being built. I’m growing in independence physically and depending more on the Father as I go. My friends here are some of the most courageous and faithful people I’ve ever met, and I have so much still to learn from them. Cheers to month five! See you in March!

If you don’t take a picture with the peace sign, did you even go somewhere?




Life just happens. Has anyone ever said that to you? Life happens? Obviously this is a true statement, I mean, we can’t deny that life just keeps going. New becomes habit. Change become routine, we keep moving and so does everything around us. I usually start writing my blog by looking through the pictures that I have on my phone and then decided what stories to tell. We can call these stories “adventures” if you like, because what is a story if not an adventure that you’ve lived before? We can debate the semantics later…

Just like we can debate whether or not juice is better in a bag or not. This is sugar cane juice with lime. Served in a bag of course – how else would you take it on a motorbike? 

My language teacher needed a ride home after our session and I was happy to have the chance to drive her. She rode side saddle on the back of my bike and spoke to me in my new language, practicing directions, pointing things out, telling me how to drive etc…I watched for traffic, constantly checked my balance so she wouldn’t fall, had to drive with my face shield up so I could hear her (so grit sometimes flew in my eyes), and also was thinking and trying to answer her in a new language. It felt like (what I imagine) juggling to be like. We arrive at her house without incident** and there at her house was her mother and father saying goodbye to two sweet women. They took one look at me and started saying “beautiful! beautiful!” and then walked over to take my picture. Not one to miss out on getting a picture taken, I took out my own phone and snapped a picture. They laughed, spoke to me a little (found out I could only really speak a little) and then waved, jumped on their bike, and headed out.

Totally famous. 

**we didn’t crash

I turned to my language teacher to say goodbye and then asked “Who are they?” My language teacher shrugged. “I don’t know them. Maybe they are neighbors?” Me- …what

Why does this keep happening to me???? #stopAssuming #TalkingToMyself

My new roommate and I have been able to bond more over the weekends when O. and L. go home to visit their families. We’ve worked out a few times, made mac and cheese, and gone shopping in a nearby country!

Traveling to nearby fellowships to see friends, and we had to stop to take pictures of the mountains and rice fields.


It’s been a good two weeks – and with February now beginning I can say that we’re well into 2019! Cheers to more good times and adventures to find!


Take a left…then an immediate right

Happy four months old to meeeeee!!!


Look at all the things I’m learning and doing! When I say “good listener” I mean like, when there’s a lot of context and they don’t have their mouth covered by a surgical mask. Just so, we’re clear.


How can two weeks possibly go by so fast! How can so much happen and yet I can also feel like there’s nothing to talk about?

First off – I got to sing in a friend’s wedding! She had been dating this great guy at our school for a while and within about a month she got engaged and married! (They don’t mess around here). The entire school was in an uproar, making decorations, planning the music, gathering tables and chairs, you name it, we can do it! I won’t say that I’m completely knowledgable in the wedding culture of South East Asia buuuuuuut I think there’s the possibility of me getting pretty close by the time I head home.

Why yes, I did help in the creation of this beautiful backdrop? Oh you want one? I’ll need tons of silk fabric, 5 hours, and two other people who can tell me what to do. 
I don’t know why, but it’s trendy to smile like this. She told me “good job!” after I took this picture and managed to keep my teeth covered. So I’m learning! 

Then the next weekend I got to attend another wedding, this time a Buddhist reception, with a different friend from school. She then took me to her house afterward and we hung out with her daughter. Did I mention this was all on my lunch break? And that it was on a Friday afternoon? I didn’t sing, but they definitely wanted me to. (Note to self…learn new songs in local language to sing when asked on command.)


(By the way have you ever had to wear a long pencil skirt and ride on the back of a motorbike side-saddle to get down the bumpiest dirt road of your life without falling off or losing your shoes? All y’all ladies living in South East Asia just gave me a huge ‘amen’. We can talk about how scary things become normal later.)

I fixed a clock, put up paintings, and got a new roommate!


I said goodbye to my old language teacher at my local center and started with a new teacher, which is an exciting change – but sad to say goodbye!

