passover in Jerusalem

Shema Yisra’el Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. Baruch Shem kavod malchuto l’olam vaed.

Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. Blessed be the name of His glorious majesty forever and ever.

Here we began the feast of Passover, or Pesach, as they call it here in Israel. Delle and I spent the afternoon preparing our various dishes – rosti potato and coconut milk with steamed banana desserts! Haha we had a fair share of preparation by rushing to the Shuk the day before to get all the groceries needed for this passover celebration and the weekend before Shabbat also officially begins – I could get use to this way of life.

Big thanks to the Naultys, we were invited to Passover with the family and so glad to have a spiritual community here – from Africa, Australia, America and Canada. Pretty much every continent covered, missing some of the girls! I must say I was very surprised at the passover layout because I had zero idea how dinner would look like. My mind was just an expectation of potluck and conversations. Hahaaha but we landed ourselves in an actual passover celebration with the recital of psalms, exodus story and singing for the next 4 hours into the night.

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Isn’t this a lovely spread!! We’ve got matzah bread and wine, olives, apricots and dates as side dishes and the Passover seder in the middle – consisting of the parsley, horse radish, charoseth, egg and a lamb shank.  it’s so cute especially, with the handwritten scripture readings on each plate (there’s like a stack for each person) haha I love the engagement of this!! 

We began the night with the reciting of the Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120-134). In the past, Jewish people would travel to Jerusalem during big events like Passover, to offer their pesach sacrifice.

“And you shall offer the Passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place that the Lord will choose, to make His name dwell there. You shall eat no leavened bread with it. Seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread – the bread of affliction – for you came out of the land of Egypt in haste – that all the days of your life you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt….you may not offer the Passover sacrifice within any of your towns that the Lord your God is giving you, but at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell in it, there you shall offer the Passover sacrifice, in the evening at sunset, at the time you came out of Egypt”   Deuteronomy 16

What I really enjoyed about the night was the idea of different forms of worship. Being here has helped me to understand what that looks like. The very idea of doing Passover as a family and tasting and drinking the different things is really “taste and see that the Lord is good” This verse takes on a whole new meaning.

After the reciting of Shema ( to affirm the oneness of God – we do this in every service here in Israel, as a daily reminder as often as we gather), the woman of the household would set about lighting the candles. Candles are a huge Jewish tradition, a symbol of peace and stillness as we deliberately set aside time to enter into Passover. Then Kevin, as the head of the house, would lead us into the first Cup.

There are 4 different cups – namely the Cup of Blessing, the Cup of Plagues and the other two I’ll cover them later.

Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the universe, who creates fruit from the vine!

We bless the Lord as He provides. For the Israelites, bread and wine are ordinary things in the past, as they are today. As the Lord used these two items to remember Him and the redemptive plan of the Father, we recognise that the use of simple, ordinary, day to day essentials calls us to remember God in our every day living. The act of “breaking bread and drinking wine” holy communion should be a daily affair of remembrance, of thanksgiving for what He has done on the cross.

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First washing of hands and Carpas (dipping the parsley)

We washed our hands twice, first after the Cup of Blessing and later after the Cup of Plagues. The act of washing our hands thus is an act of purification as we approach a holy God. Then, we would dip the parsley (from the Seder plate) into a bowl of saltwater, as they remember their humble beginnings as a people and their days of slavery in the land of Egypt. The saltwater symbolic of the tears shed in their pain and suffering. I was then asked to recite too, Matthew 26:20-25 where it talked about how Jesus told his disciples that one of them will betray him. And they were very sorrowful, each asking if its one of them. Jesus would then answer, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.”…”Judas, who would betray him, answered, ‘Is it I, Rabbi?’ He said to him, “You have said so.”

Breaking the Middle Matzah

Here comes one of the most mind-blowing parts of this passover dinner for me. Matzah, is unleavened bread, basically, bread without yeast, that has not yet risen. Here’s the coolest thing about matzah!!

It is unleavened, it is striped and it has holes.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps for a firstborn.

