Migration!!!

•December 19, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone. I was reminded that i did not tell people of my wordpress – blogspot migration.
Anyway i have a new blog at http://jaredsotherblog.blogspot.com
Do check it out and update ur links!! Thanks!

Life is . . . . . .

•September 10, 2008 • 9 Comments

Today is the 10th – a month after my father passed. Thank you everyone for your tirelessly support, watchful vigilance and tender consolation. Being more content to be busy than still, I am stranded at home tonight alone, and i realise i still do not really feel ‘brave enough’ to read my father’s journal, read the eulogy i wrote or even look too long into any of his pictures. But i just did.

I still miss him.

But today, in contrast to the still fresh memories of his passing, I am reminded of the beauty of life. And the experience of a death of a loved one sometimes help multiply the experiences of life.

About a week or two ago I went swimming with the most unlikely bunch of people: an 8 year old japanese kid, a 29 (or 30? ) year old nigerian man and a 18 year old college student.

I remember saying somewhere before; sometimes its not who you know but how u know them. I guess today i want to say that who you know and how you know them are equally meaningful.

Well i picked up Kenji. . . . ( who looked strangely . . . er. .  .different) .

What ya got there Kenji?

Definitely the haircut. . . . . .

Anyway, along with us was George from Nigeria. Apparently Chinese people are not the only ones adopting Western names. I had a room mate from Kenya who was named Kevin. =)

An then everybody loves Alvin. . . . .

And then the finale – we apprehend the little cheek-miester and bring him to justice. . . . .

So it was a good retreat, and a good reminder, that times like these are what makes life special. Thanks guys for making my weekend a memorable one. Haha.

Good night.

Eulogy

•August 19, 2008 • 20 Comments

Well here I am – giving my father’s eulogy. Last night I was talking to my brother, and in the midst of our reminiscing, I did relate that somehow, I always had a very vivid image of Papa’s funeral. And always in this dream, I was about to give the eulogy, but every single time I was too overcome with emotions to actually even say anything. Picturing this scene would often leave a morbid after-taste in the palate of my mind, and even after the vision cleared the shock and despair lingered. Somehow I never had images of my Mum’s passing; only my Dad. My brother also revealed that he too some how shared a similar mental panorama about our father’s passing. It seems that this little prophetic forethought was a preparations of sorts for this day. And now here I am. Can’t say I imagined this day would come so soon, but it has.

I can’t remember the last time my Dad and I were in this sanctuary together – I can only recall faintly a couple of years back that all 3 of us: my mum, my dad and myself were serving together in the same service. My Dad was preaching, my Mum was scripture reading and I was worship leading (I am sure my dad was preaching, but the roles my Mum and I are sketchy). But today, here we both are; and for once, I am on the pulpit and he is not.

Things have happened so fast; over the last few days I have seen my own father sky-rocketed from mild mannered ex-teacher turned pastor, to a towering hero of sorts, with great feats, rescues and crusades all thrown in and recounted by the throngs of people who have lovingly come to see him off, my family and I often tussle to maintain more private and personal memories of him – fond memories and experiences that we his family are privy to. I mean, the surreality of the sudden passing of my father coupled with the busy funeral preparations got me really thinking and trying to put all these accounts and experiences with my father into perspective – into a packaged message he might want to pass on to others through his son.

I ask myself, “What makes a man great?” What makes Tan Har Yong great? A common quip that many respect payers would make is that they loved his sermons, and the Bible classes he ran. And whilst he was all these things and more, to me his best achievement was as a father to me, and a husband to my mum. As church members, ex students and peers alike came and talked about him, I happened down once again the road less traveled as it were, back into the recesses of memories stored of father-son interactions that were now becoming more and more cherished.

Growing up I found it very convenient to have my hero, mentor and father all rolled into one convenient entity. And even when he was young he was a leader; not by force, nor by appointment, so much as it was by his character. He once told me to know if a person is a leader, check and see where he goes, and see who is following behind him. If he goes somewhere and no one is following, he is not leading, he is taking a walk.

I always respected him, and wanted to please him by being like him. I always thought to myself, that he would be most proud of me if I was a man of science like he was, or if I could one day preach and teach like he could, then I would be considered more than a son: I might be able to rise to the rank of trusted friend and even co-worker! But let me get something straight – my dad was never one to coerce his children into fulfilling dreams he panned out for us. Yet somehow, possibly because of his integrity and the excellence which he exudes in all tasks he carries out, all the ministries he gave himself to seemed inviting.

Earlier this year, I though I had arrived and was able to live up to that supposed pinnacle I saw in him. He must have thought I was ready, and slotted me in to speak at Kulim and Butterworth Wesley. So I prepared with schoolboy excitement for the moment I would actually be able to ‘be like him’. And yet after I was done, though I was proud, I was not really there yet. And at this funeral, it all seemed to come together.

