perth day 9: I carry you with me.
Four final shots at our unofficial Perth Retreat Centre. Haha! :P
I’m glad I took the time and effort to write daily in the past nine days; now these wonderful memories are forever locked away and never forgotten (especially since I am so absent-minded). It has been a memorable holiday and certainly served its purpose of providing rejuvenation and revelation. With bated breath, I look forward to leading R-AGE, marriage preparations, restarting a new school semester next week and… My next holiday. (: For now, I believe I will enjoy re-reading these entries and re-living those memories:
- Day 1: high time to unwind. | Huiyi and I set foot in Down Under determined to unwind.
- Day 2: uptown girl and downtown boy. | One day was all we needed to see the city centre.
- Day 3: a tiny glimpse of the great outback. | We felt awed and dwarfed by God’s majesty.
- Day 4: mentoring on the road. | All roads lead to deep and meaningful conversations.
- Day 5: in wide open wonder. | Man could only complement what God delivers everyday.
- Day 6: the jewel in any family. | Prayerfully, may it be a foreshadow of Mummy and I.
- Day 7: it doesn’t matter where we go or what we do. | Love should be experienced together.
- Day 8: top eight regrets of this holiday. | I’ll add one more – wished this break was longer!
Day 9 passed the fastest. Before we knew it, we already had lunch and completed last-minute purchases at Cockburn (pronounced “Koh-burn”, not “Kok-burn”) Gateway Shopping City. We returned home after that and Huiyi and I attempted to seal our luggages while Ervina and Chin Seng prepared for our last supper at the patio. No one could actually tell that I was feeling quite sad that I would soon be saying goodbye to the lovely people here; I honestly thought it was too melodramatic to display my emotions so I held myself back.
Chin Seng powered up the outdoor gas-powered barbecue pit and brought out gigantic tiger prawns and huge chicken wings while Ervina prepared a refreshing spinach garden salad with red wine vinegar and a lovely concoction of mint honey iced tea. Even Granny Aw joined in the action and contributed an avant-garde spicy cucumber and parsley salad of her own. (I’m pretty sure Huiyi and) I felt the love that has been so generously lavished upon us as we waited for dinner to be ready. Ervina gave thanks for the final time as we tucked in to a sumptuous spread. I shamelessly asked Granny Aw if she would miss me… And she said, “当然会，你们走了这个屋子没有那么热闹”. My heart practically melted.
We snapped our final photos before we gathered in a circle in the living room and held hands to pray for one another. I was so inspired by the way Granny Aw prayed – fervent and full of faith! With one final sweep of the house, we ensured that we had left nothing but good memories behind. We sat in their grey Mazda 3 for the final time, linked up with Ervina’s grandmother along the way, and drove to Perth International Airport.
There was a part of me that wished that there was only four of us at the airport. Maybe without Ervina’s relatives around, I might have actually expressed some emotions because I needed an outlet! I already knew that I was going to miss them both so much and even as I type this, I feel a heart-wrenching sensation at the core of my being. Beyond all the sights and sounds, this couple was undoubtedly the highlight of Perth and I’m glad Huiyi and I spent the bulk of our time in their endearing company.
I love those Love Birds so much more after this nine-day getaway and I’m sure it will be a good reunion when we do meet again. Lord, thank you for bringing me to Perth but more importantly, thank You for placing Chin Seng and Ervina in my life.
Darling, maybe someday
Forever I will stay
Lord knows that’s what I’m dreaming of
And I’m trying to find a way
But for now the wind keeps blowing
It carries me across the sea
So don’t you worry now, because
I carry you with me
I carry you with me
(“I Carry You With Me” | Tyler Burkum)
perth day 6: the jewel in any family.
I just received the “Never Let Go” updates from Yixian… 176 in attendance, 16 newcomers, 4 salvations, 2 re-dedications! Wow! God is good! Praise Him indeed…! Well done to everyone involved! Huiyi and I are really proud of you! In fact, she just asked me, “Are you a proud father?” And I nodded furiously! (:
I remember telling Huiyi that this holiday has passed surprisingly slowly; it feels like we’ve been here for a long time despite three more days on our itinerary. Normally time moves pretty quickly when you’re having a good time but time in Australia seems to pass at a different rate – and we love it.
