Friday, December 05, 2008


The slanting rays of the setting sun felt good on his face. The orange glow covered him in its warmth as the cool evening breeze rustled through the grass, bringing with it a freshness, a certain fragrance that he had not experienced in a long time.

He breathed in deeply, then exhaled, delighting in the ease at which he accomplished so simple a task. It was so different from what he could recall, but the anachronism did not bother him, as he sat on a rock, leaning back on straightened arms.

He looked up to the sky and caught sight of the riot of colours filling it. The hues seemed so much brighter, so much more vibrant, so... alive. And even though he was alone in the wide grassy expanse, he felt so at ease. And so he closed his eyes and sat, just a tired old man admiring the beauty of his surroundings...

"Hello, grandfather."

The pleasant voice gently brought the old man out of his reverie, and the old man cracked open one of his eyes to find the source of the words.

There, standing in front of him was a youth, a young man who looked no older than twenty. Yet, as the old man peered closer, the boy seemed so much older than his years, so much wiser, as if he had gone through more than the old man ever had.

He looks so familiar, thought the old man. But he definitely was not one of his grandchildren, despite the boy's greeting. In fact, he did not even think he had seen the boy before.

The old man's confusion must have shown on his face, for the boy smiled disarmingly back at him.

"You may not remember me, but you accepted me, and I remember that. I told you back then that I would never forget you."

And as the old man looked into the youth's clear eyes, the old man suddenly knew who he was. And instinctively, he knew why the boy was there with him.

"Is it time to go already?" asked the old man. He did not really want to leave his seat on the rock. It felt comfortable, and so much more known that wherever it was he was supposed to go with the boy.

The youth smiled again, a wide smile that reassured the old man.

"I'll be bringing you somewhere better, but no, we're not leaving yet. I've got a request asking to let you remain awhile more."

The old man sighed in relief. The thought of going somewhere better sounded good, but he also felt that something was not quite ready, that he could not leave, that there was something in him that was holding him there.

"Take a seat," invited the old man.

As the boy sat down, so many questions rose in the old man's heart, so many answers that he wanted to hear from the boy. But when he looked at the young man sitting on the grass besides him, smelling a flower, a lily, he realized, the old man realized his questions were not important, and that he would have plenty of time to ask them later on.

So the two of them sat there, watching the golden fields around them, silently contemplating the wonder of their world.

Abruptly, the boy stood up. The old man looked up in surprise, as the youth took his hand.

"Hold on, grandfather. You'll have to go back for a short while."

The world went dark. The old man suddenly smelt the sterile smell of the hospital, felt the unwelcome feeling of tubes, tasted the odd plastic flavour of air that comes through a breathing mask. And he realized it was difficult to breathe again, almost panting as his body tried to draw in life-giving oxygen to lungs that were not working efficiently.

He started to panic. He couldn't see, couldn't move, couldn't even breathe properly... then he felt the warmth of the boy's hand in his, and as he gripped tighter, his fear subsided. Then, he noticed the presence of others around his bed.

One of the presences leaned over, and gently shook his shoulder.

"Grandfather? We're all here, don't worry."

He recognized the voice, and the old man wanted so much to open his eyes. To take a look at the face of his granddaughter, and see her dimpled smile one more time. To look one more time at her two brothers, who, he could sense, were standing stocially to one side trying not to cry. He wanted to see his youngest grandson, who was sitting in the chair, sleepily trying to stay awake for his grandfather.

He wanted to see the maid, who had taken care of him so well the past few months, and to thank her. He wanted to see his son and daughter, and their spouses, who he could sense were maintaining quiet vigil by his bed.

And he wanted so much to see his wife, who he knew would be worried. He wanted to hold her one last time, and tell here everything was ok, but though she was calling his name, his body just would not respond.

He felt so frustrated. He could feel them, but he was unable to respond to them, and he was so upset he wanted to cry. But the strong grip of the boy's hand in his quickly drained all the despair out of him, and he relaxed again.

He sensed his daughter-in-law bending over him.

"Don't worry about us dad. The kids are all grown up, and we can take care of ourselves. Rest easy," she whispered into his ear. Her voice cracked on the last few words, and he knew she was crying.

And even through his laboured breathing, he also heard his two older grandsons praying over him, asking God to take his hand, and give him peace. He smiled to himself at that, for he knew he already had.

The youth's hand tightened around his, and he could see again, back in the golden field, breathing freely, bathed in the amber glow of the evening sun.

He was standing up too, on good, strong, healthy legs that he had not had for years.

In the distance, a bell tolled, as if signaling an end to the day.

"Is it time to go now, my Lord?" asked the old man again.

This time, the boy nodded.

"Where are we going?" The old man looked around, then saw a city in the distance. It glittered as it caught the rays of the setting sun, and the fading notes of the bell appeared to come from within its walls. "Are we going there?" pointed the old man.

The boy nodded again, then cocked his head as if listening to something. He turned to the old man.

"Your grandson asked me to tell you that he'll be meeting you there someday soon."

Happiness flooded the old man's heart, even as tears welled up in his eyes, as he knew he was being apart from his loved ones temporarily. The youth continued to hold his hand, leading him to the city.

"Come on, grandfather. You've finished your journey, and I've prepared a place for you, to welcome you to my Father's place. You're finally going home."

At this, the old man smiled. And he walked off with the boy, hand in hand, to the eternal city.

* * *

Good bye, grandfather.
Rest in peace.
4/11/1927 - 4/12/2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of my favorite movies is Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Really nice show, very touching, and with an ambiguous conclusion that allows you to have your own ending if you want.

So anyway, in one of the scenes, in a restaurant, Joel realizes he does not find his relationship with Clementine as fun or as exciting as he once had. And as he looks around the restaurant, at the other diners who also appear to have lost the spark in their relationships, he starts to see himself as part of a group he has a certain disdain for.
"Are we like couples you see in the restaurants? Are we the dining dead?"
So today I met PI, and we had a decent talk over breakfast. Some of it was really interesting, and some of it was a little bit painful. And through it, I suddenly started to realize that I was becoming something that I did not hold in very high regard, and that I really did not want to become.
"Am I like those people who have lost their fire? Am I a lukewarm Christian?"
And just after I was taught a major lesson in Christianity by my grandfather, even though he's one of the newest Christians in the family, and he isn't even exactly sentient right now.

Must. Get. Back.

Monday, November 24, 2008


While going to work today, I was just reminded of a Bible study session my CG had a couple of weeks ago. It was led by E from my CG, and even though we were using the CCC guide, we did not really follow the questions inside. Which is ok, since sometimes, the questions are repetitive, and sometimes they don't really help.

So anyway, the topic was about the uniqueness of Jesus. So he compared Christianity as a religion against other religions to draw some examples. But the whole purpose of the discussion stuck.

So the question of the day is: How is Jesus unique to you?

Let's think on that a bit now, shall we?


Sunday, November 16, 2008


I am in an odd position, not knowing whether to be angry, or to laugh at the lack of logic.

See, I was just surfing along CNN one day, looking at various interesting things, as well as various not-so-interesting things, when I came across an unusual article on the CNN website. If you haven't read it, you should take a look.

At first, I just sort of scanned it over, and didn't really give it much thought. But after a while, I started thinking a bit (something at least one idiot in the article didn't do), and well, it made me sort of upset/amused.

Now, part of it stems from the fact that I am a Christian. I know I am far from the 'model' Christian, and very often, I haven't been leading the Christ-like life I have been commanded to lead, but I am very much a believer in Christ. And religion can sometimes make me a bit prickly.

But let us start with another part of this issue.

Basically, the American Humanist Association has this ad campaign for Christmas that has a tagline of "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake". And their spokesperson came out with this statement to the press.
"Our reason for doing it during the holidays is there are an awful lot of agnostics, atheists and other types of nontheists who feel a little alone during the holidays because of its association with traditional religion."
There are two things about this statement that I'll like to point out.

First of, the world is only 33% Christian. And this is including all Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, and all those fringe cults. I'm not sure about you, but usually when about 2/3 of the world don't feel the religious attachment to the holiday, I would think it would be pretty hard to feel lonely.

