,

Save Ninja & Susu

We knew our lives would never be the same when we decided to adopt our first pet dog together as a couple. Ninja was just another newborn stray puppy that was born in a parking lot. Her kind-hearted rescuer saved Ninja and her siblings and delivered Ninja to us all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Puchong when we responded to her SOS post on Facebook asking people to adopt these poor pups.

We were right. Our lives have been never the same since. Ninja has enriched our lives and brought so much laughter to our tiny home with her Ninja-ish antics. Never have we been happier to see a pup that jumps in excitement, wags her tail (and butt) off when she sees us coming home from a mile away.

After a year and a half, we decided to adopt another puppy so that Ninja would have a companion whenever we are not at home. That’s when we found Susu, another stray puppy that was abandoned by her owners. Susu had a huge, hairless, red spot on her thigh when we first met her. According to her rescuer, she was abused and splashed with boiling, hot water by the neighbours as she was in a residential area that’s hostile to dogs.

She was so timid and afraid when we adopted her. But she has taught us how to forgive those who trespass against us when she chose to forgive and forget about the humans who abused her, and now opt to love and protect us, her new humans who have adopted her (and her new black furry sister, of course).

Earlier this year, we’ve decided to relocate back to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah as we decided to raise our family there. And we were prepared to bring our furkids back with us even if it costs us a bomb (almost RM3,000 for all the shipping expenditures). When it was almost time for us to relocate, there was a rabies outbreak in the northern part of Malaysia (Penang) and the Sabah government immediately issued a despotic ban on the import of pets/animals from West Malaysia into East Malaysia. We were devastated. We have no choice but to ask for our friends’ help to take care of our pets temporarily as they’re stranded in Kuala Lumpur while we’re back here in Kota Kinabalu.

We have been constantly chasing the Sabah Vet Department for updates in regards to the lift of the ban since last year. If rabies is the main concern, then I do not see why exceptions cannot be made if we can get our pets examined and proven to be rabies free. However, due to the tardiness of this government department, our process of importing them back here have been delayed time and time again. To be exact, we have been delayed for almost 6 months (Penang has lifted orders to cull rabies infected dogs in the state since 9th October 2015).

As much as it breaks our heart to be separated from our furkids, we cannot allow them to be living alone in KL anymore. Currently, our kind friends have been feeding and bathing them till now. But we cannot trouble our friends forever as we have no idea how long it would take for the state vet department to lift this obsolete and irrelevant ban.

So, we hereby, humbly implore you to help us by :
1. Adopting or fostering Ninja & Susu – we still want them back once the ban is lifted, if possible. But if they have come to love their new forever home, then we want what’s best for them.
2. Sharing this article – if you are unable to adopt them, let your families/friends know. They might be able to adopt them.
3. Bugging the Vet Department to lift this ridiculous ban – more people voicing out about this ban means they will have no choice but to take this issue seriously (and provide a solution quickly). This is their website (http://davetsa.sabah.gov.my), the Director, Dr Yeo’s email (boonkiat.yeo@sabah.gov.my) and their office number (088-287401).
4. Sharing this image – if you are not keen to use Facebook or social media, perhaps you can forward this image below to your friends via Whatsapp.

I thank you in advance for your help in circulating this piece of news. Please pray that we will be reunited with our furkids as soon as possible.

 

UPDATE (05 May 2016) : We have good news! We managed to find another solution which we think may work! =) And we just found a friend who offered to help! We will be calling and making the arrangements tomorrow. Now, let’s pray that the procedures will be straight forward and simple! 

,

Gone with the Wind

I thought this is a pretty appropriate blog post title in line with our recent relocation back to Sabah (known as the Land below the Wind). Yup, earlier in February, my wife and I have taken the step of faith to finally uproot ourselves (after more than a decade in Kuala Lumpur) to move back to Kota Kinabalu, my hometown.

