Leader

Seriously, it’s crazy that God is actually making my life full and interesting these days. It’s become so clear that he put things right in front of me for a purpose. Everything that happens is not coincidental. Every moment has value. Every little detail has made the whole picture so interesting.

Okay, to start… on the previous blog, I actually forgot to add something that I’m sure was also part of God’s plan for the last chapters of my life living here in AD as a teenager. This is about Chinaza, our new and young singer for the band. Now, as I’ve said before, she is very very quiet and shy. One look, you know she’s a total introvert. Gabe is friends with her and that’s all I really knew about her. I didn’t really have any interest in becoming close friends with her since I’m not good at approaching really quiet kids. I mean of course, I knew I’d definitely approach her in band terms eventually and that was it as far as I could see.

But then… ever since the new wildfire year started, new people that were from the Forge last year got added to the Wildfire whatsapp group chat. I didn’t even know most of them—generally, I knew some of their faces but that was it. Within the week of the last post, Simon was talking about how he was writing a book. From that, topics shifted and it got to a point when we talked about how we viewed life (ex. Gabe viewed his life like a video game). We were discussing all sorts of stuff around it. I got to a point where I mentioned I wrote about spicy rice cakes and related it to life. Chinaza then becomes interested that I write stories. Since I showed Gabe A M N E S I A once, he then starts freaking out about how good I was. And Gabe then proceeds to link my damn website on the freakin’ chat for everyone to see without my damn permission. Before I could even get angry at him for posting it, Chinaza had already checked it out after Gabe says it’s about Koreans. That’s when I found out Chinaza likes Kpop and is very into Koreans. Anyway, I’m not mad Gabe sent that where everybody could see. Nobody really cared much which is good—only Chinaza was interested. She insisted on reading my story and oh my gosh… she binged read that crap and got so obsessed with it that she’d stay up late for it.

Interestingly enough, just maybe a few nights before Wildfire started, I was praying that I wasn’t asking for anymore friends. I was praying for Him to give me great memories with the friends that I already have, and that I would leave this country while still being connected to them. And then I kind of just added that “God, would it be too much if I ask for a Kpop friend that would read my story or something? Or maybe an SM stan? A Kpop friend that I can relate to or talk to in some sense… Hm… that would be nice.” I had really low expectations for this one. It was just a little request. If He didn’t give it, I wouldn’t care. It wasn’t too important. But oh nonono! God does not miss a thing! I’m telling you, I felt so spoiled by God that week.

The more I get to know her the more I find out how much of a Kpop newbie she is. First of all, she likes Red Velvet and Black Pink the most—that’s good—none of that boy group stan shenanigans. She was shocked that I had about an amount of 2000 Korean songs since she only had about 200. Because of that she calls me a sunbae of Kpop. Hearing that makes me feel awkward and cringy as hell. It’s bad enough Gabriel uses Korean words to me from time to time, but at least it’s more of like a joke (cuz everything he says usually sound like a joke). On a side note tho, I actually like it when he calls me senpai because it makes me feel respected as a senior XD. Oh and since I know she likes Yoona, I send him Yoona’s meme faces from time to time, but anyway, I’m getting a little sidetracked, aren’t I? We can talk about that another time…

Back to Chinaza, oh gosh, she even mentioned she was gonna marry a Korean and thinks Korean-African babies are the coolest (I can kinda agree on that one tbh. Korean African models are handsome af). She’s even learning Korean. She seems to be interested a lot in Korea and Kpop. But just recently, she commented on my instagram that she will live up to my outstanding kpop knowledge, accumulate 10 times more songs than I have, and have a future house that is, and I quote, “kpopy.” I guess it’s fairly normal for a kpop fan to think like that on the first years, but I just can’t help but cringe. I kinda find her cute, but it’s still makes me cringe. Besides, I don’t have an outstanding kpop knowledge. I guess I know fairly some controversial news and other stuff, and yes I’m quite familiar and interested in Korean culture, but nowhere near ‘outstanding,’ especially for Kpop. Outstanding knowledge of SNSD, yes definitely, but if you even ask me what the most popular stuff are these days, I wouldn’t even know. I’m not even so hyped up for anything or any release that much but SNSD. I’ve kind of come back to the state of just searching for the music that I really want to listen to than listening to what’s shining out in public. I mean the artist that I basically loved listening to all September was Offonoff and their album ‘boy.’ I’ve also been into SLCHLD. I bet no “Kpop obsessed” person even knows they exist. Even the other Forge kids that are now in Wildfire know Kpop which is pretty great since I don’t have to hide or be shy about liking it, but they talk about BTS, Monsta X, Seventeen, and people I don’t really care much about. In a way, there’s definitely a year gap since even EXO is somehow out of the picture for some reason. I played The Eve for Laura once and she didn’t even know what song that was. Man, are they considered old already?

