Prayer Requests

Hi, this is my prayer requests page specifically set up for my year abroad in France. Thanks for praying!

[3 Nov, Saturday, 6:23AM SGT]

Day 232.

I’m going home in less than 3 weeks’ time! Happy to go back to Asian food but also probably gonna miss things and especially people here. I have lots of things to prepare before leaving, because, well, I resigned from my job! 😂

To be honest, I’m struggling quite a bit lately with the whole farewell thing. I thought I had gotten used to farewells but maybe I’ve felt at home with some of my friends here so much that I find it hard to say goodbye. Even though I’m coming back after the 2 weeks break at home, I feel so afraid that I won’t see my friends again. But I also think that this is a great lesson for me to learn, to realise and acknowledge that there’s no forever in life and someday, everything will end. But doesn’t make it easier. Regardless, it’s making me all uptight and generally becoming very negative about everything and I flared up a couple of times with my friends. I really need to calm down!

[27 Oct, Saturday, 12:41AM SGT]

Day 225.

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Lily, just a quick apology. She said she is not angry anymore but things changed between us. I decided to let it go and move on.

I spoke to my host parents tonight about leaving them earlier than planned and it’s been decided. I am really relieved to finally end this discussion with them.

I had a lot of fun with my new friends in the past couple of weeks and made some new friends that I would certainly love to keep for a long time, if I don’t screw it up again. Thank God for these new people that made a whole lot of difference to my time here.

[11 Oct, Thursday, 3:33AM SGT]

Day 209.

I screwed up big time. I offended a friend here (Lily) whom I treasure a lot, and she got upset with me. I asked to have a talk with her to set things straight between us. As of now, she said she’s busy but I think she’s just not very willing to talk things out with me. She’s a young 21 year old girl who’s led a good life thus far, and I feel like she probably won’t understand what I’m going through even if I explained to her, but I hope that she will forgive me for being an idiot and behaving the way I behaved, that offended her. Pray that the talk will go well and rather than destroying our friendship, it will help draw us closer as friends once she knows what I’m going through. I really treasure this friendship. Thanks.

[8 Oct, Monday, 4:24PM SGT]

Day 207.

Time flies, doesn’t it? I’ve been hear for almost 7 months now and will be home for a short 2 weeks’ break end of next month. A lot has been going on lately.

New friends

I made a ton of new friends recently thanks to one of the girls here who didn’t even know that it would grow so huge. She basically created a group chat for a few of the au pairs who wanted to hang out and do something together and suddenly everyone started adding everyone they knew and now basically it’s a group of around 60 people. I made friends with many of them but lately some stuff has been going on and I sort of decided to quietly leave the group. Long story short, there’s a group of girls who’s been here for much longer than most of the others in the group, and basically whom I knew from before since we are kind of the only ones left who’s been here for more than 3 months. Because of some misunderstanding and maybe even the words of one or two, it appears that they thought I created the group and deliberately left them out. It also appeared that they have been talking about me to others. Thankfully, I’ve already formed a good relationship with some of the others and people know that I’m not the person they describe to be, so they still sort of stood on my side. Anyway, I left the group and just hang out with a few of the girls I’m closest with now. It’s kind of annoying that things happened this way now even though I already anticipated this when they joined the group. Regardless, I am staying away from all these gossip and backstabbing stuff which I cannot comprehend why they even started it.

Extra job

I started my extra babysitting job and it’s been a great source of additional income and also an amazing place for me to find some relief from the stress of working with my host family and the crazy stuff going on with the group. Baby Noah is super cute, friendly and just really fun to be with. He’s also much gentler and quieter than Paul, so it’s very calming and nice to spend time with him. Because of this job, I’ve been able to go out a lot more because I now have the money to do stuff, mostly just get petrol and go around the region.

Growing children

The 3 boys are growing up and really changing as days go by. Paul is beginning to express his wants more aggressively and basically fake crying a lot when he doesn’t get what he wants, but he knows when I say no, it’s a no, so with me he’s fine, but when the family is around, he just keeps whining and fake crying and they get so impatient about it. It’s annoying because everything I do to train Paul always just falls apart because of the way the family is raising him. I made a comment about how they should not be feeding the poor 21 months old baby Paul a full macaron for dessert after dinner, and the mom was clearly upset that I raised it even though the father gently and quietly agreed with me.

Louka, the 10 year old, is still constantly stuck to the iPad or iPhone every moment he’s home, and even brings the devices into the toilet and bathroom and stays inside for a really long time. When I say no, he doesn’t respect my authority anymore and many times, he had gotten into trouble with his mom even though I warned him that that was going to happen. I’m not sure what to do with this boy, he’s supposed to learn English but he’s not progressing either. Mom wants me to speak English with him but when I do, he doesn’t understand and he just ignores me even though he can hear me perfectly.

Arthur, the 14 year old, the biggest of my problems, changed school and started going to boarding school this week, so he’ll be home even much lesser than before, which for me is a good thing. He’s been giving me so much problems with the other 2 kids and basically disrespecting me all the time. He always makes me want to quit the job and go home. On top of murdering him, that is.

Health

It’s been weeks or even months that I haven’t slept well. I get like 1 good sleep in a week, but the rest of the days I’d wake up in the middle of the night at least once. In the past couple of nights, I’ve been waking up feeling like I’m burning from the inside, even though the room temperature is only 21degc, or shivering in cold, all on the same night. I’m probably not as worried about my health as I should be, but I’ll look into seeing a doctor when I get home next month.

I feel like I’m always not having enough for dinner and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night feeling hungry too but I’m trying to eat a little more for dinner and make some adjustments on that.

My gums are also swelling a little and hurting due to the braces.

Thanks for praying!

[14 Sep, Friday, 4:23AM SGT]

Day 182.

Lately, I’ve been asked what’s next for me when I get home, like what are my plans. It really got me thinking. To be honest, I don’t know. I feel like my life stopped 3 years ago when Dad died. Like everything stopped for me. My entire life changed and I just don’t know what I should do anymore. When Dad died, I left the job I loved and just stayed at home doing basically nothing much for 2 years. When I found this job, I just went on with the flow and came here. I did think about my options and planned a little, but somehow I’m not convinced that those are the paths I should take. Maybe after I go home this November and face reality, I’ll have an answer.

[8 Sep, Saturday, 5:33AM SGT]

Day 176.

I made another new friend (Al), this time a Christian. We want to try to go to church together and help each other stay committed to that. Not sure how it’s gonna work out cos she’s an American and as much as I try to resist stereotyping people, I still find that many of her characteristics fit the American stereotype in my mind. She used to attend a charismatic church in the States, and she is an extrovert. I honestly don’t think we’ll become close but so far, we were able to talk non-stop about everything under the sun somehow. We had a 1.5 hour lunch, sat in the car for 20 mins supposedly deciding where to head to next but ended up just talking about everything else, spent another 30 minutes in the supermarkets when it was supposed to be a 5 mins pick and go trip, then spontaneously decided to head for a quick hike and never stopped talking until we parted ways when I dropped her off. I do hope I can find a friend in her, especially because she’s a christian too.

