The night before I went to Singapore I was stressed. I had just had my last day at school and I had to pack and my apartment looked (and still looks) like a bomb hit it and I was just not in a vacation mindset. But I pulled it together and set off Friday for the beginning of my "week to forget," named this in honor of my head English teacher, Ms. Yatabe, who told me right before I left that she hoped I was "able to forget all I want to forget" during my week away.
Why Singapore you might ask? Well let me tell you. During my awesomely awesome junior year at OC, Dave and Debbie Hogan and their daughter Breda were serving as the visiting missionaries to campus. They served the Moulmein Church in Singapore. I became friends with them and became fascinated with Singapore, and really hoped to visit one day. And since some of my friends have a history of not knowing where in the world the places I go to are (e.g., Brazil is in Africa...), Singapore is a small island located off the southern coast of Malaysia.
So on Friday off I went. The flight (about 8 hours from Japan) was great, despite the fact that I flew Northwest (which endeared itself to me as "ghetto airlines" after my experiences with them over Christmas). Apparently I was on a newly renovated plane which had an awesome state of the art personal entertainment system for each seat. I was able to watch 3 movies that I'd really wanted to see (Ray, The Incredibles, and Finding Neverland-- the last of which impressed me most) and I stayed awake for the whole flight. I arrived that night, met Dave at the airport, then went to their house and crashed.
I won't give you a day by day breakdown, but just hit some highlights. Sunday was fabulous. I met a lot of great people and the church service really moved me. I guess it hadn't hit me that it'd been almost 4 months since I'd been in a church service where I understood everything, and it just made me really emotional to be able to be fully involved in a time of worship. Especially the singing. Usually in Japan I'm so focused on trying to keep up with reading the hiragana that thinking about the meaning is totally lost. One song in particular really struck a cord with me:
For all that you've done I will thank youDuring those moments I was able to step back and evaluate the last months... and even years of my spiritual journey, and truly and deeply praise and glorify God for where I've been, where I am, and where I'm going. So Sunday was a great day of worship and fellowship. The young adults class at church kind of adopted me, so I had a big dinner with them that night. Great group of dedicated people who I came to adore.
For all that you're going to do
For all that you've promised and all that you are
Is all that has carried me through,
Jesus I thank you.
That night I moved from the Hogans house to one of their neighbors/friends/fellow church members houses, Mark and Karen McCurley. The McCurleys are Americans who have lived in Singapore for 10 years. They were moved there with Mark's company. They have two college aged kids in the States, so they were happy to have a guest around their kid's ages. The Hogans and the McCurleys are some of the most gracious hosts I have ever seen. They truly opened up their homes and welcomed me as part of their families.
Dave served as a great tour guide, since he moved to Singapore when he was a teenager. He took me down around the Singapore River and through the old original colonial area of town. I got to see the Merlion (I will include the obligatory picture of me with the mini-Merlion). I went through Chinatown and saw some very cool temples and mosques. I went to some awesome museums. I ate a TON of food, including a lot of typical Singaporean dishes (which are combonations of Chinese, Malay, and Indian food). I tried lots of new foods, most of which were great (including sting ray! I ate sting ray, and it was good!). I did some serious shopping, since they actually have clothes that fit my American body. I stocked up on some American food that I can't get in Japan at the grocery store (including Cadbury creme eggs! Praise God for His provision when I thought I'd go an entire Easter holiday without Cadbury creme eggs!). I vegged out and relaxed and slept in. I read 2 books (Bridges of Madison County and Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott). I watched several good movies, including the 2004 College of Bible submission to First Week Follies-- BSC Dodgeball. Hilarious! I made new friends and slept in a comfortable bed. It was blissful. It was hard to come back to Japan. But 2 things brought me back-- this week Blake and the Barneches and some other great folks are moving to Japan (This week! YATTA!) and in a couple of weeks cherry blossoms will bloom.
So there you have it-- Singapore. It was the perfect vacation for me, with it's combination of familiarities from home yet historically and culturally rich exoticness. I am tempted to say that I really needed this vacation, but I also know that that is extremely vain, considering that there are many more people in the world who have lived in much more stressful situations than me for much longer than I have who deserve a break far more than I do. So I give all thanks to God for providing this time of refreshment and fun.
If you're still reading this, I thank you. May you have a blessed Easter and wonderful week, and may God refresh your soul as He has mine.
Ann with mini-Merlion
Pictures from Singapore! More coming after I develop my film camera!