Nov 30, 2015

Nov 29, 2015


(note: posted with permission. this past year or so i have become a lot more aware and cautious about what i post, whether i am disclosing things about other people, whether they are okay with it or not, trust issues. i asked for permission before doing this, and she said "can ah i'm fine with anything". so yes. posted with permission.)

I received this text at midnight today, and my heart swelled with relief, gratitude, joy. Love, I remember the night before it happened, I was at the lift lobby in school and you called me crying and I was like what and you said I really want to die....the sky looks so beautiful....... and I was like do you want me to come to your house and I remember very distinctly that you quickly went no, no, you're having your exams, I want to sleep now, I'm going to hang up, goodnight. and I thought,  what if you were to die, and I hadn't done what I could.

The next day you texted me to say that you were going to the hospital because you wanted to die and you thanked me for being a friend. My first thought was "thank God you're going to the hospital; they won't let you do anything to yourself." But you refused to pick up my calls and answer my texts when I asked which hospital you were going to. I even tried a different number, used Peiyun's phone. Peiyun said you were probably going to Alexandra Hospital. I was getting ready to set off, and then thank goodness you replied to say that Alexandra was indeed where you were headed.

I walked in, I saw you sitting in a chair from a distance. Your expression was blank, calm. I held your hand. You started to cry.

I stood with you, hugged you, grasped your hand, prayed with you, waited a long while before the ambulance arrived. I sent an email to my professors from my phone asking for essay deadline extensions. Even took a sombre photo in the ambulance as proof for my profs, lol. We spent the next week at the Institute of Mental Health.

Because we arrived at 10pm, I couldn't stay for long, since visiting hours were over. But even then the atmosphere was overbearing, toxic. When I got back to school I just felt like there was so much poison in me. I went to Daryl's room, sat on his floor and cried and prayed with him. I needed to detox. Let all the terrible energy seep into the floor, leave the stream of my soul, leave through the pores on my skin. Thank God I could even leave the place; I was merely a visitor. You had to stay there, every twenty-four-hour day, day in, day out. How could anyone keep sane in that place. There were double-grills on the windows. It wasn't a place to heal; it was merely a place to prevent people from killing themselves. You said the first time they brought you up from the basement to Level 1, you cried at the sight of trees. I remember the day they allowed me to take you out of the ward for an hour, you were so excited, so excited, the open space and air was life to you. You were released the day your dad returned from Nepal - on your 21st birthday.

I love you, you are so dear to me, and I'm glad that you've become so much better this year. I can't believe it's been a year. You are so much healthier now, you have learnt to appreciate the simple pleasures, to love good food and stuffed animals, to know that you are loved too, just in different ways from what you might expect. You've begun to experiment with makeup, and I'm glad that it boosts your self-confidence, and I'm glad that you also know that you don't need it. You exercise regularly now. You go for swims and bicycle rides. Your new job still has annoying people, but it's tolerable, and you like what you do, you like Chemistry, you like seeing the colours swirl. The day you renovated your room, replaced the too-big bed and got a swing chair, I was so proud of you. You did a thing for yourself, it was good, it was healthy, it was something you were proud of.

To you who are reading this, whoever you are, please don't keep it all in. The black emotions stored within will only make you a pressure cooker and the tension will have to be released somehow - you may release what's within through the blade on flesh, or through thrills that should never have been, or through purging, or through other means of defiling your body that is beautiful, pure, sacred, holy, created in the image of God, worthy of all respect and honour and dignity. These things will not heal your soul. Or maybe you find everything meaningless, in light of so much pain and the gaping hole within - maybe suicide is what you are considering, because this life is not worth saving, only to endure decades more of agony. Please, just talk to somebody, let somebody be there. You might not see the worth in an unhappy life but you don't know what's up ahead until you get there, and with death there is no turning back, never.

My friend here was at the point of death this day last year, and look, since then she has found the beauty all around her and taken delight in things that are healthy. Sometime half a year ago I too wished for death; I think it was pressure on all sides weighing in on me, but things just hurt so much, I just wanted it all to end. But then the summer came, and things got so much better, and I read books about the problem of pain and about the beauty of solitude and the Christian hope, hope in eternity and eventual justice and the Greatest Love, that gives us an unshakeable joy even in the saddest of times. Joy that this is not the end; that we know Love and justice have the final victory.

