Wednesday, January 26, 2005

tropical iceland?

Ironic isn't it that we step into air conditioned offices for most part of the day and jump into a steaming hot shower once we reach home?

Living in the tropics has always been working under the hot sun, but going home to enjoy a cool shower, in the past that is.

Don't understand why some companies have offices that freeze people up. As an article in The Star so aptly put it, it's beginning to look like we're living in a foreign country. People walking about with winter jackets holding steaming cups of coffee. Some are seen rubbing their hands vigorously or holding hot water bottles. Jackets and cardigans hanging on chairs and some even wearing mittens and gloves.

Me? Maybe I'll invest in thermal underwear!

Think there's something wrong with the above scenario, no?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

of the Italian brunch and Burmese tea

Had a terrific long weekend. My busy schedule for the first month of the year has always been an indication of how the rest of the year would turn out. It was like that for the past few years. Post-Christmas celebrations, belated birthday parties, reunions with friends from different schools and more meetings up with newfound friends.

Like the last weekend, our Willow group (from the last iB camp) decided to meet up. We've been talking about it for some time, and even though some of us work near each other, we have yet to set a proper date. It was ironic that a spontaneous sms from our leader set the pace and we managed to get 3 (yes, THREE!) to come. So, since they so kindly agreed to come to Subang, I thought of cooking them a little something.

So the night before they were supposed to drop by for breakfast, I took a quick look in the fridge and took stock of my ingredients. The pasta, vegetables and soup were just nice for a small breakfast of three persons. I replied back to Prem's sms and told her that instead of going out, I'd cook them something. (And they would be my guinea pigs!)

If you know me, "acts of service" rank pretty low in my love language. But I decided to challenge myself and see if I could be hospitable and serve my friends using my cooking skills, or the lack of it. I don't cook much, and if I happen to cook for someone other than myself, I usually don't have the appetite. Not that the food turns out unappetizing, I just feel funny eating my own "creation". Heh! So, it's either I cook and eat my dish or I cook for someone and they eat it. :p

So anyways, I went to sleep thinking about the food and fellowship we were going to have the next day.

Got a call from Prem saying another grrl would be joining us. Then I remembered, there wouldn't be enough to feed four people. Oh dear, I'd have to take them out for food instead. So, had to forgo the idea of impressing people with my specialty (I only have two. Haha) So we went to Taipan for some Italian food. Pizza Uno lived up to expectations again. We shared Baked Herb Pizza Bread, Ceasar's Salad with Smoked Salmon, Casablanca Pizza, and Ravioli with Special Sauce.

Then we went back to my house for some Burmese Chinese tea. Perfect for washing down all the rich food we had for brunch. As we chit chatted over the fragrant aroma of the tea, we found out our families shared a lot of similarities.

Like how our mums keep plastic containers, tupperwares, empty bottles and jars, with the hopes that they would be reused or recycled one day. And how our houses have furnitures that don't quite match each other. Kitchen cabinets that have paper linings to protect the wood below. Christmas trees that still stand even after the presents have long been opened. Boxes in the store and under the bed which still hold stuff from yesteryears.

It was really fun having these people around. In an effort to exercise different gifts and talents, I must learn how to cook more dishes. Heh!

By the way, I cooked my specialty that night for dinner :)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

rest in peace

Wanted to post this up last week, but internet in the office was erratic, to say the least.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Deepest condolences to the family of WW, who passed away last Wednesday morning, 19th Jan 2005. We couldn't visit her during her last few weeks because she didn't want us to see her in her weakened condition. Also, it must have been difficult entertaining guests like that.

But I thank God that she didn't have to suffer anymore. When I last visited her, she had lost so much weight and looked quite pale. The chemo treatments for her Hodgkin's disease was really taking a toll on her.

The church held a funeral service that night itself. There were so many people that some of us had to stand outside. She left behind many relatives and friends. Since she has been actively serving in various ministries, most of them were from the church. It was the biggest funeral I've ever attended, and our main pastor gave a fitting message.

At the end of it, we made our way to the coffin to pay our last respects. I got up, and saw my parents still sitting. Later, I found out that my mum preferred to keep the last memory of this sister in Christ by remembering how happy and well she looked when she was still alive. I understood what she meant then.

