Thursday, December 30, 2010

A meaningful Christmas dinner

A simple Christmas dinner yet so lovingly prepared by one who loves.
It was meant for a small family- father, mother, sister, sister's boyfriend and also an aunt who lives alone.

Praise God for who she is and what she is to all of us who love her.She is the scholar who does well in all her studies. She is loved by all those who know her.She was the one who brought Mum back to church and given her the hope when she was then hopeless and in despair and without a purpose to carry on.

She comes into our family twenty-two years ago and brings so much fun and happiness to all at home. Thank God for this blessing from You.

It was just a simple dinner but will be cherished by all who partake it.

Thank you, God, for your love and showing us Your promise of abundant life.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Year End Musings

It is again end of year with a sense of rounding up of a year and looking forward to a brand new year.
Looking back to my new year resolutions for 2010, I think with satisfaction that I have not done too badly. I have tried to walk more closely with the Lord by going to Him for thanksgiving and conversations with Him daily. I dedicate each day to Him to guide and lead me to teach with patience and wisdom.I attended BSF from February to November,group Bible study from January to November; I attended church retreat in June, went on a church mission to Northern Thailand and Myanmmar in September. I continue serving at Sunday school for the two-year-olds and the preparation for the Lord's Supper once a month.I thank God for the privilege to serve the Lord faithfully.My reading list has included many Christian literature that gives me a better understanding of my faith.
I continue with my daily exercises with qigong when not working, swim as regularly as I possibly can, folk dancing on Saturdays and walk as often as I can. My diet has been reasonably healthy except for the past two months with too much feasting.
Emotionally, I have strengthened my relationships with my family and friends and remember to love and empathise with others just as My Lord has commanded.
The trips to Ho Chi Minh, Nha Trang and Dalat in South Vietnam in March, Kyushu in June and the church mission trip to Northern Thailand and Myanmmar had all been enjoyable and fulfilling.
I thank God for the teaching assignments and time to read, learn and maintain a lively curiosity everyday of my life.
During the year-end vacation, I helped out with vocational bible study and spent time cleaning the house.
With great effort,I cleared away some clutters in my life, the wonderful books that I have accumulated over the years as well as the diaries that I have so faithfully kept all these years. I am trying to trim the baggages that I have gathered all these years. All those wonderful experiences have taught me much and I treasure them. There is a tinge of regret as I give up on some of the things that I love but life has to go on. It is no use clinging on to the past but to move on to embrace what the future brings.
I just want to thank God who has been with me all these years. He has indeed blessed me so abundantly, giving me good health, a fulfilling career, wonderful friends and experiences that span all these years.
For 2011, I look forward to deepen my relationship with my Lord, consolidate knowledge, insight and wisdom, learn to appreciate the ebb and flow in my life and enjoy the sense of peace and contentment. I resolve to work less and live more.
I commit 2011 to you Lord and look forward to a closer walk with You.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

How to believe-Jon Spayde

From his interviews with various people,Jon shares with the readers the insights he gleamed from the comments and views of people on how and what they believe.

Living a Christian life means sharp realisation that we cannot be possibly good on our own and our only chance is to surrender to God the only one who can truly transform us.Jon shares too that our spirituality changes over the course of a life time with the first half in which we concentrate on law, custom, traditions, authority and structure and gradually we imbibe and internalise the values of patience, forgiveness, perseverence into ultimately realising that we need to love God and our neighbours as His commandments and basic principles in our life.

We are urged to keep our faith simple and to share the words of Christ with the community.As we enter into a relationship with God, we turn in desperation to plead with God, " Let me seek after You today."

We can never fathom the mysteries of the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, His physical resurrection but though we may be lost,we continue in our quest to continue searching for Him.
As we continue with our Christian life, we ask God to work through us, to use our gifts so that we can help someone. With God's guidance, we become clearer about what we know, what we don't, what we can do and what we can't.
By faithfully following God's promptings, we continue on our jouney following his lead and direction.

As we cast our cares and fears into God's hands,we learn to accept our circumstances in a graceful and grateful manner and then gradually realise that our fears are transformed into an inner strength that is not our own.

As spiritual explorers, we grow to be intimate with God and ask Him to give us the passion to share His love with others, responding to the divine with our whole selves and not just our minds.
As we get to know our God, we accept the paradoxes that God is great but He is also a still small voice inside us; He is the creator and sustainer of galaxies, but also an intimate friend.
We are advised to avoid absolutism and relativism and to unite with all life.
By being honest with what we don't understand, we accept what and where we are, trusting that God will ultimately reveal Himself to us. We are led to question what is our greater purpose and what is greater than we are.

