Monday, August 29, 2005

A Full Weekend

Dinah and I just came back from Kenya last Tuesday night. Deborah got sick while we were away. When we came back Daniel just got sick. We prayed for our kids. There were also church matters to catch up on. The weekened started early for me. I preached the opening message of our new sermon series in all three student services on Saturday. (This Tabernacle series is fascinating). It was great to meet our young people. I was also glad to meet 3 Africans at the tertiary service. Yes I slept soundly that night.

On Sunday I preached the series starter twice in the morning. There were three persons who walked up after the second service. One of them found us on the Yellow Pages and showed up today for the first time. He brought a friend who gave her life to Christ. Then I had lunch and rested awhile. Pat was so kind to drive our daughter to our sister-in-law's place. Daniel is resting there.

Then my wife and I are off to the membership class. There were a hundred and ten people present and we did not recognise most of them. It was great to meet new members. We ended after 7 pm but enthusiastic new members stayed behind with additional questions. We finally picked the kids up at 8:30 pm then it was an early night for all of us. The next day is a school day when we leave before 7 am. This was a very full weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wrapping up

Monday is our last day here. The girls suggest we go to a tea plantation. We started with a long breakfast. We drove to a refreshing tea plantation. The hilly terrain of tea plants was just breathtaking. This is tea like you’ve never seen it. Later we got the girls a nice lunch and nice Italian ice cream.

We spent some time with James in the early afternoon.

Later we spent time praying together. Then my wife packed and I journaled.

We had our last meal dinner together as we wrap up our time here. We showered and travelled to the airport. It was a sad to say good bye. Now was time for the 14 hour flight home incl 2 hour transit. No upgrade this time but the Dubai to Singapore leg was not full so we got seats with ample leg room. As I wrote this blog I just got a thank you email from the girls. They have timed it well, thoughtful as usual. We miss them already.

A Nairobi Weekend

We woke early on Sat and had breakfast. The girls had arranged for us to to visit the nearby Nairobi National Park. I guess this is a must-see here. We had plenty of time to chat as the driver from the tour company was 2 hours late. Punctuality isn't common in many parts of the world. He finally showed up and his name was Peter. He drove a reinforced van with a modified sun roof. At the park we saw wildebeest, vultures, impala, deer, monkeys, giraffe, warthogs and zebras in their natural habitat. The kids would have loved this. Maybe next time we'll visit the large safari park further away.

Peter is from the Kikuyu tribe. He explains the safari. He says wildebeest are forgetful. They can be running from a lion and sudddenly stop to eat grass. Then he took us to the Giraffe centre, a place for orphaned giraffes. This ended our half day excursion.

In the afternoon we walked out to get groceries for the household. The weather is hot and cool at the same time. The sun is strong and the air is dusty. We had dinner out with an Australian friend, Paul and his dad. We came back and related with the girls till late.

Sunday saw us having a proper breakfast as lunch will be late. We drove to a village in the slum. There we met James.

James walked us through this shanty town of tin shacks. The sights, smells and sounds for these 15 minutes was emotionally draining. It didn’t look as if many dwellers had seen Asian people before. He showed us around the school premise and brought us to the new one that is still being built. My wife and I brought a lot of books from Singapore for the needy kids here. We learnt more about the school in the school office. Then he showed us the church premise. As we walked in to the Sunday service, I was invited to preach. I should have said yes. Worship time was great. Kenyans have good rhythm and strong vocals. We sang, danced and soaked in the atmosphere. Dinah and I were invited to share a few words before the sermon.

Then we took a long drive east to visit his wife. The road to their large home was long. The road had many potholes and car fumes are plentiful. The couple could not get help for the two young ones so she stayed home. They adopted two beautiful kids. We exchanged greetings then he brought us to Blue Post hotel near a waterfall. Lunch was about 4 pm. We were glad to host this busy family for lunch.

We went to buy dinner, came home and showered. Jeb, husband and 3 kids came for dinner. She is a local and close friend of the girls.

In East Africa

It's Friday the 19th of Aug. Our colleague Simon kindly drop us off at the airport. We checked in at 1 am for our 3:25 am flight. We went in early. At the wash room mirror I looked as if I just touched down after a long flight. Normally I only look like this when I arrive not before I leave. We went to the departure gate. I dozed off as we were up since 6 am Thur morning. Then we heard our name over the intercom. We walked to the staff and they said, “These are your new boarding passes for Business Class.” We almost couldn’t believe our ears. This was the first time we were upgraded in all of our ministry trips. My wife said I began smiling after this point.

We went in the plane and sat down on the huge leather reclining seats. The welcome drink was apple juice, orange juice and champagne. We had apple juice. We got linen napkins and personalised service. "So this is how it’s like". We slept well for this 7 hour flight to Dubai.

We then arrived at the impressive Dubai international airport. We have heard many good reports of this city. It is a modern desert city. Whatever illusion we have about self, it quickly disappears when you travel. The washrooms were not as well maintained. We were on transit here for almost 2 hours.

Then we were back on Economy class seats for the 5 hour journey to Nairobi. The Nairobi international airport look like Singapore in late 1970s and they were playing ABBA songs – definitely very 70’s.

We were so glad the customs officer did not ask us to open our suitcases because we were so tired. We were so glad to see Li Chuang and Lisa. We hugged them. Their car was a hatch back so they hired a sedan taxi. They're so considerate. The road from the airport has grazing land where we saw Masai herders and their cattle. Nice!

