* a timely repost, originally published on May 23 07. I love you, Mai! And I am so proud of you. So proud, you can't even begin to imagine.
The way my brother, Mai, has matured over the past 6 months truly amazes me. He CHOSE to leave his not-affluent-but-already-comfortable life in Manila hoping to find means to make our mom's life even more comfortable. But he didn't find what he was looking for at once. He went through extreme poverty and danger. There were times when I didn't know which to ask God to bless him with first: a job, or enough strength so that he may not be defeated by self-pity.
If the past six months was a test of his faith and determination, he deserves an exemption from the next tests Life has to offer. If it was his own way to prove us wrong when we didn't want him to go and we thought he might come back home a big failure with an enormous load of debts on our shoulders, we humbly but delightfully admit now that we were wrong.
I remember when we were kids, all Mai really wished for was to have little metal nuggets attached to his teeth. He found it posh and cute. Our family dentist thought he was too young to have those. In high school, he discovered they were called "braces" and he just wanted them even more. But that time, our family wasn't doing well financially anymore and we couldn't afford it.
Now, he has them. And they came from his hard-earned (super hard-earned, I must say) first paycheck that was 5 months in the making. 5 months, god-knows-how-many buckets of tears, never-ending prayers, and tremendous amounts of faith, hope, determination, courage and strength. I saw the picture that he posted on Friendster (which can be found on the right) that he captioned "John Robert Powers smile". I'm still thinking of a cuter, wittier caption I could suggest to him to replace that with. I'm sure Remi would suggest "Smile of Success". And she'd be proud that Mai was able to afford his braces without bugging her for a cent. He deserves that reward more than he thinks. And thank heavens for his braces, he has finally him lose some weight.
Yes, you will be fine. You always have been.