Lessons I’ve learnt from climbing a mountain

Recently I went on a short holiday with Gerard and Darshen to Langkawi, Malaysia. It was pretty much an unplanned trip with them, I happened to chanced upon some really cheap air tickets at the end of last year/start of this year and I extended my invite to them. We also managed to find some really cheap accommodation, entire room for 10SGD per night, I think that is pretty reasonable? haha.

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We hopped on a plane on 7th Feb and flew to Langkawi, a place where we have never ever been in our life. Here is a map of Langkawi, just in case you are wondering which part of the world it is at. Less than a 2 hours flight away from Singapore.

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Google Map

While we were there, there were many touristy things we could have done and we did some of them. Such as Parasailing, taking one of the world’s steepest cable car and also eating some of the really cheap local food. BUT something really caught my eye and that were the mountains. I decided to google about it and tada, I realised that it is possible to climb one of the mountains! Thankfully Gerard and Darshen were really sporty and we decided to trek up the second highest mountain with me on our third day there.

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There were not much information provided on the exact trail up the mountain, as many of the website suggested that we hired a local guide. (I done a quick research and it will costs ue 300RM for a guide :/) However as we were on a budget holiday trip, haha, we decided to be adventurous and explore our way up! Based on some of the blogs we read and referencing from trip advisor photos, we began trekking up the mountain. There were 3 things I learnt from this that I will like to share!

First, it was PREPARATION! This is so so important! I read so many of the blogs and articles on the mountain but one thing I failed to do. That was to prepare us for the climb! Being the adventurous, reckless me, I chose to focus on reading about the route for the climb and totally ignored the part where many of the articles were saying, “make sure you bring lots of water” or “please do not attempt if you are not a regular hiker”.

Guess what, Gerard and I brought only a 500 ml water bottle each for a 6/7 hours hike. The best part is that Darshen did not even bring along any bottle, so it was 1 litre of water for the 3 of us for 6 – 7 hours. haha. We did not eat breakfast either and bought no food along with us. Ok, Darshen did brought along a bottle of Pringles, that was rather live-saving actually. haha.

With such ill preparation, it made the climb unpleasant and dreadful. We had to battle the steep slopes along with thirst and hunger. Making the journey less pleasant than it should have been. We could have had a picnic on the summit, what were we thinking!!

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Secondly, PERSISTENCE! When we were trekking up the mountains, there were many times we could have abandoned our climb and turned back. There were times where certain thoughts crossed my mind, maybe I should just turn back and enjoy my holiday. Go for a swim at the pool, chill by the beach, read a book or even go for a really nice meal. However when these thoughts crossed my mind, I looked forward and pressed on instead. I had an end goal in mind, which is to stand on the top of the mountain and enjoy the cool breeze and view. Trust me, during the climb, there were no assurances that we were going to get any view, we didn’t know what to expect as we were surrounded by trees, dirt, rocks and very steep slopes. It wasn’t until 2.5hours into our climb that we began to see something more than just trees.

As I reflected back on the climb, I realized that if I can put my mind into climbing a mountain and persist on and not give up halfway through. This is the same way we can conquer the obstacles, difficult situations or negative thoughts to our end goal. To press on and finish the race well. The reward in our journey with God is far more rewarding than the view on a tall mountain.

Philippians 3:13-15 NKJV

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.

Lastly as we were finishing the climb and descending, I have learnt PERSEVERANCE! To be very honest, while the view was really good at the top of the mountain, it didn’t felt good. Gerard, Darshen and I were really thirsty and hungry; by the time we got up the mountain, 4 hours had already passed. We didn’t stay very long at the summit and stayed only for about 30 minutes, again we could have picnic there :(. Descending wasn’t as easy as it sounds, the same way we went up was the same way we had to go down. There were many steep slopes and many of them were very slippery. We did not have the right shoes and that made it even harder.

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Summit of the mountain. Its really quite a short mountain at 701m.

As we were descending, my body felt the fatigue due to the thirst and hunger and my legs started shaking very badly. Countless times, I wished I had not gotten myself into that situation but I learned to persevere. Who was I going to complain to and what else can I do but to complete this journey I have started and embarked on. To press on and know that the end was nearer with every step I was taking.

In life, there are times where we make certain bad decisions or get ourselves into undesirable situations and these are the times where we cannot give up on life. There are times where life gets tough, and the journey to our goal becomes ‘questionable.’ Do we persevere or do we give up?’

Throughout my growing up years in church, there were many times I find myself in that position and I’m glad I made all the right decision to persevere and give God my best. My Pastors and leaders had shown me how they overcome their obstacles, difficult times and stayed on their course and walk with God. This is the same spirit I want to have when I faced my difficult times again.

