Sometimes, in the war-games that I play, I liken my life in the spirit to a fleet of ships. How I seek Him, how I love Him, how I pursue and follow and obey Him, is reflected on the condition of my ships. When I am weak spiritually, my fleet is, naturally, very weak. However, there are other ships, and technologies from others, that I incorporate into my fleet to make it stronger.
Throughout my life, there have been people and organizations who, in the spirit, influenced me greatly, whom I admire, and whom I spent a lot of time with. Those people or groups may come through my life and leave, but the memories of them, the influence they have on me, is imprinted in my life for at least a very long time.
I admire those people or groups, and I begin to copy them, to emulate their strengths, their personalities, their desires and will, from what I know of them. I build a cruiser, a destroyer, using their technology. Some people and groups have stand-alone ships, some are incorporated into the rest of my fleet, and others have both.
In the Army, one of the people I admired spiritually was Endora. I saw her as someone who loves God, who has a passion, a deep love for Him. So I began to seek God using, to the best of my knowledge, of her worship to God. I jokingly told myself that I have an Endora-class cruiser.
Now, before I continue, I want to let everyone know that the root of all cruisers is God. The root of all Endora-class cruisers, Helen-class cruisers, Bethel technology, is God. To worship anyone else is idolatry. But each of us have different spiritual strengths of seeking Him and it is learning from others, of how they worship God, their mindset, their knowledge, their learnings, that I get to grow and enrich my experience with God and to help me to be closer to Him.
Many times, when I struggle in my faith, it is those ships, those special classes of ships, that can effectively fight against the enemy. Just like in the Bible when God ordered that Judah go first to fight against his brother Benjamin, sometimes it is those ships, that go first to fight against the enemy, because the rest of my fleet, the ones mostly built by me, are too weak or they lack the weaponry that these other ships have.
When I’m weak in spirit, sometimes I think of other Christian heroes and they inspire me to continue or fight on. The songs from Bethel, Hillsongs, and the many artists from K-Love, the preachings from Ignite, the leaders and disciples that I get to mingle and grow with, all gave me their influence, their technology, their knowledge and wisdom, their passion, their mindset, their reasons, to worship, love, and seek God. I would not get far in my relationship with God if I were to just seek Him alone, using my own mindsets and technology. As Christian brothers and sisters, we need to learn from each other, to share our discoveries with God, so we can collectively be empowered to fight against the enemy.
Today I want to write about the “girl I love.” Her name is Endora. If you don’t know my story with her, read “the girl I love” blogs for years 2009-11.
Ever since I messed up by spilling to her everything all at once, she never contacted me again. I suffered for her. I remember once when I was in Kuwait, I was so lovesick with her that I went to the jewelry shop to buy her a gold necklace with a cross on it. Then, I went immediately to the post office at Camp Arifjan to send it to her. I also attached a note hoping she can forgive me. I still remember that memory clearly. I have the jewelry box gift-wrapped in sky-blue paper. I think the inside of the paper is light-green. I got her address by combing through my old e-mails when I was still in — (——————-), my old church youth group. Little did I know, her family already moved. I received a shocking revelation when I got my package back.
So why did I fall in love with her? Well, as I just told my mom (yes I was just on the phone with her and I shared with her this story), I love her not just because she is beautiful on the outside but because she loves God. I love her because both her inside and out is beautiful.
Yesterday night, as I was lying on my bed trying to sleep, I suddenly thought of her again. There’s nothing I can do about this situation anymore but I’m glad that the God I worship is a God of the impossible and that “everything is possible with God.” So, I started to pray for a new hope, of a love reborn.
After a while, something came to me and that is the purpose of this blog.
I questioned to myself, “Steven, do you love Endora?”
I thought obviously, the answer is yes. It can’t be infatuation, right? That only lasts up to a year.
Something in me told me to reask that question, “Steven, do you love Endora?”
“I mean Steven, do you really love Endora? and by love do you really love her? Maybe I should rephrase myself. Do you really love Endora? I mean, do you love Endora?”
My mind opened and I made a realization. I didn’t really “love” Endora. If I really love her, I would care for her well-being, and especially her spiritual well-being. I didn’t care about her well-being out of neglect. I also remembered that I love her mostly to get what I want; it is mostly to receive. I want her body, I think it would be a good complement, I would be so happy, and that we can worship God together (but that was only part of the reason). But real love, agrape love, is about giving. If I really love Endora, I would had prayed for her; I would had blessed her. I would pray that she can continue to follow God. I would pray that, if she messed up, God can give her second and third and forth and as many chances that can bring her back.
I remember that Jesus also told Peter “do you love me?” Peter answered “Yes,” but Jesus kept asking the same question again. What does love really mean? If I really love God, then I would care about His well-being. I would “feed my lambs” (John 21:15).
This begs the question. How about my church, or my individual friends? Do I really love my church, no Steven, I mean do I really love my church? If I put the question this way, I see the answer in a different light. Do I really love my youth group? No Steven, I mean do you love your youth group? My honest answer to almost any of those questions is almost no.
I just remembered I did not finish my jewelry story. There was a time in my military career when I was almost kicked out. I almost got a chapter. And I did it for love. You see, I brought the jewelry and went to the post office before going to work. I saw that I was going to be late if I also go to the post office but I told myself “Endora is worth it.” I’m willing to face the consequences of being late for my job to send her my heart’s desire.
I came to the relay (communication, where I work at) tent thirty-minutes late. When I came in, both of my sergeants already finished my counseling statement. I saw it is already on the table and the paper has a place for me to sign.
Sergeant Bolin told me, “Steven, what kind of punishment do you want to get?”
I thought about his question. I couldn’t stand the Army and the physical hardships but I could take a pay-cut with ease. I would rather take an easier life with less pay than a hard tortuous life with normal pay. So I told them that they can take away my pay or force me to wear a certain kind of uniform (For example, no civilians, only PTs). I don’t care about that either.
But what did they give me? Yup, they gave me the hard life. My punishment in the name of love is to police call (pick up trash) the work site for three days starting on Friday. I am to do it from morning to afternoon. This means I lost my weekend, which I really cherish.
However, looking back, I am partially glad that I got that punishment. I told myself that if I am going to go and do police call with a trash bag all day, I am going to record myself and to record my thoughts and feelings. I brought my flip camera and for periods of time throughout the day, I hid behind a barrier next to the launchers and shared my dreams. I still have those videos and, up to now, I still couldn’t bear myself to watch them. I am planning to though, maybe tonight.
One way to discover a question is to ask that question and add emphasis to it. It is to keep repeating the question and to say that I am not answering the question correctly. In the case of love, I found what love really means. It is not just a warm feeling everyone gets when they see someone they “love,” but it is a feeling of care. It is the feeling that no matter what happens, girlfriend or not, you still wish the best for that person and you continually do what you can to better that ideal.
1/24/2012: Poker: A Game of Probability | An Ace in My Hand
This is probably taboo for me to share but once when I was in basic training at Ft. Sill, OK, a group of soldiers in my barracks started playing Texas hold’em. It was night-time and the drill sergeants left to sleep.
I went to the group to watch them play. I didn’t want to join because they are playing for real money.. or real candy. The soldiers there were betting fives and cough drops. Well, they pressured me to join because they threatened to call me a wuss and make fun of me in day-time if I don’t. So I joined. I had some cough drops so I used that as a buy-in. The soldiers used them as poker chips.
In the beginning, I started to lose, but I began to relearn the game. Before this time, I played it on Yahoo! but I was very bad. Yet, a strange thing happened. I was pressured to join and then to eventually to play for money. It was a late night thing. I put in $20 (I think, or is it ten?) and I began to play wisely. If I have a good hand, I would make bets. I would make fake facial expressions to help throw people off. I would look at how other players play and watch them to get intelligence. And then I started winning.
I started winning hand after hand. Of course, I didn’t win every hand, just the hands that count. After a while I got $40 in winnings. I tried to tell the soldiers that we should stop and call it a day. Not only is it prohibited, I think, in the military, and especially during basic training, but I am also taking other people’s money and I don’t want negative repercussions in the future because of that.
But the soldiers playing refused to give up. They told me they “want to get my money back” so they continued to pay more and I.. continued to win more. Throughout this whole time, I kept saying “lets cancel the game” and “I’ll give all your money back” because I was scared. We were playing on a soldier’s bunk bed using flashlights because everybody else was asleep. It is past midnight. I had about $80 to my name when a soldier suddenly ran to us and said, wild-eyed, that a drill sergeant is coming. All of us were shocked and we were all trying to put the cards away, throwing bunks and beds, and trying to run back to our areas pretending to be asleep.
I thought I was going to be caught red-handed and, for a moment, I really thought so. I realized I probably couldn’t buff pretending I was sleeping so I quickly got my folder out, some notebook papers with miscelleous writing on it, a pen, and pretended that I was writing a letter. If the drill sergeant asks, I could just say I was writing a letter to my mom.
Thanks to the shock, I got what I wanted. I convinced the soldiers to cancel the game and I returned everybody’s money back. It was a close call and it was the only time I played for real money. — I *probably* won’t play for real money again but recently, I started to play poker, too. It’s all for free though, and for imaginary chips. I feel I started to learn how to really play the game. Sun Tzu once said that if you know yourself, you can expect to win at least half of the time. I hope, my reading this article, that you can win at least half of the time. “知彼知己，百戰不殆；不知彼而知己，一勝一負；不知彼，不知己，每戰必殆.”
One tool that helped me a lot is a poker calculator. If you are thinking about playing poker, I seriously suggest you get one. I downloaded a free calculator in my computer and I use it all the time when I play poker. Why should you get one? Because having a calculator tells you your odds of winning given the hand you have, and the situation at the table. I don’t have the time in-game to calculate every single card so I just do the basic: I calculate the two cards in my own hand. After some experience, you will learn to see the cards on the table and form a general picture.
Poker is a game of probability and, so far, the adage “go big or go home” rings true. By using the calculator and thus knowing your odds and by knowing the various possible combinations and the likelihood of them plus the possibility of winning if those cards were to happen based on the cards already set on the table, the player can truly know him or herself. Watching the World Series of Poker on YouTube is also a good way to gain some exposure.
Second, much harder and without complete infallibility, is the ability to know your opponent. It takes time to know how your opponents play so I generally play defensive for the first couple of rounds to try to scope out my enemies. Some players are aggressive and they bet every round. That means, in some of the rounds, their hands are not good, and if they win more than they proportionally should, they are buffing on some of the rounds. There are others that are just plain dumb and would go all-in just to make the game go faster. Then, two or three other players would do the same and within a short period of time, the tournament just lost three people with a huge chip leader. However, if that happens, there is still hope. That chip leader is willing to take big risks so there is a chance of big rewards if you know yourself and stay true to it by not folding when the pressure gets hard.
A player can have the perfect starting hand and still lose. That is why it is wise, generally, to bet in according to what you have. If you have a good hand, be more aggressive, if a bad hand and the stakes are too high, then fold.
If a player only bets the first round and checks the second, there is a 80% probability that their hand is not good and they are having doubts. It’s all psychology. If that’s the case, place a bet. That player will likely fold.
If the player bets very high initially, there is a 80% chance that he or she has a good hand. If you have a poor hand, then fold. You can still win, but the odds are against you.
If the player bets very high initially and continues to bet high, there is a 80% chance that he or she got something or a combo they wanted. But, if you know yourself and your cards and you believe it, you can play along (don’t raise it) and pretend to let your opponent know that you are unsure and have doubts. Then that person may try to raise it higher to get you to fold but you prove them wrong. In general, never raise or bet unless you have a good chance of getting a good set.
If the player bets high initially and then only checks afterwards, that player may be having doubts.
After a while, when the opponent thinks they know how you play, you can change your playing style a little. Start bluffing a little bit, especially when the opponent has doubts as described above. I won many rounds with a poor hand because I made my enemy think that my hand is better than his or that somehow the cards on the table just gave me a jackpot. Of course, your enemy might be thinking what you are thinking so it is all a chance. You just have to know when to take that chance and be willing to go all-in if you do. — Application to Real Life:
Like in the game of poker, take calculated risks. If you think something has a chance to be more good than bad, then take the risk, but be willing to back off if the situation changes. One difference to real life is not to lie and to be honest because God sees. If what I’m doing doesn’t turn out to be expected, is doing harm, or most likely won’t turn out the way I wanted it to, I would back down. We can trick people but we can’t trick God and He is the judge.
Some days I have good hands and other days not so good, but, I find that the days that God is in it, somehow I have an ace in my hand.
On Tuesday, my section (Relay) had a new member. She is white, eighteen years-old, engaged, and fresh out of AIT. Her face features reminds me somewhat of the girl I used to love. Looking at her and knowing what my section does the past few days made me want to protect her.
It’s sad, but today after lunch, I almost couldn’t handle it. I left the relay office and stayed at the empty hallway. It had almost come to a point where I either step forward and attack (as sometimes I did in Kuwait), or take a step back and withdraw (in the Army before Kuwait). I know the consequences of stepping back and withdrawing. My light grows dim; I would not fully express what the normal Christian life with nonbelievers (peace, love, forgive, pray) should be. I would be a bad example of a role-model to them if I just slink away and withdraw myself. No! When battle comes, when darkness comes, I must not retreat; I must fight! Yet, stepping forward and attacking made me very nervous. What if I mess up? What if I say something that is unwise and they capitalize on it (ex. Kuwait)? What if they ask a question that I couldn’t answer? What if? The only way I can step forward and attack (not attack them but the evil that comes from them) is if God’s Presence is with me. I need what Moses had when he led the Israelites: That he won’t go another step without the presence of God. If God is for me, then yes, I can fight. I prayed for strength, courage, but above all, for wisdom. I need God’s wisdom in this situation. I was thinking about bursting inside the office and trying to start a revival, but I know I must ask God for wisdom first. The call for revival must be clear; I can’t do it just because I feel like it.
Why did it come to this? Because almost everyone in my section (they all come from Qutar; I came from Kuwait), delights in evil. They love to joke around talking about anything regardless if it’s evil or not. They demean women and calling them “bit*hes” or “wh*res.” They talk about doing all sorts of evil things not only to women, but to almost everyone. They discuss evil plans just because it’s “funny.” Sure, if you ask them, they will just say they are joking around. Can’t they joke around and have some fun? I’m not against joking, in fact if it is pure, I’m all for it. I love to laugh, smile, and have a good time, but only if it is within the framework of the Bible, for I know that ultimate pleasure comes from God. There is one person in particular that is causing this mess, two soldiers that say evil and feed off each other. Almost every word he says in the office is a joke and almost every other sentence he says is offensive. He loves to talk and he talks the whole time. These people in my office don’t like silence. I love silence because I can listen to my inner voice and to God’s voice. His roommate, when I used to know him, was a quiet, nice, helpful person. Now, he still has these qualities, but with the troublemaker, he became similar to him. They love to joke and anything that is funny, regardless if it is wrong or not, they will say. There is no boundary that they will not say. Actually, there is, and only because society limits them and not from themselves. It’s sad. I know these people have hard lives in the past, but that’s still no excuse for their behavior.