It wasn’t a sudden decision though as I have always wanted to move back to Sabah ever since I graduated from college. The only reason why I’ve decided to remain in KL after graduation was really because of my church, Every Nation Church Malaysia (previously known as Eaglepoint Church). I felt God has called me to serve this church with everything I have until He says it’s time to move on. And in those thirteen years, I’ve been given the opportunity to serve as a campus leader, head of department for the Graphic Design ministry, worship leader and assistant life group leader. But more than just merely serving, I was on the receiving end as I am blessed to know that I have made an impact and have blessed others through my ministry.

Many people have asked us, “Why and how did we decide to move back here?”

Well, two years ago, I proposed this idea of moving back to my wife. Boy, you should have seen her reaction! She was absolutely against it. It was a big no no. And the reason? She said my hometown was boring and backward. Excuse me? I beg to differ! I prefer the descriptions “peaceful” and “developing.” But surely enough, as I persistently pounded the idea of relocating back to Sabah into her head (at every given opportunities during KL’s horrible traffic jams, hazy weathers, expensive toll prices, racist remarks made by pea-brain extremists), her heart began to change. She began to say “But if we move back, how are we going to…” instead of the blatant “NO!”

So in early 2015, we finally made the decision to move back to Kota Kinabalu. Unfortunately, this was due to the fact that Chrystin, my wife, has had a miscarriage… I blamed myself though. I felt guilty because I put both of us in a position where we had to work so hard to make ends meet and the mental, emotional and physical stress must’ve caused the miscarriage. That was the defining moment for me. It’s now or never. I told Chrystin, “Thats it. We’re moving back.”

Fast forward to the present, and here we are back in Kota Kinabalu! And our first child is due end of April (next month)! God’s timing is perfect, really! When we booked our flight ticket, we didn’t even know we’re going to be pregnant. And when we found out about Chrystin’s pregnancy, we realized the date of our departure was really the last week for her to safely travel on airplanes (well, according to the airline’s policy, that is). Anyway, as we’re expecting our first child, having my parents around would come in really handy too. We cannot imagine handling a baby all by ourselves. Thank God for family. Oh yes, we’ve also become quite horizontally challenged these days thanks to my mom’s daily homecooked food.

Well, life is a new discovery for us these days as we settle down here and say “Hello from the other side.” New faces, new places, new food. Can’t wait for our new bundle of joy to come!

,

Why I Don’t Believe in Soul Mates

Personally, I don’t believe in the notion of soul mates. Well, not in the sense that God has a special person prepared for everyone. To believe that God has a special someone prepared for everyone is absolutely unwise, not to mention you’re only setting yourself up for a major lifelong disappointment (maybe that’s why a lot of Christians are still single in the church). Why? Well, this idea is absolutely not biblical.

Has God ever said “Wait, I will provide a soul mate for you?” in the Bible? If not, these are really unbiblical claims/statements similar to other popular and seemingly harmless statements such as “God only helps those who help themselves” (FYI, God loves helping the helpless).

Well, there are only a few incidences in the Bible where God specifically commanded someone to marry another person, and these are very special cases : Adam, Hosea and Joseph.

God had to intervene for Adam and make him a woman. Otherwise, none of us would be here (or we’d be a mix of humans and animals, eww). God also commanded the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, to teach the Israelites a lesson of his unfailing love despite their constant prostitution to foreign gods and idols. And God had to protect Mary’s controversial virgin pregnancy by telling Joseph to marry her (pregnancy before marriage during those times can cost you your life). So yeah, only these few people had the privilege of God pinpointing their spouses out for them.

Rather than waiting for God to drop a soul mate onto our laps, I believe He wants us to enjoy the journey of finding them! Don’t believe me? The scriptural evidence is overwhelming and I’m just gonna give a few.

