VFS Global UK Visa Application Experience in Malaysia

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This is an account of my experience with VFS global in Malaysia. Please understand that everyone’s visa application situation is different and I am in no position to offer any advice on what you should do. I am simply giving my account as i felt some comfort reading about other people’s account when i went through this terrible experience with VFS Global and thought it could help someone.

I have divided this post into several sections so that you can skip the whole narrative of the entire process and go to the section that you’re most interested in. The sections are:

  1. Basic information about my visa application situation
  2. The appointment phase
  3. After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase
  4. The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase
  5. Going to VFS without a confirmation email
  6. Summary

Note: Each situation may vary for each individual.

Basic information about my visa application situation:

I applied for the Tier 4 Student visa, i made my application in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, I did not pay for any premiums nor did I pay for it to be delivered to my home address. Btw, my husband and i applied together which is key to this experience of mine.

The Appointment phase

My appointment was on 9th August 2019 and it took about 3 hours to hand in my passport which is ridiculous, the reason being that they only had one counter open to scan your biometrics. I was annoyed especially when i wanted to buy some water for my husband (the water dispenser in the waiting area was broken/had no water) and was told to wait till i had scanned my biometrics to buy water. The boy was even snarky and said that if i left the waiting area, i would have to wait all over again. It had already taken an hour and a half just for 30 numbers to be called, and i had to wait for another 30 numbers to be called to get my biometrics. It was a good thing that i ignored the snark remark made by the boy at the counter because a) he wasn’t there to make sure i stayed in the waiting room b) i was right, it did take that long. I just said that i needed to go to the bathroom which was outside and happily made my way to buy some water and even run some errands! (Please note that i first handed my documents to the counter then waited for them to call my name to return my passport then only did i leave. Make sure you get your passport back first before leaving the waiting room area).We were told that since it was a Friday, the 15 working days processing time will only be counted starting from Monday, even though it was a holiday in Malaysia because it wasn’t a holiday in the philippines (more about this later). At the end of the three hours i was tired and felt i had wasted so much time just waiting to do something so simple. Who knew that this was just the tip of the iceberg.

After the appointment, 15 working days processing time phase:

On Monday we got an email saying that our passports had been received at the processing centre at Sheffield, which is a huge lie because i was told by the staff that they processed it in the Philippines. I don’t understand why they needed to lie and say Sheffield, maybe it’s to legitimise their scheme? Come on VFS Global, we know the UK government has already outsourced the visa processing to your company, we don’t need a show. So the wait begun. By right, 15 working days from 12th August (monday) would mean that it would be done on the 30th August.

The collection email and getting my husband’s passport phase:

However, on 23 August (Friday), my husband received an email that his passport and visa were ready for collection. Was it approved or rejected? It didn’t say. Worried that it was rejected, we made it a point to go on Monday so that if it was rejected we would have enough time to reapply. At this point, i had not gotten an email and didn’t think much of it.

Monday came along and we went there at 3.20pm, by then the line for collection was so long that it had snaked a couple of times around the outside of the office. Please note that the time listed on the receipt for collection is 3pm. So the wait began, I left my husband at the office to collect his passport and I went shopping to kill time thinking it would take only an hour at most, after all, they just had to give him the passport right? Wrong. It took three hours, and it was three hours of standing, you’re not allowed to sit in the waiting area.

After that long ordeal, my husband got his passport back and it was approved. I think it’s a terrible thing that they don’t tell you if your visa has been approved until you collect it, why is it so difficult to add in an extra line to reassure someone instead of leaving them anxious and wondering?

Anyways, when he got his passport, it suddenly dawned upon us that we were going to Singapore on the weekend and I needed my passport! This was when I got really worried. My passport should technically be done by Friday, but what if we could only collect it on Monday? We would have missed our flight and trip.

We prayed and hoped that if my husband had gotten his passport then there would be a chance that mine was done too. I went online and started reading and watching YouTube videos about how bad this company was not just in Malaysia but worldwide too. If you’re interested in reading it here’s the link https://www.trustpilot.com/review/vfsglobal.com.

Going to VFS without a confirmation email: 

Please note i’m basing this on what i experienced in the Kuala Lumpur centre. Situations may vary for different centres. Information is correct at the time of writing this post.

Before i begin with my experience, if you’re here to know whether you can go to the Kuala Lumpur centre without a confirmation email (as of Aug 2019), the answer is yes. This is because, when you’re there, they do not ask to see the confirmation email. They will ask you to hand them the receipt that you were given after your appointment. With that, they will scan the barcode and that will tell them if the centre has received your passport or not.