I’m starting my part time job coming Wednesday with baby Noah. He seems like a nice smiley and calm baby, hopefully much more careful and less prone to accidents than Paul has been. Paul never looks where he’s going and often gets cuts and bruises everywhere. Thankfully his parents, my hosts, knows that he’s like that and never really blamed me for his injuries, Noah’s parents are new to me and vice versa so I hope things will turn out well.

Summer holidays has ended and the boys are back to school. It’s been alright so far, nothing to crazy, but both kids are going through their rebellious phase now so I guess I have to be ready for anything. Lately, I’ve been trying to prepare and plan some activities to do with Louka but his friends has been coming over to stay and all, so I didn’t have to do much to get him off the iPad and iPhone that he’s normally glued to.

I’ve been preparing for the trip home, and really looking forward and excited about it. I’ve also been entertaining the thought of just staying home and not coming back in December, but I am resisting that conversation with myself and my hosts. Van (mom) asked me tonight, whether I’ll be going home on 1 March when my visa ends, and I told her I’ll leave 1 day before. She asked about my plans when I’m back, which I couldn’t answer. It is something I should start thinking about too, but I’ve just been so desperately wanting to go home that I’m not even thinking about how life is going to be when I’m back for good. All I want is to be home, be with the people I love and care about, be in my comfort zone, then decide the next step I want to take. Initially, I’d planned to go to Denmark for another 6 months after this, but right now, I’m not exactly sure if that’s what I want anymore because I kind of need to go home and finish up my degree. I could stay in SG for 6 months first and finish 1 semester, then head to Denmark to pursue another 6 months stint, but that plan would mean a lot more uncertainty. The honest truth is I’m still afraid. I’m afraid of hearing news from home that someone I love and treasure is sick or is dying or had died. Dad and YX’s deaths had such great impact on my life and really changed me forever.

[27 Aug, Monday, 1:23AM SGT]

Day 164.

I made a new friend (Lily). Not sure how it’ll turn out. We’ll see.

I found another part time job and will try to make more money in my free time.

That’s all. Thanks for reading and following.

[18 Aug, Saturday, 3:15AM SGT]

Day 155.

I watched the shooting stars alone from my room last week. It was beautiful.

3 more months to going home. I’m looking forward. See you soon.

[10 Aug, Friday, 6:20PM SGT]

Day 148.

Yoz. Time for update again. This week has been quite chill, my host Mom is still on leave so I basically barely had to work. I went to see the festival at the lake last Saturday and it was amazing. I’ve never seen such an amazing display of fireworks. The whole show lasted for more than an hour, and it was nothing like our pathetic fireworks in Singapore. They had such cool designs! I was really impressed by their fireworks designers.

Tomorrow is the night of shooting stars, where everyone here will probably be looking for a perfect place to watch the Perseid meteor shower. I was very excited about it and really wanted to go somewhere to see it when I first heard about it from my German friends, but now I’m not sure if I’ll go anywhere to watch it. Maybe I’ll head over to Semnoz (a mountain here) to watch the meteor shower on my own.

[5 Aug, Sunday, 1:28AM SGT]

Day 143.

I returned from my week-long hitchhiking trip on Friday. It was fun and a pretty incredible trip. I’d never imagined this would come to pass for me, hitchhiking more than 505km to Germany, where I met and stayed with my German friends and their families. It tore down the walls I’d built towards Europeans, especially after the 4.5 months I’ve been in France. France is beautiful, but it did not treat me, an outsider, very well. After 4.5 months here, I only made 2 real friends, and even with these friends, I’m not even 100% certain they see me the same way I see them. Nonetheless, I’m thankful that I had at least these two. I’ve felt nothing but loneliness the whole 4.5 months I’ve been here, and now that I’ve returned from the trip, though happy to be back, those feelings of loneliness is once again back to haunt me. But I’m thankful I’ve gained insight to this matter. For a long time, being in France and feeling alone, I thought it’s a problem with me, then I realized, thanks to this trip in Germany, that it’s not just me, and I don’t have to beat myself up for not being able to find friends that I can talk to or hang out with. I really enjoyed the time with my German friends’ families, where everyone was so accepting, so welcoming, so full of warmth. I felt again, that I was a human being worthy of love and acceptance, because all these while in France, I felt worst than human, like I’m worthless and nobody wanted to spend time with me, that nobody even wanted to talk to me, and so I really struggled to even attend the weekly events here. I mean, who likes to keep getting shut off because people they talk to preferred talking to other people? Anyway, I felt a little better because my German friends made me feel at home, welcomed like their own, not being overly polite and yet still very considerate, allowing me to be myself without feeling like I’d be judged.

Ok, enough of the emo stuff. Thank God for safety throughout the entire journey, though I never felt unsafe. Almost everyone I met along the way were concerned about my safety and some drivers even went out of their way just to ensure that I’m safe. I am really thankful for that! Also, just before I left, I saw a video of luggage being dragged out of the cross-city bus, and I was a little worried that that might happen to me on my 10.5-hour bus ride back from Frankfurt to Geneva. Thank God both my bag and I came back in one piece.

Now that my holidays is ending, I’m expecting myself to go back to the super moody me again, but at least I know Paul will always cheer me up. It’s hard to survive in a place where you don’t feel at home and constantly feel like you’re an outsider. It’s even harder when you don’t even have a friend, but I’m very thankful for technology. Thanks to technology, friends from all over the world have been great comfort for me, especially when some of these are people I barely know and whom I’ve met only once or twice in our travels. It also helped me to see who are the people that truly cares. I had a friend send me a message saying that I could stay at his sister’s place in Stuttgart if I needed. We’ve only met twice and spent less than 3 days together in total!

Honestly, I feel time flew by really fast, after the 3 months mark, I noticed I’d stopped counting the number of days I’m gone. That said, it’s not because I’m getting used to being here or adjusted to life here or even that I’m finally feeling “better” about it. Maybe I’m just sick and tired of feeling what I feel here, the sense of loneliness and being an “outsider” or simply being “different”. I’ll be heading home in another 4 months, and with that break, I trust that I will find new strength to last that final 2.5 months before my contract ends. I wanted to find an opportunity to speak to my hosts soon, about my plans to leave slightly earlier, and hope that it will work out somehow. I want to go to some of those places in Central Asia that YX went to and raved about.

Tonight, there is the festival of the lake in the city and I really want to go and see the fireworks and join the excitement. But simply thinking that I’ll be going alone and walking the streets alone, is painful and feels completely meaningless. Nonetheless, I’ll still go and spend a couple of hours outside and maybe some people might invite me to join their group, though highly unlikely. Oh well.

[21 Jul, Saturday, 4:55PM SGT]

Day 128.

I returned the guitar and still haven’t decided on a long term method to make money. My cryptocurrencies are still not doing well.