I have written this entry on my way back from Denmark, a little town just about 100 kilometres off Albany. It had been a pleasant road trip. This incidentally is also the first time I’ve driven over 200 kilometres in one sitting. At the pit stop of our return leg, Ervina asked what each of our highlights were. It had to be the wind farm for me.
On a day with little activity (except driving) barring a visit to a berry farm, the West Cape Howe Winery and the Denmark Easter Market (which I’m told is the biggest market in Western Australia in the entire year), I’d like to talk about Chin Seng and his mother(, whose fitness is commendable for she could physically keep up with all our activities)…
I’ve always found it easy to speak with aunties and grannies and it was no exception for Granny Aw (I don’t actually know her real name). I have enjoyed breaking ice with this godly woman just by showing her my mischievous self (like a grandson would) and hearing her share her wonderful testimonies over meal times. Only moments ago, she shared a few more stories in the car. But what I’ve enjoyed most is to see that fire in her eyes and the enthusiasm in her voice when she shares what God had and has been doing in her life. I’ve been encouraged by her candid anecdotes communicated through four different Chinese languages – Mandarin, Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. I told her that the next time she’s back in Singapore, she must make time to visit Huiyi’s and my grandmother, to tell them both how good Jesus is.
This morning, we woke up to avocado sandwiches prepared by Ervina and checked out of the beach house soon after. The visit to the berry farm was an anticlimax one as fruiting season had already passed. So it was a good thing that the winery visit was more eventful. I was glad to have finally visited a winery – now I feel more complete as a former marketing manager for a wine company. I enjoyed tasting a variety of wines and managed to pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc at a pretty good price too.
In between those two places of harvest, we got a taste of the local spirit at the Easter Market. Huiyi and I aren’t big fans of such festivals; she’s convinced that she can’t find anything worthwhile in there while I’m just not fond of maddening crowds. So after a bratwurst sausage, we headed for the exit and went to enjoy our morning coffee instead at this establishment called Black Duck Cafe. Then we rejoined the gang for lunch at Bento Box, where Huiyi and I also bought matching Keep Cup coffee mugs that we would use in our respective offices and in future, our matrimonial dome.
We arrived at a local Chinese restaurant to pack dinner home. We wanted to head out to Little Creatures Brewery to have D&M but instead enjoyed it at the dining table over a few bottles of nice, cold and refreshing beer to bring the relaxing past three days to a wonderful finish.
There’s a Chinese saying that goes: 家有一老, 如有一宝. I admire the bond that Chin Seng shares with his mother; how they would converse in dialect; how he would, without fail, hold her hand to cross every road; and how he would lovingly reprimand his mother for things she would scold him for when he was younger – buckling up in the car, not buying unnecessary things and wearing enough clothes to keep warm, just to name a few. Prayerfully, may it be a reflection of Mummy and I two decades down the road.
perth day 5: in wide open wonder.
Gracefully powering Albany – taken by Huiyi on my iPhone 4.
You could never, ever, get sick of looking at the awesomeness of God’s beautiful creations – be it rock formations, waves crashing onto the coastline or just another sunset; Man could never recreate anything of this magnitude and yet God’s work takes place on a moment-by-moment basis, every single day of our lives! Is there a day that the waves would stop crashing or the sun stop setting? God is consistently faithful indeed.
To wake up from an 8-hour rest always feels good; to arise to the smell of baked bacon – that’s even better; and to walk out to bright sunshine, fresh air and air-conditioned temperature – I couldn’t ask for more. How could I not relax in such amazing conditions?
I already had a good feeling about today during breakfast – when Chin Seng and Ervina reminisced about their initial days in Perth and the struggles and victories they experienced, both individually and as a couple. I could relate to some of those settling-down blues as I experienced it in my first couple of months in Shanghai – those kind of days make you want to return home immediately.
I volunteered to take the steering wheel for most parts of today and in Australia, a driver’s best friend is Miss GPS. Our itinerary today were within close proximity of each other. We started our day with a brief visit to the strawberry park; this open-air one felt slightly different from the enclosed one at Zhao Tun in Shanghai; of the three strawberry farms I’ve visited (the other one in Cameron Highlands), I like the Shanghai one best – simply because I could eat the strawberries as I picked it.
