Wednesday, November 30, 2005

In South America

It's Monday night. Connie and Leo came to fetch the kids and their luggage. Simon came for the car. (This is becoming a familiar scene). Dinah finished packing so I managed to sleep one hour. Then we are off to the airport. It's our first time on North West airlines. We fly 7 hours to Narita and spend 2 hours in transit. We fly over 9 hours to LA. We spend 4 hours in transit. Then we fly over 10 hours to Lima. We boarded LAN airlines (Chilean) for the first time. There were 7 newspapers and they are all in Spanish. This is our first time in South America.

We have flown over 33 hours (incl. 6 hours in transit). I am so dehydrated. Dinah remain on the plane to Santiago. She has another 5 hours of flying. It is 11:15 pm and customs queue is taking a long time. Finally I am out at the arrival hall with a sea of faces. After about 15 full minutes of scanning, I spot Julian waving. I push that trolley towards his direction. It's so good to see Terry and Julian. Terry sat in front with the taxi driver. I catch up with Julian.

The taxi reach home after 1 am and they show me to the room. Yes the warm shower feels so, so good. Then I lay down to journal and read the Bible. Not long later I manage to sleep.

I awake on Wednesday to the sounds of birds cooing and chirping. Terry brings me for breakfast and we catch up. Then we go to the Ecuador embassy to apply for my visa. (The Ecuadorian ambassador in Singapore was in Ecuador so I couldn't apply there.) The central business district here is quite modern. We submit the documents and wait. The visa application takes 3-10 days but I need to go to Ecuador next Monday. After over 2 hours the Consul ask to see us. He asks questions in Spanish. Thank God for Terry. He asks me in English. He finally says the visa will be issued tomorrow. The Ecuador team says this is a miracle.

We have time before lunch so we browse at possible gift items for people in Singapore and I want to get groceries for the household. Terry says we'll be away at camp. Instead we have coffee and then it's a Peruvian lunch with Terry and Julian and more catching up. The guys order Cerviche, Peruvian raw fish. We come back to the house and I get the gifts from Singapore for the team. Later the girls come home and we catch up a little. Then I write to Ecuador that the visa is okay.

Serene is practising guitar. Terry is having a nap. Ailay is beside me and Delia is behind me preparing for the camp. As we type, we smell the meat grilling with Julian in the kitchen. Tonight we catch up with the whole team.

Dinner end up almost 3 hours. We are telling stories about Singapore and South America. The beef steak is big and the pre-mixed tomyan soup has kick. The team washes up and prepares for bed. They sleep early and wake up early. The phone rings and it's Charmaine calling for me. Hope the ringing does not interrupt the team's sleep.

Monday, November 28, 2005

40 Day Journey

Our church is currently on a 40-day journey. We are fasting and praying corporately for a Christmas breakthrough. We have been journeying together for just over two weeks now. I wonder if the food establishments around Nexus have felt it.

Here's something for the journey. Recently I read a National Geographic (Nov 05) article about societies that live longer. It was fascinating so i noted some key facts. They studied 3 societies around the globe and found similar factors. All don't smoke. Be active everyday. Put family first. Keep socially engaged. Eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Other significant factors include keep lifelong friends, eat small portions - till you're 80% full, find purpose and have faith. I particularly liked the '80% full' part and the 'have faith' part.

My wife and I are also preparing for another journey. Very early tomorrow morning we leave for a 2 week ministry trip to South America. (I don't know why long distance flights always happen at 'ungodly' hours).

Hope to post some missions reports along the way. If not, then I'll post again after we get back.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The last ten days

The last ten days has been awesome. Things happened so quickly. The meetings were long. The nights were long. Now's time to update my blog. So here goes.

Yesterday I was backstage with Fook Wah. He was going to share his story in the morning services. He's also visually impaired. I couldn't help noticing him prepare by 'feeling' his written testimony in Braille. He has been communicating with my colleague Kam Weng by e-mail about this testimony. I just had to ask how he read his emails. He said he uses voice recognition to read emails. (And I thought I was up to date.) Then he went up to share about what it takes for a handicapped person just to make it for worship service. He travels 50 minutes one way to worship each Sunday. He also joins care group and corporate prayer. Many of us were inspired.

Mabel and Christie told us there was strong spiritual atmosphere. After all we had corporate prayer on 11th Nov, 40-day fasting started 13th Nov and healing conference on 15-17 Nov. I spoke in the morning and in the evening. It was great to pray with 11 people who made first time commitments to Christ. Over 40 people responded and got baptised in the Holy Spirit.

