My Sister’s Home Visit

The last time my sister Beryl was in Singapore was April 2018, when my eldest son Joshua married Ping. It has been four years (including the Covid 19 crunch years) that she has not returned, so we were glad that she would have some home leave. Travelling during this period is quite stressful because of the ever changing rules and my sister felt the anxiety.

During that four year period, she gave up her Singapore citizenship and took on German citizenship. She has been at the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in Darmstadt, Germany for decades, with a short stint in the Sydney branch. She speaks German fluently, and occasionally cannot find the right English word to express her thoughts. 

During her three weeks visit in Singapore, she stayed with Colin my eldest brother, Julian the second oldest brother, and I, the fourth brother. Mostly with Colin. She was moved about so she could spend more time with different brothers, and also for her convenience of visiting her old friends living near different locations. 

We had many table conversations over meals updating on what has been happening, reminiscing about former neighbours, relatives and school mates from Princess Elizabeth Estate, off 9th mile, Upper Bukit Timah Road. We also talked about spiritual stuff and helped her catch up on local news she might have missed out. 

Unfortunately, her stomach has grown sensitive to spicy food and that meant a lot of spicy local favorites are out of the question. No laksa. No curries. No Thai food. No mee pok dry. No lontong. No mee siam. At least she could still have her durian, mango, mangosteen, longan, papaya and jackfruit. She ate a lot of fruits, especially local fruits – a fruit odyssey.

We are all getting older – over sixties, over seventies so it is always good to catch up more regularly and frequently as life is so unpredictable. Hope she will be able to visit more regularly.

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Focal points for Good Friday and Easter

Lovely creation using cloth: black symbolising death and white symbolising the righteousness of God.

I must admit to feeling regret that this year I had not paid as much attention to Lent and Holy Week, particularly Good Friday and Easter. I sighed and felt drawn to some of the pictures I received on WhatsApp. These are pictures that demonstrated careful attention to aesthetics in worship. These arrangements inspires us to draw near to Jesus. They seem to draw us towards greater devotion and adoration because they point us to a pivotal turning point in salvation history. They point us to God we can relate to easily and who gives us hope: a suffering and victorious God.

Easter – the risen Christ carrying us on His shoulders

The traditional churches are much better at this. There is something we can learn from them. In the liturgical calendar these would be the high points of the year, requiring much preparation and inspiring longing and anticipation. It could be viewed as an annual corporate means of grace for renewal. The repentance and prayerful devotion of Lent, leading to meditation on the passion of our Lord, will lead us to humble ourselves and renew our first love for Jesus. And Easter is when we allow the resurrection power to revive us afresh to new life. 

Good Friday: For God so loved the world He gave us His Son!

Above are some of the beautiful arrangements of worship focal points in the main sanctuaries or other halls. They are all from the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary branch in Australia. How lovely  are Thy dwelling places!

(Photo Credits: Juyoung )

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Sister Beryl on home visit

S. Beryl
S. Beryl

Again my sister, Beryl, reminded me that I was the one who passed to her a book that impacted her so much it changed the course of her destiny. The title of the book was “My All For Him” by M. Basilea Schlink, the founder and leader of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. She devoured the book, which I received free together with other books from the sisterhood. She began to read her other books and even wrote to visit the sisterhood in Darmstadt, West Germany. That visit and later visits eventually saw her become a Sister of Mary.

She was here in Singapore for about 3 weeks. The last time she was here was when mother went home to be with the Lord about 5 years ago. She stayed mostly with my eldest brother, Colin.  Two nights she stayed with us so we could catch up with what God is doing in our respective situations. She did quite a few things. She visited all the surviving uncles and aunties and cousins. She spent time with us her immediate family. She met up with former classmates and friends. She ate all the different foods she had missed while in Darmstadt all these years. By the time she left she virtually tasted everything Singaporean with everyone eager to ensure that she gets to eat what we thought she missed.

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Sister Rubina, Derrick and Connie Jacobs

S. Rubina with Kenny and Jenny

It was several months ago when Sister Rubina from the Sisters of Mary, Australia visited her family in Singapore. I met her at Nat and Janice’s registration of marriage, and then later she shared an exhortation about first love for Jesus in our Sunday church service, and we had lunch with her and her parents. Her parents, Derrick and Connie Jacobs, are old friends and excellent examples of godly couples who grey graciously, strong in faith, and contentment.

Derrick and Connie Jacobs

I have known Sister Rubina and her parents way back in the late 1970’s. They attended our church and I was sent to help the home fellowship in Derrick Jacob’s home. I remember long bus commutes from Hillview in the west to the Parbury area in the east, fellowship, prayer times and returning home very late. I cannot remember how long this went on but I do remember  that I baptized Rubina in the East Coast sea. Revival fires were still burning in those early days.

Derrick Jacobs went on to start “The Christian Library” ministry and recently I visited him again and had fellowship in the office. Besides lending out books they carry a large array of messages in digital formats and they are available for sale. Take a look if you are interested:

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