We arrived on Saturday evening and were picked up at the airport by Sarah and David Lehman. Since our meetings didn't start until Monday, we were able to spend a day with my long time friends. And that one day just happened to be my birthday! Erin and I slept in and enjoyed a morning swim in the pool. Sarah made blueberry muffins for breakfast. Fresh blueberries--what a treat! That afternoon we attended the Bible study that Sarah and David lead. This year's theme is "Conversations with Christ." After dropping our suitcases at the hotel, we all cruised down the Singapore River in a bum boat. It was my first time to see the merlion, the symbol of Singapore, at night. What a great day, and special way to spend my birthday! I wonder how many times Sarah and I have celebrated together over the years?
Our meetings began on Monday. In addition to Erin and I, nine other missionaries from four countries around the region were also participating. Over the next four days, we focused on the mission of the church--"making Christlike disciples in the nations." There were times for worship, discussion, and team activities. And of course... lots and lots of good food!
On Monday night we ate at a hawker center. A hawker center is a Singaporian-style fast food smorgasbord where you can taste food from India to China and everywhere in between. It really reflects the cultural diversity of Singapore. This month is Ramadan, a special time of fasting for Muslims. We visited an area where they gather to break fast after sundown.
After more meetings on Tuesday, we finished the day with a mini-version of The Amazing Race. We divided into three teams. Following the clues, we traveled by foot, taxi, and bus around the city. Our stops included a Hindu temple, ice cream shop, and 25 minutes in IKEA. It took us 5 minutes to find something to buy, 10 minutes to walk through the store to the check-out, and another 10 minutes in the check-out line to buy the $10 item. A bit overwhelming for this FOB (fresh out of the bush)! The race ended at a Mexican restaurant where we feasted on fajitas and chips and salsa.
Wednesday was one of my favorites. We spent a few hours of prayer and meditation at the beautiful botanical gardens. From there we all headed to Arab Street. Erin and Letitia and I walked together, admiring the intricate designs of the Persian carpets. Some of them take years to make by hand. Several of the carpet sellers we talked with were from Afghanistan. Since I have traveled to Kabul, I especially enjoyed connecting with them!
The meetings finished up on Thursday. Erin left for vacation in the U.S. early Friday morning. I spent the day shopping in Chinatown and wandering around the mall. I moved back to Sarah and David's with my suitcase and all of my new purchases in tow. That evening we went out for a fabulous Italian dinner. Saturday was my last chance to get a fill of the city for a few months. We visited the Dali exhibit at the lotus-flower-shaped ArtScience museum and stopped for a scoop of chocolate ice cream. It was a great week!
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
~ Matthew 28:19-20