Last Warning

Last Warning

“Desmond, last warning I tell you!”

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Chapter 3: The Series of Unfortunate Events

This is us at 7.30am. We’re at the airport and ready to go.

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We ate some breakfast and got onto our flight. Soon, we had landed in Yangon! There’s a time difference of an hour and a half so it felt like we earned a few hours.

As the day went on we were a little less chirpy than we were in the morning (refer to previous gif of smiling head bobbing jumping hair swinging us) as we encountered miniature setbacks through the day. In chronological order:

1) The one that started it all
We left a laptop on the aeroplane. A kind staff came chasing after us as we were going down an escalator. That escalated pretty quickly (heh).

2) Same same, but different
We reached our place of stay but realised we had made a wrong booking. There was a similar place with the exact name, but a few kilometres away. Nothing that couldn’t be resolved. The friendly staff took care of it pretty quickly. With a few calls from MJ we had it settled. We took down the address this time so that future teams would not have to repeat this mistake. Progress ya?

3) Same same, but different too
Dave realised that his luggage couldn’t be opened. It had an in-built number lock. Perhaps the lock was damaged… Not thinking too much about it, we headed out for our day’s activities. Later that evening, Dave noticed a sticker he never saw before on the luggage. Turns out someone had the exact same bag and took his by mistake. Same bag?! What are the chances? By now we were pretty jumpy because we would be on a domestic flight early the next morning. We made some calls to Jetstar and made our way down to the airport. The owner of the bag was contacted and agreed to meet us half an hour later. Phew.

4) Rain, rain, go away
Previously, we had thought the monsoon would only arrive two weeks later but the rain had pretty much hit Yangon already. If the weather kept up, our efforts to reach the villages over the week might be hindered. We checked an aviation site and found huge clouds making their way toward our destination. Still, we were hopeful. A weatherman is wrong 90% of the time, yet everyone still listens to him.

We practised for our programme the next day and ended the night with prayer flying ants whizzing around the dark room. But it’s all right. It’s all right.

Click here to read Chapter 4: A Mood For Food

Chapter 2: Meeting The Team

After the breaking news that we were going to Kalaymyo for a disaster relief trip, the team was assembled. There would be ten of us… Other than Gwen, MJ and myself, it would be the first mission trip for the rest. Look at our excited faces!

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(From left to right. Top: Dave, Ming Jian, Joram, Me, Marcus, Bottom: Gwen, Tick, Leon, Daniel, Brendan)

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All ready to fly off. 

First up, we had to ready all the logistics required for the trip. We would be sending rice and cooking oil to the villages – but those would be acquired when we’re there. As we heard we would see many children in the villages, we had to pack candy, and clothes for them. Also, we would prepare a programme for all of them! (:

We found a supplier for sweets, and got some huge Alibaba (China) bags to bring everything over. Apparently, rolling the clothes would save a lot of space, so we got down to rollin’ them all.

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They see me rollin’, they hatin’~

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Just keep rollin’ rollin’ rollin’…

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Wait a minute, who does this belong to? (Haha, we didn’t bring it over, if you’re wondering)

In less than a week, we had strung everything together.

Equipment check. VISAs check. Flight check.

WE WERE FINALLY READY.

That Sunday morning, we gathered, ready to go…

Then…

Click here to read Chapter 3: The Series of Unfortunate Events

Chapter 1: The Mission Brief

“Hey Mong, would you be free to join a mission trip this month? It’s for disaster relief…”

My mind paused for a second after Megan asked me the question.

Wow yes, of course!

And that was that…I headed home that night, with a skip in my step. Excited and expectant for the trip to come, I made a mental checklist of things I’d need – boots, water repellent (that’s right), compass, and a trusty Swiss Army knife… And it probably wouldn’t harm to have a solar powered battery charger too. Okay Mong, don’t overdo it.

In two weeks, the rest of the team would be assembled. A week after that, the ten of us would be on the plane bounded for Myanmar…

Click here to read Chapter 2: Meeting The Team

On the Bench

I read this article about learning while sitting on the bench (in sports). It spoke to me.

There was once I couldn’t make it for a rehearsal and play the bass for that weekend. I was so worried I would miss out, but Pastor Lia told me reassuringly, “Don’t worry, you’ll always have a place to play on the team.” I won’t forget those words..

Even after so many years, I still get the opportunity and privilege to do so. In fact, for the past two weekends, I was given the chance to do so again…and I absolutely loved it! It’s all about the team. (:

Taking Time

It’s the third month of the year and we’re Marching right in… Oh, how time flies!

Sometimes I wished maybe time would go slower… But trying to make time go slower is like trying to hold water in your hands. It just slips away… Before you know it, another day, week, month, year has gone by. Time is precious, and I want to make this year count.

So… How’s this year not going to be just another year past? What makes this year different from last? What’s so special about 2016?

Is it that gleaming new Macbook that boots in 0.3911 seconds faster than the old one?