What makes Tan Har Yong great? I see now that more than his great sermons, the Hokkien ministry and the Foundation editions, what made my father a great man was the small decisions he made. I see that now. Everyday, since he was young, he made decisions that exemplified dying to self, and obedience to the God he loves. When he was young, he decided to study the Bible – which made him the scriptural giant he is today. When he got married, he decided everyday to make breakfast for my mum. When he had us he decided everytime he was upset at us to not lash out, but correct firmly but lovingly. For more than 20 years, when he was upset with LCEC meetings, he decided to surrender things to the Lord and just stay the course. When a troubled troublemaker needed more than just a wanton dismissal, he decided that the child was worth closer attention and a listening ear, and showed him the right way to live. When his eldest son was in a situation where his wits and skills were insufficient, he decided that the best thing he could give at that point was not another sermon, but the closeness of his own precious heartbeat, to remind his son how much he loved him.

Standing here today, I realize that the last thing my father would want after he was gone was to be placed on a pedestal so high that everyone else would be left gawking upwards, with nothing more than detached admiration and a good word. What he would want was for all of us to follow him as he followed Christ, and to die daily to ourselves. He would want for the church to also make decisions daily that honored God and served a purpose greater than ourselves as individuals.

Brothers and sisters, my father was a great man a greater father and an even greater husband. But what he would want for all of us to know here today, that it is character more than charisma, and small steps of obedience that shape our lives and the live of others. In fact, it is those little obediences everyday that prepare us for that one single gigantic leap of faith as it were. He never knew he was going to be a pastor – but the way he prepared himself and allowed God to mould him and shape him, I think few are surprised he ended up as one. When the hokkien ministry in our church flourished, people saw the hand of God, working mightily through one of his most trusted servant and friend.

Now his work is done, and hopefully those of us who knew him well will know that he lived his life for 3 things: God, His word, and people. In the end, these three things are all that matters – for only these three things are eternal. I’m very proud of my father because he chose wisely in life. I am sure his wish for all of us here today is that we too would choose the same.

Well Pa, I’m done. I count myself blessed because I had you close by for more than 24 years. And thats more time with you than most people in this sanctuary have had. You gave your best to God and to your family, and I know one day when you see me again you will be plesantly surprised.I love you and will always be thinking about you.

Square root of 3.

•August 6, 2008 • 4 Comments

I thought about it, and yeah i rarely write anything about her / to her on my blog. So here it is, something so unique and heart warming, i thought of nothing better to express what we have between us. =)

I fear i will always be

a lonely number like root 3.

A 3 is all that’s good and right;

Why must my 3 keep out of sight,

beneath a vicious square root sign?

I wish instead I were a 9,

For 9 could thwart this evil trick

with just some quick arithmetic.

I know I’ll never see the sun,

as 1.7321.

such is my reality,

a sad irrationality.

When hark, what is this i see?

another square root of a three

has quietly come waltzing by,

together now we multiply.

To form a number we prefer,

rejoicing as an integer!

We break free from our mortal bonds,

and with a wave of magic wands

Our square root signs have come unglued,

and love for me has been renewed.

me new knife!!

•July 28, 2008 • 12 Comments

For lack of a better thing to write about, i bought a new kitchen knife!

Not just any plain run of the mill knife (although i begin to suspect otherwise), but a Samaria cutlery fully imported kitchen solution! Okay, a little more publicity and PR than neccesary. . . . but here it is. . . . .

TADA!!

What a beaute’! straight metal grain with a gun metal finish forged hilt, with a hint of grip – perfect for use in wet situations (and who ever cuts in a dry kitchen?).

Now this blog may seem like a lousy excuse to jsut post something up (confession, actually it was), but  in doing so i found out that there are actually websites out there dedicated just to using/buying/reviewing kitchen knives!

http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/chef_knife.htm

http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/wheretobuygourmetfoods/tp/chefknife.htm

Apparently, the knife i bought is the kitchen equivalent of a swiss army knife – a chef’s knife! And according to this website, the best chef knives come from France, Germany and Japan. And jsut how much can you pay for a good knife? try this one on for size. . . french made and hand crafted . . . .the much coveted laguiole (pronounced ‘sissy french name i wont even try to say’) the maybach of the kitchen cutlery scene. . . and should set you back a good RM 335.

Personalized, with a sandblasted hilt for extreme grip and ultimate ergonomics, this stainless steel wonder will leave all your other aspiring chef friends gasping in awe, and standing in the proverbial sink smuck as you ascend the divine hieghts of culinary nirvana. . . . .heck, it does not even matter how bad the food is after u cook it. With this baby in your hilt, who cares if your food is too . . .er. . . salty (subtle reference to botched chicken marinade for BBQ December 2007)?

Just goes to show, there is a high end item for virtually everything we use. Hmmm. . .this gives me a good idea what i should write about next. . . . . .

BINGO. . . . . . . . BTW, James, being a professional chef, do give some feedback as to the authenticity of this post. Please talk about the knife, not the toilet paper! =)

Of circles and waves.

