Blessed Advent!

2 Dec 2008

Well the month of Nov came and went – a month to commemorate our beloved dead. In our chapel there was a special board for the names and photos of our loved ones who have died and daily prayers were said for them. It was a little strange to have my father’s face among those who have died but at the same time, it was consoling to know that I am not alone in mourning my loss.

Last Thursday was Thanksgiving Day, bringing fond memories of my Thanksgiving in LA last year, both with our Sisters in the convent as well as with the staff at Paulist Productions. Since we have Sr Augustine who’s from Ohio with us in community, we also celebrated this wonderful American holiday (only the food part, not the holiday part!) with two turkeys (!) compliments of Julie who’s from Wisconsin and one of our lay collaborators. She is here on a sabbatical of sorts and works as a copy editor in our publishing house. (Julie also did backup vocals on our new CD – great alto voice.) Well our thanksgiving meal was actually anticipated on Nov 26 as we combined it with the celebration of Primo Maestro’s feast day (ie Blessed James Alberione, our founder). So Julie’s brother, Fr Jim (a Jesuit priest based here) celebrated mass and then we had a great feast complete with stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin etc etc! YUMmy! Not forgetting the bottles of wine, also compliments of Julie!

During Grace before meals, Fr Jim thanked these two turkeys for giving their lives up for us, seen here with Sr Teresa and Kioko our cook .

This actually worked out well for me because from Thurs Nov 27 to Sat Nov 29, I was busy with an exhibit at the international Taizé prayer meeting held here in Nairobi. Around 6000 youths from all over the world participated. See photos below.

At prayer

Queuing up for food which was served in the tents

Disposable plates are still considered more expensive than recyclable plastic ones
- this was the pile after a meal still to be washed!

Meeting some Masai tribal youth from Tanzania (check out their cool sandals below!)

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to participate fully in the actual prayer sessions but just being amidst the youth from all over was a wonderful experience. A young lady who came to our exhibit said she was from Sweden when I asked her where she’s from. “Ah,” I said, “Abba land!” then I added quickly, “now you know my age!” And it just happened that over the past weekend I managed to get hold of a DVD of Mama Mia! I caught the musical in S’pore some time back and was dying to see how Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan (loved him since Remington Steel days) could pull it off! Well I must say, despite it being quite risqué in some parts, it was absolutely hilarious! Definitely not something all the Sisters here would appreciate but I was almost rolling on the floor with laughter. Listening to Abba’s poppish hits again spurred me to listen to their Greatest Hits album on my ipod, and then to all my 70s music – what an amazing era! And that includes Elvis who was still having hits in the mid-70s. One of my favourite songs of his is In the Ghetto. (If truth must tell, I was absolutely smitten by Elvis when I was a kid because every Friday night, while my parents were playing tombola (bingo) on the upper floor of the Changi Swimming Club, I was watching Elvis movies on the lower floor. The person in charge of the choice of films must have been an Elvis fan and I became one of his youngest fans – totally sad when he died in 1977. So now you know!)

Meanwhile thanks very much for the kind and honest feedback on our new CD. I really appreciate the time and effort some of you took to listen and comment on the tracks. It has been most encouraging. I was no doubt glad when some Towies (fans of Suzanne Vega) mentioned that they sensed her influence in my songs. However one of the best compliments I got was that my voice sounds like Tanita Tikaram who I also love! The CD is doing extremely well despite the fact that we have yet to officially launch it (most likely we’ll do it on Jan 25, the feast of the conversion of St. Paul). We have had some marketing done through radio though. We gave away 5 complimentary CDs on Radio Waumini, the national Catholic radio station here. Listeners had to answer 5 questions on St Paul to win the 5 CDs. I drafted 5 very easy questions for the contest but Fr Martin who heads the station said they received some really funny answers to the questions. For example the first question was “Who declared June 2008-June 2009 the Year of St Paul?” A few actually said John Paul II! (for my non Catholic/Christian friends, the right answer is the current pope, Benedict XVI.) Another question was “Where was St Paul going to when he had his conversion experience and encountered Christ?” Some said Emmaus while others said Jerusalem! (right answer, Damascus.) Fr Martin who hosts a show on that station said he played the title track on his show, ie the song I sang and wrote, His Grace is Sufficient. What a thrill to actually have my song on the airwaves!! Never in my dreams would I have thought this possible! But as we know, nothing is impossible with God! SoundAfrica, a music distributor for world music has also expressed interest in our CD which is great news for all of us.

