Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Goggles isn't on my mind

Mon is the start of a new school term. It's traditional to be early for the first day. We follow tradition. Later five male youth leaders come over and we spend time together. They would have stayed all night.

It's Tue. We meet our neighbour on the way down and discover his son is unwell. So we get breakfast for their boy. Later Dinah and the kids take me to lunch. It's my belated birthday celebration. Next we drop by at the optometrist before swimming. Later we get dinner for our neighbour's child and we have an early night.

Wed night gets exciting. We've been in contact with an old friend for 3 months. We are so excited that our friend joins Lan Sim's care group. Thu starts with an online chat with Terry. Lunch is with Hong Teck. It's a strange evening. I plunge into the pool without goggles then have to pull myself out. The few onlookers around try not to look so shocked. There are many things in my mind and goggles isn't one of them.

Fri is the final day for weekend preparation. There's corporate prayer at night. Then it's all systems go. There are 3 sermons on Sat and 2 on Sun. Fuzhen's testimony is just awesome. Dinah and I are so happy to see our old friend at service. Later Dinah conducts a child dedication in the evening service. This is a fruitful weekend. We (me especially) wind down on Sunday evening.

Mon is when I start preparing for Easter. Somehow tonight's session with male leaders from Mandarin service is off. So I resume reading the pre-Easter materials. On Tue morn we catch up with another friend and listen to a sermon CD. Then the twins tell us Deb has been appointed as Health Ambassador for the class. They've got the right person - she loves her fruits. Somehow I suspect that this appointment signals the end of greasy meals for the family.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Two weeks away is a long time

Fri is time to finalise the Sunday message. Then I take a melatonin tablet but still can't sleep. So I wake up Sat feeling like a zombie but try to internalise sermon neverthless.

I awake Sunday having had good sleep. Two sermons later, I'm exhausted as the long trip take its toll. We still have a 4-hour membership class ahead. Whoaaa. As we we arrive and see the people (all 153 of them) Dinah and I do our best to serve.

Mon is a another furious day. Got to complete the Lateral Leadership lesson. Later five guys from tertiary ministry come over to spend time together. This starts Monday night men's mentoring.

Tuesday is errands day with haircut and grocery shopping. Thank God for Swee Ching who offer to take the twins out. She proposed the Asian Civilisations museum but they end up spending more time at the National Library. At night, Dinah and I join over 90 members to launch Team Ministry. Everyone is excited and it turns out to be a smashing success.

Wed is a long day as we follow-up matters from our trip and local matters. Two weeks away is a long time for stuff to pile up. An ulcer starts to appears. Thur is a more normal day except for lunch. Fenny get takeaway for herself, Dinah and I. She loves chilli and her beloved chilli expands my ulcer and upsets my tummy.

This week is school holidays. Dinah is preaching this weekend so I take Friday off to spend time with the twins. They both opt to hang out at home. Cartoons and ice cream is why. Dinner is at a great place in Defu Lane with the Ongs and Chongs for my belated birthday celebration.

Daisy is our good friend's sister. She takes the twins out for a movie on Sat. She's also their maths tutor. God provides all these great people who are a blessing. Then Sun, Dinah preaches so well. In between services Dinah and I bump into Sharon who's back on vacation. She and her husband now live in Toronto and have started a small group. We're so inspired to meet our people who are making a difference all over the world. Our church members are awesome and we're so proud of them.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In the west coast

Wed and Thur (22-23 Feb) is hectic. I work on the team ministry lesson and membership class notes. There's packing and tying up loose ends. On Thur we check-in online for the first time. We feel the lack of sleep now. The flight to LA is half-full and it's nice to have a row to ourselves.

Church Camp near LA
We arrive on Thur night in winter. Pastor Chai greets us and puts us up in a motel. Here we notice that our well-used luggage cracks. It's served us well. The next day Chai and Crystal take us for breakfast. Here is a great couple. After catching up, he drives us to the camp site in a beautiful valley (Rancho Ybarra). Late that night Dinah and I take (very) winter-cold showers thanks to the non-working water heater.

