Merry Christmas Lah!

Of year two in Malaysia, term one is nearly over.

This term I’ve hit Ipoh, Bali and Malacca and it’s been great. Malaysia you are beautiful and you are forever surprising me. There has been survival of the first term of School of Leadership- even managing to complete the majority of my tasks, and as I haven’t been asked to leave my job yet I must’ve done ok! Overall I would consider it a success.
Considering Malaysia is a largely Muslim country it certainly looks pretty christmassy. The Malls are looking beautiful and Micheal Buble is playing around every corner. Everyone is going all out.

It cannot be argued that it is a little strange. Last week we had sports day (it is december, that just NEVER happens in the UK, with the weather and all) christmas party in quick succession, and christmas party at the weekend. Throw in the tropical weather, the sweat and the continuous frizzy hair and then ask me why I’m a little confused! My body has had about 22 years of seasons, and is used to cold weather (wearing countless layers and mostly darkness) on the build up to christmas. I do have very kind friends that encourage this christmas excitement by making their AC in their car freeeezzinggggg and singing christmas songs at me. It does help a little I guess.

So with this in mind I took matters into my own hands: dug out the old spotify playlist- whacked up the AC and commenced the creation of christmas bunting. My icy attitude is beginning to thaw… I WILL get excited no matter what it takes!

Having said all that, I’m totally gearing up to hit the only place I want to be at christmas. This girl is flying northwest for the winter! At home in the shire with the Gatland clan. (In Sussex, England with my family- for all of you who don’t speak Becca!) I can’t wait to catch up with all, bake a ridiculous amount of treats (including the annual alternative gingerbread house) eat meat again, see London all lit up, breathe fresh air, drive again and let’s not forget enjoy the beauty of the Sussex countryside. You can take the girl out of Sussex but you can’t take Sussex out of the girl.

This is our ‘Dinsoaurs have invaded’ gingerbread house from last year.

Oh yeah, there is the small matter of giving Ying Ying her first english christmas. Are you ready for the social media frenzy that is Ying Ying on tour? Because it is certainly coming whether you like it or not!

I cannot forget how lucky I am that I am even able to travel home. It is a big journey and it certainly is not cheap. I would not be going if it wasn’t for my super generous grandfather and parents who I appreciate so much! Every christmas that I am living abroad but am able to make it home I will value so so much.

 

4 days and counting! Sussex we are coming for you!

Weekend // Contrasts

Yesterday I cried in a random KTM train station in the face of difficulty.  

Today I can laugh in the face of the love of my Father.

Let me rewind a bit. I love to embrace the weekend, and yesterday I was excited for a packed day of celebrations, good food and lovely people. First stop was a birthday brunch in Bu9 round the corner. Delicious. Easy. Next stop was a pool party in Kajang for the late afternoon.

On paper it looks easy, and I thought ‘Yes time for an adventure!’ Perhaps I was a bit ambitious.  Kajang is a bit further out than I have travelled alone before, but I knew you could take public transport. It would take an hour max.

3 hours involving one taxi, one lRT then one train journey later, I arrived at the station I needed.  After 3 cancelled taxis with one on the way to take me to my final destination, my phone decided it was the perfect time to completely die. I had no idea where I was and I had no idea what to do. Even if I had a working phone who would I even call?

Fortunately I had my charger, so I resorted to going back into the station and (fighting back tears) I asked the attendant to help me. I have never felt so vulnerable in Malaysia as I did at that moment.

Looking back, it was the loss of control that got to me. I am proud to be an independent woman- able to deal with most situations, and I love being able to do so without asking for help. On the other hand, I also do ‘damsel in distress’ extremely well. Friends have told me so. But it depends on the situation. At this point at this remote station I couldn’t even reach out due to lack of technology and language barriers.

 

Today is a different story. Just reaching HopeCity church and getting back into the family groove re-aligned my thinking and my priorities. Giving to the ‘first fruits’ offering gave a new perspective that is bigger than my small problem of  getting stuck in a station. Seeing what is above eye level.

You’re probably reading this thinking,’Big deal Becca!’, but it taught me some important lessons.

In the words of the one and only Ying Ying Tan; you don’t need a man, you need the MRT. She is not wrong. Also that it’s ok to be vulnerable. I’m definitely still learning how to balance between ‘strong independent woman’ and ‘damsel in distress’. Thank you Malaysia for always pushing me and teaching me.

 

On a happy note, my weekend ended like this (like it started):

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Monday we’re nearly ready for you!

Hello September

This year is the new beginning. I feel like I should either say yes now and go forward, or turn back. I’m choosing the first.

This is the year I truly say yes, I’m all in. Not, I’m in when I feel like it, but yes to the uncertain, yes to the downright scary, yes to new adventures. This week I am listening to God call me to start the preparations for the future that He has called me to. I’m finally accepting that these future plans won’t just suddenly roll out from nowhere, but in fact they are real and foundations need to be built, paths need to be cleared.

So yes, this is me saying I’m planning on going for it. I am terrified. I will most certainly be tired. But wow I am excited!

 

Time for round two.

KL, I’m back!

The end of the last term at school left me exhausted in every way, but here I am back in the place that feels so like home right now. The Island-UK-Island holiday sandwich filled with copious amounts of sleep fixed it all.

I’m ready. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind:  I flew in on a friday night, little sleep then straight to the first ever ‘She Is’ conference in Asia! A big sleep after that meant no jet lag to speak of at all.

So what’s new? Well, back to the same city, same apartment and the same school for another year. But everything is new.  I’m now teaching in the EAL department (english as an additional language), once I’ve figured out the rabbit hole that is timetabling it’s going to be the best thing.

