Friday, December 30, 2005

blessings from above

It's amazing how I get more presents during Christmas compared to my birthday. And I thought Christmas is Jesus' birthday...

handmade gift

Anyways, I am not complaining. This Christmas has been special on many levels. Not just because of the gifts. This year I am reminded of God's providence for the things I need and sometimes, want.

Ever since I got myself involved with the Japanese scholarship thingy (and that's a huge chunk of this year), I've been spending quite a bit. Nihon-go lessons, IELTS paper and multiple trips back to campus, just to name a few. Then there were the other indirect costs such as phone calls and mails to Japan.

So much so that came December the one main thought that loomed in my mind was that Christmas would be another purse-draining exercise. We all know how commercialised the festive season has become. I dreaded having to jostle with the other urbanites in a bid to get gifts. Good gifts, mind you.

It didn't help that those that were within my budget looked too tacky and cheap. I was quite sure that there must be a solution to my gift buying woes. With 1 week to Christmas, I was still wracking my brains thinking what to do. I just couldn't endure the traffic jams outside the malls anymore.

In the end, God came through for me. Somehow, in His own way, He provided. It just reinforced the fact that when God answers prayers, it's in His own timing and manner, and most of the times in ways we least expect.

This year, I didn't have to spend as much, but I was able to give a whole lot more presents to more people this time around. Thank God for (the gift of creativity and) unexpected blessings. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

mewwy chwistmas

Please pardon the lack of updates these 2 weeks. Christmas and New Year are really great opportunities to spend time with friends and family. As cliche as that sounds, that's what I'm actually doing.

I was off since last Friday noon and will only be coming back to work next year, the 3rd to be exact! Since I've been neglecting not been able to spend much time with my loved ones due to my hectic schedule, I've decided to make up for that by taking the whole week off.

Will also try to write my essays as well. Holidays aren't really conducive for something as thinking up grand plans for the future and convincing the uni that you deserve to be accepted into their school. But hey, a grrl's gotta do what a grrl's gotta do.

In keeping this short and sweet, I bid all of you adieu and have yourselves a fantabulous Christmas (it ain't over yet for me!) and may His wondrous love and abundant blessings continue to overflow the coming year.

P/s : celeri asked me to convey the news that the IDP people have rectified the mistake in her results, and sends her love to all. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

my s3x change

dear ah beng,

i went to collect my ielts results this morning. guess what? i got 8.0 leh! can't believe right? ah lian like me also can score in engrish test. don't play-play.

actually hor, my engrish dem terror wan, if i had more time to study, sure can score 9.0. but then, since i put my first language as chinese, i better not score so high. if not, they sure dun belif and will think i cheat or something.

but i very happy lor, i always thought my engrish quite terrible wan. i never even sat for my 1119 or toefl last time. scared i fail mar. then dun wan to waste my ah-ma and ah-pa's hard earned money.

this time, i show to the world my engrish quite high standard. haha.

one thing i upset lor, these people dunno how to key in my details properly. put me as MALE!! what the duck? my picture so clearly shows that i'm charboh, they put M next to my gender.

how can this be?

now i have to go back there to ask them to change, then have to go back again to collect my results. so mafan i tell you. already i told my boss i had "some errands to run", what should i tell her next?

nevermind la, that one small matter oni. coz you know why? i very happy coz i scored in my engrish test!

your dahling,

Thursday, December 15, 2005

nihon-go no shiken

Praise the Lord! I passed - with flying colours! Woohoo!

Full marks for the writing, but I missed out by 1 mark in the speaking section. It must've been the longer questions where I went "Er..hmm... huh?". Maybe I should have said sumimasen like a polite Nihon-jin instead of giving her that confused look.

shiken results
We got back our results the same day, and a certificate of completion too.

So it wasn't the most muzukashii paper I've ever sat for, but the late nights were well worth it. I was aiming to do well, but this was far better than expected.

What can I say but all glory to God? :)

Oh, let me teach you a new phrase - omedetou gozaimasu. It is used to congratulate a person and can be used in various occasions like weddings and birthdays. You may start practicing by saying that to me :D

nihon-go no shiken = japanese test
sumimasen = excuse me, sorry
Nihon-jin = Japanese national
muzukashii = difficult

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

tis more blessed to give than to receive

I'm happy! Only one more paper to go, my Japanese test is tomorrow. I'll be getting my IELTS result this Friday, and for the whole of next week, I can concentrate on writing my essays.

Can't wait for the end of the year. Was really looking forward to the Christmas week. By November I was already thinking of the gatherings and festivities, the food and fellowship.

Then I realised, what is Christmas without Christ? This year I was caught up with all things but the birthday Boy. How could I have gotten so carried away by all the merriment, and left out the reason why Christmas is celebrated in the first place.