Ok, so I don’t get off track again, the thing that really made me cringe was when Chinaza said her house in the future would be full of Kpop stuff or I’m sorry—it would be “kpopy.” And to say she’d have 10 times more than I have is just impossible and ridiculous. She can’t have a library of 20,000 songs with Kpop alone. I guess what she meant was just a bit of an exaggeration, but in a literal sense it’s definitely not healthy.

I get it, she’s young and she has not grasped the harmful side of this “obsession” yet. I’m assuming she does not have parents who would sit her down and talk about the illuminati and say that some of Kpop is evil, causing her to try discerning the fine line of right and wrong and healthy term of a “fan.” Being her “sunbae” in Kpop, I kinda want to tell her that she shouldn’t lose sight of what should be important, which is God. I feel like I have that responsibility towards her. Cuz I’ve thought a whole lot about the term obsession and fan, idol and fan, and that it’s so easy to dismiss it as something that doesn’t affect your spirituality even though it clearly does at some point. I mean I’m having the time of my life now knowing how to discern between those things. Ever since I’ve put God first, I’ve come to see as I’ve probably said before here that people that I am a fan of are sent by God to inspire me and make me happy, and I’m very thankful to Him for that. Also because I’ve put God above all that I look up to, it’s easier to discern the mistakes or bad behavior of those I love. Just like TaeYeon starting to swear and flip the finger more now for her performances and also in her TaengooTV. People praise her highly for that as being badass and free but I kind of stray away from that because that literally is bad ass. I came to Kpop basically to avoid those from pop stars. I enjoyed Kpop because most of the content is fairly clean and the people are great, especially SNSD. I trust that they are good people in general, and I don’t want to forget that. But they are not perfect and I feel some of them don’t have strong moral beliefs (especially TY and she’s my damn bias), and I should be fully aware and careful of that. The usual kpop dimwit of a fan wouldn’t be able to see that thin line of a healthy or unhealthy obsession and approach so easily. As Christians, I believe we should definitely know and be aware of that.

Man, I sound like a Youth leader… I’m just writing this after attending a Youth Leader Training conference. I’ll talk about that later on since I like talking about my week in chorological order, so let’s talk about Edwin next… yes. HE CAME BACK… for a week at least.

EDwI!N OHhhhh maann where do I start?

Ok so, last week, John Surya was finally the earliest person to arrive at practice. He was fixing the storage room and as we were waiting for the other members to arrive, he tells me that Jordan said there was a special guest coming. From my dumbest tunnel vision of people, I thought Jordan was gonna bring his wife to the band practice. I don’t know why I thought that of all people since his wife was not involved in church ministry at all… But anyway, thinking it was fairly a normal Wednesday, the day went on and we started setting up the equipment. As we were setting up, suddenly Gabe shouted, Seb shouted, John A shouted, John Surya shouted—pretty much everyone shouted, except Jonathan (keyboardist) and Chinaza. I turned my head and even I shouted. EDWIIIINNN—and we all ran to him to the door to give him the biggest hug. He was a very unexpected guest indeed.

To think I was just telling him about how I was missing him so much after my birthday and a few days later he shows up physically. It was so great to see him again. It’s similar to that time when I thought I would never see Centine again, but then Illuminate happened and she was there. There’s just something about seeing someone again that makes my spirit so full of God’s love. I’ve always had a fear that whenever a great friend goes away that I won’t be able to see them again. But when this happens, I get reassured every time that God really is alive and he listens to our hearts. Edwin said that he was very depressed for some time when he moved back to India, but trusting in God made him feel sure that he would be able to see us again. And he did.

I noticed that a lot of subtle things have changed in him. I don’t know if anyone noticed since they said he’s still the same, but I truly felt he had changed in some way. He was somehow more soft spoken and mature than from what I remembered him to sound like. He hasn’t been throwing as much jokes with Gabriel, too. God has definitely done a whole lot to him for those three months.

Man, Gabriel got so hyper when he saw Edwin. Gabriel is already on an energy overload all the damn time and he got even crazier like he drank red bull or something. I did, however, notice his awkward gaze towards Edwin and he would notice that I know what he’s thinking—Christelle. Now that Edwin is back, the triangle of the Christelle crush story is back. Edwin doesn’t know anything about Gabriel having a crush on Christelle. Only I know, and maybe Chinaza as he said lol, but Chinaza probably has no clue about Edwin having a crush on Christelle. Gosh, it’s bad enough that I’ve kept secrets from Christelle, now I’m restraining from saying anything to Edwin.

That was no use tho because after practice, when I asked him to sing because Chinaza was having problems with being shy and not being able to sing along, he told me he has a fresh secret. I already had a hunch what he was going to say but I still asked what. So he said,

          “Gabe likes Stella XDDDDD
So I’m done shipping both of u”

          “Oh he told you? XDDD”

          “You knew this and you didn’t tell me?”