“Who can FIND a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10 NKJV)
“He who FINDS a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the Lord.” (Proverbs 18:22 NKJV)
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to WHOM SHE WISHES, only in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 7:39 NKJV)

Notice the tone of the scriptures. The Bible tells us to find and marry whom we wish (as long as they are believers too, remember Jesus tells us not to be equally yoked with unbelievers). So, we are to find our soul mates! It’s an active search (just like when you lose your keys and you’ve to turn your entire house upside down to find that pesky little thing) and not a passive one (sitting there praying like mad yet doing nothing about it). So, to find a soul mate, is a good thing!

Here’s a great biblical and practical model taken from Genesis 24 of how Abraham finds a wife for his son, the story of Isaac and Rebekah.
1. Seek a mate – Abraham sent his servant to LOOK for a mate for his son.
2. Know what you want – Abraham had a clear list of the TRAITS he wants in his future daughter in law. And God gave it to him according to his requests!
3. Trust God to guide – PRAY! As we walk, God will direct! Not the other way round. That means you’ll need to hangout with girls and get to know them, not waiting for girls to practice their pickup lines on you.

I first heard of this biblical truth that we need to find our own spouses at a fairly early age through a sermon CD (thank God, otherwise, I’d still be waiting for God to drop me a soul mate). One of the truths I still remember vividly is this: Rather than looking for Mrs Right, be Mr Right for someone else. It is selfish to look for another to complete your lack. Love is not selfish. Rather, because we are complete in Christ, that’s why we can give to one another and please one another instead! Looking for the Mrs Right is about taking. Being Mr Right is about giving. The person you are married to IS your soul mate, hence, the vows “For better or for worse.” Marriage is something you’ll have to work towards together daily. Nothing’s gonna magically work themselves out. Don’t get married because you think she’s your soulmate. Get married and BE her soulmate!

This truth absolutely blew my mind and changed my perspective on relationships. Now, you know this truth too. Start being someone’s Mr/Mrs Right!

,

Malaysiaku Bahagia

Recently, I’ve been listening to a piano rendition of “Sejahtera Malaysia” (one of the most stirring Malaysian songs, in my opinion) by a Taiwanese artist (indeed an irony). Since it was an instrumental rendition, I had to sing to it by memory (recollecting it from my primary school days as we use to sing it in our assemblies on Mondays). And people must think I’m mentally unstable when they see me sobbing in my car while singing to this song.

One of the verses at the end of the first stanza read, “Malaysiaku bahagia” (translated as “My Malaysia is happy”). Everytime when I get to this verse, I swell up in tears.

My Malaysia? Such an uncommon notion. My happy Malaysia? An even more unrealistic utopia if you’ve been following the local news. How happy can you be when you’ve got politicians threatening to kill all chinese using a “keris”, cow heads being desecrated and thrown around, accusations, slanders, injustice, crime and the list goes on. No one in their sane mind would proudly call this their country. Or would they? Would you?

When was the last time I called you mine, Malaysia? Do I truly believe that you are rightfully mine when certain people have labelled me and my forefathers as “pendatang?” Do I look forward to leave you just so that I can settle down in a foreign land where I really am a “pendatang?” Do I prefer to call other places “home”, other than you? Do I love other nations more than I love you, Malaysia?

I sing about “Kami setia, kami sedia, berkorban untuk negara.” Am I prepared to sacrifice my time, effort or even life for you? Or do I shrink back and run away at the smallest trials when you need me the most? I am ashamed because I have been nothing but disloyal and unfaithful to you when you’ve been there for me all the days of my life.

And what about “Kami rela menjaga namamu?” I must admit, every time I talk about you, my words are filled with anything but positive remarks. I complain about your lack, I slander you by comparing you to other countries, I gossip about your leaders and people, I call you terrible names and tear you down with my words. How could I have forgotten that I am supposed to defend your name? How could I be so cold and indifferent when you’ve given your everything to me?

Will you forgive me, my Malaysia?