On Sat, Dinah and I teach lessons and do workshops. Later the campers enjoy games as we prepare for night sessions. At night Derek shares his testimony. He came to Christ in Singapore. We continue to have very cold but very short showers late that night. (Here's a photo of one of our meals at camp)

On Sun, Dinah and I teach. There's lunch fellowship and long goodbyes. Next Chai checks us in the same motel. Then he brings us to the night leaders session at the church premise in East LA. That night we thank God for the warm shower.

On Mon (it's 27th Feb), Sam and Sung (and baby Grace) from the church spend some time with us. Later Cynthia joins us for lunch and take us gift-shopping. Next it's raining heavily as we have an extended dinner with Chai and Crystal. Dinah tries virgin pina colada. I discover that virgin here means without alcohol.

On Tue, we go with Lee to the William Carey missions library. Cynthia re-joins us for lunch. Then we pack before our final night session with LA leaders. It's another long night.

Leaders Retreat in Vancouver
On Wed, Betty drives us to the Long Beach airport. We fly Alaskan Air to Seattle. There we spend time with JR and Warinda. From Seattle Chris and Jeng drive us 3 hours to Vancouver. (Chris actually came to Christ in Singapore.)

It's our first time in Vancouver and the winter is not mild as in California. We're told the seafood here is fresh so we try fish and chips. The leadership retreat starts the moment we step into William and Lan's place. That night we sure sleep well.

On Thur, Marilyn does breakfast. Now she also came to Christ in Singapore. Dinah and I do several sessions. At evening they take us downtown and to Stanley Park for a view of the waterfront city before a sushi dinner. Here they spring a surprise birthday cake. My birthday is actually tomorrow. It's a nice gesture.

Pastors Retreat in Newport Beach
Lan isn't well. Neverthless William and Lan drive us to the Seattle airport on Fri morn. They tell us Vancouver is one of the most livable cities in the world. We arrive in LA and Chai brings us to the beach house. The rest of the North American pastors and wives arrive that evening. Here the wives decide to go out for dinner as the guys order pizza. Later they spring a surprise birthday cake. They get the date right.

Sat morn starts with testimonies before a lesson. After lunch we visit Balboa island and then we experience beach volleyball. My wife laughs as I almost put on my shorts. It's winter-cold at the beach. We discuss ministry matters all night as I try to ignore aches from volleyball.

Sun (5th Mar) morn starts with men and women sessions. Then we travel to the university community hall in University of California, Irvine. It's a long while since I have seen my wife prepare elements for the Lord's Supper. We have Sunday service. The church hosts a big lunch and even games. Then the ladies have a baby shower as the guys get the barbeque ready. Quan sure cooks awesome steaks. Later we enjoy extended worship and prophetic ministry.

Dinah and I take the Mon morning sessions. Then it's cleaning before we drive to Albert and Doreen's home. We dine together and complete our final discussion. Some leave as the rest have extended fellowship. JR is the last to fly home. Then it's a Mexican dinner with the Ngu family. After showers, Dinah and I talk with Albert and Doreen late into the night. David calls from Chicago.

David calls again on Tue. Then it's an extended lunch with Albert and Doreen. Afterwards Doreen and Dinah go grocery shopping as Al and I talk at home. Then we pack and join the care group at the Uni of California, Irvine. We gather in a class room. Afterwards Albert drives us to LAX to catch the late flight to Singapore. We spend Wednesday on the plane.

We arrive in Taipei at 6:30 am Thur and it's 17 degrees. We arrive in S'pore after noon. It's 34 degrees, 33 if there's wind but there isn't. We unpack in humid conditions. Later the kids get home (thanks to Simon) and we're re-united. It's been a memorable 2 weeks in the west coast of North America. We're glad to be home.