Jun 28, 2010

Love Is... Revisited

Come What May performed by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman from the Musical "Moulin Rouge"

I was bored and couldn't sleep a few nights before. So I pick up the DVD I had and decided to watch "Moulin Rouge". It was a good musical that I bought some years back and watch it with my girls when Natasha was still in her mid teens. I watched many musicals with her and told her a little bit of this musical. The original one made years ago wasn't so appealing due to the songs they played. This one was made using songs that were a little modern, remixed for the musical.

In this movie, Ewan sang this song "Come What May", one of the most appealing words sang was this:

Come what may
Come what may
I will love you until my dying day

sigh... I should be watching this movie and going ga-ga than to watch Twilight. After all, Twilight is for teens, Moulin Rouge, more adult I guess.

Love is..revisited today. Because today is my birthday. Yes, 28th June. The days that draws near to today, Benny has been calling me, sms-ing me and spoke to me in the gentleness I used to hear when we were dating. These days, our voices seemed loud and uncouth. Not that we are scolding each other. But maybe because as time passes, we think we understand each other better, no more sweet nothings and sweet sounded voices.

So it was really nice to hear him speak to me this way again. He knew what pleases me and what I like for my birthday. I loved to eat fruits especially Lychees, durians and mangoesteens. I am not a cake person nor one who likes birthday parties or candlelight dinners. And most gifts to me ended up in the store room, stashed away and forgotten.

I still have the Etienne-Aigner designer watch set he bought for me in 1998 when he went to Chicago on business. I never wore it and kept it all these years. In the past 2 to 3 years he would give me $500 worth of Gift vouchers from Isetan or Tangs. I always ended up using it to buy things for our girls. And I bought nothing for myself.

So these days, he knows that its best to buy me something I want, then I would use it. Then to give me something which I can exchange it to give it to someone else.

But the days ahead will be hard on us. He will be working round the clock and won't not be able to swing by to have lunch with me nor fetch me to work. He also told me that some nights I may have to close the shop myself. But he tells me:

"I would rather come and close up the shop with you. But I am really tired. Some weekends, if you do not have class, you may have to go and work too. Because I have to."

In my reply to him :

"Is this permanent?"

He said "No. Just for 2 months from July to August. I would rather spend time with you"

So I said to him "Thank God! My days ahead will be brighter knowing you are always thinking of me. Even though you can't be with me"

But my days ahead will be no less busy than his. But he assures me that we will walk this path together. While we are kept busy, he would always listen to my grunts and moans about life in general. And he will find time whenever he can, just to drop by even just to close the shutters from the store.

Jun 21, 2010

Simply Her

My store has been featured in the July issue of Simply HER magazine. Actually this is the 2nd time they have featured Kitchen Capers. Once was 2 years ago when my store was just an online shop.

Read my April 2008 article about it

Although I was a bit 'upset' that they wrote it that my store was like a "Hardware store". If they wrote that it looks like a "Econ-mini mart" sort, I still can be happy. But a hardware store??? Our window display only flour, and bakeware in full view. The front frontage shows rows of colourful muffin liners and Fondant.

I hope the article does us some justice to bring new customers to visit us.

Jun 18, 2010

Chilli in my Rojak...Part 8

I'm in the Lord's Army, a kids action song. A song we sang and acted out during Sunday School to get the little super active kids to have fun in God's presence.

I started teaching in Sunday School in my church (Church of Singapore at Marine Parade) in the early 1980s. After being inspired by my beloved cousin, the late Michael Lam. At that time, I didn't know where to start, that is, which age group should I start to be. My sister in Christ, Miss Cindy Goh, affectionately known by all of us as Aunty Cindy suggested that I should start from the nursery kids. Their ages are from 3 to 5 years old. Young, innocent and awfully sweet, they have the innocence of all children.