After a grueling 6-7 hours of trekking, we finally ended our mission! We were so thankful that there is a waterfall at the foot of the mountain and we had a great time soaking ourselves in the cool and refreshing water.

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On hindsight, the hike might not been the most pleasurable thing I have done during my trip but it is probably the most memorable and insightful activity. I had many opportunities to pray on the mountain, not to boast but because I was rather quick on my feet, I had many pockets of waiting time and I took those times to pray. haha. But with all seriousness, I mumbled many prayers during my weakest moments and prayed for God’s strength to endure and finish the hike. I believe we could have fainted, suffer from dehydration or heat stroke for having no water but God really protected us.

I look forward to climbing my next mountain! Hopefully Lion’s Head in South Africa! hahaha. Hope you enjoyed this post! I made a short video as well, watch it if you have the time 🙂

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And I did conquered the mountains with a pair of slippers. hehe.

 

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My Little Adventure

So recently I went on a little adventure with some of my friends to a place not too far away. It was during the Chinese New Year period and we decided to be adventurous! I was looking through some of the articles on thesmartlocal.com and I came across this ‘cheapest beach in Malaysia you can go to’ kind of article and I saw this perfect place we could go. It was like not that far, not that expensive, not that dangerous kind of place. So I shared my plans with Gerard, Jerome and Amos and they decided to join me on my little adventure.

The place we decided to take our adventure to was Pulau Besar in Johor… I know none of you probably know where this place is. So here is a map to kind of pinpoint the location.

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Pulau Besar is an island situated off Mersing, Johor and it takes about 3-4hours to get there by bus from Singapore. Then from Mersing, you will take a 30mins boat ride to Pulau Besar.

The place is incredible, beautiful beach and resort but I have to say, I think our journey there is even more incredible.

Well, we wanted to cut cost and save as much as we can to travel there and so when Gerard and I found out that it costs approximately 40SGD to take a bus from Singapore to Mersing; I knew there was definitely a much cheaper way. Lo and behold, I found out from google that if we can go to Larkin Terminal in Johor, we could get a much much cheaper bus ticket. And that’s what we did! We met up at 9pm at Kranji and took a bus to JB Central and then to Larkin Terminal. Guess what, the tickets to Mersing from there only costed us 19MYR!! We saved like 34SGD and that was really something. If you are wondering why we took the bus at such a late timing, it was because we would miss our ferry if we take the morning bus the next day. Thus we decided to spend a night at Mersing first.

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We got our bus tickets from this counter! 

 

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Exciting street food at the bus terminal

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Ramly before the long bus journey to Mersing

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Gerard is very happy that we managed to save on our bus ticket.

We embarked on our long bus ride to Mersing and the coach was pretty comfortable. I got really lucky and I got two seats to myself! And after about 2hours, we arrived at a very deserted bus terminal in Mersing! The funny thing was that, only 3 of us dropped off at that terminal. One thing you need to know is that it wasn’t really the tourist kind of season as the monsoon was just over. The people on the bus probably would be wondering why three Chinese guys were alighting at such a weird timing.

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There is just this awesome feeling about being in an unknown place and all lost. I mean we were not entirely lost, we have our phones, GPS and stuff but you get it. The next thing we wanted to do was to locate our hotel! And we were just walking everywhere and fascinated by everything. We saw this really colourful bridge decorated with led lights.

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Then we finally found our hotel! We stayed at this budget hotel call Riverside Hotel and it had pretty decent rating on booking.com. I never booked a hotel room in my entire life; I mean my parents do that for me when we go overseas. So I was pretty proud that I managed to book this hotel room for 30SGD for one night. haha.

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Looks pretty decent for a cheap budget hotel right! Of course we didn’t had sea view or comfortable beds but it was decent to sleep for a night. To be honest, the bed was quite horrible but beggars can’t be choosers right. After checking in and putting down all our stuff we decided to head out and find some food.

We headed to kind of a prata shop near our hotel and while the food wasn’t fantastic it was really cheap! l think it was 30cents SGD for a cup of teh?

We went to explore the town a bit more after eating and it was a pretty quite town with loads of Christmas lights. They probably forgot to take down the Christmas lightings or something.

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There were quite a few street graffiti that we saw too.

I think I shall end my blog here, it’s getting too long and I don’t think anyone will be interested to read on. Stay tuned for the next post! I hope I stay motivated to type out the next one… haha.

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Go!

I had wanted to post this for a long time but somehow or rather, I just couldn’t find the right opportunity to do so. Right now, with some spare time on hand, I figured I could use this time to finish up this post.

