Sunday, June 23, 2013

Singapore Day 2: Sweet Sunday

Murtabak stuffed with mutton, with
more curry sauce to spice it up.
"What do you guys think about breakfast before church?" Cheryl asks. She's awake with us at 4am.

We're for it ... especially since it's not Western food. "The nearest place that serves decent Western breakfasts charges S$15 for French Toast," she explains. Out of our league, even if we were interested. (We're not.)

When you're wide awake that early, an uninterrupted day lasts a long time. I have a quick snooze between 7-8am.

The Murtabak with mutton is super, and we're stuffed when we get to church. I know we're in a different culture when the announcements begin with "Let me tell us about this." (The person making announcements is part of the group, not an individual telling others what's coming.)

The VFC sanctuary (no balloons today,
but this is where we met)
The worship is great - 6 voices, 5 instrumentalists. The usher goes on stage to collect the offering from the worship team and pastor before coming down to the rest of us.

Pastor Joseph, a former lawyer and church planter, is a compelling speaker. His text is Romans 4:17-22. To keep our attention, he uses a device common here: group repletion. "We're talking today about Abraham. Everyone say 'Abraham.'"

The audience responds, "Abraham."

When he reads V. 20, he says, "... grew strong in faith. Everyone say, 'grew strong in faith.'"

And the audience complies, "Grew strong in faith."

Soon we're instructed, "Turn to your neighbor and say, 'You have a measure of faith.'"

W and I look at each other. We're not used to this. We instinctively raise our eyebrows rather than our voices. It's always fun to see what Family does in different cultures. This church is renowned for planting house churches all over the world. There may be as many as 8-9000 church plants in the past decades. As far as they can tell to date, the church has five generations of church planting (the mother church has sent a planter, whose church planted, and then that church plants another, etc.)

Pastor Joseph has a beautiful singing voice. He leads us a Capella in one of my favorite choruses, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship his holy name." Then we're called to the front if we desire God's help as our heavenly Father.

"God is honored when we ask for much," the pastor reminds us. "It shows that we believe we have a great God, who has limitless resources. He is not made poor by our requests, but delights to hear us ask him for all we need."

I need a fresh anointing of God's Spirit and I'm eager to ask. In this new calling, we will need wisdom and strength, along with the insight and power that only the Holy Spirit can give.

We return to our seats for closing announcements. At the front, off to one side, is a plexiglass box marked "Decency Cloths." inside are blue fleece blankets. An older lady hurries over to cover a gal lying prostrate on the floor praying. The woman stays on the carpet until service is over. Then a few women come up to pray with her. After we are dismissed, as many greet each other and leave, groups of 5-10 pray together among the pews.

Singapore MRT
No one is hungry for lunch. Jay has to teach in the afternoon, so he drops us at the Tampines MRT (train) station on his way to his class. There's no litter on the trains. Women wear flip-flops or cute sandals, shorts, or skirts. The men wear tight indigo jeans with t-shirts and sneakers.

On the way, a group of young people chatters on the train. The guys sit on each others' laps when there are too few seats. Many passengers are texting or checking email. When the teens say noisy goodbyes to each other at a station stop, older people hiss "sssssshhhhh" at them and all becomes quiet again.

We ride to Bugis, a suburb with a huge vendor market and a shopping hub for electronics. I need a sun hat. I don't find one at the Bugis market but the perfect one is waiting at OG, a Japanese department store nearby. It shades my fair skin from the sun. I wear sunglasses, another rarity among women. Many people stare me right in the eye/glasses as they walk by. I look back at them from behind dark lenses.

We eat at an okay place in Little India, sitting between the road (congested with narrow lorries, hundreds of Indian men, and an occasional woman) and the statue of a black goddess with enormous breasts. I keep glancing over to see who's watching us. There she is. Ugh. The chicken korma is fine, the Basmati rice is tasty, and the fennel/coriander potatoes are delicious.

The Indian (Bangladeshi?) men walk holding hands or with arms around their shoulders. The men are out in droves, visiting before the workweek resumes. They ignore traffic lights to drift across the roads in huge swarms or sit in open areas chatting and smoking together.

Little India. Lots and lots of men!
We hop a bus from Little India back to the Tampines Station. The cutest thing we see is while we're walking the mile home  is an older teen with trendy clothes, a serious Mohawk haircut, and a face mask (against pollution). He walks arm in arm with his tiny grandmother. He escorts her over the crosswalk and toward the apartment blocks. I don't have my camera, or you could enjoy the sight with me!

We've walked miles. It's pleasant out - it was still smoggy from the fires in Indonesia but not unbearable. The temperature was a pleasant 90+oF with a bit of a breeze off and on cooling the skin. It's still 93oF when we get home and the sun goes down about 7:10pm.

We're on floor 7. It's my first run at the stairs. My legs start to feel tired between floors 5 and 6. W carries his bag holding water bottles and a few purchases up the elevator. By the time he's unlocked the flat, I meet him at the door, ready for a refreshing drink.

God is good. We love this area - and are grateful for good health, the ability to walk as long as we want, eat whatever pleases us, and do God's work to boot. I think it's going to be another early night. Hope you all have a great day as the sun comes up on the N. American continent.

Read more:
*For dominion belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. Psalm 22:28 NLT

*They sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the Lord, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Ezra 3:11 NLT

*Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. Acts 2:46-47 NLT

Moravian Prayer: Thanks be to you, Lord Christ, for your presence in our lives, for the love you have poured out upon us through your life. We thank you for your teaching, your healing, and most of all, for giving your life for us. We know we are not worthy, but we feel your enduring love. Amen.

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