Monthly Archives: July 2011
38 chapters and over 18,000 words later, I find myself smiling at what I have accomplished. This is a personal achievement really, as an author and as Huiyi’s fiance. There was no way I would have completed this if I wasn’t in love with someone who was worth the effort and pursuit.
The thing about Huiyi is how she, by being who she is innately is – a simple and private lady – has turned me from a fickle-minded man with commitment phobia into a man who desires to love her not out of convenience but out of commitment.
Funnily enough, not once did I ever feel the need to please or satisfy her. It was natural for me to want to do it. And I guess you could say this is one of the few and rare instances where a want is so much more desirous than a need.
Like many other couples, “P.S. I Love You” is one of our favourite films because of the concept of the film and the thoughtfulness of the male protagonist (more like the mother of the female protagonist if you watched the film).
It is also from this movie that we have come to embrace “I love you ‘til the end” as the motto for our relationship. It’s such a big part of our lives that we are considering naming our daughter Ilytte, if the Lord wills it, of course. (By the way, if we ever have two daughters, the younger girl might just be called Mizpah.)
August 2011 would be the 45th month of our courtship and by God’s grace, in another 12 months we would be pronounced husband and wife.
We have argued countless times and we have experienced numerous cold wars – I think that’s all part and parcel of every growing couple. And it’s all about getting to know each other better everyday.
Many couples will identify with this – there are still new things that we discover about each other daily, that are as repulsive as they are ravishing, and we are honest enough to admit it. But love isn’t about rejecting what’s nasty and choosing what’s nice.
Love isn’t just commemorative or occasional and it is neither an annual nor a monthly affair. No, love is about embracing and liberating; love is about using the yesterday’s pain today to heighten tomorrow’s pleasures.
So yes, we believe that love is everyday. And everyday we must choose to love each other more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. Love is both a verb and a choice, and we must choose to make love an action.
It is my desire that one day, you will come to know in your heart that my Saviour, Jesus Christ, has loved and you and I to the point of death. He is the one that has truly loved ‘til the end.
And so, He remains our inspiration and motivation for wanting to love each other ‘til the end.
Our prayer for every person who reads what I have written is that down the road of life, they will find someone whom they can love every single day, and ‘til the very end.
Why? Because that’s how my God loves me. And that’s how I hope to love Huiyi, by God’s grace, as Christ loves His church, ‘til the very end.
Huiyi and I can’t wait for 12th August 2012 – the first day of the rest of our lives together. We hope to see you at our wedding!
God always knows what’s best for us.
Remember how I complained about Him sending the rain instead of the sunset?
The rain, incidentally, became the x-factor of my proposal; the heavy rain singlehandedly transformed the proposal into something so special and romantic; the relentless shower provided the platform for me to exhibit my knight-in-shining-armour heroics; the harsh weather conditions allowed Huiyi and I to share those intimate moments under the orange umbrella.
Truly, it was God’s raindrops that set this proposal apart from the rest.
And no amount of human planning could make this proposal as special as it turned out to be. I asked God for a daily recurring sunset but He decided to bless me with a once-in-a-lifetime thunderstorm instead. I am confident most people who have viewed the video would agree that it was the rain that produced the goose-bumps!
“Even though we were hoping for a sunset proposal, the rain made the proposal so unique and sweet. Whenever I hold my umbrella in the rain, it means something to me.” I think Huiyi summed it up perfectly on her blog. (Click here to read her closing thoughts on being engaged to me.)
Next chapter: epilogue – I love you ‘til the end.
Please forgive me for doing something as technical as this. Think of it as a literature review fused together with romance.
The sound of raindrops practically set the tone of the video. And if you match the Chinese lyrics of the song to what was happening in the video, you’d realise that everything was poetic.
We first appeared in the video, side-by-side under the umbrella to “坐在我身旁”. And as you hear “回家的太阳“, the scene had the sunset in the backdrop, with us walking towards the camera.
