Friday, May 23, 2014

The BIG familylane reunion in Singapore


I love waking up early in the morning after a good night's sleep. It's just before 5am and facebook is turned on to find a message from a Lewis Quinn :


I quickly checked my facebook list of return missionaries from our Church who have served in Malaysia to recall his year service years :

Interesting I thought as this man was called to serve in the mission from Liverpool England in 1998-2000 and as my son is serving in Manchester and coming home soon, this was my instantaneous reply to a message that came in at a time when I was sleeping at 4.08am

PG is Pagi in Malaysia which means am or morning and though I'm in Singapore that is primarily English speaking, I guess I haven't firmed my status location in facebook!

The short chat with Lewis continued :

 The Internet truly makes the world become a smaller place!


Immediately after the quick exchanges of messages with Lewis, I continued to look into my Google sites where I was just the day before, as part of my continuous learning exercise, spending time trying to catch up with what the company has been doing in its social media platform. The company Google has bought over Youtube and Blogger which I had started using since the year 2005. Though I have created my own email addresses with my self built websites, I was soon forced to use gmail and one thing led to another with Google+ for hangouts with our family online and I'm continuing to learn more.  Meanwhile, in the spirit of a forthcoming reunion that everyone in the family is excited about, while the household was still sleeping, I chanced to click something in google+ that led me to our youtube familylane channel that I was not familiar with and started to enjoy an old retro video that I had produced in 2002.

You can watch this rather long musical retro video that self starts as I experienced it right here.

What took me by surprise when I logged into the familylane account in youtube is that the familylane channel of videos had received about 37,000 views!!!! Did our family videos attract such a big crowd of viewers?? We're really just an ordinary family, maybe doing some extraordinary things in the eyes of the world, but I'm glad we could help to strengthen the theme or importance of family through our videos in our rapidly decaying or increasingly stressed up world, whichever way you like to look at it.

Now on to the forthcoming BIG familylane reunion with our first family visitor who already flew from the US to spend his whole summer in Singapore :

I took a pic of his luggage in our Spore home

He is none other than the youngest of the Liu brothers, Justin, brother of Jay who married Su in the summer of 2011. It was nice to tell Justin, 'Please make yourself at home as you are really part of our family!'

Here he is in our home and missing are the two older boys, Shuan being away in Thailand for a short stint of National Service training and Han, still in the UK on a Church mission whose homecoming will be the main reason for our BIG familylane reunion! Justin had initially been entertained mainly by Ying Er, the cousin of the boys. When I enquired where has he been taken to, shopping centres and restaurants was the response!

So I didn't waste time in taking them out on a night trail with a Singapore trekking group, starting from the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, following the 'Kampung trail' to Macritchie reservoir lakeside area which was a distance of about 12km plus :


All this I believe would be a good exposure for Justin compared to where his home is in Utah known for its Olympic ski resorts!
The boys close cousin Ying Er had a good exposure when she joined us in a trip to Utah in 2011 and have been back there again on her own already!

It was on this trip that Yir Er stood beside Justin to perform a musical presentation for the wedding where they probably learnt that they matched each other well in playing the violin. Listen to the beautiful music they shared with all the guests by clicking the video below :



Elder Chong Woon Han, his official name as one of the 80,000 volunteer missionaries for our Church, having served for a period that is coming close to 2 years now in June, gets to write home from his mission field in Manchester UK only on Mondays of each week. His last email on this date of writing shared a surprise encounter on his part :

 
My fourth brother and wife on holiday in the UK called the mission office and as it was his preparation or P-day, he was free to meet them for lunch. Looks like the spirit of the family reunion had already started with just 5 weeks to the time he gets to fly back to Singapore!

As a senior missionary or zone leader in the mission field, he has a car with his companion with the assignment to ferry returning missionaries on their due dates to the airport. The pics sent home recently below from his weekly emails shows their excitement in simulating as if it was their turn to go home! 

 

Countdown Begins
Sat 14th June 2014 - Fei's Birthday 

She is getting ready to fly to Singapore with her spouse Chris to reach Singapore early morning on June 20

Too bad their dog Gadget can't come along but I'm glad I got to meet him in California in the Chinese New Year of 2013

Sun 15th June 2014
Eve of Ern's birthday
Ern will get to celebrate his birthday on June 16 with the presence of Su who flew in with her spouse Jay on early morning of June 11 from Salt Lake City. We got the cake early at Lavender's in City Square JB on Saturday

The crowd is starting to get a bit bigger!

Not just family members coming from overseas but even friends like Tyler Baer who is another returned missionary who knew the family and children when they were much younger! It is a happy time for all of us and no wonder Mom has her usual wide smile in the background!

