Thursday, July 29, 2010

2010 - Half time review

That's what the schools are calling the mid term tests these days - half time reviews. Anyway, it seems that my posts are turning into quarterly updates rather than just random postings. I find myself asking that same question again - where have the past few months gone?

Since my last post in April, we have:

  • (finally) gone to Pengerrang. Twice in fact - once by boat from Changi Point, and another by car because I was adamant about not being left to the mercy of the bumboats. Apparently, the boats won't move till they have filled their maximum quota of 12 passengers.

    This town is so laid-back, I'm actually contemplating of retiring there. Maybe open up a foot reflexology place or something. The seafood was great (in particular the steamed lobsters *slurp!*), the bay tay sor was heavenly (hot from the oven!) and the kopi peng at the coffeeshop was POWER!!

  • found more old primary school friends on Facebook, who proceeded to upload embarassing pictures of us way back when. Realised nothing much has changed - I'm still the clown now that I was 20 odd years or so ago.

  • sold our flat and moved back with my parents, which feels odd after so many years. From having our own place, we are now squeezed into one single room - bed, clothes, TV, guitar, laptops and associated peripherals. We had to rent a storeroom at IMM's Extraspace to store the stuff that we didn't need for now.

  • moved our church premises from CSC to International Community School at Jubilee Road. This was the old building which was Yusoff Ishak Secondary School eons ago (for those of you who are old enough to remember). RHC's application to take over the old Queenstown Bowl is still not firmed yet, and has left us wondering if the whole fiasco with City Harvest has affected this. But we trust that God is soveriegn and will bring us where he wants us to go.

  • finally gotten our website for our business up and running after applying for a grant from the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA), which should be unveiled soon. On the verge of punching the designers, but I reckon when all this is over a letter to the Forum page and the relevant authorities will have more impact.
At the end of it all, God has been good. He has led us this far and I am positive he will continue to show us the way.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

2010 so far

Not meaning to sound like a broken record, time REALLY flies. It’s been over three months since my last post and since then many events have transpired. Christmas came and went, the Lunar New Year came and went.

Vel finally went to P1 in January. She was probably more excited about it than we were, polishing her shoes the weekend before and waking up in time to gulp down some soft boiled eggs and her mandatory glass of warm milk. Being the typical kiasu parents, we tailed the school bus in our car to make sure she got to school just fine.

Career wise, my job still wasn’t getting anywhere. So in January, I decided to go back to what I loved doing best – teaching (albeit privately). The Lord has been good and opened many doors for me; I am now a Speech and Drama trainer by day and a full time tutor by night (or more specifically late afternoon). On hindsight, I should have thought of this sooner rather than hopping from one dead end job to another for the past year or so. I now have more free time on my hands that allows me to dabble in other endeavours, less sleepless nights and about the same amount of money (without the fringe benefits like annual leave of course).

Penny and I have also embarked on a new business venture that is somewhat related to the previous post about the prophecy that was given to me. We didn’t really plan for it, but one thing led to another and before we knew it we were opening a bank account for our business. Things are still a little misty now while we work on a few prospects, but so far the Lord has been good and blessed us with many open doors to ‘test water’. Nothing concrete thus far, but I believe that God has something in store for us when the timing is right.

It has been a rocky first quarter of 2010. We’ve had ups and downs but we will persevere. I believe that this year will be a year of breakthrough for us.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cactus in the wilderness

Been feeling down of late. That same question that has kept awake on countless nights before has returned to keep playing over and over again in my mind like a broken vinyl - why am I faced with another challenge YET AGAIN just when I thought I had left one behind and could finally move ahead to straighten my life.

That being the case, I have been fasting, praying and crying out to God the past week while meditating on some scripture from Psalm 55:

'But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.' (v16-17)

This portion of scripture penned by the psalmist described exactly how I felt. Desperate, alone and drained from the many assaults that he had been put through. Truth be told, what the psalmist experienced was perhaps far worse than what I had endured, but the resulting emotions at the end were certainly similar.

On Friday night, during worship at cell, I continue to literally CRY out to God and ask for strength. I was not even interested in singing the song right, just opening up my heart and stretching out my hands, asking God that I may just dip my finger into His presence just so that I know He has not forsaken me. As always, God never disappoints.

At the end of the worship Rob said 'Rennie, God impressed upon me to share something with you'. I was speechless. From a guy who barely knew me personally, I knew it had to be from God because the words he spoke were so true and it sent a resounding vibe of reassurance ringing through my head. Here was a man with his own struggles, yet he was willing to be used by God to encourage a fellow brother who was too caught up in his own turmoil to hear God speak.

Rob went on to say that God gave him a vision of a cactus in the wilderness. On the cactus was a fruit that God was tending to. It will be tough for the fruit to bloom in the wilderness, on a cactus no less, but when the time was ripe for the fruit to be finally harvested and eaten, it would be so sweet that even the genetically engineered fruits in the world would pale drastically in comparison. He mentioned that God has seen my heart comparing myself with my worldy peers around me, wondering why I've not achieved as much as them. But God said to look to Him and nothing else because there are several areas He is continually dealing with before that fruit can be harvested.

Needless to say, I was in tears by the end of it. All because I serve and awesome and mighty God.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vel's graduation

After missing last year's graduation concert as a result of her chicken pox, we made sure Velouria didn't miss this year's as it was going to be her last with Grace House. We, along with her teachers, were quite worried as she had taken ill for several days before the concert and hence missing out on quite a few rehearsals.

But praise the Lord she recovered pretty much quickly and was back to her usual nonsense self again; reciting all her lines (apparently the graduating K2 class was given the honour of giving an opening address to the audience on Mandarin), dancing away and singing all the songs with much gusto.

