Month: February 2014

Project L.E.L. – Year 22

In the sixth story a Chinese girl, Jia, comes to New Zealand as a student. She works hard, helps a local company do business in China, finds her true love and a fulfilling life. This short story sets out the adventures and challenges of one girl, who finds “joy and peace” through her own will.

LEL Year 22

Michael closed his briefcase filled with copies of handouts and a text book. As a part time tutor he had just finished teaching the Organisation & Management class and was completing the administration details. Extra time was required after this first session, but now he was ready to leave.

Closing the door to the staff room, he stepped into the large Reception area on the second floor and as he turned he bumped into a young (female) woman sweeping the floor.

“Sorry!” Michael said moving away.

“That’s OK,” was the reply.

Michael looked closer and to his surprise he saw a young Chinese girl dressed in a cleaning uniform. “Aren’t you from my class?” he asked.

“I’m Jia from your O & M class.” She replied still sweeping.

“Well you are very busy! Are you employed to clean here?” Michael asked.

“Yes this is one of two part time jobs I do!”

“Two jobs?” Michael was surprised.”Why so many?”

She stopped working and looked him directly “My parents have restricted my living allowance so if I want food …. I have to work!”

/////

“Well I never thought I would ever travel to China with you Jia.” Michael commented looking out of the car window. “It seems a long time ago when I was your teacher back in Auckland.”

“This is good experience for us both!” Jia responded smiling as she had done so since collecting him from the airport at Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province. “We should arrive in Wenchuan County soon and meet Brian.”

“Yep! Sending him over early to organise the flower growers was an excellent move.” Michael commented, knowing that his business partner who was the Technical Director, needed to be at the site earlier. Now they were travelling to the eastern foothills of the Kunlun mountain range, some four hours drive inland from Chengdu. “These hills are very steep and high. I wonder if they get snow on the tops in winter?”

Jia responded to his question and spoke quickly in Mandarin to the driver who snapped back his reply as he skillfully drove the SUV around a stalled truck on the narrow winding road.

“Yes, snow is seen on the tops in the winter.” Jia replied.

Michael thought to himself ‘Therefore the only land to use is the river flats!’ Then aloud he drawled, “We would never consider planting in an area like this in New Zealand!”

Jia nodded in agreement.

Michael was pleased with the day and the help he had had from Jiaas he expressed his thoughts. “I hope the new ideas will help the villagers! In my eyes,these rural communities have a limited consciousness … “he stalled for a moment searching for a simpler word, “understanding – because they have followed their cultural patterns over so many centuries.”

“You’re talking like a modern Westerner!” Jia shot back.

Looking out the car window Michael could see they had reached the new road – like a motorway with two lanes either way. Further in the distance he could see a lot of vehicles parked on the road side. Wondering what they were, he did not have long to wait as they came around a corner to start passing army trucks filled with troops!‘Were they on an exercise or getting ready to invade Tibet?’

/////

“Good to see you back in NZ.” Michael said as he hugged Jia after she had got off the aircraft at Auckland Airport.

“Thanks for meeting me.” Jia replied as they started walking out of the terminal building. As they came into the daylight she covered her eyes crying.”Aah! It’s so bright here!”

“Bright?” Michael questioned looking at her intently.

“It’s so bright. I can hardly open my eyes!” Jia repeated opening her shoulder bag. “I’ll get my sunglasses.”

They stopped and as Jia searched in her bag, Michael murmured.“And congratulations to both of us as well!”

“Why do you say that?” Jia asked now able to look at him with her sunglasses on.

“Well we didn’t get caught up in the earthquake that was centred in Wenchuan County!” Michael smiled to himself knowing they had both been very lucky escaping from the devastation and suffering caused by the 8.8 earthquake in early May 2008.

“Yes we were lucky.” Jia replied thoughtfully as Michael loaded her suitcases into the boot of the car. “If we had been three weeks later – who knows what we might have experienced!”

Changing the subject Michael gently probed “Did your mother introduce you to any suitable guys when you were home in Wuxi?”

“Yes. Plenty. But… “ Jia paused as she buckled her seat belt then continued, “ … they’re all from the rural areas – ugly and dumb!”