You will be celebrating your 55th independence day and 50th birthday soon. If I have never said it enough, I want you to know that I am honored to call you mine, that I am blessed to be called a Malaysian, a rightful citizen of this beautiful nation. My prayer for this year is that I can learn to love you, honor you and cherish you with all that I have. May I never stop calling you, “Malaysiaku bahagia” and bless you with all that I have. May the Lord teach me and my household to be loyal and faithful to you and you alone for as long as we live. From the very bottom of my heart, I want you to know,

I love you, Malaysia.

Happy National Day and Happy birthday.

“All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts. – Malachi 3:12

,

When Clients Don’t Pay Up

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a client who had a catalogue layout job for me. At the end of the project, they decided not to pay up. Yup, they decided that my designs were not “satisfactory” and “did not meet their expectations,” hence, nothing was given to me despite my late nights to rush and complete their job. They did not keep their part of the bargain. They did not keep their word.

Let me give you a little background about the disappointment I had to go through. The job was “simple.” I was only supposed to design a layout for the catalogue and place all their pictures and info in it. Everything was supposed to be provided by them. And then, it turned “not-so-simple.” Soon enough, they had me editing their logo, editing and manipulating their pictures, added two extra pages, check their English and grammar, endless changes and additions to the layout and so on. All done without extra charge out of my goodwill. Fine, you can say I did it out kindness or whatever.

At the end of the project, they finally decided they were dissatisfied with my work when I said I had to charge extra for the further changes they requested (well, why didn’t they say anything about it earlier?) and refused to pay the balance. Well, it’s only right and logical that anything extra out of the agreed contract needs reimbursement. Just because you’ve paid a deposit, doesn’t mean you can keep adding to the job at the expense of… nothing!

Below is an excerpt of our emails. Let’s just call the client “Miss X” for now.


Dear Aaron,

For page 12, we have already informed our printer to do for us. To be frank, we found your service is not up to our expectation. For your information, I need to pay our printer to touch up again on your page 1-page11 work for few days just because the dimension of the products is unclear and it can’t proceed for printing. My printer is helping me to make whatever changes that we need all over again, for instance enlarge and make the dimension clearly seen and take out the labels. But, you need to charge all these jobs. Don’t you think this is the designer’s job to ensure the piece of work is acceptable by the client before proceed for printing.


Dear Miss X,

I apologize if I have not met your expectations. I do agree that it is a designer’s job to ensure any design work is acceptable by the client but with all due respect, I also believe it is the client’s responsibility to provide the designer with clarity of the job required and to understand what are the agreed terms and conditions and boundaries stated clearly in a contract/quote, which in my case, I was made to understand that I am only doing the layout and you will be providing me with the information and images (if you refer to the quote I sent you, I never stated to include image manipulation and editing services).

It is only professional that you do not expect a designer to do everything that you require without extra charges (for example, edit your logo, edit the flattened pictures you provided, check and improve the grammar of your English and Malay and etc). Anything as such is done out of the good will of the designer since you’re not compensating the extra work. To put it in perspective, let’s use a parallel. When you’re renovating a house and you’re hiring a bricklayer to do your walls, can you ask him to also fix your roof, install the toilets and do the wiring but pay him only for the brick wall job because you think it is his job to make your house look good? Of course not.

And if you read my terms and conditions clearly on the right side of the quote, it is stated that “Price quoted includes min of 3-6 design cops for initial review and 3 revisions. There will be an additional charge for all additional revisions past the first 3” I believe you have made quite a number of changes for the catalogue design due to your unconfirmed product writeups, SKU/code corrections, missing images, change of grammar for text, adding from the agreed 10 pages to 12 pages and etc. And for your information, as far as I recall, I have always been prompt and fast to make the changes you require. Most of the delays are from your side as you change, compile and finalize your information. I hope you take this as a good will service from me as I did not impose any additional charges for you for the numerous changes made on your side.

And to make it clear, the reason why I need to charge for the resizing of dimensions of the images is because the images were already flattened. In order to change/resize the dimensions, I need to edit the pictures one by one and type/place all the dimensions in again. I also hope you understand and remember, at the beginning of the project, I asked you and you clearly mentioned that I do not need to edit any pictures as you’re providing me with the final images.