Next week, my host mom starts her break so I will be working a lot less over the week and I will be leaving for Germany over the weekend. I originally planned to get there by an overnight bus until a friend offered to give me a ride as she was returning home to Germany with her car, but later she told me she couldn’t do that anymore and now I don’t want to spend money taking the bus. I’m planning to do hitchhiking, as it’s a widely accepted and used mode of transport especially within France and Germany. However, it is also dangerous and full of uncertainties, people get picked up from between 5 minutes to completely giving up after trying for hours. I also read online that some of the essential gear they carry include a tent or some form of shelter in case they get stranded in the middle of the night. Though I’m not expecting that, I was planning on taking some camping equipment but it’s heavy and light ones aren’t exactly affordable at this point, I’m now considering to drive up instead, but my car is really quite old and honestly, I doubt it can take that kind of journey. We drove the car around on a road trip here in France for about 10 hours with breaks and though the car didn’t break down, it acted weirdly a couple of times and I was so worried it was going to die on us in the mountains and leave us stranded. Driving would save me money on accommodation and also give me the flexibility of stopping by as many villages or towns as I like, but finding parking in cities when I reach Germany would be a problem eventually. Regardless, I still have 1 week to decide and for now, I’ll just keep researching.

I went to church last Sunday, but there was no service probably because it was Bastille Day weekend. Maybe I’ll try to go tomorrow, otherwise, I’ll join a group of people for a hike they’d planned for weeks.

[15 Jul, Sunday, 2:42PM SGT]

Day 121.

It’s summer holidays for the kids and this week, I brought them out as much as I possibly could. Next week, the older boys are not around as usual, so it’s just me and Paul again. I try to spend more quality time with the older boys so that my host parents won’t think that I’m not doing much, but I still feel that I’m not doing enough. Summer holidays has been rather tiring for me.

I bought a guitar thinking that I could go busking with it, but when it arrived, I was disappointed with the sound it produced and am planning on returning it. I need to earn more money especially now that my cryptocurrencies has not been making much with the bad crypto economy for the past couple of months. Right now, I’m still thinking of other ways to make money. Perhaps I will still stick to busking, if I can find another affordable guitar that sounds good enough, or do something else altogether. I’ve always managed to find some kind of alternative way to make a side income, but here, I realized it’s not as easy as I thought it would be because I’ve been asked to work at the last minute, like before they leave the house, they tell me I need to watch the kids. It’s quite annoying and disruptive but I still want to put their needs as a priority since I’m here to help and it’s good for me not to go out too much so I can save money.

Last week, God spoke to me through Psalm 121 (and thanks to the reminder from XX). I was thinking about what my 初衷 is for being here, and I recalled the testimony I shared with my CG here that where I am today is all in God’s control and leading. I forgot that God was the one that made all these happen despite of all the odds that went against me coming. How could I forget God who led me and is still watching over me! I also, then, remembered the reason for my name “Joette”, the female name for Joseph, the bible character that left a huge impact on me in my teenage days. Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold as a slave by his brothers but never doubted God and always walked in God’s ways. This was who I aspired to be. I wanted to live like he did, that no matter what kind of tough circumstances I would undergo, I would always praise God and say, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that [God’s greater purpose may be fulfilled].”

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
    he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.

– Psalm 121 (ESV)

And this Psalm is adapted in one of my favorite songs, though I wouldn’t say that I’m in a storm now.

I was sure by now, God you would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say amen
That it’s still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear your whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone how can I carry on
If I can’t find you
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear you whisper through the rain
I’m with you
And as your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
The God who gives and takes away
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The maker of heaven and earth
And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
That you are who you are
No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm
– Praise you in this storm by Casting Crowns

[8 Jul, Sunday, 9:36PM SGT]

Day 114.

Last Sunday, I went to Lyon and got harassed by some guy. I liked the city but it was a terrible experience because of that guy. It was so bad I had a nightmare. That evening when I returned, I really wanted to talk to someone about it and needed some comfort but it was already middle of the night in Singapore and I just hid in my room trying to forgot and ignore what had happened. I posted on my Instagram and the next morning so many people asked about it and then the whole day I felt so terrible but thankfully my hosts changed my day off from Tuesday to Monday and I was able to use the day to process what had happened. I don’t really want to talk about what exactly happened, just pray that it will not haunt me. Thank you.

I haven’t gone anywhere (other than last Sunday) to explore or meet new people ever since E left, and I still miss having friends. Recently, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to do when I get home for my break at the end of the year. I texted some friends and checked whether they are in town, and unfortunately, all the people that I really want to meet are going out of town the exact period that I’m home. Then I asked myself, if they are not home, what am I going to do? There’s no one else that I really want to meet and suddenly, I realized I didn’t need to go home anymore (of course, other than for the weddings that I’m obligated to attend). I came to realize that perhaps these feelings of missing home are unfounded. Why do I want to go home? Is it really because I miss home, or that I just don’t want to be out of my comfort zone, or basically, be here in France? Perhaps I misinterpreted my own heart. All I want now is to settle down, do things that everyone else does, make a stable living, lead a simple life, and pass time like everyone else. But I still don’t want to be caught up in a rat race, in an unending competition for success and glory. I just want to led a quiet, simple life away from the tension of the world. That is my heart’s desire, for now. But being young and sometimes crazy, I still want to have some fun and see more of the world before I hit 30 and allow the limitations of the age to bound me. Pray for me. That in all I do, it will neither be a pursuit for worldly desires, nor the seeking of my heartfelt calling, but only God and what is right in His eyes.

Thank you again.

[30 Jun, Saturday, 3:44AM SGT]

Day 106.

Did well for my exam. It was unexpectedly easy, not just for me, but for the rest of my classmates as well. It was also nice to know that in the essay section, two of my classmates addressed the letter to me. Feels good to know that people think of me as their friend; the question was to write an email invitation to a classmate for a party after exams. This exam made me realize how much the Singaporean culture shaped me as a person. Not just the competitive part of me that stresses up over being the best so I don’t throw Singapore’s face, but also the part of me that overthinks every little thing. It was so evident as I did the exam. The answer was simple and straightforward, but my mind kept thinking it is a trick question and over-evaluated the question. Well, also because of that, I didn’t get my full marks. 🤣 Regardless, it was an interesting observation for me.

I’ve been so busy I barely had time to text and care for you people back at home. Sorry! I feel like I’m a lousy friend for not checking in as regularly as I was in the first 2 months of my arrival in France. I don’t want to be the kind of friend that texts only when I need my friends and then disappear once I start making new friends, nor do I want to give people this feeling, though I feel it myself. But the truth is while I have made quite a number of friends, I barely hang out with them cos, well, I’m an introvert and like to spend a lot of time on my own to recharge. So many things is going on back at home but I’m learning to let it go and just let life take its own course. A friend (you are probably reading this too) just underwent a surgery, another close friend’s dad passed on a few days before his mother underwent surgery for cancer, yet another friend’s dad got diagnosed of cancer, and grandgrand tells me about her continually deteriorating health each time I call. I’ve learned that simply listening and checking in means something to each of these individuals, and as much as I wish I can do more, this is my portion now and my role is to do the best I can where I stand today. As for the rest, I just have to trust God.