“Ugly and dumb you say!  Well, remember you get what you ask for, so it looks like you are back to Internet dating, again.” Michael smiled at her, fully aware of the level of intent Jia had to find the ‘right man’.

/////

Download the rest of the story for free at Smashwords.

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Project L.E.L. – Year 21

In “Year 21” a teacher talks separately with three young Japanese girls who have the same culture but are experiencing different challenges. One has escaped her family restrictions and the second is trying to escape the anger of the upset from breaking up with her boyfriend while the final girl has escaped from the fear of family work commitments.

LEL year 21

The lift doors opened to the 15th floor. Diagonally across he could see the reception desk for the College where he taught business subjects. A bright and cheery area made more so by the many colourful pictures hanging on the walls from the Design class, happy students smiling and various articles pinned on the notice board.

“Good morning Michael. How are you today?”

“Well thank you Maya.” He replied to the Receptionist. “And you?”

“I’m good too.” She answered; turning toward him she used both hands to pat her hair and in doing so emphasized her slim body as she stood up. “You want to see Yuria?” and not waiting for his confirmation, she used her index finger to punch in (started punching in) the extension number on the phone.

“Yes thanks.” Michael replied aware of her efficiency but also noticing how she always dressed in tight clothes. Was this her way of demonstrating her femininity? He thought to himself.

“Hello Michael!” Yuria’s greeting was bright and open. As the Assistant Course Coordinator Yuria was the main point of contact in the College for Michael, He had a pleasant professional relationship with her and while like Maya, Yuria was from Japan, they were like chalk and cheese!   Michael observed that while Yuria was not slim and was shorter than Maya, she had an incredible happy personality that allowed her to work and communicate easily with everyone.

Before Michael could reply Yuria continued. “I would like you to meet Hina – she has started here in the English Department and she is my flatmate!”

“Hello Hina. Welcome to the College.” Michael clasped and shook the extended hand from a young vivacious beautiful girl with a wide smile that projected her personality.

“Thank you!” Hina smiled back. “I love being in New Zealand!”

Michael turned his gaze from Hina to Yuria and then to Maya, and without thinking exploded, ‘this is my lucky day – meeting the three most wonderful girls from Japan!” And inwardly he thought, ’Wow! Is this the Japanese version of Charlie’s Angles?’

 

/////

Left alone with Yuria, Michael was able to establish that Tom, the Course Director was away ill and Yuria, as an intern, was doing her best to prepare the course outline.

”What class numbers do you expect?” Michael inquired as he sat down in the small cramped office that doubled as a library for the business courses.

“I will know tomorrow.” Yuria replied and added, “There will be many Korean students coming under a special programme.”

“Koreans!  There certainly is a great variety of nationalities here!” Michael exclaimed and ruminating aloud asked, “How long have you been in New Zealand?”

“Oh, its ten months now.” Yuria replied smiling, appreciating Michael’s interest.

“And before you came here, were you studying or working?” He asked.

“I managed an evening class for a nationwide educational institute in Tokyo.”

“Manager!  Very good. Maybe you can get a job running this organization?” Michael laughed then inquired “And why did you leave to come to New Zealand?”

“Oh, to improve my English!” Yuria gave a quick flippant reply.

“Really?” Michael expressed his surprise. “Is that the only reason?”

“Well”, she hesitated then disclosed,” I had to get away, it’s so restricted over there!”

“Is that right?” Michael commented choosing not to inquire further. “I expect your Mother is happy with you getting this job?”

“She doesn’t know!” Yuria whispered looking slightly embarrassed.

‘What?” Michael could not hold back his surprise. “Don’t you talk to your family regularly? When did you speak to her last?”

Yuria looked down unable to meet his eyes. “The last time was six months ago!”

“Six months! Why so long?”

Still looking down Yuria blurted, “She does not understand me. She only ever asks ‘When are you coming home?’”

 

/////

 

Returning to the reception desk where Maya was alone Michael asked, “How did you find the book?”

Maya turned away and reached down to her bag and took out the green covered book. “Yes I read parts of it,” she replied handing it to him. “It reminds me how my Grandmother used to cook – the old way!”

Michael accepted the book and re-read aloud the title “Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat” “Well, looking at you, you must be following the recipes quite closely!” he teased.