Now for my first favourite scene…
Caleb captured our synchronised footsteps in the pouring rain as we walked across the frame. WOW – what a moment! It was an encapsulation of a journey that we would walk together, even in stormy seasons of life! Indulge me please, for I am moved by my own vivid imagination…
The silly way that I swiveled the ring box was something completely spontaneous; I actually did it because I was nervous! But look at how nicely it turned out – the camera transformed my anxiety into cheekiness. And speaking of camera magic, what looked like me gently kissing her on her cheeks was actually me whispering instruction into Huiyi’s ear.
And here comes my rock star moment!
Actually, it wouldn’t have been possible because the original instruction I gave to the crew was to set up my guitar on the guitar stand I asked them to bring along. But I think they didn’t not because they forgot but because they didn’t want to expose my Cort to the rain. They practically saved my guitar…
This meant that I had to take it out from the case when I got there and it created a wonderful MTV-esque scene. I felt like a rock star filming a music video in the rain! It’s like a dream come true, really – to do in real life what I’ve always seen in reel life (without spoiling my guitar). Wonderful!
And the next scene tops it all…
I must really hand it to Caleb’s technical brilliance. As the song reached its chorus and the scene reached its climax, the soundtrack was removed and in place of it was the live recording of my song presentation to Huiyi, complete with the rawness of the rain!
I loved it! And the stunned look on Huiyi’s face was absolutely priceless! Especially when she turned her head to the left and back immediately to size up what was going on – this was captured candidly and beautifully!
At this point, I think Huiyi still had no idea that she was gripping the placards in her hands. On hindsight, looking at those placards must have spurred me on and gave me courage to do what I did. I was staring straight at the love of my life and the answer that she was going to give.
This “YES!” placard, juxtaposed with the five placards in the background, formed a wonderful and self-explanatory picture of a proposal in its purest form.
The raindrops that ricocheted on the camera lens and the glowing lamps created such a wonderful lens flare! It was truly a cinematic moment that only God could help us to create, and at no cost!
(Please continue to indulge me because I think it was so cool when I removed the guitar! Wearing that checkered shirt proved to be priceless too! Yes, my imagination is running amok!)
The soundtrack returned to the video at its crescendo as I got down on one knee to open the ring box to present the ring to Huiyi to ask her to marry me.
And then came Huiyi’s favourite moment of the video…
It was the few seconds when she said “YES!” to me and when I smiled the widest and happiest smile of my life as I removed the ring from the ring box. Frankly, I’ve never seen myself so happy before too! And yes, Huiyi still beams each time she sees that scene.
And as she revealed the other two placards in her hands (that also read “YES!”), her best friend appeared, as if to endorse and affirm her of her decision…
I think it was a special and wonderful moment for the two of them to remember and talk about for the rest of their lives… I’m sure of that!
Again, I must compliment Caleb for syncing “把你未来放在我肩上” with the moment I put the ring on her finger. I don’t care whether it was by incidental or intentional, I only care that it was an inspired moment! Absolutely brilliant timing!
The video closes with us exchanging a kiss with her holding the “YES!” placard and the two of us standing at the front of “Will You Marry Me? / 让我照顾你”. Again, another award-winning moment.
The final Hollywood moment that we enjoyed came at the last shot…
As the camera focus blurred, leaving two orange lights (which matched the orange umbrella) in the background (complete with the lens flare effect), it concluded the entire video for us before it moved into the photo slideshow.
And if you haven’t already realised, what you hear during the slideshow is what Huiyi heard in her earphones just before I removed it.
Man, I think I should enter this out-of-the-world video (which I will embed for the last time) for some wedding competition… Wait a minute – I did!
Next chapter: the after-proposal reflection and reaction.