To you who are reading this, please, talk to somebody, allow someone to keep you company. And I, also, am just a text or Facebook message or door knock away.

Nov 14, 2015

Crescent Dance SYF 2007

(Wrote this thing for an informal ten-minute descriptive writing exercise sometime this year, happened to come across the file today, thought I might as well put it up.)

Pitch black. The emcee announces the name of our school, our anthem of pride, a legion of beautiful and courteous young women, the mark of dignity and grace. We rush out to the stage, small nimble feet, each girl carrying a white box with bold red flames painted on two sides. We don't need the stage lights or markings on the floor to know where to stand – we have rehearsed this a million times, etched it on the back of our minds. Our bodies know the number of strides to make, the number of seconds it would take. We run, smooth and graceful as swans, our red skirts trailing behind us. Gather in formation, groups of four across the dark stage. I can’t see my little circle of four, but I know where they are. We stack our boxes without making a sound. Lie down, curled around the boxes in a loose fetal position, my head on someone’s thighs, someone else’s head on mine. Anticipate.

It’s actually quite a comfortable position. We’ve done it several times during nap breaks at dance camps, our thighs serving as one another’s pillows. It’s always a curious sight, girls giggling as they sleep in circles. You all have to lie down at the same time, or someone’s head will end up without a pillow. It makes for a cute picture; it speaks of family.

Silence now, and a deep breath. It is still dark. My makeup is heavy on my untrained, fourteen-year-old skin. The floor is cold; my spine trembles. I cannot help but grin for the world: it has begun. The music comes on, a slow drumming beat, the tinkling of metal beads. It makes one think of the rainforest, of dewy green leaves and magical lights. A girl begins to sing, and the spotlight comes on. I am facing the back of the stage, but there, curled on the floor, I know that the lead dancer is beginning to rise. Her hands are cupped as if in anticipation of fire, and she is swaying dramatically according to the beat and the eerie song. I lie there, soaking in the energy of the music. My time is now.

(Ngh, was contemplating not putting the video here because the quality's so bad, but haaayyy gold with honours HAHA. My heart still races just watching it, remembering all the practices in the school hall, watching the amazing seniors practice the really difficult and tiring and beautiful sections again and again.)


We never really leave a place, or a person. A bit of an exchange goes on - it leaves its imprint with us, and we leave a bit of our souls there. Labrador Park is full of memories for me: it's where I go when I need to escape the confines of school. Most recently I was there past midnight, the lights from the ships shrouded in haze, a guitar's melody blending with the crash of the sturdy waves. We were lying on the ground, my thoughts and tears going to a special person I once knew, a person I hope to meet again. The Esplanade waterfront is my favourite hangout spot in Singapore. I brought HY there - him getting all excited at drinking beer underage, asking for a picture and all - and Sabri, and Max before he went back to Germany. The Kallang River is where James and I played with sparklers last week. A beautiful, peaceful place I've never been to before. Every time I walk past Red Dot Traffic Museum I desire to go in and walk through the corridors where OB Music Forest used to be. Music classes there used to be the best part of my week, goofing around and singing acappella and squealing over JJ with the best companions. Those were beautiful years, when we foolish teenagers were unapologetically, unashamedly, absolutely hilariously ourselves. I also lost my first kiss in that lift.

I was only in Krakow, Poland for a week, but how I love that place, how many beautiful memories were made there because of friends I made on the free walking tours. The day Isaac and I decided to brave the thunderstorm to get to the Schindler's Factory with my flimsy umbrella, we got fantastically lost and ended up in a place so dull they had put an advertisement over it on the map. Bar-hopping with Isaac and Jack, roaming around the square on my own, going on all those amazingly insightful tours. My current phone wallpaper was taken in Krakow. It's a stencil mural in the Jewish quarter - the Jews in Krakow witnessed terrors of an unimaginable scale, with Auschwitz being just a short distance away, and only a tiny remnant of them remains. The mural is of a timid Jewish boy, made afraid by the atrocities of only a few decades ago, who must remember his identity: he wears the headdress of the lion of Judah. Remember who God has called you to be. Put on the identity of your destiny; be courageous and strong, for He is Jehovah Nissi, the God our Banner.

