Tuesday, 7 April 2015

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A Final Letter to Pa


Dear Pa

These are words I have never shared with you. I didn't know how to tell you, pa.

The day I left for Copenhagen in 2001, my heart was heavy, heavy for your health and your salvation. Now that I am gone, who is going to witness to ma and you and bring you to Christ? I asked myself. Tears flowed uncontrollably down my face and I cried all the way throughout the flight from Singapore to Copenhagen. I did not tell you, because I didn't want you to worry and to feel sad.

I cried to God to give you many many more years, because I knew I would be away from Singapore, and my time left with you would not be much, perhaps just once a year, if I could afford it financially to go home to Singapore. If only pa could have 15 more years, oh God... I pleaded with God, but I knew deep inside that it would be a miracle for it to be so.

And I had another wish in my heart... that I could bring ma and you to tour Europe and show you real snow. Living near the equator without the four seasons, I know that it is every Singaporean's wish to see and touch snow one day. Ma and you were already getting older, never really had the chance to travel outside of Singapore and never had seen snow. I really wish that I could afford it, but I did not dare to ask God for it, for what is most important to me, more than anything else, is your salvation. I would not ask for more.

But I felt the presence and peace of God assuring me that everything would be alright. Your salvation is God's business, and not mine to bear. But I wanted so much for you to know Jesus, the One and only One who can give us lasting love, peace, joy and eternal life. I don't want to lose ma and you for eternity, because I love you, pa.

During the flight, I saw a rainbow. To others, this could be a coincidence, just a natural phenomenon, but deep down, I felt that it was very special and I held it close in my heart. I have not seen a rainbow on a flight since.

Arriving Denmark, I started straight on the masters of Finance, while working as a student help. I did the masters for myself, but also for you, pa. It was tough. More crying and hard studying followed and with Mr. FECS' support, two and a half years later, I graduated with good grades. Straight after graduation, I put all my heart and soul into studying Danish. It was nine months of tears and sweat of blood, for learning Danish at adult age was really excruciating. At some point, I wanted to give up. But God was with me, encouraging me. No, God did not make it any easier for me to learn Danish - He did not re-wire my brain so that it became easier. It was still pure hard work, day and night, day and night, but God convinced me to continue and gave me the strength and determination. I passed the Danish exams with flying colors and top grade 12 for both oral and written, and I knew you would be very proud of me.

Shortly after completing my Danish in 2005, I landed a job, and in the same year, I was posted to New York for seven months. I knew all these were from God, for many took a couple of years to find a job and I landed mine within just a month of searching. With your health slowly on the decline, there was no time to lose. With my first salaries and the per diem earned from New York and the blessing from Mr. FECS, we saw Europe together, ma, pa, sis, Mr. FECS and I and we showed you snow. That was the first time you saw snow. That was one of the happiest times of my life, of your life and I was filled with joy and gratefulness to God. I knew it was Him who enabled all this. I did not ask Him for it, but yet he granted me my wish on the flight from Singapore to Copenhagen in 2001 - to show you Europe and snow.

In the same year, I received a phone call from ma, that made me even happier yet. She told me that your pa has accepted Christ into his life. How could that be? You were stubborn as an ox! She told me that you were hospitalized and your neighbour was a man with tatoos all over his body. One day, his church - the Church of Singapore - went to visit him and prayed for him. They spoke your native Chinese dialect - Hokkien. From your bedside, you shouted loud to try to get their attention: "I want to become a Christian! I also want to become a Christian! Please pray for me." I wished I was there to hear it myself.

I didn't quite understand everything on the phone with ma, but I was overfilled with joy that my greatest wish was answered by God. But after your passing, everything came together, and I finally understood. Poor and without much schooling, you had probably felt that Christianity is only for the rich and educated, until God brought you his people with tatoos and spoke to you in your native Chinese dialect Hokkien. That man full of tatoos, was accepted by God. You must have felt that God would therefore not look down on you, but would accept you too. Tears rolled down my face, as I realized this fact. Yes, our God is a God for the rich and the poor, for the educated and the not so educated, for the nobles and the commoners.