An amusing moment was when Huiyi suddenly recalled our parting words to Gideon, Caleb and Yvonne at KBM, before we started dinner. What she didn’t know was that Gideon and Caleb drove to a coffeeshop in Bukit Gombak (the Chargrill one!) not just to have dinner but to furiously edit the photographs and the video that they just captured.
One of the key reasons for throwing a party was to screen the video and photo slideshow of the proposal at KBM. I wanted all who were present to see what transpired; and it was became a highlight for everyone, including Huiyi and myself. We watched this video after I gave a speech and it caught Huiyi by surprise too.
The crew was superb and they delivered as promised. And get this, they were furiously editing away on their laptops while they were still soaked in sweat and rainwater! Now, that’s what I call dedication. That’s what I would salute as commitment.
That, my friends, is a no-questions-asked kind of brotherhood. And it still leaves me in a state of indebtedness even as I jot it down. Their effort to bless Huiyi and I was second-to-none.
It was then that I saw how these professionals got personal with me. And this time, I’d much rather settle for the latter.
When you view the video again, bear in mind that it was produced by two remarkable men, on two empty stomachs, within two hours, and under the most unpleasant physical conditions.
They truly went all the way for Huiyi and I. Thank you, Gideon and Caleb – I will never forget your love!
Next chapter: the analysis of the video.
As we entered the function room, the air-conditioning suddenly hit us and we nearly stumbled into the glass door. Huiyi almost tripped as she asked if she was at her function room. And as soon as I gave her a cursory reply to distract her from our grand entrance…
“SURPRISE!!!” Everyone screamed at my cue to perfection!
See the video of her shocked reaction here.
And I kid you not. She literally shook and practically got the shock of her life when she opened her eyes. It was quite a sight!
She expected one present from one person, but she was greeted by nearly 40 people instead. I gathered both sides of the family, her closest girlfriends, my closest man-friends and our beloved cell group. What a gathering!
But seriously, how could I ever allow her birthday to pass without a birthday party? I saw absolute delight on her face as she celebrated with the some of the people she was most intimate with in her 24th year on Earth.
See how she was nearly presented her cake by the wrong guy here.
They were ready to see her through a new phase of her life.
“Okay, this is the final part – I have no more surprises after this.” I told her and her parents (who found out about this party just 15 minutes ago) as I finally began to unwind in my mind.
I have never been happier telling the completely honest truth.
One by one, our friends approached my mother, her parents and the both of us to congratulate us of our engagement. We were flooded with handshakes and hugs, and it was such an unbeatable feeling.
Throwing a party to celebrate this moment proved to be a wise choice after all. And I was pleased with my decision to go over-the-top. I gave a short speech after the birthday cake and song presentation to thank everyone for turning up as well as to give credit to our friends who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this proposal so successful.
It was joyous time of merry-making, congratulatory conversations and re-telling of the entire day’s worth of memories. Huiyi and I individually and together, felt the love in the room for the both of us. We felt so blessed to be so wonderfully supported.
(By the way, every ice-cream flavour was generally well-received except the ginger and sesame tubs. I was so tickled by the younger ones lamenting about my peculiar choice of flavours. But I digress…)
I am intentional in almost everything that I do. And one of the reasons why I wanted to throw a party for Huiyi was to show her parents how well-loved and supported we were.
I also wanted both sets of parents to interact in the midst of our friends, just as I wanted Maisie (and her boyfriend, Bryan) to get to know Xianyi (and his girlfriend, Eileen) a little better.
Having this precious group of people turn up was extremely meaningful and significant for us. More importantly, I wanted to show Huiyi’s family what a Christian community was all about.
And I think we managed to achieve it.
(While you await the final few entries to be published, click here to read Huiyi’s perspective of the party!)
Next chapter: the professional post-production pace.
As we drove past the guardhouse into the premise, I saw the function room teeming with life. Helium balloons, cutout letters, tubs of ice-cream, jars of tidbits and our closest friends most importantly, filled every inch of the 150 square-metre room. I could practically imagine their cheerful chatter and heightened anticipation while they patiently awaited our arrival for the last 45 minutes.