May she rest in peace.

Monday, January 17, 2005

all grown up

You realised you've grown up when
you order the ginseng peppermint tea
and not the usual mocha ice blended coffee at KofiBin...

You realised you've grown up when
you enjoy watching live orchestra performances at the MPO
instead of pre-edited and SFX-laden shows at TGV or GSC...

You realised you've grown up when
your heart melts under Josh Groban's crooning
and no longer can tahan listening to Britn3y sing!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

christmas in burma p3

sing-a-long with the children

On the first day of the new year, we visited some orphanages. We did our specialty, "the midgets" and incorporated action songs. They seemed to enjoy the "Blow wind blow" game and had fun playing roles with our Wall of Jericho story. The boy who acted as Joshua had a particularly good prayer warrior pose. Kneeling on one knee and with hands clasped together, he looked like a Chinese general greeting the Emperor.

We taught them 2 crafts - friendship band and paper stars. They learnt well and caught on pretty fast, despite the fact that the day was drawing to an end and it was getting dark. Then, it was time for us to go. Together with the orphanage's director, they said a prayer for us. It was touching seeing how fervent they prayed. It was all I could to keep the tears from flowing again.

As we left Yangon early next morning, I still couldn't believe I was leaving this land already. I had just gotten to know the people better and we enjoyed some incredibly good times together. Not only the locals, but the others in the team, and the Australian missionaries based there with their families. I can't begin to name all those wonderful people, but I pray that God will continue to bless them abundantly and meet their needs in unexpected ways. And also for the children of Myanmar to experience a God so real that they can taste His goodness in the many little blessings that He brings to them.

the children with their christmas gifts

As with many other missions trips, I felt overwhelmingly blessed, much more than what I intended to bless these people with. God can take the little that we offer, multiply it many many times and shower them to His children in ways men cannot comprehend.

To God be all the glory.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

christmas in burma p2

Anyways, we started finalising our plans for the carnival. Even up till the day when we were supposed to bring our equipment and set up the stalls, we still have not gotten the necessary permission. We continued praying, with only hours left to the big day. Just as we finished saying Amen, we received news that the authorities had granted permission for us to hold it in the MBC*. It was really awesome and all of us set to work immediately. Within 2 hours, benches transformed into stalls, balloons and flags filled the hall with colour.

filling up the MBC with balloons

The next 2 days saw us welcoming over 900 children from various orphanages for the carnival. The Malaysian team handled the games, and I'm happy to say that our games section did very well. The smiles and laughter in the children were more than reward for all our hard work. It was truly satisfying knowing that they enjoyed themselves.

kids with balloons

We also had tremendous help from the Burmese youth who doubled up as translators as well. Without them, we'd be running all over the place collecting ping pong balls, basketballs, footballs and fallen cans. We had such games as shooting down cans with water guns, tossing rings over bottles, bowling, eating contest, throwing hangers on lines, smashing pyramids, golf, and treasure chest.


throwing balls at cans

The children rotated between games, drama and craft. Things that we thought any child would have done, something as simple as pasting different coloured cloth on Joseph's coat was really new to them. The drama team entertained them with the story of Joseph and his multi-coloured coat.

Later in the afternoon, they were brought to the zoo. There, some of us spent personal time with our little groups of children. I had 2 girls with me, they were so shy and didn't talk much. But as I held them by their shoulders, they clung to me as if they've found a new sister. Since I had a translator, it made conversation easier. I found out that, once the children warm up to you, they will open up and chat a bit more. It was with great sadness that I had to say goodbye to them.

say hello to hippos in burma

After the rounds at the zoo, the children were treated to a nice dinner in the restaurant. For most of them, that meal would have been the best they would ever had, as some don't get to eat meat for months. But I thank God with the little that we gave, it was multiplied much more in the eyes of the children. I hope they would remember that all these happened because God loves them.

relaxing after a day at the zoo

*Myanmar Baptist Centre

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

christmas in burma p1

When we touched down Phonm Penh 3 years ago, I remember seeing scores of tall coconut trees dotting the landscape. Flying over the rural areas of Yangon in December 2004, I couldn't help but be mesmerised by the gleaming tops of the pagodas scattered over the paddy fields. Huge areas of green squares with an occassional golden tipped pagoda. I was excited by the prospect of tasting the Burmese culture.