These are my observations from my time waiting.

  1. What time should i go to the centre? The collection time stated on the receipt is 3pm, however, i went there at 1.50 pm just to start lining up. I was second in line. By 3pm, the line had snaked a couple of rounds. If you came at 3pm, expect to wait at least 2 1/2 hours to collect your passport. (This is for peak periods)
  2. Tips on lining up: There is nothing to indicate where the line starts and ends, well, the line gets really long and snaky so they can’t do much about it, so ask anyone you see if they are at the end of the line, do not simply line up and assume you’re in the right line.
  3. Speaking of which, I was applying for the UK where the amount of applicants was huge, there were others who applied for Canada and they were able to go in quickly because they were on a different line. So please save yourself the hassle and ask. Ask the people lining up, ask the officers there. Double check also cause sometimes, people give you the wrong information.
  4. As stated above, the collection process goes like this. You wait in line. They come up to you and ask for your receipt, in exchange, they give you a number. They will go in and scan your receipt to see if your passport is with them in the centre, if it is you will proceed inside where they will hand you your passport after you have shown some proof of identification. If not, please come back again.
  5. But i called the UK Embassy directly. Because i was at the front of the line, i managed to see the complaint line. This might just be for the Kuala Lumpur centre but those who had complaints such as “It has been more than 15 working days and i have not received a confirmation email” or “I called the UK embassy directly and was told that my passport has been couriered back, but i didn’t receive an email” were put in the line where the guard would attend to them. Let me address the latter and what i saw unfold. There was a guy who also needed his passport as he was going overseas for a holiday the next day. He said he had called the UK embassy and was told that the passport was in the centre. He was in the line that i was in but was put in the complaint line. After a lot of complaining, the guard finally took his receipt and went in to get it scanned. At first it came out with nothing, but the guy insisted that it was there, he was then asked to wait. When it came for his turn for his complaint to be addressed, he was brought into the waiting area and then came out with his passport. I don’t know why he got to cut the line, but the complaint line worked for his.
  6. Complaint line situation 2 “I paid for premium service and still have not gotten an email after 8 working days”. There was a girl who had paid for premium service, and she actually went on the same appointment date as i did. Meaning that, she should have gotten her passport way before me, but here we were. So they took her from the line i was in and put her in the complaint line. They scanned her code two times and both times it said that her passport was not there. Unlike the first situation, she was not brought into the waiting area. My guess is that the other guy got confirmation from the UK embassy that it was there while she did not. She was turned away and couldn’t do anything about it.
  7.  Complaint line situation 3 “I have not received an email even after 15 working days”. This is the standard one, no premium service paid. She was also taken out of the line and put into the complaint line. They scanned her barcode actually found her passport in the centre, unfortunately, the time taken to process her complain was from about 2.15pm to 3.15 pm and by the time she was told that her passport was there, she had to que all over again, it so happened that where she stood was now the end of the line. Like i said before, if you come about 3 or 3.15 pm, expect to wait for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. This, i felt sad for her too because she was not allowed to go back to where she was in line previously but had to wait all over again. Here’s a tip that i’ve learnt from this situation. If you want to complain, bring someone with you to stand in the normal line. At least when your complaint is done (ex. you know your passport is in the centre) then you don’t have to wait too long. They only need the proof of identification at the end, so technically, anyone can stand in line. 
  8. What system do they use to locate my passport (when you know it’s in the centre)? Well, there’s the scanning, but that only tells them that it’s in the centre. It does not tell them which box it’s in or its exact location. For my situation, there was a row of boxes filled with envelopes with barcodes. It was not put in any order because it took them forever to locate my passport.

In the end i did get my passport, but they did not email me a confirmation email. Ironically, half an hour after i collected my passport then only did the email stating that my passport could be collected was received. I don’t know if it’s because they scanned my barcode and it generated an email or something else. Overall, the experience with VFS and applying for my UK visa was bad. This made the US visa application process look like a walk in the park. UK please consider doing the visa application yourself or find a better solution.

