Ushering in the New Lunar Year of the Dragon 2012

Chinese New Year seems to come so early right after Christmas and the English New Year this time round, being on January the 23rd and 24th

Besides the usual family reunion dinners and visitations of family members and friends, there were special highlights to be noted.

5 Days before the Chinese New Year (CNY)

In Kuala Lumpur, right before everyone would take leave to head back to their 'hometowns' out of the capital city, a special reunion of my former missionary companion and I with our first convert that we taught took place.
David Soon came down specially from Penang for this planned reunion. Patricia Cheah was happy that her two young missionaries of 31 years ago, now in their 50s are close to her again who is in her 80s. This reunion fortifies my belief of forever friends. How we got to know her is recorded here.

David Soon and I were called to the Singapore Mission in an unforgettable manner which is recorded here.

After our dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Kota Damansara with Sis Patricia Cheah, we could visit with another member significant to us in our early mission days, staying nearby at Taman Tun Dr Ismail. She is Sis Julie Teraoka, a Malaysian member who married a Japanese and came home during our mission period who treated us lunch at a Japanese restaurant. I guess missionaries never forget those who feed them!

I had the pleasure of working with Julie in later years (2005) when she was called as a family history consultant in the branch as seen in the above photo. I had created a family history training blog to help the consultants better serve their branch members in family history work.

3 days before CNY in Singapore 

Even the great celebration of Chinese New Year does not drive away all ills of this world. Geok Lee continues her visitation to the hospital while another Church member, a returned missionary named Jeff Lee from Johore Bahru branch had to be warded for an unusual problem known as Crohn's disease

I walked the corridors of SGH to meet this Church member for the first time. Simply through facebook, I got to know him as a returned missionary from Johore Bahru, across the causeway, who also came to SGH for treatment. 

I am sure the hospital was doing all they can for him and I further turned to to our facebook group of returned missionaries from Malaysia or those who have served in Malaysia from overseas to call for united prayers for him. I did this as I sincerely believe in the power of united prayers to help the sick and afflicted.

2 days before CNY

As time quickly drew close to the eve, activity in the local neighborhood market heightened

We joined the crowds of people stocking up meat and vegetables for the special dinners and lunches to be served over the Chinese New Year celebration.

This year, as the eve of Chinese New Year fell on a Sunday, Geok Lee's family members decided to do the eve gathering event a day earlier on Saturday as many of the Thong's had become Christians and would be busy with Church activities on Sunday.

Here is the gathering for a reunion lunch that would commence with the tossing of raw fish as captured on video below.

1 day before CNY

It was only 1 hour at Church on this Sunday to give families more preparation time for family reunion gatherings at home

We spend a quiet dinner together just with Geok Lee's older brothers family on the official eve night.

1st day of CNY

We had lunch for our special guests on the first day of the Chinese New Year, the Dixons (in the centre with the baby) and the latest member couple who moved to the Clementi ward in the Church, Amy and Brian Monson on the far right.

Here is Brian looking closely at a video taken in May 2010, when Geok Lee had a chance to sing with the Church world famous Tabernacle Choir in Salt Lake City, to try to locate where he was as he was a Choir member present at that time too! In a post dated event on December 2012, we can hear his great voice singing a Bass solo in a Handel's Messiah program for Scene 3: The Prophecy of Christ's Birth for the hymn entitled, "The people that walked in darkness".

What a coincidence to have two couples from Utah in our home who didn't know each other before and yet they were both linked to our family in the events of May 2010 when we were in Utah for Fei and Christopher's wedding. You can read the journal post of those events here.

In the evening, we paid a visit to Pamela from our Church ward who cooked us delicious 'Nasi  Briyani', a popular Indian rice dish.

2nd day of CNY

The whole family went to visit Patricia Cheah who had followed me to Singapore from KL to celebrate with her daughter's family.

The photos this Dragon New Year and others over the past years have been compiled in the facebook album entitled 'Nostalgia of the Lunar New Year' found here. 