Now to say that it was great news for Kenyans when Obama won the US Presidential elections would make it the understatement of the year. I couldn’t believe it when the next day was declared a national holiday here in honour of Obama. In his paternal grandmother’s village where Obama Senior was raised, people were so jubilant, they were waving fish and palm branches in their hands! Babies were named Obama and Tshirts with his face also abound here.

For us in the convent, the celebratory mood was somewhat subdued when we got news of the abduction of two Italian Little Sisters of Jesus in north Kenya and who were reportedly taken across the border into Somalia. Until now we have had no news about them. As I was discussing about this with fellow Singaporean, Anne Morsby, she came up with the possible (and likely) theory that since the Sisters were both trained nurses, perhaps they were abducted to treat the wounded rebels hence no ransom was asked, no communication has been made whatsoever from the kidnappers. Whatever the case, please continue to pray for their safety.

Sister Maria Teresa Olivero (above) and
Sister Caterina Giraudo (below) are still "missing"!

My heart also goes out to the many other people suffering in various parts of this immense continent. Congo is in the middle of a civil war while Nigeria is also suffering from a seasonal clash between Muslims and Christians (both obviously not living up to their true faith and religion). Conflicts in Darfur enters its 6th year and Ethiopia is in a severe food crisis. And the recent attacks on the innocent in Mumbai, India (including a recently married Singaporean lady) are just dumbfounding. Fortunately things have settled here in Kenya since the unrest earlier in the year. However there is still so much violence and a chronic sense of dealing with justice in their own terms. One day two weeks ago, Virginia, who works in our Audiovisual department told me about a thief who was caught in her neighbourhood and the people tied him up, put a tire around his neck and burned him to death! I couldn’t believe what I heard but apparently that is quite a common sight here. Their concept of vengeance is still so strong and raw. Let us offer our prayers and sacrifices for peace – firstly peace within ourselves, then within our families and communities and finally peace in the world. There is so much hatred in the world. Let us pray for healing and forgiveness. May this season of Advent be full of graces for you as you prepare your heart and soul for the coming of Jesus, the prince of Peace (not just at Christmas but every day). Miracles abound everywhere. We just have to be mindful of them. One miracle we observed last night was this:

In an amazing, rare sight, the moon was spotted between Jupiter and Venus. It’s like the night sky was smiling at us! I count myself blessed to have captured this with the human eye as well as on my camera. Apparently the next time this occurs will be in 2052 so if you missed it, you'll have to wait another 44 years!

Thank you for reading this. Each of you are a miracle in my life too and I thank God for knowing each of you. I leave you with part of the song His Grace is Sufficient based on 2 Cor 12:7)

I have a thorn in my flesh
And I begged the Lord to remove it
But this is all he said,
“My grace is sufficient for you
My grace is sufficient for you
My power is perfect in your weakness
My power will shine in your weakness
So when you’re weak that’s when you’re strong!”

Blessed Advent to one and all!

Peace and Grace,


  1. Dear Wendy,
    I love your blog and how much you make me feel like I am right there with you. I was with my family for Thanksgiving like last year) but i recall with much fondness your time with us. How fast this year has gone. We continue to pray for the two sisters who may be serving as nurses - how I pray this theory is true. Nairobi is quite the city - imagine such a large Taize' gathering.
    A blessed Advent to you. You can check out my new blog (I had to move off of AOL because they discontinued their journal service).
    Greetings to all!!

  2. Dear Sister Wendy,
    Hello from Hong Kong. I want to let you know how much I like reading the news from you - detailed descriptions of things/events, interesting photos, funny remarks here and there (I watched every episode of Remington Steele when studied in LA~), information about the situation in Africa etc. Thank you for sharing and opening my eyes. I will also be praying for the two Italian Sisters.

    About that rare sight, I saw that on my way to the bus stop after work at around 7pm on Monday! I didn't have a camera, so thanks for capturing that with yours. I remember thinking that it looked like a smiley face and wondering how many people would have seen that. I hope many did, and that it put a smile on their face like it did for me. God Bless.


  3. its wonderful.....
    wt more can i say

  4. Hello wendy,thanks for the updates.Wishing you a blessed advent with abundant peace and joy....always enjoy reading your blog.keep well and take Bong

  5. Hi Sr Wendy,

    Thank you for sharing with us your apostolate experiences everywhere you may be...

    I rejoice with all of you in the good response of the CDs. Keep it up "Fun Sophisticated Princess" (Trademark of Wendy Wee).

    Will keep the two Italian sisters in prayers and that they are safe in God's protection.

    Blessing to you and take care!!!
    Jo ;p

  6. Hi Sr Wendy, excellent blog, full of information and nice pictures too!
    Greetings from Singapore