We arrived at their place in a compound fairly near the city centre. We notice there are no traffic lights as they prefer roundabouts. There are hardly any street lamps but there are large pelicans that live on trees and feed on garbage.

We drop the stuff, have a drink and they brought us to a mall for lunch. Then the girls bring us to Kazuri, a handicraft place and to a Masai bazzar at Village Market. My wife was fascinated but all I wanted was a shower. (Also my wife sleeps better on planes than me.) We finally went home, showered and I saw a huge mosquito. Then we had dinner and catch up. Dinah and I enjoyed time with our old friends.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

8th Birthday

Tonight was our Filipino service's 8th anniversary. We rested after morning service then we dropped the kids off at Dinah's sister place and made our way here. Dinah went in the front as I made my way to the backstage. Later she recounted how she noticed two guys with an invitation card asking for directions. The person they asked obviously gave them the wrong direction because they walked off in another direction. So Dinah called out to them and then offered to bring them. It turns they arrived in Singapore only 4 days ago, going to start work soon, looking for an apartment, looking for a church and got an invitation card on the street only this afternoon. How amazing. Dinah also got their details for our leaders.

I enjoyed the musical based on Gilbert's life. He has a great life story. The musical was elaborate and a total visual spectacle. Scores of our people have been rehearsing twice weekly since June. The preparation and quality came through. The modern dance item was quite good too. The auditorium was very close to full-house. Filipinos are also very celebratory people, so it was a great atmosphere.

Praise and worship session was one of the best we have participated in here. It was my turn to speak, being my third message of the day. I sensed the affirmation of God's Spirit and of the people. Many people responded to God's Word. We sang Happy Birthday and then worshipped some more. I turned to Christie saying, "This is just excellent". Then it was photo taking all across the auditorium before dinner. What a celebration. My wife and I went off to fetch the kids with great joy in our hearts. Thank you God for your church.

At about midnight I went to the airport to fetch my aunt from Canada. She 'was' my older cousin from dad's side who grew up in our home in Sabah. She was like an older sister to us. Then she met my mom's brother, courted and got married. She 'is' now my aunt. They eventually moved to Canada. I haven't seen her for over 10 years. It was a joy carrying her luggage to our home at that ungodly hour. My body's tired but my heart is rejoicing. (Time to apply what I spoke on Isa 40:27-31 earlier)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Pastime with Good Company

Tonight Jeff, Claud, Lawrence, Pat, Dinah and I had dinner at the Esplanade. Claud was disappointed with her noodles so she's probably having supper now. Well I simply love the Esplanade. It is such an icon for Singapore. We were here for an A Cappella concert to support a church member, Rebecca. She is a church vocalist. She is also part of this UpBeat A Cappella group doing their first concert 'Pastime with Good Company' at the Esplanade Recital Studio. Thanks Rebecca for inviting us all.

Dinah liked the Arioso Bach rendition. I thoroughly enjoyed the Under the Sea and Soul Bossa Nova from the movie Austin Powers numbers. (In case anyone is wondering, no I did not watch Austin Powers.)

I think Lawrence and Jeff seemed a little bit disappointed they were not asked to sing during the audience participation segment. Perhaps next time. Neverthless we had such a great time tonight over dinner, at the concert and afterwards talking with Rebecca and her parents. Her mom sings too. Like her parents, we're so proud of Rebecca.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Reach Out for the Skies

Today is Singapore's 40th birthday. It is also a public holiday.

My family and I spent the first part of the day with our worship arts media (WAM) team in their retreat. The venue at Sentosa island was great. I did a message on renewing spiritual passion. (It was tough to put a message together on a holiday but it was all worth it. I can't think of a better group of people to spend our day with.) After the message, I invited Jeff and Dinah up where we prayed and prophesied for people. Then all 50 of us walked out for lunch. Food here is more expensive but not better than on the main island. But we got to know new people as we walked and talked. Then we had appreciation and thank you awards. We took our leave as Jasmine was about to start on the second message. They are such a great bunch of people.

On the way home we stopped to get early dinner in Bedok where we bumped into a church member, Janice. She was so excited because she just came back from a mission trip to Thailand. What a great chance meeting. We gave her a lift to Bedok interchange where she was going to meet her mentor. Then our family went to visit Lawrence and Pat. Pat asked us over to pick up her yummy-delicious pasta salad. She served us with iced fruit juice too. The food is quite healthy in this household.

The kids rushed us home to watch the National Day Parade live on TV. It's the only time where we do a TV dinner - once a year. The kids were glued to the TV. The theme song 'Reach Out for the Skies' does grow on you. The entire show just gets better every year. It's truly worth watching. This has been a great day. Happy birthday Singapore. God bless Singapore.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

July 31st

Today is commitment Sunday. I have thought of this this day for over 8 months. First our research assistant Kam Weng proposed an incredible passage of Scripture. Our morning lead worshipper Jac introduced a jazz-themed praise and worship. Our guest soprano Renae Smith did a powerful Gospel song. Then I did two morning messages. I was very excited to pray with two persons who made first time commitments to Christ in the midst of a commitment Sunday.

It was encouraging to see members making prayerful campaign commitments. Friends also participated. Cara told me that a not-even two month old believer made a sacrificial pledge. By the end of our evening service, we had 553 people making campaign commitments.

In between all the excitement my wife and I hosted Evelyn Biles to lunch. I also met Jerry Vuncannon later. Evelyn is a friend of our church and is here to help us with discipleship seminars. Jerry and Renae are part of Evelyn's team.

July 31st will go down as the first commitment Sunday of the Breakthrough campaign. What a day.