In the office, there is so much evil talk that I can’t focus. I either try to sleep or pray. Some people, when they talk, they talk as if they had authority, and it’s sad that in my case, it is the troublemakers. I decided, at one time this morning, to get a sheet of paper and write over and over “Give me strength, give me courage, and above all, give me wisdom.” I have to fight against this evil from infecting my mind. Sometimes I laugh at their evil jokes but only because I’m human. When possible, I always try to pray for these people. I pray that they can have hope because I remember that it is hope that kept me alive and have a close relationship with Him. I pray that they can have the gift of salvation because my pastor at church told us that the feeling of repentance is a gift of salvation and comes from God. Praise God that I have this gift so I may have hope. I also pray that God can write His Law into their hearts. God will do that to the Israeli people and they will seek Him.
For my battle plan, I need to continue to pray for them, in and out of work, that they can have hope. I also need to continue to love them and help them if they need help. For their conversations, I will try to join in but to remain blameless before God. We cannot be silent in the face of evil. I will still be their friend and develop positive relationships. Hopefully, with God’s help, I can someday bring them to repentance. I told the troublemaker yesterday riding in his car that “the pleasure of girls is nothing compared to the pleasures of God.”
Praise God that yesterday, she came to me in the DFAC, and asked for more information. The conversation developed into getting mailboxes since we both need them. I talked to her along the way and we discussed about our lives. Her husband-to-be is also in the military and she wanted to be a nurse. She asked more questions about going to college in the Army and I told her my experiences with online college while in Kuwait. I also warned her about the jokes our section makes and especially about the troublemaker. She seemed sweet, nice, but also innocent.
This weekend, most of my section is going to a theme park to play. I’ve been there before with the battery, so I know that it’s clean. Even though I cannot join in with them when they are talking evil, I still need to love them and be with them because God loves them. I pray that they can have hope. Hopefully, they will have hope.
Today, I went to the OneThing event in Pasadena and one of the things I’ve learned in the morning session is that God can satisfy our need for pleasure much better than anything else, that the pleasures this world can give is secondary compared to the pleasures of God.
After the session, I brought the “Intimacy With God” collection which included “7 Longings of the Human Heart” by Mike Bickle. While reading the conclusion and then the introduction of the book (I tend to start reading books from the end.. don’t know why :) ), the author tells the reader that each human being has seven basic longings: The longing to be enjoyed by God, longing for fascination, for beauty, greatness, longing for intimacy without shame, longing to be wholehearted, and the longing to make a deep and lasting impact. I agree that I have a longing for each of these.
I thought about my military friends and how they are trying to satisfy their longings the wrong way and how much they can enjoy life if they satisfy their longings in God. God created these longings and wants us to fulfill it in Him. However, when I visualized telling my friends about this amazing discovery, I realized that my friends hate hearing the word “God,” which brings me to write this lesson about Narnia.
In the world of Narnia, the word “Aslan” is not a completely welcomed name. While some cheered and rejoiced that Aslan (the great Lion who created their world) is coming, others grew to hate and shun it. Edmund and Eustace, for example, when they first heard the word Aslan, grew afraid although they didn’t quite know why. To them, Aslan provokes a sense of dread or “a mysterious horror”. I find from reading Narnia that those who love Aslan the most tend to be good-hearted (like Lucy) and those who hate him without ever seeing him tend to be evil.
In this world, people don’t fear Aslan; they fear God. As with the name of Aslan, some people are afraid of hearing the word God. To them, it inspires a sense of hatred, dread, or, likewise, a mysterious horror. And, also likewise, I find that people who love God the most without ever seeing Him tend to be good-hearted while the opposite is true for those who fear (not holy fear but fear as in dread) his Name.
Due to my lack of preparedness on January 23, I was unprepared for guard. I woke up with just barely enough time to eat beef sausage and bread, pack necessary items, do some hygiene, dress up, and leave. I planned to wake up with barely enough time because I slept late last night so I needed as much rest as I can get before I start my 24-hour guard duty.
I then found out that today, is the last day that 3-43 has guard and it has to be me! Someone else came to us believing he had guard but according to our roster, he didn’t. I considered offering to pay him for taking my shift but the soldiers around me convinced me not to. I’m on the roster and it’s our last guard shift.
It’s not just the physical side that is hard, but the emotional and spiritual side as well. Throughout the day I was tired and I tried to take bits of rest by closing my eyes. One of the soldiers, V, would always harass me by jumping to conclusions. After living with him for almost a year, I can see that he is prideful, arrogant, but also has a good heart and intentions.
He would say, “Wake up, Yeh!” when I wasn’t really sleeping. My eyes were half-closed. I don’t like how he jumps to conclusions without knowing everything. I don’t like how he judges people, not just me but everybody else, based on the limited knowledge he knows. God knows everything; let God be the Judge.
Throughout the day, he would accuse me by making assumptions without looking at the whole evidence. When they were talking questionable sexual things in the evening, V would say, “Earmuffs Yeh!” “I don’t want to damage your innocence!” He assumes I can’t handle what they are talking about but I can. I’ve listened and interacted to their racy conversations many times while also trusting in God. There are also other times, but I forgot. He would say things to provoke me (by making untrue assumptions) and force me to defend myself. After a whole, angered, I would say, “Let God be the Judge.” I told V that he doesn’t know everything, that his accusations are not true or lack other major elements. Once when he was walking outside while opening the gate, I told him privately, “V, you need to stop trusting in yourself and start trusting in God.” I can see from almost a year’s experience that he always trusts in himself and his own strength. I was a bit afraid to tell him that but I’m trying to help him and if me saying this can change him for the better in the future, it will be worth it. He looked at me surprised and replied, “Yeh, I cannot trust in God. I have to trust in myself. If I rely on God, he’s not going to help me all the time.” I think I told him that if he chose to follow Jesus, God will help him all the time.
All the judging and false accusations from my three battle buddies made me upset. When guarding the site (and the first time I actually have live weapons), I would not talk to them. I feel angry and upset and if I do try to defend myself, they will just twist my words and accuse me again. Wisdom came to me and I realized silence is the best answer. Every time they hurt me, I would angrily pray and ask God to judge them. I also asked Him to judge me too but reminding him that I want his mercy and love rather than his justice because “no one living is righteous before you” (Psalms 143:2).
Out of anguish, I would take my pocket Bible out and read the psalms and pray and sing regardless if other soldiers noticing me. I remember a quote from C.S. Lewis saying, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
That is so true. I find that I seek God the most when I’m in pain or when life is hard. I prayed and asked God that if that’s the case, then please make my life hard so I can be with You.
Eventually, my anger would subside and I would tactfully talk to them again, knowing that I need to be like Jesus.
A serious event happened later in the night. Since I was so tired, I slept, along with another soldier (who also didn’t sleep well last night). Midnight chow came and two of the soldiers, there were four of us total, went to eat chow, leaving just V and me. While looking for traffic, I accidently dosed off and a car came. V saw it and we quickly went outside to open the gate. When I came back in the guard shack, he was very upset at me. He told me that I should not be tired, that I have plenty of sleep (while he stayed up all night), and that if I’m tired I should take a walk or pour water on my face. He also made many accusations and judgments on me that are incomplete. When I tried to tell the “truth,” he accused me of making excuses. When I told him that I really can’t stay up, that I’m really tired, he told me he doesn’t want to argue with me anymore. If I were to close my eyes again, he would force me outside the shack. I said I too, agreed with him that I don’t want to argue or make excuses. I just want to put out the truth. The truth is, I can walk outside and stay up if I have to, but the limits of my endurance have been reached. I refuse to suffer anymore. I already suffered so much physically (doing guard), emotionally (their verbal attacks and judging), and spiritually (constantly praying and asking God for help and vindication). I also told him that I’m stressed out because I have two jobs: being a soldier and serving God. He told me I need to meet the SOP (standard operating procedures) which states that I cannot sleep. I told him that the Bible is above the SOP, but the Bible does state to submit to authorities (Titus 3:1). I tried to tell him the truth. I sat back down and then went outside for some water.