Maya smiled and shifted to a slightly suggestive pose before replying, “I still eat a lot of rice and fish.”

Michael flicked through to a page folded back and read aloud, “The Japanese diet is based on fish, soya, rice, vegetables and fruit.”

“As I said, that’s the old way. Many Japanese, especially the young ones working in the big cities eat more Western style.”  She commented, looking directly at him.

“Is that right? Well it has not affected the highest average age of living, which is still held by the Japanese!” Michael observed enjoying the discussion on a subject that was important to him.

Maya made a slight provocative turn of her body before replying in a dismissive tone, ‘Maybe!”“Maybe, indeed!” Michael replied and then suggested, “Why don’t we discuss this over a coffee sometime?”

“Over a beer, maybe!” Maya retorted.

“Maybe!” Michael responded automatically, stunned by her aggressive manner.

Download the rest of the story for free at Smashwords.

Quote of the day – Gary Zukav

learning

Each decision that you make is an answer to the question, “How do you chose to learn love?” “How do you choose to learn authentic empowerment – through doubt and fear, or through wisdom?” This is the ultimate first act of free will. How do you wish to learn?

“The Seat of the Soul,” p. 102 – 103 – Gary Zukav

Project L.E.L. – Year 20

The fourth story is about a young beautiful girl from Beijing in China She follows her boyfriend to New Zealand and then six months later he dumps her! Should she stay or go back home? Her background has made her competitive and so she has to make some important decisions. Read and find out what she achieves.

LEL year 20

“So you are in your own home and you’re expecting?” Belinda asked, smiling as she watched her friend ease herself carefully into her chair.

Jenny grinned, patting her extended stomach and replied, “Yes, he’s coming along well!”

“So you have chosen to know the gender and not wait until birth?” Michael asked as the three of them settled down for lunch at the Happy Café, a Chinese restaurant.

“I had to know so we could buy the right clothes and things.” Jenny explained.

As the two women conversed in Mandarin, Michael reflected on the past that had led to the catch-up meeting. Two years before he had employed both of them in anticipation of increased export business with China. However, there was insufficient work to keep them both busy. Jenny had been completing her Masters and was looking forward to getting married.

But Belinda had quite a different past! Both girls had approached life differently for their learning’s.

/////

“That’s not the worst thing!”  Belinda grinned at Michael, raising her voice over the noise of the squealing wheels of the train.

“You have some strange stories.” Michael replied looking at her animated face. She was enjoying reminiscing about her early life in Chengdu. They both had attended a conference in Manukau City, stayed on for an early meal and now were riding back to Auckland Central.

“Then my sister and I used to dare each other.” Belinda continued reveling in the ridiculous antics they had got up to. “Like what?” Michael could not help but ask.

“Well. Once she said I couldn’t climb a tree and put my hat on the top branch!” She grinned again at the memory. “And she dared me to get it down again!”

“So what happened?” Michael probed.

“The branch broke – and I fell.” Belinda’s face twitched recalling the shock and pain of the incident.

“Good Lord. What stupid girls you were!” Michael interjected. “And what sort of sister would you have to do such silly things?”

“She’s my twin!”

/////

All the dishes had arrived and as Jenny was serving out portions to Belinda and Michael she observed, “Yes Ben had PR so I got it automatically when we got married.”

Michael rubbed the chopsticks together to clear off any loose splinters before taking his first mouthful. As a vegan he was careful in selecting only vegetables, leaving the meat for the girls.

“I have to wait another two years until I am eligible to apply for Permanent Residency living   with Tom.” Belinda responded in a matter of fact way.

“Two years!” Jenny stared at her friend in semi disbelief.  “Why two years?”

“Yeah, why two years? “ Michael repeated.

“I have to wait because Tom’s last girl friend got PR by being sponsored by him three years ago.” Belinda replied and then continued, “And there has to be a five year break before he can sponsor me!”

“So when does your present visa expire?” Michael asked.

“In fifteen months, so I am nine months short!” Belinda replied soulfully.

‘So what are you going to do to stay in New Zealand?” Jenny inquired, her face expressing concern.

“I’ll have to go back to Uni.” Belinda replied.