Second, this sounds like something I would expect to hear from a 5-year-old. I mean, seriously. 'Feel a little alone'?

And then there's the issue of the campaign itself. Are you going to tell me next, that you'll be running a similar campaign for all those other religious holidays? Like Vesak Day (Birthday of Buddha), or Eid-al-Fitri, or Hanukkah, that there shouldn't be religion involved with those holidays as well?

This of course, leads me to my next point.

The holiday is called Christmas for a reason. I don't know about you, but I think if you look close enough, you may just be able to notice the fact that the first six letters of the Christmas spells out CHRIST. It's a RELIGIOUS holiday. You may not believe in a religion, but this holiday is there because it is RELIGIOUS. You want to take away God from this picture, there's now no more reason to celebrate Christmas, is there?

And he has the gall to say they did this for the following objective.
"...we are trying to plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking and questioning in people's minds."
Right.. great move, Sherlock. You managed to accomplish that alright. I'm now thinking critically of you, questioning if you have the concept of rational thought in your mind.

And I'm not even saying anything about the logical fallacy of morality without God (which you can read in the article), or on what the true meaning of Christmas is.

I don't have anything against atheists. Several of my good friends are atheists, and I know I would have willingly fought and died alongside those I met in army. But this guy is just ridiculous.

There are some things I will never be able to comprehend. Like what contains the universe. Or how long is eternity. And the sheer absurdity of the comments made by this guy.


Friday, November 14, 2008


Today was a rather... off day, to put it mildly. And it also puts a pun on the word. Whoopee.

It was supposed to be an off day, but duty called, and I had to go and do some work at the Barclays' Singapore Open. Not that I had to meet anyone, or had any appointments, but I was looking forward to chilling out for a bit.

So I reached office first, and made a call to some guy that I was supposed to call today, however, things didn't work out, so I didn't really get to talk to him. So scratch one objective for the work day.

Then I went down to Serapong to try and get another guy I was supposed to talk to. While there, I was assigned some more work to do, and then the guy I was supposed to talk to was unable to help me find what I wanted today, so we agreed that I would come back tomorrow.

And then, I went back to office, to return a pass I borrowed. Where I was assigned to write a story on something that I had covered awhile back that I thought was to be put on hold for a while longer.

While I'm not complaining about all the work I got, it is starting to get a bit heavier. And coupled with the fact that I can't write articles very fast, plus these articles all are coming out sort of at the same time, and that I did not manage to accomplish anything that I had sacrificed my off day for, can make it somewhat depressing.

The sort of depressing that makes you wish there's a girl who would ask you "how you doing?" and listen to how your day's been, just so that you can get it out. Unfortunately, there's no girl who will ask me how I'm doing, so I have to use the blog.

Oh, and I fell down today. At the golf course, along the road or something. Bother the rain. I was walking along the road, when this golf buggy was coming along. So I (cleverly) stepped onto the green curb and took a few more steps. Then I slipped. Not like major injury or anything, but I skinned the skin on the second finger joint of my third finger of my right hand. I dislike injuries on joints, cos it's bothersome. And my left wrist feels stiff. Gah. Moral of the story: Don't walk on the green curb after it rains.

But on the train ride back home, I was thinking of some stuff that I had to do over the weekend, and I was reminded of what I wanted to use. Which is to continue giving praise to God, even if you're not exactly happy.

"I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips." -Psalm 34:1

Naturally of course, verse 2 makes me feel a bit better, since I feel afflicted. And also the fact that the Bucks beat the Spurs. But that's another story.

And if you do look hard enough, you can always find the good side of whatever happens to you. In fact, you don't really have to look hard. It's just a choice. And that can make it easier for you to praise God, whatever your day is like.

Even if it's as draining as this.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I shall dedicate this post to one of my friends. Not like in this previously mentioned case, but merely for the sake of some entertainment.

So in line with the title (which incidentally, has the same meaning as her name), here are some pictures! How fun!

From Telunas '06. 'Tis a nice place.

This one is from Telunas '07. Note the similarities.

Ok, so maybe this is more morning that dawn, but hey, I like the picture.

I'm sure I used this somewhere before... Oh that's right! Here!

Guess where?

This one really is like a starting phrase from one of those Greek literature pieces. If you've read the Iliad or the Odyssey, you'll know what I'm talking about.

And yes this doesn't seem to have any relation to the above pictures, but it does. Trust me. haha.

On an aside note, however, these pictures do show the wonder of God's creation (yes even the hamburg steak. I'm sure brother would attest to that). Like I told my JMT on the first day of the T, if you bother to look, you can see God's wonders everywhere.


Friday, October 17, 2008


In the previous post, while looking for a link to put up, I inadvertently started to read some of the older entries I had put in. Now of course, as you all know, I get easily distracted, so although that post was a serious one, before I really got into it, I was just reading all my articles about what it was like in Tokyo. So that sort of sets the tone for what went on today.

See, I had to go to Terminal 3 for an assignment for work today. Since the meeting was at 12, I decided maybe to just go a little earlier and maybe do a spot of QT there, since I hadn't exactly been having a very good QT recently, though the past couple of days was a lot better. In fact, I even brought along my grad present from Mr. K (JC GP tutor), which was a book by a certain Philip Yancey on the subject of prayer. The book is quite good. I mean, not that I read very much Christian literature, but really, the book is good.

But the stuff I got from the book, or the QT I did, or the assignment I covered, or even the coffee I drank (which was way too sweet and which necessitated my running to pee an hour later) is not the issue here. What I wanted to talk about was what I was thinking while at the airport. Which I had thought before, but had not really told anyone. Except maybe A. And S from Japan.

Now I'm not sure how many of you have gone to Changi Terminal 3. It's quite new, quite nice, quite empty. There are a total of 7 floors (I think): from B3 (which is all parking I think), to 4 (which is really only a small floor with the viewing gallery).

Now I'm also not sure how many of you have gone to Narita Airport's Terminal 2. And for the number of you who have gone there, I'm not sure how many have actually explored the place. But I have. This all happened because when the JMT 08 first touched down way back on the 9th of June, I went to meet them there. And because I can sometimes be such a stickler for being on time, I made sure I got there early.

It was actually a bit too early when I got there, since my paranoia apparently also managed to affect my judgment. Plus the plane landed a bit later than normal. Or something. So I actually had a massive amount of time just hanging around there.

Now being such a caring leader (and knowing that R is a bottomless pit, and that they would all prob be a little hungry), I figured maybe the two packets of bread I bought was not enough, and so I started walking around the airport looking for snacks to purchase. It was not a very good idea, mainly cos there was not very much of the sort of snack I was looking for. I think I bought a few muffins, but that was it.

But anyway, I managed to explore most of the airport while waiting for the team to arrive.

And this is what I sort of remembered when I was walking about in Terminal 3 this morning. Because Terminal 3 has very much the same sort of layout that Narita 2 has. Especially the Departure hall and the small shopping arcade on the 3rd and 4th floors.

If you haven't been to Narita 2, just go to Terminal 3. And imagine a smaller, slightly older, less futuristic-looking version of it, without the viewing gallery, and you've got Narita 2.

Yup. The whole long post, just to tell you I think T3 and Narita look somewhat similar.



Tuesday, October 14, 2008

いち ゼロ ろく

Today I read a Psalm (in line with the one-Psalm-a-day policy I've been trying to follow), and it really seems to be a parallel to my life. As in the title (for those of you that don't read Japanese), the Psalm in question is 106, and it was like a crash course in history for the nation of Israel during the Exodus, which is really quite a common theme.

However, because this history was nicely summarized in today's Psalm, it started to seem very similar to what I am going through. Not sure how to explain it, but I'll try. See, if you read the books of Exodus to Joshua, that takes quite a long time. And you'll read so much about the Israelites, about what they were doing, about how they lived... in fact, you will get inundated by the details, so it becomes very much a story about them, with you as an observer.

On the other hand, when it is so neatly summarized into 48 verses, it becomes a lot easier to notice that what the Israelites were doing/going through seems suspiciously familiar. And I'm not talking about going through trials and tribulations (though they did).

Essentially, what the Psalm is talking about is the cycle of sin and faithlessness that the descendants of Jacob had with regard to God. The beginning was praise to God, but then the Psalmist starts talking about how the Israelites always forget the goodness that God has shown to them.