Summary:

  1. Additional services: DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT under any circumstances pay for the additional services such as scanning, mailing the passport to your home address or expedited services. You’re burning your money. Also, throwing more money at the company will not help too, they have a monopoly on this and don’t care about their customers complaints.
  2. The website is apparently garbage, my husband had a difficult time uploading the documents. I have read other accounts where they were unable to upload anything.
  3. Appointment phase: Be prepared to wait for hours during peak periods. I had to take half day of leave for this.
  4. Staff: Rude and the appointment centre was severely understaffed. The first lady i met told me that she had been serving customers for 2 1/2 hours straight. For the amount of money they scam from others, they could afford to hire more people. Also, the staff will not allow you to speak to a supervisor or manager, they’re really good at keeping you outside, waiting without any result.
  5. Emails: You may be lucky to get emails from them, you may not. I have read from the forum that emailing them is almost useless because their replies are the standard ones that don’t tell you anything and you are unable to contact them by phone call (i tried)
  6. passport: please take a picture of the condition of your passport before you hand it to them. In some videos and forums, i read that the passport was returned torn and the customer blamed for giving a passport in bad condition. Terrible and dishonest. So, this may not stop your passport from being torn but at least you have evidence to protect yourself from blame.

To the girl of 3 Jan 2013, thank you.

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Please read my post https://mylittlechateau.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/the-packing-dillema/ to get the context of what i’m writing about.

I don’t think one post is enough to fit in all the things i would like to tell you but to sum things up, God has been extremely good to you. I think a good place to start would be to address the questions and the hopes and dreams you had when you wrote that post 6 years ago. Well for one, your writing style has changed a little. You’re a lot more focused in your writing, but i digress

The first thing you talked about was coming back to Malaysia for holidays. In the span of three years of being in the the US you managed to come back once for your first year winter break. The other winter break you decided to go skiing with your friends, that was a good decision because you discovered that you’re a natural at skiing.

Next on the agenda was that you wanted to pursue a double degree. As much as i want to tell you that you did it, it didn’t happen. And if i remember right you wanted to pursue a degree in communications and history. Here’s the thing, the communication thing flew out the window never to be heard of again. Funny thing is, you discovered linguistics and almost majored in it but you were one class short. It’s okay, graduating and discovering the love for a subject you did not know existed is much more important than getting that double major. As for the internship, you got that one checked. In fact, it’s more than you could have ever dreamed of. Hold on to your seat because the things i’m gonna tell you, you will not believe.

So here’s how it goes down. You’ll apply for a job at the international student office but get turned down. You’ll be sad but that’s to be expected. Then one day while you’re desperately going through the jobs page you’ll find a posting for ‘Library Technical Services Assistant’. You will not understand what the job is about but you’ll apply anyway because you LOVE the library and any job there would be a dream job. You will meet your future boss Steve, he’s a nice guy. Towards the end of the interview he will ask you if you have anything to add on and you’ll ramble about how walking in the library and how touching the spines of books just makes you feel at home. As silly and whimsical as that sounds, to this day i believe that is what got you this job. From there you will be given the opportunity to work for the summer, such a bonus because you were hoping for a summer job. This summer job allowed you to work on the Binford collection which introduces you to Amanda from special collections.

One day while you’re busy processing books (yes of course you found out what a library technician does by now) your boss Steve will call you in to his office. He’ll say that you have been promoted to special collections. And by the way, you got that internship for paper conservation over the summer that goes with this promotion. You get trained on basic paper conservation skills and paid too. Oh and you get course credits for it too. Triple score! Are you blown out of your mind yet? (side note, the ladies in special collections love puzzles and you learn how to puzzle like a champion through them, they’re still the best though) Thanks to all the skills you pick up as a paper conservator and museum assistant (Yes you’re hearing me right, you can claim that title) you will get a paid internship at a local museum after you graduate!

In your post you said and i quote “who knows if anything i say in this post will actually happen”. It happens alright. It happens way better than you could ever dream of. Above all the experiences, the dreams come true, the relationships that you’ve formed, you got the most valuable one of all, a relationship with God. Retrospectively, it was when you said you trusted in God and meant it that this whole journey began. Everything that you will go through develops a different form of trust in God. You will learn to trust Him in keeping you safe far away from home, your grades, making friends, getting part time jobs, travel, your future, etc.

But don’t think that you’re an expert in this trust God thing, i’ll tell you why. Remember i said that you will learn about different aspects of trust? Well you haven’t learnt it all yet obviously. Right now i’m 28 and about to embark on a new chapter of life (i’m not gonna tell you about it here, that’s another long story). Emphasis on the word new. Yeah, it’s really challenging to be honest, i’m not gonna lie. It’s 6.35 in the morning and i have not slept a wink all night. It’s a mixture of factors but one of them is worry. Worry about the future. One thing that you will have to re-learn over and over again is that no matter how much you want to know what will happen in the future, you will not be able to truly know. You would think that it’s a simple lesson to learn but we’re human and we forget easily. And that is where remembering what God has done in your life is so important. Doing so acts as proof for the present that the future will be alright.

