Brief Hugs and Goodbyes

The past fortnight had been packed and poignant. My son Matthew and his family has flown for a work stint in Arizona. About a week later, my daughter, Elaine, flew back to Washington D.C. On both occasions, there was an unusual atmosphere because our goodbyes were short of fifteen minutes, at the drop off point of the Departure Hall of Terminal One, Changi International Airport. The airport was empty compared to the good old days. No long snacks and chats at a foodcourt in the airport. Brief hugs and goodbyes.

Matthew, his wife Juyoung, and his two children were in Australia for three years and came back two years ago to settle into Singapore life, renovating and living in his HDB apartment. It was wonderful to have them around especially with their two adorable, lovely children. They stayed for a while with us occupying two rooms in our apartment while theirs was being renovated. Then when they moved, they were still living ten minutes drive away from us – a great convenience for us to have time with our grandchildren. Now they have rented out their beautifully done home and we miss them.

My son Joshua came back from studies in London and he and his wife Ping were also staying with us for a while as they searched for an apartment. They hardly did any renovations before moving to their move-in condition HDB apartment. We were happy to have them around even though it was for a short few months. They are now happily living in their apartment near the city centre.

Finally my daughter Elaine came back from US because of Covid-19. All the staff had the option(with their bosses’ approval) of working remotely from their home country. She seized it and it turned out to be a good decision as she stayed with us a good year and a half. We had her with us for the two Singapore “lock downs” and we were happy for the time together knowing it would not be permanent.

When Elaine had been called back I had mixed feelings. I felt sad to miss her but at the same time I was relieved she had to go back, as working in Singapore according to Washington’s work hours played havoc on her body clock, sleep patterns and health.


I look back on the past two years with wistfulness and gratitude. Grateful for the gift of time with my two children and family. Life is unpredictable and transitory, so I realise that all these gifts from God are to be received with gratitude and to be enjoyed and treasured while they lasted. As I reflect on the past two years, I do so with fondness and sad longing, but comforted by the fact that my eldest son Joshua and his wife are still with us. I do not wish to take this for granted for God alone knows what the future holds for them or for us. Grateful for every good gift of time together.

Recently, I had been memorising verses from Ephesians. On the day, when Matthew and his family were doing their swab tests, the verse I memorised was: See then that you walk circumspectly, not as foolish but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Eph 5:15-17 NKJV). How pertinent and timely! The rooms will be empty but the days need not be empty. With the extra free time, there will be temptations to fill up the time with vanity, and to miss out on understanding the Lord’s will. Since God has created us in Christ Jesus for good works that he prepared beforehand that we should walk in them, I would want to focus on knowing and doing his will.

“Lord, help Jenny and myself to grieve well over what has ended, to be thankful for the new beginnings you have for us. You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. Protect us from the temptations and the evil one who seeks to infiltrate our day. Fill us with your comfort, wisdom and energy. Amen.”

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Father’s Day

This Father’s Day was doubly special because it was the first time my family are all together for the first time in a long time. At one time all my children were working or studying overseas. One by one they came back to work in Singapore. Except my daughter. However, the pandemic opened the way for her to work from home in Singapore. So everyone was back, but covid-19 kept everyone away. My two sons have their homes and they had to stay home. Only my daughter was at home with me and my wife. While it was great to have her with us, Mother’s Day went by without the whole family together. This Father’s Day then was the first time my whole family were together for the first time since the Circuit Breaker, about 70 days.

They brought over beef steaks, sausages, baked vegetables, mashed potatoes, mushroom soup and garlic bread. We sat around the round glass table and ate a decent Western meal, talking about what’s happening, my retirement, the election, the grandchildren, working from home, and news about our in laws in US and in Korea. 

We started early so that we could end early and the children can go home to sleep early and prepare for school. Chloe insisted on a game of UNO before they went back and it was fun to play card games as a family. 

A wonderful evening that is gratifying and filled with pleasure and fun and relaxation. When everyone said their goodbyes and left it was still early and we could wash up and watch some TV before we retired.

Grateful to God for watching over and blessing all the children and their spouses and the grandchildren. It is every grandparents prayer that all will go well for their descendants physically, spiritually, relationally and emotionally. May God bless and keep them. 

We were so absorbed that we hardly took any photos all that time!

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Family time in Toowoomba, Queensland

My lovely quiet and adorable grand-daughter Claire

What a blessing it is to carry my grandchild and look at her lovely face. She moves her mouth, or looks around with searching eyes, and charming smiles. Children are a gift from the Lord to be celebrated, to praise God for. I went to Toowoomba, Queensland to spend some time with family, to see Claire the newborn, and to play with my other livelier four year old grand-daughter, Chloe. Chloe hardly spoke any English sentence when we visited her in April 2016. Now she cannot stop chatting in Australian English. Full of movement, giggles, energy and ideas, she is such a pleasure to play with. But I do get worn out after two hours of non-stop action with her.

Chloe grows prettier and smarter and she loves movement and dance.