It still feels surreal, some days I drive in the mountains and suddenly realize I’m driving in the beautiful French Alps; it makes me miss home but at the same time be filled with overwhelming thankfulness the simple fact that I’m here. I think about my experiences here and thought how proud Dad would be of me if he was still around. He would be, first of all, very proud of me for being able to drive around on my own in a foreign country. He’d always wanted me to get my driving license since I turned 18, but I always told him there’s no point since we can’t afford to buy a car. One of the reasons I didn’t give up on my driving lessons was because I wanted to fulfill this wish of Dad. I also thought about how he would be showing off his little girl to every single person he meets, that his daughter is living in such a beautiful place in France and having the time of her life. Dad was always a proud person that exaggerates everything and constantly showing off everything. I imagined I would be sending tons of photos to Dad of all the places I’ve been to, and possibly even invite him to come and visit, just like I told him I wanted to bring him to Taiwan after I visited this amazing sea aquarium that I knew he would absolutely love and we would share the most wonderful time there. It is painful to think about all these and being alone now, it’s even harder, but it’s ok, I know I’ll pull through on my own, though I wish E was still here, then at least I would have one friend I could bare my heart to.

Thanks for reading and praying. It’s much appreciated. And sorry for not catching up or checking in regularly. Business and time difference are excuses, but they are nonetheless legitimate reasons. I’ll make an effort! Bisous!

[27 Jun, Wednesday, 1:42AM SGT]

Day 103.

Can’t believe 103 days flew by just like that. My professor thought that our exam was next week but he clarified today that it is going to happen this Thursday. I don’t have much time left to study for it and I haven’t been studying for it at all. As a typical Singaporean student, of course I want to do very well (yea, not just well) and study hard for it. But my classmate reminded me that the exam is for us to see how far we’ve progressed and to assess our learning rather than to show that we have learned something. Hence, she urged me to take it easy and just do the exam based on what I have learned. It was a good reminder, but I can’t shake my 28 years of being a typical Singaporean: kiasu and must pass with flying colors. 😂 We shall see how I fare on Thursday! Oh, it’s also the last lesson for the term. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next semester, whether I should proceed to the next level or stop studying altogether. Maybe I should stop studying, and use the time to see more of France or perhaps use those days off to take up another job. We shall see, based on my results, and how my cryptocurrencies fare in July.

I booked my flight home for the 1.5 weeks break at the end of the year, so I’ll see all of you then. After that, I’m coming back here but not sure what the plan is moving forward. After these 103 days and especially the initial days of struggling with missing home, I’ve come to accept that nothing is forever and even memories fade and people change. I still struggle with the fact that many things will be different when I get home and that even I am changing day by day to someone that people at home might not recognize when I get back. But somehow, I feel like I’m more ready to face the challenges ahead of me back at home, because I know eventually, I will have to settle down in Singapore, get a job, earn my keep, and most importantly, finish my degree, though I am also toying with the thought of completing my degree in another country instead. Just a thought. Oh well.

As for my work here, everything is the same and summer is here. The kids will be having their summer holidays very soon and I have been thinking of ways to maximize my value here in the family, and hopefully it will make their first au pair experience better.

Church wise, I still haven’t been back since I don’t even remember when. Maybe 2 months ago? I’ve been trying to go but each week, I have a new different excuse and sometimes legitimate reasons to skip (last Sunday I had to work). I am physically exhausted from working so much this week and simply stressing over my exam though there’s really no need to be stressed over it. I really hope to get my certificate though, because I want to progress to the next level. But to be honest, I am just a typical Singaporean student (yea, I know I’ve said it so many times) who just do well on paper and in exams, but suck in practical. I can barely speak or understand any French, in fact, I think I didn’t progress practically from 10 years ago. Whatever I speak now, I’ve known them for the past 10 years. Sorry, distracted, let’s go back to the topic of church. Eh, I will continue to try and make it for church, in fact, I’ve been thinking of changing to another church because I realized this church doesn’t really speak English. I thought the translation will be good for my learning but then I realized it’s a hindrance for my spiritual growth. I need to think about it, after my exam on Thursday.

As always, thanks for reading and praying. Miss you girls. XOXOXO

[16 Jun, Saturday, 4:10AM SGT]

Day 92.

E has left and gone home to Finland! I feel a little lost all of a sudden like I don’t know who to call to hang out with anymore especially since my other hangout friend, Rosie, is in Arctic now working her research project. Anyway, even after Rosie comes back, she’ll be gone too, if I don’t recall wrongly, in August. I’m trying to make new friends though, so that I won’t be alone again and hide in the room all the time. It’s difficult for me though, being an introvert, to push myself to go out and make new friends knowing that I’ll have to say goodbye to them too eventually.

Lately, the family had been busy and I had to babysit so much more than I normally do and it’s really draining every ounce of my energy. The next couple of weeks are going to be very busy for me as I have to work almost everyday including the weekends and I can’t go for my French lessons as Paul’s grandmother is away on holiday. My lessons are kind of a break for me, from Paul and the boys, but now I don’t even have it, plus I’m having my French exam in 3 weeks’ time. From now on, I’ll have to spend all my breaks on studying for the exam. Hopefully I will do well!

I haven’t been to church or cell group for a really long time and I still don’t find myself committing to it seriously. Being here and with this family, I find myself forgetting all my basic Christian habits, including saying grace before my meals. It’s a big deal because I’ve been doing that every single day for the past 12 years and it is strange that a habit cultivated over 12 long years was forgotten just like that. The alarms are ringing but yet I am too tired to think about it. Pray for me not to forget God just as God reminded Israel before they entered the promised land.

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. 17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. 20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.

— Deuteronomy 8:2-6, 11-20 (ESV)

Thank you for reading and praying.

[8 Jun, Friday, 2:56AM SGT]

Day 84.

Too many things going through my mind lately. Had a conversation with my classmate about her change of plans to leave her host family earlier than previously agreed. It got me thinking about whether I should do that too but as another friend reminded me, my hosts waited for me patiently during my multiple delays and they have been superb so far. In that sense, I am obligated to them but it’s also true, that as long as I give them advance notice, I don’t have to force myself to do something I don’t wish to. I’m still thinking about this. I have to discuss with my hosts and see what kind of arrangements we can make.

My friend, Emilia, kind of the first friend I made here, is leaving for good way ahead of plans and to be honest, I’m very affected by it. Not so much of her impending absence, but I just don’t really know how to handle relationships and parting ways with people. I feel like it has been so much parting for me over the past 3 years and I don’t really want to say goodbye not knowing if I’ll ever get to see that person again. It got me thinking about what has been going on in my life, and to realize that I’m back at the same place I started before leaving Singapore, is so hard to chew. I realized that leaving Singapore wasn’t a fresh start at all. I didn’t manage to run away or get away from anybody or anything at all, because at the end of the day, the person I can’t run away from is myself. I’m still the same me, the me that is unable to handle departures. It sucks to realize that no matter where I go on earth, that will not change until I change from within. Painful discovery, though nothing cognitively new.