To the girl of 3rd January 2013, thank you for writing that post. As much as i have to share with you about the things i have learnt and experienced (or you will learn and experience), you have shared with me something as valuable too. A reminder to trust God.

And thank you Lord for this timely reminder because everything, even this post is because of You.

What i’ve learned so far while planning my wedding

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I recently got engaged (about a month ago) and my wedding is in 163 days. That’s roughly 6 months to the wedding date. It’s a relatively short time to plan a wedding, not impossible especially considering the scale that i’m planning for. We estimate about 350 guests which is nothing compared to many other weddings in Malaysia. I guess i’d like to pen down a few thoughts about this entire process and i am not sure if there is a point other than to rant. So here it goes.

  1. When to start planning?

I was honest with my fiance and told him that i needed  a year to plan things. Wait, didn’t you just say you had 6 months to plan it? Yes and no. A lot of the ground work already started 6 months ago when we talked about the possibility of marriage. It was difficult to start planning before I got engaged because i was afraid that I was being presumptuous, if you’re like me then this advice is for you; you need to start because if you’re gonna wait till he proposes to start, you’re going to be filled with a lot of anxiety and stress before and after the proposal. Why before? because you’ll be anxious to start because who isn’t? I’m not the girl who has her wedding planned since she was little so i’ve got a lot of planning to do. At least do some scouting for prices, ask around. It’s also a good time to solidify your wedding vision so that when you get engaged you can hit the ground running. Although, i have to admit that it is a bit challenging because you don’t have a date when you enquire about vendors. You’ll have to come up with an estimate date and wing it. I’m glad i did this because now that i’m in full planning mode, i find that i have simple things checked off the list easily and that gives you some relief because it’s not just a big question mark on all decisions.

2. Talk to other brides

There are two categories here, brides who have walked down the aisle and brides who are at the planning stages just like you. Talk to both. The ones who have walked down the aisle have great advice and contacts. It’s always safer to go with a contact rather than one off your internet search because you can ask how the experience was working with that person. Now i understand that people are different and how your friend could connect with that wedding planner will be different from you, but just ask questions about what you would be concerned about working with this vendor. This is the time to ask the questions you can’t find answers for just by looking at the website. If you don’t know anyone who has been on the journey you’re on right now, there are plenty of forums for brides. Unfortunately, some of the posts are from years ago and may not be the most up to date information. (Some places may not even be in business anymore) The next category are brides who are planning their wedding too. Only a bride going through the same experience as you at that moment can really empathise. I’m lucky to know a few girls who are also planning their wedding and we can rant and share tips with each other. It’s a relief and also we swap contacts, sorta like a bonding experience too.

3. Don’t make decisions until you consult key people

Who are the key people? It really depends on your situation. My key people are my mom and future-in-laws. Oh and of course the fiance. Rule of thumb is, don’t make decisions on your own. I know it’s your wedding, but reality is, it’s not. If you were to elope, then yes, it is your wedding. But a wedding is when two families are joined through the marriage of the couple. So they gonna wanna say something, trust me. It can be frustrating because sometimes you don’t understand why archaic traditions have to be enforced. However, you have to consider that these people are important to you. I’m not saying you let them control the whole thing till your original vision is lost, but it’s all about diplomacy. I admit, sometimes when i get frustrated i just let out a loud, long groan to show that i’m not happy. Not the most elegant way to disperse tension, but it works. It makes my mom look weird at me, but it gets me a pause from the heated discussion. So find a way that works for you, even if it’s weird. Remember point 2, yeah, you’re gonna talk a lot about this to other brides.

That’s what i’ve learnt so far, i’m sure i’ll learn more these coming months, so i’ll post an update on this list soon! Thanks for reading!

That time i accidentaly attended a MLM talk

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It was called 60-Day Startup. Jumpstart your business. The event description described things like “Explore and Compare different business models that are easy to start, sustain, and scale” and ” Discover modern ways to start a “side hustle” while keeping your full-time job”. Looking back now, I should have seen all the red flags. There were words like “side hustle” and “income stream”. But it was so cleverly worded that it did sound like a talk for people looking to start their own business, it was in the event name after all. Much of the event description also focused on what it is to be an entrepreneur, and the guest speakers lined up looked impressive. I was sold, plus it was free too, who can resist that?

