Saturday, June 24, 2006

Lessons from holidays

We just came back from our holiday. This trip was special also because my brother was getting married. The lessons I learnt from this vacation can be spelt R-E-S-T.

Holidays have RHYTHM. There's a cycle to it. The work day before we go off and the first day we are back at work are often traumatic. Also after a holiday we can get back into the thick of action in an instant but it takes time to get into the holiday swing. Dinah and I couldn't sleep well the first three nights of the holiday.

Rhythm includes down times. On Monday we checked out of a chalet to wait for our taxi back to the city. We called the driver after waiting half-hour. He said to wait another hour. After another hour, we called but there was no signal. He finally arrived over 2 and half hours after the agreed time. He apologised but it was so hard to speak on the trip down. We got to my parent’s place at 3:30 pm for lunch. Later my brother drove us to the hotel. The system hung as we checked in. That day was unforgettable.

Holidays have ENJOYMENT. I enjoy our annual getaway because I look forward to catching up with family. My parents, my brothers and sister look forward to our annual pilgrimage. We enjoy each other's company much more than when we were kids.

Our twins look forward to seeing their cousins whom they meet once a year. They play so well together. Last year the twins joined this party of a friend of their cousin. This year we were back at about the same time so the twins were at the same birthday party as last year.

We also enjoy the company of my in-laws. My siblings have incredible spouses. May's husband, Johnson takes us for seafood each time we're back. Stan's wife, Anthea booked the chalets this time. She even packed groceries for the cabin. We are so happy because their first child arrives this September. We got them a nice stroller for their baby. We finally met Wendy, the latest addition to our family. Harry’s a fortunate guy.

The whole family enjoyed many extended dinners with home-cooked dishes and plenty of fresh fruits followed by wedding arrangements. I definitely had too many mangoes from my parent's garden. One night we had food tasting for the dishes before the wedding banquet. We enjoyed two seafood dinners. Dinah loved the baby lobsters. My sister brought us for local beef noodles. Dinah and I spent an evening with Stan, Anthea, May and Johnson as Harry met his in-laws with my parents. Most of our lunches were with my parents at their home. One exception was on Sunday when we lunched with old friends Chiew Bong and Dora.

Harry’s wedding banquet was very grand complete with live performers. I met once again with long lost cousins, relatives and friends. My old friend Martin came with his parents.

Holidays involve SLOWING. Modern living include overload, but we can't always live in overload. I need sanity breaks. Up in the highlands, both our phones had no signal. This was a good thing. We experienced unhurried reading. I prepared simple breakfasts.

In the day we explored nature trails. Deb picked acorns from oak trees and wild mangosteens from the cloud forest. We strolled around the cool and misty botanical garden.

At the cabin, we enjoyed devotion times by the verandah with the sounds of the running stream and birds chirping. Later at the hotel, we enjoyed devotions at the room balcony. The scenery of the blue sea, islands in the background and the landscaped pool by twilight was just majestic.

Holidays are also THERAPEUTIC. They soothe the soul. We savoured the weather at the National Park. I just love the view of Mt Kinabalu. This is the tallest in South East Asia at over 4,000 metres. I've been here several times and climbed the peak once but its Dinah and the kids' first time. (Here's a photo) The 2-storey chalet we had was well equipped. We drifted off to sleep to the sound of crickets accompanied by croaking.

We spent one night at Poring. It’s the first time for Dinah and the twins here. It’s a natural hot spring where the water is supposed to have cleansing properties. The Canopy Trail was a tough climb followed by three linked-bridges that joined very high trees in the rainforest. It was scary but Dan loved it. We trekked to a water fall where we sat around throwing smooth stones into the clear water.

In the city we made full use of the hotel's Olympic-size pool. It was a beautiful hotel. In the room, the kids challenged us in board games. It must have been therapeutic for the kids to beat us.

On the last day, we were sad to leave. We miss our family already. But we are thankful for the time we had and look forward to next year. We love our annual North Borneo escapes.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

2½ weeks

You would have noticed no recent postings. That's because we have been away. I'll write about the vacation soon. Let me start with the 2½ weeks before that.

One highlight is lunch with Steve and Judi Lane. They are a couple who has been with our Sunday service and small group for the last 3 months. This is a great English couple. Dinah and I enjoy a good time getting to know the Lanes before they return home. Another memorable lunch is with Jo who's back on vacation.

A second highlight is our family excursion across the causeway. We spend the day here as Dinah conducts a camp workshop. We mingle with people till late. Thanks to the slight jam as well we sleep very late that Sunday.

Then we have the guys from our Mandarin service at our home. Geno from Filipino service also joins in. In between all these happenings is the writing of position papers, forewords, preparations for leadership lessons, chapters for our all-new Team Ministry course, and planning for the North American pastors retreat and the convention after that.

The highlight for the twins must surely be 29th May, the first day of school holidays. Dinah and I get to catch the Over the Hedge animation movie with them. We also get to hang out with our neighbours. Simon gets to help us with this recalcitrant light bulb at our apartment. My wife gets the excitement of organising us for the family vacation...

Monday, June 05, 2006

A family divided

The school holidays are here. The first Friday (2nd Jun 2006) is our first-ever staff Family Day. Staff spouses and kids are all invited. Set in Sentosa, it is a bright hot day with no cloud cover.

Today sees a family divided. Dinah is in the yellow team, Dan is in red, Deb is in blue and I am in green. Since Thursday the Blue team has been declaring all over the office that they rule. Red team respond by declaring that red is the colour of victory. Yellow and Green teams exercise sober-mindedness and Spirit-controlled demeanour.

Family Day starts with team joke telling. Next is the guess this thing you-never-knew-about game. One particular revelation almost knocks us over. When we recover, it's time for morning tea. Then its team games. The first few are typical tele-match type games. But in the hot sun.

Then comes the water bomb game. Several start releasing bombs on their supervisors, colleagues and event organisers. For about 5 minutes all hell breaks loose. Somehow I manage to side step the aggressors. After the wet and wild episode comes the frog game. Teams are to grab a frog and have team members kiss it. One female colleague kisses a frog thrice. She seems disappointed it does not turn into a prince.

Somehow Wan Leng and Pastor Lawrence are not competitive and agressive as before. Have they mellowed? Well they are probably rebranding themselves. They have a successor. A normally gentle staff member turns totally competitive. Her gentleness is nowhere to be seen as she releases water bombs with a fury not seen before.

Its so good to see staff playing together and letting their hair down. In the end, green team wins by a very large margin. Overall team scores were 88, 65, 59 and 47. But we keep a magnaminous spirit. We remember we're Christians.