She would hand me a child who was new in Sunday School and my 'on-the-job' training starts soon enough. Often, this kid will be crying non stop, looking for his/her mommy and nothing can be said or done to console or comfort the kid that mommy is coming back soon. I was to learn and figure it out by myself how to handle this kid.

And my fondest memory was of one boy named Victor. He came with his sister, Vicky. He was a year younger, his sister was handled by Cindy. But Vicky was a regular back then so she could mingled with the rest better. Victor, being new to Sunday School, was fearful, tearful and cried unconsolably.

Every Sunday, Victor would come and I would be his "Aunty" for the 2 hours and he would do nothing but screamed and cried in my ears. I was almost deaf by end of the day. There were moments I wondered if this is what I should be doing..I could have spent my time sleeping at home and waking just in time to catch the adult worship service at 10am rather than to spend my 8am to 10am being screamed at.

Then one Sunday came and I had to work, so I rang up Cindy to say I couldn't come. I couldn't even attend the service too. The following Sunday, it was routine again in Sunday School. I didn't go to Sunday School with a big heart. And there was Victor again. Big deal, he would be crying again.

Yes, he did. As usual. But this time it was different. He was crying for me! His hands were out-stretched and he run to me instead of his mommy. And he cried and cried and hugged me tightly. Victor was a little boy with little words. He hasn't figured out long sentences or big words. And after all, I never did hear him speak..all I hear each week was "wah...mah..."

For once, after 3 months or 12 weeks of hearing him going "Wah....Mah....", he finally said to me :

"Aunty Gina, I love you. Where you go? You don't want Victor?"

Just one Sunday...I didn't come. And he noticed that I was not around. Of course he was still crying last Sunday but he was crying because he didn't see me.

It was then Aunty Cindy told me..

"Gina, this is the Joy and the rewards we get for loving our little ones. They return it back to us. So simple. As innocent as it is.This is what makes it worth every moment to come and teach in Sunday School every week"

And that started my side 'career' in the Children's Ministry. And I took up courses run by The Singapore Bible College to minister to little ones. How to speak to them at their level and how to bring the Gospel to them. It was the most enduring time in my life as a Christian. So many times the kids taught me simple Biblical values in life we often overlooked and forget.

Along the way, Cindy became my mentor and she guided me in this path I took. I started with the nursery kids in 1980 to 1982. Then in 1982 till 1985, I went on to teach the juniors who are kids who just started out in Primary school.

But God had great plans for me..I was to teach a group of kids that couldn't fit anywhere in the age groups we had. These kids are either with special needs or came from single parent homes. My years in teaching them gave me a new perspective in life. And taught me that Love is Kind...Always..!

I will share more about my Special Kids in separate posts in my blog.

But this Chilli in my Rojak is Aunty Cindy Goh..the person who mentored me and guided me in my path to minister to children. To bring them to Christ. In their tender age..to love and to care for everyone, and everything.

For years we became the best of friends and would confide to each other on everything. When I got married to Benny, Cindy decorated the church hall with flowers for me. When our girls were born, I return to Children's Ministry and minister to the babies.

When my girls were growing up in Church, Aunty Cindy ministered to them and taught them Biblical Values the way we use to teach other kids.

Almost a decade ago, Cindy quit her full time job to work in our church and to run the CM department. She did a wonderful job because she loves children. Each and everyone of them. Every year, she would lead a team to go to Cambodia and to Thailand, to visit orphanages run by our church.

Here is a photo of her with kids from an orphanage in Cambodia.

Aunty Cindy is the lady on the left of this photo.

A Tribute to Aunty Cindy Goh...a selfless person who gives so much more and expected nothing back. God Bless you, Aunty Cindy, my friend, mentor and confidante!

Jun 9, 2010

In His Time

As you all know, my life now evolves around my shop. I spent all my time there. Other than that, I go home, eat, sleep. Whenever we had family gatherings, I couldn't go but I made my presence felt by offering to cook or bake a dish and my sister will help me to bring the love dish there.

