Of Doors and Dreams

Of doors and dreams

My Epic Joy

Chapter 3 started two days ago. It’s now my second night here in Singapore. After flying for more than 20 hours, I’m finally on the Norwegian Joy. The ship is undergoing Westernization Project before it sails back to the US.

I’m thankful to have traveled with a new friend as we flew from Orlando, Florida after saying goodbye to Norwegian Epic. We made short stops in New York and Frankfurt. We arrived yesterday morning and was brought straight to Sembawang Shipyard where our new ship was waiting.

Tonight, all the gangways have been removed. The ship is now officially on dry dock. Crew members can no longer get off until the next day. Hopefully tomorrow I can go out after my training. Me and my Chinese friend (who is getting transshipped in three days) are both wishful thinking we can see some interesting parts of the country before she leaves.

Yesterday when I rode the shuttle and traversed the roads of this foreign country, I was reminded of an old dream. My body was weak and exhausted, yet my heart was full. I can’t help but be thankful. I’m glad that dream didn’t come true. I’m glad You said, “NO!!! That dream was not meant for you.”

Fly Me to Singapore

Some years ago, I was heart-broken. We found out Papa passed away and I was in a very deep pain. For so long, I waited to see him again. I remember lonely bus rides from Bulacan very early in the morning just to be in time for work in a school in QC where I used to teach. I would see greens through the clear windows that would normally relax me and help me pass the time. But because of the hurt, I would see them, felt nothing and just cried. Quiet tears rolled down my face as I tried to figure out why.

The many nights in my room when I go back home was the saddest of all. I would lie down on my bed and would cry non-stop until dawn. I cried myself to sleep, questioning God and asking for a reason. The next day and the many days after, I did the very same things again. I thought the lonely routine can numb the pain. I was wrong.

And then a crazy thought came into my mind. I was desperate. “ESCAPE!” the voice inside me said. Run away from the pain. Forget about everything. But where? I kept thinking. Then an answer came. Go to Singapore because it’s near. Because I have friends there. Because they’re in need of teachers.

I started planning and saving money. To better prepare myself, I studied the requirements and asked other people for help. I also compiled my documents. When the school year was about to end and I was determined to leave, I told my boss about it so they can look for my replacement. I wanted to be fair because she’s a good friend. And every people in that school where I used to work has shown me nothing but kindness.

Stumbling Blocks and Frustrations

I passed my application online to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. Once granted, I’ll be allowed to stay in their country for a year while looking for a job. I wanted to do it the right way. I didn’t want to go there as a tourist and apply for employment during my stay. Anyway, I had strong belief that my application will be accepted. I didn’t see any reason for them to turn me down. My credentials were good. I had teaching experience and the love and passion to work with kids.

My assumptions were wrong again. For some weird reason, they started to see minor errors in the documents that I submitted. At first, they saw that my names were misspelled. I had it corrected, returned the papers and then…

My graduation date was entered incorrectly. I went through the same process and patiently waited. Every time I would pass my corrected documents, it would take days sometimes even weeks before I would hear an answer. There were so many applicants during that time and they were busy checking everyone’s files. This went on for months as they found a few more errors which back then I couldn’t understand. I waited in agony.  Initially I was brimming with hope. Later on, it turned into despair. I just wanted to find a place to heal. I just wanted to restore myself. Why can’t other people help?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives and the one who seeks, finds and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7)

Well I asked and sought and knocked. But guess what? Nobody answered. Nobody showed up. Sadly, nobody opened the door.

I was running low on budget. My savings were quickly going away. I felt horrible and disappointed. I can’t afford to just stand still and do nothing. My family was expecting me to help with the expenses. The meager amount I was getting from the temporary jobs I took during that time was not enough to cover the bills and provide for our needs.

Someone Said Hello

And then when I was about to hit rock bottom, something glorious happened. While I was contemplating what to do next, I received a text message. And this unexpected message changed the course of my life journey.

I read it quickly. I was more shocked than thrilled. It was an invitation for an interview to work on ships. The strange thing was, I submitted my application to this agency two years prior, not willingly but more so to please Mama who’s been pushing me to work outside the country so I can earn more money. I read it again trying to make sense of it and all the crazy things that seemed to crush me then. I guess there’s no harm in trying. And so, I did.

The next day, I found myself in a small office in Kalaw Avenue. I sat in front of the fleet manager who was so puzzled to see me there. I tried so hard to convince him I should get the job. And with God’s amazing grace, I got it. Within a few minutes, I felt redeemed. The frustration brought by the looooooooong wait for something that was not for me vanished. Truly, God can change one’s destiny in a snap of a finger. Only if it’s His will.

I joined my very first ship December of 2011. Pacific Dawn was my first ship. I must say, ship life has been one of the most incredible journeys I have ever taken. I explored amazing countries, met wonderful friends, and discovered my stronger, better, and wiser self. Most importantly, I saw God’s face.

The God I Know

The shuttle stopped. We’re in Sembawang Shipyard. I saw my new ship, my home for the next exciting three months. Now everything made sense. I began to understand. I was ignorantly knocking on the wrong door after all. What I then thought to be a rejection was in fact a redirection preparing me for an even brighter future. Thank You for leading me to the right door.

Have you ever been rejected? Have you failed many times before? Once you audition your dreams, not everyone will listen. Along the way you might get turned down. Not everyone will give you a chance. You might feel defeated and I know it’s an ugly feeling. Please encourage yourself. Don’t lose hope. Never give up on your dreams. Remember my story and how I found my door.

If one door closes, don’t feel sorry. The world will not end. Just keep looking and knocking. Just keep praying and believing. For God will open doors. Mind you, He knows which doors to open. He knows how to pick the best out there. Believe me. He makes things beautiful in His way, in His terms and in His time.

Follow your dreams.


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