On my flight back to Singapore on 8 March 2015, this time to say my last good bye to you, I was still crying, because I was not sure if you were really saved. That was only a phone call from ma in 2005. At the funeral, God spoke to me, as the pastor shared in the memorial service how you came to know the Lord in the hospital. He shared how you said to him that after you were discharged, you would go to church. And you did. You went back to church regularly. You brought them curry-rice and kuehs to share. The pastor also shared how you were most happy, when they paid you home visits. My heart is assured that you gave your heart to Jesus, and I am filled with joy.

I left for Denmark in 2001. God took you home in 2015. It is exactly on the 15th year that God took you home. God extended your life for approx. 15 years, not just your life, but your health. You were well enough to make it for the Europe trip and to see the snow. Thereafter, as our finance improved, we managed to visit Singapore every year. It is the highlight of each year, which I look forward to, and that is to visit Singapore. As our finance improved further, you visited us each summer. You saw how we lived. You lived with us. You experienced our daily lives. You got to know our Little FECS better.

I knew you worried about me, marrying so far away. You worried how I would be all alone, if our marriage goes badly. I didn't say so, but I knew. Thus, I have arranged those trips back home to Singapore and your trips to Denmark. I knew they were important to you. It assured you to see with your own eyes that I am well-treated by Mr. FECS, and it gave you peace. It is my way of showing you, that I am well.

I knew also, pa, that you miss me. During my last trip back, you casually mentioned, "JY, as I think back, I think I know why you have to fly so far away. It was because I bought you an aeroplane designed as a tricycle that you could cycle on, when you were young. Thus, when you grew up, you are flying constantly between Singapore and Denmark." I wanted to cry, as I heard that, because I knew you miss me.

You know I wanted to say, "I love you, pa," but I never did. We are Chinese. We don't say I love you. That is too touchy-feely (to use the expression of PM Lee Hsien Loong). That is the Chinese' greatest weakness, and I so wished that I have overcome that, but I haven't quite. I always ended my skype by saying, "Jesus loves you." That was my way of saying, "I love you, pa." I hope you knew that, pa.

During the last six months, you skyped me more frequently, as though you knew that your time on earth was coming up. On the last day that you skyped me, that was 5 March 2015, on our Little FECSs' birthday. I was driving and I asked you if you had anything urgent. You did not admit that it was you who wanted to call me. You said that ma wanted to call to wish our Little FECS happy birthday. I was driving our Little FECS to his music class and I had to put down the phone. That was my last regret. It was your way of saying good bye to me, your last skype call. And I was driving and not giving you attention. You went home to be with the Lord two days later on 7 March 2015. That was my last regret, my last regret. I wished I had not driven to the music class with our Little FECS. I wished I had taken a day off on our Little FECS' birthday to speak to you on skype.

When you met Mr. FECS for the first time in 2000, he gave you a hug. Then Mr. FECS was puzzled why I didn't give you a hug. I came from a traditional Chinese family. We are not touchy-feely (to borrow the same expression again from PM Lee Hsien Loong). Mr. FECS taught me how to hug you. He said, "Go on, give Daddy SY a hug." He did so first, and I followed.

The moment I hugged you, all the awkwardness melted away and the ice was broken.

From there on, every year when we visited Singapore, you were always standing there, walking towards us like a penguin, and waiting like a child to receive a hug. Sometimes I hugged you, sometimes I didn't. It is still hard for me to shake off the Chinese reservedness. When I took the courage to give you a hug, I could feel the love and the warm flowed from me to you, and you to me, warming our hearts. You didn't say it, but I could feel it. I hope you felt it too. Those times when I didn't hug you, I always went back with regrets. This Chinese new year, I took the courage to hug you again, and I was glad I had done so, for that was the last time I could ever do so.

I am glad I have learned how to hug from Mr. FECS and the Danes. This is one the most important things I have learned in Denmark.

I know that Jesus will take over and help me to give you a tight hug and embrace from up there from now on.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life."
- John 3:16

2 comments:

  1. What a sweet post. My condolences to you. But I rejoice with you now that your father has accepted Christ, what a testimony! Big big hugs from Singapore :)

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  2. Thank you so much for your kind message, homeschoolsg. It brought me much comfort and encouragement :-) Warm hugs from me too from Copenhagen :-)

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