“And what course will you take?” Michael asked.

“A Doctorate!”

Download the rest of the story for free at Smashwords.

Quote of the day – Gary Zukav

#3 of 30 - 1-4-13

Every decision that you make either moves you toward your personality or towards your soul. How do you wish to learn? Will you choose the way of doubt and fear; or will you choose the Tree of Wisdom

The decisions that you make are yours to make. A non –physical Teacher cannot and would not, live your life for you. It will assist you through the learning experiences   of you life. The answers that it can provide you depends upon the questions that you ask – by questioning your own motivations, by praying or meditating and remaining open to for the answer, or by asking directly , as in the case of the multisensory human that has developed this ability. When you ask one set of questions, one set of doorways opens before you, and when you ask other questions, other doorways open.

“The Seat of the Soul” – Gary Zukav

Project L.E.L. -Year 19

Here is the third story. It is about a young girl from South Korea who is a strong practising Christian and has the aim to help the poor and needy. Should she follow her heart or her religion? Check it out and see if you agree with the lesson learnt.

LEL year 19

“I come from a less-developed coal-mining town in Korea.”  Min looked up, a wistful smile appearing on her face as she let her mind go back.

“You have come a long way in nineteen years,” Michael her Business teacher commented as they finished clearing papers after the presentation.

“I lived in an old house and it had an outdated coal-fire boiler and a toilet that sometimes crawled with maggots!” She continued in a dream world from her past. Then her smile spread across her face, “but now, such a poor conditions have generally known to have disappeared in most of Korea – a long time ago.”

“Your country has developed rapidly in the last twenty to thirty years.” He concurred, neither correcting her English nor wishing to stop her flow of thinking.

“Yes,” Min continued, “but these are only some of examples that I experienced personally” She paused, thinking and then carefully explaining, she said, “however, my home helped me to understand and have empathy for the poor.”

“Congratulations”, Michael smiled and touched her shoulder saying, “You‘re a lucky person. You know the reason for being here in New Zealand!”

Min starred at her Teacher taking in his words, “so you are saying it was the difficult condition I had to live with that positively motivated and inspired me to realize an interest in needy people?”

 

/////

Working and researching overseas would be exciting and wonderful, Min thought to herself. She could go to places she had always dreamed of like Jordan, Israel and Japan.

Min mused and then shuddered with excitement, the thought ofthe experience of building new relationships and coming across new cultures. It would be fantastic. It would allow her to definitely feel the atmosphere and how people behave differently from the way they did in Korea.

Letting her thoughts expand, serving overseas will be a great opportunity for exchanging cultures and broadening my horizon as well as promoting international understanding.

And as she let her imagination run freely a broad smile came to her face, Every time, I will adapt myself to each new culture and I will learn to accept human diversity by meeting so many different people!

 

/////

“What other experiences have you had?” Michael inquired as they worked together disassembling the screen used in her presentation.

“Well,” Min replied, “Handong Global University  has played a key role in helping me to acquire the energy and the knowledge to serve people in need. I consolidated my vision and skills through double majoring in social welfare and counseling psychology!”

“So you built on your interest by selecting psychological classes – good idea!” Michael commented.

“Yes, through the psychological classes I learned to discover my own psychological traits and became more sensitively aware of the psyche of people I meet”. Min paused recollecting her experiences, “and I also did volunteer work as part of my university life and that’s how my adventures began. I served the neighboring community by teaching English to small groups of children in churches and community children centers that were nearby.”

“Very good. And what else?”He asked.

“I also helped the elderly and disabled people by participating in programs and exercise activities in settlement houses and welfare centers”. Min stopped her work as she recalled the past events. “It was from these experiences I learned how to use my talents and skills in dealing with people. to serve other people, especially those who are isolated from society. I wanted to help build a sense of belonging, and address how to deal with poverty!

“And how did you know what to do?”Michael probed, “was it always from your skills?”

“Don’t laugh because I know you are not a religious person.” Min paused, then quietly but firmly stated, “I always pray and ask for guidance before I make any major personal decision! “

The rest of the story is available as a free download from Smashwords.