•June 26, 2008 • 6 Comments

prop·a·gate [prop-uh-geyt]
–verb (used with object) 1. to cause (an organism) to multiply by any process of natural reproduction from the parent stock.
2. to reproduce (itself, its kind, etc.), as an organism does.
3. to transmit (hereditary features or elements) to, or through, offspring.
4. to spread (a report, doctrine, practice, etc.) from person to person; disseminate.
5. to cause to increase in number or amount.
6. to create (an effect) at a distance, as by electromagnetic waves, compression waves, etc., traveling through space or a physical medium; transmit: to propagate sound.–verb (used without object) 7. to multiply by any process of natural reproduction, as organisms; breed.
8. to increase in extent, as a structural flaw: The crack will propagate only to this joint.
9. (of electromagnetic waves, compression waves, etc.) to travel through space or a physical medium.

WARNING! Deep stuff. Hahaha. But i will keep it short.

Throwing a stone into a pool always creates ripples that steer away from the source, and propogate as far as inherent resistances will allow them to. Similarly, in our lives, all things we do ripple across our social pools. Regardless of whether the ripples are positive or negative, they will propogate. Think about it: even our inaction affects others.

Today i was reminded in a conversation about the many lives that have revolved around us, and how we affect each other and how things tend to make it’s way back to you – again, good and bad.

He said life goes in circles. People repeat mistakes, and people do unto you what you did unto people, and you tend to fall into the same snares and pits which others fall into (and scoffed at them too i might add).

Yet at the same time, sometimes what you do for someone never seems to bring about that same effect that we want. We may invest our time and money into the lives of many, without seeing much ‘fruit’. I guess it just reminds us that we have as much control over people as we do over the forward motion of wave currents and tide ripples.

At this point then, i would like to thank all those people who poured into my little pool when i was growing up. People like Victor, who was always looking out and teaching me about consistency and responsibility. People like Ewe Hong who showed me stuff to believe in and be passionate about. People like Daniel who would always make me feel welcome when i most needed it. My parents who always told me that the legacy of a family gets greater with the generations – that I would achieve that which my father and his father could not.

Someone once told me that to be great in life, you need to stand on the shoulders of great people. I begin to realise how true that is, and how much then that when this race i run, i run not only for myself, but especially for those who believe in me.

You need a picture in every blog – so here is mine for this post. She made it while i was talking to my counsellor. =) unintentionally artistic. The best kind of artistic. hahaha.

Of Singers and friends

•June 26, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes its not who you know, but how you know them.

Last year our church was privileged enough to play host to a cohort of Korean evangelist singers, who came by and did a mini-concert of sorts on the top floor of the Wesley MYC hall. Being the first time that they were in our church, the response was only about a hundred people.

Despite the fact that they had a meager functioning command of English, they belted out all their songs in English. And managed to gain some hearty respect/applause from all listening.

Anyway this year they came again, and this time to trinity Church. The response was really good. I’m talking full house standing in the aisle good.

Anyway, the reason I mention this is that this little mid-week sojourn allowed me to meet up with some friends, whom I have not seen in a while, and most of whom I definitely did not meet in Penang (for a good chunk of the ‘knowing them’ season anyway). Some of these people came along with the troupe – and others were here to visit. So lets begin. . . .

YIN YIN: Fung Hao’s younger (youngest) sister, and as fun as a barrel of monkeys and charged up like a squirrel jacked up on caffeine. Studying in Singapore and almost fundamentally Singaporized, she never fails to make me smile and laugh. I thought i was the only person who really enjoyed the simpsons – but when i watched the movie with her and FH in Sing . . . . . i think she laughed boogers. hahahahah (ask her what that means). This round she climbed over a gate into the wrong house. Good laughs at her expense. They say she’s alot like her mum (I’d agree, but add less fierce. . . for now . . .)

HAN WEI: Its amazing how our conversations can go from quasi-theological to gutter-spout in under 3 seconds. Haha. A true friend who has been around since we were still hip in blue shorts (primary lah), its good to see that some things on the social landscape remain ‘posted’. Banker in CITBANK, and single. hahahahaha. Any takers?

DAMI: Korean Malaysian American. One of my most amalgamated buddies. Lets see, she was born in Korea, grew up there, came over to Malaysia with her parents (who are planted here for now ), and studied in Wheaton, IL. So lets see i have seen here here (penang), Ipoh, Singapore and when i was over in Chicago. big friends make the world a small place. I like it that way. She was the violinist for the event. This round in Penang we introduced her to chinese cupcakes. . . hahahahaha. . . .

FUNG HAO: This guy if you can get a two ‘ha’ laugh out of him you are ok. If you can get a triple, you have talent. Anything more than that i would think he was on drugs. A man of few words, but a good mate all in all. Seen him all over the place as well. definitely a topper bloke to hang out with. He and his sis are like polar opposites. Hey bro – Koh Samui at the end of the year ok.

PHUI YEE: One of those people you meet eons ago, don see again for tons, and then see again at the most unexpected (but pleasantly surprising) times. She came to my church early this year, with a couple of her friends. She is from Penang but works in KL (she works for the STAR, writing obituaries and Youth – go figure). The last time i met her was when she joined a friend of mine canoeing in Penang. This friend always assumes that whatever his plans are, i will always be available and willing to ferry him around. Well i was, and both occasions he introduced me to two people who became really good friends. Phui Yee is one of them.

So again, its not who you know sometimes, but how you know them that makes everyone of our lives more colorful.

And this is what a chinese cupcake looks like. . . . .hahahahahaha.