With all that said, please accept my sincere and humble apology for the miscommunications and also the unmet expectations for the job. I have attached the invoice for your kind attention. Please settle the balance and let me know once you’ve done so.

Thank you.


Dear Aaron,

Our big boss has given instruction that we cannot pay you the balance of the payment due to the incomplete and unsatisfied jobs being done. She stays in Indonesia and I am only one of the employees in the Company. I am not the one who signs the cheque.


Dear Miss X,

I find this very unfair on my side as I have completed my tasks and have delivered the service I promised. Anyway, I’m fully at peace and my conscience is clear. I choose to forgive, release and bless you and your company in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. May He bless you in your life, health, family and all your other endeavours.

PS : I will pass all your materials (cds, catalogues, etc back to your colleague)

God bless


For your information, the last two emails happened almost a month after the email where I confronted them and have sent an invoice to them. Throughout the whole month they were either not picking up my calls, not responding to my emails or just plain avoiding me.

Was I angry? Of course I was. I had every right and reason to be. And sadly, this is also the first time in my life that someone has called my artworks “unsatisfactory” and “did not meet their expectation.” (If you know my works and have seen my portfolio, I really believe my works are nothing short of professional and creative). And worse, I was shortchanged. I worked hard and got nothing out of it. I kept my part of the bargain. I was professional and I kept my integrity. But they didn’t.

In situations like these, it’s so easy and natural for me to throw a curse on this client and wish the worst would happen to her and her company. Or throw red paint on their office windows (I know where they work). That’s carnal. Anyone in the world could do that. But I chose not to.

I clearly remember what my dad used to tell me. The world is full of these “small people” (in Chinese, it means uncivilized people with no principles and integrity). He told me to never stoop low to their level lest I become one of them. “Always choose to be the bigger person,” he taught me. My dad’s pretty biblical too. The bible did give us a heads up on what to do when you face these kind of people.

“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.” – Proverbs 26:4

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” – Luke 6:27-38

Am I still angry? No. I was, but not anymore. Because I believe in a God who doesn’t shortchange me (He promised to give me a reward and it’s a great one) and when I extend mercy to others who trespass against me, He will extend mercy for my trespasses too. They might be able to escape my judgement, but not God’s. And for that, I tremble for them. Was it a difficult decision to let them go? Definitely! But I have the Holy Spirit to empower me to do what I could never do on my own limited human strength and carnal will.

And guess what? It feels great to be the bigger person! To know that I have a clear conscience and I can sleep peacefully at night. To know that money is not everything. To know that you can forgive even when it’s difficult. To know that you can bless your enemies when they work against you. To know that you can be more Christ-like in an unfair world like this.

If you’ve been shortchanged by others too, like me, then learn from my experience. Always be the bigger person. And remember, that’s why the world needs Jesus!

Do you need a dose of Jesus in your life too?

,

Chillin’ On Unanswered Prayers

I’ve always wanted to buy my own house. Several times, I toyed with the idea of doing so, calling up agents to view houses for sale and so on. But somehow, it never got me anywhere near getting my own house.

Currently, I’m renting from my landlady and it has not been a green pasture. Why? Hmm, how do I put this in a good and constructive manner? Let’s just say she’s extremely calculative and her love for money supercedes her responsibilities as a landlady and kindness as a human being. She can be very dishonest and tends to take advantage of us. Many times I’ve been driven up the wall and to be frank, sometimes I feel like pushing her down the stairs. But no, I’m a Christian. I can’t do that =) So, when angered, I’ll just scream, “I BLESS YOU IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST! ROAR!!!” in my mind while talking to her because I believe when I choose to bless others, blessings will come my way. Besides, God is my avenger and He will not shortchange me. Either way, I’m not at the losing end.

