at Marina Bay Sands Resort
This entry took a long time coming.
So much has happened on a personal level: many highs and lows which has happened in the last two months which had shaped how this year is going to turn out for me. As cliche as that may sound, it really has been a challenging year so far.
There were so much to write about, but clearly it wasn't the season to sit and put my thoughts down as much as it was a season to first experience, feel, learn, understand, reflect and to be strong enough (and knowing to be strong enough) to carry on despite the circumstances and the weight of expectations that follow.
For a start, this episode started some time back in mid-June this year, when one of my students sms'd me to tell me that her mother was in the final days of the final stage of her cancer. The thought of walking into the hospital--which was all too familiar to me given the type of work I did back a few years' ago--all seems so clear to me today, although nothing of which felt remotely familiar on that day. I had left my Cell group early that night just to be by her (my student's) side and to provide whatever support necessary, although I'm not sure if I really had done anything significant at all. I hope that despite the adverse circumstances, I had done whatever I possibly could.
Of course, I think most of you who are readers of this blog would probably have realised that what happened the following day on 17 June was one of the darkest days of the year especially for those who are in or are closely connected to the Taylor's CF. We had lost our brother and friend Joash Wee in a terrible car accident which also claimed the lives of his father, grandmother, and two younger sisters. When I had received the sms from Nicole in the morning, I wasn't certain if the news was a sick joke from whom the original source was unknown or the truth. I didn't know to react neither did I want to believe the truth, even if it was. By the time I had arrived at work, I received a phone call from Cheryl and to my horror of horrors, the news was true. I believe that most, if not all, of us were in shock for days knowing that his untimely departure affected us so deeply in so many ways. This was a young man who was loved by those around him and--according to one CFer which I agree with his statement--had in his short life, left a legacy for us to follow. So instead of recollecting the thoughts of his sudden loss and to evoke the pain relating to it, I would like to thank and appreciate God for blessing us with Joash despite the short time we had with him and I believe God has His timing and had called him back once Joash's purpose on earth had been fulfilled. Once again, we miss you bro and we'll meet again soon.
Joash Wee (RIP 1987 - 2010)
(photo courtesy of Taylor's CF)
Then there were exams for my students which I had to prepare them for and that short span of time was a much-needed distraction from the shadowed valley. Shortly before this there were also the assignments that I needed to mark and cleared before the final assessment.
Of course, there were some high moments in between as well. In fact, there were some high moments which involved my brothers from my former church and former band (Qrown) -- Stephen and Keng.
Stephen and Joanne presents baby Talia
Stephen, who now works at Singapore, together with his missus, came back to KL for a short holiday--as a father. Eleven weeks prior to their return, Joanne (the missus) gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Talia, and they decided to come home to present the baby to all their family and friends. It was sweet that they had invited their closest friends to share that moment with them. I had posted up Stephen's testimony on video at Facebook earlier, so those of you who actually watched the video would know that Talia was really a gift from God and also there were some adversities that she had to survive through during the early phase of her life. But all is well now. As a friend, I am so proud of this new family and it's such a joy to be a part of their life (I know Stephen for quite many years now) and, like Stephen said, also a part of Talia's life now as well.
Keng, on the other hand, took the brave step to the next level and married his fiancee, Majorie. But before that, of course, the bachelor's party. This was the first time I saw the teetotaller Keng drink for the first time. However, this guy's got a pretty good threshold for alcohol. It doesn't mean that just because he doesn't drink, he can't drink. He surprised us all. Anyway, this was the first time I get an sms telling me of the stag night at 7pm and to appear at the venue at 11pm. Very spontaneous albeit last minute, but I think most of us had fun trying to get Keng wasted, but somehow despite numerous attempts, this guy totally stayed firm. Good guy this Keng.
Boys will be boys and longtime friends (l-r): with Keng, Mark, Seng, Shel, and Stef.
Keng who is a professional musician and plays bass for the band Seven Collar T-Shirt played and recorded his own bridal march theme which was really original, very atmospheric and surreal at the same time. Cool nonetheless.
The church ceremony
(photo courtesy of Keng's official wedding photographer)
... and the dinner.
A few days after the wedding, something else happened which was a major miscommunication with a cell member, but that's all water under the bridge now. All had passed and we are firm friends again, but at that point, it was difficult for both of us.
And then came the new appointment at work which was a new challenge I was looking forward to and relished, but it was something for the next season.
Some time after that, it was my mid-term break which, in many ways, was the close to this roller coaster chapter. I took a trip down south of the border to the city state of Singapore, which up till last month, I had not visited in seven years. My cuzzie, Brenda, kept asking me last year when I would visit, but I kept postponing the dates much to her chargrin as I couldn't find the time. But this time, it was much needed. And timely. And intentional. I wanted to catch up with my extended family and (re)building the bridges with them, and also to reconnect with friends. I had a great time at Stephen's, and also catching up with Jin Ye, Su-lin, and my cousins -- Eugene, Diana, and Brenda--with their respective families. It's good to finally get to know my nephews on a more personal level and I hope, looking forward, to also connect with my nieces whom I didn't get a chance to meet during the trip.
with my cuzzie Brenda
Something I thought which was very uncharacteristically of me and very untypical of anyone who visits Singapore, I didn't get much time to do shopping. But above and beyond it all, I am pleased and dare to say that I had re-established relationships and friendships during the trip. Not even two stolen pairs of shoes could derail me. It was disappointing, yes, but sometimes we need to understand what we value most in life, and at this moment, I know what I value in life and more than ever or anytime in my life, I am certain and reaffirm that all of us were born to relate to each other.
I eventually got another pair of shoes and that was as much shopping I did with the time there. The rest were spent sightseeing with friends and just catching up.
with the Cheongs -- Stephen, Joanne, and Talia.
When I got back from Singapore on Monday night, I had to prepare for the orientation program the following day when the new intake comes in. Immediately, I was thrusted back almost immediately into the new season. With that new responsibility from the new appointment.
But before the semester started in full swing, there was also the staff trip to Penang and Pulau Payar.
Pulau Payar Marine Park
(two hours by boat from Penang and at the waters of Langkawi)
On the ferry boat with Wei Haan, Rachel and Molly.
And the traveling party from my respective School
But I regard this staff trip as a start to the new season rather than the end to the one which this whole blog entry is about.