          “Lol it’s his secret and I’m a trustworthy friend XDD. I thought he’d never say it lol”

          “*broken heart emoji*
          Well, he played by the cards
          Like first he asked me hw r things with stella
          And I was like
          What? Wdym?
          And all of that
          And then I told him that I totally forgot about that and that I wasn’t concentrating on women no more.”

          “He probably still thinks about it cuz I told him about u and Christelle like 2 weeks ago XD I told him full details of how I shipped you and Christelle that’s probably why XDDDD”

          “XDDDDDD *facepalm emojis*
          I thought I told him a long time ago
          And then like forgot about it
          Cuz she doesn’t like me in that way
          And plus
          I just wanted to stop looking at women in that way..”

          “Well there’s a time and place for everything. And a time to mature I guess”

          “Yea
          Maybe it’s just weird to have a gf at this time
          Like at a point when studies are things u should be dating”

          “Yeah”

          “What about u
          Who next”

          “Personally I think it’s not healthy to start romance and all that when there’s a huge possibility of hard communication coming. Just not wise”

          “Gabes gone
          Now who,”

          “I don’t have a crush”

          “Don’t lie Mia
          *simrk emoji*
          Jus don’t
          At least a slight feeling…
          On somebody?”

          “I’ve realized like months ago that Gabe is way too hyper and I can’t keep up with his energy. It’s too much of a turn off XD
          (On somebody?) Nah not really
          I’m more focused on trying to have good friendships rn.”

          “Aww
          Thas cute
          XD *smirk emoji*”

          Since he still didn’t seem to believe I’m over Gabe and probably assumes what I said was about Gabe, I said, “As in Christelle for example XD These days I just wanna be good to her.”

          “XD What does that supposed to mean? XD”

          “Like I wanna make good memories with my friends who I know I won’t see for a long time ya know? And Christelle is precious to me above everyone else so XD”

          “XDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD *facealm and smirk emoji*
Precious?”

          “Look I didn’t have close friends that lasted more than 1 yr. Most of my close friends all leave the country that’s why I’ve been lonely before. But u know I always prayed to God for a friend that would last longer than that”

          He then proceeds to send an ugly photo of Christelle, “That’s definitely not precious XDD”

          I quoted her ugly photo and said, “Christelle is a gift from God XD”

          Then we laughed about her ugly faces and we both said we won’t ever delete her ugly pictures, especially the ugly selfies she took on my iPad. He said he had those too and were his emergency memes. After that, he asks me what’s new in the block. Not understanding what he meant by that, I told him the changes in Wildfire, but then he says,

          “Not that
          Like spicy gossip
          XD”

It still feels so weird for a guy to be so interested in gossip. I almost forgot that Edwin was into these stuff. I mean he did figure out John Surya dated Prasanna’s sister when Prasanna knew nothing of this. Man, this guy did change a bit, but his personality is definitely still the same. So since I had nothing else to say, I told him about John A and Christelle talking to each other well these days.

          “XDDDDDDDD
          There’s a potential
          XDDD
          But like
          Gabe likes Christelle
          and John Adi and Stella are idk
          And we don’t know who Christelle likes
          Wow
          Thas jus gr8

          “(Gabe likes Christelle) I’ve been teasing him a lot about that XD”

          “XDDDDD
Sad she didn’t come today.. (for band practice)”

          “(And we don’t know who Christelle likes) Ikr I don’t even talk to Christelle about this stuff. We usually discuss more serious topics XD”

          “You should’ve asked her
          She’ll definitely tell u
          smh”

          “I am trying to get the right timing to ask her XD one of these days I’ll find out”

          “You better find out before I leave.”

          So the next day after Wildfire, Edwin wanted to go to Al Wahda just to hang out. So we even planned how to ride taxi and we insisted that Edwin, Christelle, and I would ride together. Too bad Prasanna had other plans, but I’m slightly thankful he wasn’t there ‘cause man…

Okay, first of all, nostalgia flooded the three of us when we rode together. And there Edwin and Christelle were again fighting about who was to pay. I was the most amused—I was reminded why I even shipped them in the first place. It almost felt like a dream to hear them argue again so passionately about who was to pay. As always, I’m on Edwin’s side, saying that he’s only wants to be chivalrous. Christelle who refuses to understand that and relies on women’s independence, argues and goes on about equality. In the end she loses and does not pay since even the taxi driver was on Edwin’s side about him just trying to be the man in the car XD.