50 is the New Fifty-10 Life Lessons for Women in Second Adulthood

Fifty is not the new forty, or even the new forty-five. Fifty is its own wonderful age-rich with possibility and promise- and only the beginning of Second Adulthood. In her new book, Suzanne Braun Levine offers ten original life lessons which incorporate fresh insights, first person accounts and interviews and practical advice on the challenges and unexpected rewards for women in the fifties- sixties and seventies. Levine captures the voices of women who are confronting change, renegotiating their relationships and discovering who they are now that they are finally grown up.

The ten lessons include "No" is not a four-letter word, on the energizing power of standing up for what you mean and what you want;" "Do unto yourself as you have been doing unto others', a new way of getting yourself to the top of your to-do list. and "Your marriage can make it", reassurance that changing your outlook doesn't automatically mean you have to leave your husband, your job or your senses!

This book is about wisdom, survival joy and camaraderie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Be still and await on the Lord

I have been praying to know if I should return to my teaching post next year.
I still have the passion to continue teaching but I must be certain of my motivation to do what I have been doing since my retirement end of 2007.
Do I really want to do what I have done for the past forty odd years? What is truly my reason for returning to it year after year?
Is it because I am unwilling to get out of my comfort zone or because of my love for the remuneration?

For the first few years, the excuse was that I was trying to help the school and the school administrators. Yet, the shortage of teachers in always there.

After the study of Judges which reminds us to be obedient to God and seek first His will before making my decisions, I have to be mindful and not make hasty commitments.
I will be still so that I will know God's will for me.Listen to that small still voice and do as He has planned for me. Afterall God's way is still the best way as the book I have read said.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Why me?

A doctor looks at the book of Job- Diane M.Komp MD
Personal suffering goes to the heart of the matter- our relationship with God
“The lord gave and the lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord( Job1:21)
You shall love the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul” applies at home, at worship and on the job
Integrity helps us to move from “Why me?” to since it is me, what am I going to do about it?” Integrity is about me and how I relate to the rest of the universe.
Discern, act and share if we want to be whole persons.
Job shared his discernment-“Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”
Persons of integrity in relationship with God and fellow beings can choose to do what is right.
Our suffering friends need companionship. A warm meal is preferable to chilly words. When we simply and silently enter into the suffering of another, we bring God along with us. Hold fast to faith and relationship with God. Through our tears like blessed Job, we can bear witness to the power of God in the world. Blessed be the name of the Lord who takes us up!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Holidays in South Vietnam

After ten weeks of hard work, it is time to go on a holiday again! We flew by Tiger budget airline and the flight took one and a half hours to Ho Chi Minh City.
All the preparations and reading before the holidays stood us in good stead. We arrived in Ho Chi Minh at around 4.30pm and took the airport bus into town. We reached town in half an hour and what greeted us was a horde of motor-bicyles that whizzed by all around us. Learning to cross the road was the first thing we had to master on our arrival. Our hotel was in a busy area where lots of backpackers stay. It took us half an hour walking in a circle before we finally found the street we were looking for.
Ho Chi Minh City looks chaotic, dusty and dirty at first sight and we wondered why we had chosen this country for our hard-earned holiday.
We found our pre-booked hotel in an alley which looked dingy at the main entrance but we soon found that it was in actual fact on a quiet street away from the noisy traffic on the main roads.
There were lots of pubs, bars, tourist agencies which offer trips to the different parts of Vietnam from south to north. After a simple but delicious meal of beef noodles, we were ready to check out the the vicinity of the famous Pham Ngu Lao Street.
The next morning after a simple breakfast of baguette, eggs, coffee and bananas, we were ready to make our way around.
We walked to Cho Ben Thanh, the big market place where all kinds of stuff were put on sale. Nearby was the bus station where all services seem to ply from here.We boarded Bus 1 and soon found ourselves in Cholon, the Chinatown of HCMC.
We bought some fruits and soon decided to check on the bus interchange at Mien Tay. We found ourselves pestered by some ticket sellers who tried to sell us tickets to go to the different parts of the Mekong Delta.
We were a bit apprehensive if we could make it to the place Caibee and back in time in the evening. We were assured that there would be buses to take us back on the same day.
However, two hours later, the bus journey ended in a rather secluded place with no sight of piers or bus terminus. A woman who spoke Cantonese advised us to return to HCMC as we were in no men's land with people who speak only Vietnamese. We took the motorbke taxi, changed into a van and later from Mytho took a bus back to HCMC.
The lesson to learn here is to be better prepared and find out a little more before venturing out. Nevertheless, God has kept us safe in spite of our recklessness.
Back at the hotel, we talked to a Malaysian couple from KL.

