Monday, August 30, 2010

EA: There is no harvest...

It's almost 10p.m.... I will go home soon.

Everyone went home early because tomorrow is a public holiday. It isn't one for me... I'm taking leave on Friday to go to Singapore, so I am replacing tomorrow.

I switch on my Youtube channel though when there's nobody else around... I don't watch most of the time, but at least there is some sound in my office room!

Turned on a channel about the training of Chinese gymnasts. I was really encouraged by what I heard a gymnastics coach say when the journalist asked him about the young children leaving home to learn gymnastics:

"You can't harvest without ploughing... You have to give up something to achieve something."

I think that sums up so succintly the journey through Expedition Agape for me right now.

Notes for my own record...

Just writing down the things that I want to remember someday for when I start counselling girls who've been sexually abused.

I want to remember to let them know that...

... they aren't 'dirty';
... what they tell me can't make me dirty;
... what they tell me can't shock me or 'hurt me' or expose me to something that my soul hasn't touched before and can't bear;
... I won't hurt them when they tell me their story;
... I won't be disgusted by what they tell me or by their exposed souls;
... I won't think they are 'bad';
... I won't think they 'deserved it';
... I won't think they 'asked for it';
... that there's nothing in them that had caused the abusers to think that they were 'asking for it'.

These 'truths' seem so clear to others, but somehow these lies are so rooted in the minds of girls who have been hurt that it prevents them from telling their story and exposing the abcessed wound to healing. I want to help girls tell.

PE: Just for you

PE, thought you will like this! It is sooooooo cool! Guess what, last Saturday I got to see the Singapore Dance Theatre ballet dancers UP CLOSE in a workshop! I love it when dancers are so close that you can see every straining muscle, every bead of sweat on their foreheads, and STILL ACHIEVING PERFECTION!!!!!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

EA: Twice the price

This journey is tough. It's wonderful and inspiring but it isn't easy.

It's 1:06a.m. according to the big Maxis clock outside my window. I'm still working on my laptop on a consolidated financial report for work.

I had a volunteers' meeting in Sunway area for the Malaysian Extra Mile program at 8p.m. which meant leaving my office by 6:30p.m. because of the jam. I reached home at about 10p.m. And started work (in between emailing re: E. Agape stuff) till now.

By 5:10a.m. - about four hours time! - I will need to leave my house and start walking to the bus station. I'm bringing a rolling bag this time... the file for E. Agape plus a laptop is a bit much to carry along with all my other stuff.

More documents to redo for E. Agape... got to get those done too. Thankfully not for this Sunday. I need to keep sharp for this Sun's meeting... got to clear finance matters this week. My brain has been half-asleep all week.

Sometimes I think I have twice the price to pay - in terms of length of journey and costs involved - because I have twice the benefits to reap.

There is so much at stake in what I do - the 'reward' is having the Malaysian youths come along the journey next year - their having the opportunity to participate in a journey that will expedite their growth and self-development, so that in 6 months, they will have reached self-growth that it would take years for them to achieve otherwise.

So I keep my eyes on the finishing line and the race beyond ... to remind myself that it will be all worth it in the end.

Friday, August 27, 2010

EA: Standard = Perfection

The pace is relentless... the standard is nothing short of excellence... perfection would be even better!

Must think of a way to acknowledge and affirm the other volunteers this weekend... everyone has been working so hard! We all have long (some very long!) checklists of Things to Complete each week.

Serene with leading and preparation of documents and endless meetings...
Phi Fern with her notes and minutes...
Nicholas with his logistic and recce duties...
Firdaus with his artwork for t-shirts and flyers...
Sophia with her fund-raising projects...
working with Shufen...
Angel with her willing organizational abilities and contributions...
David with all the youth development activities to organize!...
...and Nina, Lin Lin, Thomas, Calvin...

Everyone contributes and brings to the table the best we have to offer.

I don't know where Serene found this team from, but we are all very fortunate to have each other. It's not so hard to work as hard as you possibly can when you know that to the left and to the right of you, there are people working just as hard to pull the load and make things happen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Power of a Dream

This video is like God's gift to me! I love it so much! And what a meaningful song! The power of a dream!!

Nobody said the dream would be easy. They just promised it would be worth it at the finish line.


I am really awed by one thing about this team in Expedition Agape - how very hard each and every single member works!

I guess I'm used to a potpourri of members, and every team I've met so far has a few people who are dedicated and going all out as workers, a couple are leaders, there is ALWAYS a comedian who doesn't do much but keeps everyone in good humour, and there are a few quiet members who don't do much, don't say much, and somehow slip under the radar by doing just enough and being peaceful.

This team is really different. Each member is vibrant, detailed and works as hard as hell! (something is so wrong with that metaphor...) I really am amazed by the amount of work each person is given and manages to clear every week.... the sheer dedication they have to the Cause.

It may seem that we sometimes have doubts and unsure moments, but look at the way we work... we DO believe in what we're doing in the youths. It has captured our hearts to the extent that we are willing to give time, energy, money, everything we can to make it happen.

It is so beautiful to watch it 'be created'. I love it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

150 Women Raped in Congo

This story made me sick to my stomach when I read it on LL's FB. Again... and again... and again... Can nobody make a difference? What's going to happen to these beautiful women after this? Doesn't anyone hear? Doesn't anyone care? This isn't the first time.

Rape has become such a norm, I don't think anyone cares anymore if it happens so long as 'diplomatic relations' and whatever else is considered more important is at stake.

If I can set up a centre for the counselling of sexually abused kids in Malaysia, then surely I can duplicate it worldwide? Africa needs centres like this so badly.

At Least 150 Women Raped in Weekend Raid in Congo
Published: August 22, 2010

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo — A mob of Rwandan rebels gang-raped at least 150 women last month during a weekend raid on a community of villages in eastern Congo, United Nations and other humanitarian officials said Sunday.

The United Nations blamed the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or F.D.L.R., for the attack. The F.D.L.R. is an ethnic Hutu rebel group that has been terrorizing the hills of eastern Congo for years, preying on villages in a quest for the natural resources beneath them.

The raided villages are near the mining center of Walikale, known to be a rebel stronghold, and are “very insecure,” said Stefania Trassari, a spokeswoman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. “Rape is something we get quite often.”

But she and other United Nations and humanitarian officials said that this attack was unusual because of the large number of victims and the fact that they were raped by more than one attacker simultaneously.

On the evening of July 30, armed men entered the village of Ruvungi, in North Kivu Province.

“They told the population that they were just there for food and rest and that they shouldn’t worry,” said Will F. Cragin, the International Medical Corps’ program coordinator for North Kivu, who visited the village a week after their arrival.

“Then after dark another group came,” said Mr. Cragin, referring to between 200 and 400 armed men who witnesses described as spending days and nights looting Ruvungi and nearby villages.

“They began to systematically rape the population,” he said, adding, “Most women were raped by two to six men at a time.”

The attackers often took the victims into the bush or into their homes, raping them “in front of their children and their families,” Mr. Cragin said. “If a car passed, they would hide.”

The rebels left on Aug. 3, he said, the same day the chief of the area traveled through the villages and reported horrific cases of sexual violence. “We thought at first he was exaggerating,” Mr. Cragin said, “but then we saw the scale of the attacks.”

Miel Hendrickson, a regional director for the International Medical Corps, which has been documenting the rape cases, said, “We had heard first 24 rapes, then 56, then 78, then 96, then 156.”

“The numbers keep rising,” she said. The United Nations maintains a military base approximately 20 miles from the villages, but United Nations officials said they did not know if the peacekeepers there were aware of the attack as it occurred. A United Nations military spokesman, Madnoje Mounoubai, said information was still being gathered.

The F.D.L.R., which began as a gathering of fugitives of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, has grown into a resilient and savage killing machine and an economic engine in the region.

The United Nations, Congo and Rwanda began a military offensive against the group in early 2009, but since then, humanitarian organizations say, cases of rape have risen drastically.

“It’s awful,” Ms. Trassari said. “The numbers are quite worrying.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited eastern Congo in 2009 to raise awareness about widespread rape in the region, calling it “evil in its basest form,” and the United States pledged $17 million to the Congolese government to fight sexual violence

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pianist Liu Wei(from Chinese talent show) eng sub

Oh my goodness... the beauty in this man's spirit... it's just amazing... I am at a loss for words....

A New Family

"Create a new family" seems to be advice that I read over and over again as I peruse different articles for the Agapians on children from dysfunctional families.

I love it! I love the concept. I believe it's something that adult children from dysfunctional families automatically do after they've accepted that their biological family is what it is and can't be different.

Sometimes, when I hear friends say things like, "I know my family will always be there for me" or like recently a friend posted on FB, "Siblings love is the best"... I get a little envious. Sometimes I get a little sad.

But then, God has given me so many friends whom I know from just silly things like the comments they post on my FB and blog, SMS's they send and times when we meet up, that they love me.

Their love can never be what family love is supposed to be. But you know what - in its own way, their love is 'perfect'. It is 'good enough'.

It truly is a heaven-sent gift from God to have 'a new family'. Each one is so precious... thank You God. I don't know how to thank You enough for all the beautiful people You have given me as friends. Help me be the friend they need me to be. Help me never to take any of them for granted.


Thank You, God, for a comfy bus to Singapore!!

That's what I think of when I snuggle down into my super-comfy cushioned seated, air-conditioned bus to Singapore! I think, what if I had to do something like the Orang Asli who need to walk long distances to meet at a church hall? Why, all I have to do is take a bus across the causeway, alight at Novena, take a (airconditioned!) MRT to wherever the meeting is for Expedition Agape... and that's it!

How lucky am I? I am really so so so blessed! Thank You God!!!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crummy tummy!

Feeling so blegh! Yucks! Was basically passing tons of liquid yesterday. No idea what on earth is wrong with my tummy. You'd think after all the years of abuse, it'd be much stronger than this! Naughty organ! Must be trying to get some TLC after so much battering!

Went for health check up today... thought I'd better double-confirm whether or not it's all right for me to go to Sikkim. The doctor was really nice and encouraging... until she took my blood pressure. Then she was like... "Oh.. uhm... 92/68." (something like that lah! I can't remember!) I was quite cheerful about it because I KNOW that is where my blood pressure is around, but she wasn't too pleased. "Very low huh?"

So then she checks my pulse... "88... too high huh?"

Then pulls down my eyelid..."Very pale. See your fingers? Uhm... ya, very pale."

Err... hello? My dad calls me "Daughter of Paleface" because I'm permanently pale. I did tell the doc I had thalessemia trait... there's nothing I can do about the pallor!

Then she asks the stomach-sinking question, "Do you HAVE to go to Sikkim? Can you get out of it?"

I was desperately saying, "That's why I came to you! Do you think I need to pull out? Can I go?"

And she looked at her notes and went, "Uhm...."

Hoo boy....

Anyway, final decisions will come when the blood test results are out which will be next Monday. *Crosses two fingers* that all I need is bottles of iron and folic acid to take up to Sikkim... stupid red blood cells of mine don't store enuff unfortunately.

And of course... her advice... "Start exercising NOW!" Yes m'am! Will do! ;>

Monday, August 16, 2010

EA: Expedition Agapians

It is so easy to take the people who are alongside you on the journey for granted. I'm deeply grateful for each and every beautiful person serving on EA committee.

I've got a few more documents to prepare for the Expedition Agape committee meeting tomorrow. In about 12 hours time, I'll be at the bus station waiting to leave for

But anytime I'm tempted to feel even the remotest bit tired or weary, my mind flies to the other members of the Team.

I think of Serene and Calvin who are getting married soon... in fact, in the middle of Expedition Agape! With all the wedding preparations to do, and everything to get ready... you readers who have gone through the process know what a tedious thing it is... and moving house to boot!, this couple have never stopped tirelessly serving with excellence as Chairpeople (Chaircouple? :)) of Expedition Agape.

I think of Nicholas who is still looking for a permanent full-time job. He still willingly agreed to go on the Reconnaissance trip which won't be fully funded and the portion that is, won't arrive that soon.

Or Shu Fen who is going to take a major ballet exam in a couple of months time, also in the middle of Expedition Agape. (I take ballet, 'kay – I DO know that it is a major ballet exam!. One of my teachers told her students who were taking the same exam that nothing less than a commitment of four classes a week would be expected before she would allow them to sit for the exam.)

Or of David, who is gamely serving as programmes person (major role!) and who is in the midst of a career change in the pursuit of his dream.

Lin Lin is serving in the Youth Olympic Games that are being held in Singapore – happening very soon! And Phi Fern's students are participating as performers in the Games!

I know each and every one of the Expedition Agape committee members has a similar story to tell of sacrifice, hard work and a dedication to serve that prevails over the tiredness, the constant demands on time and prerequisite amounts of love and attention poured out to the youths.

Because that's the kind of people they are. Loving, caring, giving, dedicated, sacrificing, hardworking... just beautiful people that it is a privilege to know as friends and to work together in a team with. It is people like this who make a difference to humanity and to the world.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Healing Shame

I took a test yesterday which highlighted to me how very far I still have to go on my journey, even though I was really pleased to find that item '1' on my test was less of a problem for me today.

But my 'failure' did prey on my mind... what was happening subconsciously that I wasn't fully aware of? Pusuant to that, in researching more about shame, I came across this article and extracted this section. I really love it... There are thoughts here that have niggled my mind before, but which I was unable to clearly structure and identify. It truly answers questions for me.


Shame-bound persons, believing themselves to be seriously flawed, without worth, and hardly belonging in the world inevitably have the consequences of their shame-consciousness show up very negatively in many areas of their life:

At the core of the shame-bound person is a failure of self-esteem. As one feels dishonored and without belonging, then feeling good about oneself, feeling confident in one's abilities is inevitably lost. With one's boundaries mushy and one's sense of oneself as "flawed," one hardly has a self at all, let alone one to feel high regard for.

"Shaming" a person makes him as low as he can go. For a person who has been shamed has no way out, his is the feeling of there being nothing he can do to set things right. Something vague, but decisive, has shrunk his soul.

The shame-bound person may become either an offender or a victim, or, as is most likely, one who vacillates from one mode to the other. If his experiences cause him to access his shame, he may take out his hurt and rage on others weaker than himself in his present community of family and friends.

For another person whose defense is less aggressive, if she is re-shamed, she may fall into her accustomed role of victim, as she is naturally adept in this guise, having been an actual victim in her original family. Having learned to make a "virtue" of necessity, she has mastered playing the victim for what consolation rewards there are--some sympathy, some self-righteousness.

For the offender there is some momentary sense of revenge and power, for the victim, a brief touch with martyrdom--and beyond these meager compensations, the despair of impotence and participation in the continuing of the cycle of shame. The shame of the parents becomes the shame of the children, and so on...

The shame-bound person has difficulty with intimate relationships. Feeling so bad about herself, she does not wish another to know her, expecting for sure that he will see what a shameful creature she is. So she puts up a false front, she pretends and postures and does all the things she believes others will be impressed by, but she can never do that which is the essence of intimacy, reveal herself to another in open risk taking.

Depression often possesses the shame-bound person. Depression is the stuck place between anger and grief. The person who feels no sense of self-worth will not know how to get angry, for that would be too much aggression for him who was brought up with such a fragmented sense of being entitled to respect.

On the other hand, the shame-possessed person cannot grieve, for it was much too disappointing and painful to dare to believe that he could be genuinely important to another, or vice versa. Depression is marked by alienation and no real opportunity to bring things back together.

At the center of depression is the sense of loss, and the shame-bound person carries the greatest loss of all, the loss of a valued self. The loss is made more difficult to emerge from as one recognizes that he is only partially aware of the dimension of his loss, having been deprived of the experience of and the model for respectful caring and nurturing.

The shame-bound person is controlling, rigid, and perfectionistic.

She has had to compensate for having not felt a sense of love. Her experience of "love" is the opposite of the highly touted, idealized concept of "unconditional love". Shame comes from all "love" being conditional. Which, of course means that the love is never complete, never a comment on the person as she is, but as she pleases her parents by satisfying their expectations and demands.

So she attempts to put life in "perfect" order to compensate for the chaos in the relationships of her heart. Not feeling the warmth of love, she needs desperately to control the world and is not able to tolerate deviation. In a loveless world, "doing things right" brings the only rewards she can attain. She lives very carefully, for a slip can cause her to lose her fragile hold on things.

The shame-bound person clings to his image, after all it is the most positive thing he has going for him. He believes that within he has no real self, that he is not loved, or respected, or needed, so he must make himself loveable, appear respectable, and create the illusion of being indispensable to others.

He works hard at it. He lives by his false-self, often bouncing between an over- and under-inflated presentation of himself. He does not strive for self-fulfillment, only for self-image fulfillment.

The shame bound person is numb and/or spaced-out. Life is so painful as-it-is that she takes the way of self hypnosis, or enters a self-induced trance-state in order to make her experience bearable. She lives anesthetized, and feeling as little pain as possible. Of course, neither can she feel passion or pleasure.


Shame is, indeed, pervasive and profound. It doesn't fix easily, for it is a condition of our psyche and our soul. But with courage, attention and plain hard work healing is possible.

Here are some thoughts for healing your shame:

Let yourself learn, through and through, that your shame is not your fault. Most of your shame-inducing experiences happened to you early in your life--when you were small and the world of parents and other caretakers loomed very large. Your fundamental feelings of insignificance, the "shame" that goes far back in your mind and soul, appeared long before you had any "choices" in the matter.

Shame was your natural organismic response to the burdens and demands that were being visited on you by your family. Believing that making you ashamed would motivate you to behave as they wished (The demands of a dysfunctional shame-bound family are irrational and inconsistent, for the family only knows it is unhappy and does not know what would make things better. The child becomes the scapegoat for the family's incompetency in solving its problems-in-living.), your parents intended you to feel shame about yourself for your "bad" behavior. Sometimes, they even rationalized that shaming you was "for your own good."

However, what actually happened was that they only succeeded in making you feel bad about being yourself, for you did not possess what they were demanding as you had neither the power nor the talent to change yourself in order to enter into their good graces.

But, being children, you could not grasp that your parents were the dysfunctional persons in the family; you knew of no one's failures but those attributed to you by the grown-ups. Your only "guidance" was that which helped you feel awful--shame--about yourself for failing to produce....I repeat, it was not your fault.

Face shame, experience it, incorporate it. As you are your memories, your history, your joys and your talents, you also are your experience of shame. There is no escaping any part of yourself, your shame experiences are in your neurons and your body cells.

What you can learn is not to deny or finesse them, but to face them, own them, and incorporate them into yourself. After all, they are only painful memories, not imperious demons. They cannot hurt you again as they did before--though you may believe they can--for you are not vulnerable as you were when you were small. Some things have changed and one of them is the perspective and position you have as adults to confront and not be done-in by the shaming experiences the world offers you.

There is nothing shameful about shame. You have every right to yours. You earned it by surviving in the midst of shaming people. There is a great community of the shamed waiting to dare to trust others enough to be open and vulnerable. Sharing your shame with them will be a way of forming a strong and rejuvenating ties with others.

Your sense of shame can be your channel of empathy and pathos to the hearts of others, will help you laugh with the Woody Allen's, Roger Dangerfield's and Whoopie Goldberg's of the world as they help you own the universality of your shame and both cry and lighten-up a bit about it. There is no more powerful bond than that of shared shame transformed into a bond of understanding and mutual support for one another's healing.

Replace shame with mature guilt. Guilt has often received bad press, and well it should--if, and only if, you are talking about neurotic guilt--guilt that self-flagellates and changes nothing.

If you are talking about mature guilt, then guilt is one of the great inventions of nature. For mature guilt lets you know what is unacceptable, and offers you opportunity to do something about it. Shame, on the other hand comes to you as a feeling so deep and so incapable of your getting a grasp on it that it seems there is nothing you can do.

To illustrate: John feels shame that he is not the sort of person who can ever excel at his work. Whatever happens, a demotion, a "blowing-out" by his boss, he senses that this is because he is "basically inadequate," so he hangs his head and lowers his eyes and dampens his energy. Finding the "smarts" and the courage to re-evaluate himself as "guilty" of inertia and poor training, he begins to create and achieve goals that are possible for him.

So if he sets certain standards, and then if he doesn't achieve them, he can rightly feel guilty that he is failing and can increase his efforts to succeed, or redefine his goals. He has moved into consciousness that his worth can be defined by realistic possibilities, not by the un-focused and "hidden" demands of shame-making expectations.

Make new parents. You must learn from experience that you are not unworthy of belonging to the human community and that in order to heal your shame you must create a healthy family for yourself.

Think of an occasion when you have stood against those who would make you feel bad about yourself. Think of how you counted on the thought of a friend, or lover, or teacher whose opinion you could depend on to back you in your struggle. It made a difference. It made the crucial difference is keeping you going and anchoring the experience as a positive for you.

You must create a new family. Perhaps this sounds strange, but you are already doing it--clubs, churches, professional societies are efforts; lovers, friends, marriages are efforts; even cliques, cults, and gangs are efforts.

The success or failure of your journey to heal your shame will be crucially influenced by your ability to surround yourself with those who think you are lovable, who support you, who back you up in the way you lead your life, who can convey to you that they are for you even when they don't like your behavior--and toward whom you can healthily reciprocate."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What a Night!

Ha ha! Even the mamak stall 'brudder' asked me, "Sleepy ah?" when he saw me this morning!

First, I finally caught up with my 'little sister'.... AVIS!!! Oh gosh, I've missed her lots...

Avis has been so busy since she started working in Malaysian Psychology Centre.

She's now independently counselling people... I am so proud of her for achieving her dreams! She was really proud too... she has just turned 25, and it is an achievement for her.

Avis and I used to go volunteer together, and our schedule was exhausting in those days! We would quickly munch our way through the church packed lunch, dash out and into my car, drive down to Chow Kit (the red light district of Kuala Lumpur) and rush up to PAKKCK - the drop-in centre for street kids.

We would conduct English tuition for one hour (not that I think I taught the kids anything ;>).... she would take the older kids because she knew how to be strict when she had to be, and I would take the little ones, because I don't know how to be strict!

Then we would straightaway dash back to Avis' house... I'd drop her off and zoom back to my own, take a quick shower, and drive straight back to Avis' house. I'd pick her up, and we'd go off to Petaling Jaya to Rumah Hope where the Youth Leadership Mentoring sessions were being held.

Our Sundays would end at 10p.m. (not including supper!) And both of us were serving in church. Yeah, we're a little bit crazy :). It was so fun having a 'little sis' to share the experience with and to discuss about the kids with.

We went out yesterday for Korean food for dinner (my motherly little sis reminded me, "Must eat ah!")... and yakked and yeakked. I showed her all the files on Expedition Agape and Extra Mile... knew she'd love it!

Then we had hot choccie and ice-blendeds at Dome. Loves!

I slept at 11:30+. Then an angel must have woke me up... I started coming out of sleep at about 3a.m.... and my handphone went 'beep beep!'

Wow... who's sms'ing at that hour? Picked it up, and my precious girl from one of the Homes had sms'd to say "Sis, can you please call me? I need to talk to you."

Called her straight back and we talked for about 40 mins. I was really glad she had sms'd as I was worried about her and was glad to know what was bothering her and reassure and coach her.

I hope I helped....

It was pretty hard to wake up this morning, but here I am... raring to go! Another new day!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Last weekend

I know! I have to update this bloggie to write about the RACTAR girls... later can ah, Yuk Wai? I'm really whacked!

I was really thrilled to be in KL for the weekend coz it meant I could complete some errands that had been pending. Ran around in the morning completing errands and then went over to Taman Equine to my ballet school.

Promised to help my ballet teacher torture ... err... teach her students. Have to help Teacher June replace four classes on the 21st, so need to come in for two Saturdays before the 21st to learn what she does.

Yeow-ie!!! News flash - I cannot teach ballet. Seeing them squeal as Teacher June forced their legs over their heads was terrible! I thot I'm pretty hard-hearted... but I guess I have my softie side. She kept telling me, "You don't have to be so kind, Gillian."... but when I pull their legs, they already start whimpering, "Ah.... ah...." and I don't want the 'Ahs' to turn into screams of pain!

There was one girl... when Teacher June knelt on her back as she lay on her tummy with her legs in the split position (this is to extend the split further) she yelled and sat up. Teacher June told her if she did that again, she'd sit on her longer! Ow-w-w-w-w-w!

After that I rushed home to shower before visiting my aunt. My cousin has a new baby! And she's a-do-ra-ble! She's so very tiny!

And she has nice flexible ankles and what looks like promising toes-ies for pointe work.

Oooh... I so hope she can do ballet when she grows up! If not my own daughter, I want ONE niece to train up to dance ballet!

I got home past 11 and I think I slept at about 1:30 a.m... Couldn't sleep somehow. Woke up at 3:20 a.m. to start getting ready. Drove to airport an hour later.

AirAsia tip: They require you to check in two hours before the flight or else they will cancel your seat. But you are not allowed in the boarding gate until one hour before the flight! No matter... thank God I had my laptop with me since I needed it for the RACTAR girls session in the evening and didn't dare leave it in the car. Had a nice time sipping hot choccie and surfing the Net!

Once I got to Sg, it was rush, rush, rush. I hopped from MRT to MRT and then speed-walked to the temple where my friend's wedding would be held.

We have to take off our shoes and wear a veil when we go into the temple. The wedding was upstairs in the temple hall and everyone sat on the floor.

There was a team of three chanters beating a gong. The chanting was so beautiful and peaceful, and I loved the harmonious sound of everyone murmuring the chants together.

I was surprised too to see that the verses they used echoed the verses we used in church. At the end of the day, we are all seeking God with all our hearts, minds and strengths.

My friend looked absolutely gorgeous... she has turned out so beautiful and womanly!

I had to rush off after 45 mins at the wedding though... had to dash to the airport and hang around (again!) whilst waiting for my flight back to Malaysia!

Thank goodness, the flight came in with 15 mins to spare! That is seriously excellent for AirAsia! I don't know what the flight itself was like... I ko'ed on the plane! Tip for travellers: it is really refreshing to sleep on the plane even if it's a very short journey!

I felt tons better when I woke up and got into my car to drive to RACTAR.

And here I'll stop as there is much to share on that!

Friday, August 6, 2010

One hand extended always...

Concerned about two precious people today...

One is my most precious girl from one of the Homes... she is always and has always been in my heart. So much spunk and courage! She endured a horrendous past to come out victorious ... steadfastly pursuing her studies, even turning down 'fun' activities to concentrate on getting good results, so that she could get a well-paying job when she grows up.

She wrote in FB that she keeps crying lately... something happened and it seems to have opened the dam for her.

Another girl is also a very spunky and fun person :). She's still studying in college. Her mom passed away a month plus ago... just before I started Expedition Agape. And there are no words to heal that kind of pain.

I can't bring her mom back. I can't tell her the memories will always be there; what good would that do? I can't tell her to be strong; she is being as strong as she can. She asked me to pray, and dear precious girl, I am praying for you.