Next up, Whale World, where we learnt about the history of the Cheynes Beach Whaling Company and how it played an integral role in the entire make-up of Albany; in short, the whaling industry made Albany. I’m relieved that these seemingly inhumane killings are now a thing of the past. Lunch served at the Whalers Galley Cafe was just as good as yesterday’s dinner; meals in Australia are costly, so I’m glad that portions are huge enough to share. The little wildlife farm at the back of Whale World (called Discovery Bay’s Walk on the Wild Side) felt like a repeat of the first wildlife farm we visited.
Sights and sounds started to get awe-inspiring when we made our way out of the man-made Whale World…
First, to The Blowholes at Torndirrup National Park. Wikipedia does a better job at describing it – a blowhole is formed as sea caves grow landwards and upwards into vertical shafts and expose themselves towards the surface, which can result in quite spectacular blasts of water from the top of the blowhole. There was a local who literally sprawled his body across a blowhole. What he did looked cool but honestly, it was a stupid thing to do for he could have gotten blown away by the blast!
Next, to The Gap and The Natural Bridge, also in the same park. No words would describe what I saw, so it may be better if you googled these two terms instead if you are keen to see what it looks like and how it was formed (since my photos are still sitting in my DSLR). We enjoyed these natural phenomenons against a backdrop of the setting sun and I must say every shot taken looked brilliant.
Finally, our day reached a literal high at the Albany Wind Farms, where we saw 12 gigantic (!) high-tech, sci-fi looking wind mills. From a distance, these blades looked like they were revolving slowly, but they are actually rotating at a speed of nearly 200 km/h! We also learnt that wind power accounts for 80% of Albany’s power supply; I can understand why after seeing these giants in action in front of a dramatic purple-hue sunset.
That more than sums up Good Friday… The girls are preparing a sumptuous dinner as I write this entry… Oh man, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into beef steaks, pork chops and potato salad over D&M dialogues… It’s going to be a great evening!
perth day 4: mentoring on the road.
I don’t normally fancy driving on road trips because I do not have good driving stamina; by about 60 minutes I’ll start to feel fatigued and would want to do a pit-stop – my last road trips from Shanghai to Hangzhou and from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur were no different. It certain didn’t help when my navigators started to sleep on the job. Haha. This time however, enroute from Perth City to Albany, I got past that dreaded hour-mark by singing to 五月天 music and engaging in good conversations with the rest of the passengers.
We discoursed a plethora of issues, be it inevitable topics like Grace AG, R-AGE and YAYP, to more interesting topics like:
- Mentoring is dynamic (i.e. organic), not decisive.
- Mentors are one-off, but mentoring is life-long.
- Mentoring is complex – both systemic and seasonal.
- Mentoring is about the process and the product.
- What happens when meritocracy creeps into mentoring?
- Who’s going to mentor those whose potential isn’t obvious?
- Could mentoring success be derived from duplicity alone?
- What is the sustainability and repeatability of a mentoring cycle?
- What is the optimum age gap for mentors to retain their relevancy?
- If Jesus had more than 3 years in ministry, would he have continued journeying with his 12 disciples or would he have “released” them to be disciple-makers and gone ahead to make 12 new disciples?
At the end of the day, I arrived at one conclusion, as cliche as it may sound, that human mentors are finite while God’s sovereignty is infinite. We as disciple-makers can only impact, invest and impart so much, and it’s not very much at all! Hence, I honestly opine that regardless of all the possible answers we could find from the above questions, it’s more important for any mentor to enjoy the entire journey, regardless of its outcome, and trust God to shape lives for His glory.
Well, back to the extraordinary mundane… (:
Today packed a straightforward itinerary; we had breakfast at home before setting off to Albany via a 420-kilometre/ 5-hour road trip; saw and fed Alpacas on our first pit stop; fed ourselves over lunch at Black Cockatoo Cafe; drove past Dog Rock and checked into our beach house destination at Barry Court; went for a walk at Albany Town Centre, had dinner of fish, squid and chips at The Squid Shack near Emu Point; went to Albany Creek to do some grocery shopping at Coles Supermarket; and finally returned to our single-storey bungalow. It’s 10:30pm as I write this entry and I am about to retreat to bed – finally, a good night’s rest beckons!
As usual, I always learn from Hunk (aka Chin Seng) every time we interact. This time, he imparted a life-and-death lesson into my system – about decisiveness on the road. Read that as metaphorically as you want… All I shall say is, by the grace of God, I thank God for allowing that overtaking incident to have taken place smoothly… (:
P/S 1: Huiyi and I celebrate our 40th month together today! It is a good Friday indeed. (:
P/S 2: We’re praying for “Never Let Go”! Keep up the good work, R-AGE! Invite friends!
