Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

22 December 2011

It’s the end of the year and as I had predicted in my previous post last June, I’ll probably only post twice this year! J
Some of you have written in the recent past with great concern about the famine in Northern Kenya, in Somalia and other parts of East Africa. Although Nairobi (where I live) is far from those areas severely affected by the famine, we nevertheless feel the effects of it and with the global economic crisis, prices of commodities have been soaring. The irony of life is that while thousands starve in this part of the world, price conflicts (between governments and farmers) over crops in Europe have led to fruits, vegetables and dairy products including milk being simply thrown away!

But the rains have come and December, which is supposed to be relatively dry, has been pretty wet. Through various charitable organisations and NGOs, the famine victims including thousands of Somalian refugees are gradually recovering but inflation continues to rise nationwide.

A sad and devastating illustration of the tragic effects of poverty here was the explosion of a gasoline pipeline in Sinai slum last September 12. As the pipe spotted a leak, many slum dwellers – men, women and children – gathered to collect the leaking fuel to make quick money, risking their lives in the process. Unfortunately the wind blew an ember from a nearby rubbish dump igniting a fireball. The inferno left close to a hundred dead, badly charred by the fire.

Clearly, we face many great challenges to educate the poor and to eradicate poverty. Our mission as Daughters of Saint Paul is also to transform minds and hearts - to that of Christ's and to proclaim the Good News to all. One apostolic project which has kept me pretty busy for some months has been a catechetical DVD on Celebrating the Mass with the Roman Missal. Production is completed but it is now doing its rounds to various groups to get their feedback. Here is a teaser clip of the first few minutes.

While most of the world was stunned by the way Gadaffi was captured and brutally killed, those who suffered under his tyranny rejoiced. Just a few days ago, North Korea too stunned the world by announcing the death of Kim Jong II two days after he had died. The deaths of these two dictators have significant repercussions to both Libya and North (and South) Korea and the rest of the world. We can only pray that the new leaders of both nations will improve the lives of the people and develop a more humane society.

Farewells closer to my heart during the second half of this year were the sad demise of a dear aunt, a Pauline Cooperator, David Chua, and my former editor at Catholic News (Singapore), Francis Yeo. My aunt (my mother’s elder sister) passed away in Canada and was one of my sweetest aunts. Her name was Cecilia but my brother and I called her Aunty Bobo because she used to have a dog called Bobo! 
(If you click on the image below, the link would lead you to my FB wall photo album and you'll be able to read some FB comments about her, including her former student under the same pic.) 

David served for several years as the coordinator or chairman of the Association of Pauline Cooperators in Singapore and was a very good friend of our community. He was our ‘handyman,’ ever ready to fix something in the house or run an errand for us. He was one of our kindest friends and we will miss him a lot.

Francis, whose illness led to his resignation as editor of Catholic News was also a kind soul and a pleasure to work with. Thanks to his nod, I was able to interview two of my favourite singers – Olivia Newton-John and Suzanne Vega for Catholic News (Articles - ONJ Woman of Grace and Gratitude, Healing Music from ONJ;  Growing in Contemplation with SV, SV - Candid Views)

What touched me most about Francis was his effort to come all the way to our convent in Jurong (he lived in Marine Parade) to gift me with a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the day it was released as he knew I was a big fan of the series. How sweet is that!?! (Defending Harry published in CN)

I’m glad I had a chance to visit both Francis and David when I was last back in Singapore but I never expected both of them to pass on so quickly. Their passing gave me the opportunity to reflect once again on the fragility of life as well as how their presence in my life was an experience of God’s love flowing through them. I hope and pray that somehow, my life too, like theirs, would reflect God’s love to others.

God as a master artist was also brought to the fore for me during my recent annual silent retreat which took place by Lake Elementaita. I’ll let the images do the ‘talking’ (click on the pic below to see the entire album I shared on Facebook.)

It was indeed a taste of heaven on earth and a grace filled vacation with the Lord.

