19.

It’s funny when you think about the elaborate birthday parties we have when we were a child, and how they slowly dwindled into small celebrations with close friends as we get older.

1 years old. All family friends are invited, all parents holding camcorders in their hands trying to capture every moment of the party. Although I remember nothing from that, there is a famous photo from that celebration that shows my amazing love for chicken wings. Before touching any other sort of proper ‘human’ food, those that don’t include mushy meals catered for my lack of teeth. There are balloons hanging on the walls, decorations, and elaborate present giving ceremonies.

3 years old. (I think). A video was taken at my grandmother’s place. My slightly older cousin hands me a present, I return it with a small peck on the cheek. He returns with another peck, but it is interrupted by a swing of my hand right across his cheek. I still don’t remember much, but I guess that the memory can be safely stored on the VCR tape.

8 years old. (I’m guessing). My family books a function room at the Hong Kong Cricket Club. We first go for a swim in all our flowery, pink, and sleek swimming suits. All 30+ of my classmates from Primary School. Jumping around on the bouncy castle, and then changing back into “Sketcher” t-shirts to seem extra ‘mature’. The only present I remember from that birthday was the enormously large Barbie dream house that came with a key that plugged into several key slots to make different magical sounds.

13-16 years old. Just having small sleepovers with a 5-6 close friends after a special dinner at some fancy hotel, for which my family had carefully planned with vouchers. Creating memories and inside jokes beneath the blankets after ranking the boys in the grade from 1-10. Followed by a short game of truth and dare which ended promptly before it was ‘too late’, 12:00am (which in comparison seems like nothing now).

17. 18. A mixture of memories I would like to forget, accompanied with messages on Facebook sent from people who I haven’t spoken to for years. (probably only really notified by the fb calendar)

19. A gloomy, rainy day in London with tutorials starting at 10:00am, and finishing lectures at 5:00pm. A wonderful dinner with someone whom I had formed an unexpected friendship with, talking over pizzas and cheesecake. Pretending that she had forgotten my birthday, she then brought out a present that brought me to tears. Remembering why this friendship had formed due to our ability to simply be there for one another, no matter how different we are. Then going home to a group of wonderful flatmates whom had prepared a cake, presents and flowers. Chatting, and enjoying specially cultured “longevity noodles”. Finishing up with tutorial preparations, and tucking myself to bed to write this blogpost on this ‘important’ date.

“Sweet reunions like we had make my heart long for heaven. There, we won’t have to try to capture memories in our mind. There, we won’t have to pray for the time to go slowly and the days to last long. There, our hello will never turn into goodbye. Heaven will be a ‘forever hello,’ and I can’t wait.”
~ ODB, 13Oct

Yet another years has passed, and I’m not so sure what more to say than that fact that I am grateful that changes have come and go, but all along the way, I had felt the guiding hand of God on my shoulders. Many times, I had tried to the desired path for myself, from broken relationships, to final IB examinations, to applications to University, or even to travelling to new places (BOSNIA <3). If I were to stand at this exact place a year ago… I would not have guessed how this path would’ve twisted and turned. Though I can say now that I am content with where I am, and I only pray that my path ahead will be even more filled with challenges and hurdles in which I can see God’s work through myself, and the people around me.

Two years ago, arriving at a boarding school, I had met many people whom I knew were great influences to my spiritual life. Once again, God had provided me with a wonderful group of people who have not only be more than welcoming, but also pleasantly supportive and enjoyable to be around.

I know it’s not lucky to say my wish out loud. But here are my prayers so that’s different.

Dearest Heavenly Father,

I thank you for a wonderful year in which I have experienced you in my life more than all the years before. I thank you that through successes and failures that I have grown even closer to you. I am grateful for the people you have sent across my path to guide me, challenge me, and support me; and I am grateful for the ups and the downs that have constantly reminded me of your presence in my life.

I wish I could pray for a smooth sailing year. But I know that you have already planned my path long ago, and the only way I could make your name known is simply let my life run it’s course, the course set by you. I pray that I continually remember to surrender myself to you and trust in you with all my heart, strength, and mind. I pray that for this coming year, you would mold me and shape me into the person you had intended for me to be.

In Jesus’ name I pray,
Amen.

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