Cultivating Fidelity Starts Young

Today is my last day of study for 2013 academic year in Far Eastern Bible College.  In the last lesson, the lecturer showed us this movie to conclude our studies on Biblical Counselling.

I was moved by the example set up by the father in the movie, who single-handedly brought up his only daughter, that I thought I should share this with all Christian parents here.

As Ashley Madison (AM), a controversial online extramarital dating website, announced its intention to launch in Singapore next year last week, it has since provoked the ire of many.  There are protests and petitions via the social media urging the local authorities to block the access to this website.  We are glad that the Minister for Social & Family Development is also against this set up (read here).

S'pore's Newspaper (My Paper) 23rd Oct 2013

Certainly, blocking AM from Singapore will not prevent a single act of infidelity from occurring.  There are abundant of temptations around us & one could easily fall into them if he/she is not strong.  But, as mentioned in James 4:7, we should resist them.  As citizens of Singapore, we should do our part to protect our families from breaking.

As parents, all the more we should teach our children good values since young.  We should teach our children to keep themselves pure & to abstain from fornication (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  With this well-rooted in our children, when our children become parents, the same right value is likely to be imparted to our grandchildren as well (we pray).

While it is important to block out all possible means of temptations to protect our families, it is far more important to cultivate & impart the value of fidelity to our children since young.  Train up a child in the way he should go: & when he is old, he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6 KJV).  When they are taught to walk the godly way, the straight & narrow way, they are less likely to stray.

This Christian movie is certainly worth watching.  The full 1-hour film can be viewed via this link :
while the trailer is here:

Protect our families.  Protect our children.

Remembering Christian Heros & Heroines

Today, being the last Sunday of October, my church held on to the tradition of remembering the 16th-century Protestants Reformation by Martin Luther.  Without his daring reformation, believing that 'the just shall live by faith' (Romans 1:17), we might not be able get hold of the physical Bible that we have today.  You may read about an article written by my pastor on this here.

I am sharing here today, a book I have read not too long again on a Holland Christian heroine called Carrie ten Boom.

If you are like me, who have not lived through war-stricken live before, it is not easy for you to understand what kind of destructions civil war can bring to the common people.  I am born in the 1970s, by God’s mercy, I have not witnessed any civil war thus far.  But I remember, a decade or so ago, Singapore’s broadcasting company did broadcast a drama series on Japanese invading Malaysia & Singapore during the World War II.  The drama series is called ‘Wu Suo Nan Yang (雾锁南洋)”.  As I read through this book which talked about Germany invading Holland during the World War II, images of the drama series came into my mind.  Having watched the drama series & now reading this book on Corrie ten Boom, I can picture the scenes of torment described in the book better.

The 1st chapter of the book started with the description of Corrie, her older sister Betsie and her father being dragged to the prison as the family had hidden 6 Jews in a secret place (called Angels’ Den) in their house. From 2nd chapter onwards, it was a flashback of Corrie’s life since 17 of age.

Corrie was the youngest in the family.  She had 2 sisters & a brother who was being trained to be a pastor.  They could all speak German, English & Dutch. The family even fostered 10 children, raising them to adulthood.  Corrie’s father ran a clockshop and was 1 of the most skilled clockmakers in Holland. Corrie saw the popularity of wristwatch and thus went to Switzerland to learn how to make & repair wristwatches.  At age 32, she was certified as a watchmaker.

The family had been strong in their faith.  Every morning, Corrie’s father would read a chapter of the Bible aloud after breakfast, and always ending with a special prayer of blessing for the queen of Netherlands.  Everyone in the house, except those sick in bed, was expected to be at the morning Bible reading and prayer.

To most of the local people, Corrie’s father was known affectionately as “Haarlem’s Grand Old Man”. He was so popular that many would visit his shop for advice, kind word or prayer.  They even pooled their money together to buy him a radio!

Because of the geographic location of Holland, it would be difficult not to be involved in a war, as ally or enemy, when Germany started World War II.  On 9 May 1940 9.30pm, the Dutch prime minister assured his people over the radio that they would not go into war, something which Corrie’s father thought was naive.  True enough, in the wee morning of the next day, Germany attached Holland.

Nazis (the ruling party in Germany then) hated the Jews, and thus the 115,000 Jewish people who lived in Holland were slowly and relentlessly isolated from the rest of the Dutch society. Jews were forbidden in public libraries and restaurants. Dutch Jews holding government jobs were fired and men were sent labour camps in eastern Holland. Many old and familiar Jewish businesses were forced to shut down. Jews were not allowed to own bicycles, use public transport or accept a ride in a private car. Whenever German soldiers saw Jews in the street, the mocked them. Whenever the Jews were out in public, they had to wear on the front of their clothes a patch bearing a large yellow Star of David with the word 'Jew' stamped across it. The Nazis hated the Jews so much that they wanted to wipe them from the face of the earth.