As I have mentioned, this is very much like what I'm going through on a regular basis. As a Christian, I should be completely free from sin, and living a life that is pleasing to God. Yet, for too many times, I have chosen to neglect God, or to turn away from His advice, to choose to go my own ways, and do what I want, even though it is obviously abhorrent to Him.

Each time, I try to promise to not do it again. But too often, I start sliding back down into the depths that God has pulled me out from. Too often, I forget what He has done for me, how He rescued me, how He has blessed me, and I turn back to the sludge of sin. Too often, I have made a mockery of my faith. As my Lord tries to release me from my chains, I try to put them back on again.

And honestly, I am like crap. I have a God who willingly died to set me free, and offered me salvation. I have a God who is supremely powerful, yet exceedingly patient with my failings. He is the Creator of the Universe, but He also has enough time to listen to me whenever I call on His name.

Even though I only call on His name when I need His help, He quickly comes to save me. If someone only turned to me when they needed me for help, I would be pretty pissed. But Jesus just picks me up, washes me clean, and sets me on my feet again.

And this is what verse 44-46 is all about. He hears my cry to Him, and He answers.

This is what gives me hope. Reminding that He is still there, and will always be there for me.

I long for the day when I can repay His everlasting kindness by living in a way that pleases Him. It will never match the value of the gift He has given to me, but I wish just to show Him that His confidence in me is not misplaced. It sounds theologically incorrect, I know, to repay God, but it is not about me 'buying' my salvation.

Right now, I really want to just make my Father happy.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This post is for one of my friends who is a little burned out as a relief teacher.

She said she was feeling tired cos of a bad day (I'm guessing it was more than just one day) at school, and the kids were bothersome, and they always went to her to solve all their problems, and she had a long day, and had to give tuition after school, and to top it off, she was sick. Which can be rather disconcerting, I think. Plus there's lots of other things going on in her life which I shall not elaborate on, since that's her story, not mine to tell. And I wouldn't know much anyway.

So I decided to be nice and dedicate a small part of my post to her. Because she regularly stops by at my blog to take a look. Even though she really irritates the crap out of me at times. それで、彼女は「ピーマン」と同じだ。Haha... Still remember when A told me what it meant. Totally hilarious.

So here's a picture for you, to help you remember when you had fun with kids:


Work has been ok, even though the F1 weekend was kinda crazy. Everyday start work later, but can end at like 12 plus, mainly cos we were just waiting for the stories to go through. And I wasn't even writing the stories. The 拘禁組 was helping one of the senior reporters to collect quotes from random fans around the circuit area.

Oh and on Friday, I realized that too much loud sounds can actually make you feel sick. I mean, at first, I was mildly irritated by the sound of the F1 cars zooming past, but after about 10 minutes, I actually felt a bit nauseous.

Still, overall, it was pretty exciting. And we were working from the Swissotel, since they nicely offered the media the use of the an executive meeting room to be like a mini-media-center. And on top of that, they provided food and drinks. Talk about hospitality.

Basketball season is drawing closer, less than a month more... woots!


Friday, September 26, 2008


Now, some of you may remember this incident where I came back from Japan and was sort of mildly irritated at the amount of money I had to pay for my cab fare. I considered it sort of like a moment of remembrance, since even now, more than 2 years on, I still remember it. Sometimes, it's hard to imagine time passing by so quickly... but it does.

So anyway, today was another taxi-time, a meter-moment, a cab-construed-chronological-circumstance.

You see, today, I went down with a colleague to cover some event at Timbre @ The Arts House. The trip there itself wasn't the issue, apart from the fact that some of the roads around the Marina area are blockaded for the F1 race this weekend. So we dropped off at the Fullerton Hotel, and then we went to the event.

While it started there, the event was really the launch of a river taxi (again! that confounded construction!) service that would ply between Fullerton and Clarke Quay, along the Singapore River. The ferries themselves were pretty neat, I thought. No photos, though. I was on duty, so it would have been rather un-professional to take photos.

But anyway, we ended up at Clarke Quay area. Now for those of you who know me, I rather like the Clarke Quay area, since 1) Central is there, and 2) Meidi-ya under Liang Court is there. And if I am in sudden dire need to purchase Japanese stuff, that is a good place for me to go. Another would be Bishan, or Taka, but that's another story.

So anyway, the whole event ended at Clarke Quay. My colleague and I then went to look for a cab since she had to rush back to office to file the story. We managed to get one at Liang Court, and then we zipped back up to the SPH media center at Braddell.

What I found appalling was... no, it wasn't that the driver drove the way my brother drives on Need for Speed. So like I was saying, what I found most disturbing... no, it wasn't that there was a massive jam along the CTE that makes the trains in Japan look spacious.

What really irked me this time was that the taxes I had to pay for my cab ride was higher than my cab fare. See, I shall give you a breakdown of what I paid for in my 20 minute ride.

Cab fare: $7.80
ERP: $3.50
City Area Surcharge: $3.00
Diesel Surcharge: $0.30
Peak Hour Tax (35%): $2.75
GST: $0.30

So what this adds up to is:

Base Cab Fare: $7.80
Taxes for Cab Fare: $9.85
Grand Total: $17.65

Bother inflation.


Monday, September 22, 2008


I started work 3 weeks ago on the 1st of September.

I went for two days of training, then reported to the Sports desk to do work.

And I thought I had reached a major milestone last Sunday when I sort of started work at 11, and ended at 10.45. I was joking with one of the editors that it would be my first 12-hour work day.

Hard to imagine that exactly one week later, I did manage to clock my first 12-work day. I worked from 11.45 Sunday morning to 12.20 Monday morning. Ooooh.

And I would probably talk about how it's like working, but I'm zoning out in the feeling-tired-but-not-feeling-sleepy sort of way. I'm sure if I go and lie down on my bed, I will be able to fall asleep. But I'm not on my bed now, and I'm actively typing something so I am not that zoned. Not that that will always work. I can fall asleep at my computer. Just not now.

On an aside note, I have been thinking about Japan a bit more now. I don't know why.

Oooh Japan....

I really should spend time to post up those JMT dinner photos, but I'm starting to feel tired now.


P.S. The wonderful thing about blogging is that unlike when I'm writing articles, I can use all the contractions I want. So I'll use words like I'm, and I'll, and you'll, and can't, and shouldn't, and it's, and we're, and....

Friday, August 22, 2008


I have finally got my charger back from the workshop! Haha... Even though I wasn't like without internet access, or like had no computer to use, I still felt somewhat handicapped that I could not use my own laptop to do my stuff. Especially since I use an iBook G4, while both my dad and brother use the new MacBook (I am fonder of my keyboard), and my sis uses the family... dare I say it... PC... (*shudder*) haha.

And since all my links are on my laptop, and the keys are customized to what I like (especially when I press 「apple-space」to change my input method from English to hiragana) and other little preferences that make me more comfortable with my own laptop, it feels good to be able to get back to using it.

Now to put up the pictures of past events...


Olympics Basketball Update: You know something's wrong for Team USA when they put Michael Redd in with 4 minutes left in the first half.

Olympics Basketball Update 2: It may be a little hard to visualize, but Chris Bosh really looks like a Raptor.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Today I ate lunch with my grandparents. Sounds kinda odd when you think about it, since my paternal grandparents stay in the same house, but today there was fried rice for lunch, and usually, if brother and me aren't like, obviously waiting for lunch, we'll just sort get a bowl each and eat wherever we were, like in front of the comp, or while watching TV.

But today, I thought it would be good to eat with them, since I hardly eat with them, and in fact, hardly talk to them. Which can be a whole story by itself, but that's not gonna be the focus here. So I took my bowl and joined them at the table, and brother also ate there.

Through most of the meal, nothing much happened, except that my grandma mistook some luncheon meat as lup cheong and tried to throw it in my bowl (cos she uses dentures and she doesn't find it easy to eat that sort of stuff), and so we all ate. Then after I was done, she told me that I could go and do my own stuff since they (Gramps and Gran) ate really slowly. But I told her it was ok. It actually sounds somewhat different when it's in Chinese, but that was essentially the core of the conversation. So I just sorta sat there and continued to talk to Gran, which takes some doing on my part, since I am not exactly proficient in Chinese.