Since I was 16, I knew I wanted to do Missions. It stuck with me all the way till now. The problem was I couldn’t, I didn’t have money and there were all sorts of reasons. In fact, I have never even taken a plane before. Talk about the woes of being young and penniless.

Fast-forward a couple of years, I am now working and finally have some form of financial freedom to do what I have always wanted to do. Initially, it didn’t all start too well, I remembered my opportunity came in 2013. Someone called to informed me that I was selected to go for a mission trip! However as I had only just started working, I didn’t have my leave and I couldn’t take any no-pay leave as well. I remember feeling so down, I wanted to go so badly.. but I was held back by my job.

The right opportunity came last year! It was the mission trip with Ps Bill Wilson to Tondo in Manila. When I knew I was selected to go, I was overjoyed. I was ready to do something for God, I was all ready to help and give my best.

And that mission trip changed me, it opened my eyes to things I have never seen. It wasn’t poverty that scared me; it was the principles, ideals and the mindset of people living in poverty. I remember Pastor Tan Seow How once shared about Poverty. Children might be born into poverty but poverty is never born in them. It is the poverty mindset that is scary and I witnessed it for myself. The bible says this in Ephesians 6:12,

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[a] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

I was feeling so helpless; I knew there wasn’t much I could do to help them in their situation. I couldn’t give them money and I certainly cannot feed the entire community. There and then I realised how it is the not materials things we can give to help that matters but it is the changing of mindset and the renewal of the mind that can change their life. Only Jesus can change their life. Our mission is not there to be the heroes that can give them better living condition or a higher standard of living. We are there to bring them hope, the hope of Jesus Christ. It totally changed my mindset about Missions and there were so many take aways from that trip.

More than what I can give, I was inspired to give my best for God. What we have on earth is temporal but the things done for Christ is eternal. Though the little children were living in the slums, they still love God and life with such simplicity. When I see them pray and worship, I could see how passionately in love they were with God.

That started my mission journey, and I went on for another disaster relief trip last year. I was so grateful to be given the opportunity to do so! I can’t wait for the many more trips I am going to go for!

Lastly, all this would not have been possible if not for my Pastors, Pastor How and Pastor Lia. If they had not built Heart of God Church, I would not have my dreams when I was 16 and I will certainly not be ready when the opportunity came. 9 years I was trusted, believed in, trained and then I was able to go out there to make a little difference to the people I met. Now I know I am ready, I am ready to be sent, I am ready to GO!

My Starwars Experience

I guess the topic of the town right now other than Christmas is probably Star Wars 7, The Force Awakens. Every Christmas is significant and this one will probably be tied to the release of the long awaited episode of the Star wars series for the many years to come.

Honestly I am not a big fan of Star Wars, other than the movies; I have not watched clone wars, rebel or any other comic/books. Maybe just a few videos on the history of star wars and Wikipedia on what is the Jedi order all about. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop me from being excited about the release and yes I have watched the movie already. It was a great movie, I am not a movie critic and so I am not here to give any reviews or spoilers. Don’t be too worried if you think you are going to get some spoilers if you have not watched it yet. (If you are a fan, you probably watched it by now…)

What’s interesting is that while I am not a fan of star wars, it still does have a great impact on me. I guess that’s the influence of the friends I was surrounded with when I was in secondary school. I had a friend who was really a big fan; he has an entire collection of light sabers and collectables. (Nicholas, if you are reading this, yes it’s you. haha) I was really fascinated by it and had the opportunity to wield some of it, imagining I was a Jedi Knight with the force. Sadly while we are not too close now, Star wars will always remind me of the times back then.

That’s what makes being a human so interesting isn’t it; our brains are wired in a way that we can remember people or things by events or occasions. Certain music will bring us to a place in our past where it evoke certain emotions while certain shows might bring back certain memories.

Christmas has always been my favorite part of the year, the Christmas songs that will be played throughout shopping malls, supermarkets and almost everywhere. This is also a time where I will remember the birth of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ who came to die for me. Have I been there at the Calvary? Certainly not, but I will always remember the times where my grandmother brought me to church, the time where I participated in a Christmas play in church when I was just a little boy and most importantly the time where I came back to God and felt the redemptive power of God. Christmas is more than a festive season for me, it’s a time where I remember Christ and remain thankful for all that He have done for me.

This year, it will be special because Heart of God Church is having a Star wars Christmas and I know the force will be strong in this one!

http://christmas2015.heartofgodchurch.org/

 

 

 

Faith based decision

I am back! I know I haven’t written for a long time now, but i’m not giving up on my blog. Down with bronchitis this week, the downside is that I have never coughed so much in my life, I was probably coughing in my dreams. The good thing is that I got to stay home and rest. Catch up with some readings, got more time to pray, worship and even write! Sometimes in life, you just got to Selah!