But here’s where the story takes an absurd turn—the part where I’m glad Prasanna is out of. Edwin opens his gossiping ass mouth and starts telling Christelle that he and I know a big secret. Christelle, who is always full of curiosity, wonders what it was and Edwin gives her hints that it was about Gabriel. I froze and I wanted to strangle him at that moment because of all times, he really had to put me through this confession shit again with Christelle? Besides, Gabriel clearly told me that he has no plans in confessing to Christelle any time so I plan to leave it at that. I respect the guy’s secret, but this other guy clearly does not. I also definitely do not want to make Christelle feel weird about someone again. She likes having Gabe around; I can’t destroy her view of him like that, too! Gosh Edwin… So on that car ride, Edwin and I spent a whole damn conversation debating whether to tell her. We went on circles, beating around the bush, and Christelle was so confused and frustrated that we were keeping something from her. I kept saying that I didn’t know what Edwin was talking about to avoid being dragged in this loop. I was trying my hardest to subtly tell him to drop it or to stop making up shit because it’s making everything worse, but he kept pushing and pulling the topic around. He even said that I’m such a good actor right in front of Christelle, and I’d just laugh it off as if it was something ridiculous, as if I think he’s just crazy. Since I was such a sucker for Christelle, whenever she asked me what it was, whenever she said I would never lie to her and trusts me, and whenever she says “Mia doesn’t even know what you’re talking about”, my heart would crush a little. I never want her to catch me lying to her eventually or betray her trust, so around the end of the ride, I got frustrated and I just confirmed that yeah, it was about Gabriel and that he had a big secret. So Christelle wanted us to tell her what it was since Gabriel was her friend too and that she had the right to know, but after all that push and pull between Edwin and I, none of us had the courage to tell her. I just told her that she could ask Gabe about it and he’ll probably tell her.

It was so damn frustrating and I wanted to kill Edwin for even starting it. How are we gonna get out of this situation now? Christelle is gonna be so curious for the rest of the day and when she finally asks Gabriel about, he will kill us both for revealing his secret.

When we sat by the food court, Christelle went to the restroom and the two of us were alone. Edwin showed me his whatsapp chat with Gabriel and how their conversation went about. We also discussed how we were gonna get out of this cuz I don’t want to be the person telling a confession again to Christelle. He said he’ll talk about it with Gabe since we did lead Christelle to ask him about it eventually.

And so, as the day went on, I ordered food and when I came back, Nathan, Gabriel’s brother was the only one in the table. I asked where everyone is and he said Christelle got some food, and Edwin and Gabe are out for a walk. When they came back, Gabriel gave me a look and I just said that I didn’t want to say it, it’s all Edwin who started it. Anyway, we did not talk about it when everyone started coming and Christelle came back to the table.

A bunch of us from Wildfire just hung out again and we were loud as ever by the end. There was a point when I was just a little bored and I was searching photos in my phone. I saw the photo of Seb, Joslin, Edwin, Gabe, Me, and Christelle sleeping on my shoulder and showed it to Edwin and Gabe. I showed it to John Surya too. As curious as ever, Christelle looked and she freaked out finding out that we took photos while she was sleeping on the bus at that time. I told her that I tried hard and blocked everyone from teasing her so that she wouldn’t wake up, and Gabe said that I really drove everyone away that time. I saw Christelle look at me and a different way and she said thank you. I guess she’s realizing more and more of how much I care about her which is nice.

When everyone was already going home, I said I have to go to Magrudy’s to buy something before Christelle’s parents arrive (since I’m riding with her). Gabriel, his brother, Edwin, and Simon were there trailing behind us. When we got near the store, Christelle approached Gabriel to ask what secret Edwin and I were talking about. The moment I heard that, I went on ahead as far as possible from them and Edwin got closer to me, too. I tried not to laugh too hard because finally it’s happening. Even Edwin said his heart was pounding so hard knowing they were having the conversation.

Fast forward to the next week, which happened just this past Friday, on the way home, Christelle starts asking me about Gabriel’s secret. Since I didn’t want to be the one telling her, I asked her if she asked Gabriel about it. And so she says that she did and that Gabe had this weird look on his face for a moment and then he became serious, saying that her grandfather was atheist or something. It didn’t feel right so she asked me if it was all true—if that was the secret that Edwin and I were keeping from her. Since my heart is so weak to lie to her, I said no, that’s not it. She then goes on to feel better about herself for figuring out that it was fishy, but then she asks what it actually is. I felt like I had no more escape routes since I basically couldn’t tell her to simply ask Gabe about it again. And she was basically begging me. “Miaaa c’mon, what is it?” Her pouty begging voice! Her serious, clawing curiosity! The trust she has for me! They’re my weaknesses. I FELT SO VULNERABLE AND FRUSTRATED. I hate to break the confidentiality of Gabe’s secret, but I hate lying to her more. So I sighed so much before actually telling her.

          “Arrghhhhh, not this again,” I shook my head. I took a deep a breath and stared at her. “Gabe. likes. you.”

          And there it was again, the same face that I saw four months ago if not worse—the face that showed a crash of confusion and shock. She kept screaming no and cringed so hard. It was so shocking that she even missed the taxi stop she was supposed to get off at.

Since we were near her house, there was no time to discuss it fully. But she did manage to ask, “And what about Edwin???”