Besides being awed by the beauty of nature, I have also been quite enamored by the beauty and talent of a Korean actress, Han Hye Jin (한혜진) sometimes spelled Han Hae Jin). It's like being dazzled by a gorgeous star. As some Sisters here would say of anyone of exceptional beauty, "God must have been in a really good mood when he created her!" J She was the lead in a Korean drama called Be Stong Geum Soon which I had initially watched because of Yang Mi Kyung who was also in it (and whom I had previously blogged about). Well, after watching the series, I became a huge fan of Han Hye Jin too and have since tried to watch as many of her works as possible. To catch a sample of her talent and a peek to her personality and quirky sense of humour, here’s a video she made for her fans. Her mother, sister and brother-in-law (both also actors) appear first in the video. The English subtitles were added by me in collaboration with a Korean fan.

If any of you are a newly converted Kdrama fan like me, the following Han Hye Jin dramas are highly recommended: Thorn Birds (2011) - extremely heart wrenching but totally enjoyable, Jejoongwon (2010) - a beautiful love story set in the 'historical' background of the first modern hospital in Korea and the people behind it, touching on the disparity between the nobles and the 'low born' and efforts to eliminate the class system at the turn of 20th century Korea, Jumong (2008) - an epic tale of princes and kingdoms and at the heart of it a moving story of love found and lost twice (!), and of course Be Strong Geum Soon (2005) which can make you laugh one minute and cry the next! J These have been delightful sources of relaxation after a hard day's work and have kept me and some Sisters here much entertained and happy. (A tribute to Jejoongwon by a Kdrama blogger.)

Another source of happiness for me here is the small gang of Singaporeans who meet up once in a while and especially for me, on my ‘free’ Sunday. One worthy cause that we participated in was a fund raising event for the flood victims in Thailand. It was a food fair at the Thai Embassy. Linda (who’s been here for several years) cooked ginger flavoured rice, beef rending and her famous, mouth-watering otak otak. Here's a snap of the event and if you click on it, the link leads to other ‘makan’ sessions we’ve had:

Fellowship, family and friends, being surrounded by the love, joy, peace and hope of Jesus - these are what I wish for each of you this Christmas. From Nairobi to the far corners of wherever you are, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! May 2012 be filled with abundant blessings and graces from above for each of you. At the same time may we join our prayers for those whose Christmas may not be so joyful this year, due to varied reasons - natural and man made calamities, the loss of loved ones, being unemployed etc. May Jesus the Prince of Peace somehow fill their hearts with his PEACE this Christmas despite their dire circumstances and may we be channels of that peace too to one another. 

Hugs and Kisses,

PS: Next year will be my final year here in Kenya (yes my stay has been extended yet again) so LAST CALL for those who are planning to visit this beautiful country and continent while I’m here! J

And in case you have not seen this before, I must leave you with this simply hilarious clip of the Christmas Story as told by a group of pre-schoolers. Enjoy!!


  1. A blessed Christmas to you and the Sisters in Nairobi! I'm missing the kiosk at JP :-) May 2012 be a fruitful one for the Apostolate and let's continue to pray for a house to open in NZ where the need for evangelisation is much needed! Missing you, Sis!

  2. Beautiful and thoughtful blog entries, Wendy.I did not know that Francis has passed away. May he rest in peace. Blessings for Christmas and the New Year (I want to use exclamation points but your blog won't let me :-)

  3. Thank you for the blog update. The children’s version of Christmas is hilarious! Blessings as you celebrate the Light of men and let His light continue to shine in and through you. So thrilled you have another year in Kenya!

  4. Always good and refreshing to read your blog and your updates.
    Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Lee Choo

  5. Great post! You wrote on the passing of friends and loved ones " I hope and pray that somehow, my life too, like theirs, would reflect God’s love to others." Sis, the little I know of truely radiates from you. I hope to catch up with you in your final year here, though we pray it gets extended yet again! Have a blessed Christmas and joyful New Year. Hugs, Evlyn Kyegombe

  6. I love reading your post, very moving.
    Another year? Is there a break somewhere in between. Happy New Year. XOXO wan

  7. So many interesting information in just one post. Beautifully written, you have captured all the aspects of life, happiness, sadness, beauty, everything. Bless you and post more blog posts like these please.