What was the event like? It started like any networking event. We had a few ice breakers and then the speaker came up. She talked about what makes a good business, what factors need to be taken into consideration. So far everything checks out with the event description. Then we were asked to get into groups and come up with a business plan in 20 minutes. Something like a shark tank thing. This was fun right? And so we all came up with our ideas and even presented it. After that was when events took a whole new turn. It felt like i was on this roller coaster for It’s a small world and suddenly the ride takes a sharp turn into jurassic park. (Yes, i understand they’re in different parks but that is the point) Suddenly it was all, “yes your business ideas are great but here’s a better way to earn money faster.” Terms like network marketing came out, videos of this guy from a MLM was shown and my heart began to sink. Just in case you were wondering, it was a pitch for the MLM Melaleuca. Now i have nothing against Melaleuca’s products per say, i’ve heard good things about it actually. My issue was that this event was presented as a talk to build your own business but it turned out to be a recruitment for a MLM. I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, there was another guy, as soon as the MLM portion started he began to be disinterested. And he was the one who was really energetic during the shark tank bit. He knew it, I knew it. We were duped.

A huge takeaway from this event would be that MLM’s these days are getting craftier with the way they present themselves. For someone who has seen countless acquaintances promote MLM products on facebook, i thought that i was immune to it. This event struck at the right chord. The chord that wanted to start my own business. It provided the answers to common questions like where to start and how to sustain yourself. Unfortunately, it was all a sham. I’m sure that for them to be able to form their own business to recruit others into this means that they’re on a pretty high tier. People who are up there do see the fruits of their labour. Unfortunately, i believe that if we were to be recruited we would not be at the same level, nor do i think i’m entitled to be there. To end this tale i would like to include a few links which helped me laugh at this and move on with caution.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6MwGeOm8iI  John Oliver’s piece on Multilevel Marketing

http://www.finance-guy.net/streetonomic/melaleuca-review-make-money A review of whether or not you can really make money with Malaleuca. Spoiler alert: No.

Note: If you want to join a MLM so be it. As long as you’ve read all the information on that company, really understand how you’re earning your money and then if you still want to go on with it then sure. I personally do not believe in MLM’s because the case studies and the research has shown that it does not work for the everyday person. And i’m an everyday person. Also, I think that a business should be earning profit from what your business is supposed to sell, not off recruiting others (not the same as employment).

My exercise journey

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It’s been slightly more than a year since i started exercising seriously. By seriously i mean i bought an exercise program, i kept to it and i’ve seen results. If you saw my post earlier in the year, it talked about why i worked out. The reason is still the same, it allows me to relax. Have time for myself on top of looking and feeling better. There are a few things i’ve learned from this journey. Most of them you’ve read in articles that talk about how to loose weight and all. However, i’m writing it because when i first read them, i didn’t really believe it. I know, it’s so silly, but here they are:

  1. You need to follow a plan – Either make one or buy one. When i first started, i didn’t know how important having a plan was. I thought the phrase leg day was just a phrase. Turns out it’s not. You need to split the day to focus on either different parts of the body or different types of exercises. Cardio, strength, HIIT, stretching, etc. This needs to be couples with the right amount of intensity/difficulty. Either in terms of time or weights. Going too hard on yourself when you’re just starting will not only motivate you, but you may hurt yourself. I would suggest paying a few bucks to buy a plan. At least you can see for yourself what a exercise plan looks like instead of just stabbing in the dark for something.
  2. Eat well. I worked out, but i didn’t take care of what i ate. Soon i found out, to much surprise that my body fat index and my visceral fat was really high! I was in shock and this really woke me up to think about what i ate. Also, i was hitting a platoon in my weight loss and wondering why. When i finally took notice of what i ate, i saw weight loss.
  3. Do weights. I didn’t like weights at all. I was lazy to have proper form and also didn’t have access to weights. However, i found out that these were really effective and i felt like i completed a good workout when i’d finish a weights exercise. Give it a try, it’s a good thing to add to your exercise if you want to see changes in your body shape. Of course get a plan.
  4. Sleep. Yes, sleep is important. I’m working on that myself too, but sleep affects your health in the long run. So remember to sleep

Well that’s all i have for now. It’s nothing new, but it’s all true.

It’s December once again

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It’s December once again. We’ll hear people say “I can’t believe it’s December, time passes by so fast/quickly!”, “Time to make your new years resolutions” or “Let’s reflect on how the year has been”. This year, the coming of December has a little more meaning for myself and I’ll explain in a little bit.

