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Dear Pastor George…

As a young graduate, my first job was working as a secretary to one of the lead pastors in my home church which I grew up in. And so for three and a half years, I was blessed to work closely under a man who is not only a great boss but who has become for me, an inspiring role model. And after 15 years of working life, a huge part of my work ethos is influenced by him. So I decided to email him today:

Dear Pastor George

This is a long overdue letter from me but I thought ‘hey,it’s better late than never’!

It’s been four years since Chin Seng and I moved to Perth. I am now working in a local university. As I entered into my third year working here, I found myself reflecting where I’d come from in my working life journey. That’s when I realized a huge part of my work ethos has been influenced by you. And I’d never told you but I’ve always considered you to be a mentor during those years we worked together. In my current role, I have a fair share of management and leadership responsibility. So I have been reminded of you on occasions. I really wanted to appreciate you for teaching me, and more importantly, modeling for me, these lessons:
1. ‘Expect what you inspect’ – if something is worth doing, it is worth investing my time to make sure it is doing well
2. ‘Spirit of excellence’ – it can never be perfect but at least we have given our best
3. ‘Contingency, contingency, contingency’ – it’s not good enough to have a contingency plan, we need to have contingency plan for the contingency plan!
4. ‘I’ll back you up’ – supporting staff in their decisions not just in my words but through my actions
5. ‘You can do it’ – empowering staff to go beyond their own perceived limitation
6. ‘The importance of follow-up’ – never forget to follow up with a phone call or email or both!
7. ‘Sense of purpose and destiny’ – it is never about how much money one makes but the difference one makes in the lives of others

So really, this is a thank-you note.

1. Thank you for being a godly leader who always seeks to do what is right according to what God has placed upon your heart, no matter what
2. Thank you for being a leader who demonstrates you are a follower first of all
3. Thank you for being a courageous leader who never walks away from a challenging situation
4. Thank you for being a leader who tempers justice with mercy
5. Thank you for being a leader who leads louder through your walk than your talk
6. Thank you for being a leader who is real because you would share candidly about your struggles
7. Thank you for being the best boss one could ever have, especially to a young graduate who just started on her first job!

As I journeyed on in my working life, you will continue to be an inspiration to me. It is my desire that I will, do for others who come along my way, what you’ve done for me.

Yours,
Ervina

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april reflections

April has been a whirlwind of a month. Is it because I’d turned thirty-six that I am feeling the urgency of time all the more? And there were many reflective moments.

Singapore trip

We were back in Singapore for our annual visit. Not surprisingly, it was never long enough. ‘What, you are only here for 10 days?’ was the common refrain we received from family and friends when we met.It was, however, the best ‘homecoming trip’ we have had in all our previous visits. This time round, we deliberately scaled down our to-do list. Our last appointment of the day would be dinnertime so if it went longer than that, there wasn’t any stress about us being late for our next appointment.

We even managed to squeeze in time to do some touristy thing like visit Marina Bay Sands and Universal Studios. And I am happy to say that we were eating local food all the time. Almost. Because I still didn’t get to eat my bbq stingray and oyster omelette.

But the best part of our Singapore trip is always about people. Countless sharing was done over meals and drinks. And I am often comforted by the fact that distance hasn’t pulled us apart from the many relationships we have left behind. Thank you, dear ones, for your love and friendship. We are blessed indeed.

Interlude – Kuala Lumpur trip

Before coming to Singapore, we had actually spent the weekend in Kuala Lumpur so I could visit my best friend since secondary school days, SF. It was a good trip because I’d also invited my best friend since university days Liz to come along. So the trip had allowed me to spend quality time with 2 of these girlfriends who played an important role in my growing up years.

SF and Liz – I love you girls to bits. Thank you for loving and accepting me, just as I am.

Quality time with special couple – Joey & Huiyi

They are the third couple we have hosted and the couple we have the most intense quality time with. Perhaps because Joey and I have similar personalities, and we both could only do small talk for so looong; it wasn’t surprising that quality conversations were happening all the time. CS and I felt privileged to have had shared moments with this couple as they embarked on a new chapter in their couplehood journey.

However, what stood out most for me was talking to Huiyi over breakfast at Moore’s. It was a deliberate decision to ask Huiyi out. I’d wanted to know her better and hear what’s on her heart and vice versa. And what a beautiful morning that turned out to be. We shared openly as only sister to sister could.