What do you mean you didn’t learn about the English Reformation? Oh! You’re still in preschool. Sorry. Wrong lesson plan.

I started tutoring middle school history – which is good because I feel like this is the do-over I didn’t even know I wanted. I mean, I’m genuinely interested in the Magna Carta the time around, so…I feel like I’m growing.

I think in my last blog I mentioned something about being ready for plans to change, but I don’t think I could have predicted how fast life can change in one week, talk about some quick and serious turns (new roommates, new responsibilities, new teachers!) It’s like there’s a GPS somewhere shouting to take immediate turns that take you in completely new directions, except I don’t really hear it, it just happens. They say that’s how it works around here. And I’d say that I’ll get used to it, but if the only thing to get used to is constant change is it possible to get used to that?

I’ll go with probably. And I think there are a few things that I can still count on as a definite possibility in my time here. 1) Ants will still constantly be invading my house and 2) There will be plenty of opportunities to sing at weddings.



Heights and Depths

I bet you have a really good story about a time in your life when your plans have changed. I would bet that you have several exciting stories that ensued from changed plans, maybe some that turned out good, some that were annoying, and some that were downright infuriating. The story of my birth is a great example of how plans can go array, involving a super chill doctor, a fiftieth wedding anniversary, and a hastily changed flight. Since that story isn’t super relevant to my life in South East Asia, I’ll spoil the end – I was not born on a plane! We did it guys!

You know what they say about ‘best laid plans’.

This is what “not knowing what the future holds” looks like.

I should have known, really, that the best laid plans for this Christmas were going to change. The short story is, it was going to be two of us, but (happy change!) another friend joined along! I had to turn in my visa paperwork on Thursday to pick it up on Friday, but I couldn’t turn it until Friday and then wouldn’t pick it up till Wednesday. Hotels and guesthouses were booked as we went. Our trip to the capital turned into a trip to the countryside. Traveling with known friends turned into traveling with strangers and making friends along the way.

Old friends and new!

Here’s the thing about best laid plans- how do you know that they’re actually what’s best? How can plans be quantified as best? Convenience? Safety? Traveling with people you know? Picking up your passport on time so you can continue to live overseas with the promise of returning home without being deported or incarcerated? I’m just spitballing here.

Rows and rows and rows of gold.


We ended up exploring new cities and saw the glorious mountain ranges that South East Asia can offer, and even the deep caves that were carved by a flowing river going straight through the mountain. Gazing at the mountains and the stars and the trees I was in awe. How can a place this beautiful actually exist? It was like I was reading a novel, only to look up and find out that fiction had become fact. G. K. Chesterson has an exceptional book called “Orthodoxy” that perfectly describes my feelings.

“Fairy tales say that apples were golden only to refresh the forgotten moment when we found that they were green. They make rivers run with wine only to make us remember, for one wild moment, that they run with water.”― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Even surrounded by beauty I was anxious about my passport and the change of my perfect plans. I was worried my inconvenience had ruined the trip for my fellow companions. I wasn’t sure if we would make it back in time for work, or to pick up my passport, or to catch the next bus. And yes, even going into the cave, and, admittedly, I was a little anxious about flooding and mountains collapsing and darkness and death…But as we rode through the river and the darkness, our headlamps barely illuminating the cavernous ceiling, I was constantly reminded and amazed by Psalm 139.

“If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”

In the heights of the mountains.



In the depths of the darkest caves.



If you need cave navigation help – I know a guy.

In a bus surrounded by people. (no such thing as a full bus!)

The ladies in this picture hopped on the bus to sell chicken. Peeps in SEA know how to hustle! The plastic chairs on the bottom right were used to fill the aisles with people.

With new friends nearby.



And family far away.




He is there.

Christmas of 2018 and New Years 2019 was one for the books and one I’ll never forget. I have goals and dreams and hopes for the new year and, sure, even plans. But, I think if the beginning of 2019 has taught me anything it’s that the best laid plans often go array.

This is what “well the plans changed but I think I love it” looks like.

But I hope that when our plans continue to change in 2019, that we end up with new friends and magnificent adventures in caves and mountains. And…that we still manage to get our passports back as well!