Everything Else | Travel

What I learned in the last 2 years

February 26, 2018

It has always been my dream to experience working abroad. Since I resigned from my job and lost my Dad to cancer in 2015, I’ve started seeking out such opportunities more actively. This journey took me more than two years. As I reflect back on how far I have come, I realized that I have learned so many precious lessons that transformed me in many ways.

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.”  ― Proverbs 3:13-14 (ESV)


The true depth of grief and loss


The first two years leading up to where I currently stand was almost unbearable. Many friends asked why I left my job. At that point, I was in too much pain to answer that question and simply came up with different excuses just to shoo them away. The truth, I know all so well, is that all I wanted then, was to spend whatever remaining time my Dad had with him. Unfortunately, I was struggling with the pain of the possibility of losing my Dad so much that I couldn’t even visit him at the hospice, even up to his last breath. In the five days of the wake, I forced myself to be strong because I knew what I had to be in order to see through the entire wake. Each time I looked back at that season when I just lost someone who loved me so dearly that he cried out for me in his pain, I wished I could say I survived because I was strong, but I know it is God’s grace and strength that carried me and is still carrying me through the pain. Since then, not a day has past that I don’t miss my Dad. That was the first time I understood the true depth of loss and grief. It is true, you can never get over grief and the pain of losing someone, you just learn to manage that pain that lives in you till you die.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it.
You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again but you will never be the same.
Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”  ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


Nothing is wasted with God


Another question I frequently get is regarding my plans moving forward.

Each time this question is asked, I would question my own convictions and doubt myself. Perhaps catching up should be more about what has happened and what is happening in our lives now, and less about what is going to happen in the future, that which no one can tell you with certainty! If you want to know what is going to happen for your friends and family in the future, try being there for them and with them in that future!

For the past 2 years, I tried every possibility and created every opportunity I could to land in a job abroad. From full-time jobs to internships to working holidays to work exchanges and even volunteering, I exhausted every possibility I knew, wrote to countless organizations and did countless video interviews. I, too, was exhausted by the sheer amount of energy and time I’ve put in. Each time I hit the wall and someone asks me that annoying question again, I hated myself for making that decision even more, and questioned if all that work was going to get me anywhere. Through it all, I am thankful for the precious friends God placed in my life, to constantly remind me that nothing is ever wasted with God.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.”
Proverbs 3:5-8 (ESV)


Say it because you mean it


Exactly 60 days ago, we lost a dear friend, sister and teacher. When I first heard the news, I could not believe it. My heart sank and I could not control my emotions. All the questions I had and regrets I held overwhelmed my weak heart so much that I had a panic attack. For days, I hid in my room crying out in disbelief and anger towards God. Attending the wake was even more unbearable. Looking at her lifeless body lying in the coffin and the photos of all the times we shared, remembering all the lessons she taught me and the conversations we had, I wished it was just a dream I can wake up from. All the pain of loss that I’ve only just learned to manage a little better with, once again consumed me.

After my Dad died, I became so fearful of losing my grandmother, whom I love with all my heart, that I would wake up in the middle of the night shaking in tears and fearing that she might be gone. When my dear friend died, this fear extended to include my friends and I experienced sudden bursts of intense fear whenever someone delays replying my text, worrying that something had happened to them. It was so overwhelming that I had to text a friend whom I knew would always reply my messages immediately just to be assured that someone is still there. As I prepare for what is coming ahead for me, especially in view of all that has happened, I realized that I value people so much that everything else fades in comparison and nothing is worth more than having the people I love by my side, and letting them know how much I love them. I was never someone good at expressing my thoughts, much less my feelings for those I care about. However, in the past two years and especially more so in the last 60 days, I’ve realized the importance of telling them what they mean to me and to remind each of them that someone loves them dearly and want to be there for them. I’ve said “I love you” to my friends more times than I can count and remember and I will continue to say it, simply because I truly feel that way and want them to know that.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise
Blessings, Laura Story


God never lets us go even when we struggle to hold on to Him


As I come close to leaving the home I have grown to be familiar and comfortable with, all while the pain of loss still weighs heavily in my heart, I struggle so much to find peace in the decision that I’ve made to leave those I love dearly and cannot bear to say goodbye to. Despite the assurances from everywhere and everyone that everything will be alright and I will have a great time in France, nothing has calmed the storm inside me. Nothing but the truth that God is with me wherever I go, and no matter how much loss I experience in life, I will never lose Him because He will never let me go.

One night, a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

In each scene he noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

He noticed that during the low periods of his life, when he was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, he could see only one set of footprints, so he said to the Lord,

“You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?”

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”
Footprints in the sand

Joette Quek

Joette is proud to be a jack of all trades but not so excited about being the master of none. She believes in creating opportunities and making things happen as the idea strikes, rather than waiting forever. She started this website to share her experiences and help others find answers to common struggles of living in a fast-paced world where we hold responsibility for our decisions.

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