Casper ten Boom, father of Corrie, would not have second thought about suffering for God's sake or even dying to help a Jewish person. So when the first Jewish person came to seek refuge at their house because her Jewish husband had been arrested and her son went underground to avoid being captured, Casper ten Boom was more than willing to take her in. Very soon, more & more Jewish persons were housed.

The excitement of the book starts from the building of the secret room, called the Angels’ Den, extended from Corrie's bedroom where the Jews could hide in Corrie's house when a raid happens. The secret room was built by 1 of Europe's most famous architects.

It was not easy for Corrie's family to take those people in. Beside the extra mouths they need to feed with the already limited resources, there were also washing & health issues to consider. Every person who entered Corrie's house could be a spy, and even a person loyal to the cause might be caught and tortured by the Gestapo officers (or the secret police) for information. Under such torture, any contact could give them all up.

It was unfortunate that a spy, posed as a window washer, went to spy on Corrie’s family and had probably noticed some unusual stuff.   One afternoon, a local policeman who helped the underground whenever he could, informed Corrie that another underground refuge was going to be raided. Corrie had wanted to help to inform the underground but it was already 5 o’clock and the curfew was 6.  There was no time to send someone to the underground to pass instructions on the raid. But a 17 year-old guest of Corrie volunteered himself, so Corrie let him.  However, the 17 year-old was arrested and knowing the age, it was right to assume that Corrie’s house would soon be raided as a 17 year-old could keep no secrets under terrible torture.

And yes, Corrie’s house was raided but it was another guy called Jan Vogel who betrayed Corrie. Some guests were able to hide in the secret room on time, 3 others were not. They, together with Betsie, Corrie’s sister and her father, were caught by the Gestapo officers.  They guided the house for the whole day as the suspects refused to reveal anything.  Eventually the ten Boom trio were locked up in a camp together with the rest of the captives.

But the guests in the secret room were kept safe.  Days after the Gestapo officers guided the house and found no refugees, they handed the house to the local police to guide it.  1 of the local police officers worked closely with the underground, found out where the secret room was, released those guests hiding there.

Corrie, Betsie and her father were tortured in the camp.  Her father died when he was in the prison for 10 days, and Betsie, her sister, who had not been in good health since birth, also died slightly before Germany was defeated. Finally, 3 days before 1945, Corrie and the rest of the captives in the same camp were released. Eventually, all of her siblings died, leaving Corrie alone.  Though he saly me, yet will I trust him (Job 13:15a) – Corrie’s faith in God never wavered even though trials after trials came upon her.  There wasn’t any moment that she questioned God why such mishap must come onto her and her family.  It was so remarkable. 

It is very difficult to imagine how one can survive extreme torment alone, with no loved ones beside you to give you mutual support and encouragement.  When Corrie was locked up in the prison cell, she was alone.  Her father and sister were not with her.  Corrie was already quite sick when she was taken to the cell.  In the inhumane condition of the cell – with a slice of bread daily and sleeping on thin mattress, and at times with lice, it was easy for one to just give it up and yearn for death.  Corrie, on the other hand, only yearn for 1 thing – the Bible.  Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4).  Having insufficient feed of physical food was not important, having insufficient feed of God’s Word was more important.  Through some contacts, she managed to get a Bible, which she treasured dearly, and she even conducted bible studies for the ladies in the cell.

The healing process for Corrie was not easy, at the same time, the words of her sister Betsie kept ringing in her ears -  “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper”. So, beside setting up home for the captives who were released from the camps to heal and recover from the terror they had received, she also opened her home for the betrayers who had helped the Nazi official to stay for help and healing.  To love and to forgive was what Corrie had been sharing.  The testimonies of the ten Boom family as remarkable – Corrie’s father was ready to die for the standing firm in his faith, her sister Betsie prayed for their enemy the Germans, and Corrie forgave the persons who betrayed the family.  She later traveled to many countries sharing about God’s love.  She relentlessly shared God’s love with people she encountered – on the road, on the plane, etc.  She died on her 91st birthday.

I hope you could now fully understand what I meant when I said in the beginning it is not easy for one to understand what kind of destructions civil war can bring to the common people unless you have been through one.  Thank God that we have movies on war when we can visualize for ourselves the torments that the prisoners have to go through.  With that, it helps us to visualize the horrible scenes described in this book.  If you have seen any war movies before, you should be able to read this book with greater understanding.  We will not be able to comprehend the depth of mercy God has on us until we see the mishaps of others.  May this book be a blessing to your lives too.