Keith, Melody and Yixian, amongst many others in my cell group, were exceptional helpers. They were my willing hands and feet in the function room and were resourceful enough to make magic out of the limited materials I purchased. I was never good with crafts so I was exceedingly grateful for their innovation and creativity. But above all, through their dedication to help us complete this perfect evening, I felt their genuine love for Huiyi and I.
Well, if there was only one mistake I made the entire day, it would be parking at the ground level instead of in the underground car park. Normally we would park the car in the basement so when she didn’t feel the car move down a slope, she raised an eyebrow.
Strike one. Ah, whatever. I am just 50 metres away from the function room and I had to continue to play it cool.
“Keep your eyes closed!” I reminded her to keep her promise as I exited the driver’s seat to head over to the passenger’s seat to usher her out of the Subaru.
“Careful, your head… Don’t open your eyes… Just follow me…” I repeated the same three magic words from earlier in the evening.
She was probably expecting me to lead her to her birthday present, since she hasn’t received one from me.
We walked along the stony path in the direction of the function room and there was a theatrical silence as we approached it. I didn’t even need to put my finger to my lips because everyone instinctively knew what they had to do.
It would take a complete moron to mess it up at this stage.
Next chapter: the entrance of exuberance.
Stop! (: Before we drive to Lakeholmz, click here to find out what went through Huiyi’s head during dinner at Privé!
It had been an extremely exhausting but entirely eventful day by the time we were done with dinner. And she was ready to head home. But I was just about ready to put part two together.
Of course, she has absolutely no clue what was going to come her way. As our clothes drenched from the rain began to dry, we packed two sets of barang-barang into one huge Privé paper bag.
I paid for dinner and we walked out of the restaurant hand-in-hand in absolute bliss; I was still getting used to feeling the engagement ring on her left finger in my right palm.
The feeling was surreal – both of us could barely believe that we were really engaged, and in such a dramatic fashion. It felt like a scene plucked out of a Taiwanese drama serial. And yes, I was delighted to have successfully executed a proposal that the two of us would remember for the rest of our lives.
The drive home was relaxed. As I took the wheel, I remember Huiyi asking me how I managed to pull everything together. She ran through the day’s events in her mind, from when she picked me up in the morning, to how I convinced her that I was in USS for the first time, to how she never saw it coming.
I felt wonderful, encouraged and absolutely proud of what I had done. She must have given me a million pats on the back for my gargantuan efforts. The result was more than worth the effort.
Even though I was drowning in her words of affirmation, the main thing on my mind was to transit from the car to the function room without giving the next part away. And I was fast running out of ideas on how to piece this jigsaw together…
I couldn’t use the blindfold trick anymore – not just because I’ve already used it but also because the blindfold had been chucked away somewhere in the boot; it was physically impossible for either of us to retrieve it now. Lakeholmz was just another traffic junction away and I was getting panicky and desperate.
I couldn’t whip up another story anymore – I had run out of deceptions, inceptions, interceptions and I had no exception but to tell it as it is. My content was straight-forward but I found the last morsel of wit in me to weave it as romantically as I could.
I ended up with this feeble attempt.
“Dear, I have one last surprise for you at your place. And I need you to cooperate with me. You must promise me to keep your eyes closed until I tell you to open it.”
I swear it sounded more schmaltzy in real life.
“You mean it’s in my room? Aren’t my parents at home? You mean they know about it? So weird – they are going to see walk into my room with my eyes closed!”
She jumped to a thousand assumptions like a curious 10-year-old girl. I could sense her excitement; she had every reason to considering she just got proposed to in such a dramatic fashion.
“Well, yeah it is…” I mean, it’s her function room, isn’t it? “Okay, no more questions. It’s a surprise.”
Yes, that was the only riposte I could manage.
Next chapter: the walk of anticipation.