Then suddenly, it hit me. I have been saying I’m sick and tired of suffering. That I hate how my life is so hard. Then I remembered what the Bible says about how much suffering is enough.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (Hebrews 12:4 ).
I cried out to God and asked Him to forgive me. That is the Biblical standard for suffering. In my suffering, I haven’t even come close to shedding blood. I realized that I must be willing to endure and suffer so much more. I realized how weak I am. I must be willing to suffer for Jesus, not so I will lose my petty comfort, but to the point of losing blood. That is hard suffering and that is what the Bible teaches us to endure to.
I stayed outside and walked around, happy that I finally knew what the Biblical standards are. The humvee came back but I continue to stay outside. I washed my eyes with water because it was stinging me. Later, V told me to come back in but “stay awake.” I told him I prefer to be outside.
Oh, and for dinner, thanks to another soldier’s help, we got Chinese and Korean food! I got, along with my SOG (sergeant of the guard), kimchee and rice. The kimchee was very spicy, however, but I ate a lot of rice. Yummy!
After that awakening, that I need to adhere to the Biblical standard of suffering, the rest of the day improved. I did not try to find an easy way out, but I contributed and helped clean the guard area up. Today is the last day our battalion has guard duty. We have to make sure the area is presentable.
Everything went well until near the very end of our shift. That is my second serious incident. We (the guards) found out that 1-44, the battalion replacing us, were not informed of their guard duty. They were simply told they were shadowing us. That means there is a possibility that we have guard again, a 48-hour shift. All of us were upset. To make the long story short, the SOG for 1-44 decided to do the changeover (praise God) but we still had to wait for another sergeant from Echo company to be their shadow SOG. While we are waiting, I proposed many ideas. I said why not two of us take the bus and the other two take the humvee? I began to complain, internally. I thought about what to say to my relay sergeant. I need to prepare and know the approach and words so I might get tomorrow’s PT off. I really want free time. I wanted to scream, or just take off in the humvee because I was upset at our battalions lack of organization in this matter.
I also had a debate with P, another soldier and I did cry and show my tears because I wanted to change them for the better. But after much arguing, I realized what Watchman Nee wrote: “It is not a life changed but exchanged.” V and P were telling me that they believe I want everyone in this world to be like me. I told them, initially, sadly due to my defensive nature, that I didn’t. That everyone is created with an image of God and we need to “shine the light that God gave us.” I admitted, later, that I did act as if everyone should be like me and everyone else not like me is wrong, evil, etc. They accused of being a hypocrite and I did admit it. But, I told them that we all make mistakes, that we are all sinners, and that we all need Jesus.
I have been telling V throughout our guard shift that he needs to “change.” He needs to change his pride, arrogance, tenidency to judge, etc, but I realized all my efforts were in vain. Because they cannot change themselves. According to Watchman Nee, human beings cannot their evil human nature. In order to change a person, that person needs to be exchanged with Christ. I admitted my mistake to V and P and told them not to change, but to exchange your life with Jesus.
However, V told me if I am happy. After some thinking, I told them that I’m not happy (“not as happy as I should be” would be closer to the truth). Then V went on to say the reason why I’m not happy is because I’m too focused on God. That I need to put myself first (not God) and enjoy the pleasures of the world. Then, according to him, I will be happy.
Seeing these two soldiers having a serious discussion with me made me feel like I’m Christian in the Pilgrim’s Progress. I told V that I understand his viewpoint, but I feel the answer to happiness is not found there. The answer to happiness is found in letting Christ live instead of me.
Throughout the conversation, I kept mentioning Bible and they told me to stop mentioning it. Not everyone believes in the Bible, they told me. But I told them that the Bible is the bedrock of my life. P thinks the Bible is just a good teaching book, but it is more than that, it is a manual to life. That conversation eventually developed to me not using any spiritual arguments, that I can only make logical ones. That, I told them, is misleading. The human being is made up of the spirit, soul, and body. The spirit is above the soul, therefore, the spirit should be dominant. I told them there is an unseen world; a spiritual world, and that the Bible says the unseen is greater than the seen. V and P asked me again and again do I love God more or my mom? I told them that I love God more because I must love God much more than I love my mom or dad or brothers and sisters (Matthew 10:31). They told me who help me more, God or my mom. They obviously wanted me to say “my mom,” but I told them that, ultimately, God helps me much more.
Lastly, we argued that if God is omnipotent, then does God know what choices we choose beforehand? I told P no because if he does know completely beforehand, then God will not be a good god but an evil one. If God knew Eve is going to be deceived in the Garden of Eden and all mankind will suffer the penalty for sin, He would not have created us. God gave us free will to chose whether to follow Him or not. Yes, God knows us much more than anybody else, even ourselves, but he doesn’t know 100% what our next actions will be. This is where P and me disagreed and I tried to find scriptural proof, but was mostly unable to.
Psalms 139:1O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
16your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Genesis 3:7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
God knows our potential and what we could be if we follow God to be used by Him, but to say that he always knows every action that we will perform ahead of time is untrue. If that is true, then God may not be a good God because then he knew all the evil and suffering that will come as a result. I need to continue to grow more in God and perhaps ask for some help to find out more. That is about the extent of our discussion. I then used the latrine again and decided to sleep inside the humvee.
As I was sitting in the humvee thinking about the conversation, and how angry I am about the guard changeover and what to do about it, another thought came in, from heaven, and it told me to “give it all to God.” In my first serious incident, I learned that I need to be able to suffer and endure more, to the point of shedding blood. However, in this second event, I realized that God is in control of everything, that there is nothing I can do to change it. I must trust in God and let Him be in control. Whatever happens, I must “give it all to God.” So I began to repeat “give it all to God” over and over in my mind. Slowly, I began to feel peace. I began to feel happy and at ease. God is in control of everything. Why am I worrying? Give it all to God. I fell into a peaceful sleep.
When I woke up, I knew that I’m still in the humvee, but I’m not upset because I already gave all my angry and bitter feelings to God. I find that once I give my hurt and negative feelings to God, I feel free. I used the latrine again and decided to listen to a 睡夢鄉 (Land of Dreams) bedtime stories. I don’t know why, but I decided to listen to 好姊姊米利暗 (Good Miriam) because I felt Moses calling me. I closed my eyes and deeply listened to the children bedtime story. Listening to it made me so thankful of what God had given me. The narrator, Auntie Choi, began the story of Moses by saying the Israelites in Egypt were prosperous. Pharaoh was afraid that the Hebrew people might start an uprising so he subjected them to hard labor.
Exodus 1:10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
11So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh.
12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites
13and worked them ruthlessly.
14They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
However, the more the Hebrews suffered, the more prosperous they became. Hearing that gave me encouragement. It is like a God-given answer to suffering. It teaches me not to be afraid, that God is in control, and that God can use my suffering to benefit me even more. I got to the part where the counselors advised Pharaoh to kill every male child. I can hear the babies’ crying and the mother’s screaming. It felt so real and I felt so sad.