The breaking of matzah is the breaking of the bread of affliction and at the same time, the consumption of matzah also signifies the entering of freedom, of the Israelites leaving their days of affliction and into what God has laid before them. Isn’t it really interesting how the bread of matzah seemed to foreshadow the act of Christ on the cross!! And Jesus himself breaking the matzah with His disciples on the Passover supper. Wow.

Then, as the youngest one amongst everyone, I had to ask 4 questions about why this night is different from all other nights (thankfully, there was a list for me to read from) We followed this with the reciting of the 10 plagues of Egypt, of which we would dip our fingers into the cup of wine we have and place a drop on each plate to remember the punishments faced due to the disobedience of the Egyptians. Then, we read through the Story of Passover and Exodus, and singing the song of “It Would Have Been sufficient!” In Hebrew, we say “Dayenu!”

I think it’s a wonderful reminder and a sobering one as well. It sings of deliverance, miracles and His redemption. The Jewish passover does not include the Messianic part but we did the one with the redemption part.

I love the idea of how everything is enough regardless.

If He had brought us out of Egypt.

It would have been sufficient! (Dayenu!)

If He had split the sea for us,

It would have been sufficient!

If He had led us through on dry land,

It would have been sufficient!

If He had drowned our oppressors.

It would have been sufficient!

If He had provided for our needs in the wilderness for 40 years

It would have been sufficient!

If He had fed us manna

It would have been sufficient!

(the messianic part – for those who believe in Jesus as the ultimate Passover sacrifice)

If He had sent Yeshua the Messiah.

It would have been sufficient!

If He had saved us from our sins

It would have been sufficient!

If He had given us the Holy Spirit,

It would have been sufficient!

If He had made us His Sons and daughters in His kingdom

It would have been sufficient!

(Still) If He had called us to be with Him for eternity

It would have been sufficient!

He’s never done with us and He’s always outdoing Himself. He’s the God of overwhelming. He whelms us with awe and wonder. He did not need to do all the extra things of providing the Spirit, making us sons and daughters etc, but He did them all. Faithful He will be – this I remember.

Then, we recited the Hallel (Psalms 113-114) as thanksgiving as we partook in the cup of plagues, washed our hands (again for the second time), ate bitter herbs with horse radish and charoseth.

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This is the bread with horse radish and charoseth – a bitter sweet kind of taste to represent the  bitterness of slavery, that we might appreciate the taste of freedom better!

Congratulations guys, you’ve crossed the halfway mark of passover. HAHAHAHA. (that took like 2 hours)

Here comes the most exciting part!!! dinner. No I’m kidding, I meant the passover communion (remember the Last Supper that Jesus had with His disciples, this is it!!!) We did have dinner of course in between, with super delicious lamb and chicken chops as well as the different dishes we brought. Alice spoke about how we were all made for awe haha and I immediately recalled Alvin posting about awe on Instagram, as one of the fundamental human emotions that we are made to appreciate and to desire amazing things!! Most importantly, we talked about how we must be careful not to misplace our awe – that’s when sin kicks in.

Passover Communion

Blessed are you O Lord our God! King of the Universe, who has given us salvation through the Messiah Yeshua!

We had more bread and began to drink of the Third Cup, known as the Cup of the Redemption. Now this, is the cup that Jesus was talking about.

And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” Luke 22:20

Blessed are you, O Lord our God! King of the Universe, who creates fruit from the vine!

In that moment, the usual communion that we had made greater sense to me. This cup of redemption, we drank from the alabaster cup together. There’s something so special about drinking from the same cup, just like His disciples did and given time to reflect. Passover this year coincides beautifully with Good Friday and it really was just so important to remember the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and parallel it to our redemption and Jesus’ coming to die for the sins of the world and reconcile us to God. Here, I imagine Jesus telling his disciples to join him in the work of redemption. It was an invitation to share in His suffering, in His death and resurrection. It was him telling the disciples that they will have to do this over and over again, until He comes again.

