Christmas 2015

My last weekend came with some rather interesting surprises, and I’m not talking about the chocolates or flowers kind of surprise…

It all started Friday night.

I had just pulled out of a building and had been driving a whole 2 seconds (with no headlights) when I got pulled over to the side of the road by an officer, who was casually hanging out beside his parked motorbike on the corner of the road. It was late and I had already had an extremely emotional and frustrating day, so this was the last thing I needed. The officer took a photo of the front of the car for evidence and then asked me for my license so he could confiscate it for a minor violation. While he was busy explaining how far I have to travel to collect my license, how much money I have to pay, how soon I have to do this etc., a sports car zooms past at what seemed like 100 mph. I couldn’t help but ask the officer why he would prefer to pull me over for not having enough time to turn my headlights on since I had literally just pulled out of a building, than pull over a car that was using a residential area as a race course. He just kept his poker face on and carried on with the procedures and explanations. He might not have been having a very nice day himself, as he was glary eyed (possibly exhausted) and didn’t seem very happy. I kept asking him over and over to let me go (with my license) as I hadn’t yet had the chance to put on my headlights. And he kept repeating the same question “what do you want me to do?” over and over again, and I kept saying “I want you to let me go with my license!” He then proceeded to show me 11 other licenses he has confiscated for other violations, which I guess made me feel not so alone in a very strange way, yet I couldn’t help but think that they might have committed more serious violations than driving out of a building in a well lit area without headlights. I could also not help thinking of all the cars that try to ram me off the road any time I drive without even using indicators to warn me first they are about to do so, and then comparing it to me.

He then went on to explain I would have to attend some sort of seminar for a whole day before I can collect my license, at which time I started to panic! The thought of wasting a whole day stuck in a (most likely) hot and sweaty room, with other traffic violators sent me into panic. That along with the emotions from the day suddenly overwhelmed me. I told him one last time that I literally didn’t have enough time to put on the headlights at which he repeated again for possibly the 20th time “what do you want me to do?” at which I answered “I I I jjjjust w w w want y y you to g g give m me my l l licence bback!!!” I was crying by this time. And I don’t mean the kind of tears you see pooling up in the corner of your eye, but the kind of tears you could fill a cup with. When you feel like you can’t catch your breath and can’t breathe very well.

Surprisingly the officer then handed me my licence and said “here ma’am, take your license.” I accepted it but couldn’t stop crying, and while trying to catch a normal flow of breathing, the officer said to calm down, and told me to drink water (which I didn’t have). He had gone from poker face to concerned and even quite nervous! I was able to thank him through the tears at which he said “I’m going to go now, okay?” And I said “yes, alright.”

I managed to drive home safely and before sleeping, thought to myself, “tomorrow’s another day.” And boy was it another day!!!

So Saturday morning I wake up to another slightly stressful day, plus I really wasn’t feeling well as I had a chest infection and sore throat. Starting with some tea and a paracetamol for my headache from all the crying the night before, I managed to get myself feeling a little better (minus the sore throat). I was also excited to see some close friends for an early Christmas dinner gathering that evening at a friend’s house.

The dinner was set for 6pm, and I was already at BGC area by 5.20pm, just 15 minutes away from her house (including traffic). I didn’t know the way from BGC, so typed it in the trusted Waze. Whoever has used Waze will know that it’s great for trying to dodge the traffic, even if it means going off course and through some ‘interesting’ locations and back streets.

I type in the location in Dasma area, and it directed me down the slex highway. I thought the highway was a strange way to go, but, trust Waze right!? When I was already quite far down the highway and reached a toll gate, I realized I was definitely not going in the right direction. I check Waze and see the address I typed in still looked correct, however I later learned it was Dasmarinas in another City far outside Manila, which was not the Makati City I had assumed. I then take the next exit at Bicutan, pay the 50 Pesos toll fee, and get stuck for 40 minutes in traffic just trying to make a left turn to get back to the highway to which I would have to pay another 50 Pesos to return. So I’m stuck in traffic that is not budging with some unpleasant truck drivers surrounding the car (I wished the windows at this time were blacked out), while wondering what a waste of time and money this was.