Interlude – Rachael’s text

Thank you, dear, for the unexpected text message on Tuesday. It brought smiles and most of all, warmth to my heart. I am still bummed that we didn’t get to meet up when we were in Singapore. Next year, I promise. We would have long chats over drinks at Starbucks.

Singapore election fever

Even though we have been away for four years now, I still follow Singapore news to keep myself abreast of what’s happening. And with all the postings on Facebook about election news, it is hard not getting caught up in the electoral fever. So I find myself trawling through videos, blogs, political commentaries on the internet. For the first time, many people are sharing their political opinions openly. Who says Singaporeans are politically apathetic?

I think the proliferation of social media since the last election has played a big part in this. Previously, any political coverage was disseminated by state-controlled mass media like the television and the newspapers so any alternate voices are often drowned out or obliterated altogether. Now, everyone can make themselves heard through self-posted videos or public domains like Facebook and Twitter. And what a plethora of voices are we hearing so far! If anything, I think it augers well for the future of Singapore. So I am quietly optimistic about this election and will  be following the live coverage come next Saturday.

Aging – can water be my answer?

Two days ago, I had a sudden panic attack – I am getting old! And then I started having mental pictures of my face losing elasticity, due to loss of collagen.

For the first time in my life, I felt fearful of aging. So I turned to what any 21st century person would turn to for help – internet. I googled about what to do about sagging face and its prevention. And the best advice I got out of? Drink lots of water because it keeps your skin hydrated and thus, prevents loss of collagen. I am sticking to this advice since it is cheap and do-able. However, I also do not want to be someone who is obsessed about what is inevitable. Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest; sagging face or not.

letter to a young adult

“Dear p,

Your note arrived today.

You don’t have to apologize for the ‘hiatus’ and how you had to think long and hard as to how to reply us ‘in style’ because you are not that ‘a creative, artistic, scrapbook person’. Any news from you is better than no news. And we really do love the handmade touch in your note.

The title of your note makes us smile – if this ain’t called love (then what is). I don’t think when we first got married we had any idea what love really is (though we probably thought we did!) but after nearly a decade-long marriage, I think we are getting a glimpse of that.

Love is hard work. It means loving when you don’t feel like it. It means your action has to speak louder than your words. It means thrashing out your conflicts even though the last thing you want to do is talk. It means even when things get tough, giving up is not an option. Ever.

Truth be told, I don’t think we had consciously lived out our marriage with the intention to be a ‘testimony’ of His love. I think that good intention can sometimes come with unnecessary pressure and expectation. But what we have tried to do is include God in our relationship; kind of like a pseudo-marriage counsellor! And oh yes, a sense of humour. That’s right; you read it correctly. We try to have as much fun as we can along the way!

I hope, one day, you too, will have this amazing experience of marriage.

It is great to read about what God’s been doing in your life. Really, one of our greatest pride and joy from serving in the young adult ministry is seeing young adults like you stepping up and rising to the call of leadership, in one way or another.

Frankly, it has been challenging for us since we took over the young adult ministry here in Perth; we are still finding our way around to connect with the young adults. It is a struggle sometimes and I guess your note is a timely reminder of the rewards we will reap, one day, if we persevere.

So our prayer for you is that you too, will persevere in the call that God has led you to. Never let the enemy deceive you with: You are not good enough. Not old enough. Not young enough. Not mature enough. Not holy enough. Not loving enough.

Guard your walk with God jealously because without it, everything you do is meaningless. Remember: God doesn’t require sacrifice more than your obedience. Your service for God should be an outflow of your love for Him – everything you do is because you want to, not because you have to.

All right, that’s enough rambling for now. Your note ended with a refrain of ‘remember to not forget me yah’; well, know that you remain close to our heart, and that you are missed as you do us.

Much love,

CS & E”

word for the day: BELIEVE

This handmade card is on its way to encourage someone…What do you need to believe in today?
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moments worth relishing…

It’s been great spending quality time with grandma or ‘Ah Ma’ lately. She’s 79 years old officially (my aunts told me she’s probably 2 years younger). Apparently, it was an usual practice in the past for people to ‘over-report’ their age. With each passing year, I am thankful that she’s still around and still in the pink of health. And I’m thankful that she’s come to know the Lord in her old age though she no longer goes to church due to her mobility.