And then Gran started reminiscing about like the past. I mean, it all started out because of the lup cheong, as she found some in her bowl, and then it progressed to how it was good to be young, and then she said the best part of her life was when she was taking care of me and brother when we were kids. (Sister wasn't born yet). When I was about 8 and brother was like 5. She was talking about how he would go to kindergarten in a bus and she would send him off, and then I would come back from school, and he would come back from school, and then my parents would come in from work and go to her place for dinner before Dad took us back to Bukit Batok.

And as my Gran continued talking about the past, I suddenly remembered two events that are somewhat related. One was when my Gran and my aunt (who's about 10 years younger than my dad) took me to a shopping center. I don't remember when, I don't remember which shopping center, but I'm guessing it had a Metro inside, cos I clearly remember the white tiling that Metro always has. And my Gran bought me a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurine, and one for my brother, which for us was a big deal since my parents refused to buy anything like that for us. (Dad was always a firm believer in buying gifts of practical value, so he would give us useful things for birthdays and Christmases. Like... socks....).

And so this memory popped right back into my head when she was talking about all the old times. And then it went even further back when she started talking about how dad's friends were good kids too and told me that when I go visit friends, I should make friends with the parents too etc etc.

But it was a really nice conversation to have over lunch, to be able to talk to my Gran (Gramps isn't a very talkative person right now), and to remember good memories of the past on a rainy Thursday afternoon.


Oh, and that other thing I remembered up in Paragraph 5 was when I met J on Tuesday, and she asked about my grandparents. Don't know why this memory popped in though. Must be a grandparent thing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Gah... I don't know how it happened, but the cable on my laptop charger was burned through. Bother it all. Like the insulation is melted and I think the wires are touching each other and so they don't allow current to flow or voltage to pass through or whatever. I mean, I don't know. Ask the Physics experts.

So because I didn't know, I continued using my laptop, and there's not much battery left. I mean, if the battery was dying (like it had been), then I can still charge the laptop itself, even if the battery is not inside. But now I can't even do that. Bleah.

And even though both my brother and dad use Macintosh laptops too, their's are the new generation ones, so they use a different sort of charger. So I can't borrow from them either! Crap.

Anyway, I will upload some pictures of recent happenings soon, as soon as I get my laptop charger fixed. Hope the Apple iCare thing is still valid, and will be valid for burnt laptop charger cables. Haha. Cos my photos are all on my laptop.

Went LAN with brother, F and G today. Not sure how we did it, but we got down by about 10.30, and played till evening. With breaks of course. Then went to see PX play volleyball, and V joined us. Ended up coming home and watching more volleyball (Olympics) where Japan beat Venezuela in straight sets (replay).

Oh and in line with the title, I recall this incident that happened not too long ago in church:

Random church person: Hey Fr! So dark, from soccer is it?
Fr: Yeah. I got porched.
RCP: ?!?

Probably an amalgation of torched and poached, and maybe parched. I don't know.

JMT dinner yesterday will be talked about, as mentioned earlier, when my laptop is back up and running. So WT, don't complain if nothing gets posted up for a while.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008


When going through today's Psalm (37), I saw a verse that PS used to needle me. I mean, it seems to give us single guys in church hope, even though I would personally think that would be taking the verse out of context, and I was somewhat amused that this verse was in my reading this morning.

However, while this is usually something that makes us feel slightly better, I realized that the verse prior to that, Psalm 37:3, actually had more impact on me this morning. It says "Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture." And it kind of speaks to you on a different level than verse 4. That verse seems to imply some sort of exchange of services/rewards or something of that sort. Verse 3, on the other hand, simply tells us to remain on the safe side, and that we will be there if we do what God wants us to do, and to trust in Him.

And then, when you see verses 23 and 24, it gives you even more confidence to simply focus on what God desires, not what you desire.

So in a strange way, even though many times we scan through the Bible to find Psalm 37:4 as a form of encouragement to people, I actually feel more encouraged by other parts of the Psalm.

And sometimes, in a strange way, I find the greatest joy during QT can be from different sources. Sometimes, it's the Bible passage. Sometimes, its in the understanding I find when I read a commentary. Just the other day, I found that one of the songs on my iTunes list (Sanctus Real's I'm Not Alright) spoke to me more than the Bible passage.

It's like in Japan, when I mentioned that we had to keep our senses open so that we would be able to see God in different things, in small things.

I don't know. I just had to put that down in words.

Anyway, last night was the semi-meeting of the JMT. Some of the team managed to go down to Orchard Road to meet D&J who were in town for a short break. Then we went to OMF building for the prayer meeting. Not so good, for me, because I don't know why, but I was so sleepy that I heard only half of what HC was saying there. But when we were praying, more of it made sense, since we had gone through some of the stuff, and knew quite a bit about what was going on in Tokyo region.

So anyway, they flew back to Tokyo early this morning on the Northwest flight, to Portland via Narita, if I remember correctly. It was nice being able to see them again, even though it was really rather a short time.

Gonna head out and do some random stuff soon. Supposed to eat lunch out, but lunch has been cooked at home, so guess I'll have to eat some here. Oh well.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Just over the weekend, SP used a text from Genesis 29 for his sermon. And it really had me thinking. You see, whenever we mention Jacob's family, at Jacob's level, not the next generation with his kids, we almost always immediately think of Rachel his wife, and then give an afterthought to his first wife, and Rachel's older sister, Leah. Which I'm guessing she got a lot of in her time, since Rachel was the pretty one, while she was the plain one.

And it was really strange, because in most Bible stories, Leah was made out to be the antagonist in the family. But when SP spoke from her viewpoint, it suddenly dawned on me that she had a really sad life. Imagine being compared to your sister all your life as the ugly half. Then you find a guy whom you like, but who wouldn't give you a second look because you're not half as good looking as your sister, who you probably took good care of. Then your father uses you to cheat the boy, to gain free labor from him (and probably to quickly marry you off). And then for your marriage, even though you give him what every man wants, many sons, he still loves your sister more.

I can't convey it here, but I really felt sad for her. I mean, not only for her life, but even after that, people have only seen her as 'that other sister'. And in a way, I felt a sense of solidarity with her, because very often, I feel as if I am an afterthought in people's minds. Not with regard to my brother, of course (or my sister, for that matter), but to others. Doesn't help that I seem to have an inferiority complex that regularly beats me down, though strangely enough, I seem to have enough arrogance for three people. Must be the OCS training.

So I could almost sense her increasing depression as she gave birth to Reuben, then to Simeon, and after that, to Levi. At first, it would seem that God was trying to help her, to make Jacob open his eyes and notice her, because she was providing him with a bloodline. And her thoughts, though each one barely measures half a verse in the Bible, marked her increasing sadness and desperation to gain just a little bit of recognition from her husband.

But finally, I guess she just gave up, and chose instead to honor the One who had given her all her sons. So when she got to her 4th kid, she called him Judah, as a form of praise to God. And then she stopped having kids (for a while).

And now we see what God was really trying to drive at. He wasn't being nice to Leah, allowing her to have sons, so that she could get Jacob to take notice of her. It was really for her benefit, to let her finally realize that she should not be looking to please her husband, but to give praise to God for being there and giving her things to be thankful for.

And while the Bible doesn't quite have as many "happily-ever-after" stories as Disney, in this case, there was a happy ending, as she ended as the honored wife, and after she died, she was interred in the family's plot. And Jacob, when speaking to his sons, told them to bury him next to her.

And as I still felt some solidarity with Leah, it really smacked me in the head a bit too. I mean, I know that I should choose to look at the big picture. To keep my focus on God, instead of on my friends, or my problems, or even myself. But sometimes, knowing it is not nearly enough. I can know all that, but I still end up looking down at my sorry situation, instead of choosing to look up at the heavens (空を見上げる, as I found in some of my songs).

So I tried to stop looking down, and to start looking up, to give all my troubles to God instead of trying to hide it inside me where no one else would see. To not worry about what would happen, but to just give praise up to Him. Which can be really hard at times. But sometimes, it's easier to try and do it just before you sleep. Then you don't need to think so much about it. haha.