On Day 3, we decided to check out on the sightseeing places, beginning with The Reunification Palace. We then made our way around to Notre Dame Cathedral, the General Post Office, and the HCM Museum area. We had a simple chicken rice and noodle lunch and soon found the famous wrap and roll restaurant.
We bought some to take away to the HCM Domestic airport as we had a flight to catch to go to Nha Trang.
We arrived at Nha Trang at 6pm and the sky was already pitch dark then. We were grateful that the people at Perfume Grass Inn sent a pickup to pick us up from the Airport.
The owner Mr Huan was there with his family to receive us. We went out for a little dinner and checked on transport to Dalat, our next stop. It rained heavily that evening but we managed to return to the hotel after going to the supermarket to purchase some bottles of mineral water and vodka orange.
Next morning, we had a simple breakfast, before hiring a motorbike to go to the various sightseeing places.
The hotel gave us a good map and with it, we could find the various places quite easily.
We went to the Po Nagar Cham Tower after stopping at the Hong Chong Promonitory. A University student was our voluntary guide and she spoke good English as she explained to us the significance of Po Nagar and gave us a little information of the Cham people and their religion.
After that, we went a bit off looking for the Thap Ba Mud Bath. From there, we went to look for the Long Son temple to look at the majestic white Buddha on the hill and the reclining Buddha too. A woman tried to sell us some postcards at an exorbitant price but we managed to shake her off. After a little local lunch at a coffee shop, we rode to the park where some secondary students were having a picnic. They were too shy to speak English to us even though they might have understood a little of what we said. We then went on to Vinpearl land to check on the prices to take the cable car to the island.
In spite of the little downpour, we had good fun riding the motorbike.
In the evening, we walked along the beach and had hotpot dinner at a restaurant.
The next day, we took the four island boat trip to Mieu,Munn, Mot and Tranh. We were in the same group as Federica and her brother Mike from Tasmania,Diana and Steven from Canada, and some Chinese nationals from China as well as many Vietnamese, that being Saturday.We had fun on the boat when the organisers got ready a makeshift stage to sing, dance and clown around. For the first time, I dared to get into the water together with Lek and the rest.We even had red wine at the improvised bar in the water!
Mr Huan was kind enough to help us book a hotel in a government guest house in Dalat and arranged for the open bus to take us there.
The next morning, we met a French lady who travelled on her own and had returned from Siem Reap.
The open bus took four hours before we arrived at Dalat, which is on the central highland. The day was hot while the evening was freezing cold. We could not get much information from the receptionist at Dinh two where we stayed as she knew just a little English.
Anyway, she recommended a friend who rented a motorbke to us from 1pm to 6pm.
We rode around town, negotiating some undulating plain. We took a rest at the beautiful Yersin garden. We later learnt that Yersin was the man who founded Dalat.
It was disappointing to find the famous lake all dried up and some construction work was going on.
The next day, we took a tour to some popular sightseeing places. We went to the Biet Thur Hang Nga, the famous crazy house, the Bao Dai summer palace, the Nha Tho Domain de Marie, The Cremaillere Railway Station, the Dalat flower garden, At the Robin Hills, we took the cable car to Bamboo Pagoda temple. We then went to Thac Datanla waterfall and finally to the market. We had some lunch,changed our money and went to book a flight back to HCMC as we decided not to take the arduous eight-hour bus ride back.
Dinh2 was indeed a very beautiful place and perhaps if the lake had not dried up, we could venture out a little more.
Back in HCMC after half an hour flight, we went back to the same hotel that we first stayed, cleaned ourselves up and went to the An Dong Market.
Back at Bui Vien, we had some Indian food for dinner and bought our fifth and last pomelo on this trip.
On the last day, we went to Chua Ngoc Hoang, a chinese temple by bus no.18. We also managed to visit the Ho Chi Minh City museum.
After a simple lunch at Ben Thanh Market, we returned to the hotel to pick up our luggage and took the airport bus no. 152 to go to the airport to take the flight home.
The nine-day holiday had come to an end and we had a good time planning for the holidays and looking for places.
We had a good and cheap holiday, we got to put our map reading and research skills to good use and most of all we got to meet various people on this trip, the Vietnamese and the other tourists, not forgetting the chance to ride the motorbike in both Nha Trang and Dalat.
We will return to Vietnam some day to go to Hoi An, Dalang and the beautiful Fu Quoc island, not forgetting the Chu Chi tunnel and Mekong Delta which we missed on this trip.