Another thing about E’s imminent departure, it really made me feel very shitty about myself. I kept thinking that I’m a lousy friend to everyone, that at the core of who I am, I’m a lousy person with a lousy personality, someone that will never be able to form deep friendships with others. I kept asking myself if others will feel the same way (a sense of attachment as far as friendships go) as I do about them, and whether I would be remembered as someone who made a difference in their experience at that specific time and place they met me. It’s really a journey of discovering who I really am, my identity as a person. That said, I know, again cognitively, that I’m not a lousy person, that I’ve been an amazing friend to many and have given more than I knew I could ever give. It’s just hard to shake those feelings away, the feelings kindled by E’s leaving. That’s about all that’s been bugging me, but I guess that’s why I came, to find something I never could have found by staying in my comfort zones back at home.

Just pray. Thanks a lot for reading and praying for me. Your thoughts are deeply appreciated. Bisous.

[2 Jun, Saturday, 4:23AM SGT]

Day 78.

I took time to revise for French class this week, and am very happy with the difference it made. I was able to follow the lessons better and gain more, despite the lack of sleep, thank God for that.

Left to right: Me (duh!), Volodimyr (Ukrainian PhD Eramus), Danielle (South African Au Pair), Mark (Filipino Au Pair), Jean (our French teacher), Jana (Brazilian). Missing: Serena (Italian), Mariana (Brazilian – I consider her one of my closer friends here), and 2 new person I don’t know their names

I’m supposed to be making money on the side while I’m here, but I haven’t got down to it and have been having some problems cos of the banking situation in Singapore, well, most importantly, I forgot my trading account password. 😂 Regardless, I hope to quickly get down to it so I can start making money again. I plan to make at least US$2,000 before the end of July so that I can travel in July when my hosts are away on vacation. And don’t tell me you can lend me if I need, because I don’t. I just want to make my own cash because life doesn’t stop just because I’m away from home. I still have to do what I have to do. 😉

I am still feeling upset, even though 78 days have past since I arrived and every day, I still want to go home. I never thought I would feel this way when this has been my lifelong dream; to live in a foreign place, self sufficient and fully independent. Despite that, I am trying, trying very hard to do things right and make the most of my time here. In the past week, this song has been on my repeat list:

对这个世界如果你有太多的抱怨
跌倒了就不敢继续往前走
为什么人要这么的脆弱 堕落
请你打开电视看看
多少人为生命在努力勇敢的走下去
我们是不是该知足
珍惜一切 就算没有拥有

还记得你说家是唯一的城堡 随着稻香河流继续奔跑
微微笑 小时候的梦我知道
不要哭让萤火虫带着你逃跑 乡间的歌谣永远的依靠
回家吧 回到最初的美好

不要这么容易就想放弃 就像我说的
追不到的梦想 换个梦不就得了
为自己的人生鲜艳上色 先把爱涂上喜欢的颜色

笑一个吧 功成名就不是目的
让自己快乐快乐这才叫做意义
童年的纸飞机 现在终于飞回我手里
所谓的那快乐 赤脚在田里追蜻蜓追到累了
偷摘水果被蜜蜂给叮到怕了 谁在偷笑呢
我靠着稻草人吹着风唱着歌睡着了
哦 哦 午后吉他在虫鸣中更清脆
哦 哦 阳光洒在路上就不怕心碎
珍惜一切 就算没有拥有

还记得你说家是唯一的城堡 随着稻香河流继续奔跑
微微笑 小时候的梦我知道
不要哭让萤火虫带着你逃跑 乡间的歌谣永远的依靠
回家吧 回到最初的美好

You can tell how emo I am from this song, can’t you? I’m trying not to listen to too many emo songs. Enough said, just pray for me la, k? Thanks! Bisous*!

*Bisous is the French equivalent of our XOXOXO. Translated, it means kisses. 😉

PS. My website might be shut down soon cos I didn’t pay for the next year and I’m not sure if I should continue. Do let me know if you’re still reading it because if no one is bothered, I will most likely shut it down. Thanks! 😘

[26 May, Saturday, 4:21AM SGT]

Day 71.

As promised, here’s my weekly update.

Since my host dad came back last week, I haven’t been sleeping well, I’m not sure why. Maybe I’m stressed about having someone in the house in the daytime while I’m with Paul. Regardless, I’m trying to relax a little more and take things easy. Pray that I’ll rely on God rather than my own strength and abilities.

French class is getting a little overwhelming for me. I can barely follow and I feel like I’ve reached my maximum saturation, or maybe I’m just too tired from the lack of sleep. I need to spend more time revising but I’m also a little lazy, I feel like I should be spending my time going out and enjoying France rather than just spending all of them studying. I clearly need better time management but I’m usually too drained in the evenings after a long day with Paul.

I made a new friend after hiking Parmelan last weekend. Really thankful for that. Rosie is a PhD student from Scotland doing a short 3 months research project in a lab here. She’s much milder and more chill than E. We hung out a bit after an extra French lesson (not part of my school program) and it was nice to have another friend that I could spend time with. But again, she’s only here for 3 months and then I’ll have to make new friends again. It’s very tiring to constantly make new friends and say goodbye to people whom I’ve started getting along with, and that alone makes me sick of going out. I’m getting along pretty well with a super cool and nice classmate from my French class who will be staying for a year as well though, but she’s really busy making money and with other stuff. Pray that whether or not I make friends, I will not forget God. I was told it would be easier to rely on God when you’re all alone in a foreign environment, but I realized how often I forget about God, even more so than back at home. It’s like God isn’t in the picture anymore. Pray. Thanks.

Left to right: Rosie (Scottish), Laura (American), Anna (American), Megan (South African)

Today (and on random days), YX came to my mind and I couldn’t help but tear. She’s been gone for 5 months and I had thought with time, it would feel less painful, but I guess I was right: the pain of losing someone will never go away. Each time I remember her, I can’t help but ask myself again, what am I doing here in France. She was the one that inspired me to travel and a constant reminder that I can achieve whatever I want in life as long as I keep at it and don’t give up. Whenever I have a question on where to go, I’d always seek her advice and ask for suggestions. Life has not been the same ever since she left and I don’t think I can ever see being away from home in the same way again. It is, at times, unbearable but I try to hold it back when the family is home. All these just makes me want to go home or at least have someone to talk to or a friend to hold on to. It makes me feel lonely all over again but I can only force myself to put these thoughts and feelings aside and hope that they will go away. Pray for me.

Thank you again. Your thoughts and prayers are deeply appreciated.

[21 May, Monday, 5:10AM SGT]

Day 66.

Last Wednesday, I went for the usual language cafe, and met a couple of new people. While I still hated the meetings, I connected with some and hang out with them today. We hiked Parmelan which was simply amazing, but I find that I couldn’t really fit into the group as they had so much more in common and I could barely understand what they were talking about, though they are quite nice I think. I’m becoming skeptical of everyone because on Wednesday, E and I was talking about a friend’s new hair cut and she just told me that his hair doesn’t look great and the very next moment, she turned to him and said she like his new hair. I felt like if she could say that to him, what could she be saying about me to others behind me? That really made me doubt the sincerity of every single person I meet here because it just feels like they were gonna talk shit about me and I hated the idea of that, of course. Especially because there are so many Americans here and I really don’t have a good impression of them.