The Bible Witness Web Radio has a broadcast on this book review which you may listen here.

Pingxi 平溪 - Taipei 16-24 Aug Part 5

I love this place!  I was so glad that we went there before typhoon came.  The typhoon caused us to cancel 2 other sightseeing venues (Beitou 北投 & Maokong Plantation 猫空茶园), & grounded us in the shopping malls.  :(

We took a train (TRA) from Taipei Rail Station to Rueifang Rail Station (瑞芳火车站). The journey is about 20mins.  After that you would need to change to Pingxi line at the same station. The frequency of the train (Pingxi line) is 40-50mins interval, so do check the timing of train back to Taipei so that you can plan your trip more efficiently.  There are a few stations you may alight along Pingxi line to shop or do sightseeing.  Each station is about 40-60mins walk apart.  The rural train ride is scenic & enjoyable if it is not crowded.   

These are the places of interest you may visit when you reached Shifen (十分) station.  We did not walk to the waterfall though we heard that it was spectacular as it was too hot & my legs were not well enough to walk too much.

This place was once a village but has been transformed into a tourist spot.  Over here, you'll see rows & rows of shops selling snacks, souvenirs, etc on the 2 sides of the railway track.  Once every few minutes, you may witness trains passing by, a sight that will captivate the little ones for sure.  

The boy said the fried fermented beancurd was too smelly :D 

Jing An Qiao (静安桥) is near the Shifen station.  Once you crossover, you land yourself in the quietness of this village. 

Forbidden food in Singapore & the Bible

We did not try this, but it looks interesting

When you are in Pingxi, 1 thing that almost all tourists would do is to light up the sky lanterns (天灯).  We did, of course.

The colours of the paper represent different thing. Purple represents studies, which I think most students would opt for.  The boy wrote the wishes in traditional Chinese while I wrote in simplified Chinese. 

We posed for photo taking while the flame underneath the lantern was buring.  Yes, it was hot.  When the lantern is fully inflated, we then let it go.  It rose up like a hot air balloon. 

We saw this nice Bed & Breakfast (B&B) at Shifen & decided to go in for lunch.  A very nice place to rest & chat over drinks or meal.

The B&B has very interesting deco & display.  If you happened to be there, do check this place out.
This concludes my blog posts on our Taipei trip.  It could have been more if not for the typhoon.  We thank God that we did not have to postpone our flight back home but the turbulence on the way home was unbearable for AJ.  He puked at least 4-5 times, I think. Poor boy.

Read other parts of my Taipei trip here:
(1) The Stay in iTaipei Service Apartment
(2) The Bronze Winner
(3) Baby Boss

[Media Invite] Ben & Jerry's ChunkFest 2013

I scream. You scream.  We all scream for  ice-cream!

A few of the mum bloggers were invited for this event that was held today at The Promontory @ Marina Bay.  AJ was very excited about it.  After all, I have not come across anyone who says he/she does not like ice-cream. I really love ice-cream & am more than happy to attend the ChunkFest when I can try the flavours free-of-charge.  :)

The morning started off badly with heavy downpour.  The ground was wet & muddy at The Promontory.  While the mum here groaned with yees & yucks, the little boy seized the opportunity to play with mud.  I thought the organiser could have done better by factoring in the wet weather & build some platform track for patrons like us.

The boy had some fun in the bouncy castle before we had our ice-cream feast.

This year, Ben & Jerry's brought in 13 flavours which are only available in USA especially for this event. 

I have tried Milk & Cookies, Americone Dream, White Russian & Raspberry Fudge Chunk Greek Yoghurt, & I love them all.

Ben & Jerry's also launched a new flavour called Couch Potato in this event.  The flavour name sounds weird, right?  It has a euphoric sweet & salty combo with still-crunchy, yummy, salty potato chips in creamy vanilla ice-cream.  It is not my cup-of-tea, but you may like to try it.  Who knows, it may hit the right note on you.  Some of the mom bloggers actually love it.  So, go on, visit Ben & Jerry's scoop shops to try this new flavour & if you like it, you could get a pint at $13.90. It is already available at supermarkets & convenience stores.

I am now looking forward to ChunkFest 2014, are you too?