Here I was, with 7 other x-CFMMU pioneers, coming together to do missions work again. It felt like the good ol' days. It was a reunion of sorts for some of us.

the x-CFMMU team with Melissa

We arrived at Yangon International Airport which was being renovated at that time. Gold seemed to be a favourite colour for important monuments. Later we saw a billboard touting Myanmar as the "Golden Land".

TB, a local with MCP* was at the arrival lounge with S, an English missionary working with Burmese refugees in the Thai border. Along the way to the hotel, S told us about the earthquake in Malaysia. Thinking he must be joking, we told him such things never happened. Maybe the occassional tremor, but, an earthquake?

We left things at that. But when we reached the hotel, we tuned into CNN and discovered to our shock the extent of the "earthquake". It was like nothing we've ever seen. Not just Malaysia, but neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Thailand were greatly affected by the tsunami. As the days went by, we learnt that the coastal areas of Myanmar was also hit, not to mention some countries in the African

We immediately thought about our parents who might be worried since they have not heard from us. Calling back was out of the question since there was no roaming available, and international calls was at USD18/min. So we sent a mass mail to whoever we could think of, to contact our parents. It was the best we could do, considering that it was the holiday season, and some may not have access to emails. We left the whole thing to God. Later I found out my mum was not worried at all! :p

*Myanmar Compassion Project/Programme

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

a long christmas indeed...

My colleague saw me walking around looking sad, and wondered what had gotten into me.

Then I realised I must have looked like a zombie. This is the result of having a too-happening life.

Since I am in no state to share the joys of my missions trip, I shall just officially announce that my Christmas will end this week.

I kinda left Christmas hanging halfway when I left for Yangon, and didn't have time to properly savour its magic. It's a strange feeling coming back to a new year and have trails of the old year still lying around.

It's like I have some unfinished business and the body feels trapped in time. That time is Christmas.

So even though I have not completely unpacked my bags, it was with great excitement that I went for a post-Christmas-cum-New-Year party with the iBridge committee at our usual haunt.

We sang Christmas carols and exchanged presents. Who would've guessed that some of the best presents come in unconventional wrappers, eh? ;) I have no idea why Hedonese presented to me "Don't waste your life" by John Piper, maybe I will find out when I read the book. Even puzzling is why he wrapped it in newspaper, Chinese one at that!

Newspaper aside, I made my annual trip to MMU Cyberjaya for their CyberChristmas. I'm proud to say that I've never missed any of it ever since the tradition started. And even prouder to see their presentations improving by the year.

Don't know why I just feel like a beaming parent looking at them prancing on the stage, actors saying their lines with confidence and musicians playing like they've got music notes in their blood. It's just so good to be back in campus again.

More seniors came this year. We had an excellent time catching up in a mamak stall. I can't believe some of them still remember me, or maybe I've just got a notorious reputation, heh!

Oh well, as Christmas draws to a slow end for me, I shall go home today. The only day in the week in which I can have some time for myself. I shall re-open those presents I left arranged neatly on the dressing table, and reflect on the year that was.

Have an excellent year ahead, y'all! :)

Monday, January 03, 2005

how can i not be affected?

I feel like crying, but the tears don't seem to come out.

So hard to decribe the feeling, even though I was not directly affected by the disaster.

The tsunami first struck when we left for Myanmar, and when we heard about it from another missionary in Yangon, we thought he was joking. Who would believe an earthquake had struck Malaysia?

We still couldn't believe our eyes as we watched news from CNN and ABC, clips of people running to safety and the scope of destruction left by the giant waves. Later we found out Myanmar was not spared too. The smaller fishing villages on the coastal areas were also affected, claiming some 50 lives to date.

Even though internet was expensive, we still managed to find the means to send a group email out to our closest relatives and friends, hoping that a word from this land would send comfort to them. We couldn't afford to call back, that was too pricey. But my mum, she never feared that I was one of them. Maybe God put that peace in her heart.

I am still reeling from this, it's hard not to feel affected. My heart cries out for the families whose children were swept away by the waves, the little kids whose parents were washed away, and to those who are scarred by this disaster. I pray for God's comfort in this time of why's and if only's.