Hiking Parmelan’s snow-capped trail

This is a big thing for me because I don’t want to close myself up just because of one or two individual’s behavior. I feel like I’ve never been so negative, never felt like I needed to belong so much, and never felt like I have to work hard to please people and gain friends. It feels shitty.

That said, I don’t think, or at least I hope, E is not unhappy with me or bitching about me. Also, on Wednesday at the event, a random person I don’t even remember who, commented that my jacket looks exactly like what her kids wear. I wasn’t even wearing the jacket and she could tell that it’s a kids’ jacket. I wasn’t offended or anything, but it didn’t feel good. She’s not the first person that said that as I never really take what people say about my clothes to heart, because I love what I love, and nothing is going to change that, but this time I was affected by it. I felt like maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends here, because I dress like shit. So I decided to get a new jacket and I did. I love my new jacket and it did boost my confidence a little, and hopefully that would change people’s first impression of me!

I guess from the above, you can tell that I’m feeling alone and friendless. Somehow, I feel like I am not the same me anymore, the me who can joke about anything and everything, and the me who always manages to find a topic to talk about to break the silence. I feel like I keep messing things up though I always clean them up and try to make them right again like with my jacket situation. So far, I’m actually ok with all that, but I don’t know how long I can live with myself for that. I have to keep praying and depending on God, and I ask that you pray for and with me. It’s a struggle everyday, but I’ll work on it and I trust that God who led me here would continue to guide me to the way He wants me to go and for whatever purpose He brought me here for.

[18 May, Friday, 4:22PM SGT]

Day 64.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my last update. I noticed that some of you have been checking in regularly here (yes, I can see that you visited this page but don’t worry, that’s all I can see), so I’ll make it easier for everyone by updating before every Saturday morning 6am SGT.

Ok, so, I’ve fully recovered from the virus, and I’ve also got the car fixed with a few add-ons to make my driving easier and safer (installed a parking system with camera and sensors). But I still get nervous when I drive others. Pray for a calm mind when I drive with others in the car.

French lessons have started to get intense. I think I’m progressing fine though there’s a lot of work to do in terms of revision. Pronunciation is the hardest part, I literally spell the words I want to say letter by letter when I talk to others in French cos they never really get it when I say the words though it sounds exactly like how they say it (to me 😂).

I haven’t been going to church or cell group lately, but I really have to set aside time and commit to it. I am refreshed each time I go but I find it hard to get myself out of the house sometimes.

The weather is still shitty, rainy and still really cold a lot of the time, but my hands are no longer bleeding the way it did before, so thank God for that.

Everything is going fine in terms of relationships with my hosts and the kids. Thank God for that too.

Other than E, I don’t really have other friends to hang out with and she’s leaving in 6 weeks. I think I’m too boring for most people (they go for drinks and party), and also not very willing to reach out to others to hang out. I really prefer to just stay in my room and watch shows or study on my off days, but once again, it’s not good to keep myself in too much, and since I’m already here in France, I should really get out and have a life outside of this house. I’ve actually made a few friends at the weekly language cafe but never really went out with them. Idk why, but ever since YX left, I lost the desire to meet new people and hang out with them the way I used to enjoy hosting travelers and taking them out. I came to make myself a better person, to widen my world view, to grow in love and expressing affection. I pray that I will not forget where I started and will not forget God as I move along.

[6 May, Saturday, 2:12PM SGT]

It’s day 51.

I’ve been sick for a while now and it sucks. I feel terrible a lot of the time but don’t want to make things difficult for my hosts so I do my normal duties as if I’m totally fine. Today, I’m actually finally feeling better physically but I got really upset with myself for crashing the car yesterday (I’m fine). So I hid myself in the room for the entire day and faked sick and spent my off day catching up on Netflix. I went out of the room only to grab food when they were out. That’s so not healthy at all but that’s really all I feel like doing today. I need to get my head straight again as soon as possible and really, stop getting into car accidents. I crashed the car too many times!

Right side mirror glass completely shattered

I came back from a road trip to Italy with E earlier this week. It was beautiful but the weather was bad and she caught my virus, and I was still rather sick throughout the trip, and got into another accident and the bumper came off. These things have made me really scared and stressed up over my ability to carry out my tasks. But they also reminded me that I can do nothing apart from God and without Him, I am nothing.

Walking in Courmayeur, a small town in the west of Italy

After completely crashing the side mirror yesterday, I felt so shitty and thought that maybe I should just go home. That maybe I’m just one of those au pairs I’ve read about online, that give up and never saw through their journey to the end. I also thought if it is too much for me to bear, that perhaps I should just quit this job and go traveling instead. That would take away all of the pressure of me! But obviously, I won’t do that, at least not for now.

[24 April, Tuesday, 10:58PM SGT]

It’s day 40.

Just had my first French lesson here this morning. It was nice and I hung out with a classmate by the river for lunch. I enjoyed myself and am so thankful that I studied French back in school, cos the lesson was almost entirely taught in French and because I already had some background, I was able to understand most of what the teacher and other classmates were saying.

I hung out with another friend, I don’t know what to call these new people cos I just met them for the first time but let’s settle with ‘friend’ for now. 😂 Anyhow, I met this Finnish girl, E, and hiked a mountain and it was amazing. We had a really enjoyable time on Sunday at the mountain then went for ice cream by the lake. Thank God for new friends.

Hiking Mont Veyrier with Finnish friend, E
Having ice cream by the famous Lake Annecy

Oh, I hung out with yet another lady on Wednesday. It was a nice relaxing afternoon too. So overall, thank God for really nice people that I’ve met so far.

Wednesday evening, I went for my first cell group in France. Was nice, and encouraged by the support and sharing from the young adults in the cell group. Language was not a barrier when it comes to God’s people. Thank God.

Hands are still dry but not bleeding anymore, so scabs are peeling now.

Overall, it’s been yet another manageable week. I have a long break next week and still thinking of what to do and where to go. Have to decide soon so I won’t be spending too much on flights, if I’m flying.

Merci et bisous!

[16 April, Monday, 3:46AM SGT]

It’s day 31.

Thank God for the little surprises He planted along the week. I was invited to babysit an 11 years old boy from another family, friend of my host, on Friday. The boy was very well behaved and we had many things in common, so I had a really good time with him in our short 2 hours. It was so nice that I told them I would really like to watch him at his basketball games and possibly even play with him if they’d like that. I felt like I made an unexpected friend with the boy because of our similar interests and I feel like I could really hang out with him more frequently.

It is spring now and getting warmer as days past, and I feel more energized to get out of the house more frequently and take Paul on longer walks. The winter made me quite moody! But the changes in season and waking up to a different view of the mountains is really amazing and leaves me in awe of our Almighty Creator who made all of these beauty. I’m even picking up painting because I love staring at the changes of nature as the sun rises and sets each day!