P/S 3: I will post more pictures in my DSLR when I get my hands on a USB cable. For now, here’s what I found in a shop called “Thingz”. I didn’t buy it of course… Bottoms up!
perth day 2: uptown girl and downtown boy.
With barely four hours of sleep in my tank, I staggered out of the Leontes Way abode while Huiyi swaggered out completely refreshed. Ervina very kindly alighted us at South Street, where we had breakfast with Su Ern at the rustic Ootang & Lincoln cafe. Breakfast was exorbitant by any standard despite it being an enjoyable experience for it was wonderful to share a meal with Pastor Meng Cham’s daughter for the first time.
We made our way to Perth City after breakfast by train and I think I had one cup (of coffee) too many. By lunch, I had already consumed three shots and that (I reckoned) proved to be my undoing for the second half of the day; I found myself visiting the washroom once every hour. Down Under became an uncomfortable experience down under.
As we sauntered through Wellington Street, Murray Street and ultimately to Forrest Avenue where we picked up Liang’s black Mitsubishi Colt at City Towers, fragments of where I’ve visited the last time I was in Perth (in 2007) began to return to me. We put our belongings in the backseat and thanked God for the favour we have received from such generous friends.
We strolled to Saint Mary’s Cathedral and spent some moments at the pews, and committed to God this new phase of our courtship. That was a sweet moment that we both enjoyed – God and us in a beautiful place of worship. I couldn’t ask for more.
Functional eating meant that we settled lunch at the substandard House of PASTA. We interchanged between the red and yellow CATS (Central Area Transit System) to get from place to place and we eventually ended up at Harbour Town, where the factory outlet stores were located. We were quite proud that we exited City West unscathed – our wallets still looked pretty healthy.
Like in Singapore, Tuesdays are also half-priced waffle days at Gelare; the smell of toasted (or baked?) waffles proved too tempting for us and we succumbed; I think I have been eating too much… So thankfully I lost some weight at night with frequent visits to the lavatory.
On hindsight I’m glad I proposed to Huiyi in Singapore instead of in Perth. While it was a picturesque moment over sunset at King’s Park, there wasn’t anyone to help us capture that moment. We immediately thanked God for the amazing Gideon and Caleb. They contributed significantly to a wonderful video – we wouldn’t be able to relive that special moment if not for their dedication and commitment to Huiyi and I. Thank you, boys!
Our final stop of the day saw us end up at Leederville, where we met Pastor Mark Varughese together with his wife, Jemima and son, Ezekiel. Ps Mark was the plenary speaker for Rhema Conference 2010 and it seemed only yesterday that we brought him out for lunch at Zhou’s Kitchen in Singapore. That was nearly four months ago; time has flown us by indeed…
Giadini served excellent pasta – yes, we had it again for dinner – and I ordered Prawn Ravioli and Angel Hair Agio Olio for Huiyi and I respectively. The portions were huge – so we had enough to takeaway for dinner the next day.
We went to the nearby San Churro Chocolateria for our dessert of Spanish Hot Chocolate almost immediately after before driving 25km back home. (I’m secretly proud that our navigation back to Leontes Way was successful on our first attempt!) It was wonderful to spend a little time with the Love Birds when we got back for it gave us a preview of the D&M (Ervina’s self-coined “Deep & Meaningful”) conversations that we were certain to engage in when we embark on our Albany-Denmark road trip on Thursday.
P/S: I’ve written this entire entry enroute to The Pinnacles as Huiyi persuaded me to rest early last night. She forbid me from using the computer. I guess there’s a new hierarchy established now, especially when it comes to physical rest, which she’s enjoying now, seated beside me in the 4WD coach.
perth day 1: high time to unwind.
Huiyi and I have arrived safely in Perth, Western Australia, and we’re looking forward to a good break with some friends here.
We have just checked into the Love Birds’ (aka Chin Seng and Ervina’s) home – lovely place – what a house to call home! And I got myself acquainted with the couch, while Huiyi made her bed on a spring mattress. I was unusually hungry and ate a bowl of noodles and a plate of bee-hoon (and one dark chocolate Tim Tam. HAHA). It must have been the flight.