And strangely enough, while talking to one of my friends just the other day, I found out that, at least for him, I'm not as much as an afterthought as I thought myself to be. Yes, I know, it's nothing much. In fact, it sounds somewhat off to be happy about such things, but I felt happy, so give me a break.

The Bible mentioned that Leah had weak eyes. I'm glad that she used them well, to find God, and look at Him instead of herself. And in my books, that means she had good eyes.

Here's to using our weak eyes in a good way.


Monday, July 21, 2008


I've never really been very good at memory verse. In fact, I've never really been quite that keen on reading my Bible. Because I'm so music-inclined (not musically-inclined. That's different. Music-inclined means I like music. Musically-inclined means I'm good at music, which I'm not. It's like the difference between 好きand 上手, which I always mix up in LAJ), I prefer to listen/play worship songs, to the almost total neglect of reading the Word.

I mean I do pray, since its relatively easy (sometimes, its not. Surprisingly, it can require quite a large amount of willpower to really sit down and pray), and because both church and VCF have placed an increased emphasis on the importance of prayer. But it takes a lot more for me to really sit down and read my Bible. Which is surprising, considering one of my hobbies is reading.

And this glaring hole in my basics of Christian living has been pointed out to me (by God) many times before, like usually when I prepare for Bible study, I know many Christian concepts and ideals and morals, but I wouldn't know the verse references. And at last year's FOC, GY's station was a memory verse station, where he asked us to tell him as many verses from the four Gospels as we could remember, and then reminded us that in many countries, the Bible is a banned book, and they had to make do with what they can memorize, while here in Singapore, we can have as many Bibles as we have money to purchase them, but many of us don't treasure the Word.

All this still didn't really have an impact on me though. Like probably too lazy, or bo chup. Or both. So I still hadn't really started reading my Bible regularly. Even on the JMT, I didn't really read my Bible, sometimes because of the time spent on doing other things, but also cos I didn't really force myself to sit down and just read the Bible, to see what God is trying to tell me from His Word.

Strangely, I did start reading through a rather 'normal' situation. On the Tuesday of the week I was to leave Japan, I was supposed to meet DL and YM for follow-up Bible Study. And DL told me on the sad Monday morning (TLD) that he was going to go through Psalm 1, and asked me to take a look at it to see if there was anything I could get from it that we could use during the session.

So after moping and sleeping away my Monday, I read Psalm 1 on Tuesday morning, and I wanted to make a decision to continue to read, to live by the Bible, not just live with a Bible. Not sure if it was merely myself talking to me, or if it was God nudging me in this direction, but I asked God to help to continue reading my Bible, and I would start by going through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a day, just as a continuation from that Tuesday.

Now prior to that, all I knew about the Psalms was like you know, Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd), Psalm 1 (Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked...), Psalm 150 (Praise the Lord, praise God in His sanctuary), Psalm 42 ("As the deer pantheth [it's spelt panteth, T!]), Psalm 40 (The miry clay one) and Psalm 119 (which is the longest one and alphabetically arranged so that each verse starts with the same letter of the Hebrew alphabet as the chapter heading, but I don't know any verses). Which you must admit, for a book of 150 chapters, is really rather sorry. And I'm not saying I'm better at the rest of the Bible. It's quite similar. Like fractals. Whether you take a micro- or macro-level view, it's the same.

But now that I've started, I've discovered even more nice things from the Psalms. Like Psalm 3:4-6 "To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill. I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side." Or like Psalm 13:2, which seems to be like something I feel myself. The reassurance of the promise of Psalm 16. The reminders of what I should do to continue to walk with God in Psalm 18: 20-26. And even today, when I had to read yesterday's reading because I didn't read it, Psalm 19:13-14 is almost like a prayer I was saying this morning so that I wouldn't fall into sin.

Now I'm not saying that I suddenly feel happy to be reading. It still takes quite a bit of pushing on my part so that I would just sit down and read the Bible. Even after reading Psalm 1 and feeling refreshed by it a couple of weeks ago, I still don't feel an urge to read my Bible. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to continue pushing myself on like this to dutifully read my Bible everyday, to the point that it is no longer a duty, but a desire. But I do know that at the very least, up to today, I have been blessed through the words of the Psalms.

I had to force myself to read on the plane the day I left because it's hard to read when you leave home at 5.45 in the morning, and it's also hard to read on the bus when you're sleeping.

So I shall just hope that the Lord can sustain me in continually reading, even after I get a job.

Ok, now back to reading. I still have to read Psalm 20 for today.


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Today, when I met J to do up the trip report, I just started wondering what I had been doing exactly a week ago. It seems so strange and far away, when I think about it, because last Wednesday was when I ran all over Tokyo to do my own last minute shopping. It was only last week, yet it seems like a whole world away. Which is somewhat odd, considering how I mentioned in previous posts (I think the depressed one) about how I felt that three weeks seemed really short and easy to remember what had gone on then.

So anyway, here's what I did by myself for the last few days I was in Japan.

On Monday, like I mentioned, I was depressed in the morning. So after I got back from the bus stop, I had to blog about it, hence the sadness in the post. I then managed to fall asleep for a couple of hours (since I had only slept an hour and a half that night) before waking up just in time to catch the train to Kotesashi for E-crew at Waseda Tokorozawa.

So I managed to get on to the Waseda bus on time, even though the way I got on would be reminiscent of the second time the team went for E-crew (read: I was rushing on to the bus) and met SW, sitting in his favorite seat in the last row.

Got down to the canteen there on time, but this time C wasn't there yet. So I took this shot:

This really reminded me of Empty Chairs at Empty Tables. Remember, I was in a depressed mood, even though I didn't show it. And it only reminded me of the title. I don't think "Now my friends are dead and gone" is accurate.

E-crew felt really different without the team around. A whole lot quieter, everything was toned down a bit. And it didn't help that that particular day was a busy day, so only C, as well as (my look-alike) W were there. But it was nice to meet them both again.

Went back after that, and was contemplating going out to do some of the shopping, but I felt so sleepy that I ended up sleeping most of the time, and ate dinner from what I could find in the house, which for Monday night, consisted of half a can of Pringles, two packets of Pocky, and two fried fish that M had left in the fridge from the morning. Decided not to go to sleep in the room, so I slept on the sofa, like how I had been doing all day. It would prove to be a continual sleeping spot for me for the rest of my stay in Japan.

Took this shot in the evening of Monday. I wasn't quite so depressed as before, but this sort of sad shot sort of catches the mood. It was an Orange Time.

Tuesday woke up as per normal, did some QT, then proceeded to wash the rest of the bed sheets and stuff, and cleared out the tatami room, and cleaned up the place a bit. While clearing out the tatami room, I noticed a charger stuck to the wall socket. Now initially, I thought it was the Au charger, since I didn't know where that charger had been since first week, so we hadn't used that phone. On closer examination, however, I realized that charging jack was like no phone charger I had ever seen. And on even closer examination, I saw the "Nintendo" on it. And so I knew that it had to be that someone (who's name starts with W) had left it behind.

Went out to Mr. Donut to meet DL and Y for Bible study again at 3. Then after Y left, DL and me chilled out for a bit at the Mr. Donut (no donuts, only coffee. Strangely enough, I think the last time I ate donuts on that particular trip was when we went to Costco and everyone bought Lil' Donuts), then I bought my bus ticket. And when DL heard what I ate for dinner the night before, he and J invited me over for dinner at their place, as they had gone to Costco (wow. What's with the Costco connection) and had just come into ownership of food, so they could afford to have me over for dinner. Spent the evening watching Brave Story (not too bad a show) and chatting with them.

Wednesday, as mentioned, was when I did all my shopping. Morning was QT again, then I left at about 1130 to go out. First stop was the Christian bookstore at Shinjuku where I managed to spend quite a bit. Didn't go by Yamanote, took the Seibu-Shinjuku instead, and walked from Seibu-Shinjuku station over to Shinjuku. Not too bad.

After that I took the Yamanote all the way out to Ueno. Because it was at such an odd time, the train was really quite empty.

So empty I could've gotten a seat if I wanted to.