I stayed about eight days but before I arrived, my wife had already been there three weeks to help out in my daughter in law’s recovery after childbirth. After I have left, my wife will continue to help till the end of September when the Korean mother in law will stay with them for about ten days. Its impossible to get domestic helpers in Australia. My wife’s routine is to help prepare meals, do some housework, bring Chloe to play school at about 9am, and she does shopping for groceries, and later drive Chloe home from school at about 5pm, and finally have fun with Chloe. Not exactly easy but what a privilege to bless, to help and to serve!

It is the onset of spring and the flowers in the Queen’s Park, Toowoomba have begun to blossom. It’s enjoyable to walk in the park in the cool of the morning.

During my stay there we drove around town visiting parks, shopping areas, cafes and walking around the neighbourhood. Temperatures vary between 10C to 18C with windchill. While we were there, we were able to shop for some hiking jackets and clothing for our next hike in Jeju Island. The prices were reasonable with sale discounts of about 40%.

We were very thankful to God for the relaxed and joyful time with family and moving around at a much slower pace. It was therapeutic.

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Simeon Poh: found faithful

Simeon Poh seated on extreme right
Simeon Poh seated on extreme right

Simeon Poh was a young man of 27, with a girlfriend, and a career in precision instruments with Timex. He was Spirit-filled and zealous for his Lord. On the way home from a mission trip to Simpang Rengam, Johor, where WRPF planted its first church, the car that Simeon Poh was in, crashed with a Johor lorry. He almost died. The neurosurgeon did two major operations on him in Tan Tock Seng hospital. A Swedish evangelist, who traveled and preached with David duPlessis, the famous Pentecostal statesman, prayed for his healing. The surgeon was

Simeon Poh at 65
Simeon Poh at 65

surprised at his accelerated and remarkable recovery. Though his physical co-ordination deteriorated, and his personality,  somewhat altered, he was independent, and able to go anywhere he wanted unaided. He still loved his Lord.

Yeo Hiap Seng compassionately gave him work for many years. Then he was graciously hired to clean our church premises for the last 14 years. Friday was his last day of work. He has been thorough, diligent and faithful in his duties, often going beyond what was required of him. His example of a faith that endures setbacks and hardship will encourage many. He could have been a bitter man. He could have turned his back on Christ. Instead, he still loves and serves his Lord.

Simeon will receive due honor on that Day when Jesus comes.  May the Lord, watch over him and bless him with good health and meaningful ministry in the years to come.

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What kind of world have you been born into, Chloe?

Mt Alvernia Hospital was still under renovation as you came into our world. It’s the same hospital your father was born in. You came out straightforwardly at about ten at night. You are such a beautiful girl, with simple habits: cry,beautiful feet drink, pass motion, sleep.  You are altogether beautiful – just look at your toes! You are so low- maintenance – to us grandparents, at least. It’s surprising that one so little like you can bring so much joy to so many. It is a privilege and blessing to be called ah kong (grandfather) before people have a chance to call me ah pek (old man).

You probably do not know but you have been born in Singapore, not Korea. What kind of world is this? Well for sure it is kind of stressful. From the time you are three till you die the stress will ebb and flow all through life. It may get overcrowded – as overcrowded as what your mum says Seoul has become. But this projected overpopulation has yet to happen, for we have four general elections before “Excuse me” becomes the most used phrase in Singapore. The cost of living has risen while our wages have been stagnant. Cannot be helped, the experts tell us: global competition. As far back as I can remember, every ten years or so, prices have doubled for most things.  I will change tack now lest you suffer infantile stress or depression.

The world you are born into is one with baby bonuses and one where young couples get the red-carpet for doing what the government wants. It is a world which will shape and condition you and you will need the help of good people to resist some of the pressures to think and behave in certain ways. Things are gradually changing with regards to this and you have come at the right time to this country.

Chloe This world is also a safe place to be in. It’s something we are happy for and have often taken for granted. You will feel safe walking down the streets at night. Just watch out when you cross the roads, especially at traffic lights. The healthcare here is generally good. The education system is generally improving and better than in many countries but it is also highly competitive. Your mum says it’s worse in Korea, so take her word for that and be thankful you are in Singapore! I pray you will be linguistically smart. You need to be. Here it’s English and Mandarin. And you need to learn Korean too to communicate with your grandmother, aunty and other relatives.

Lord, have mercy. You know I was never good at foreign languages. Let Chloe have it easy with learning languages.

 Chloe, you will grow to be tri-cultural. You will be enriched by two proud cultures rich in history: Chinese and Korean. You will also grow up in a home and a church culture and an atmosphere that exudes God’s love.  May this kingdom culture take root in you and grow to be the grand tree that overshadows all others. May you grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Besides the loving watch of your father and mother you will be soaked in the love and favours of your uncle, aunties, grandparents, loved ones and Christian community.

Who knows what this world will morph into? All kinds of changes will take place in Singapore. All you need to know is that God does not change. So whether in sunshine or darkness, in valley deep or mountain peak, you have a Father God who will hold your hands and provide and lead you on. You have family and church who will teach you and journey with you. Through it all, God is your ever present help in times of trouble.

Chloe, you are one very blessed girl.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

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