          “Edwin got over you.”

          “OH MY GOD, THANK YOU MIA!” Obviously, she was so relieved to hear that. At least two people don’t have a crush on her at the same time. “It was probably because of the distance and stuff, isn’t it?”

          “Yeah, exactly that.”

          After that we bid goodbye. I went home but I finally found the right time to ask her the thing that I’ve wanted to know. On whatsapp, I sent to her,

          “Btw, since ppl like you, I’m curious. Do you have an ideal type?”

          “What do you mean?
          Oh like my type of guys?

          Okay first of all
          I don’t date
          Well at least at this age and you know that. I believe if we date it is to marry.”

We talked about that just two weeks before when we were heading home from Al Wahda—after my ice cream birthday treat to everyone. She was telling me that Nithin actually planned to take Jessica on a date but I came around and invited Jessica to hang out with me suddenly for ice cream for my birthday and she gave willingly adjusted her time for me. Christelle said that’s probably why Nithin was a little pissed that time—I don’t know if that’s true but she makes it sound true. Anyway, we talked about how they were gonna keep their relationship alive if both of them are gonna go to college next year. Obviously there’s gonna be distance involved. We wondered, how are they gonna handle that? As we discussed what we thought about their relationship, I ended up mentioning that my parents told me we should date with marriage in mind, if not—then there’s no point in dating. Christelle agrees and says her parents taught her the same thing, too. Anyway, back to Christelle’s answer.

          “So just making that clear. My type hmm well obviously a believer, I want him to be taller than me for some reason, he should have integrity values, be able to make me laugh until my stomach hurt. Mature but also kid like, somewhat like me and hmm so many other things but I’m hungry and the biryani is waiting for me lol so byyeee”

          Those are some pretty basic and expected stuff coming from her. But I just had to know and be clear for one last question.

          “Hahah okay so you have no crush whatsoever right now, right?”

          “Mia angelo
          Is Gabe asking you these questions”

Nope, but if I had to point fingers, it’s Edwin who wants to know XD. “No,” I say. “I’m just curious XD”

          “Lol ok no I don’t.”

          “Ok good XD
          Glad that’s cleared out then.”

BIG HUGE RELIEF that she does not have any crush on John Adi as Gabe, Edwin, and I have suspected. Now I can relax and not bother to ask that again XD.

 

Okay, rewind a bit—on Thursday morning, Simon the metal head asks what a good price is for an electric guitar. Since my mom told me that I should be able to sell my instruments before I leave this place next year, I immediately thought this was God helping me. I mean I have absolutely had no idea how I was going sell my instruments and I surely didn’t want them being handled poorly by anyone. However, I’ve prayed seriously to God about it before so I guess this is another big sign that he heard me again. I’m just surprised that he answered it so fast. So I told Simon that I had one that I might be selling. I haven’t been using my electric guitar for quite a while since I couldn’t make time for it, so I guess it was the right time to let it go. And since the guitar was good for rock songs, it’d be nice for him to have it. So I sent him a fairly reasonable price. In the evening, he finally had an answer and he said he was going to buy it tomorrow. I asked him if he was sure and he said definitely, and that he even discussed it with his parents. I honestly wished he would think about it more for another week so that I can have one week more to play with that guitar, but God planned everything perfectly. I was not going to play bass for Wildfire that week so I was able to bring the electric guitar. It was so clear to me that this was the time I had to let that 6 year old guitar go. But before that, since it was the guitar that held the beginning of my time as a musician—also with my sister—I took out the three guitars that Thursday night and laid them out on the vacant bed. All night I took so much photos of them as a remembrance for what my weapons were as an early musician.

Although it was hard to think of letting them go, I knew God was training me in life because I’m such a sentimental person. But if I was a little stressed about letting that electric guitar go, how much more anxious would I be if it’s time to let my bass guitar go? That instrument is such a huge part of me now…  Aghh… Yeah, I know, I see the problem, too. God doesn’t want me to think about an instrument that way. He gave it to me so that I could serve Him, so He will take it away from me knowing I won’t be able to fully use it for Him in Korea. God gives and takes. If in the future He wants me to serve Him again with music, He will surely provide for that, I know it. Who knows, maybe it would even be better than that my gorgeous Untouchable.

A reason though for why I wanted Simon to think about the guitar for another week was that when I was playing with it that Thursday afternoon for one last time, I was able to write a song. It’s a song that I’ve written ages ago but it was bad, so I just improved it and completed it. Obviously, I’d want to record it, especially since I have the USB-jack. The audio would be very clear coming from the electric guitar, but oh well, I didn’t have enough time.

That song, though… I loved it so much that after Wildfire when we were going to jam, I sang that song with John A playing the cahon. It felt so great to be able to sing it, especially with Christelle trying to harmonize on it on first listen.