Bought some stuff at the anime shop again, then walked up and down Ameyayokocho trying to find a particular t-shirt for brother, but I just couldn't find it. Such a bother. Then was preparing to go to Ikebukuro, when I realized that Akihabara was just a stop away. One of my friends said she found a certain pair of ear pieces very nice, and I didn't know where else to go, so I took a short hop out to Akihabara, bought the earphones, and then went to Ikebukuro, where I did even more shopping in Sunshine City and Loft. Went back to Tokorozawa after that, met C for a bit, then ate dinner (a proper one at Matsuya) before toddling off to D&J's house to pass them some stuff and to chat a bit more.

Thursday morning was more cleaning. And packing. I started to feel worried that I wouldn't have been able to pack all my stuff into my bags, cos there was really quite a bit of stuff. But up till that point in time, I was able to stuff most of it in, so yeah. But I knew I had to stop buying stuff soon. Went to Shin-Sayama to help HJ do some furniture moving for her counselling place. It was like some dude's house, and it's really cool. It's a two-storey building, but with two separate houses inside. The bottom floor is where his mum lives. He lives with his family on the top. And there's no real master bedroom. He has a loft. Like I would have taken a picture, just that it's not nice to take pictures of people's rooms like that. I want to have a loft in my own house next time. As if. HDB flats aren't exactly very accommodating when it comes to wanting to have a loft.

The weather was like Singapore weather then. Warm, just not quite so humid. But yes. It was starting to get hot.

Went back home for a while first, then went to Takadanobaba to meet AM for dinner. Met him long ago in church, but only really got to know him from the 2006 JMT, and he's at Waseda Uni on exchange. Had quite a good time just talking and eating around Ikebukuro.

Got home around 10, hoping D&J would be able to make it for supper like they said they would, but they were both feeling out of sorts that day, so D called to say they couldn't come over. A bit sad, since I wouldn't see them again there. Did all my last minute packing, and managed to stuff everything into my luggage. It still weighed a ton though. Caught one and a half hours of sleep (just like on Monday), then ran to catch the Seibu bus.

It seems that everytime some member of the team leaves Tokorozawa, it's drizzling. Makes it so much sadder. When R left, it was drizzling. When the team left, it was drizzling. And when I left, it was drizzling too.

Why does it always rain on me

The trip to the airport was uneventful. Wanted to see if I could take any nice pictures, but I just sorta fell asleep (it's due to lack of sleep) and woke up at Narita. Did quite a bit of shopping there, especially for some chocolate biscuit that brother (and later I found out, V) really liked and wanted.

The plane ride back was pretty ok too. First meal, from Tokyo to HK, was decent. It was some sort of pasta with meatballs. But the best part was that I got this for dessert:

It's a mochi! It's really nice to eat. Sorry to hear that you didn't get any on your flight J!

The other meal, from HK to Singapore, wasn't that great. I didn't want to eat pasta again, and since J wasn't around, I thought I could eat pork. Tasted pretty bad though. Really salty. Good thing there was other food there to help get rid of the taste.

Got back to Singapore at about 8pm local time. Was really surprised (and touched) when I got through the gate and saw my team and V, along with my parents. Wasn't expecting it, since there was JPM on that night, and I had told them to go for the prayer meeting. Still, it was nice to see them at the airport. Was torn between going with them for dinner and going home, but went home in the end because parents wanted to go home, and V had to go meet her mum and so we gave her a lift.

Final installment for the JMT was as mentioned, today, where I met J at Ang Mo Kio Hub for lunch and then wrote out the report. Going through the itinerary, remembering all that we did, and typing it out, as well as remembering all that we did, and not typing it out cos it's within the team only, was quite a nice experience. But that's about it for JMT 2008. Maybe have to do a presentation, but if not, this is officially the end of JMT 08.


P.S. J, if you can guess the title of the CD I bought today, I'll, er, give you a melon candy. haha

Sunday, July 06, 2008

3rd Week

Monday of the 3rd week started off quite quietly. It was like a final run up for us, since well, it was the last week. We headed down to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-crew again, and it was kinda like the last time for most of us, since the following Monday was when the team was leaving for Singapore.

Interesting thing happened there though. See, most of the E-crew people were university seniors, meaning they were gonna graduate at the end of the semester. So they, as well as SW, were hoping that perhaps a younger person could come and join in to take over. So I was sitting on the left side of the table, talking to SW and one of the E-crew people, T, who was C's friend. J was sitting just in front of me, and she wasn't really in the conversation, think she was talking to another of C's friends, but after the friend left, she started praying that there would be another new person who had the potential to continue E-crew.

Right at that moment, there was this dude who was like walking back and forth near the table who seemed as if he wanted to join in. SW noticed him, and asked him if he wanted to sit in and take part in the conversation. Turns out that the dude, WM, had sort of just returned to Japan from London, and he wanted to continue to brush up his English, and so when he heard us talking in English, he wanted to join in too. He didn't know C at all, which makes it pretty cool, since most of the people that join in are C's friends, and he brings them along, but this guy just walked past and felt like joining in, which is quite uncommon in Japan.

What's even cooler is that he's a freshman. Perhaps he's the person that would help to continue E-crew after C leaves.

The rest of Monday was spent preparing for the Hanakoganei Kids' Club (on Friday), the Singapore Night for the Ikebukuro HC (on Saturday), and just about any other thing we had to prepare for.

Tuesday was our fun day again. This time, we went to one of the nicest places in Tokyo: Odaiba.

Just one of the many iconic icons of Odaiba: The Rainbow Bridge. More later.

We started out late as usual, since we had morning devotion and all, and we were naturally slowpokes when coming to do things which we don't really need to rush for. For me, it was like going back to a place I liked, so I was mildly happy. But the rest hadn't been there before, and it like totally blew them away.

Took the New Transit Yurikamome, which is like a much better version of the LRT in Singapore, and went to Aqua City for lunch (at Otoya again), and then for some shopping. Now I think if I'm not wrong, I mentioned earlier that I was extremely disappointed that the Cinnabon in Sunshine City Ikebukuro wasn't there anymore. Well, one popped up right here:

The best cinnamon rolls in the world. The team agrees with me.

We then ran around the place taking photos and doing rather weird things, like D with his Calpis:

"Give me Calpis, or give me... er... just give me the Calpis!"

Also took the giant Ferris Wheel at Tokyo Bay. Couple of the team members were freaking out over the height cos they were apprehensive about heights, but everyone went, and it was pretty cool inside the gondola. Decent scenic shots as well.

Not too bad, considering it was taken from behind a rather grubby window

Ate dinner there then went back, a bit late, but it was a fun day. Had a short briefing from D&J before we could go to sleep.

Wednesday morning was taken up doing prep for the events again. We were doing different things lah, like D was doing up the Kawagoe powerpoints, and J and me were doing the lion and mouse masks for Kids' Club while watching Lost 3. W and M were also doing masks, but they weren't watching. And here's proof that girls can multi-task better than guys:

Score for the masks cutting while watching Lost 3:
J: 18
Me: 4

After that, the team went to Rikkyo to see if there were people who might be willing to talk to us, so that we could then invite them over to HC on Saturday. It was ok. The team did a pretty good job just striking up conversations with people, even though I goofed up on that; just couldn't psyche myself up enough to go and talk to the random students there. Was working with L, and she managed to talk to this lady for quite a while about random stuff, but yeah. Wasn't too bad. Here's a picture we took there:

Team inside the campus

After that, we went to Takadanobaba to meet M the dude from Waseda Uni. He brought Te along with him, as well as another friend K. We all went to this Thai eatery he recommended called Kao Thai near the station. The food was really good. Unfortunately, they didn't have 1) Mango Sticky Rice, 2) Duck noodles, and 3) they ran out of Chayan. But it was nice being able to meet M one more time before we left, and so we talked a bit there before leaving back for home, where J and me tried to practice the Kids' Club skit without disturbing too many people.

