When I won the Paraplanner of the Year award, I said to myself, “Thank you, Lord, for the self-validation I have always been praying for.”

Facing 2018 was a challenge for me because of a personal journey I faced in 2017 which made me realise that, where you are now is where you are meant to be. And that sometimes, even hard work and determination to achieve a dream won’t be enough, especially if it isn’t the timeline God has set for you.

I feel blessed that somehow, all the questions I had for myself, with all the self-doubt and loss of confidence, now have answers. And it all finally makes sense.

Trip to ‘Straya!

Part of the award was a trip to Australia to meet my clients in MBS Insurance. The trip was set from the 11th to the 21st of January 2019 which was such a perfect time since it was still summer and the office was still not as busy.

The flight to Sydney was smooth. Since the schedule relatively coincides with my usual sleeping time, I basically just slept through the flight.

When I arrived, Ash (lead paraplanner of MBS) collected me at the airport and we went straight to the Blue Mountains where she lived. I stayed there for a night and then the following day, Sunday, we went for a bush walk up to the Hanging Rock.

It was an 8-km walk. I loved the scenery going there! When we reached the top, the view definitely did not disappoint. I was afraid that it might not live up to its “hype” and how it looked like in pictures. But nope, Hanging Rock was breathtaking. At first, I was having jelly legs. I’ve done treks to mountains before but this was by far the highest peak I’ve ever stood on.

Come Monday, Ash and I went to the city to meet Kristina, another one of our lead paraplanners. We went out for lunch at Café Sydney and again, I was in awe of the view. I had a medium rare beef tenderloin with potato puree and onion rings. Now, I can attest to its popular reviews – the steak definitely melts in your mouth!

After our lunch, I went ahead and explored the city all by myself. With a map in my hand and a good sense of direction, I managed to get around the city pretty well. I went to the Art Gallery of NSW to see Van Gogh and then decided to walk to the Queen Victoria building. Along the way, I also got to see St. Mary’s Cathedral and other amazing sites.

By Tuesday (15th of January), I went up to the MBS office to join our huddle. Then Loren (another lead paraplanner) picked me up for lunch as we planned to do the Spit to Manly Walk. When we reached Manly, it was time for lunch. The vibe there was refreshing, with all the funky cafes and colourful stores. I had a huge serving of their famous fish and chips for lunch and then a cone of ice cream for dessert to fight the scorching heat.

The next few days I spent visiting more places in Sydney – went to the Bondi Beach with Loren then to the fish market (by myself) to try some delicious lobster. I also spent another day in the office – had lunch with the team, played some table tennis and grabbed a drink at a nearby pub.

I also got to spend time with Carolyn (general manager) and Steph (client services manager). We headed out to The Rocks Market to see some local and artisanal products. Carolyn got me a photo taken by the local photographers as a sort of memento of my visit to Sydney. Such a really sweet gesture from her! We then had lunch at a nice place with a view of the Harbour Bridge. This time, I had a pulled pork bun and a “drink”. *wink

We took a walk down to the Sydney Opera House to have some drink at the Opera Bar. Though the place was filled with loud music, the vibe was so chill and very relaxing.

Then, Sunday came, 20th January, my last day in Sydney. When I found out about the day’s itinerary, I was pretty sure my Sydney trip was going to end with a blast!

I took the train bound for Loftus Station where Ash, Hannah and Helen collected me. We headed straight to Bundeena where we walked to Little Marley Beach and then bam! I couldn’t put into words exactly how to describe the amazing view and how the whole experience felt. Although it looks awesome in the photos, I feel like the pictures still haven’t done justice. It was just spectacular!

Time to go home

And just like that, it was now time for me to fly back home.

Throughout my Sydney trip, the MBS team didn’t fail to make me feel like I’m part of them. Not just because I was there physically that I felt that I was more than just an offshore team member, but I think it was because of how accommodating and warm they were to me. They even seemed to be more excited to tour me around than me being excited about visiting Sydney. Haha!

I couldn’t express how grateful I am to my whole VBP family especially to DC and DD, for this opportunity as well as to Christian, Tim, Team Phoenix and Team BabyCorp for all the support they provided me since day one.

This trip has made me experience a lot of new things – visiting a new country, bush and coastal walks, train rides, and not eating rice for almost 10 days! Haha! And of course, having had the chance to meet our MBS team, and this time, not just virtually but in the flesh, meant a lot to me. 

Life, indeed, has a lot to offer. We just need to be patient and take every opportunity as a step closer to our goals. And it’s full of surprises! Take that from me. Now, be ready for yours!