Even places that you're not too fond of also stick to you. I didn't exactly love my Banda Aceh internship, and I did not enjoy bathing with a pail or not having a toilet flush, but bits of Banda Aceh still feel like home to me - the coconut juice corner and the egg murtabak man and the incredible avocado juice, the supermarket, riding on the backseat of a scooter with a spoilt helmet. Watching the kids do simple English exercises on the floor of the porch, the afternoon light casting its yellow veil. I was only there for five weeks, but part of it feels like home, strangely, somehow.

I think what sparked this post was my thoughts about the Paris incident. This morning we awoke to shocking news, terrible news. It is currently 7.30am in Paris. The city is shrouded in blue morning chill, but the silence today does not speak of peace. The silence this morning is of terror, fear, mourning. I don't know many people from France, and I've never been there, but we live in an age without borders. Many many terrible things have been happening all around the world, and what can one do but ask for God to give us hearts of compassion, to keep ourselves bowed in prayer; to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

Nov 13, 2015

A picture of the Father's Love

My cell group members sit on chairs in a circle. As JX is talking, two-year-old Jadon is walking within and around the circle like he owns the place, quietly going up to people and letting them brush their hands against his head and playing with the chairs. No matter, he isn't being disruptive; let the child play as the child is meant to, comfortable in the presence of adults who love him. His mum is sitting across the room from me, keeping an eye on him. He’s playing somewhere behind me when he falls. It’s a gentle fall, but still he remains on the ground and whines in a mezzoforte: “mummy, mummy, mummy.” Loud enough to get her attention, not loud enough to cause an indecent racket. He just wants her to pick him up. Mummy motions to him from across the room: come, come here, come over to me. But he refuses to get up. Mummy, mummy, he continues. He will continue calling until she comes to him.

Mummy gets up. JX is still talking, but people shift their chairs to make way for her to pass through. Mummy makes the journey across the room. Shifting chairs. Shuffling feet.

Mummy comes all the way to Jadon on the other side of the room, bends down to pick him up from the floor, cradles him in her arms. Jadon stops calling.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart:
His wounds have paid my ransom

Yale-NUS Christian Fellowship

I was going to share a testimony tonight, for the first time in this cell group, but I didn't get the chance to. But I still feel it's important for me to put it down in words, because words sort of concretize an idea somehow, give it a form and a definition. So here goes.

My calling, the greatest thing in my life from 2012 (when I said yes to Yale-NUS, a year before college started) to 2017 (when I graduate), is the Christian Fellowship. This is the ministry that God has placed in my heart. It was why I accepted Yale-NUS's offer, and I spared no delay in getting it running. Yet I was a terrible leader in many ways. I did not have good leadership skills, my core team was not bonded and I didn't bother to bond them, and my spiritual life was a mess. My heart was all messed up; I was sinning through and through with my emotional dependence on people and more. I will not bother to list my sins. I know them well, and they are vile. Suffice to say I did not steward my leadership privilege well, and CF suffered as a result.

Yet with the new committee this semester, God is really restoring CF. He has given it a new character, a renewed dedication, a refined passion. The new comm's heart for God really shines through. Every worship session leaves me moved to tears by God's presence. I have come to need CF, to be a receiver rather than a giver, and I'm constantly in awe of the work God is doing in CF now.

Yesterday's CF was about the value of intercession. Joanna and I were supposed to say a closing prayer at the end of the session, and I felt led to share the vision that God had given me this summer: that this new committee is clearing the road, paving the way for God's coming, and He will come like a fire through the Class of '19. Through them He will bring a revival of hearts, He will do a new and wonderful thing.

"Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry."

After Joanna and I prayed, Mel said she felt led to invite the CF comm to pray for everyone in the room. Mark prayed on behalf of the comm. As he prayed his passion was stirred, and his prayer was moving and powerful: "Your love is not for us to keep to ourselves." Then Sharon prayed to end our session once and for all, but even after she prayed Xueyin had a word from God: "Anticipate Me."

What a powerful atmosphere of expectation and passion, as confirmations of God's hand in the Christian Fellowship came one after another. Emmanuel, Emmanuel; what is greater than knowing that God is With Us.

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, keep vigilant in intercession, restless in prayer. Once you have a supernatural glimpse of what God has in store for this harvest field, a personal revelation of His plans, everything else just seems so unimportant in comparison. This is a Love that restores, that makes broken hearts whole, that saves individuals from the deep hole of despair, that gives one a solid hope that nothing is for naught, a hope that stretches into eternity.