After 40 minutes, I managed to take the left turn and head back towards the highway. I checked Waze after adding my new destination (back to where I started from in BGC) and noticed that not only was the destination 69 minutes away due to traffic (instead of 10 minutes), but I also had just 10% battery remaining on my phone. And at that point of slight panic worrying about my battery life, Waze tells me to take a turn off the highway into a side street. The panic increases as I wonder where it would take me and for how long and if my battery would last. Or else I would get completely lost!

With one last vote (the confused Yasmin against the even more confused Yasmin), I choose to follow Waze and head off the highway, with many turns down tiny little back streets driving through some unknown village. One of the last roads I turn down gets me wondering what kind of prank someone pulled using Waze, to get drivers on that street. The street was big enough for possibly a mini, or only half the car I was driving. And being some sort of night market, each side of the road was swamped with toys and items hanging from the roof of the stalls which just reduced the driving space even more! There was in fact a car in front of me, yet the car I was driving was much bigger, and too big for that road! So while the side mirrors and the sides of the car are crashing into all the hanging objects, I was frantically trying not to run over any of the many people who were sitting on the floor on each side of the street.

This was the best shot I could get in my panic! I just wanted people to see the absence of exaggeration in my story!

By this time, I’m quite loudly talking to myself (and to Waze), “Are you serious?” “This is not a street!” “am I going to make it out of here in one piece?” “Lord please don’t let my battery die, or me!” “How will I get back to the highway?” And during my desperation, there are boys outside yelling quite crude things through the window, which was not making the situation any easier. Well thank God, I did get back to the highway before my battery died and to my original destination. And eventually made it to the dinner an hour and a half late. (Photo at top of page)

Since then, It’s been an interesting time looking back and reflecting, especially as I can see the humor in the events now that the moment has passed.

So with every challenge comes a valuable lesson, and here’s what I learned from these challenges…

God Has Our Back
The officer didn’t end up taking my license, my phone didn’t die leaving me stranded, I definitely had some adventure added to my weekend (it was not boring at all!), and driving down the highway allowed me to witness the most beautiful sunset before an amazing dinner. God also reminded me that even though we can feel so alone in many situations, we will never be alone as He is always with us waiting for us to seek His wisdom, His power, His strength, His guidance. Instead of worrying, we can trust Him, so long as we are seeking Him first. I mean how can we hear something we are not listening to!? When we do this, it doesn’t necessarily change the lesson or make it easier, but it will feel a lot easier when we are enjoying the ride instead of panicking along the way.

Again not the most clear shot, but you can still see how beautiful the sky is..

Seek God First
I remembered this lesson when I arrived home. I drove to the back of my building which never has available parking by the late hours of the evening. I asked the guard if there was parking knowing he would say none (which he did). Then while I pulled away, I asked God, “please God can you give me parking” at which the guard chased me yelling that they found one available slot just for me!

It’s so easy to get worked up, emotional, frustrated, and concerned with challenges, but if we ride the challenge instead of fight it, it really makes the whole process better. Knowing that by the end of it there will be an important lesson followed by many more blessings. It’s easy to ignore God when everything is going well in our lives. That’s why we are much more likely to go into panic mode when things are not going so well. If we are not consistently seeking God before every decision every day then we create distance which would make it quite easy to forget how he is looking out for us in every area of our lives, including the crazy accidental detours through unknown land!

No Time is Wasted
I’ve felt many times that I wasted time, however through what is supposedly wasted time, there are always so many lessons, so many things we learn while becoming a stronger person. We might meet people we wouldn’t have met otherwise, ended up in cities or countries we might never have seen otherwise. So many things can happen during these times, in which case I realize that it’s not really wasted at all.


Guys Get Nervous Around Crying Girls
It seems that officers are no exception to not knowing what to do with a crying girl. As soon as the tears started streaming down my face, the officer immediately and without hesitation, handed my license back. It seemed like it was much easier for him to hand my license back to me than try to figure out how else to get me to stop crying!! He had gone from bad cop, poker face, to concerned, confused and slightly panicked in a matter of seconds. Hopefully he’s recovered by now.


Waze is Not the Enemy
Although I felt quite betrayed by Waze for a while as it had been so helpful in the past, I had to take responsibility for typing in the wrong area, and now I am back to trusting Waze with all my unknown destinations. I’m just more careful in selecting the correct destination!

Oh, and..

Always turn on your headlights BEFORE leaving the building!

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well”
Matthew 6:33