Eslite Bookstore 诚品书店 - Taipei 16-22 Aug Part 4

Eslite is the biggest chain of bookstores in Taiwan with a huge selection of books & magazines in Chinese (predominating), English & other languages.  If you are a book lover, you gotta to be there!  I noticed it has transformed itself to a lifestyle store, offering more than books & magazines.  It was so different when I visited it 7 years ago. 

There are many outlets in Taipei itself.  If you can only visit 1 outlet, the flagship store should be the one.  It is located 松高路 11号 (No. 11 Songgao Road), walking distance from Taipei City Hall MTR, very near Taipei 101 too.  On a normal weekday, it closes at 12 midnight.



Without doubt, one can easily spend half a day or more in the flagship store.  It is almost like a departmental store with its focus on books.  Over here, you can even buy home furnishing, apparels, musical instruments, etc, much beyond your idea of what bookstore should be like.  If you like book shopping in Borders & Kinokuniya in Singapore, you will enjoy your visit to Eslite flagship store. There is even a designated floor for children's stuff!

A showcase on musical box

Such cute ukulele!

I like Eslite not just because of its environment, I am actually pretty impressed with the little details they looked into to take care of their customers.

Take for example, the paper bag.  It was during typhoon season when we visited Taipei in Aug. When I bought some books in Eslite, the staff there did not just give me a paper bag for my books, they even added a plastic cover to cover the entire paper bag & its content!  How considerate!  How not to love shopping there!

Oh yes!  & their toilets!  If you visit their flagship store, you must go visit even if you have no urge to pee or poo!  No joke!  The toilet seats are especially warm up for your comfort!  How 'hospitable' right?  You could do your business, long or short, comfortably regardless how cold it may be outside.  I remember how I hate visiting toilets during winter time in temperate countries.  It's like putting your butt on ice :(   I will definitely remember to install such mechanism in my toilets if ever I have a chance to live in temperate countries in the future!

So when you are in Taipei, do include visiting this bookstore into your itinerary! 

Read other parts of my Taipei trip here:
(1) The Stay in iTaipei Service Apartment
(2) The Bronze Winner
(3) Baby Boss
(4) Pingxi

13 Photos Children Should Know

Photographs tell stories & make history visible.  They shape our understanding of what has happened.  These 13 famous photos in this book introduce 13 events that changed the world.  The father spotted this book in the library & decided that the boy should know more about the history of this world.

As we flipped through the pages, we found those familiar photos which indeed, we think, our children should know.  Here's 5 for a glimpse:

Edwin A. walking on the moon

Every child should know this genius

Even the Beatles!

Tumbling of the Berlin wall

The 9-11 Attack
This book covers 13 photos of some of the most important people, places & events over the last century with brief write-ups to help children understand the background.  There is a glossary behind explain some words to enhance understanding.

I find this a good read for primary school children.  Preschoolers could try with parents reading to them & most importantly, explaining to them along the way.

Linking with:

[Media Invite] Dettol Bento Making Worshop

AJ is a picky eater.  He does not like vegetable (he says they taste yucks) & chunky red meat (he says they are difficult to chew).  Mealtime can be tortuous at times, when there are either of these 2, or worse, both.  But I have discovered a trick!  Thanks to Dettol!

We received a media invite from Dettol for a Bento Making Workshop 2 Saturdays ago.  Off we went, AJ & myself that Saturday morning.  He was actually quite excited about it because it sounded fun to 'play' with food, right?

The workshop was held at Nourish Studio in Boat Quay.  Every parent blogger has a station to work on his/her Bento.

This was our pretty Bento Making teacher, Shirley Wong.  She is a blogger herself too.  You may read about it here & follow her in facebook if you are keen in bento.

Before we started making our very 1st bento, we were taught how to wash our hands properly.  Yes, you hear me right.  You may wash your hands everyday, but you may not be washing them correctly to minimise germs & bacteria.  We were taught to follow these 8 steps to wash our hands properly.  Shirley even taught us to sing 'Happy Birthday ' song 8 times to ensure that we really cover all 8 steps in 20 seconds no less!  AJ even 'instructed' me to paste this poster in his bathroom so that he could refer to when washing his hands!  Such is the power of media, no doubt!

After washing our hands, we tucked our fingers into those food, not to eat, but to make them pretty.

AJ was taught how to oxidise the banana skin to draw pictures or write words with toothpick.

Here's our 1st creation! AJ started eating fruits & vegetables that he would not normally eat because he now cuts them into shapes he likes  :D

Here's Shirley's beautiful creation.

After the 'cooking' storm, we use Dettol Mutli Action Cleaner to wipe off germs & bacteria from the kitchen counter.

Not forgetting a group photo!
Thanks Dettol for organising such a fun bento making workshop!