*reading of hallel again, Psalm 115-118*

Even the reading of Psalms takes on new meaning when we put it in the context of Exodus, Psalm 136. Give thanks to the Lord, for His steadfast love endures forever. This psalm was read by Kevin and a response from us that echoes “For His love endures forever” There is much power in affirming and proclaiming the steadfast love of the Lord that remains the same since the days of Moses. Even before He delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, God already made a promise to Abraham. Blows my mind that we have a covenant keeping and ever-faithful Father.

Lastly, we concluded Passover with the final cup: the Cup of Praise, the one which Jesus did not drink.

I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Matthew 26:29

This cup, we drank, in anticipation and expectation for the Messiah who will come again.

Indeed, Messiah has died. Messiah has risen. Messiah will come again.

With that, we closed with a prayer of thanksgiving.

– – – – – – –

This has filled my heart with much hope. The Last Supper, the breaking of bread and drinking of the new covenant defined the people of God. Communion now is no longer something we take on the first week of the month, but communion is taken in the context of the Passover, of remembering the mighty hand of God that delivered His people out of Egypt and in His provision of the perfect sacrifice, of the unblemished lamb.

That Passover dinner must have been a really long and heavy one. And with that, in the Bible, it was recorded, “And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” Even in the knowledge of what was to come, Jesus led by example for His disciples –  He washed their feet before the passover meal, He gave His body and poured His blood.

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.”…”If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet” John 13:8,14.

The Israelites, after Passover, have been delivered and were no longer slaves. But in same way, as Jesus has washed away our sins and we are no longer slaves to sin, flesh and fear. He calls us to remain in the attitude of a servant, to serve and to love one another as He has loved us. We are slaves no more. In our freedom, we are free to serve.

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turkey;

Procrastination at its best but I figured I want to consolidate all of these that I might look back one day and be thankful for all these wonderful memories! I remember how I thought long and hard about signing up for this Winter Prelude – about clearing an extra module, if I had sufficient finances for the trip, being left out in the trip since I’m signing up for it alone. Man, I prayed quite hard haha and God really provided, in every way possible – my two history coursemates whom I’m thankful to have known better, finances for the trip through funding, confirmation in my creative writing class when I was thinking hard about it and our tutor gave us a photograph from Istanbul to write about heh. Talk about how God speaks 🙂

So here goes! Istanbul – absolutely stunning city with winning sunsets and wonderful company;

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the first sunset when we arrived on the 9th. My first time using a prime lens borrowed from esna’s brother! Fell in love with the 35mm pretty soon. No turning back ever since :’)

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exchanged smiles with these two turkish people! a mother and her son! They were extremely friendly and started chatting despite the evident language barrier. the man offered to take a picture for his mother and I, pointing to my camera and conveying a “me too. photographer”

“Canon or Nikon?”

“Nikon” he replied w a very genuine smile.

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the beautiful town of sariyer! this is 5 minutes walk from our hotel and every morning and evening sky is different! there is such a calming effect to our minds and spirits when we take slow walks along the sea. on certain days, I head out for a run and it’s really pretty safe 🙂

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probably my favourite picture from the trip.

Beauty found in the skies and all around. It surrounds us :’) to be fading into the light of Your glory and to be a silhouette, a shadow, hiding beneath and behind the fullness of glory.

Be still, o mortal
Let the light above
shine brighter
Slow fade now –
less of us, more of Him. 

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a divine encounter. this is my roommate, yuchen! Discovered that her grandma in china is christian and she’s very open to hearing about the gospel and Jesus. We both recognised how God ordained the little things – placing us as roommates that I might be able to comfort her w the love of God in her search for longing and love. I remember the late night conversation that we had when she walked in looking all weary and downcasted. it was so interesting because days before the trip I was praying for G to prepare the way, the people and the conversations and this was one of it! Really saw how He answers prayers and so privileged to be able to partner Him.