Woon Shuan the globe trotter by merit awards studying in Singapore

When Shuan came back from Perth last December, I posted comments in his facebook asking when will we get to see the photos from his trip. This was a trip that he had won in a competition last year from attending a seminar. It sure took him a while, like a month later, and here are some of the pics extracted from his facebook albums :

First comment by Shuan is that people always think he is Shaun so he is used to it and doesn't  mind the error in his welcome note.

His next comment "Can't run away from number 7" is in reference to Dad's story of 7

He was given a sight seeing tour of Perth in his first two days upon landing in Australia

Shuan learns of the significance of this sculpture in Perth known as 'The Strike'.

Like many areas in the world such as in the state of California, finding gold in Western Australia helps to attract more migrants to the new colony created in Perth. 

Here is Shuan carrying the world's largest gold nugget or at least a replica of it!

He gets to visit the King's Park War Memorial

This is the view of Perth from the park which are both by the Swan river that divides north and south of Perth.

On the 2nd day, he was brought to the port of Fremantle, about half hour's drive from Perth.

The Fremantle markets area somehow reminded him of Bugis street in Singapore but of a less stuffy version according to Shuan. You can check the website here that gives more info on the Fremantle markets.

His remaining days in Perth were spent on the University of Western Australia(UWA) campus visiting all the Science departments

Shuan comments on seeing this reminder pillar was,  "I will try".

One of the highlights of the campus visit was that Shuan got to meet Nobel Laureate, Professor Barry Marshall. He got to hold the Nobel Prize gold coin which is auspicious of his future in the world of science.

Dr Barry Marshall  won the Nobel Prize because of his work in discovering the H Pylori bacteria which causes gastritis. This laboratory is where all the difficult H. Pylori cases are referred to from the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.

Here is Shuan holding a model of the H Pylori bacteria

An outdoor theater on the UWA campus!

At the Physical and Life Science department

Holding the world's largest drill bit!

Inside the glass house of the Agricultural Science department

Plants at the laboratory

Inside the sound proof capsule in the science library for people to answer their cell phone calls!

This is the uber screen that uses an electronic pen or real whiteboard markers

PolentaToast made of sauteed mushrooms,basil and Italian cheese

With a host named Arlina from Indonesia

This is the other girl from Singapore that accompanied Shuan to Perth that won the essay contest to qualify for the trip. Check out more of Shuan's photos posted in his facebook of Perth albums found here

Recently Shuan revealed that he has been selected by his college to travel again this year starting in March to the Philippines to do voluntary service in a remote village for a couple of weeks. This is a mission of TCP(The Christieara Programme) YEP project at Libon, Philippines. Later in June this year, he has also been selected to travel to California USA to visit a university over there.

He has been selected for these fully paid trips based on his excellent academic results which he has been consistently working hard to achieve each year. In the first quarter of 2012, a journal post records that he received college results that showed he had achieved a perfect GPA score of 4.0. This entitles him not just for the trips overseas but a scholarship award in his college for another year as well! Congratulations Shuan and keep up the good work! 

Post dated Events :

Trip to Philippines later in March with photos and links is referenced in a post found here.

Here are some photos of his trip to the USA in June 2012

We saw him off at Changi airport on 9 June 2012

He reached his destination at San Francisco airport

He went with a group of elite students from Singapore all dressed in their customised jerseys....

.... viewing the Golden Gate Bridge

Wearing the American hat for a change in the process of being exposed to learning Liberal Arts for a short stint at Menlo College

Being taken to a base-ball game....

.... typically eating fast food as viewers watch the game

The elite students from Ngee Ann polytechnic include males and females

They were even brought to see the natural outdoors at Yosemite National Park in California, about 2.5hrs drive from San Francisco

They were brought to some interesting Museums .....

.... and this funny pose reminds me of our father-son adventure trip to the Mulu Caves in Sarawak in East Malaysia

O course there is also study time ......

.... requiring some tests questions and sharing with the group at Menlo College

On their last day, they even did a nice thing by way of a service project...

... to clean the bay of rubbish and weeds found in the Bay area