It looks like ‘adulting’ is the theme right now as I navigate the confusing waters that is the Malaysian tax system for expats. Am I a resident or non resident? At this point I don’t think anyone knows. To further my progression into adulthood, I’m looking for a car and maybe will join a gym. I will try to take it a bit easy as I Don’t want to break any more limbs thank you very much!). I’m also planning on sewing myself a new wardrobe.

At church, I’m going to start helping to lead a mid week ‘Connect’ group as Hopecity is expanding rapidly! Daniel and I will be in SS15 (all I know is it’s very near Sunway Pyramids, the best mall in KL) if you’re around please join us! I’m also considering the HopeCity School of Leadership. Trying this new thing, getting serious by going for it! Why not just do everything you can right?

2 weeks in and it’s not until taxi drivers ask me where I’m from that I remember that I’m not from around here. How can just a year make you feel so at home somewhere on the other side of the world?

I’m so looking forward to the routine and getting stuck in, in every area. I can’t wait for my brother Dan to visit KL in October, and then to take Ying Ying with me to the homeland at christmas! And all the other trips not yet planned.

So yeah, that’s what new with me. What have you been up to?

From bicyles to Mojitos and everything in between: Lily comes to town

Rewind a few weeks: loving the job but craving some adventure.. this ‘half term/long weekend’ just passed was exactly what I needed. What a difference a friend from the homeland makes.

Lily arrived in the way she always does, looking as beautiful and as stylish as ever, not like she’d been travelling for 16 hours plus. Of course, she wasn’t jet lagged and jumped into Malaysia life straight away! As soon as we arrived at my apartment from the airport we got packing for our weekend road trip. No sleep? No problem.

That first evening I took her to Taman Megah with some friends, a chinese food court where she tried everything that was thrown at her. Prawn Mee was her fave. We’re pretty sure there was no meat… ? We may have accidentally ate fish head curry- though afterwards promised not the head part thankfully! Oh, and witnessed a nice British man eat a fish eye.. which I will never unsee.

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Melaka

The next morning we jumped in the car  of the one and only Ruth and road tripped it to Melaka, 2 hours away. The drive was beautiful, empty roads, great music, the best company.

It was so very easy. We simply spent the day cycling round the city. Melaka seems to be like a mini European/Asian Penang type situation with an abundance of cute cafes and street art. I’ve never been to Amsterdam, but it’s like what I imagine it to be. These beautiful bikes, a throwback to my beloved Uni bike, only cost 8 Malaysian ringos for the day. I absolutely wish we brought them home, just to decorate the flat, not being funny there are way too many hills in PJ!

I can truly say this was one of the best days in a long time, cycling around a gorgeous new place with no plan, nowhere to be except for all the uh-mazing coffee shops and restaurants. With two of the greatest people I know!

Our hotel, the Baba house, recommended by the living legend Ying Ying was absolutely gorgeous. A super old Chinese house with corridors and corridors to explore. I think we were pretty comfortable as we slept TWELVE HOURS. That’s a personal highlight of the weekend, I’m not ashamed to admit!

The city

As we weren’t flying anywhere I decided to book a hotel in KL city centre in order to be a better tour guide. Somewhere central and simple. That plan changed in a big way when I found a deal for the traders hotel.. I couldn’t resist! It was incredible, our room had the biggest view of the Petronas towers, along with the colourful fountains and a fab glimpse of the city skyline.

After free drinks in the executive lounge we set off for a night in the city. After a slight hiccup of leaving Ruth unattended in a bar for an hour (I am so sorry lovely!), we were joined by my current favourite couple Hannah and Deejay.  Hello Mojito buffet! The next day, after the most glorious breakfast spread of my short life, we did the typical KL shopping experience: Chinatown for the fake handbags, Sentral market for the fabric, and Suria Mall for the brands.

Then Lily came to church with me! Lily, it was so great having you in my current world! I really appreciate you taking the time to come along and I can’t wait for you to return the KL for a few more days on thursday. Helipad and sushi here we come!

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Jeremiah 29.11

So I may have news! The details are boring but the fact is I’m staying here in KL next year. I’m going to be doing something that I really want to be doing. This means two years in the same city! I’m content that I’ll be starting a new academic year in a familiar place. The job will be new and definitely challenging, but I’ll know exactly where to buy my favorite coffee and hand bags straightaway. All those important things!

There was a time of waiting and worrying on my part while I was waiting on news… but this verse came to mind..

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And that absolutely happened. I feel like I’m finally learning that these things do not need to be dealt with in my own strength!  Love it when a plan, of which I have no idea about, falls into place so easily around me. I love standing here and looking back at the pattern of my life so far. School, my impact year, university, and even Dakar last year is building on something for the future. Who knows what it will look like. My past relationships and experiences will add up to something.

Now I have a new lease of life and a love for this city. Although I don’t think it will be forever (Africa I miss you!), this country girl is embracing the city life! I have made some incredible friends, I’m getting involved with Hopecity church as much as they will allow me, even work is finding its own rhythm.

There are a few plans I would like to start setting in motion now I most certainly have the time…

  1. Operation decorate. Make the appartment a bit more homely. Hello sewing machine, it’s about time you were put to work!
  2. Expand the travelling net. I would LOVE to visit: Japan (all the sushi), the Phillipines (Mum has a friend there and I’ve heard a rumour of a missionary boat!) and lastly New Zealand (to visit family on my dads side! They came to visit us in England when I was about 15… would be great to see them again!).
  3. Somehow acquire a car. Would love to be more independent. Even just for going to waterfalls, food shoppin and helping out with church things. Looking at the money situation, I am currently praying in faith for a car!