Oh, right, I forgot to say this: John Surya led this week and I sang backing vocals with him. I really loved the background vocals for the songs which were Oh, Our Lord, Christ is Enough, and O Praise The Name. Too bad my mic was so low. For once I wanted it to be a little louder. Even Christelle was searching for my voice but it could barely be heard. Even on the recording, I could hear Christelle’s voice from a distance more than my own, and she didn’t even have a mic. I’m glad though that she was able to hear me on the last song since I really tried my hardest to be loud. AND THE HARMONY WAS PRETTY HIGH FOR THAT SONG AND I FEEL LIKE I DID SO WELL DESPITE NOT BEING ABLE TO FULLY PRACTICE PROPERLY AT HOME LOL. She said if people were not searching for my voice, they wouldn’t hear it, but since she was doing the harmony as well for O Praise The Name and was looking for my voice. And she said I did well. Yayy

Another thing that is so God-planned was that Jordan invited me to go to a Leader Training conference thing that Saturday. Since I had absolutely had no idea what to expect, I was in a dilemma for a whole day until my parents encouraged me to go. I was startled that Jordan chose me of all the other people. He invited Sebastian and that’s quite understandable since that kid really has potential to become a pastor, but me? Leader training? Well, yeah, I guess I am kind of a leader in the band, and yes, I’m a volunteer leader in Awana now, but still… why me? I asked him why he picked me and he said it’s because he wanted to bring a teenager from Wildfire but no one else is available. He was also sure that I was able to come unlike the others who are so busy all the time.

However, when I asked Sebastian on Friday if he was coming, he said he wouldn’t be able to come. That was when I felt that God is definitely shaping me for something and that he has a reason for making me the only teenager of Wildfire there. I mean I’m leaving next year, so what kind of training would I need if I only have a few months left to serve in this church? Obviously, He plans to use me a lot for that short period of time, and from those experiences He will build me to be the person I need to be in the future.

To be honest though, I was lowkey anxious because I was gonna go with adults and not teenagers. Would I be alright going with Jordan, Christelle’s mom, and some other volunteer leaders? I felt like the only person near my age would probably be Jordan so I was expecting to be close to him all day. However, as I was dropped off at 6 am in front of Christelle’s building (because that’s where we were supposed to meet), the first person I meet instead of Jordan was Christelle’s mom. I’ve always had this perception of her that she was the typical strict-sounding mom that gave me a ride home with Christelle since we often discussed lessons about what happened in Wildfire, but she was warmer than I thought. She talked a lot with me as we waited around for the others. She was good at making me feel included and comfortable. She’s quite a character because at some point in the conversations she would say witty comments here and there. I can totally see the family resemblance. Now I know where Christelle got most of her traits from. Even their laugh and the “ha~” sigh at the end of a conversation is the same.

She introduced me to this new volunteer leader in Wildfire that has been her friend for like 20 years. I don’t remember what her name is, but I do remember her introducing herself at Wildfire once and that she’s an artist. When Christelle’s mom told me that they have been friends for that long, I was so amazed that a friendship could last that long. That thought stuck with me all day.

Since I was at the lonely back seat of the car and I had a clear view of them all, I was glad that they often asked me if I was alright because I didn’t really speak much. As expected, being parents made them want to care for the only kid around. Especially Christelle’s mom. She was basically taking care of everyone, not just me. Even if they were all mostly adults, she took care of everyone like a fussy mother. Paul, the guy who gave us a ride, said that she’s everyone’s mom and we all agreed lol. So I felt like these other adults were like my siblings, and in fact, they are, aren’t they? They’re such warm and nice people who are nice to have around just like a family, and it just fascinated me that it’s true in Christ.

By the way, since I had a good view of everyone, whenever I looked at Christelle’s mom and her friend, the thought of the 20 year friendship kept echoing at the back of my head. How was that possible? How did they stay friends and still be near each other for 20 years? Isn’t it amazing how God makes that possible? Every time I see Ethan, Anthony, and Jared gather together in the states, I’m fascinated that they are still able to meet and be such good friends even outside of this country. That’s one of my dreams—to have friends here that I could still meet a few years from now outside of this country. But since I’m so narrow-minded and I’m a little anxious of the future that is so different from my friends, I wonder if that is ever possible. As I sat at that backseat alone, the thought weighed so heavy on my heart that I was holding back my tears just asking God if that was possible… if it was possible with Christelle. https://68.media.tumblr.com/78d6dc86030489db3126c2b9883dcce5/tumblr_ojb8r1s0z91rukdu6o2_400.gifI wasn’t even asking for Gabe, Edwin, or Jess, or anyone else even though I do still want to be friends with them after I leave. It’s just that the only one that mattered to me the most, especially at that moment, was Christelle. I’m just so emo that I have to say goodbye to her sooner than I know it, and of all people that I’ve been friends with, life without her feels almost strange now. I’ll probably go through major withdrawal symptoms without her once I leave because she makes me so happy. I know I have to learn to let go of the people I love, but I don’t want to fully let her go. It feels like bullshit if I take that so literally that I’d stop even talking to her (as I do with most of my close friends). Is it not possible to meet again after all this separation? I’m not even asking to be with her for 20 years because I can’t even see that far into my life, but if it’s possible to meet her again, whenever that may be, and stay as great friends… my heart would be so full of praise.