We were up bright and early and made our way to the school before the required 8am. Judging by the crowd there, we were not the only kiasu parents and being typical Singaporeans a queue started forming outside the hall even before 8.30am. Amazing!

As always, the pre-concert wait was a long one, made worse by our attempts to reserve seats for my parents and brother who had problems parking. When the concert finally began, we were so all excited and straining our necks to catch Velouria whose already petite frame was made smaller by the distance of the stage from our seats.

There were many endearing acts by the various classes, with one of WWE proportions where one boy started using his toy guitar (they were doing a rock n roll number) to hit his classmates around him. He was eventaully removed from the stage and I can only imagine the embarassed parents cowering in their seats.

Finally, it was time for Vel's act. They were doing a Chinese dance number and despite reminders to stay clear of the aisles, I still managed to sneak to the front of the stage to catch a small reel of Vel in action.

As always, the concert ended in a finale where all the classes came out to sing a song together. The area was so crowded that we lost Velouria in the sea of heads!

After the concert ended, even the pick up point was crowded with parents eager to pick their children up. I didn't bother to elbow my way to the front of the crowd and just waited for the crowd to slowly disperse. One of Vel's teachers eventually spotted me chilling out in my corner and brought her out for me.

Famished by then, we all headed to Red Star for a fantastic dim sum lunch to end of the morning.

Vel's P1 orientation at St Margaret's

There are several monumental moments in a parent's life with the Primary 1 orientation being one of them. It marks a new chapter of your child's life journey as she leaves the laidback kindergarten life behind and heralds the begnning of what I term as the 'stressful years' - homework, tests, assesment papers, exams, more homework, more tests, more assesment papers, more exams and, of course, CCAs.

Fearful of the parking, we arrived at the school quite early, only to find that parking was STILL a problem. Tired of driving in circles around Mt. Sophia, I finally decided to leave the car just a few metres from the main gate (blatantly ignoring the double yellow lines since there were already cars parked there). Penny and Velouria were nowhere to be found and I realised that they were with the uniform vendor. It was a quite a hilarious exercise just watching Vel try on her soon-to-be school uniform and PT attires. Despite putting on the smallest size available, it still looked too big for her. I'm sure I will look back on this day with fond memories when she finally outgrows her current uniform.

On the way to the school hall, we even bought a teddy bear in St. Margaret's garb to support some parent volunteers who were raising funds for needy students. As we were ushered into our seats, the girls were all seated in the front on the hall seperated from their parents. Velouria, as usual, was more than enthusiastic to mingle with her new friends. The girls were later ushered out of the hall to be taken care of by 'big sisters' while the parents remained to sit through the orientation programme with usual - speech from the principal, familiarisation with the school's facilities and various programmes, etc.

When it ended an hour later, all the parents burst out of the hall and began to visit the various vendors to do the necessary. Me, I took a stroll in the rain to Parklane to withdraw cash to pay for the schoool bus, books, etc after the uniforms burned away most of the money I had on me (who knew that the vendors only took cash, whatever happened to those mobile NETS machines?? Sheesh!!).

We ended our afternoon with a little snack at the canteen and chatting with a parent of one of Vel's future classmate. Only one thing to say - so exciting!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Durian session

Some liken the pungent odour to a pair of overused, sweaty socks; others will drive for miles and kill their closest kin to find and savour the perfect fruit.

I obviously belong to the latter group and found it only fitting to celebrate the end of my long bout of flu with a round of the thorny fruit. It had been a while since we last binged on durians (we used to have ‘durian parties’; aptly named because we had nothing but, er, durians!), so when Penny suggested that we take a short drive to the nearby market to get some I was all for it.

They are probably in oversupply this year because we were spoilt for choice when we reached the stall. Normally price-tagged by weight, there were D24s that were priced according to size – ranging from $1 each for small ones about the size of my head to $3 each for larger ones about the size of Andre the Giant’s head.

Not wanting to look el cheapo, we settled for the $2 ones because they didn’t look very much smaller than their $3 counterparts. We singled out about five of these little babies and proceeded to consume them kampung style – squatting on the floor and prying them open barbarically with my bare hands.

Licking every finger on both our hands, we ended our jaunt by picking out another five to pack home.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Akan datang: drum lessons

They say the best way to learn is to teach. Since I started drumming in church again two years ago after my century long hiatus, I have been toying with the idea of taking drum lessons. However, several lame excuses ranging from the lack of time to a supposedly deteriorating hand-eye-leg co-ordination had convinced me otherwise.

Recently, Justin and Natalie, along with their friend Deon, had been bitten by the drumming bug ever since they witnessed an 8 year old girl playing in their church's worship team. 'If she can do it, so can we' became the order of the day for the past few weeks. Since their parents saw no sense in signing them up for lessons or getting them a drum set to annoy the neighbours with, I volunteered to give them free lessons and probably a jam session or two. What better way to go back to basics than to hustle a couple of kids, eh?

Lesson number one was, of course, getting some sticks for the kids since all my spares were 5Bs and too big for their hands. Not being able to find anything suitable at the crappy Yamaha retail store, we headed down to Drum Resources as I only trusted Nigel and nobody else. True enough, he actually stocked some Pro Mark Junior sticks, which I eventually bought for Natalie and Velouria (who INSISTED on having her own pair as well). For Justin and Deon, a pair of medium weight, ball tipped 7As each ince I reckoned their grubby paws were huge enough to hang on to a regular pair of sticks.

Lesson number two will commence at the next Hushhouse jamming session at Mel's place. But first they'll have their exams to contend with.