Mon 16th June 2014
Ern's birthday, Ray's off college for 2 weeks and Shuan back to Officers Cadet School


The crowd shrinks as Ray gets off college to go to Youth Camp in Malaysia for a couple of days

Shuan returns to Officers Cadet School for the week. He will graduate next month in July

Justin, Jay and Su were also out for the day

Alone as Ern went out to celebrate his birthday with his friends, I took the time to change the front two tyres of the car, after a puncture in the front left tyre, ...

....with matching Made in Germany tyres!

The car is all set with engine and air con serviced to ferry all the family members from and to the airport in the next few days in Singapore!

I also spent some time to read and sort emails to be able to post  the following :

Email from Uncle Tony 

Hi Sun Fu

Please convey my apology to Elder Chong (Han) for not being there to welcome him home with everyone friends and families from his very successful and wonderful mission! Let him know how proud I am of him for his performance in the mission field. Based on his weekly reports, I have enjoyed every minute of his experiences in the mission field, Manchester England Mission. What a wonderful missionary he is!

Now, he has to turn his time to his scholarship. He has to study hard to achieve his goals in life. Most important thing I would advise him at this stage of his home coming and transition to normal life is to make sure he keeps his faith in Jesus Christ and enduring to the end! Many have failed over the times thru successes, failures, challenging times and even events which contrary to normal activities and let their faith in Jesus Christ slipped away from them. Elder Chong (Han) needs to stay on course while on earth by not letting anything to deter his path to eternal life!

Thank him for me of his wonderful experiences he shared throughout his mission! Let him know that it helped me when I am serving the Mandarin Speaking Missionaries at MTC Provo to prepare them to go into the Mission Field. I have used his experiences in teaching the new missionaries. Let him know that we have a Sister who was sent to Leed England Mission (Mandarin Speaking). We have sent missionaries to Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Australia, Auckland New Zealand, Taiwan Taipei and Taichung Missions all mandarin speaking.

Almost all are caucasians with very little Asians. Yet when they first come into MTC, little mandarin would they know and by a week or two they are supposed to pray, speak in sacrament meeting, bearing testimony and teaching investigators in mandarin. They could do it. What transformation over a very short time! Anyhow, the Lord is preparing them to serve the areas to "Hastening the Work" of the Lord as explained by President Thomas S Monson June Ensign Issue 2014 the scripture referred to in D&C 88:73 "Behold, I will hasten my work in its time."

You might not have heard. Elder Jeffrey Holland spoken to members in Hong Kong in commemorating 60 years of missionary work. He had stated that this is the last dispensation.

IN the past 6 dispensations, the church resulted in apostasy and dissolution. In this and last dispensation, The Church and the Lord will not let the Church fail, nor stand down on any issues which confronts the Church. The Church will face the adversary squarely in every issues that will challenge the future of the Church. In other words, the Church will not stand down any more until the second coming of Jesus Christ and the good will triumph the evil!

The spirits are prepared to come forth in this last dispensation to finish the work here now. They are doing the Father's work with Jesus Christ at its helm. We have noticed the Elders and Sisters that are now coming into the MTC Provo are so much of that caliber. They are prepared with strong testimonies and faith in Jesus Christ to go out and hasten the work of the Lord. Wow! that is all I can say to be in the middle of these activities of missionary work. All the events are breaking out in the world, e.g. Gays and Lesbians and laws changed to fit their wants and desires; families are disintegrating, marriage are on the decline, religion bases are eroding, US government have major issues and economy is "NOT' stable. All these events are demonstrating that the times are almost here!

At MTC, the past 7 weeks, we have each week an apostle of the Lord come and speak to the missionaries and leaders and their talks were linked to all MTCs in the world.

In two weeks, we will have more than a hundred fifty new mission presidents and their wives at MTC Provo for just one week and they are sent to their respective missions in the world! There will be Apostles and general authorities in their midst speaking, teaching and preparing them to serve in their respective missions. How fortunate we will have in having sacrament meeting (Sunday) with these mission presidents and their wives with our missionaries here at MTC. Almost two thousands in attendance. What an experience!

Anyhow, with all these activities and we have new 12 more Elders and Sisters coming into our Mandarin Speaking Branch this week. We are busy to welcome them in and preparing them for mission field. Next week, we will have 8 Elders and Sisters leaving for the mission fields. Now you can see why I have to plan carefully to leave for oversea trip. With all these activities, I could not possibly leave, come and join and welcome Elder Chong (Han) home.

Best wishes and love to Elder Chong.

Tony

Last Email from Elder Chong :

Read the last email from Elder Chong on his mission, being the last Monday of the week that he usually writes to the family for the past Mondays of 103 weeks of his mission.


Tues 17th June 2014
The Games have started

It was quieter with 2 boys away but a simple card game soon entertains the smaller group

Wed 18th June 2014
3rd Anniversary of Su and Jay

3 Candles on a cake and 3 pieces of local delicacies to mark the event


They make a wish together before blowing the candles!