I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders. –Jewish Proverb
Then, I saw my SOG and P come and say it’s time to go. Happily, I put away my mp3 player and started to leave.
I learned so much about suffering today. One, that I need to suffer to the Biblical standard which is to the point of shedding blood, and two, to “give it all to God.”
睡夢鄉- 39 好姊姊米利暗
Sing and Smile and Pray by Sofia Tsatalbasidis
Sing the clouds away,
Night will turn to day.
If you sing and sing and sing you’ll sing the clouds away.
Smile the clouds away,
Night will turn to day.
If you smile and smile and smile you’ll smile the clouds away.
Pray the clouds away,
Pray and pray and pray.
Night will turn to day,
No matter what they say.
Sing and smile and pray,
That’s the only way.
If you sing and smile and pray you’ll drive the clouds away.
Pray the clouds away,
Sing and smile and pray.
Night will turn to day,
No matter what they say.
Sing and smile and pray,
Night will turn to day.
If you sing and smile and pray you’ll drive the clouds away.
I want to write, but when I write after delaying what I want to write, it gets hard to write, nevertheless, I must still write.
I am now in Camp Beauring with two other soldiers doing a security detail. On that day, a battery organization day, our battery did a day of sports. We played softball, football (although I also want capture the flag), dodgeball, and three point shootout. I was wearing my light green T-shirt that says: “WWW (World Wide Wickedness), URL (Under Redeemers Love), HTML (He Transformed My Life). Haha, I’m guessing people might think I’m a hacker or something wearing that shirt. I did my best and did well by my standards. I got a home run, assisted a touchdown (though I missed catching numerous footballs, such a disgrace to my team), did decent in dodgeball, and got two three-pointer shots out of fifteen (the wind was blowing hard and the highest record was a five or a four, needless to say, I didn’t make it to the finals). When I saw people shooting the basket, and seeing the highest at that time was a two, I was very surprised. The last time I played that game, I shot a four. But, I never knew how hard it was to shoot with the wind until I actually tried it. After that, we retired to lunch (pizza, KFC, Subway, chips, sweets, etc) and after our repast, I played Risk with four other players. I was conceited at first, but as the game went on, I was humbled. I found out I was in danger of being the first player to be wiped out! I just want to say there are many circumstances outside my control that I can’t do anything about. I tried to hold on to Africa (they give 3 armies), but player after player prevented me. Then, I turned in my multi-card and surprised everyone with 13 armies to place. Haha, but my joy was short-lived. I decided to attack the strongest player in the game, since the other player who controlled South America, had a secret alliance with him, but I didn’t know at that time. I attack South America and after conquering it, attacked Mexico. I only had two armies in Mexico after I attacked so I moved one back to Venezuela. Well, Sgt. Frese took back N. America, Hudson, his secret ally, took the rest of Africa and Brazil, and I was almost knocked out of the game had I made a few diplomatic deals to Sgt. Frese and Hudson to let me take S. America and I’ll leave them alone. The game continued and, in the end, after wiping all the players except those three, Hudson attacked me and they both won. Stange things is, towards the very end of my game, I decided to roll one dice at a time because rolling both was giving me bad luck. The first dice I rolled for the next ten times was a 6. That is very strange, impossible I thought. I got a six even when I’m secretly trying not to get a six because I want to give God the glory. When I got up and decided to roll one dice at a time, I was trying to have faith and trust in God. I was upset of their secret alliance.
Now that I’m thinking about it, if I roll a six every time, I can never lose the game. That was what I was thinking when battling against Hudson with 15 vs. 35+ of his. In the end, he attacked with two armies (I think) versus one of mine in Argentina and I lost. I also think this is why Israel never loses if God is with her armies. Israel will always roll a six with God! She can never lose. This is why I love Israel, because God is on her side. I love Israel because God loves Israel. Of course God loves all the nations too, but Israel is his chosen nation where he first revealed himself to men. It can be 100 vs. 1 but if God is with Israel, that 1 army can defeat 99 of the enemies’.
Judges 15:16 Then Samson said, “With a donkey’s jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey’s jawbone I have killed a thousand men.”
I was excited but tired when I came back to my bay. Shortly afterwards, I was told to go to Camp Bearing and to be ready in 20 minutes. What a rush! But, luckily, I managed to make it on time. My mentality is, with God of course, is that life is hard but I have to make the best out of it. I brought my camera (but I haven’t taken any pictures yet), my mini (this laptop I’m typing on), mp3 player, and Kindle (with book 2 of Narnia). I’ve only been to Bearing once so it will be a cool learning experience.
Well, now I’m here for two nights and a day already and I’ll be here until Monday (another day left). A lot of what I can say miracles happened. To me, a miracle is something that is not supposed to happen but God made it happen. Getting to Camp Bearing was a miracle. None of us knew the way to get there, but I did my best to study the maps and took notes. Together, we were able to maneuver the Kuwaiti highways to Camp Arifjan. Getting a building to live in was also a miracle. The three of us when to the housing building (where they issue temporary housing) and we were told unless we have a memorandum we cannot obtain a building.
“Is there any way that you can help us?” my sergeant asked.
“No,” the clerk said, shaking her head.
But, my sergeant was persistent. She (yes, she) really wanted a building so she kept on talking and asking and referencing. In the end, the staff gave us two rooms (one male and one female of course), with blankets, pillows, and sheets. Wow, what a blessing. Without the building, we would have slept in two large, unlocked bay, or in the truck. Although I felt she was being very pushy and aggressive, she reminded me of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-5) who is never tired of fighting for what is (or think) right. Finding where our security site is at is also a miracle. We had no idea where to go! But we noticed a few landmarks and with a hanging phone-call and couple wrong turns, we eventually found the site. I think, in this day and age, God does miracles in the most ordinary way. He does that so we can put our faith in Him. For example, you are driving and are lost. However, you noticed a few signs or landmarks that reminded you of where you are going and suddenly, your intuition tells you where to go. Or, you have to go work but you are just so exhausted and tired. When you did go to work, you found it to be much easier than expected or that the work days are shortened due to logical conclusions. Such is my trip to Camp Bearing.
The last thing in my heart to write is to share that I finished reading The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. After reading that book, I realized my life also shared many similarities. For me, being in the Army is like being in Narnia. It is a whole new world to me. I went from a world of Starcraft, counter-strike, and resistant evil to a world of going to formations and doing what I’m told. From a world of being locked in my room and alone to a world full of people, and yes, sometimes even crazy people. My wardrobe however, is the recruiting office. The rules are so different. From a world of computer games to the world of real-life and trusting in my Aslan, which is Jesus. I learned so much about life and about God in the Army, things that I would never have learned had I not went to my wardrobe.
Today, our battalion went to the range to qualify on our M16A2! Wow, praise God! I haven’t shot a gun for over a year now and I’m unsure how I would do. When I qualified using paper targets on a 25 meter range, I got a 31! And that is despite the fact that my last two rounds wouldn’t fire. To give a quick overview, there are two ways to qualify a M16A2. The first way is to qualify using pop-up targets. You would need a vast field to do that. Green silhouette’s as targets will pop up at various distances, usually every 50 meters. So, there will be a 50,100,150,200,250, and a 300 meter target. If you hit it, the target automatically goes down. A shooter has to shoot at least 23 of 40 targets to pass. Paper targets, however are different. It is used when space is limited, such is the case in Camp Arifjan. All the targets is on a large sheet of paper 25 meters away. The targets will be of different shapes and sizes depending on the distances. To pass this method, you would need to hit 27 of 40 targets.