If you’ve been through with me on my journey this year, you’ll know that this is one of the toughest years i’ve gone through. Work was challenging, from the students i taught to the incident that happened at school (maybe one day i’ll write about it) and the workload, most of the time, i was just trying to catch my breath. I remember in May i asked my boyfriend “will i make it through this year?” I wish it was said as a passing comment, but i really questioned whether I could.

Here’s what I have to say about December. December is a sign that God is faithful. It is a testament to what He has done for me. It feels funny to think that back in May, i thought that that was the toughest time of my life. Current me wants to tell past me “Oh honey, you think this is tough? buckle up, you’re in for the ride of your life”. I’m thankful that at the end of the day I can truly say that

I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.

Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalms 27:13-14

Sometimes it’s tough to say it because I look around and see all the injustice. How things have changed, how morals have changed. How we make excuses for something that is obviously wrong. But i know that God is God. And God is good. At least in that knowledge, i can cling on and know that i can take it to the bank. That’s all i want to say for now. It’s still difficult to put into words all that i feel and learnt this year. It’s overwhelming and confusing, i hope one day i’ll be able to untangle it all and write about it so that someone might benefit from it.

By the way, this is the first post to what I call the 30 day writing challenge. The goal is that I write something in my blog for 30 continuous days. December has 31 days so i get the last day off (booyah!). I felt compelled to improve my writing once more and this is what I felt like I needed to do.

Sorry if the writing in this first post is terrible. I am super rusty, but that is why I need to do this challenge. Cheers!

Why I workout

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Hello, life has been hard these couple of months, I just looked at an old draft that i never completed writing in October 2017 and realised that the unhappiness that i have been experiencing has been the same since then. I wanted to write about working out, not because i want to brag about how good i am, but i want to talk about how it has been a source of strength not just physically but also mentally. Below are screenshots of the days i’ve completed a workout, the beginning ones are grey but they still mean i did a workout on that day.

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A little background to what i mean by “life has been hard”, in 2017 it was more about whether or not i should quit, i knew teaching wasn’t for me, but i didn’t know what i wanted to do next, so i guess i stayed. Job security, yada yada. In 2018, i started off the year crazy. I had overloaded and taken up sociology. So i was literally preparing for three different subjects. Also, i was given a difficult class and i was also teaching tuition after work. Lets just say, it’s amazing how i had time to remember it was my birthday. I look back now and wonder why i did that to myself. End of background information.

Seeing that i was unhappy starting in october, it’s interesting how despite all that i still stuck to working out. I’m really good at putting things off, but somehow this stuck on for 6 months. This made me think a little, and i realised that i liked working out, it gave me a sense of accomplishment when work was just rubbish. Also, that was when i saw that i was really packing on the pounds and i was determined to loose it. It got serious when i decided to invest in a yoga mat. That thing was expensive (because i bought it at an expensive store, not off Lazada) so that was also a motivation to “use” it. Then i bought a workout program because i learnt that there is a method to this thing and i really needed some guidance. Things were getting serious but i was learning a lot about exercise and keeping healthy. It also helps that i do these workouts at home, no gym. It helps because bringing yourself to the gym and back home really gives me the opportunity to make excuses. Once it’s at home, i don’t have any, and i will complete the workout and then shower and do my own thing. It’s real convenient. Fitness Blender’s calender and workout complete button is also a good motivator as it rewards you for doing something, it’s the “instant” (after you complete the workout) gratification you get and you know you deserve it. Kudos to them, they’re the ones that i’ve been using to get workout plans and keep track of things.

Life went on, it stayed mostly the same but in terms of my body, i was seeing changes. I could see the weight come off, i also felt more energised during the day. I guess what i’m trying to say is that, i’m still unhappy because i’m in a job that i should have quit, but i also am able to find some confidence through exercise. Because at the end of the day, having completed a workout means i’ve accomplished something, it means that there is something that i can do right, and that is my little form of happiness. Plus it helps me keep fit and loose weight, so that’s always good. I’m trying hard to see the good in life these days.

Also, i’m not saying that everyone should take up exercise (but it’s really good though) find something that makes you happy that’s not a person or something that could bring harm to your health and wellbeing.

General info: fitness blender is free, i do a mix of cardio, strength and HIIT workouts.

Reflections of my prayer walk/ride

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If you don’t want to read the narrative of the journey in general and want to skip to the lessons i learnt, go ahead and scroll to the bottom, if not read along.