Thursday morning was kinda like Wednesday morning. Think if I'm not wrong, J and me had to continue to practice for our skit for the Kids' Club, before we went out for eats. L was kinda sick so we went out to eat lunch and da-bao some stuff back for her to eat. The team also got her some medicine while I was running around looking for stuff that sick people could eat without becoming sicker. Then D and me went to Mr. Donut to meet DL and Y for follow-up Bible study. Pretty interesting, since it was done in Japanese. And I ended up kinda being a semi-translator for D

The girls went over to Kiyose to meet their friend MS who as mentioned in the previous post, is averse to society in general. They had a good meal over there again, and good fellowship with both HJ and the girl. And they were sad to leave, since this was like the closure for most of the stuff they were doing.

Friday was Kids' Club. The kids started out quite rowdy as usual, but they quietened down, and then we had the songs and the games. And then we did the skit. It went pretty well, according to the rest of the team (J and me were too nervous to notice their reactions). I did managed to scare a whole bunch of small kids (and J too) when I suddenly jumped up and roared (I was acting as a lion for the skit) at J.

Crafts was ok, food was ok, and D and me were prepared to have to run ourselves into the ground with the kids again, but they were surprisingly tame this time. I ended up doing very little, except at the end when I entertained this small kid in the sand box.

The kid was trying to take my glasses.

The girls went over to Ikebukuro after that to meet this student from Rikkyo that JL had made contact with. Heard from them that it went pretty well, they managed to talk to the people, and made friends with them. The guys just kinda chilled out at home, then went to an Okonomiyaki place to eat dinner.

Saturday morning we prepared what we had left to prepare for the Singapore Night at Ikebukuro, then we left earlier to go to the Christian book shop near Shinjuku station. A bit expensive, but it was ok, since there was quite a lot of stuff there. After that, we went over to Seibu at Ikebukuro, since the team wanted to go the Loft there, which is like really quite big, covering three floors and all that. I think there's one more like that at Omiya, but we didn't go there. So the people all did some of their last minute shopping, then we headed over to the West side to the HC.

(Interesting note about Ikebukuro station is that Seibu, who's kanji is written as 西武, is actually on Ikebukuro's East exit (東口), while Tobu, another major shopping center who's kanji is (東武) is on Ikebukuro's West exit (西口). Just thought it was interesting).

The Singapore Night was a bit disappointing, in that no one we invited came. It wasn't too bad, because some of the people did reply to say they were unable to make it (for missions work in Japan, if they reply, no matter what the reply is, it's a good sign), but yes, it wasn't quite the turnout we expected.

Still we went on with our program. Most of the people took part enthusiastically, even though the entire group consisted mostly of Singaporeans and Malaysians, with only one Japanese (AA). The team then sang a couple of Singaporean songs (read: National Day songs). I was disappointed they didn't want to do "Home" by Kit Chan, but well, everyone had fun singing "Around Singapore Town" and "There was a time". Kinda strange, but well, we were quite homesick then.

AA and Al from the HC also sang a Chinese song, that AA had translated into Japanese. I heard the song before in Chinese service, it's called 这一生最美的祝福, and it's a really nice song, and AA sang the Japanese version of it. I should go and get a copy of the lyrics from M soon.

We went to an Okonomiyaki place for dinner after that, since the girls heard us espousing the wonders of eating okonomiyaki. We all had a pretty good time over there, just chilling out and eating and talking with the people, since as mentioned earlier, it was a sort of closure.

Me and my assistant leader. She's a really encouraging person.

I think I must have made her angry somewhere during the trip though. haha

Sunday was a rather relaxed day for us, since the Singapore Night was supposed to be our last major event. So we went to church at Amuzing Grace. That week was a thanksgiving weekend though, so instead of having a full service with worship, sermon, and Bible study, we had worship, then people who wanted to share things could come up and share stuff. J and W from the team shared about some of their experiences on the trip, and a couple of the church people also shared some stuff they were thankful for.

After that, D did the Kawagoe presentation to let the HC people know about the place, as most of them hadn't actually been there. Then we left for lunch at Coco's.

The new HC poster, as drawn by M.

The rest of the day was pretty slack. We all went to Propedori to do some more last minute shopping, then the team went over to D&J's house to visit, where we got to see some of their wedding photos and eat JL's cheesecake, which all the team members agree is really good. Then we went for onsen again (for M's sake), and ate major amounts of sushi for dinner, and where once again, the guys showed they could eat more than the girls, even though DL ate sparingly.

Score for sushi dinner
Girls (5): 31 plates
Guys (4): 32 plates

We then went back for the trip debrief at home, and shared some of our experiences on the trip. The sharing actually got a whole lot deeper than just the trip itself, but it was a really good time, getting to know each other even more, and just spending time together as a team. I guess it would have been a lot nicer if we could have gotten to know each other before the trip started, but I'm glad we were able to have such intimate moments as a team. The rest of the night was spent packing.

So the next morning, the team left on the 6.10 Seibu bus to Narita and then on to Singapore, while I stayed behind. For the immediate aftermath of their departure, please click here.

Will probably finish off whatever I did in the last week that I was there some other time. Biggest difference, of course, is that the whole tone of being there was much much quieter. Not just like you know, at home, but overall, everything started to tone down.

Ok. Cheerio

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

2nd Week

Ok, so now that the depression's out of the way, let's continue with the recap of the trip.

But before we start, I must write of one thing that happened during the Celebration @ Ichikawa, as mentioned two posts down. It isn't very significant, except to me, maybe, since it wasn't as if there were any far-reaching consequences to other people through the thing that happened.

See what happened, was that I was kinda feeling out of sorts that day. I don't know why. I can't remember what caused it, but I know I wasn't feeling as happy as I should have felt, even though it was a celebration.

So anyway, at one point in the proceedings, I think it was SW who was leading, we were supposed to break up into small groups, or to go and pray by ourselves. As I was feeling out of sorts, I wasn't really in the mood for praying with a group, and wanted to go and pray by myself, as well as to acquire some stuff for one of the team members who wasn't feeling so good that day (physically, not you know, emotionally like me). So I told HJ that I wanted to go out for a bit, and asked her if she knew if there was a コンビニ anywhere nearby, since I thought I could get some medication there. Turns out that in Japan, 7-11s don't stock the same stuff as in Singapore, so if you ever go to Japan, and need to get medication, you can't go to a convenience store. You have to go to a store that has a big 薬 sign outside.

So anyway, I walked out of the hall, and went skedaddling about. First one way, then the other. The weather on that day was pretty good, sunny, but not hot, and the breeze was really quite nice. And I guess that's kinda why I sort of lost track of time. So there I was, walking up and then down the main road near the OMF building, praying, but at the same time looking out for a place to pick up some pills. (haha sounds like I was looking for s drug pusher or something). Eventually, a kind counter lady behind one of the combini counters told me that the nearest 薬 place was near Ichikawa station. Which wasn't really that far, so I toddled over and found the shop, bought the med, and walked back to OMF...

...where I promptly got scolded by one of my team members for making her, and just about everyone else, worried that I had gone missing. And she probably would have gone off into a mega tirade about not informing people and stuff, when I gave her the medicine. So she suddenly had nothing to say. Haha.

And though I didn't show it then, I was really touched that my team would get so worried over my absence. Not that I did it on purpose. But yes, it made me feel all warm and snuggly inside. haha.

Ok, so on to the next week. It went by really fast, because there wasn't much on the schedule for us. Especially since the missionaries all had to go for a conference, so we were left pretty much to our own devices, though D&J and HJ had set up some stuff for us to do.

Monday we went down to Waseda's Tokorozawa campus for E-crew. Previously, I had been the only one there cos the last Monday, the team was still flying in from Singapore, but it was still a great time of fellowship there. Not just with C and T from the previous week, but also cos C introduced some more of his friends to us. C's a really great guy. Really friendly, always checking out for us, and he's become a real friend to team, in a way that I never expected to happen.

So we spent quite a bit of time at the campus to talk with the students, before we headed back up to Kawagoe to continue doing the anketo. We split ourselves into two groups, and L, D and R went back up to the Furumachi to do a bit more research while J, W and me did some Street E and anketo-ish stuff. Must say J and W did a really good job going out to talk to the people, and at the very least, made some friends and contacts. After that, we bummed around at Kawagoe for a bit before meeting AA for dinner at Otoya. The food there was really great, and the prices were very decent. I can show you what I ate for dinner:

My saba set. Dad says saba's a really difficult fish to eat cos of all the bones, but trust me, it's worth the effort.

