In Memory of Papa and Mama Toh of Ipoh

Just received the sad news in Singapore that our 'Papa Toh' of the Church family in Ipoh, Bro Toh Chin Guan, passed away this morning of 30th Nov 2012. Our sympathies and condolences to his family were immediately sent -

To the family of the late Toh Chin Guan :

Our Deepest Sympathies & Heartfelt Condolences
We Mourn his passing but Celebrate his Life of Joy

From: Sun Fu, Geok Lee & children
( Families & Friends are Forever )

So glad I got to visit him again middle of this year in a family trip to Ipoh

He was a pioneer member of Ipoh Branch of our Church and was in our very first meeting there, as in the above photo, before a branch was established. Every missionary who has ever served in Ipoh would know of the Toh family because he participated in this historic event recorded here and influenced many others to join.

It has never been easy to get the whole family together to Ipoh and when we could it was always a delight to visit the Toh family. In the above photo taken in Feb 2008 we managed to have the 4 boys visit their home in our Chinese New Year trip.  In the visit, the boys got to visit with their Auntie Diana again, seen on the top left, who had come to KL to care for their Mom and each one of them when they were a baby during their first month of life. This is a practice of the Chinese tradition of birth. 

Indeed their Auntie Diana came to help us as early as June 1984 to care for Fei, our very first baby, as in the above photo. The family has since then elevated the position of Auntie Diana to become Lady Diana of Ipoh as recorded here.

A spiritual note to share in my remembrance of how it all began reminds me of the miracle of God's plan when I first got to meet Diana as a missionary when she was referred by her sister Stella in the UK who was a member of our Church. This real miracle that our missionaries are guided by the Spirit to find souls ready to be taught is recorded in my missionary journal.

From Diana, we were led to her father and family. I must firmly say 'Papa Toh'   was a good example of one truly converted by the Holy Spirit and the Book of Mormon as he read the whole book very fervently and knew it was from God. From his baptism,  many others followed who were either from his family or those outside whom he had helped to fellowship, even producing another missionary for the Church through his daughter Annie who lives in Utah today. I can imagine all the fruits that will still be forthcoming from his posterity that will fill the earth in time to come. A few years after my mission, I happened to be in a KL city courts office and by chance talked to a man from Ipoh who knew Toh Chin Guan and his conversion to the Church that he excitedly talked about. I was so impressed that from his simple baptism in the Church in Ipoh, this news could spread out to a stranger in KL that I had met by chance!

I and my family have been even blessed by our continued association with Papa Toh and his family over the years as I had returned to the country and raise my own family in the nearby city of Kuala Lumpur. In my involvement with leadership work in the Church District that once covered the whole of the peninsular, I had the chance to be in Ipoh many times and from my pictorial journal, you can see the face of Elder Toh Chin Guan there. He is one of the many good men and women involved in the service of their fellowmen as we can remember it and all in heaven too I'm sure. He has lived long enough at 93 to deserve a good rest with his loved ones who have gone ahead earlier. Others have to wait longer like Ralph T. Cannon from Salt Lake City who knows him well when he served as District President(1981-82), who is still living at 96 years of age today!

As we mourn over his passing, we should celebrate his life of Joy is what I feel today. I remember many of his quotations and jokes he has shared with me when I was a young missionary in his home. It was always a delight to visit with him. I was impressed when we last visited him as in the first pic above, the family asked him who I was to test his failing memory and he could say my full name out loud!   Always joyful and humble in his ways is how I will remember him forever and ever.

Postdated development :

In Memory of Mama Toh or Yap Swee Gaik

Just past 2 years later on 30th December 2014, I received news that Mama Toh passed away! I happened to be still in KL and could attend the funeral in Ipoh on a Friday 2nd Jan 2015.

She received many beautiful flowers

All family members were present, even Annie her returned missionary daughter, via the internet as she had just recently traveled earlier a long distance from the US when her mom was in hospital.

She received beautiful hymns sung for her by family members and friends

Stella at the front, has always been the stalwart oldest child who cared for the family even though she lived most of her life in the UK as a nurse.

Always good to see missionaries even on sad occasions like this especially the few I know who have served for some time in our Clementi Ward in Singapore, namely Elder Lallemant and Sister Carson.

Her allotted chamber for the cremation had to be no 7 which will make this blogpost photo definitely part of my Story of 7.

Dearest Diana to our family led me to show where Mama Toh's ashes will remain...

... in a special place by her beloved husband, our Papa Toh. I hope to return one day here again to capture both of their plaques together as a memory that will forever be embedded not just in my journals but in my mind of all the happy memories of my life and friendship with the Toh family.

The photo below from one of our stop-over visits in Ipoh inspires me to write the closing for this post.

I like to now share my thoughts in writing this blog post that actually was first written after the post of the passing of the Mom of our family on 6 Nov 2012 when Papa Toh passed away two weeks later on 30 Nov 2012. Now I've included Mama Toh who most recently departed on 30 Dec 2014.

I can imagine the joy of all three of them rejoicing to meet together again in another world separate from ours though not completely as I've always believed, feeling that there is only a thin veil keeping us apart. I can feel the joy of Papa Toh receiving Mama Toh through that veil with the peace and happiness they enjoy over there. No more pains and suffering with amazing new things they will discover to keep them busy which we won't know until it is time for us to join them.

Meanwhile let's do our best to be busy to create a heaven on earth state in our sojourn here, expecting greater perfection only when we are there. Start with our own Heart and Mind, with our own home, our neighborhood or communities we live in, even our own country if possible. Do the best we can and I believe God will do the rest.

19 Aug 1929 - 30 Dec 2014


CD Hall said...

Brother Chong!

Thank you so very much for posting this about Papa Toh's life. I enjoyed reading and pondering this very much.

Much love,

Cameron Hall

Dad the KL city kid said...

I don't get notification for comments on my blogs but I am glad to come by here again thinking of the Toh family to read your comments and glad you're enjoyed my journal post Cameron!