Quote of the day – Deepak Chopra

angrychild

Your stuck energies force you to be someone who doesn’t exist anymore: The angry child deprived of love, the frightened child who doesn’t feel safe. The past is a false guide to the future, and yet it’s what most of us rely upon. By letting go of stuck energies, you let go of your past.

Do You Live in Fear? – Deepak Chopra

Project L.E.L. – Year 18

Here is the second story.

It is more raw and deals with a challenging subject, but it is what happened.

Many women will have faced this dilemna so check it out and see if you agree with the lesson learnt!

Project LEL   year 18 cover

The shouting woke her. As she regained her senses, the vicious sounds smashed into her brain. Pushing back her duvet, she sat up, listening intently to the words.

‘You lying pig!” her mother screamed. “You have another woman!” A pause. “Don’t deny it!”

After a short interval, she heard her father’s muffled reply, “It’s not what it looks like”.

The weak response only spurred her mother on. “You have been going with her behind my back, you scheming bastard,” she spluttered.

Shanshan cringed pulling the duvet back over her head, trying to shut out the dreadful sounds.  Her parents had been arguing more and more over the past few months, but this was the worst time. She felt sorry for her mother not being able to trust her father. It was a difficult time and she was becoming scared of her father.

/////

“Do you want to go inside?” Michael, her male companion gently asked.  They were standing in front of the inner Prayer Room within the Buddhist Temple in the Eastern Suburbs.

“No, it’s OK.” Shanshan felt slightly over awed by the size of the Temple and from the doorway, she watched others light their tapers and skewer them into the sand in front of the large statute of Buddha. Would their prayers be answered?

“Come this way.” He lightly gripped her arm to lead her down the steps off the veranda onto the pathway into the formal garden. “Let’s go over here!” Shanshan smiled her consent and followed him to a small structure shaded by a palm tree. Looking closely she could read on the brass notice ‘Wishing Well.”

I must pray for my mother, she thought to herself before her companion’s voice broke into her contemplation. “… for each wish. Do you want go first?”

Shanshan stared at him with a puzzled look, ‘What do I do for each wish?”

‘‘You must repeat the wish three times. Kneel down, say it three times in your head, then ring the bell.” Shanshan nodded, showing she understood and let him direct her to the platform.

“I suggest a prayer for someone else would be in the Buddhist tradition,” he murmured into her ear as she moved onto the platform.

It seemed a long moment as Shanshan considered her wish. But her decision had already been made.  It had been her only desire since she left China…support her mother; support her separated mother; support her grieving mother.

/////

It was a brutal sound…a combination of a slap and a punch that somehow held up in suspense of quietness, for a moment, almost in surprise waiting for the enviable outcome.  Then her mother screamed…a howl of fear, pain and anger so intense she had no time to curse him as she sucked in huge breaths of air, waiting for the pain to subside.  Locked in her room Shanshan, shrieked in fear as if she had felt the blow herself.

It had started when her father arrived home very late, drunk again, but this time with lipstick on his cheek. Her mother had challenged him and he had shouted back “it’s none of your business!”

Realizing the situation, her mother had pushed her away. “Go to you room, Shanshan and lock the door.”

Cowering on her bed Shanshan thought, Why has he done this? What has made him into such a monster? Why had he hit her mother?  Inside her feelings screamed with compassion towards her mother. Was she hurt? Should she open the door and go and help? What would her father do to her?

Other thoughts ran through her mind as she reviewed the loveless relationship she had with her father. He was never at home, often drunk and never took notice of her. It would have been different if she was a boy.  He had said that so many times?

The argument had raged for over half an hour until her father in a thick slurred voice began to shout in a threatening manner until he hit her.

“Get out! Get out!” her mother screamed at her father. “Don’t ever come back!”

The rest of the story is available as a free download from Smashwords.

Quote of the Day

crossroads

Our lives are marked with a series of events, encounters, and turning points that in one way or another stamp our outlook on life and move us in this direction or that. Ultimately, our responses to these events shape us into who we are today. If we can view these circumstances of our lives as aspects of our very own story, our unique pathway through life, then we can make the journey more conscious, and we can open to it.”

Cheryl Peppers & Alan Briskin – Bringing Your Soul to Work. An Everyday Practice