Don’t know if I can stay awake for the whole post because I’m absolutely knackered haha. I reached home at 5pm and I slept for 3.5 hours, initially thinking it would just be a twenty-minute nap. Anyway, this post is about giving thanks for things in the office finally wrapping up and how I spent my past three days.
Friday and Saturday
Finalizing the proposal, 4am to late nights and panicking, lack of communication (working with my colleagues but they are all new to me), being really fearful whenever I made mistakes. Small mistakes are fine but there were medium-sized mistakes too. I was terrified that we wouldn’t be able to get the proposal out in time because of a certain political situation but thankfully, it has passed. Now I can finally turn off my phone without worrying that a certain thing is pending or “the director hates my work”. I cried on Saturday because I felt so constrained by things and I felt that I was doing shitty work, work that even I wouldn’t approve on hindsight. You know that cold feeling you get when you realised that you really f-ked up a certain thing, and then it feels like someone cracked a cold egg down your head and your mind goes blank. I got that a lot because I was dealing with many different things the past two weeks, and the more work you do, the more difficult it is to get everything done well. In my defense, everything was new, I was slow because I had to first understand what I was doing before I could even start. Whereas everyone else on the team had 6-10 years of experience and so they work really fast. I have 7 weeks HAHA.
I had lunch with the director today, she treated me to cupcakes afterwards too and we clarified a lot of things that could have been done better. And she also apologised for her moods and how she was a bit unapproachable- which she honestly didn’t have to apologise for, so I appreciate that a lot. I mean, for someone so experienced, teaching someone who has no idea what consulting work looks like, must have been a pain in the ass LOL. Learning points: I need to communicate better, I need to follow-up even when I am scared, I need to be a lot more careful about the quality of my work and I really need to pay more attention in the meetings and not let my emotions affect who I work with. Am still afraid to approach one team member- she’s lovely in normal interactions, but when on projects she becomes really curt and slightly unfriendly, especially when stressed.
I spent the morning volunteering at Jalan Kukoh. It is with the same director whom I worked with on the above-mentioned proposal, she has a friend who is part of the volunteering team and they plan to go full-time so they roped us in for consulting services. At 9am we were packing eggs from larger trays into smaller cardboard trays that we cut from the larger ones. Then we packed the household things like detergent and perishables (Apollo cake, coffee, biscuits etc) and finally the heaviest items like soy milk. I didn’t think of actually volunteering with them at first because I have a strong interest in children, and tend to avoid the elderly when it comes to volunteering because I always feel that I can’t communicate with them and can’t really make them feel happier. But the idea is that we will be involved on the ground so that we can see the issues and the perspectives that the ground team has. I had the mindset that it was going to be a work meeting so I went with my laptop and dressed in a shirt-dress thingy, but I adapted and just started queuing up.
The organizing team really put thought into the project- they use recyclable bags so that the volunteers have to enter the house to put away the things, and then take back the bags. Ideally, we would also introduce each of the items to the elderly because the packaging and food items change sometimes, they told us a story of how an old man ate soap by mistake because he thought it was a dessert. Still have no idea what kind of soap packaging that is, but it looks similar I guess. It would be much faster to just pass over plastic bags but the concept is that the team should spend at least ten minutes with the uncle or aunty living there, because they are alone and need social interaction. We were told to look out for the people who seemed lonelier and wanted to talk, and that would possibly be the next phase of the project where they can send buddies down. Sort of like lion befrienders, but it’s linked to the current tech system which provides real-time collaboration with volunteers who log in their comments about the needs of the families they have visited.
There are 120 families on the list, it was recently reviewed so initially there were a lot more elderly but some of them moved on or moved away, or thankfully, found ways to increase their income. One team consists of a resident volunteer and the new volunteers- resident volunteers are residents who also stay in the rental flats but help us as tour guides, so they do not feel that they are just taking handouts- they are working for it. And it is very useful to have them on the ground with us because they not only know the place, they also know the residents, they know the RC people, they understand the lives of people who live in the area. They can give tips on how to deal with residents, and they share really interesting stories. On my team, there was a man who used to be abrasive and didn’t get along with anyone, but after two years of doing this with the volunteering ground up movement, he is now, well, not a lovely person, but a lot more talkative. His experiences are also really interesting- he is eloquent and really direct, just that he tires easily.
Rental flats are also interesting- from where you stand at the door, you can see almost everything in the flat because it’s really small. But at Jalan Kukoh, it is near Chinatown and more importantly, there is a fantastic view of the Singapore river in front of every window and staircase. I don’t know if this is the right term, but it is open air which means that the staircase isn’t blocked by a door like the one at my house, it is windy and surprisingly quiet. Although for the elderly who live in the houses, some of them might not even notice the river. Those who stay on the 12th floor have a really nice ambience, but there were families on the 3rd floor and the corridors were frankly dark and cramped, filled with old shelves and one hoverboard lol. There was a house which we went to, there was a bun (like a sandwich hot dog bun without the hot dog) that was literally just placed on the gate of the door, without any packaging. And the house had no sounds coming from within, so we were a bit worried about the aunty living inside. The bun looked fresh but it is just weird. But they should have followed up by now.
Post volunteering I ubered to church, we had a one hour bible study on Mark 2:1-12. I never really read that passage in detail, but today I did and I realised that it really spoke to me about my situation (humans have the ability to sense make everything). I am so worried about my physical and mental health that I never thought to place my spiritual health on the same level.
2 And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
When I was younger I would think “of course it’s easier to say that sins are forgiven, you have to actually prove that the man can get up and walk if you told him to”. But now I realised that for Christ, it was more important that he should forgive the man for the very thing he came to earth for. To forgive us for our sins and transgressions against God, to make sure that we know how to repent, and to guide us when we are facing troubles like physical health and temptations of money and sex. Our earthly bodies are important to us- if I were paralysed, I would probably be deeply unhappy and angry that someone claims that my sins are forgiven, I would wonder what were my sins to be punished like this. In fact with health issues now, I feel tied to Singapore because I can’t travel without bringing my medication along. That feeling of having no freedom can really ruin a day, especially when I get stomach pains during meetings and I really need the toilet.
Now that I am older I see the importance of a Christ-like heart. I don’t quite know how to explain it, but after being in the church for seven months, I think I understand more about sin- how it causes us to turn away from God, and if we understood what God did for us and the beauty of his plan, and if we experienced the comfort of being a part of his family, then we would understand “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Never really got the gospel of Mark when I was younger, now I think I do. It is a sense of relief actually.