They would spend the night at Dorset Hotel downtown, explore parts of the city together and return home the next day.


Thur 19th June 2014
The Eve before everyone is here when Elder Chong returns.....it's getting exciting!

Just before 7am I am awake. Later than usual as it is school holidays in Singapore! It has been busy for me everyday, becoming the driver, marketing and cooking, entertaining family and friends, working with missionaries, communicating with business contacts and some time to update my blogs and facebook. This morning I thought it would be appropriate to review my blogs and facebook and continue to explore Google+ and I found this :

My postings to blogger and youtube, internet media that has been bought over by google, containing photos and videos has had over 560,000 views! Like to thank all viewers for the reward of satisfaction to know that my work of the heart has been appreciated!

Furthermore, all the photos of past years can be easily viewed as a collection of collages as per the samples below or click here to see them all as well as to see what is the latest number of views.







Latest message received from our oldest daughter Fei and her husband is that their flight has been delayed to be pushed back a day later!  I replied that it is ok for the Better Late than Never Dad!!!

Lunch time was spent in the home of a lady the Sister missionaries are teaching with an opportunity to meet her parents for the first time. She invited all the missionaries and I to her home for lunch.

I contributed my Malaysian curry chicken as a dish for lunch

Teresa, whom I had first met at the Nanyang Khek Community Guild of Singapore where she works has been very helpful to me in my family history research. Here she is showing her mom a book of my great grand father from Medan. The Nanyang Khek Guild has connections with all the other Chinese Khek or Hakka associations in South East Asia including the Hakka capital of the world in the city of Guangdong in mainland China. She will be of great help to me to find the home village Sou Kou of our ancestry with her connections.

Talking about China and family history, coincidentally one of the sister missionaries in the above photo is called from Hubei China with the same family name as our family ie Zhang.

Evening comes soon. Shuan, son no 2 calls home from camp to say he is detained at the army OCS Officers Cadet School camp this Saturday. Su and Jay are back to our Spore home. Ern and Jay are home too.The group left to pick up Ray at the Stake Centre who is back from youth camp in Port Dickson to go out this evening for dinner together in my car, without me, to play something in China town. I am home alone updating my journals and plan to pick up Shuan at 1030 hours tomorrow from camp but he must be dropped back before 7am on Saturday morning. At least he can be with us to welcome Elder Chong home at the Changi Airport tomorrow at the scheduled time of arrival of 1550 hrs! We will just not have Fei and Christopher whose flight had to be delayed from arriving on Friday morning to a day later on Saturday at a time that we are not aware of yet. All will be together at Church on Sunday where the siblings will present a musical number with the oldest brother, the music composer and musician, together with them in the ranks again!

Looks like we're having some small bumps here and there but we're the Chongs of Familylane who can handle it! We're all still very excited about tomorrow for Han to return home and hear his Cockney accent maybe? haha

Meanwhile, maybe we can her him sing in Mandarin when he was allowed to perform on Youtube which was posted on the month of my birthday and his. Click here to view it. Not bad for a beginner as he received over 8,000 views for his video!


Fri 20th June 2014
He's Home!


There were anxious waiting moments

Where is he? Can he see us? We can't see him!

This is certainly much better.

I see him! I see him!

Yes I think he sees us! Wow he looks dressed for a wedding!!!

Hahaha Happy Moments!!!

Time for hugs!

Two returned missionaries hugging each other feeling the joy of service and reunions!

Hurray for Elder Chong! But not all are here yet. After midnite big sister will be arriving with her hubby, late due to flight delays.
Nothing to stop us from starting to play right now and everybody is happy and laughing!

Back home the music begins to flow....



 Hearing all of them sing together at home again is a touching moment of this reunion!


It's nice to hear from David Archuletta who happened to walk into our Clementi Church Ward in Singapore and was met by Mom as recorded in a previous journal post. David is also a returned missionary who served in the country of Chile.




Sat 21st June 2014
They're home safely

Fei and Christopher touched down a day later than planned as they could not board their scheduled flight in LA as the airlines reported a broken window on the plane had to be fixed! They're up fresh in the morning to try the neighborhood's 'Roti Paratha'!

Shuan earlier in the morning at 7am had to leave to return to his camp to join us again tomorrow morning!

He will graduate next month to be commissioned as an officer, while serving his National Service in Singapore, in an official parade on the ground of the above pic! He would have spent 9 months at Officers Cadet School(OCS) after passing out from Basic Military Training (BMT) in October of 2013



Meanwhile he misses the party time on Saturday, when the Chongs and Thongs(Mom's side) get together. Before going to the party, Elder Chong needed to have an interview with a member of the Stake Presidency of the Church to be officially released from his mission.


Here he is with President Kuan after the interview and given the certificate of honorable release from his mission president from Manchester.