Recently, the tension has escalated to an unbearable point that Chrystin and I have decided to look for our own place. We prayed for a landed property in Puchong that costs RM350k or less. A bit too much to ask for as Puchong houses are way too expensive now. With that kind of price, you can only get an apartment/condominium nowadays. After a month of searching for houses, we found a small little house that’s perfect for us and our wallets (it was RM30k cheaper than what we prayed for)! Thank God! It’s minutes away from church, there’re shops nearby and the best part is, it’s located at the turning before Puchong’s horrible jam at IOI Mall!

And yesterday, we’ve paid the deposits and we’re proceeding with the bank and legal processes. We’re getting our own house, honey! And we’re already churning up with so many ideas! A house of ministry, a house to host people and parties, more rooms, island kitchens, rain showers in the bathrooms, a small pond in the yard and so on! It’s so exciting, sometimes I can’t sleep!

Remember how I’ve always wanted to get my own house and never did? I’m starting to wonder if God purposely held me back so that I can share the experience of buying my own house together with my wife. It seems pretty selfish of me to indulge in all the excitement and anticipation of getting my first property without her.

The moral of the story? Sometimes when our prayers ain’t answered immediately, it simply means He has prepared the way and a better plan in store for us. Awesomeness, isn’t it?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

,

Steven Who?

There are certain people in life whom I wish never existed. Come on, be honest about it and stop judging me like I’m the only one who thinks that way. I know I can list a whole page (or probably a few) of these people. But I thank God, that on the other hand, I have discovered a handful of those whom I wonder how I would’ve survived without them.

One of them is my pastor, Steven Teoh.


Yes. He is a real pastor. I checked.

Recently, we celebrated his 40th plus plus plus birthday and I can’t really recall when was the last time we celebrated his birthday (we’re never around as his birthday always falls somewhere on Chinese New Year and we’d be back in our hometowns). During the party, Jocelyn asked us to share our first impression of Ps Steven and something to encourage and bless our old man.

Well, my first impression of him: he eyeballs you. Yup, this man doesn’t blink when he stares at you while you’re having a conversation with him. Very intimidating for shy people but then again, I ain’t no shy guy. But his eyeballing simply shows that he cares about what you’re talking about and the best part is, he remembers what you’ve said! Not me though. I may eyeball you but I’d still have no idea what you’re talking about.

And he’s also the reason why I am here. In Eaglepoint and still here in Klang Valley. I was already marked from the moment I told him I’m coming over to KL for further studies. I was destined to be rooted and grow spiritually in Eaglepoint. And like all (mostly) East Malaysians, we yearn to go back to our homelands after we complete our studies but I stayed. Mainly because of the church and him. There were also times where I wanted to leave the church, but I stayed. Also because of him. It’s kinda like how the sinners seem to flock to Jesus and not the Pharisees in the Bible. I don’t need someone who acts holier than me and pretends to care for me. I need someone who genuinely cares, is deeply compassionate and accepts me despite my weaknesses and shortcomings. Like him.

Along this journey of life, I have learned a great deal from him. Well, he’s not exactly the handyman type you’d turn to when you need to change a bulb or fix a car, but when it comes to the matters of life and God, there’s no one else I’d rather turn to. You see, I don’t just want to follow a GOOD role model. I want to follow a GODly role model. Someone who follows Jesus, as I follow him. Because that way, we’ll never go wrong. Like the way he believes in a life of purity, a stand to not defile the marriage bed (aka no sex before marriage)! Obviously that’s not something that Lady Gaga agrees with but definitely something worth following if you want a fulfilling and meaningful marriage. And boy, ain’t I glad I listened! Me and Chrystin kept our purity and we had our first kiss on our wedding day! Call me old fashioned, but it made my marriage darn special. How many people on this earth shares their first kiss with the love of their lives on their wedding day? Not many in this century, I’d say. And right now, he and his wife oversees our relationship and marriage. I couldn’t ask for better counsellors than these two love gurus.