Sunrise on a beautiful cloudy day, 30 March 8:07am CEST
Same mountains and plains, totally different look, 13 April 8:34am CEST
Same day, with beautiful blue skies and white fluffy clouds, 13 April 11:40am CEST

Timelapse sunset 5 April, 8:05pm

On Wednesday, I went to check out the church near our place, and found out that it’s actually a Catholic church. So, I decided to go to another church in the city, one that is bilingual (with English translation), today. I had a really good time there, it felt as though the message was crafted for me. After service, I met an American lady who used to live in Singapore, and had a nice short chat, and she ended the conversation with a short prayer for me. I don’t even remember the contents of the prayer, but I really felt ministered today and comforted by God. Thank God!

Catholic mass on a Wednesday morning at L’eglise de Charvonnex
Bilingual church in Annecy city with talented musicians
Impérial Palace, hotel where church service is held

View of Lake Annecy right outside the Imperial Palace Hotel where church is.

Still not sleeping well. Pray. Thank you!

I’m really thankful for all the little surprises that He had placed along this week that brought so much comfort to my little weak heart. He reminded me that no matter where I am and how alone I feel, He is always here with me and will always be my Shelter, Refuge, Strength, Hope, and Comforter.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 ESV

[9 April, Sunday, 3:08AM SGT]

It’s day 24 in France. I still miss home and every time I read the cards from my lovely girlfriends, I’m tempted to buy a ticket and fly home.

Mirror full of cards from and pictures with friends and family from home.

My hands got bad again, but is now recovering, again. I think my body is still getting used to the environment here. The family barely drink any water outside of meal times, which affected my water intake and drinking habits, but now I’m making a conscious effort to drink sufficient water everyday. Hopefully that will help with the dryness. Vanessa noticed my dry hands and passed me some French vaseline which worked well for me. She also passed me some gloves to wear when I’m doing washing so that my condition wouldn’t be aggravated. Thank God for thoughtful hosts who actually care for my well-being.

Thank God for the driving lesson. I learned a lot about driving in the city from the 1.5 hours session. I think I actually drove pretty alright, but somehow whenever my Yan or Vanessa is in the car with me, I get super nervous and keep making major mistakes. But maybe that’s a good thing, since it means that they would not place the lives of the kids in my driving hands as yet.

Yesterday, we went to a neighbor’s house for dinner and it was really nice. The family was also very welcoming, and even wanted to hire me to help them out on my off days also for me to make some extra cash. Their kids are really obedient too and I hit it off with their 2 boys almost immediately. Little Elliot (1.5-2?) is super adorable and much more careful than Paul. At least Elliot actually looks where he’s going! 😂 Milo (10), their older child, speaks good English compared to Louka (10) and Arthur (14), and is also very outgoing. I approached him and after a short bonding over the 3DS (handheld game console), he was so excited and initiated to give me a tour of their beautiful house. It warms my heart to feel welcomed by people here and before we left, the parents invited me to drop by with Paul anytime to hang out with them and the kids. I told them I will consider their offer after I start my lessons as I will have to see how much time I’ll need to spend revising for my French. Neighbor mum whose name I didn’t catch was very glad that I take my French classes very seriously and told me they will keep their offer open for me till I’m ready. Thank God for such amazing neighbors!

I went to check out church today. There’s a small church in our village just 10 minutes walk from our house, but it seems to be always closed. Anyway, I went today and after spending some time asking around, I found out that they actually hold their services in different towns every week. Because of this, I decided to find another church instead, since I don’t think I can manage driving to a new town every week. Thanks to Facebook, I found a church that has English service and an English speaking community. I hope to find out more and join them as soon as possible. I never expected myself to actually miss going to church. But I think what I really miss is being part of a community, having fellow Christians to talk to and share lives with, rather than the formalities of being in church.

Church near where I live

I’m not sleeping well. Pray for good rest each night. Thank you!

[29 March, Thursday, 1:30AM SGT]

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I arrived. Thank you, everyone. For the overwhelming support and love I’ve received, and for all your prayers. I think I’m settling in just fine.

Thank God that my hands are slowly but surely recovering. It’s itching all the time now and I’m trying hard not to scratch! I’ve been faithfully applying cream, and it should get better if the weather doesn’t turn bad again.

Paul, o Paul. The adorable baby that all who saw my Instagram live are in love with! Everyone like him so much that their first question when I go live is now, “Where is Paul?” 😂 Paul is warmed up to me now but has yet to see me as part of the family. Every time the rest of the family is home, he runs up to them for their attention. My role here is to ease the load of the family by being with Paul, so I hope that Paul will be able to eventually see me as one of his main caregivers as well. Pray that even if Paul is not able to do that, I will still be of help to the family in other ways to ease their burden. I also hope to be able to teach him more English, but I obviously have zero experience in that. I’m gonna have to start looking into that as soon as possible. Most of my free time now is spent messaging home because I miss everyone. 😂

Yan arranged driving lessons for me next Wednesday (4/4) at a driving school. Pray that I will be able to learn as much as possible in the shortest possible time and get a good idea of driving in the city. So far, I’m quite used to driving in the little towns and mountain roads already, but it’s a whole new game to drive in the city. The “priority to the right” rule takes awhile to get used to.

Vanessa looks overwhelmed all the time, but she’s been amazing and patient with me. She has flared up at Yan and the kids a couple of times in the past week. Pray that she will have enough rest at night and my presence would really mean something more tangible for her, so she can get more rest. I am even considering to cook on more days, so that they don’t have to rush back to make dinner for the kids everyday. I enjoy cooking, but if I really do this so early into my year with them, I’m afraid I’ll be stuck to it for the rest of the year.

I still miss all of you, my friends and family back in Singapore, but I’m slowly accepting the fact that I’m stuck here for the next couple of months. I’m looking forward to the end of winter so I can finally go out and enjoy the sun which I love so much. Please don’t hesitate to call or text me anytime, because hearing from anyone back at home makes my day. 😉

Once again, thanks for praying! 🙆🏻

[24 March, Saturday, 4:17AM SGT]

One week has past. Thank God for everything that has happened so far, everything going pretty well and smooth.

Breakfast as a family. Left to right: Maxence (Louka’s friend), Louka, Paul, Arthur, Yan, Vanessa
The boys having their tea break in the garden. Left to right: Louka, Arthur, Louka’s friend

Pray for healing for my hands. They are hurting like crazy from the cold weather. I try to put cream as frequently as I possibly can but because I’m handling a baby everyday, I am hardly able to care for my poor chapped hands. It hurts even at the touch of water. 😭

So painful 😭

Thank God that Paul (baby) has been superb when it’s just us. Pray that he will continue to be good with me.

Paul and I hanging out

Louka (middle child, 10yo) is an emotional kid who is insecure and wants attention from the rest of the family. He is not warmed up with me as much yet though. Pray that he will be warmed up and not be hindered by the language barrier between us. I see a lot of opportunities to teach this young kid important values as an older sister, in ways that I think the parents are not able to do, so pray that God will use me to reach this young child.

Arthur (oldest, 14yo) is an independent kid who is super easy going. He’s great so far, and very welcoming towards me in every area. He also talks to me a lot more than Louka, but I’m not sure what I can do with him or teach him. Pray that I’ll be able to find or even create opportunities to get to know him better. We are, afterall, going to be spending a year together.