Perhaps it’s discovering food eaten no longer magically disappears, but has begun to find residence on the tummy – burying the existence of any six-pack.

Maybe a relationship has ended, or a new one begun… Some have new additions to their family, while others have lost their loved ones.

All these changes in our lives are peripheral to our existence… What really makes me different from the past year? Will I be different if I hold on to my past victories and failures? Will I change if I cling on to the familiar fear and bitterness from yesteryear? No.

The only way to change things is to change myself. Take a walk into any bookstore and you’ll know it’s true… Shelves upon shelves of motivational and self-help books. Everybody wants to grow into someone better, a better version of themselves – whether in character or effectiveness – we have an innate nature to want to make our lives count. It’s time to grow, and we’ve got to take it.

During the message in Heart of God Church last weekend, Pastor Lia shared how “Change is Inevitable, but Growth is Intentional”.

That’s why I love going to church. It’s one of the ways I take time out every weekend to grow. The world around us is constantly changing, but every weekend I choose to learn, I choose to grow. Church is not just some emotional jing-a-ling feel good session.

Since the start of the 2016, Pastor How and Pastor Lia have put in so much time into preparing the messages. And I’m so thankful because each one pushes me and brings me further in my life. Each message helps me draw closer to God and being who I want to be. It’s not a repeated motivational talk, or get rich quick scheme. Every week’s message is carefully prayed and thought through, tailored to each of our lives.

The year started with PHD. When was the last time you did something for the first time? Are you still struggling with the same problems you were last year?

Then, Pastor How taught us about the difference between unbelief and disbelief. God is doubt-tolerant, but there is a difference between wanting and not-wanting to believe. But through it all, God is faithful to us.

Followed by Pastor Lia sharing with us that it’s a New Season in all of our lives. Don’t get stuck in the past! If you’ve felt like most part of your life has been a battlefield, it’s a new season – opportunity comes next. You don’t get what you want in life, but what you prepare for.

Oh, did I forget to mention we moved into the Imaginarium? That’s our new stage and auditorium. (:

More than anything, I love the presence of God found in His house.

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

See you in church this weekend!

Significance

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

– George Bernard Shaw

Reminded of this… Pastor Lia shared this back in the sermon on Significance. Are you significant? Or merely successful?

This weekend, Pastors will be back in Heart of God Church after visiting Russia! So excited to hear about the missions.

Ambidextrous Faith

Last weekend in Heart of God Church, Pastor Cecilia Chan taught us about FAITH! One of the things she taught us about was to have ambidextrous faith. To be ambidextrous is to be able to use both your right and left hand equally. If you’re my age, you would remember Return of the Condor Heroes when Xiao Long Nu drew a square and circle simultaneously in the sand. The next day, everyone in school was doing it. Haha, anyway, Pastor Lia got us to write the word FAITH with our master hand, and then the other. Can you guess which is my master hand? Obviously…

FAITH - RIGHT HAND

With my right hand.FAITH - LEFT HANDNow, with my left hand T_T

Why do we need ambidextrous faith? Because The path to walk towards your promises can be filled with a lot of difficulty!

St Basil of Caesarea was one who had ambidextrous faith. He viewed both hands as equally important – one hand to accept God’s blessings, and with the other life’s pain.

We may never find the reason for our suffering
But we can find the purpose for our suffering 
Judges 20:16 (NLT)
16 Among Benjamin’s elite troops, 700 were left-handed, and each of them could sling a rock and hit a target within a hairsbreadth without missing.

Hebrews 12:6

I love stories and analogies… We just ended Season 1 of the Parable series in Heart of God Church by Pastor How! Haha I found detailed (really detailed) sermon notes of the series on Zhen Wei’s blog. Anyway, we were also sharing about discipleship in CG, and I heard this verse from Hebrews 12:6! It reads:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Many people don’t like to be told they’re wrong because it’s painful.

Well, imagine I’m a five year old on the MRT… I’m running around in circles playing catching with my siblings before a voice stops me, clear as day, a finger extended straight to my face.

“杨明荣, 给我坐下来,立刻,现在!”

It’s my mum, and she tells me if I run on the MRT I’ll fall flat on my face and lose my two front teeth. Boo, and that’s the end of the fun.

Contrast this to yourself today, when you’re on the MRT. I said on, not sitting, because sitting is controversial nowadays (har har). You notice some children laughing away, playing police and thief. How many of you would actually grab hold of one of them and say, “boy, don’t run, dangerous…”? Probably not, because:

1) The boy would give you a who-are-you-why-are-you-talking-to-me look.

2) You’d probably be wondering instead, why isn’t this boy’s parents stopping him? It’s dangerous! Some of us might even snigger if the boy fell down (if he had been particular disruptive of peace in the train, or just plainly annoying).

You see, discipleship, or chastening as the bible calls it, is reserved for children. That’s why the verse tells us not to be discouraged when we are rebuked. It’s part and parcel of being someone’s child. Rejoice, knowing that you are a child of God, and you’re not spending December singing all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth!