Friday, July 31, 2009

My Roots

Of late, I’ve become more interested in my Chinese roots. All I have concerning my ancestry is a picture of my great-grandfather in China and some photos of my grandparents.
Evidently, he was a Magistrate in Xiamen, in the Fukien Province.

My grandfather was a rich merchant who eventually settled in Singapore and my dad was born there.

Grandma died at the age of 39 from cancer.
The strange thing about growing up in a Chinese family is that we weren’t raised with typical Chinese values and traditions.
Due to the fact that my parents worked for British expatriates, (dad worked in the Royal Air Force (RAF), and mom was a nanny for an RAF Captain) we adopted quite a fair bit of English customs.
All the boys wore knee high bobby socks and khaki shorts for church.
Even our diet consisted of a mix of Asian and Western meals. There would be days when we had English scones for tea, meat pies for supper along with the occasional sausage rolls and cucumber sandwich. This was highly irregular as most Chinese in post war Singapore were not familiar Western food or culture at that time. Our favourite reading material consisted of Beano and Dandy comics.
We watched The Ed Sullivan Show instead of Chinese soap operas.
Possibly the only time we were totally Chinese was during the lunar New Year when we learned a few words of greetings to earn our Red Packets. (Prosperity money)
Although, we were forced to learn Mandarin as second language, we were never ever good at it because of our bias against some of the superstitious and negative elements we saw in the Chinese culture. It didn’t help that we had only Western names in our birth certificates. I remembered my Mandarin teacher in school berating and picking on me because of my Western name. (Racial discrimination exists even within a homogenous culture.) Years later, while ministering as a missionary in Taipei city, I was constantly confronted with my ethnicity. Some of the locals insisted I was not really Chinese, while others reluctantly called us “Straits-born" or "overseas Chinese.” It was in that one year that I realized I was not really Chinese at heart. My views, philosophy of life, belief system and convictions were more Christian and had a Western bias. I’ve accepted who I am and know that it was in God’s plan for my future ministry in North America, that God had orchestrated my early development and training. Although I can speak Mandarin, Cantonese and Fukien quite fluently, I still think in English. I’m thankful for my rich heritage that consisted of the best influences from both eastern and western worlds. "For I know the plans I have for you. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Chinese History

Lately, I’ve been discovering more of my roots and it’s been an interesting journey.
This week there was a display at a local mall that featured some ancient discoveries that so intrigued me I had to go and find out more about it for myself.
What greeted me in the center atrium of this expansive shopping complex was a sandcastle depicting the Great Wall of China and some of the iconic symbols of my oriental culture.
The Great Wall SandcastleAlong with this were the Terracotta warriors, transported from the archaeological dig in Xi'an Province. To think that there are 6,000 of these life-size terracotta warriors assembled in their battle formations is mind boggling and unimaginable.
What creative mind conceived such a plan? What great leader inspired such a magnificent project? I was quite astounded to find out that it all began because of the morbid fear of death in a 13 year old emperor. He would grow up to become the same Emperor who would commission the building of the Great Wall of China. Although I am awed by such man-made wonders, I am also scandalized by the cost of such endeavours. It is said that thousands of artisans and workers were buried alive after the project to protect the location of the Emperor’s mausoleum. I can’t help but come to the conclusion that such mega-structures are a sad reminder to us of the fears of man and the madness of power-mongers. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?” How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus
Christ our Lord!”
1 Corinthians 15:55, 57

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fruits in my Garden

I don’t really have a huge backyard garden, but I have utilized every available space in it. Packed into my private Eden are over 100 varieties of evergreens, perennials and trees. I’m probably one of a few gardeners that plant fruit trees as ornamental pieces. I have a black currant plant that has been trained to grow up a trellis, an espaliered apple tree with two types of apples, a grape vine, a blue berry bush in a pot, a dwarf Chinese pear tree and a ‘dwarf’ peach tree that has become overgrown. The only fruit that I actually harvest are the peaches. They’re actually quite large and juicy, if the squirrels don’t get them first.
This year I have a smaller crop as the late snowfall in April froze half the blossoms on the tree.
The squirrels have not wiped out my harvest this year; my concoction of blended Thai chili peppers and Jalapenos paste has kept most of the invaders at bay.
The hardest part of enjoying these juicy looking peaches is the waiting. From a guest bedroom window, I can see them growing bigger each day. It’s been getting more tempting by the day as the green fuzzy skin takes on a pinkish hue. The other day I plucked one only to discover it was still a week away from being fully ripe.
I’ve got a bunch of friends who can’t wait to get their hands on these organically grown, tree-ripened peaches.

Thought for the day: Fruit-bearing requires patience and our fruit are often meant for others to enjoy.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Small Things

When I look around me, the thing that normally catches my eye are the colourful creation, the massive structures and the moving objects. What eludes me sometimes is the fact that some of these things visible from space are comprised of the smallest particles of matter. Tiny drops of water eventually form the ocean. Those little drops of water cover 70% of the earth’s surface. The Pacific ocean alone covers 64,196,000 sq miles. (166,266,877 sq km)

Water pours out from the sluice in the Cleveland dam.
Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. Vincent van Gogh

Tiny particles of rock and mineral (0.0625 to 2 millimeters in diameter) deposited together, is what we call a sandy beach. Many countries boast the longest beaches in the world; in fact we have so many beaches named “Long beach” you have to add the city, state or Province to identify the correct one.
If you really want to know, the longest beach in the world is Prais do Cassino, in southern Brazil, which is 240km long.
Most people would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Make it a habit not to be critical about small things. Edward Everett
We can do no great things; only small things with great love. Mother Theresa

The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant. Zechariah 4:10

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Sunset and the crowds have already been there for hours.

The fireworks begin at 10 p.m.

Every year a much anticipated event comes round – ‘The Celebration of Light’ Fireworks competition. Since the inception of this fabulous mid-summer festival almost 20 years ago, I have a dear friend who has not missed a single event.
There was one year we even ended up climbing to the rooftop level of his 35th floor penthouse apartment to take in the show. Imagine three to four hundred thousand people crowded into the city center. Consider the fact that most have to wait at least 2 to 3 hours to watch a 25 minute fireworks display. I must say that it is always well worth the wait for such an amazing fireworks show set to music. History of fireworks
Fireworks originated in China some 2,000 years ago. The most prevalent legend has it that fireworks were discovered or invented by accident by a Chinese cook working in a field kitchen and he mixed a concoction that burned out of control. When it was compressed in an enclosure (a bamboo tube), the mixture exploded with bright coloured lights.

Thought: Light shines brightest in the dark. It’s a great reminder that we are to let our light shine in this darkened world. Most living things are drawn to the light...

The finale.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Your Gift

I believe that God created us for good works and to ensure we fulfill our mission in life, He gives each one a special gift.
Your gift is what you do best.
Your gift is the accumulation of life experiences.
Your gift when it is utilized gives you a sense of joy and satisfaction.
Your gift grows as you invest it in others.
Your gift is for the benefit of others but always results in your own development.
“When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope still is to leave the world a little better for my having been here.
It’s a wonderful life and I love it.” Jim Henson,

A friend is a gift you give yourself. Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, July 18, 2009


It’s strange how words can represent so many things and one has to know the context of the message to understand its usage.
A 'green-eyed monster' had to do with jealousy; 'eating your greens' is maintaining a healthy diet; the grass greener on the other side deals with contentment; and a 'green-horn' is a rookie. Green used to mean just that – one of the many colours of the rainbow. When a city was referred to as green and clean city, it used to mean that it was full of trees and flowering plants.

Today if you googled the word ‘green’ you would probably get the website of a “save-the earth” group or political groups with an environmental agenda. I much prefer to stick to the original designation of the word “green.” Did you know that the word green comes from the Old English word grene, or in its older form, groeni, meaning “to grow.” (Wikipedia) Growth is what I see when I look at the green plants in my garden. The average homeowner cringes when spring arrives, and their lawns grow an inch a day. I actually love mowing the lawn for the smell and the excuse to be outdoors. Green speaks to me about growth opportunities which sometimes comes with a sacrifice and can be inconvenient. “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Psalm 23:2
Whether it is found in an old growth forest or in a tropical paradise, green is still one of the most pleasing-to-the-eye colours.
Green lily pads.