And whatever time I have spare at home, I tried to cook or bake the things my mom likes to eat. And would send it to her when my dad comes to pick up the girls after school.

Yesterday, my eyelids twitches non stop. Then I heard from Willie, my brother in law that Ah Mak is not well. She has a high fever and is resting at home. Quickly, I sms Benny to say she is not well. A dutiful son, Benny rings and checks up on his mom. And I prayed for her healing soon.

But throughout the day, I was most unrestful. And I couldn't figure out why. After all, my mom rang me early yesterday morning to say the Bai Mi Jiu I made for her was delicious. And she told me to make more. She wants to use it to cook herbal chicken and healing tonic soups for herself.

After we closed shop, we went home. Usually Melody will be playing the computer, but yesterday she was in tears..crying uncontrollably the more we ask her what was wrong. Our first thoughts were her best friend quarrelled with her and didn't want to be friends with her. Because that was the usual thing.

After much probing, she said this :

Po po vomitted blood. Now in hospital

Immediately a chain of events happened. Ringing my sis to find out what happened. Apparently my mom didn't have appetite the whole day. And so she didn't eat. But ate a small bowl of beancurd (warm)..then she threw up. and started coughing. Next, she coughed up blood. It frightened the whole family and they rushed her to Singapore General Hospital's Accident & Emergency dept.

She had to be warded for observation and more tests to determine what causes that.

The whole of last night was spent worrying and pondering about this.
This morning, in my quiet time with God, I asked Him why and what happened. And was there something I missed out and didn't do.

Then this favourite hymn came to me...

Then I understood the meaning of this to happen. That I should take a step back in time. While the store is important to me. I should also find the time to spend with my mother.

Sometimes God let things happen to us to 'shock' us and to keep us in line. But sometimes we don't slow down, and we don't see it in His way. And we continue our ways. And then there is no turning back.

I know what I need to do. While I still have to work, I still have to cook or bake for my mom. And I still need to find time to visit her, just to listen to her nagging at me. So I am in fault here. Presenting food, talking on the phone with her is not good enough. Though the thought does count, with my mom, the presence counts even more.

I wanted to share this with everyone who reads my blog. There may be something happening in your lives now..some slight disruption to the normal routine of things. Someone is trying to speak up or speak out. Time for you and also for me to step back, be silent and listen. Someone who needed you before its too late.

May you find peace and tranquility in His presence, in His Time.

Amen and God Bless you all..

Jun 7, 2010

Chilli in my Rojak... Part 7

Just as I am, sang by the Gaiters Vocal Group during the Billy Graham's Crusade years ago, all over the world

Today I suddenly thought of my late cousin, Michael Lam. He was the tallest cousin amongst us all. Almost 6 feet. For an Asian, its kind of rare. But my mom said he inherited this tall gene from his dad who was also very tall. I never met my uncle. Never once. Nor seen his photo any where in our family albums. My uncle was separated with my aunt during the WWII during the Japanese Occupation in Singapore. When the war ended, my aunt gave birth to Michael and left the country to search for her husband. She heard from friends that they saw him in Hong Kong. She left Singapore and went to HK to look for him. She left Michael in the care of my late granny. Michael grew up in Singapore, under the tender loving care of my late granny.

My aunt never found my uncle. But she remarried and settled down in Hong Kong with Uncle Low. She would re visit Singapore every now and then for family gatherings and to catch up with Michael too.

When I was in Primary School at Bartley Primary School, Michael was in Pri 6. He was supposed to be in Sec 1 that year, but he failed English and Maths and have to repeat a whole year again. He was like my big brother in school. When I get bullied, he would come and rescued me. He help me to carry my school bag. And would share his packed lunch bag with me. And would rather go hungry. Sometimes I wonder if this was the reason why he was so skinny. He was always giving away his food to others.

