Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It's a happy New Year

This is the time of Lunar New Year, which is celebrated for 15 days. This is a family affair and there's an almost total shutdown of schools and businesses for the first two days. You feel the shutdown much more than during Christmas. This time it's a long 4-day weekend, probably the longest of the year.

There was good build up. Monday was breakfast with 5 of our Christian counsellor and pastor friends. Tue and Wed was time on global ministry, with pastoral staff and with Pui See. Thur was spent drafting a position paper on 'Inter-Generational Curse'. Fri was corporate worship, the first time the weekend service was brought forward. Dinah's Lunar New Year message was 'A New Me for the New Year'.

The holidays begin Saturday. Ours start with shopping for seasonal fruits. Next is the 'Game of Life' in keeping our promise to the twins. Pat got this board game for the twins and also so that she could play it with them. We discover Dan is competitive, Deb is a kind player, Dinah is the most honest and I get fourth place. Our Lunar New Year celebration begins with an all-night reunion dinner with Dinah's side of the family.

We awaken on Sunday by the sounds of a lion troupe. Dinah dresses us in red to join our Mandarin worship service. James starts the sermon saying the first visitation is to our spiritual family on Sunday service. Indeed! The service has a great family atmosphere. Afterwards, we bump into an old school friend whom we're supposed to visit tomorrow. So we catch up at the mall. Then we get home and call my parents with New Year wishes. Our tradition on the first day of the Lunar New Year is a visitation to Dinah's mom. This visitation continues to dinner.

Our tradition for the second day is to visit my mom's aunt. But she moved to LA last July. Instead we enjoy a leisurely breakfast with New Year goodies. We all catch up with reading before lunch with our neighbours. Later they come over to our place for visitation. The weather is just great for an evening swim. Mon night is cartoons night for the kids as we do more reading.

Today is Tuesday. It's another leisurely breakfast with New Year goodies. The kids watch Justice League cartoons. Next we host lunch for my brother-in-law who turns 47 today. Then we help the kids with social studies research on continents, with Dinah reminding that we've churches in all the inhabited continents. The afternoon gets more interesting when we are riveted watching 'Hotel Rwanda'. It's truly moving and we totally recommend it.

This is how it tapers off... The kids just love the rare home-cooked meal. So the holiday ends with a simple home-cooked dinner as promised. We enjoy every bit of this meal time thanking God for time with family and friends. It's a happy New Year.

Friday, January 20, 2006

First Chill

Our first leaders huddle was on 11th Jan. (It was also Jeff and Claudia's wedding anniversary.) Being the first huddle of the year, we explored global missions. Our evening went very well. The next day was a breakfast meeting with four local pastor friends.

Friday was a real treat. Thuan Seng called and the break through news truly made my day. Can't wait to share this with the church. To top it off Kam did a great job at staff devotion. Liked what he said about 'praying the price'. Saturday was wedding celebrations for Soo Guan and Karen. Dinah and I are so glad for them. Sunday was the first team rally of 2006. We gave thanks for last quarter and had our first-ever fire drill. Then Dinah and I had afternoon tea with Julian and Serene. It's their wedding anniversary.

Monday was leaders' conference across the causeway. Enjoyed catching up with overseas pastor friends. But I awoke on Tues with my first chill of the year. It's my third time in this hotel and I get a cold each time I'm here. It's becoming a tradition! Why are Malaysian hotels so cold? Why am I so prone to cold hotels?

It was so nice of Denis to lend me his only jacket and Lean Choo who brought honey lemon drinks. Managed to contain the cold to preach on Thursday. I got home late Thurs just in time to kiss our twins good night. (Thursday was also Mike and Lean Choo's wedding anniversary.) Friday was back to office catching up with staff and various church matters.

Things are picking up fast in the first month of the year. Looks like it's going to be another fast paced ministry year in 2006.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Changing Seasons

A new year is upon us. The holiday season has passed.

We thoroughly enjoyed the holiday season. Over December, my wife and I spent over 2 weeks overseas. Our kids had a great time with Connie's family. We came back in time to preach the pre-Christmas sermon. We caught up with people and ministry then took some time off. We could finally explore some new places in Singapore with the twins. We also checked out the World of Narnia carnival - twice. We watched the movie 'Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe'. We caught up with our neighbours, with Li Chuang and Lisa. I even got a crown done for one of my molars.

Christmas is my favourite time of the year. The recent one was special. On Saturday, one couple friend of ours joined our Christmas Eve service for the first time. One of our kids' classmate also came with his parents to the Christmas Eve service. It was so great to see many people make first time commitments to Christ. After service, we had tea with our guests. To top it off, we had dinner with Dinah's side of the family. Our kids got gifts from their aunts and uncles, also from church friends and church staff. Like us, they love this time of the year.

Christmas day fell on a Sunday. Another of the kids' classmate came to Christmas service and he brought his sister. My wife and I were so proud of the twins. They have invited friends since Easter the previous year but no one came. We kept encouraging them and praying with them. We capped off Sunday celebration with extended lunch with Lindy, Emma, Ian, Charmaine, Wee Leng and Wan Phing. Later Dinah and I visited a couple who used to come to our church in the 90s.

One family tradition is log cake for breakfast. At year end we have different types of log cakes. Another one is year end reflection. Dinah and I review journals and note key lessons from the year that's passing. Then another tradition is to help my wife with spring cleaning, wrap school books and bags for the new school year.

We had a good time at staff thanksgiving on Friday. Fenny had an amazing Powerpoint presentation on the 2005 staff journey. The company was good. We spent the rest of the day shopping with Wee Leng and Wan Phing.

New Year day in 2006 was a Sunday. It was a wet day. I spoke on the first Sunday of the year. You could tell that people were still in the holiday mood. After evening service we joined Charmaine as she hosted a dinner party for church missionaries. This day marked the changing of the calendar.

Tuesday begins the new school year. There is a brand new regime with a later starting time which is great and new drop-off points and pick up points for the school kids. There are new schedules for Scouts and Brownies. This affects music lessons. Then Daniel got sick on the second day of school. Thank God for my wife and our assistant.

In the first work week of the new year, I'm working on the leadership lesson on 'Missions Strategic Coordinators', a vision message for the Team Rally and a Valentine message on 'Sex and Spirituality'. There is also the sermon for the upcoming overseas Leadership Conference too. There are the usual staff meetings for finalising and coordination of new projects and various staff and organisational matters.

On the second Sunday of 2006, I worshipped at Mandarin service. As is my practice here, I worshipped mostly in the spirit. James was preaching. I particularly enjoyed this statement he made: "When we go for holidays, we often come back tired. When you rest, don't forget everything. Get near God." This is so apt.

Just as I immerse into the new ministry year and begin to miss the year end holidays, tomorrow is a holiday 'Hari Raya Haji'. This is a good break. Perhaps we all love holidays because we do work hard so holidays provide much needed rest, recreation and fun. It'll probably be meaningless if we were to do it every day. Hope you had a memorable holiday and do have a great year in 2006.