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yuchen really is one of the sweetest girls around – taking care of me when I fell, bringing alcohol swab, dressing my wound, sharing moisturiser with me and giving/reminding me to eat fruits and vegetables! such a precious heart! i give thanks always for the 9am walks and the short walks to the supermarket nearby for our favourite ayran :’)

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the morning when yuchen asked about what I was reading and I shared with her from Romans 8:37-39. *takes out youversion bible app to show her the word in chinese* being able to read it together and encourage w her – appreciate the little opportunities given! God you do what only You can!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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again, beautiful sunset outside fuat pasa hotel. istanbul has the best colour palette hands down.

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welcome to taksim square! #squadgoals turkey’s orchard road equivalent! except that it has excellent and quaint european-like architecture and brilliant weather to walk in!

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koc university with my history pals, or my “malay sis” hahaha! they take real great care of me and I love our mad spontaneity to cappadocia on christmas :’) naise la sis!

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mosques; this one’s taken from neurosmaniye mosque, right outside the grand bazaar. Honestly my favourite mosque right after suleymaniye mosque!

light leads home. 

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the lights are hung so low that they might reach to change the lights! patterns and wall art are spectacular!! inside the blue mosque!

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wandering around in the old city!

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early morning before our visit to prince island! taken at besiksta port! this spontaneous trip to prince island was also quite a gamble! the weather had been rather gloomy those few days and I had to ask in faith and declare in faith that it will be worth the ferry ride and early morning to prince island for cycling!

the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. 

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look what we were treated to!! awesome, glorious sunrise. the ferry ride was an hour long and this was the view! this particular morning, on the way to the ferry terminal, i whispered, “show me Your heart for these friends, show me Your heart for me too”

and God did.

the morning skies testify Your sure and perfect love for each one of us – how you are pleased with me and how you love all of my friends. I remember that You paint the morning skies with miracles in mind. I remember that I am made of dust and my songs join with the heavenlies in praising you. My praise and my worship needs to rise up from my heart and then I remember the confidence I have as a Daughter of Yours 🙂 that as a daughter, I need not be afraid of asking, I rest in Your assurance of what is Best.

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blue!!! my favourite :’)

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now this is prince island! where horse carriages and bicycles are the common form of transport – no vehicles allowed! horses wandering about like dogs in a city. i remember passing by a really stinky road full of horse dung heh.

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mad slopes and uphill battles! 6 hours worth of cycling inland and along the coastal route! thankful for the guys that jaga us and carrying my heavy bag and camera! built confidence along the way throughout the cycling process!! MAD SLOPES ARE MAD. steep takes on new definitions and i must say the downhill rides are most exhilarating!

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adventure heh.

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yuchen jamie imran kevin and i! my roomie and fun bridge + hearts buddies!! will always remember how yall said yes to playing bridge after the horrible day my phone died – in hopes that I might be comforted!! true brothers – thank youuuuu 🙂

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fast forward – here’s cappadocia!! crazy spontaneous of which linah, ira and i bought a 240 SGD worth of flight ticket less than 24 hours before the actual flight to fly into cappadocia! #WORTH. no regrets at all!! with the best company of course!!

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drone-liked views of cappadocia!! this was taken from our hot-air balloon as we fly around this ancient city full of caves and underground cities!

wonder. 

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5 minutes walk from our cave hotel! man, this is magnificent. 

I could stand and behold the Creator through this. my first time walking on snow, standing on ancient cities.

We don’t just stand outside and analyse the natural world as a beam, but we let the beam fall on the eyes of our heart, so that we see the source of the beauty – the original beauty – God himself. 

John Piper. 

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this is literally, He paints the morning skies – stroke by stroke.

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and the new-found friends I’ve come to love! thankful for each conversation and memories made!