But, before you can qualify, it might be a good idea to zero your weapon first. Zeroing is basically like calibrating. Since every shooter sees differently through the sight picture, every weapon has to be adjusted to the shooter. I had a hard time zeroing my weapon, but praise God, the extra time spent shooting means I get more practice! I’m not there to pass, but to learn. I know that the horse (me) is made ready for battle, but the battle belongs to the Lord (Provb. 21:31). I think going to college should also be the same. I’m going to college not necessarily to get a good grade, but to learn and grow to help others. I will write the essays not to satisfy man, but to satisfy God.
I’m happy, despite the fact that my life is hard and I’m tired. 主的喜樂是我力量! The joy of the Lord is my strength!
Yesterday, I had guard duty! I just came back from it today and tried to sleep, but, couldn’t without at least writing something about it. If I sleep, I may forget what I want to write or I may lack the desire to write it. I wrote an outline before I started writing this so I won’t forget.
The day before I had guard, I finally managed to have the guts to go back on Facebook. My close friend convinced me, in my words, to not be afraid and let God be the judge. I find that I’m so afraid of being judged. When I went on, the first thing I saw was a wall post by Auntie Linda telling me that the interview is on the air on Youtube. I immediately grew afraid because I’m afraid of being judged. In the interview, I told Auntie Linda and my mom that one of the best opportunities to share the gospel and teach the soldiers about the Bible is in guard duty. How ironic that tomorrow is my guard duty! I start to grow nervous. What if it’s the same as last time, which I was unprepared for the job but still won an inner victory. I cannot mess up this time so on the day of my guard, I went to the PX and brought lots and lots of snacks and I took an iron pill I brought from Taiwan. The reason why I’m so tired is because of my borderline iron deficiency (result from a blood test at PCC before I joined the Army). This is my chance to awaken people again! Heh. In the end, the chips gave me something to do while the iron kept me awake. I was still tired, I still slept during our resting periods, but I felt more energetic and have as much energy as my peers. My SOG told me I should start taking iron pills. I told them, besides the difficulty of finding one here, there are side effects. The main side effect is constipation. When I took one in Taiwan, I didn’t poop for a whole day. This time however, I had no problem. Hmm, strange. Praise God. Thanks to the hemoglobin, the guard shift today was relatively easier and it also went by quick, probably due to our conversations. By the time I know it, it was already afternoon. I was happy because time is going fast.
One of the main things we talked about is the girl I love. My SOG told me when we get back, he will help me find a girlfriend. I told him I already have a girlfriend. They told me that a girlfriend is by mutual consent. Both love each other. They were disgusted that I was referring her as my girlfriend. In the end, I agreed that she is not my girlfriend, but the girl I love. They asked me (my SOG knew a little about this situation because he punished me when I was late for work trying to ship a gold necklace to her) when was the last time she talked to me. I said, “um, like last January,” which is nine months ago! Between the blockings, the long ago contact, they are saying I am depriving myself of happiness and I should just drop her and find someone else. It’s not that easy. I tried to explain my promise to God of seven years, the little miracles I think God did to remind me of my promise. Still, I find myself losing on the logical front. What if God was trying to tell me to find another girl, a girl who loves God? How will I know? I can only know by prayer. I was giggling (sometimes in embrassment) and smiling the whole time I was telling the story. They could feel my emotions, but were serious about this. They asked am I still trying to contact her. I said no, the last time was in March (I realized now that I lied. The real time was closer to May?), only three months later. My NCO was worried about me. He doesn’t want me to be a stalker, to be a serial killer. No, how can I do that? It is totally against the Bible. I know she has free will (Genesis 24:5-8). She can choose whatever she wants. I told them if she has a boyfriend or is married (they asked that) I will then be free from my oath. Looking back, I felt what I said in the last sentence was wrong. My promise to God was to pray for seven years for her and if nothing happens then I would just be single and live for God. But, they wanted me to have a girlfriend, and as my last note said, I do really need one. I do need a companion who can go with me through green pastures and the valley of the shadow of death. I tried to convince them that God can find a way. All things are possible with God (Mark 10:27). But, they told me again that she has free will. Defeated, I admitted that they are right. I was being illogical. I told them I am going to do what I was going to do on my notes, that is to ask someone close to her if she has any affection for me. If not, then I will find another girl. They suggested Christian dating sites and I told them I can easily get a girlfriend. They also told me that I should have some experience first and just socialize one on one with a girl, any girl. That, to me, is wrong. Dating is preparation for marriage (thanks Ben Ku!) I can’t just be emotionally connected with a girl I’m not going to marry. Yes, I would get experience, but I would also satisfy my flesh, and I know that the flesh is hostile to God (Romans 8:6-8). If I satisfy my flesh, my flesh would want more. I learned this the hard way. So, that is what I will do. Maybe. I would see if she’s still thinking about me. That’s all. If not, then I’ll find somebody else.
Or, and this has come to my mind recently. How about the story of Watchman Nee and the girl he loved?
In his writings, Nee had trouble growing closer to God. He wanted the Holy Spirit, but God won’t give it to him. Through prayer, he found that Charity, his childhood sweetheart, still occupied a large place in his heart. And for a time, he just can’t surrender that room to God. Finally, when he did surrender this room to God, God poured out His spirit to him and he felt free! He felt like so light and so happy! He felt unimaginable happiness.
“By January of 1922 there was already a small gathering of the Lord’s people at ‘Tze Yuan’ [‘Tze Garden’]. I remembered one day that I was going to have to preach that very day. So I opened my Bible, trying to find a suitable subject. I happened to read Psalm 73, verse 25, which states: ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.’ Upon reading it, I confessed that I could not say these words as the psalmist had said. At the time I knew that there was something hindering the relationship between me and God. For over ten years I had had deep affections for Charity.∗ She was not saved at that time. I tried to preach the gospel to her, but she always laughed at me. We truly loved each other. I let her laugh at the Lord Jesus whom I preached. In my heart she always occupied a very large place. I had frequently asked myself if I should continue to let her occupy such a place in my heart. We all know that when a young man is in love, it is most difficult for him to lay it aside. Although with my lips I said to God that I was willing to lay her aside, in my heart I was unwilling to do so. I now read that verse in the Psalms again. I could honestly confess that I could not lay her aside. During that entire week I could not say, ‘Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee’ The Spirit of God had put His finger on this very issue as the hindrance to my being filled with the Holy Spirit. On that particular day I still went to preach, though I did not know what I was preaching about.
“Later on, I began to reason with God. I asked Him to give me power first, and then I would lay her aside. But God never reasons with men. In my youthfulness I promised God many things: I would go to Tibet to preach the gospel; I promised Him I would do this and that; but God would not listen. His finger persistently pointed at this girl friend as my obstacle. No matter how I prayed, I could not get through. My heart was really heavy. I even begged God to change His heart. But no, He insisted on my dealing with this matter. It was as though there was a piercing of my heart with a sharp sword. God wanted me to learn a deeper lesson; otherwise I would be of no use in His hand.