Michael was a man with a cheerful and giving heart. He had very good vocals and could sing very well too. Its no wonder that he sign up to be in choir in his church. And when the late Billy Graham came to Singapore to preach the Gospel, he was one of the 1500 members who sang at the Stadium. At home, he was the joker and the mischief maker too. We grew up with him, all of our childhood days are filled with wonderful memories. He would make us laugh, sometimes he makes us cry too. With his endless teasing.

Michael loves animals. And would often bring home stray kittens, puppies and sometimes he thinks that a mother bird flew off and never came back for her chicks..he would climb a tree and bring home the chicks too. Much to the dismay of Ah ma...! He would loved each animal, cared for it lovingly. Maybe that was why he was skinny..he could have been feeding the pets with his own food!

After school, he joined ITE but he wasn't one that is good with books or studies. Thankfully, he loved to work with cameras and Uncle Andrew taught him a few tricks. Then when he was old enough for work, he went to work for a company that sells Japanese brand cameras. He work as an apprentice and learn with the masters who does repair work on cameras. During the economic slum in mid 1980s, he was retrenched from work.

It is through this fateful event that causes his 'downfall'. He became depressed and mentally stress out. He couldn't find a job anywhere because he didn't have paper qualifications. For months he sat at home, scanning newspapers and applying for the lowest paid job. Its not about the salary or the money. Its just to him, to be able to find work, just to go and do something. Because he wanted to be a good role model to his only daughter. He never knew what it was like to be a father. Because he never had one by his side. But he knew what he would have wanted and in that, he wished he was the same for his daughter too.

As if good things never come soon enough, bad things happened one after another. That year when he lost his job was also the year, my granny died tragically, suddenly. Michael was raised by her and he adores her for the world! His world came crumbling down when Ah Ma died. A year later, ah Gong left us after he suffered a brain damage. It is no end to Michael's grief and he became ill soon after.

Then he became mentally ill for a period of time. He would be hallucinting and hearing voices all the time. He was later housed in the mental hospital for a month or so due this nervous breakdown. Its sad to see him in this stage. At that time, Benny and I were still dating. We found time to visit him whenever we can. When we meet, Michael would cry and he would hugged me tightly. And would ask me how I was, what I was doing. He doesn't look sick as what people perceive someone was when its said that they lived in a mental hospital!

With timely medications, he left the hospital and stayed at home. He became frail and tired easily. Once you stayed in a mental hospital, even though you are not really that 'sick', most employers would think you are. So again, that added another black mark on his CV and he couldn't find work anywhere. For a period of time, Uncle Andrew took him under his care and he work at Uncle's shop to do repair work on cameras and to be a sales assistant to answer queries.

But Michael wasn't happy. Because he knew that Uncle Andrew was just being kind to him and took him in. He needed to prove to himself and to his wife and kid that he was well again.

Unfortunately, he slipped back to his stage of nervous breakdowns again. On one fateful day, while coming home, he drop the house keys. While he tried to retrieve it, he fell to his death....from the 9th floor of his HDB Apartment block to the pavement below.

Even in his death, Michael was smiling, his eyes closed and his hands were raise above his hand, as if he was Praising the Lord!
At his funeral wake which was held at the Casket company, the pastor prayed for his soul to return to God and was touched by the Holy Spirit to say that he was up there.

He was cremated a few days later and all of us went to retrieve the ashes from the crematorium. So much tears were shed for him. We wished he was here with us.

This Chilli in my Rojak is my beloved Cousin, Michael...or better known as Ah Siong Kor..Kor means Elder Brother. Our late grandparents taught us from young to address each cousin as Brother or Sister. The one person who taught me to love the unloved, care for the forsaken. It is thru Ah Siong Kor that I went into teaching under privileged children in unhappy homes.

Ah Siong Kor's birthday is just 2 days before mine. And every year when I celebrate it, I celebrate it in silence...because I am reminded of his love for us all.

May you rest in peace, and know how much we missed you...!

I have some old photos of him stashed away somewhere. I will scan it and post it here maybe tomorrow.