I have wanted to post this a few while back but somehow I didn’t managed to. Whatever the reasons were, here is the post. A few month ago, I resigned from my previous job at the bank as it really took up a lot of my time and it was really taking away the time I have for the things I love doing. I wanted to do things that are significant with the time I have. The job did paid me well and it was stable but it just didn’t feel right.

So off I went and I did so without finding another job. It really took some faith and courage though I think it wasn’t really the wisest thing to do. haha. Nevertheless the next two months was the most fruitful two months I had in a long time. I managed to spend more time with my CG, go for more outings, do more in my ministry and I really miss that. It felt right and nothing beats doing life and growing the zone and ministry with my trench buddies.

And in the midst of my job hunting, I did managed to get three job offers. I think it was really God, because I don’t think I will be able to get a job so quickly. Out of the three job offers, one had a really attractive package. The second one was rather prestigious, it’s a government job and I had to sit for a 6 hours assessment for it. I was really surprised I passed the first round. The third one was pretty normal, nothing fanciful and the pay was average but the working hours are good, an 9-6 kind of job. And so, I had to decide which one should I go for? I kind of eliminated the first one, while the pay is attractive l but it will really take up a lot of my time and that will be going back to square one isn’t it.

I came to a crossroad, I had to decide which job I should take up. It was then I was reminded of what Pastor Tan Seow How once shared something about decision making, he shared that we should not exchange opportunity for security. Fear causes us to preserve and conserve, we need to make faith based decision. Pastor shared that we got to live life as though we have nothing to lose. While the second job really attracted me, it kind of guaranteed me success and was seemingly more interesting. However it was obvious that it will take up much more of my time and energy. The other job was less prestigious and might potentially be a very monotonous job but it gave me more flexibility with my time. Which I can spend on things which are more significant.

I decided to take up the third job that was offered to me. Lesser pay, lesser prestige but it gave me more time to serve and love people.

Did I made that decision with sheer faith and stupidity? Of course not, Pastor shared that in making any decision, we got to first use our brains. Think through and calculate, get advice and count the cost. So with all the resources I had, the faith in my heart. I made that decision! Will it be wrong? I honestly don’t know but I know I won’t regret it because I will get to do the things I love, the things that matter for eternity.

I will be back!

Unnecessary Friends

“Our destiny is fulfilled by other people”

-Pastor How

The paralytic in the bible only had a breakthrough because of his four friends and to me, that spoke volumes.

Nine years ago, I had one friend who invited me to church. And today, I have a group of friends who have been there with me through my ups and downs. We have no hidden agenda nor any motives, we have no business dealings nor anything that we can leverage from one another, really, we are a bunch of unnecessary friends. Yet, they are the most crucial in my life, the ones who encourage and lift me up and constantly carry my faith to another level. It takes time and energy to build all these relationships but it’s worth all the effort!

There is nothing more I can ask for. This is my best life!

Photo on 25-5-15 at 11.05 pm #2IMG_9176 IMG_9280 Hangout

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Processed with Moldiv

To more crazy things we will do together!

More Prata Adventures! #Yolo

Horses and Trees

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In life, it is always about balance. Anything done to the extreme usually ends up devastating or disastrous, history would have taught us that. Balance is exactly what I have learned in church and from the teachings from my Pastors in Heart of God Church.

My Pastors taught me how we need to run with the horses.

“If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
Then how can you contend with horses?

Jeremiah 12:5(NKJV)

Its so important that we need to have perspective in life. Life will get busier, harder and more fast paced. Run with the horses, do not just run with the footman. We got to pick up our speed and not be weary at where we are and what we are doing. If we are tired/ discouraged when we can’t cope with church and exams, how are we ever going to cope with work and church or when we come into difficult situation. Life isn’t going to get any easier, this race is a long one. Perspective. Our destiny is not with the footman, we run with the horses.

My Pastors also taught me how we need to go under our fig tree, under the presence of God in worship and prayer. We need to spend time, set aside time in our busy life to go into the presence of God. Its the presence of God that changes life, it changed mine when I stepped into Heart of God church nine years ago. Pastor How shared how it is no point having the state of the art facilities without the presence of God, great lightings without the illumination of Christ.

“The price of God’s Presence is time.”  – Pastor Lia

I’m so glad that there is such balance in the teaching in heart of God church, in church we are progressive, forward looking and we run with the horses. Yet we are not obsessed with serving and ministry that we forget about setting aside time to be in the presence of God. We have a cutting edge church with a strong presence of God.