On Tuesday, we had an off day. Plans hadn't really been finalized, but L had asked her friend W (who had been around the past couple of weeks having fun in Tokyo) to guide us around wherever we wanted to go. So he nicely brought us first to Akihabara, where R and W acquired their Nintendo DS, then he showed us to Harajuku, and we finished off the day at Shibuya. Dude, if you're reading this, I'm really grateful for you taking time out to be our guide, and for planning everything out for us.

Wednesday, we went over to Waseda's Takadanobaba campus to meet M, where he introduced us to two of his friends, Te and Ta. We went out for lunch at the Saizeriya near the school, which is really huge, then he brought us to a karaoke kan nearby, where we all got the chance to sing songs and laugh at each other being wild. M's also a really great guy. He loves Singapore more than many Singaporeans, and can speak multiple languages. And Te studies Geology. I mean like how cool is that? They have Geology as a major in Waseda. What's up with NUS? They don't have any cool majors.

Oh and I forgot, so I had to write this in later, on Wednesday night, we had some friends over for dinner/supper. Started because we asked AA if he wanted to come over and chill out with us one of the days when the missionaries were at the OMF conference, so he said most any day was fine, so we kinda settled on Wednesday. Then on Monday, when we met C, we asked if he wanted to come over as well, cos he stays near Tokorozawa anyway.

So on Wednesday, at about 6-ish, AA came over. He actually wanted to help us to cook, but we had finished doing most of it already. W had made claypot rice without the claypot, and I had done curry again, just that I had learnt from my previous experience, so I made sure the pot wasn't too hot before I threw in the curry paste (the previous time, I had foolishly thrown it onto a very hot pot, and all the spices went up in a major puff of smoke, so there was a cloud of spice in the kitchen, and the three guys were coughing their lungs out).

The dinner/supper was pretty ok. C came a bit later cos he had gone to Disney Sea, and he brought along his friend from Osaka, M. And they enjoyed the food, though the curry was hotter than what they were used to. And the day ended with them playing DS together on some network or something.

Thursday was another off day for us, cos we had moved the Kawagoe work to Monday, so we went out again, this time, we headed over to Nippori, cos friend K mentioned there was some decent shopping there for the girls. The place was quite nice, though as mentioned, most of the shopping was done by the girls. Ate takoyaki for the first time in Japan (ever) there, near the station. And then I had to buy a tiramisu from a cafe since W wanted to go use the toilet. haha. Then we walked down the street along the train line. I really enjoyed just walking along the road. I don't know why. The place just sort of reminded me of an older Singapore.

So anyway, we walked all the way from Nippori to the next station, which was Uguisudani, if I'm not wrong. Then we decided to go to Ueno to see if there was any shopping worth having. Good thing we went. There was this anime shop there where we bought some stuff. Even I bought some stuff there. Then we walked about Ameyayokocho again, for a bit, found dinner, then had to go back, cos it was late, and D&J wanted to meet us after 4 days of leaving us to ourselves.

Famous landmark

There's an interesting story about D&J's laptop. See, they went for the conference, and they saved a lot of data and pictures on their comp. Then just before they left the conference, the hard drive died. Which naturally, frustrated them a great deal, and made them upset, since they were like helping lots of people hold onto data or something like that. But God showed his mercy, when strangely enough, their laptop came back to life for a short while. Not sure how it happened, but it did. D managed to power it up, and then he quickly saved all the stuff on to his external hard drive. And just after he finished doing that, the laptop died again. I mean, that's like "woah!". I really believe it was divine intervention.

Friday was a bit of an interesting event. The team split up early in the morning, and the guys went to Kawagoe to meet up with this dude that HJ was meeting up with. He's a hikikomori, so he doesn't really like going out and interacting with people. But he was ok with going out with his pastor to meet up with some gaijin. And at HJ's place, we played some Wii. He won most of the time. We ate lunch at Saizeriya, then the pastor wanted to just chill out for a bit (HJ had left to meet the girls by then). So we walked around Crea Mall (the shopping area between Hon-Kawagoe and Kawagoe stations), and the dude was trashing a computer at Tekken 6, and then R bought a ukelele for himself, then we ended by chilling out at Starbucks.

The girls themselves had a fun time. They too got to meet a hikikomori lady, and they came back gushing about how nice she was and how they managed to make friends with her. I mean, I wasn't there, but it sounded like they had a good time of bonding and sharing even though they were new friends.

After all that, we went to the onsen. The team calls it a cultural exposure and immersion, since you get both exposed and immersed at the onsen. Same as always, not everyone was keen on going, but after sitting in the warm water for about an hour, everyone wanted to stay inside. We ate dinner at this slightly more atas place called Tonden or Donten or something like that, cos R was going to fly back to Singapore the next morning.

R was really happy with his food. Bye R!

He was supposed to take the 6.10 bus the next morning. Fortunately for him, he woke up on time, and got on the bus. Eventually, he would reach Singapore safely at about 10 in the evening.

That Saturday, we had another event near Hanakoganei. It was a sort of kids' club thing, but only a few families came, since it wasn't a full-fledged kids' club thing. We were all scampering around frantically in the morning trying to cook everything for the event. Thankfully, by the mercy of God, we managed to settle everything.

The event itself went well. The missionaries were hoping some of the fathers of the families would come, since the kids' club thing was only mums and kids. And they were pleasantly surprised to see that 3 of the dads came along for the party. Everyone had a good time playing games and eating, and SW and D&J were really happy the way things turned out.

After that, we went to the HC @ Ikebukuro. Had some sharing, then we stayed around and sang karaoke again. Quite fun lah, even though I must admit I'm not a real fan of karaoke. Went for dinner at First Kitchen. Food was decent for a fast food joint, but the portions were a little small. We then took the train back, where W discovered the scandalous shot D took of her. Here's her reaction:

Step 1: Surprise

Step 2: Erm, joy?

Step 3: Embarrassment

M came in that night. Her luggage kinda got stuck at the airport, so she wanted to take the Skyliner down from Narita to Nippori. However, just before she thought she had to leave her luggage behind and go over to Tokorozawa first, the baggage handler told her that the luggage was ready to be collected. So she ran back in, grabbed her luggage, and ran down to the train platform, where she saw that there was a last train about to leave. So she scrambled into it, and the train left the station, whereupon she realized that it was not the Skyliner. So she reached Tokorozawa later than expected. And had to pay more than necessary.

Sunday, we went to HC in the morning. SW led the BS this time round, and then we did some discussion about the BS. Went for lunch at Manshu (the gyoza place), then we went to the Rojin home.

Being at the Rojin home was a great, and slightly sad experience for us. I mean, the missionaries had the chance to go there once a month I think, to have some events for the old folks. This time, TS did a traditional Japanese dance, M from the HC did some enka, and then we did a couple of songs, W did her testimony, and we also did a skit. Once again, God provided for us, since we had not really practiced the acting, except for the night before. So the three of us who were acting (D, J and me) didn't do enough rehearsals. And J was worried that she would laugh if she saw me, L was worried that I wasn't able to act properly, and D just didn't seem to be able to extend his hands in a graceful manner as if to invite people.

All of that didn't matter at that point of time because of the gravity of the situation, and of the skit itself. No one laughed, no one goofed up, and everyone appreciated the skit. And I think it was cos God pulled us through it.

After that, we did some origami with the old folks. Some of them really know how to do origami. Not the half-baked kind that I do sometimes for fun. And we got to know some of the folks, and to talk to them a bit, despite the language barrier. And it really affected some of the girls when we left, to know that we might not get the chance to see any of them again. I'm hoping that's not true, but I'll just have to leave it up to God. They were really nice old folks, very friendly and engaging. And at the very least, I'm glad that for those few hours, we were able to make them feel happy. I won't be able to describe the emotions that went through the team. It's something I just can't put down in words. Or I can attempt to try, but it wouldn't do any justice. But well.

Will continue the last week soon.


P.S. I know usually the titles are single Latin words, or Japanese, but I'm really too lazy and tired to think of one right now. So there.