What’s the one thing I really love about having him around? It’s gotta be the permission to confide with one another. Usually pastors are quite reserved when it comes to the way they conduct themselves. You know, the blameless outward appearance and holy aura emitting from them (nothing wrong about this) that they gotta maintain so that their sheep do not question your shepherding? But hey, not him (not that he’s unholy)! He laughs, complaints, gossips updates, goes karaoke, stays up late and the list goes on just like everybody else! Sometimes we talk so openly, I forget he’s a pastor! And because of this, I find it irresistible and almost impossible not to confide with him my deepest concerns or greatest joys with him. And judgement is never the response I’ve gotten from him (probably he secretly judges me in his head).

I call him “ah pa,” meaning dad in chinese and yes, I have three dads: my earthly father, him (my spiritual father) and my Father in heaven. I guess that pretty much sums up our relationship and how much I love and respect this man. I am blessed because you, Steven Teoh, are a godsend!

“You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.” – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

,

Top 10 Reasons I Love Malaysia

1. Awesome food found nowhere else. And everywhere else’ food can be found here. And I can eat at any time of the day, thanks to 24/7 mamaks.
2. So multiracial sometimes I forget I’m Chinese and what’s my mother tongue.
3. Watching movies at the cinema is dirt cheap and I have come to appreciate Malaysia’s censorship measures to avoid awkward sex scenes with my parents sitting beside me.
4. I can drive as fast as I can, I just need to slow down when I reach a permanent speed trap (locations posted on the internet).
5. The internet is so slow sometimes it forces me to go out and have some sunshine before I turn vampirishly pale.
6. We’ve got ridiculously corrupted politicians to spark amazing patriotism and instill hate for evil and love for righteousness that I thought I’d never have in me.
7. The weather is blazing hot all year long and I’m constantly burning calories and losing weight due to the excessive sweating.
8. The shopping malls here are so freaking huge, it must be God’s way of instilling patience in me to walk from one end of the mall to the other just to get a pair of shorts (not to mention the extra workout).
9. We’re spared from SO many natural disasters happening all around us.
10. It’s the only place I call home.

,

I Asked The Big “Will You?”

It is official. I am engaged!

Well, I planned to give myself to her as her 24th birthday gift =) So, this was what happened :

1. I conned her saying that we’re going for dinner with a few close friends from Puchong. I told her we’re going for steamboat porridge. You should’ve seen the cringe on her face. But I assured her that it was really nice, and it’s good to be adventurous and try new things.
2. Halfway through, we need to “pick up” Jackee (my accomplice) for the dinner. But the truth is, a whole bunch of them is already waiting at his house, throwing her a surprise party.
3. I called and found out that Jackee was not prepared yet (for dinner) when we reached his place and we need to go up to his apartment to wait for him while he showers since he just got home from work. I flashed my impatient, black face and she bought it due to my ever convincing acting. She thought I was really angry at Jackee for being late.
4. We went up to Jackee’s apartment, opened the door and wah lah, a whole bunch of people all crammed into Jackee’s kitchen right next to the door started singing the birthday song.
5. We had a chicken party (all sorts of chicken dishes such as chicken salad, chicken sandwich, fried chicken, chicken spaghetti, chicken stew and etc) because she loves chicken.
6. We talked, goofed around, shared with her our memorable moments together and did whatever we could to make her think that the party was over.
7. And then I initiated a gift opening session, and I happen to be the only one with a gift for her.
8. She opened my gift (a handmade doll that resembles me), got a shock when she saw the card that says, “Will you marry me?” I got on my knees and gave her a short speech of why she should marry me and told her I will not stand up unless she says “yes.”
9. She said “Yes!” and the crowd cheered!

So, yes. I am engaged.

The Proposal
The Mini-Me which I made (notice the distinctive hairstyle), the extremely girly card, the lucky girl and the crowd that witnessed the proposal (the guys were so pressured after that, Bernard had a major headache and Wai Kit nearly fainted).

