Back on the Battle Field

A good friend of mine, Jamali Jack, during a conversation over lunch two years ago when we first came to Taiwan noted, “It is easy to send a man to war but very difficult to get him to go back to war.”

And while I understood what he meant, I fully appreciated the depth of that statement after returning to St. Vincent last June, after 22 months in Taiwan.

As a student of Mass Communication and a writer, I, for obvious reasons, try to avoid cliches. However, I am sure that you will pardon the intermittent use of such in this entry.

They say that you never really fully appreciate what you have until you lose it. And, having lost that thing, if you regain it, you will appreciate it in a way that you had never done before, to the extent that you will do everything possible or necessary to ensure that that desirable entity is never lost again.

On my return to St. Vincent I saw in a new way, almost as if for the first time, several things that were, before my departure to Taiwan, such a part of my everyday life, that to an extent I might have taken them for granted.

These include simple pleasures such as going to the beach, a home-cooked meal, and a conversation with members of my family, as annoying as I might have found them to have been before my departure.

The two and a half months in St. Vincent was also an opportunity to reconnect with my fiancee Symantha; to strengthen the relationship that we have shared during the past eight years.

And it was this that made my departure for Taiwan so difficult: having to drag my body to one place, thousands of miles away from where my heart is.

I cannot fully put into words what I felt that morning, September 1, when I realized that I had to get onto a plane and leave my fiancee, family and all that I love to return to Taiwan. A river of tears offered a respite of sorts.

(St. Vincent’s Harmonites String Band perform in Kingstown)

And while I wanted to spend as much time in St. Vincent as possible (school started on September 10), when I got to New York I was happy that I had decided to spend a week with my aunt and cousins there.

I am really appreciative of my cousin Nyron with whom I share an especial friendship and at whose house I stayed. He was very understanding of what I was experiencing and provided much encouragement. (I really needed the transition.)

(Peruvian Band Wayno performing in Time Sq. New York)

But why am I putting myself through all of this? Why did I not stay in St. Vincent and continue in the relative comfort that I enjoyed before coming to Taiwan?

It is all for an undergraduate degree and the potential benefits of having such and the many lessons that will guide me during the rest of my life.

As cliche as it might sound, I am not the same person that I was when I first came to Taiwan. And I will never be the same.

And it is for this reason that I often pray that God continues to “grant me the patience to endure my blessing”.

For many times God blesses us with something and like a plant, we have to wait for it to mature. Like my pastor said during his sermon on August 31, the day before I departed St. Vincent: “There is not short cut to maturity.”

I will only deceive myself if I were to pretend that, since coming to Taiwan, I have never thought of returning home, without completing what I have started. But what is the sense in that” After all, “nothing good comes easy”. I tell myself that my five years here, is “a necessary evil”. I have three academic years left and I am committed to sticking it out. Others have made it and I can make it too.

I am encouraged by all the inspiring messages from my friends and family and especially my fiancee, Symantha.

Jamali, his wife Jeana and I were lunch guests last Friday of Nicole Su, a Taiwanese diplomatic who had a three-year tour of duty in St. Vincent. In response to a thank-you email I sent her, she said:

“St. Vincent is a wonderful country and I’m happy that I had the chance to stay there for the past three years. And I’m glad that you, Jeana, Jamali, and all the other Vincentians are here to experience the Taiwanese life. Bitter or sweet, I think the opportunity to experience the difference itself is worthy of trying.”

Should I say more?


16 thoughts on “Back on the Battle Field

  1. Experiences like these are just to make us stronger. We’ll learn to appreciate life more and the ones we love. Nothing good in life comes easy and with God ALL things are possible. Love you.

  2. It is a good article.
    I think you will be more better.

    I very agree this sentence “It is easy to send a man to war but very difficult to get him to go back to war.”


  3. Deep!!!! You brought tears to my eyes here… Jus imagine you were home for so long and I did not even see you… I am now in England so I am really not sure when our paths will cross again but do take care of yourself… Symantha is waiting..

  4. A very reflective piece. I have great confidence in you and your ability. I will not accept anything less than excellence from you

  5. Hey big bro,

    It’s very easy to say that it’s difficult. But as your younger and only sister, i want you to remember the Israelites in the wilderness. They complained and wanted to return to Egypt but God gave them a promise and even though they went through the wilderness for 40 years and complained God kept them. God will keep you and i will call this five years wilderness but God will not abandon you. He will provide manna and most of all comfort and love. Keep the faith in God and He will uphold you with his love. God bless and much love. Remember that there is a Canaan after your years of study, ok.

  6. Very inspiring and true. This experience here will make you a better person and at the end you will look back with many fond memories….And at the end if someone would ask if you had the choice would you do it all over again? When you look at the person you would have become…though the experience will have bittersweet memories… I am sure that you will say yes knowing then fully what the bigger picture is. God brought all of us here for a reason and though our time here is going to last for just a season what we learn here will last us our lifetime….Keep me in your prayers as I do the same for you and all the other Vincentian soldiers on this our battlefield….love Tasheka

  7. I always enjoy reading your articles. Keep up the good work and stay focused. Our experiences in life can either make or break us, the choice is ours. God bless you as you continue to look to Him for guidance. Study the word of God and be willing to do whatever He tells us to do, for His ways are higher than our ways. We are praying for your success along with that of Jamali, Jeana & the other Vincentian students. Continue to make us all at home proud.

  8. Thank you for sharing this poignant diary of your cross-cultural experience of going back home and returning to Taiwan. The psychological U W curve is apparent in your writing.

    You will survive!!! This is what we all go through. Often, we ask ourselves: what for? my Spanish: Para Que?
    Then, we go through the doubting process: Is this all worth it?

    For it is such a contrasting experience to be immersed in a warm, comforting, loving atmosphere of home into the cool, often indifferent days of school life (i.e. Taipei). In my case, it was Toledo, Ohio…

    I saw your pictures in Jamali’s wedding… and was heartened to know that you had the opportunity to share his golden day with him.

  9. Success is the product of hard work. Although we will go through trials n tribulations in life, underneath it all we will be the product of sucess through sacrifice. I always say to myself the power that our words hold is beyond imagination -語言的力量
    Who Jah Bless No Man Curse
    One Love

  10. Hi Kenton,

    Many thanks for sharing your feelings so vividly. They mirror some of my own experiences since I have decided to embark on another degree. My emotions oscillate between satisfaction and unease but I am generally comforted when I remember that I am not alone. That understanding is often enough to reignite my flickering spark. You and all the others who share our reality are in my thoughts and prayers. Our success requires sacrifice, endurance and determination. Continue to soldier on, brother.


  11. It’s good that we can appreciate out homeland, the place where our navel strings are buried. Like you stated, things we take for granted take on new meaning when we have to do without them for a while.

    You have gone to Taiwan for a purpose. Don’t give up; accomplish that purpose. When the going gets tough, be tough and get going.

    And whatever you do, keep your eyes on Jesus and let Him be your guide, your example and your source of Strength.

  12. Its good that we can appreciate out homeland, the place where our navel strings are buried. Like you stated things we take for granted take on new meaning when we have to do without them for a while/

    You have gone to Taiwan for a purpose, Don’t give up, accomplish that purpose. When the going gets tough, be tough and get going.

    And whatever you do eep your eyes on Jesus and let Him be your guide, your example and your source of Strength.

  13. It was great to see you after such a long time.

    You went to Taiwan for a reason, it may seem like a very long time, but it would be over before you know it. Remember that you are a child of God who promises never to leave you or forsake you, He will always be at your side and guide you through rough times.

    I love you and am already looking forward to seeing you next year.

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