Off to the family dinner of the Chongs and Thongs :

At the family gathering, he is seen back in normal relaxed attire enjoying the food of the party

Here is everyone relaxing and enjoying the food and chats

There is even a video movie to watch in the background

Soon the games started for the kids, even big married ones!

The night ended with a photo session :

First one included all in the party...

...including those late like Jeffery, another Chong who married a Thong, Claudia, my wife's niece!

Then it was time for the creative younger generation for their photo shots



Leaving the best for the last!

Sun 22nd June 2014
Sabbath Day with Family History work and a musical number at Chuch

Shuan could book out of his military camp early in the morning for a day to join us for activities on Sunday.

We went to visit Mom's oldest brother for Su to do her interview with him concerning Mom's ancestors in the island of Hainan. After that we rushed to Church for the 1pm meeting at Pasir Panjang.

Han was invited to share his testimony at sacrament meeting in the Clementi Ward. His touching talk had brought tears to many and it was followed by a musical number sung by him and his siblings.



After Church, it was time to take some pics wearing our Sunday best!

Here's all the family!

As the photos were taken by one of the two professional photographers we have in the spouses of the girls which needs to be further touched up before being published, here is a sample of pics to be expected!



The Best for last always!

There was time to have special moments with Mom at the Columbarium :





Soon it was night fall and Shuan had to return back to the army camp. He cannot return home till the following weekend by which time Fei and Su with their spouses would be gone.
He had to say his good bye early!

Mon 23rd June 2014
Time flies as they say and it was time for Su and Jay to fly home too


Their plane was on time to take off at 6am. It was sweet of them to spend two weeks with the boys in Singapore!

Good byes and Departures are always sad!


It was a lonely drive back from the airport without the scenic view of Marina Bay using the new M.C.E. 5 lane tunnel.

In the afternoon it was showtime to watch a movie...

... Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt

I was delighted that I could enjoy a senior citizens discounted ticket of SG5 dollars instead of the normal SG9!
We had good centre seats in the cinema

At the bus stop on the way home, I snapped some quick sibling shots.

.
Here is another!


Tue 24th June 2014
Internet Games Fest!

It all started when Han spotted a massive discount for online for games like Castle Crasher at 90% off the original price.

He bought it the night before and soon a party of 4 players assembled themselves together for the Games to Begin!

Here is the screen of the Castle Crasher game

Fei had her partner Christopher to take over the game for her too!

There was ice cream and root beer to fuel the players!

Wed 25th June 2014
Today is Fun in the Sun day!

You can tell which brother just came back from the UK as the trio head into the water

They seem to be sensing the area or temperature in the water...

... and finally making a declaration, "We will have FUN!!!"

Here are the three muscle men siblings! Missing is the brother in National Service.

With them is the oldest sister Fei leading the fun with her husband Christopher hosting the activities of fun and games!

They all had fun in the wave pool together



Dad had fun in the pool too except you can't see his face when he is splashing into the water! hahaha

He is laughing out loud to score again for another senior citizen's discount of paying only SG80 cents to enter the swimming pool complex!

Dinner was a pizza treat by Christopher

Everyone went back to help clean up the home before having family scripture reading time

Then the internet games fest starts again this time with Shuan joining to make up the complete gang of four!


Thu 26th June 2014
The last day of the BIG Familylane reunion

As Fei and Christopher are leaving early morning the next day, this is the time to have a good dinner together at the two chefs restaurant in the neighborhood.

Besides treating us dinner, Christopher also had bought a cake to celebrate Fei's birthday with the family that was belated as she was then in the US on June 14.


After blowing the candles and cutting the cake, memories of Fei were shared by each family member

Games continued through the night until it was time for Fei and Christopher to head out to the airport for their flight that leaves at 6am. Before that the family spent time to continue reading the scriptures together.

We wished them well for their flight home and appreciated the time spent with the family on the occasion of Han's return from his mission.

The fun and memories of having all of us together in this BIG Familylane reunion in Singapore will never be forgotten for a long time to come! Everyone worked together to clean house, played and ate together, even prayed and read scriptures together. There were tears of joy shed, laughter and cheers of elation poured out, an all time high of all our spirits and attitudes. I had summarized it, in the presence of Mom's spirit at the columbarium,"We may be weak as individuals but together we are strong as a family!" This is the magic that we've experienced in Familylane.

Han's visit to Malaysia next :

In Kuantan -






In Kuala Lumpur -





In Singapore - Back again with friends from China met in UK visiting him....



.... not forgetting my 4th brother and his family who were in the UK on holidays in June as the first to see Elder Chong there while he was still serving on a mission and later became the last to see him again after he was released back in Singapore as seen in the family photo below taken in August :




1 comment:

Chong Poh Ling said...

Good to know!