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here’s the phone that spoilt one week into the trip after a series of unfortunate events in istanbul!! for a moment I questioned the goodness of my Abba Father. But i quickly dispelled them and chose to trust – that even in the midst of weird occurrences, He is still good.

for the record, i fell a grand total of 4 times – one off the bus and ending up with a deep cut on my shin, two clumsy falls and the last – a slip off the steps and cracking this phone!! (time for upgrade- but where got money!?!) hah. Was really just worrying about how to even convey to my parents and the thought of having them use their money to purchase another phone for me is just D: but guess what…

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when in transit at doha, they decided that the flight was overbooked and i was supposedly not registered in the flight. long story short – they sent me to a first class lounge to rest for the next 5 hours w complimentary meal vouchers at Marche. the lounge had free flow buffets, sofa beds and classy toilets haha. I spent the time resting and listening to a sermon – talk about the things G do to allow me to rest!

legit felt like a princess – pampered and well-treated. i do not deserve any of this.

when i headed for the next flight and reunited w my friends, qatar air offered me a 250USD for the flight delay which can be converted to about 338 SGD – of which i used to pay for my new phone that cost me 343SGD. talk about how He OUTGIVES. He delights in providing – knows exactly what I need. praise God.

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“Oh, don’t let all the sweet things of this season become substitutes of the final, great, all-satisfying Sweetness. Let every loss and every delight send your hearts a-homing after heaven.”

The enjoyment and delight of everything here in this amazing city of Istanbul is for sure a foretaste of what is to come. May I not forget that!

God has been so good, so so good. Here’s an official closure to winter 2017. Onwards to a season of spring – i’m expectant!

salvation

After dinner, I decided to take a slow walk to the fishing port behind my house and sat there for some peace and quiet. Throughout the day, there has been so much noise and chatter. The morning was rather enjoyable. I managed to have breakfast with my cousin and read my book on Holiness by J.C.Ryle ( I strongly recommend this book) so rich in theology and practically helpful as well. (will write about this another time) Rather productive morning as well as I tried to compile a video that I want to make of my grandmother. After lunch, it was early…about 12.30pm and I attempted to take an afternoon nap. But before my eyes could shut completely, I hear shouts of 老師 and I know my day has only just begun. HAHA. No rest at all.

We took a long walk to Yoho in the next town and back in the scorching hot sun, followed by a visit to the seaside, climbing very dangerous rocks and coming back to rest for 15 minutes. Not long after, they started pestering me to go to school and play basketball but man, I was so zapped and tired. This is why you need to bring a team of 5 or more to come help you entertain children, or else it might become very meaningless. Tried to squeeze some time for solitude but didn’t happen because I bumped into two girls and we headed to the seaside again, a different spot this time. We looked at the clouds and marvelled at how lovely they were. It’s so cute hearing conversations of little children and seeing the two girls, one 9 and the other 12 get along.

Throughout the entire day, the temple outside of my house was just holding events after events and it was very very loud. Thankfully, I took my earpiece and headed out for the fishing port before any kids could find me.

As I sat there and played worship songs, namely Wonder, Behold (Then Sings my Soul) and As It Is (In Heaven) . My heart was so so glad. Nothing like worship that refreshes your soul and uplifts your spirit. I let the songs minister and speak to my heart. And then I sing, as loud as I can and I lift my hands here and then (just to make sure no one’s watching or like no motorcycle actually passes me by) heh.  But I felt so at peace that the God who created the heavens and earth is looking at me and enjoying the worship that He is due.

My God, He who was and is to come.

Prepare the way until the work on earth is done

Watch as the clouds He rides swing low

Lift up the sound as He makes our praise His throne

Behold the Lord our God will lead us home.

As affirmed over and over again, my duty is to prepare the way and keep working. No stopping once you’ve started. Labour and be steadfast because the Lord of the Harvest is at work and He will establish whatever’s started. So what if fruits only bore 10 years from now or maybe no fruits at all. The joy of the Lord is my strength and my song through the ages. He delights in obedience, not success. He is interested in the process and the growth, not the end result.

Man, I was so encouraged. Doesn’t matter how dark it might seem,

So I will sing like I will there

In the fearless light of glory

Where the darkness cannot find me

And Your face is all I see.