“On yet another day I preached in the morning. In the afternoon I was in my room under great heaviness of heart. I told God that since I would be going back to school the next Monday I wanted Him to fill me with the love of Christ. I was now ready to lay aside my lover. The love of Christ had so constrained me that I was determined to put her aside. With this decision made I could say from my heart the words of Psalm 73.25. My inside was filled with unspeakable joy. Even though I had not ascended to the third heaven, I could say I had been to the second heaven, so happy and full of joy was I. The world now became insignificant to me. I felt as though I were floating on a cloud. On the night when I was saved, the burden of my sins had been rolled away. On this day (13 February 1922), all obstacles in my heart had been removed. Not long afterwards many people were saved” (Watchman Nee in A Short Biography of Watchman Nee)
My peers told me that I’m still very preoccupied with her. I tried to deny it, but they persisted. I admitted that, yes, I did think about her often, probably as often as every day. My peers want me to be happy. They want me to find my soulmate. But, I told them, later on, that it depends what people value. If my value is happiness, about being happy, then by all means, I would try to find a girlfriend, but, my value isn’t happiness. What people value and what I value are different. Most people value money, happiness, and fame, but I value eternal life, righteousness, and love. It’s okay if I’m unhappy. My true, eternal happiness rests with God. I don’t really get offended if people steal or take things away from me because my value is not on money. In fact, sometimes I kind of want to give these things to them, to help them and hopefully, to teach them how much God loves them. It’s not my money, but God’s. If they steal from me, God will be the judge.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
-Romans 12:16 – Romans 12:21 (NIV)
People think I’m a pushover because of it, but no, I am simply waiting on the Lord. I try to be loving to everybody because the Bible tells me to and because I know, deep inside, it’s the right thing to do.
I feel I am now in Watchman Nee’s position. This girl I love is occupying a big place in my heart. Will I cast it down and give the room back to God? I feel it’s difficult; I feel it’s impossible, but it is for God’s glory. And, I don’t really need a companion. As long as the shepherd of my soul is with me, I will be alright. He is in full control.
Wow, the iron pill is working! It is now 11:20am and I’m still awake! Usually, I’m fast asleep by 0900.
I also played two games of “LIFE” on my peer’s computer. I watched her play for a little while and I grew interested. This game, originally a board game, is played against other players. Like monopoly, you move your piece around the board to reach the end. Unlike monopoly, you can’t buy anything. The object of the game is to get as much money as possible by getting as much “LIFE” points, high career, etc. I dislike how, in the end, your life points (experiences) is converted into money. To me, life experience is priceless, it’s wrong to put a dollar sign to it. I played the first round being me (I chose teacher, house initially so I can provide a wonderful home for the girl I love (I know, sorry) and later, a mobile home [so I can go around telling others about Jesus!], the risky life (since I want don’t want to be part of the timid souls who “know neither victory nor defeat” [Theodore Roosevelt]), etc. Needless to say, I lost (got last place too), but I had fun. The second round, I tried to win, and praise God, I got good luck. I did win. I first did the investment, then paid my debt, and played cleverly.
At the very end of our guard duty, something horrible happened that tried to mimic my last guard shift. I lost the equipment keys! I didn’t know what to do and I couldn’t find it. But, after I gave up hope and went to the PX to buy new locks, my sergeant called and told me it’s found! Whew, praise God!
Throughout the guard shift and my life after coming back from Taiwan, I tried to not be afraid, but to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9).
I also shared my career goals to my sergeant, which is about my desire to do part-time ministry and to be a special education teacher. He told me he can’t see me as a special ed teacher. Really? Oh well, I will still do my best.
Lastly, I talked to him about my college fears. I told him the reason why I suspended my college is not only because of my gaming addiction, although it played a critical role, but also because I was just afraid of doing my best work or not, and seeing my grades as a result. For me, I have to do my best work. I cannot just write an essay in one day in six-hours. I need to spend six one-hour days working on my essay. If I do not show my best effort in my work, I’m just afraid to submit it. After much talking, my sergeant told me the reason why is because I’m afraid of people judging me. I’m surprised at his insight. I am afraid of being judged. I’m afraid to go on Facebook often because I’m afraid of being judged. I can’t submit my sub-standard work (even if it will be late) because of being judged. Many things I thought about doing were eliminated because of my fear of being judged. I need to cast down my fears and let God be my judge.
A lot of things have happened today, thanks because I had night roaming guard duty. I have many things to write about. I write only things that I feel have spiritual importance.
Today is not a good day for me. I slept most of the day (due to guard) and woke up to play Counter-Strike because I really wanted to play it. I try not to be addicted to it and I feel I am only partially successful. I don’t play CS or any other games for countless hours now but for only about an hour. I just play it just to satisfy my need for potential and then I’m done.
Of the many things I want to write about today, there is one thing I want to write first and it’s not about what happened when I was on guard. I tried to think about starting it, but the temptation of games got me.
My dad sent me an e-mail and I decided to quickly open it. He would typically send me e-mails but I would seldom write back, preferring the phone call. I quickly skimmed it but at the very end of the e-mail I remember reading, “You almost succeed as a nurse. Would you like to try again?” I didn’t know what to say or respond to that. For me, now that I am closer to God, what I really want to do is to give Him glory. I heard from my church that it doesn’t matter what I chose to become, as long as I give God glory. I need to serve God in what I do. I told people before that my first major was Christian Ministries, thanks to Mid-America and then my second major would be what I want to do with my life. God helped me so much, the least I can do is to put Him first.
See, I’m kind of confused. Does serving God completely mean serving God full-time with a godly profession? Jesus’ disciples were fisherman. They had a worldly job that supports them. Saul (before he became Paul), also had a job. David had a job as a shepherd. Is it pleasing to God for me to chose a worldly career and also serve God at the same time? I know I can also serve God in my job, but would I have done better if I chose a spiritual-related occupation? Can I spend my entire working life just working for God? I can tell others about God’s law on the streets, spreading and teaching God’s Word. I’ll just have to spend, initially, nine parts of time in prayer and only one in evangelism. Later, the ratio would be better. But how would I make a living? Can I just save the money I have in the three (plus one due to training) and just live in my dad’s house? My dad would disagree with me and I might be kicked out. A 100% Christian life is a hard life. It is a life of Paul.
I just came back from dinner and it really gave me some time to think about what I’m writing. When I was a LVN student, I was a very slacking student. I was addicted (enslaved would be a better word) to computer games. I would hardly read the course material and only listen attentively in class. I could pass the written examinations with no problem (to me, it’s just common sense), while others do. What I failed in, was the practical, the hands-on part. Since I didn’t really study or read my expensive nursing book, and I have very little experience with my hands, I struggled. I had trouble doing basic nursing skills such as giving the patient (a mannequin) a bath, emptying their bowels, etc. I would just blank out and not know what to do. I would watch my peers do it and I tried to memorize the steps, but when it came to my turn, I mess up. My nurse instructor had to give me hints and tell me what to do. And then, I would do it again and barely pass. She tells me that she’s nervous about me and that I need to be more confident. Problem is, I felt I was as confident as I can. If I lie about my skills and abilities and pretend to be confident, I may make mistakes and hurt people. When it came time to memorize the different classes of medications, my lack of studying finally caught up with me. I quit the nursing class. Out of 400 applicants, only 30 were accepted. I was so happy to know that I made it, and I felt so bad to disappoint them. The main reason why I failed, I felt, was because I did not give God full control of my life. I sang, I prayed, but I also spent every free minute under a computer screen. Many times, I knew what I was doing is wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. I would force myself to kneel on my bed and pray and ask God to help me. I know what to do. I know how to get healed. The Bible tells me so, but, I just stood no chance resisting my urge to play. Had I gave God 100% and suffered the agony of not playing games; I would have passed my nursing class.