But what can I do? Only time and love can heal these kind of wounds.

God, You gave me the eyes to see pain and hurt and brokenness and loneliness... Please, would You send someone to teach me to switch it off once in a while? I think my heart might break otherwise....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

EA: Expedition Agape 2010

Yuk Wai, I really wish you'd get on FB, then my other friends wouldn't have to hop, skip and jump over the 'repeat' posts (like this one!). :)

Serene sent me an email this afternoon asking if I was tired from travelling up and down to Singapore for Expedition Agape. I was thinking about that and about Expedition Agape on my way home from work, and it made me smile....

I think I’ve told most of you about Expedition Agape... and if not, my excited ‘squeals’ on my status on FB speak for me! Expedition Agape is an amazing 6 month journey for the at-risk youths in Singapore. The journey spans 6 months from August through to February of the following year. EVERY week, the youths participate in leadership development, character-building, team-building and community service activities.

The youths ‘buddy’ up with a volunteer who will be alongside them until the end of Expedition Agape (and sometimes the bonds of friendship last beyond that!). They learn about giving their all and doing their best; how to care and love those less fortunate then themselves and to ‘give’ to them; to trust, to believe, to stand on their own two feet, to grow beyond what they ever thought they could.

And halfway through the journey (normally in December), the youths get to go for a 2 week Expedition overseas! There they will visit an underprivileged community and put into action all that they have learnt in the previous four months of Expedition Agape.

During the last Expedition, the team went to Cambodia. They stayed in an orphanage and painted murals and conducted activities run bythe youths, they visited a hospital for children with AIDS, they distributed food and clothing to families living in a garbage dump site, they visited a leprosy centre, and much more.

There is no way you can leave an experience like that unchanged, and the youths’ lives reflect those changes.

The volunteers continue to journey with them along their new paths for the next two months as the youths try out their new ideas and new ways of thinking and seeing and believing in themselves. The messages of the Expedition are reinforced until they are stuck in the youths' minds and hearts.

Change. The youths are changed by being empowered, seeing themselves as leaders, believing in themselves, trusting others in the team, softening their hearts enough to let others in...

Next year, the Malaysian orphanage youths will join this amazing journey. They will participate in the same activities conducted in Malaysia, and if I learn everything I’m supposed to (*crosses two fingers and two toes ... in fact, crosses all fingers and toes!*) they will have grown enough in the Expedition Agape program in time to join the 2 week Expedition trip overseas.

We will continue to journey with them for the remaining two months, and hopefully - and I believe so - their lives will never be the same.

That’s why I’m travelling up and down each weekend! To learn all I can from Expedition Agape. And that’s why I think I’m the luckiest person in the whole world!

Because you see, and I believe other volunteers in Malaysia can bear witness to this, we don’t have such an exciting, life-changing program in Malaysia. We’re all trying our best for the kids, but honestly, we don’t really know which program works. We run about like crazy trying program after program until I suspect our kids in the orphanages and shelters must feel like lab rats, the amount of ‘stuff’ we try on them!

This Expedition Agape's life-changing journey works.

And the best part? It’s in Singapore. Just across the border.

I can’t get over that, I really can’t. Every time I ride the bus to Singapore I think how very fortunate and blessed I am that this program is available in Singapore. Normally, a great program like this would only be available in somewhere like the USA! And then I would be eating my heart out with envy, wishing our youths could participate, but knowing it will take someone going all the way there to bring it back to Malaysia.

And the Singaporeans have opened their hearts and moved over to make space for our Malaysian orphanage youths to join them. How very wonderful is that and how blessed are our youths to have that kind of friendship and generosity extended to them?

So... am I tired from travelling? Yes, sometimes. But I just can’t stop thinking how very very very lucky I am that there is Expedition Agape and that I can be a part of it. And best of all that I can bring this program back to Malaysia and give our orphanage youths the chance to join Expedition Agape.

That makes every step of the way worth it.