As I sang this song with all my heart, I am reminded of my salvation, of a redemption plan that came to be. I am reminded of how God has uprooted me from a specific town of Shanhai to Singapore, to know Him and to bring me back here to begin this work of seed sowing. There has been zero track record of Christians in this town and the Hengchun church ladies say this place is hard ground. Through this life that has been redeemed, I’d say that the Lord is so intentional about drawing us to Him and choosing us to redeem His people that He pursues. Mega thankful for this salvation. I once was lost but now am found.

I know You love me.

I know You found me

I know You saved me.

And now, I believe we’re one step closer to kingdom come.

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Hengchun Hustlers 2016

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Last December, a group of my friends from various communities came together to go back to my hometown and sow the seeds of the gospel.  Taiwan has always been a special place in my heart and ever since July 2015, a desire was planted in my heart to bring the gospel to this hard ground and hence without much hesitance, I went ahead to organise and put together this trip. It’s the first time that I’m doing this, planning a trip and I remember contacting so many various organisations and wanting to do various stuff but God eventually led us to partner with a local church in Hengchun that showed us so much hospitality and love which I’m so thankful for! There was also an elementary school that is 5 minutes walk away from my house so we decided to invade the school with our programmes – not knowing at all what to expect.

As I prepared for the trip, I felt inadequate and lost at certain times, just scrambling to get things together. There was school to study for and Y2S1 was mad for most of us as well but our team – comprising of people that were completely new towards each other, came together right after Finals, exactly 1 week before our trip and tried to come up with presentable programmes for our trip.

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This is my japalang team, as I would call it and we proudly call ourselves Hengchun Hustlers. By the grace of God, this team came together and learnt from each other. There was my favourite couple Domillian who demonstrated excellence in delivery of service and showing me how God uses couples to love the others around them, Sixuan who was just willing, supportive and always having a heart of thanksgiving, Grace who was always ready to offer me ideas, her availability and her patience with little ones, Richard my brother whom I was so proud and thankful to see him grow and play with the little ones, and always readily voicing out his takeaways, and Jomo the oldest in the team who also was very dedicated to whatever ideas that we had and ensuring that everything turned out fine.

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We interacted with lots of children and having children who lived in the same village made everything so much easier. Every night, without fail, they would show up at our doorsteps and made us entertain them. They were truly so endearing. But lots of these children, as we later learn, came from unhealthy family backgrounds. Often, in the countryside, the parents have to leave homes to work in the cities, leaving the kids with the grandparents, what we call 隔代教养 in Chinese, or lots of stories about parents marrying early and divorcing eventually, or the issue of vices like gambling and drugs. Some of the children we met had stories like this and it was largely a vicious cycle in the countryside, with poor family planning, resources and children eventually becoming like their parents if not cared for properly. This is the situation of this little village/town. Such were the strongholds in this place, neglect, divorce, broken families, idolatry and lies.

But one thing I know for sure, on the second day of the trip as we went for a walk around, the Lord dropped this in my heart ” These friends, all of you here, will be a light for me in the darkness” and I loved that! I remember feeling so helpless in July 2015 when I was the only Christian praying, and fast forward December 2o16, I’ve got 6 other pals with me, declaring worship and praise in this little land, praying and breaking chains. I truly believed that the worship we bring is beginning to tear down the principalities and strongholds in this place.

We went to Shanhai Elementary School for a 2 day programme of games teaching English and sharing the value of love and appreciating someone through a Rudolph skit. We were a little scared and not sure what to expect of the kids but things turned out fine. Most importantly, this is what God has promised and assured us with,

“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say” 

Exodus 4:10-12

So glad that we get to be mouthpieces for God and this was shared in a morning devotion one of the days and as I later read, confirmed what I wrote in my diary on the 26th of September 2016 : “I am not even equipped to lead this trip but I’m doing it. *listed out Exodus 4:10-12* ” God speaks. 

