Jea Ng x TCCO
Jea Ng wrote about her 1.5-year faith journey in Nepal in the book "Latte to Lathi - Finding an Unshakeable Faith" as an encouragement to everyone to step out in faith and experience the reality of God in their lives.
Inspired by her story, we had the opportunity to speak with her and find out more about what went behind the scenes of this journey and the idea of publishing this book with local publisher and distributor, Rafthause.
Here's what she has to say to everyone through this journal!
1. First of all, let us know more about who you are!
I’m Jea Ng, turning 32 this year and currently working in the social service sector. (:
2. Share with us the story behind the title of the book “LATTE TO LATHI”!
“Latte to Lathi” captures God’s story in my life - of how He led me from a faith crisis to an undeniable experience of Him as I stepped out into missions in Nepal. “Latte” represents the comfortable life I had in Singapore and “Lathi” (the Nepali word for a wooden staff) represents the adventure that I had embarked on with God in Nepal. The book details the journey I had taken and my discovery of new perspectives and insights about life and faith.
3. How did the idea of writing a book on your mission trip come about? Did you decide to write the book even before the trip to document the entire journey?
I definitely didn’t set out to write a book when I embarked on my trip to Nepal! During my time in Nepal, I often wrote in my journal as a way to express myself and to reflect on all that was going on in my life. I kept a little notebook with me and wrote down insights or interesting observations that I made about the Nepali culture and people. I thought, maybe it would be nice to write a short newsletter (just a few pages) about Nepali culture and my experience in Nepal when I returned to Singapore. It had never crossed my mind to write a full-fledged book. What inspired me was a friend who wrote a book about her time in the missions field and she encouraged me to consider writing a book too. What made me really excited about it was when she shared that a book can reach places that I can never reach, and the Singapore libraries would keep copies of it which will last beyond my lifetime! So I thought, “what a wonderful gift to leave for my nation and for the next generation!”.
4. Why did you decide to go on this 1-year mission trip to Nepal?
I made a commitment to God when I was 24 years old that I would give Him one year of my life in missions. At that point of time, I didn’t know where or when I’d go. 5 years down the road, I found myself in a faith crisis. I didn’t know if God was real and if what I had believed in all my life was true. God felt really far away. However, He did not let go of me. There was still a flicker of faith in my heart which made me want to lose all that I had (e.g. my job, comfortable life, family), and to go in search of God - with the desire to encounter Him again and to know Him afresh. It was His Spirit at work in my heart. So I took the step of faith and went out into the missions field.
5. What were some of the preparations that went behind the scenes for this trip?
The preparation started way before the trip. As a teenager, I had been on many mission trips to different places - all these were also part of the preparation, in some sense. While preparing for this trip, I attended training sessions at cross-cultural ministry, went on missions weekends to seek God about missions, learnt how to fund-raise for my trip, and spoke to people who had been on longer term missions.
6. Going away to a foreign land for a year would definitely require some sacrifices, what did you have to give up or leave behind?
I left behind my comfortable life in Singapore, my job of 4.5 years, friends, family and church.
7. What were some of the initial challenges you faced when you first started this journey?
The fears and worries of being away from all that was familiar and living overseas for the first time. I was the only Singaporean in the team going there and it was quite unnerving that I did not know anyone in the team in Nepal and they did not know me too.
8. Name the most memorable moment during your time in Nepal. What was special about it?
My most memorable time was when my teammate Anne and I lived in a remote village in Nepal. It was special because we lived with a local pastor and his wife who were very devoted to the Lord; they took us in as their own daughters and by their example, showed us what it meant to live single-heartedly for Christ. Anne was a really good friend that I made while I was in Nepal. I had prayed for God to provide me with a friend who could journey with me during my time in Nepal; Anne was God’s answered prayer. We served together, conducted children’s programmes in the village, had home fellowship with the believers and experienced what life in Nepal is like in the villages - that was very special and memorable.
9. What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during the trip and how did you overcome it?
It was the 25th April 2015 earthquake. Following the earthquake, there were many months of aftershocks, some of which came in the middle of the night and made us run out of our homes in fear of the building collapsing. It was nerve wrecking every time we found ourselves running for our lives when we experienced tremors. What helped me to find peace in the chaos was to cry out to God in prayer and to entrust my life into His hands.