Gah… I guess it’s that time again for me when I’m so emo of letting people go. It’s the same when my sister was about to go to Korea. A few months before we separated, I felt like crap knowing she won’t be with me every day anymore. But when we actually separated and life continued, I was fine and even grew to be a better person without her so near me. I didn’t feel all that sad because I knew we would meet each other eventually. But I feel like when it’s time for me to say goodbye to Christelle, I’d feel even worse than I do now. I’m absolutely not certain when we will be able to meet each other again. The only certainty that I can lean on is that God knows what I so achingly desire. There’s no other person or thing that I can put my hope on about this situation but Him.

Anyway, I’ll talk more about this someday before I start tearing up again. I had almost forgotten that I was supposed to talk about the leader training conference thing…

We got there really early because Paul was part of the event, so we helped with setting up the venue. It was really funny when Christelle’s mom’s friend and I were given the task to set up the chairs on the big room only to be told a few hours later that “the chairs were poorly set up by some people so we have to fix it.” Since Paul said that to Jordan while we were both right there, the two of us looked at each other and laughed and panicked when Paul and Jordan left. I guess we didn’t do a good job. It was hilarious. Even though she was way older than me, I felt like she was just about my age. Adults are fun to be with, guys.

The other leader that also came with us was pretty interesting to have around too. There was a moment when the three of us just talked about our interests in art, and how the one liked reading books, but artsy leader and I both shared the same trait of being unable to read books well. I felt like their wasn’t an age gap at all. We were like friends, especially with Jordan’s slightly awkward personality, I felt like I was still in a youth group. There was a point when I was in a seminar with Christelle’s mom, and instead of feeling like she was the usual mom taking care of everyone, we talked and glanced at each other like we were friends and she joked a lot with me. It was fun. It was great to know other brothers and sisters in Christ that are not just from the same age group all the time.

There were people that I did know that were in my age range. Jonathan and John Surya were there. I was honestly glad to see them, especially Jonathan, because at least I knew someone from my youth group and can approach them easily.

Now, on with what actually happened. Basically, since it was leadership training for youth leaders, they taught the main goals of what we should do and be teaching as Christian youth leaders, and they also discussed the psychology of teenagers these days. They were all very interesting and eye-opening. Every new thing that I learn definitely made me sure that God wants to shape me into someone that can lead others. I feel kind of inadequate for that kind of responsibility compared to others, which makes feel so special that I was chosen out of all the better teenage leaders in Wildfire. As I have said before, Sebastian would perfect for this leadership training event. I feel like Christelle would also be able to use a lot the information since she also has a potential to be a good youth leader. Instead, I was the one sitting there learning about God and how to lead kids. God threw me in this position anyway even if I never expected to be one. He definitely has put something ahead of me.

The most interesting part of that leadership training was discussing the mental health and the growing anxieties kids face these days. They talked about depression, anxiety of different things from social media and school, basically the emo side we don’t usually see in kids. They also talked about the identity crisis teenagers face during puberty and how to deal with them. It was very interesting because I realize that I had gone through almost everything troubled teenagers are facing and the only difference is I’ve conquered a lot of them. I have conquered depression. I have been through a crazy phrase of identity crisis and I can safely say that I am certain of who I am and what I am like as a person. It was the first time I felt that I’m truly 18. I have about two years left of being a teenager, so I still do have anxieties, especially TCK anxieties, but I’ve grown a lot and matured a lot from who I was when I was what—12? It’s also getting easier for me to see and understand the problems teenagers younger than me are facing. Going to that event just made everything clearer for me.

There were seminars we could have chosen from. There were the typical fun youth leader seminars, the seminar for parents, and the seminar for mental health. Since I didn’t really feel like I fit in the youth leader seminar that was going to teach how to make youth group interesting, and since I’m not even a parent, I went to a seminar that discussed mental health. That topic intrigued me a lot and I wished the one who spoke explained it all better than the typical, quick-and-easy, digestible, internet definitions, but I still had a more organized understanding of mental sickness now. I definitely don’t know if I will actually use that information to help people—help a friend go through them or something might be possible—but I did generally pick that one because… writing material. What else reason would I have? XD

On the way home, my energy started depleting. I didn’t feel tired during the whole event, but it suddenly crashed on me on the car. I woke up at 5 am so I really wanted to sleep. Since I felt like they might call my name at some point, I couldn’t do it. I was able to close my eyes and rest for a moment, but I still sat upright trying not to drift off. I was so tired that I looked forward to crashing at my bed once I got home. When we got to Christelle’s building, Paul’s car was emptied of passengers and some of us will just walk home since our houses were around the area.