Even though I lacked hands-on skill, I found what I did excel in was in loving people. Yes, loving people. I was shy and introverted, but the times when I’m with patients, I wasn’t afraid to love. At a nursing home (this was when I took nursing assistant at PCC), there was a difficult elderly woman named Geraldine. She had Alzheimer’s and would be very easily forgetful. She was also very cranky maybe due to her condition. All the nursing staff told us that she is one of the most difficult resident in this facility. At times, she would throw things, bite, spit, and do crazy things at you, especially during meal times (there are obviously more stuff she could use against you). Because of what the staff said, nobody wanted her. However, I was naïve back then, and praise God for that, I just felt that if I love her with the love that comes from God, she wouldn’t be difficult. I first few days were the hardest. I find a few things that I couldn’t explain that the nurses were doing. Sometimes, they treat their patients without love, as if they were a burden. When the elderly misbehave (and I think because they know they are mistreated) and do something, the nurses, and at one time, a doctor would laugh at him/her and walk away. All in front of the resident who was fully aware what was happening. It’s really sad. I can feel their pain. My nursing instructor at PCC told us many times, they would be angry, upset, mean, etc, because they are depressed at their condition. These are people who used to lead productive lives, but due to a condition, and aging, they couldn’t do it anymore, but they still know at one point in time, how they were strong. So I can see, feel, and understand their pain and frustration. I told the staff if you were more loving and nice, they probably won’t be so mean, but they said it’s the same, and I think they said the stress makes it hard to love. Anyways, as I said, the first few days with her were the hardest. I chose her because I felt sorry for her condition and how the caregivers just take care of her body but not her heart. I wanted to love her.
I would always talk to her and comfort her. She always says to me, looking at me with big eyes, “are you going to kill me?” I would always kneel down at her, shake my head gently, and say softly, “no, I am not going to kill you, I want to help you.” I would touch her to reassure her. The first step in caring for somebody is to win their trust. I would always try to talk to her. She would say from time to time, “Hello alligator.” The staff told me she used to, before her Alzheimer’s got really bad, be a very funny and sociable person. Everyone loved to be around Geraldine. But, as time passes, she became bitter and more uncontrollable. Sometimes, the nurses have to use restraints on her. I don’t want to use restraints on her. It stops her body but it doesn’t stop the inside. If she punches me, I’ll let her do it and I’ll tell her how much it hurts. Maybe that would develop empathy. I might even hug her. I moved her slowly, so she can see and have time to think about what’s happening to her. I kept telling her that we are going to eat and other friendly questions. Due to her Alzheimer’s, at this late stage, I would tell her I’ll be right back because I needed to get something, and a half-minute later, she would forget who I am. I have to reintroduce myself and I tried to say something that can help her remember. As days go by, she started to remember me. I would kneel down to eye level, look into her eyes with my eyes open, smile, and introduce myself, and she would remember me! I’m so happy when that happens. During meal times, I when I hand feed her (other residents could feed themselves if they can, but she can’t). The staff told me to be careful. She could spit and throw up at me at anytime. So, I was careful. I always asked nicely what she would like to eat. I would tell her the food, maybe let her feel the touch, and then tell her what I’m doing. “Let me open this applesauce up.. there, it’s opened now. Would you like some? Okay. How much do you want in a spoon? Just half-full? Okay, just half-full.” She was very selective about the food and how it’s been given to her. If you’re not careful, she would reject eating it and if you continue to pressure her to eat, she would scream. That’s probably why she spits and throws up food at caregivers, because they aren’t sensitive enough. After feeding her for a while, she would say that’s it, I’m not eating anymore. I looked at the tray and there’s still so much food left. I would try to lovingly talk to her, to persuade her to eat. “You only ate a little bit… see? There’s still so many food that haven’t been eaten yet. Would you like some? I would like you to eat more because it’s good for your health. Your body needs food; it needs energy. How about just a little bit of this? It’s really good.” And then she would agree and eat a little bit more. I just talk to her with love and she gave me no trouble at her. In fact, I really enjoy being with her. Just knowing that she trusts me and can understand me and how I always keep her informed about everything puts her at ease. Love never fails. A few days later, we went to another nursing home and after a week, came back to the old one. I looked for Geraldine, but couldn’t find her. I asked the staff and she told me she passed away yesterday. I felt so sad for her, but at least I take comfort that I gave her some love before she leaves this world. It’s a wonderful feeling to help people. A few days later, thanks to my gaming habit, I was just so unconfident and behind on my hands-on skill that I stopped going to class. It’s painful to just stop going to that nursing assistant class cold turkey. I received calls from my nursing instructor asking me what happened (she had a sad, resigned tone of voice). I would always check to see if our house fax machine has a message. I can’t let my dad find out that I secretly dropped the class. To me, back then, it’s just so scary to give other people a bath or assist them in using the bathroom. I didn’t really have enough life experience or faith in God to continue my class.
Shortly after that, I was accepted to the LVN class at East LA college. I thought to myself, this time, I’m going to study, study, study, and not let games get in the way of my life. I never really faced my gaming problem, so, the gaming problem followed me into nursing school.
But, one thing I did do good at is loving people. In the nursing homes, I was too afraid, nervous, and not good enough, etc, to actually do the nursing tasks. I would just watch my peers do it and hope one day I can do it too. But, the later I wait, the more tasks I have to do and the less time I have to do it. As always, I would be assigned to a resident, and I would talk to him/her. There was once when I decided to ask her if she would like to sing. I started singing “Amazing Grace” and she followed along. It’s great to sing with a resident because of the bonding experience. And then I sang “What a friend we have in Jesus” and she followed along. Then, I decided to test her and sang “His eye is on the Sparrow” and she just looked at me. I asked if she knew the song or the tune, but she told me no. When we sang, I would try to clap hands with her (good exercise). It was awesome. I would also try to visit every room to see how they are doing. When I was thinking about becoming a nurse (back then), one thing I would do is to go into each room and pray for that person. That way, it won’t be just medicine healing the patient, but God. I also wanted to go into each room and see if they want to pray. But, I was afraid to ask that because I was told not everyone is Christian, so I just silently prayed from room to room (I would look at their name plates). After a while, I became self-conscious. The staff may look at me and wonder what I’m doing. They may think I’m secretly trying to kill patients, etc (I think crazy thoughts), and bar me from seeing them. So, I would look around and, if it’s safe, I would go in and pray. A lot of residents also likes to be touched. I think why is because they are always so lonely all the time. The only time they see people is during meal times, medicine rounds, or group activities. I would hold their hand or their shoulder and say good bye. One nursing student at ELAC told my nursing instructor (she is very worried about me) that I did good today. I sang with patients, talked to them, etc, but the instructor just ignored me. I think that’s because she also knows my weaknesses. I tried to tell myself that if I really love them, I would spend the time to study how to take care of them better, but it didn’t work. I still played games exclusively. I only loved them when I was close to them.
I don’t know if I want to be a nurse again. I enjoy helping people and loving them, but I’m not sure if it’s my calling. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I’m still thinking. After my nursing stint, I told my dad nursing is not for me, but I felt teaching is. I became a tutor at SINWA and I found teaching kids more fun than nursing because I interact with them more and, plus, I can also teach them about their eternal future.
I have no idea what I want to be after the Army, but I will continue to seek and worship God. I think it doesn’t really matter what I chose to be, as long as I serve God.
*For the Record:
Even through Jesus’ disciples were fisherman and tax collectors, when Jesus called them to be disciples, he instructed them to lay everything aside and just follow Jesus (Matthew 19:27). When David was called by God, he left behind his earthly job, and set his heart on God (1 Samuel 18:2).
And also, another reason why I failed my nursing is because of my pride. When I found that I can pass my written examinations with little or no studying and I got better grades than my peers who did studied, I thought to myself that I already know all these basic stuff. I thought I was smarter than them. I don’t <i>need</i> to study. But, I was wrong. I should have humbled myself before God and men and not be deceived by deceiving results.