I was worried about what to give to my colleagues for Christmas this year. It has always been my tradition to bless them with a little gift. I do that for my grrlfriends too. Since there are about 20 of them altogether, I try to get something meaningful with the limited budget that I have.

After awhile, I began to run out of ideas. Candles, chocolates, candy canes - they've all gotten them from me. I even varied the way I presented them - ribbons, lace pouches, glossy wrappers, mini paper bags. In the midst of all these, I started wondering why was I taking so much effort making fancy wrappers and putting cute pressies when I should be the one receiving presents at this time of the year.

The selfish me reared its ugly head and started to doubt my own good deeds. Here I was, spending hours thinking how to put my creativity to good use, and coming up with unique gifts when I'm the one celebrating Christmas and not them.

But I love making pressies. (Well, given the luxury of time, I'd love to give everyone handmade pressies if possible.) More so when the recipient enjoys the gift. Once in awhile I receive grateful notes of thanks and appreciative comments on my efforts. That itself makes the whole giving exercise a worthwhile effort.

This year, I'm planning to continue with the tradition, but perhaps on a scaled down level. One of the Daily Bread readings reminded me of the reason why we're celebrating Christmas. It was one of those "What has gotten into me?!" moments. With that in mind, I will plan my festive activities, and yes that includes gift getting, with Him as the central reason.

Hmm, maybe I'll make cards this time around?

Monday, December 05, 2005

2 down, 1 to go

Woohoo! I've just finished my IELTS paper! Thank God I survived. Ironically, it's the part which I prepared the least that I think I did the best.

Speaking section was quite ok, though I wondered why the examiner looked so anxious to go on to the next question as soon as I complete my sentences. It was like that for the first part.

I thought perhaps I was talking too much, my verbosity exceeding the time limit. So I spoke less the next round. This time, she looked expectantly at me, as if waiting for me to talk some more. But my brains were beginning to tune themselves to stop spewing out words after a certain time.

In the end I think I talked too much for the section which required simple responses and stinged on my words on that which called for more elaborate answers. :p

The was Friday noon. I woke up to the sounds of rain pitter-pattering on the roof the morning after. Having slept at 2:30 trying to do IELTS sample papers, waking up at 7 was no fun at all. All I wanted was to cuddle up in my blanket and wished my paper was another day.

Hanging around outside the hall stirred up pre-exam butterflies in the stomach. The waiting, the last minute memorising and the anxious looks. It reminded me of uni days when a confident front was put up as a million charts and notes run through the mind. It was all too familiar.

The listening test was as I had expected. Fairly easy throughout, but tricky at the end. I must've missed some key points - damn British accent of theirs! Ditto for the reading section, minus the accent.

Now, I must say that I have not been practicing on the writing part because of the lack of time. Even with trying to jot down points to make up a story, I didn't think I did as good as I should have. After all, it's been years since I last sat down and wrote a summary to describe 3 pie charts! What more an argumentative essay at that.

Without the flexibility and ease of typing on a computer, needless to say, I was tired out halfway writing my essays. I don't think I've ever written on paper this much since I graduated from uni. Thank goodness it was the last section. I just wanted to get it over and done with. And funnily, my pieces came out quite well, despite my inadequacies.

My plans to reward myself with a shopping treat had to be cancelled. I was more than zombified at the end of it. My bed had never looked so tempting, my brains never been so taxed...

Friday, December 02, 2005

early december updates

1 down, 2 to go
Now that I've gotten the guitar showcase out of the way, I can concentrate on my IELTS paper and Japanese test. Speaking of which, I'll be going for the Speaking section of the IELTS this afternoon, and the rest of the sections tomorrow morning. Oh boy, I can't wait to be assessed.

So blessed
Having to pay for various things last 2 months has left me quite broke. Insurance premium, guitar lessons for the semester, IELTS paper, passport renewal, multiple birthday celebrations have taken its toll on my finances.

As if answering an "unprayed" prayer, God blessed me with a colleague who now carpools with me to work. It's not much, but at least it's something. She offers to pay for parking when she follows me to work and for toll on the way back.

Neither here nor there
Said colleague ain't very well liked by the seniors. She's relatively new and doesn't quite fit in - let's just say her personality clashes with the general character of the department. It falls on me to be the kind senior, whatmore with her sitting in front of me, and staying in Subang as well.

I take effort to make her feel belonged and help her out with certain issues. But everytime that happens, she takes advantage of my niceness and the relationship takes a few steps back. I can understand why the rest aren't very approving of her.

So much so that it has become a dilemma as when I'm with both sides, I'm inevitably caught in the middle. There is a sort of awkward silence whenever that happens. My attempt at making conversation on neutral topics helps, but not all the time!