Before we got of the car, I was told to walk with the leader who liked reading books, but since Christelle’s mom needed help with bringing two huge thermos up to her house, she asked for my assistance. Not thinking much of it, I agreed to help her. Then she said that I can help her and leave with the leader who likes reading, or she could leave now and I could hang out with Christelle for a while. When she mentioned Christelle, I suddenly felt awake. I didn’t really expect to meet Christelle that day and I haven’t even been invited to her house before.

When we got up there, Christelle’s mom knocked on her room’s door and said that she had a surprise for her. Since Christelle was going to have a friend over that day to study with her, she didn’t really think much of it, but when that door opened, I was there, and she was surprised and glad to see me. It was nice to see her face light up and I sat on her bed staring at her with a big smile on my face. I was so happy to see her because it felt like a dream. It was like a reward to see her. It’s like God was proud that I was able to go to an event that without her in mind, and so he proceeds to reward me by letting me see her after it was all done. Now that I think about it… after being so emo earlier that day praying to God about a long-lasting friendship with her, did God just give me a subtle answer? Hm…

Her room suddenly gave me a better understanding of how she was like. She had all sorts of artworks around her walls and even had a huge paining of a unicorn. She also had a gorgeous artwork of a violin. When I saw that, I was reminded by what her mother said to me earlier that day. On the way to the event, we stopped for gas and bought some snacks for ourselves. While I was in line to the cashier to buy my milk chocolate, Christelle’s mom came up to me and suddenly told me to convince Christelle to play violin again. She said that Christelle studies way too much and she wants her to pick up her violin more. Lol it was so unexpected but I would gladly want to encourage her. So I told Christelle to show me something with her violin, but she didn’t want to because it was out of tune and apparently it was for a master level to tune a violin. She said she also wanted to get back to playing it but has no time for it. I hope she picks it up someday again and play for me.

Then she told me that I was the first ever friend from church that entered her room. That made me feel somewhat special. Not even Nina Metsni or Jessica has been there apparently. I’m becoming more memorable to her than I thought I’d be. I want to thank her mom for that.

For a moment we talked again about Gabe and Edwin’s crush on her. I don’t remember how the conversation exactly went, but I went on explaining how dumb Edwin was for opening his gossiping mouth. I told Christelle that I was so stressed when he brought it up because I wanted to respect Gabe’s wish about not confessing it, but I also didn’t want to lie to her. I told her that it is very easy for me to lie to others, but I could never lie to her and she said she thought about me the same, too. Because she said that, I didn’t want to keep anything more from her and said that I had another weird secret that I had to get out. It was how Edwin and Gabriel shipped her with John Adi and oh man, she cringed so hard. She wasn’t interested in anybody so her reaction was hilarious.

Since we were in such a comfortable place, as if we had all the time in the world than just the 15 minute rides home, I was able to let her hear TaeYeon’s Time Lapse. I’ve always wanted to let her listen to that song because it fits her style of music well, and duh, it’s TaeYeon. I’ve always wanted to let her listen to that to understand the slight lack of emotion she has when singing, but even though I didn’t explain it that day, I was satisfied to listen to it with her because I was able to see her reaction. Since TaeYeon’s voice was pretty soft throughout the song, she was surprised when it got to the high part and loved that part. I just love how when she was listening to it, she was trying to sing it right away. She even told me if she is able to sing it maybe we could jam to it. Hahaha even if she won’t sing it with me, I’m glad enough just to introduce her to that song because… that song is so goooooooooood.

After that, she said that we should definitely lead the band this week and that she wanted to do Vapor by Gungor with me. Since I can’t turn her down, of course I’d gladly do it, and even sing with her. After a while, her friend arrived to study with her so it was time for me to go. It was getting a little late to so I had to go home.

That night, Gabe teased me since I was able to go to an event without Christelle being there. I’ve probably said this before, but ever since this Wildfire year started, I said I would never go to any event where I won’t be able to be with Christelle. I won’t go to Refuge if Christelle won’t come, and I definitely wouldn’t go to bigger events if she won’t come. Of course that’s not entirely true because I came to the leadership training mostly for God and for the future God wants for me. But it’s funny because I felt like I was with Christelle because Christelle’s mom reminded me so much of her. Gabe finds it all ridiculous and honestly, so do I. But what’s fascinating is that even though I didn’t plan to see Christelle, I saw her anyway.

God likes spoiling me these days for some reason. Hmm… maybe that’s not exactly the right word. It’s more like… like I have a parent who knows exactly what I want, what I need, and what’s good and perfect for me. I’ve never felt this close to Him, like he’s holding my hand and arranging all these events just for me. Every moment just seems so perfectly written. He just keeps blowing my mind. ❤

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