I must mention the healing services on Tue and Wed night (15-16 Nov). The first night was so good and the second was even better. We have received documentation of 20 people who have been healed from various sickneses. I understand there are more.

The Friday before last was also significant. We got invited to help in the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia community project in Dec. We decided later that we would join this project. It's so rare to find a positive, fun and quality movie these days. We know this is going to turn out great.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Reorientating Myself

I was wide awake on Fri night as well as Sat night. Jet lag strikes! Yin San said something about sleeping 12 hours straight after a long-haul flight. Claud mentioned a pill that counteracts jet lag. Looks like there's a pill for everything.

Yes it was hard to preach on Sun morning. The message was "Spiritual Mysteries of the Ark". Morning worship time was good. We had child dedication for 14 kids in the first service. Cheryl gave an amazing testimony in the second service. After second service, an African-American lady came up and said it was great. She asked if we have 'this type of church' in Virginia, US. I said, "Not yet". She seemed disappointed. We talked for a while. She was Charmaine's friend from seminary.

We saw Sharon who's back on home leave from Ecuador. I said hi. Then I got some shut eye in the afternoon. My wife said my rest was 'quite a racket' for the family.

Evening worship was also impactful. After evening service, a lady came up and said "It's my first time here. One of your church members invited me here today. I'm a full-time minister from the Phillipines here on a 1 month sabbatical. I'm so glad I came today. Thank you so much." I was glad that we can be a blessing to people and I replied that she's more than welcome to join us for the 1 month she's in town.

These two individuals plus the five persons who committed their lives to Christ for the first time today more than made up for jetlag blues. Honestly it's a "mystery" I made it through today - fairly joyful too.

Next we were off to Lawrence and Pat's place in Sengkang. Thomas was there. Pat's Assam laksa was potent - I actually slept on Sun night.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pastors Retreat in Chicago

We took the very early morning flight on Friday to Chicago. As we departed, Cindy and Sharon were about to arrive from Chile and Ecuador respectively. How amazing.

Then our 2 hour transit in Narita Airport revealed a nicer airport than our last transit here. We finally arrived in the busiest airport on the planet in Chicago. This is our second time in the windy city. Pastor David fetched us at 3 pm in the afternoon and helped us settle down at the rented house. This house with character is next to De Paul university. We washed up. Dinah napped and I worked on next week's sermon since I couldn't sleep. The North American pastors and spouses started to arrive. We had a good time catching up.

We went for Thai food and the American serving size is big. We continued to catch up at the house after dinner. It is fall (autumn) and the weather is cold. The wind brings the temperature down. My skin is not used to the dry conditions.

Saturday started with home cooked breakfast. We had worship, testimonies and I did a lesson. Next Dinah did a session with the wives as I took the husbands. Then we took the train to down town and had lunch at the John Hancock tower. We spent the afternoon walking to the Chicago River. It looks a lot like Singapore River. We spent informal time together as the wives prepared dinner. We had worship and discussions till late.

We started Sunday cleaning the house and moving to David & Malay's down town apartment. This is near Loyola University. We had breakfast there followed by worship service. David led worship, his wife led the service, 3 pastors from out-of-town gave testimonies and I preached. We had lunch together with the people. After lunch we resumed discussions. Evening time came and most of the pastors and spouses went home. William and Lan stayed behind. We had good talks till late.

We got up later on Monday. Lan insisted I do a lesson. She is so hungry. We had lunch out then sent William and Lan to the airport. They said they would love to miss their flight so they could spend more time together. We then went to the bookstore at the Moody Bible Institute. David and I spent some time together as the ladies went out. We bought our host family a meal. Moses was dressed as batman. The restaurant is full of adults dressed up. It's our first time seeing Halloween celebrated.

On Tuesday David took Dinah and I to pray over the Loyola University. He loves nature so we spend some time in Northwestern University campus. We had lunch in Evanston. Then we go home to pack for tomorrow and get ready for care group tonight. I started writing this blog. Dinah and I joined the care group and got to know the people better. We dined together after care group.

Wednesday is travelling to the airport. We are leaving Midwest USA. We travelled 12 hours to Tokyo with 1 hour transit and 6 hours to Singapore. Managed to sleep more and even do some work on the next sermon. We arrived at after 11 pm Thursday. The humidity hits. Thank God for the light rain that brings down the temperature.