Liang Zhi actually took leave and offered to pick us up from the airport (and spend the next couple of days with us) but he had to leave for South Korea with his fiancee on a last minute’s notice. I’m quite bummed that Liang and I won’t be able to spend time together as he’s one of my closest buddies and half the reason I’m visiting Perth. He has, however, generously offered us his Mitsubishi Colt and SIM card for the duration of our holiday – what a blessing!
Ps Mark Varughese and Jemima also offered to pick us up from the airport – what a generous gesture! – but over the weekend we couldn’t contact him to confirm this arrangement. We just found out via Facebook that his house was robbed and his laptops were stolen. Sigh – We hope the family is all right.
Hence, I had to ask the exceptional Chin Seng and Ervina if they were kind enough to accommodate to our last-minute request and pick us up from the airport; I asked Chin Seng just before we boarded the plane and he was so cool about it.
(I digress, but I seriously need a new laptop; the battery barely lasts for 45 minutes and I’m seeing a lot more rainbow wheels these days. I wanted to play Football Manager on the plane and could only last four games before the battery went into the red. Tragic!)
On the plane, we were sandwiched between two rows of Caucasians – fidgety young men behind us and a mother with two daughters in front of us who made such a ruckus. Honestly, it got a little annoying… But what got me thinking was how I seemed to be that tad bit more tolerant than usual. Would I have been more impatient if they were Chinese nationals? After all, these Caucasians didn’t behave very differently from a PRC’s typical social conduct. Was it because I was about to enter their country? Was it because I was taking a budget airline? Was it because I was tired? Was it because I didn’t want to create a scene since I was with Huiyi? Or was it because there was a deeper, unexplored meaning behind my hesitance to react? Hmm…
It won’t be long before we wake up to have breakfast with Su Ern before we head to Harbour Town (factory outlet$!) and Perth City itself for a free-and-easy walk-about. On a personal note, after being chased by the tyranny of the urgent over the last few months and the insanity of my relentless schedule in Singapore, I refuse to enjoy this holiday like a Choleric… Instead I shall attempt to bring out my hidden Phlegmatic in the next week. Yes, Huiyi’s going to be the 老板娘. HA.
But seriously, I think it’s high time for me to unwind and to receive a fresh new revelation from God in His Word. I can’t wait to spend quality time with Him… And with my lovely fiancée! (:
wisdom from my favourite hunk in Perth.
As I attempted to clean up and archive the notes in my computer today, I found pearls of wisdom from CS. These were the things I remembered from his sharing with me over an afternoon coffee session in Clementi Central, way back in March. Re-reading it, I realised that wisdom and righteousness are timeless and evergreen – such advice never gets mouldy or irrelevant, regardless of which stage of life you’re at or in.
“When people are against your ideas or what you share, involve them in prayer and ask them to bring it to the Lord in prayer too.”
This exhibits “Show your enemy the other cheek” in a different perspective. When you operate this way, it becomes unmistakable when God speaks to both parties. When we pray, He confirms and works, and even the most opposing opinions can work together, compromised and accepted, for the sake of working towards achieving His will. At the end of the day, all the glory will have go to Him for He enabled what was humanly impossible to be possible.
“There’s no winner in an argument. Someone will lose.”
CS’ sentiments on arguments confirm what I’ve always subscribed to – that I’d rather lose the argument than lose the relationship. (In the last six months, I realise that I have actually been practising this principle. And while it’s not easy deliberately losing – I’m being honest, I am a competitive and outspoken person and I have a man’s pride! – I’m actually at peace with it because I don’t find it a need to prove myself to anyone or to convince others of my ideas.) Conversely speaking, when you do prioritise people over problems, you may actually win both. Win them over and naturally they’ll be more inclined to listen to you and be opened to your ideas; they may even sway towards your argument and stand with you. Over the years, I’ve learnt that people are more willing to listen to you when they know that you have their best interests at heart. Ironically, they need to be first convinced of your affections for them before they are convinced of your argument.
“No matter how high you climb, there will always be areas you’ll need growth in.”
The day will come when you no longer have any man (or woman) above you in a hierarchal setting, but the Lord Himself. This is the greatest test of humility and teachability. The two most poisonous words in a confident, mature and experienced person is, “I know”. This arrogant phrase single-handedly puts people off in correcting you and giving you feedback. Always adopt an attitude of learning regardless of how old, wise, experienced or mature you are in a particular situation. The moment you stop learning is the (tragic) moment you stop living.