Daily Archives: July 23, 2011

XI. the red tape that I couldn’t clear.

I actually called USS VIP Tours and asked if I could speak with someone who would be willing to coordinate the event with me. The staff who attended to me was freaked out at my every request, so she brought it to her supervisor who brought it to her manager. Be it to bring equipment in, make a complimentary recce trip, or have Shrek or Fiona make an appearance. I don’t blame them though, because it’s not normal that they speak to some nutcase who wants to execute something unprecedented and radical at the hallowed grounds of USS.

But Rudith was superb. She sent out a couple of emails to the VIP Tours department as well as a couple of her friends who were in Ground Operations. Well, no one had presented them with such a request before and as much as I tried to PR my way into their PR department with my PR tactics as a former PR person, I faced a stone wall time after time. So after a few more email exchanges and phone calls, I decided against doing this officially because it was just way too difficult, cumbersome and tiring to clear the red tape.

Believe it or not, they even told me that Shrek and Fiona cannot go to New York because of intellectual property issues. Apparently, these two characters cannot leave Far Far Away… Can you believe that!? I was bemused by their unbelievable but understandable insistence on sticking to the integrity of the character.

So I had to count on Rudith and the by-left (aka more creative) methods. I must say, she really, Really, REALLY, went out of her way to assist me. Now, what Rudith had done for me, I will not and cannot disclose, even though I really want to because of the magnitude of her kindness, but I do not wish to get her into trouble or set a precedence for USS and get into trouble with them. Not to worry, she didn’t do anything that would cause her to get struck by lightning… So let’s just say that with Rudith’s help, things became way easier to plan and execute, so I was really thankful for her intervention!

Next chapter: the two visits before the actual visit.

your greatest trump card is not ability, but availability.

Now, let’s return to real life for just one more entry.

I’d like to capture how I’ve been blessed over the past two days at the Eagles Leadership Conference 2011 (ELC), which took place at the Suntec City Convention Hall. It was my first ELC. It started when I brought Peter Chao out for his (very) belated birthday meal last month. I asked him if he needed help at ELC and he hooked me up to the various departments. I was ready for most assignments, so long as I could handle it.

I just wanted to be available to serve Eagles, for they have been exceptional with me. I guess it’s my way of returning their kindness and generosity with me. (And it turns out that my intention to bless them brought about a blessing too – I attended the conference free-of-charge as a volunteer.)

At first, they asked if I could serve as a videographer – I was frank with them and admitted my machinery incompetencies. I think I am more effective as an emcee, usher or with front desk duties. In the end, they assigned me to be a session coordinator (for Workshop 8)… And a narrator (i.e. voice-over) for the ELC 2013 promotion video. Or at least, that was what I thought I was going to do.

But when I came down to meet the producer on Wednesday, I found out that I wasn’t just the narrator… I got more than what I bargained for… I discovered that I would be filmed. Yes, f-i-l-m-i-n-g. Not voice-recording. It was a tremendous privilege, but I was a little stunned at their faith in me. So, I took up the challenge, returned home to memorise the script, rehearsed in front of a mirror, and recorded myself with my iPad 2.

The actual filming took place on Friday at the Grand Ballroom during lunch hour. It went more smoothly than I had anticipated and I only had a couple of bad takes. The producer was pleased with what he saw at playback and we called it a day.

At 9:20am, I received an SMS from Peter Chao. He asked if I was interested to join him at the Fuller Seminary alumni meeting at 10am. Of course I turned up… It was refreshing to meet a couple of the current students, as well as a few prospective students. Let’s just say… I can’t wait to graduate from RMIT. And what happens after that, I’ll let the Lord lead me… (:

Anyway, before the filming, I met Ps Edmund Chan outside the ballroom and told him that I would attend his afternoon workshop, which was titled, “Mentoring the Whole Person”. I told him that I was afraid I couldn’t get seats. To this he said, “Just tell the organisers that you have my personal invitation.”

I smiled at the generous favour I received from him.

Coincidentally, I was filming in the ballroom that he was going to be speaking at. So at the end of the filming, I saw him stroll in to prepare himself for the session. I asked him if I could serve him in any way possible. He said he was fine and proceeded with his own setup. It was already 1:40pm and I haven’t had lunch so I packed my belongings and got ready to leave the hall for a quick meal.

Just before I left, he stopped me.

“Joey, would you still like to help me?”

I was ready to skip lunch to perhaps help him with his slides, run an errand for him or just be his PowerPoint clicker.

“Later, I would like you to spend about five minutes to talk about how we met, and share a couple of your perspectives on mentoring. Edward is here too so I thought it would be a nice polarity to have my oldest and youngest mentoree share something with everyone.”

