Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Journey.... the Lessons

Wrote this blog before... But I think I prefer this FB version that I wrote yesterday...
What I loved about the EA Journey was that every step of the Journey, there were pearls of wisdom, knowledge and change to discover and pick up.

So now, as the end of the Journey draws nigh, I'm looking back at the whole Journey... threading the lessons together... pausing to look at each one... and to remember... so that I will never forget.

Gratitude - This overwhelmingly for me was what I learnt up in the mountains. I saw in that stark environment how much we have and how very blessed we are in Malaysia and Singapore.

It's not just the basic amenities and conveniences that we have - electricity and public transport and running water. It's the opportunities and the choices. It's the knowing that, if you work hard enough, you can reach the highest education you want to... you can choose the career that most interests you... you have the freedom to become whoever you want to be... if you choose to. They are choices that we take for granted, until we see others who don't have the chance to choose.

Endurance and persistence - The Journey spanned six months. In the beginning, that seemed so long. And perhaps never did endurance come home to us as much as during our daily three-hour treks :>! But we had an end in sight... An end that was so worth it. Because at the end of our daily three-hour treks, there were the beautiful smiles on the faces of the children of Kolakham Village to greet us... And at the end of our six-month Journey, we could see growth and bonding in the youths.

Simplicity - Whaddya know, it was actually possible to survive without Facebook up in the mountains :>. And email... and laptops... and the constant blare of music in the background. Instead, quiet peace enveloped us as we stood facing the mountains and looked far into the distance at the beautiful God-made canvas that was gloriously painted new every morning.

Serve - Remembering Calvin's words, "The people here do not need us." A new perspective grew in my mind's vision - we serve, not help! I love Serene's clarification, "'Helping someone' puts them in a lower position than you... 'serving someone' is to put them higher and yourself lower." It really turned me around to gaze within and face my own attitudes... and to change.

Love - Underpinning the whole Journey for me was Love. Just Love in simple purity. The magnitude of love that could draw a people from another part of the world to travel so many miles, to serve another person, just because you are a person, just like me, awes me. For a group of people to love enough to want to journey so far to serve a community, to plan ways to prosper a community, without having met a single person in the community before... Isn't that what humanity is all about?

Care - I will never forget the sweet words spoken by one of the youths, "Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick..." It brought a fresh breath into a heart grown dry from what sometimes seems like mundane days of endless volunteering. It reminded me again - what you do can be so small in your eyes... in someone else's, it means so much.

Trust - On this entire Journey, we had to trust one another, our team mates. This came home to us especially up in the mountains... There, isolated from friends and family, we had only each other to rely on! There were no shops, no backup plans... Each of us had to trust that the others in the team had done what they said they would, and to believe that we would be there for each other.

It was a lesson made all the deeper because of where each of us had come from... When you've been betrayed by the people who supposedly love you the most, trust is the hardest lesson of all to re-learn. To see bonds of trust grow, as love and acceptance abounded, was as sacred as the trust that was formed.

Faith - We believed so much in this dream... And there were storms and floods and thunders that caused us to almost lose hope so often. Some of us wanted to abandon the journey halfway because it was so difficult...

But when we finally reached India, we were all still there... still together. It was the power that we found inside, to keep going, when you believe wholeheartedly in a dream.

Leadership - The more timid amongst us grew to learn that, if you want to lead something that is bigger than yourself... if it is really that important... then you have to come out of your timidity to assert yourself and to share your dream and speak out with a voice loud enough that others can hear. Then only, can others rally themselves to the Cause. You have to speak aloud, because no one can do it alone... You need to inspire others to carry the dream.

It gave me great joy to see the youths step up as leaders on this Journey - to see them grow more animated and confident as the days passed...To see them use their hands and physical strength to heal and serve and love and give... To come out of their comfort zone to do what is uncomfortable, even teach!, just for the sake of making a difference in the lives of others... To witness that dawning realisation, that spark, growing inside them daily that they are strong and giving and kind and loving and patient and powerful...

That beauty had always been there... but a mocking world and the tribulations of life had covered the brightness of it... and seeing it shine forth in each life made the whole Journey worthwhile.

These are some of the Lessons that I will keep... And I hope the next Journey, to spread and to give... so that others may give in their own Journeys to others.

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