Before i start, i just want to let future me know that when you say you should write this as soon as you get back, listen to that voice. Do not procrastinate because you just found out you have a ton of work to do. I told you so. Alright, end note.

It’s true though, life is so busy and i haven’t been good at carving out time to write which i say i’ll do but never. However, this i felt i really needed to write and share what i learned and saw because it’s not just for me, i hope whoever reads this will be blessed in some way. Or you would take the chance and try a prayer walk too.

When i first heard about the prayer walk/ride (it’s a ride because we were going to take public transport and pray while being on the move, we still walked though) i thought it was a cool idea. I had never tried it and had heard people share their experiences before. I was coming in somewhat excited until i couldn’t sleep till 2 a.m. and had to wake up at 7. I woke up groggy and miraculously made it on time to church (maybe because it’s a public holiday today). We were briefed on what the objectives were, the do’s and don’t’s which i have to say on the part of the church, kudos to being very detailed and organised. We then left o board the train. Side note, i love taking trains especially when there’s hardly anyone and i get to enjoy the view in peace.

We were told that the prayer walk officially started once we boarded the train, but i didn’t see anyone praying so i just enjoyed the novelty of everything. When we reached the designated station and we were going down the escalators, we saw these luxury condominiums being built and the first member began to pray aloud for the migrant workers who may have come into the country legally or illegally. That they would be safe. We then boarded the bus which we would ride in a loop to return to the train station. My leader decided that we should stop at a school and walk and pray to the next bus stop. As a teacher, i appreciated that we made a stop here and prayer for the teachers in the school that they would be strengthened in their journey of educating the nation. And for the kids to be inspired to be nation builders and not breakers. Walking down the road i also noticed a road sweeper and prayed for his safety as he did his job. I soon got more comfortable with the whole thing and began to pray aloud more frequently instead of quietly to myself. One interesting note was that when we crossed the road, there was an old man crossing with us too. We then passed him and walked ahead. But then we decided to stop and it happened that he caught up with us and was going through that alley to get home. We started a conversation and it was a blessing to get to talk to strangers and know a bit about them. We prayed for the man when he left, but wow, God does bring people to you if you are only willing.

We soon ended out walk and coincidentally met up with the rest of the group at the bus station. It was decided that we would debrief in the mamak instead of the station where we had originally planned. That was where we shared out experiences and stories and i was truly further blessed by everyone’s sharing. There is just something affirming and encouraging about having a shared experience and talking about it to each other. I don’t know, i feel like there should be more of this. So here goes the summary of lessons learnt.

Reflections
1. Everyone has different concerns that weigh in their heart. For a friend it was construction workers because her father was in that line. For me it was education because i’m a teacher. Having a diverse group of people certainly brought different perspectives when it came to looking at the same thing. I wouldn’t have noticed something if someone hadn’t pointed it out.

2. Money money money. The area we went to was affluent. People lived there to make a statement that they had made it. Houses were pretty and impressive, cafe’s were competing to look hip and dish out interesting food. However, not everyone that lives here could really afford this sort of lifestyle. To do so they need to work almost all the time to keep up. My leader shared how her father also bought into this and was paying a huge sum of money just to rent a house in the area. I get the allure of city life, it’s convenient, there’s all the amenities you need, and i like to enjoy some good food (that’s a but pricier) and goods once in a while. However, the trap is that you can easily get sucked into a vicious cycle. To obtain these you need to work hard, but there’s always more and more things you NEED to have. And so there the cycle starts, it will never be enough. When do you say, “here is where i draw the line?” When does it become an obsession instead of a source of satisfaction for hard work?

3. You notice a lot more when you have a purpose in mind. I’ve driven past this area numerous times, hung out with friends in the cafe’s/restaurants and shopped in the area. Never did i think that i could pray for anything and everything i saw. With this purpose in mind to pray as the Lord leads, i began to notice so much more, the people, the condition of the shops, the public amenities and began to pray for these specific things. I noticed the news house and prayed. I noticed the Starbucks that hired deaf people and prayed for more opportunities like this in the country. There is just so much to pray for if you just open your eyes and see.

4. The sower and the seed. In the bible there is the parable of the sower and the seed. There were different types of grounds that the seeds fell on and each reacted differently. Some grew, some did not. This is not my own reflection but a leader’s, but i find it rings absolutely true. As mentioned before, the area that we went to was affluent. And she said that she felt like this was hard ground. The receptiveness to the gospel was difficult here because people were comfortable and busy chasing money to stop and think about the truth in the gospel. Even if they did, it does not offer them what their heart desires. This is why when my leader asked me if i felt anything about the area, at first i thought i wasn’t feeling anything, but thinking about it now, i did feel something, i just didn’t think it related to the prayer walk. It was emptyness. Behind all the facade of wealth, there was this emptyness that needed to be filled.