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And we also went to a daycare centre in Checheng under a church, using dioaramas and little games to bring across the idea of creation and the God that seeks and finds. Love how the kids were so creative!

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In addition, we also went to spend a day with the kids who live in Sheding National Park, some of the kids who also lacked proper homes and warmth in their families. But it was so encouraging to be able to sing praises with them, teaching them the ukelele and guitar, and our lovely Rudolph craft. All these were possible because there was one Christian lady whom we know by the name of Huiwen 阿姨 who has been faithfully reaching out to the kids right where she lived! She gathers them at her house and has been showing love to them, and telling them about God and the mighty things He has done. The way she displayed “love your neighbour as yourself” and what it means to bring Christ back into your homes, into your communities!

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As we interacted with so many children, my heart is filled with hope for this generation, as we pray for them to rise up into warriors of faith, as the older generation labour in prayer and ministry for this land, the younger ones will see it to fruition. My hometown may be hard ground but relationships have been established, especially with the younger ones and I thank God for that! I pray that each time I go back again, more seeds will be sowed and that they will fall on good soil. We are so encouraged by the Christians there, mostly the older ones, who faithfully serve the church and the people around them.

I remember one evening where a few of us spent some time just enjoying the magnificent, gentle and beautiful pink/purple streaks across the sky during the sunset, we were prompted to pray for these children and as we opened our eyes, we were treated to a sky full of stars at just 6:30pm in the evening, something unusual but reassuring to me.

so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky

Philippians 2:15

Which was exactly what was shared the next morning for devotion. I believe this is what is the intended purpose for the children, to believe and shine for Christ amidst the darkness. Such is the promise and intention of our Heavenly Father. This is only the beginning, but I’m believing for so much more in this land 🙂

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The next half of the trip, I got the chance to serve in YWAM Taipei with Yunying over the Christmas week and later went back to Hengchun to spend the last week with my grandma and family! (I’ve got so much to share about what I learnt in YWAM also but that will be for another day) And that was when these little kids keep coming back. They came over right after school to do their homework and we spent time playing with them.

妤安,宏銘,品瑜,雯玲,育婷,世凱,Terry. Because relationships have been built, I can pray better for them by name 🙂 More than anything else, I’m so thankful to catch a glimpse of what is is like to live life amongst the children and having them call me 老师. That gives me so much encouragement to one day be able to do this, to teach in the countryside and minister to kids. It’s simple things like them coming to you and just spending hours with you. I think I could do this for a long while, to see them grow 🙂

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Thank you Yunying, for so willingly jumping onboard this with me and accepting my weaknesses and flaws, loving me as I am in this trip and the days before and ahead HAHA. And seeing you with the burning desire to share Christ with anyone when the chance arises, gives me courage to do so when the need arises 🙂dscf2581

At the end of this December, I’m just glad and blessed to have my friends come and share love with my own family and in my hometown and to be the God-given blessing they are. Even as I dread this coming new semester and my mind is already trying to plan the next trip back, I remember that I have to bring the lessons learnt back here and bring it back to right where I am – in my school, family, church, wherever.

To be intentional, available, and daring to trust God for His faithfulness and far greater than we can ever imagine goodness. 

We don’t even have to try and You came. You are a miracle-working God.

p.s.: trip video almost done and so much more to say, but this got to do for now!

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I’ll be back! Till then, Y2S2 let’s go!

 

thanksgiving of a freshie;

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My God will care and look upon me always. From the beginning of the year to the end of the year, He will care and He will provide. How beautiful is our heavenly Father that promises to go before us, behind us and beside us. Sometimes, I just run out of vocabulary to describe that love. This land of hills and valleys, ups and downs, that the Israelites will enter, will rely on Jehovah Jireh – the God that provides.