My jaw dropped as I stared at Ps Edmund.

I was in the company of giants. Ps Edmund is the Reverend Edmund Chan. And Edward is the Datuk Edward Ong (do yourself a favour and google him). Joey Asher Tan is the smallest guy on the totem pole.

“You want me to what?” I tried to communicate that to him with my eyes. He smiled at me.

I had the most stressful lunch, ever, in my entire life. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to say later.

Thank God I blogged about our divine appointment – so that really helped to jog my memory. And by God’s grace, within that 15 minutes, I somehow came up with 4 R’s of mentoring (which I chose not to share in the end because I felt it wasn’t necessary).

As Datuk Edward was bringing his sharing to an end, my heart was beating faster and faster to no end! I had never been so nervous before! Ps Edmund introduced me (!) and my hands began to tremble uncontrollably after I took the microphone. I uncharacteristically stammered and stuttered at some parts, and none of the eloquence in my arsenal showed itself. It was a humbling, humbling, humbling experience, but I was happy, happy, happy.

What an honour. What a privilege. What a moment!

It’s never about ability, isn’t it? It’s always about availability. All I wanted to do, was to be available to serve Eagles. And God took care of the rest.

You want me to what?

“I want you to be available.” — God

an intermission: 5,331 words later.

Dear readers,

I hope you’ve enjoyed our proposal story so far. Congratulations – we’ve arrived at Chapter X! But guess what, I’m only one-third through… (:

To be frank, I’m pleasantly surprised by the sudden and dramatic spike in the number of views. The last three-day running total was a staggering 1,273 hits, with 510 hits on Thursday, smashing the previous record (from last July) of 335 hits by a mile. I am amazed and amused at people’s interest in the way we got engaged.

But in all honesty, it makes me beam with pride yet I am also greatly humbled by it… Either way, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for checking out our lives. As we continue our pilgrimage, we’d like to ask you to keep us in your prayers. (:

Nonetheless, do allow me to carry out some housekeeping before we proceed with this series.

Firstly, we’ve taken part in a Facebook photo contest which you may already know about. We were initially in the lead, but another couple has overtaken us by around 90 Likes. So here’s the deal – I’m going to thank you in advance for helping us win this contest. Besides, it’ll take less than a minute of your time.

  1. Simply Like this page first.
  2. Then Like our photo.
  3. Then help us spread the word.

Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Do it now. Thanks. (:

And when you have time, do pop over to our pre-wedding blog. It’s called ILYTTE, which stands for “I Love You ‘Til The End”. As we count down to our wedding on 12th August 2012, we’ll try our best to journal this once-in-a-lifetime experience. For now, ILYTTE mirrors my blog, but in time, it will be home to other exciting stuff like Huiyi’s insights(!), RSVP forms, photos and more importantly, our preparation process.

As you know, I’ll be posting at least two entries per day from now until the end of the month. So may I invite you once again to subscribe to my blog via email? Allow me to save you some trouble and serve you some convenience.

One of the joys of writing has always been to hear from readers… Would you do me the honour of interacting with me by sharing with me your thoughts, opinions, feelings – anything and whatever – because I’d love to hear from you. (: Also, instead of posting your comments on Facebook, would you be kind enough to leave your comments here instead? Those precious comments will get lost in Facebook after some time but it would be safely archived on my blog.

Finally, if you’ve just joined us, here’s what you’ve missed:

Alternative, you can simply click on the ILYTTE tab above. (:

X. the preparation before USS.

Looking back to before the recce trip, I remember asking Cheryl about her recent experience at USS. She was the one who told me about the Pavilion and how the sun set beautifully over there. That actually prompted the site visit. She even sent me some of the photos she took at the Pavilion when she was there. It was important that I saw it for myself.

I also consulted Joel, who visited USS with Cheryl (and two others). Both of them gave me insights into what I would expect at USS as a visitor. Rudith however, could provide real advice on what I could or couldn’t do in USS, since she worked there. So I took the liberty to randomly and suddenly message her via FaceBook.

And within an hour, I received her reply via WhatsApp! I explained to her why I could not add her as a friend on FaceBook and that our communication would have to be discreet.

Normally, Huiyi has full access to everything in my iPhone (since I have nothing to hide) but in those crucial weeks, I was cautious whenever I texted or received a message from someone. I couldn’t afford to give it away due to a careless mistake of concealment.

Anyway, Rudith goes on to play an important role in my proposal. And considering that I was a complete stranger to her, what she did for me spoke volumes about the generosity of her character. You’ll discover soon why I’ve said that…

Next chapter: the red tape that I couldn’t clear.

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