Yan and Vanessa has been great host, very generous, respectful, patient, and accommodating. I can’t express enough of my thankfulness to God for them. I’ve read of so many horror stories of how hosts exploit their au pairs and treat them badly, so I’m really really glad that I am living in such a great house with breathtaking views, and with a family that welcomes me as their own.

My amazing hosts

Driving is a huge problem, mainly because of the left hand drive, mountain roads, and tons of roundabouts. There’s a roundabout like every 5 to 10 minutes of drive, I’m not even exaggerating. The mountain roads all look the same to me, at least for now they do, and there are no signs. So I kind of really have to remember the routes by heart, which normally wouldn’t be difficult, except there are so many turns and they have no lamps at night. My host who drives Louka to and fetches him from school every day even made a wrong turn when we went there yesterday. Also, they have these weird rule where drivers going straight don’t actually have the right of way on some roads, even though it’s not a stop line. And it’s not even at a traffic light! Pray that I’ll really be able to adapt to the differences quickly so I can start driving without my hosts. Otherwise, I’m stuck at home everyday.

I made them my first Singaporean meal earlier this week and they loved it. Thank God for that cos I personally think it wasn’t great at all. I guess they were just being polite? Anyway, it’s hard to find ingredients here and everything is so expensive. 4-5 heads of onions costs like 1euro? That’s about S$1.70. I wonder which gold mine they grow their food from. Though they pay for everything, I also don’t want to be spending their money like I don’t care that they worked hard for it. Pray that I’ll be able to come up with Singaporean recipes with ingredients that are more readily available here and affordable enough to feed all of us.

Last but not least, in fact, probably the most, I miss you, all my friends, like really really miss. I didn’t expect to do so badly after just one short week here. Maybe it’s because I keep thinking that I’m going to be here for a year and it’s barely started. Anyway, I miss home, and I wish I can fly home now. I feel like this is enough for me, one week is enough experience for me. But please don’t encourage me to go home now, because it’s only going to make me feel worse knowing that I am absolutely capable of doing that yet would and could not. Just pray for me. Pray that I’ll be able to deal with those emotions and trust God. Pray that I’ll keep depending on God and talking to Him. I noticed I keep forgetting to pray and give thanks to God for every little thing I have here. There’s so much to be thankful for, that hopefully and prayerfully, would keep my eyes on Him, my Help, Strength, and Provider, rather than on my own abilities and the family.

Thanks for praying! 😉

[17 March, Saturday, 4:25PM SGT]

Thank God for safe arrival in France after 61 hours flight delay and a 3 days 2 nights staycation at our airport hotel.

Thank God for amazing hosts who have been super patient and super thoughtful. They planned for my arrival and sent all 3 kids away on the night I arrived so that I’ll be able to rest well. They also offered to pay for part of my super expensive flight because of the delays and my flight connection cancellations.

Thank God for the amazing house and the breathtaking views. I have a room to myself with my own toilet and washing machine, and a kitchenette on top of the bigger kitchen they have on another level of the house.

My room
View from second level where Paul and I hang out most of the time
The day it snowed

Thank God the baby likes me and the family so far has been very nice.

Pray that we will continue to get along well.

The two older boys (Louka and Arthur) are returning on Monday night. Pray that they will be warmed up to me fast.

Arthur, Vanessa (mother), and Sylvie (grandmother) don’t speak or understand much English. So far, Van, Sylvie and I have been getting along alright despite the difficulty in communication. They have been super warm and welcoming and we’ve been trying very hard to understand each other. Pray that I will be able to pick up my French again quickly enough to make conversation with them properly. If that doesn’t happen, pray that difficulty in communication will not be the barrier between us and we will still be able to get along. I’m quite concern that I’ll miss out things because they told me in French but I didn’t get it.

I have not been sleeping very well and wake up very early naturally everyday, perhaps due to jet lag, but I actually think it’s because I miss my friends at home and want to catch them at a time that they are available to talk. Pray for good and sufficient rest, not that I won’t miss my friends any less, but that at least, I’ll be able to sleep and be well enough to take care of baby Paul.

I still haven’t got down to looking for a church. Please pray that this will work out somehow. There’s a church near us, but it’s quite cold and wet outside. So until I get a hang of the left hand drive, I highly doubt I’ll be able to survive the walk to church in the cold weather, even though it’s just 15 minutes away.

The family has also requested for me to cook an Asian meal every week, when I only planned to do it once a month. Pray that this will work out fine too, and if I can’t manage, that they will be ok if I want to change the frequency.

Last but not least, thank you all, my friends, for being so awesome in the past one week, for the overwhelming love and support I’ve received in the past 3 weeks from the time I announce my departure. And thanks for praying! 😘

[7 March, Wednesday, 4:21PM SGT]

Pray for good rest. There’d been so many “farewell” gatherings with different friends and it’s SO tiring. I’m super drained and haven’t been getting good sleep at night, which makes the day activities even more draining.

I’m still behind in my preparations, there are so many things I hope to be able to do before I leave but have to let go of some since I really don’t have that much energy. Here are some of the things I still don’t have time to get down to.

– Prepare recipes and ingredients to make an Asian meal once a month for the family.

– Prepare gifts for each member of the family. I’m halfway through this.

– Prepare some simple lessons for Paul (1 yo) and some cultural exchange topics to discuss with Louka, Arthur, and their parents.

– Revise my French.

Thanks for praying!

[6 March, Tuesday, 11:06AM SGT]

I just realized how bad the English was previously, sorry for that, I’ve updated with proper (hopefully) English! 😂

Pray that the no harm will come to the children under my care. I will be spending most of my time with 1 year old Paul, and send and fetch 10 years old Louka and 14 years old Arthur to school and other activities daily.

Pray that the 3 boys will be open to me and see me as their older sister, someone they can talk to and play with, but also show me due respect, especially because of my size. 😂

Thank God for a really nice and understanding host who told me he’ll give me two weeks to orientate. Pray that I’ll get a hang of left hand drive and familiarise with driving in the cold roads of France as quickly as possible.

I’m super scared of cold. The hottest months in summer have an average temperature of 20℃ (according to Google). Pray that I will not just stay at home with Paul all the time but occasionally go out and spend time with other people, or just do things outside.

Pray that my hosts (Yan and Vanessa) will communicate freely and honestly with me and tell me when I do something wrong or when I’m not performing up to their expectations, so that we can clear things up easily without bearing grudges.

Pray that I’ll keep up with a healthy lifestyle (food and exercise) so that I am well enough to care for the 3 boys and not falling sick all the time.

Pray that I’ll be able to find a church to worship in and Christians whom I can fellowship with.

I lost my Dad 2 years ago and recently, a dear friend, so the pain of loss is still fresh and it makes me scared sometimes. Pray that God’s protective hands will be over my family and friends and that I will trust God to protect them, especially my 90 years old grandmother.

Most importantly and above all else, pray that even if nothing goes my way, I will hold on to God and trust Him with all my heart, leaning not on my own understanding but in all my ways acknowledge Him.Thank you!

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