I wrote that paragraph a few months ago, when Semester 2 first began. I know when Semester 2 began, I often find myself worrying about the intense workload, picking up a new language : Arabic, writing like tons of essays because of the 4 history mods and having to juggle with planning for FOC, try to commit to tuition and doing ministry, learning how to serve the younger ones. Sounds pretty intense, but I’m thankful first, for my family, who has allowed me to take cab rides back to hall every single weekend, just so I can save time. Simple things like bringing my brother and I out for a good meal since I’ve been eating outside food everyday in school. It makes all the difference :’) Also, for the company around, who have encouraged and kept me in prayer. For all the times I whined and complained about the things I signed up for, ahem, 2XU, and saying yes to planning so many things.  Grateful also for the simple lunches together in school with Huishi, Esna.

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And for hall people, neighbours who are ever so loving and kind, Wendy and Jane and my often found sleeping roomie Yunying. Sharing things and going over to each other’s rooms to chat, do work, enjoy air-condition. Those things were much appreciated hehe. More than thankful to be part of Crescent hall, with the friendly culture and to have closed ones around me, late night talks and spontaneous moments of decorating the room, shifting the furniture with YY were the best also. I absolutely adore spontaneity!

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And for new friends like this one! The greatest thing I learnt through my conversations with you, is that you do not withhold from singing praises about the people around you! I think that’s a gift :’) bimbotic half the time but love the sessions when you come over just to sing and share about your day!

Hall fellowship friends that have been faithful in giving us a community to fall back on, serving the Lord and encouraging each other :’) I always look forward to Wednesday nights, ice breakers and sharing with each other!

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And my beautiful coursemates that I’ve gotten to know better over the past 2 semesters. Turning up late for class, reminding each other about assignments and travelling to ubin, surviving the scorching sun! You all are so different but lovely in your own ways, pursuing your passions and excelling, Nic; always joyful and late, Shankari; wise, thriving and unique in your opinions, Andrea; forever dyeing hair and sweet Joyce and blur but super cute Fathin. Glad that we are always pushing beyond and striving for the highest standards, presenting top quality work HOHOHO. Proud of us :’)

Sem 2 also gave me many opportunities to meet and talk to people, those that are so passionate about knowledge and learning, some that are struggling with this whole university thing and  some that are super open to new ideas, cultures and worldviews. Truly, the world around us is our classroom, it’s God’s classroom for us. He’s teaching and telling us so many things. About embracing people, being patient with their views, dealing with tricky situations, staying anchored in Christ through it all.

At the end of year 1, I’m just so relieved and pleased. I was worrying about not being to cope with so many things on my plate but God you gave so much more. You provided in the form of amazing friends, those who stayed and bothered and took the extra mile to help each other vet our assignments, you all know who you are :’), provision also came in the form of strong and wise leaders and peers in church whom I serve alongside, the prayers meant alot. Provision came in the form of enough strength and discipline that was only possible by the grace of God, to complete the semester and pick up new things like Arabic, relearning the guitar and running to keep fit. Provision came in the form of fun friends and company around hall and in the course itself.

Truly, God has shown Himself to be so faithful in the past 1 year, giving me opportunities to learn and maximise my capacities, which I hope will serve well in future for the glory of His kingdom. I’m challenged constantly, to not be caught up in the rat race, to find rest amidst busy schedules, doing things that I may not be good at,  and smile at His daily provisions and evidence of His steadfast love.

The verses that stuck with me in January, today I review it again. Deuteronomy 11.

“You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 For the land that you are entering to take possession of it is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and irrigated it, like a garden of vegetables. 11 But the land that you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, 12 a land that the Lord your God cares for. The eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

The past academic year was nothing short of a miracle. Thank you Jesus for providing me with what I need and giving me exceedingly more than I can ever imagine :’)

 

your heart is full

You don’t give Your heart in pieces
You don’t hide Yourself to tease us

Your love’s not fractured
It’s not a troubled mind
It isn’t anxious
It’s not the restless kind

Your love’s not passive
It’s never disengaged
It’s always present
It hangs on every word we say
Love keeps its promises
It keep its word
It honors what’s sacred
‘Cause its vows are good

Your love’s not broken
It’s not insecure
Your love’s not selfish
Your love is pure