I’m kinda sure a lot of people did not expect this coming from me and would ask questions like, “Are you guys ready for this?” or “Why so soon?” or “Do you have the money to get married?” and all sorts of other questions that the world bombards at people who have the slightest intention to tie the knot in marriage. The truth is, I don’t really understand why people are so concerned over such petty and trivial things. If I do love Chrystin, (and I have the blessings of our parents and spiritual leaders) then that’s all that matters. Everything else is secondary. Period. NOTHING else should stand in the way to hinder me from spending the rest of my life growing old with the love of my life.

If I was a girl and the man I love does not want to marry me because he thinks he’s not ready for marriage yet, then I’d be very offended. Offended because he’s not sure if I’m the girl he’d want to spend the rest of his life with. If I was a girl and the man I love does not want to marry me because he thinks he doesn’t have enough in his bank account, then I’d be very offended. Offended because money has robbed early marriage, youth and happiness from me. If I was a girl and the man I love does not want to marry me because he thinks he needs to climb the career ladder, buy a house, buy a car and get everything else so that I can live comfortably before he can marry me, then i’d be very offended. Offended because he did not include me in his life experiences and achievements. That is, if I’m a girl.

So, am I worried? Not really. I know everything will fall into place and I’d rather spend this time enjoying the planning, fussing around and working things out for our coming wedding with Chrystin (but I’m pretty sure she’ll be making most of the decisions =) Besides, the wedding should not be our main focus, but it should be marriage! Now, that I’m excited! =)

, ,

The Vicious Cycle of a Lonely Life

When I was a university student, the circle of my friends was daunting. I have so many friends it was scary. Christmas was probably one of the most dreaded seasons for me as I’d be dead broke buying gifts and cards for everyone who was close to me (and that’s still a LOT of people). However, somehow, somewhere, that began to change when I turned into a full fledged working adult. That circle shrank. Tremendously.

Recently, Pastor Tim has been preaching on a series of sermons entitled “Connected” and it was a good slap on the face for many of us. “If you’re always busy and have no time for people, then you’re just replacing relationships with self-centered priorities,” he said. So is the culture that we’re living in today, where everyone is busy and ever busy with being busy, busily busying their busy lives away (phew). And when I think about it, most of the time, my busyness has NOTHING to do with relating to people. And that’s a very sad fact because people should matter more than matter.

I wonder what happened? What went wrong?

You see, we start off by being individualistic. We tell ourselves, “I am all that matters. I am the truth. This life is about pleasing myself, doing what I like to do, going where I want to do…” and the self-absorbed notions go on and on. Puffed up with pride, thinking we’re all-capable, we move on to an independent state of mind, thinking “I don’t need anyone else and I don’t want to involve others in my life. Why should I, since I am self-sufficient?” When this mentality continues to spread like a cancer in our souls, we isolate ourselves from our communities of friends. We prefer to do things alone, without the need nor urgency to involve others in our daily lives and activities. Pretty soon, with others out of our lives, we become indifferent and careless about people altogether. News about innocent people killed, young girls getting raped and other inhumane happenings do not bother us anymore. Our hearts are hardened like stone, without a heartbeat for compassion or love. And this vicious cycle completes itself in idolatry, placing ourselves as supreme and utmost important. And God? Who needs God when one’s idol reflects his own deceitfully beautiful but wretched image?

That probably explains the loneliness epidemic in the world today. We’ve got all that can keep us connected with one another. Facebook, Twitter, Skype and mobile phones, you name it. But people are still lonely. Still individualistic. Still independent. Still isolated. Still indifferent. Still idolizing.

Have we forgotten how to take time and enjoy another’s friendship and company? Have we forgotten how to laugh together, cry together, accomplish and build together, believe together and just to be… together?

Take time today. Ask your soul (and I’ll ask mine), “When will we finally choose to break out of this vicious cycle and live a life of togetherness again?” A life full of people who care, love and believe in one another. A life that matters to others. A life that counts.