‘Ah Ma’ has been a key figure in my growing up years. She was my main caregiver since both my parents were working. Some of my fondest memories were: her plaiting my long hair to get me ready for school, cooking me noodles for breakfast and bringing me out for shopping (one of our usual haunts was the OG departmental store in Chinatown).

Come August 19, I will miss ‘Ah Ma’ dearly when she heads home.IMG_2891

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we’re going to miss

1) Grace Retreat – a church event which we attend without fail every year. No matter how many retreats we’ve attended, it always moves me when I see people from different background and social status worshipping God together – a glimpse of heaven surely…

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2) this cute little face who definitely has huge lungs for crying out loud (pun intended!):

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3) catching up with you:

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4) your growing up years – this is Esna whom we’ve known when she’s a tiny 4-year-old tot and here she is, towering over me at mere age of fourteen! And I didn’t even recognize her until she started calling me ‘Sis Ervina, Sis Ervina!’ when she saw me!

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5) dear ones who don’t mind taking random shots with us:

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6) playing an active part in your lives; still we enjoyed those meaningful times of sharing with different ones during the retreat (Thanks, Esther for your note; I’ll cherish what you’ve written in it.)

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7) seeing David leading worship in church service; this has to be the most encouraging sight for us in this retreat – seeing how God has transformed this shy young man who used to say almost nothing in our cell 5 years ago to a confident worship leader he is today:

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listening to…

I heard this song at the end of a show last night and it brought back memories of when we left for Perth ‘cos I think that was when I first heard the song. It’s interesting how music often leads me down specific memory lanes…

it’s a cliche but really…

how time flies! We went out for a nice breakfast by the beach yesterday morning and Terry, my youngest cousin was with us. I still remember fondly the days when he was just a tiny babe whose diapers I’ve had to change to this six feet tall fine young man sitting beside me now.

God’s best in your TEE exams (equivalent to ‘A’ levels) this year, Terry dear. I’ll be praying for you.

terry

vintage find!

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This is my latest buy – a vintage typewriter. What I really like about it is the bright orange colour which gives it a retro feel. I also like the tag on it that reads “Traveller de Luxe”. It brings me back to bygone days where people would lug this little machine in their travel ‘cos it was one common mode of communication. The typewriter is made in the former Soviet state of Yugoslavia, so I also like the fact that it is a reflection of a past geo-political entity. Most of all, I like the sound of each key clicking away as I type on each letter and see how each letter slowly forms a word, and from each word forms a sentence…

I am thinking of typing my next letter using this typewriter so it’s definitely going to be fun! And the other thing I’d like to do is to use it at a party where friends could type their own place card or name tags when they arrive. So you see, this little thing may be a tad pricey but hey, how often do you come across something functional yet whimsical at the same time?! Smiles…

reminiscence

This is our second Christmas in Perth. Still, it didn’t lessen our missing-folks-back-home sentiments especially during this season. I had a slight meltdown on our way home from cell 2 nights ago. It had been a year since we started attending cell and yet it still remained a struggle for us to feel a sense of belonging. Is it a case of us expecting too much too soon? And so I found myself missing…

YOU who are in Japan right now – it must be freezing at this time of the year. I never passed by a cafe or bookshop without thinking of you;

YOU whom I used to work with – I missed the small chats in each other’s offices; and how easily we could slip into heart-to-heart talks about things that matter to us most;

YOU whom I do all girly stuff with – shopping and eating are not just frivolous things we do; it’s our bonding time;

YOU who I don’t meet often enough – I love how we could always pick up from where we last left each other and just talk, talk, talk;

YOU whom we’d have over at our home for cell on Friday nights – your victories and struggles are ours too; miss our times of fellowship;

YOU who we hang out with, usually on Saturday nights – it’s always good to catch up with you over dinner and know how you are doing;

YOU whom we do special cook-out parties with in our home – we always know we are in for a good time with your company, good food and drinks;

YOU who we do random things with – from roller-blading to food jaunts to photography trip to simply chilling out; the thing I missed most about is the meaningful conversations we’d inevitably end up having in the car whenever we sent you home;

What about YOU ? Is there anyone you’re missing this Christmas time?

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