10. Can you share with us what is one life skill that we must learn in order to live in Nepal?
You must learn to be comfortable and okay with uncertainty. To know that, sometimes, you just need to accept the situation, grit your teeth and go on.
11. How has this trip changed you?
It renewed my relationship with God. I experienced Him so deeply in Nepal that I can’t deny that He is real and that He is a God who loves me.
12. If you have an opportunity to go on a 1-year (or more) mission trip again, what would you do differently this time?
I don’t think I’d do anything differently actually…. Every trip will be different and I’d have grown in different ways - so I can’t say for sure what I’d do differently.
13. Any other thoughts about being a Singaporean missionary? Any advice that you would like to give to those who are considering to venture into a similar path?
Here in Singapore, we are so comfortable with life that sometimes we forget about God and we forget what it means to be wholly dependent on God. Being out of one’s comfort zone is often where we learn to once again depend on God fully. It is where we are brought to the end of ourselves and where we find Him ever faithful. Stepping out of my comfort zone was the first step in knowing God in an entirely new way, a place where I had encountered God in amazing ways. Be bold, step out, God will be there with you!
14. Who or where can we go for more information regarding mission trips?
There are many mission organisations (e.g. Youth With a Mission, Overseas Missions Fellowship, Operation Mobilisation, Interserve, etc..) with ministries in countries all over the world. They’ll be able to walk you through your missions journey.
15. If there is one thing that you want readers to take away from the book “LATTE TO LATHI”, what would it be?
When we step out in faith and walk in obedience, God will be faithful and we will experience God in deep and amazing ways.
16. As Singaporeans, we love food! Any interesting dish that you came across and tried in Nepal? What was the best and worst?
My favourite Nepali food is momos (similar to chinese dumplings). In Nepal, they like to add spices to everything! Even in fruits! There was once I ate oranges which had been mixed with very spicy spices and sugar. Never knew oranges could be eaten in a spicy way! In the village, the villagers ate snow. I tried the snow from the mountains; it tasted like Singapore’s ice kachang. The worst food I had was in the village when I was offered a bowl of mutton - because in the pieces inside, there were still hair of the goat sticking out of thick goat skin…..!
17. Not only are you the author of the book “LATTE TO LATHI”, you are also the person behind the design of this book. Tell us more about the process of designing this book! Despite not having any experience or training in design, how did you learn to design especially for this book?
Yes, I also designed the book. (: I always had an interest in design and photography, hence I picked up some skills along the way throughout the years. I had a collection of book layout and typesetting which I liked too - so I used that as a reference as I designed the book. I wanted to design my own book because I felt that many missionary books have great stories, but the designs are often very plain. As my target readers are youths and young adults (many of whom don’t seem to have the habit or patience to read books), I thought, “to reach out to the next generation, the book has to be captivating, not just in the story, but even in the design.” I wanted it to be an artsy book that people would hold it, look at it and think, “wow, I want to read this book!’ Besides the design, I kept each chapter of the book very short because I know young people would not have the patience to read long chapters. Shorter chapters give them a sense of ‘accomplishment’ and allows them to sense movement in the book.
18. Who do you look up to or inspires you?
Long-term missionaries from Singapore who are still doing missions right now, serving God and giving their lives to Him. Especially these 2 groups of people - those who have families and decided to take the path less travelled, by uprooting and bringing their children into missions, and single Singaporean ladies who have given up their life in Singapore and gone out for long-term mission in the mission field.
19. The brand story of The Commandment Co. is to “Send A Message. Inspire Someone.” Would you like to share with our readers a message that you held onto during this journey?
“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,’
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”
— Isaiah 54:10
It would be Isaiah 54:10 - the key verse of my time in Nepal, which I’ve also mentioned in my book. This verse meant a lot to me because in Nepal, the ground was often shaking and unstable due to the earthquake, but this verse speaks about God’s unshakeable love - that even though the mountains (there are many mountains in Nepal) be shaken, His love for me will not be shaken. It was very comforting to know that.
Thank you, Jea, for sharing with us your story!
We hope that you are greatly encouraged by her story too. For any of you who are interested in reading more about Jea's faith journey, you may purchase the book 'Latte to Lathi" in-store at 261 Waterloo Street #02-18 (Waterloo Center) Singapore 180261 and BUY ONLINE HERE.
Have a blessed week ahead!