5. It’s a competition to get your attention. On our route there were a total of three malls that we passed by. We could even stop and walk in if we wanted to. A leader noticed that the way advertisement in the mall were designed spoke to the core of human needs. The need for finding a place of belonging. One shop called itself the house of luggage, and we are constantly looking for a home, and our true destination should be the House of God. Also phone shops were advertising connectivity with loved ones, and as much as that is important, it is also important to connect with the Father. And so, there are so many things that compete for our attention and it is easy to get swayed from trying to connect with God when you’re bombarded with advertising day in day out. I never noticed till now, but being a city girl, this had become the norm and i didn’t realize its effect on me. So, less shopping? haha

6. Racial unity. There were some houses along the road and we took some time to guess who stayed there. The funny thing was that it was really easy to guess based on what they displayed at the front of their house and we noticed that malay, chinese and indian residents lived side by side. In the city this is really difficult to find, and so far i’ve been talking about the negatives, so this is one of the positives of this area. That there is a quiet sense of community amongst the loud noise of the pubs and cafes.

Restarting my blog and brushing off the dust

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I’m not even going to come up with excuses. I have not blogged for a long time. I look back and i cringe at the things i wrote, but hey, i’m not gonna delete them because one day it’ll prove useful (i hope). So why am i back? I recently joined a cell/small group where i met a girl who does missions work. After we had prayed together, she said that she felt God had told her that there was a gift that brought me joy in the past and that i had forgotten. And that God wanted me to start using it again, for Him. I was skeptical at first and said the first thing that came to my mind which was teaching/education. But it didn’t feel right. It was a few weeks later that I felt heavy in my heart and pulled out my journal (in which i write by hand, the best way in my opinion) that i finally realised that it was writing. Writing had always brought me joy, it help/s me figure things out, i am better at expressing myself in writing, etc. So you can roughly guess why i’m brushing off the dust off this blog and starting it up again. I’m not saying that THIS is the blog that was specified, but for now, it’s a place to start.

My writing is extremely rusty. I’m not saying that my older posts were the best of my writing ability, i’m referring to the research papers i wrote for university. Those were the days i could churn out a 7 page paper in 3 hours. I’m not trying to brag here, i’m saying that there was a reason i could do that, it was because i practiced writing on a regular basis. Refining it to the point that i knew what to look out for, what my weaknesses were, how to plan out a good essay that was coherent and structured. I miss that. I’m personally mad at myself for allowing it to go this far. It’s like exercise, if you don’t keep it up, you loose stamina and the strength. All that effort going to waste is what pains me the most. That’s what i hope to get back to and from there to write about things that interest me in the best way possible.

So what does this entail. Probably lots of cringe worthy posts. Lots of posts that go everywhere and you never find the point. Lots of ramblings about my life (i’ll edit it to be less rambly i promise). Hits and misses. Cheers to starting out again.

On Fasting Day 1

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Yesterday was the start of the 40 Day fast and prayer and to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t as prepared as I was in the past. Usually we would be given a few days notice and there would be conversations about why we fast and so on, but back here it’s dive into it and that was a something i had to adjust to. Friends had already chosen what they wanted to fast and so on but me, i didn’t even think the actual fasting was important. Nevertheless, I dived into it and one of the things that was recommended was to read 10 chapters of the bible a day. Since i didn’t have a plan i decided to just go for it. There wasn’t much to expect, my mind wasn’t in the right state and mentally i had not been prepared, but as i read the verses and took time to think about them, i realised that my spiritual man was hungry.

I read the media and news everyday, i’m updated with the latest happenings in the world and i pride myself on that, but today it hit me, i’ve been doing all that and forgetting the importance of reading the word. That is the only way to get to know God better other than prayer, and it’s hard work. Funny how it’s hard work because it shouldn’t be. And that is what this act of fasting is for, it’s not to lose weight or to purposely starve ourselves. It’s to carve out time to spend time with God, to be spiritually fed and to learn to depend on Him for strength and nourishment.

From past experiences, fasting has always presented me with different experiences and i’m now excited to see what is in store this time. Oh don’t get me wrong, i believe i will be mad and hangry, but i’m looking forward to diving into the word and learning more about the wonderful God i serve.