Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thanksgiving in Singapore

Since Thanksgiving Day, for both Josh and me, is usually celebrated with extended family, we weren't sure what to do with our first Thanksgiving-sans-relatives. We talked about trying to make our own Thanksgiving meal (feasible, thanks to the high-end grocery store nearby that caters to Americans and was carrying items like Stovetop stuffing, Libby's canned pumpkin, and Butterball turkeys), but decided that preparing a feast for just the three of us would result in lots of wasted food. We also considered joining a group of teachers from Josh's school who were getting together to celebrate, but since our calendar had been packed the last 2 months, a just-our-family-day sounded like a treat. So. . . we called up one of the nice hotels that was advertising a "Traditional Thanksgiving Buffet" and made a reservation.

(photo from

The Fullerton Hotel, located on the Singapore River, near the Esplanade and Merlion, is absolutely gorgeous. No doubt, it is one of the top two hotels in Singapore (the #1 spot being held by Raffles Hotel). It is the kind of hotel where the valet spends most of the day parking luxury Italian cars like Lamborghinis, Porches and Ferraris (if teaching doesn't work out, don't be surprised if you hear that Josh has taken a job as a valet!) In fact, when we arrived for Thanksgiving dinner, the front entrance of the hotel was temporarily cordoned off and the staff was laying out a beautiful red velvet carpet--turns out that top diplomats from all over the SE Asia were soon to be arriving at the hotel for some sort of international summit.

The buffet was gorgeous, but it was no where close to "traditional". The only traditional items being served were turkey and cranberry sauce. No mashed potatoes, no gravy, no green bean casserole, no buttermilk biscuits, no Jello salad, no sparkling cider, no apple or pumpkin pie. But, if you were in the market for fresh tropical fruit, or sushi, or oyster, or black pepper stir-fry, or bruschetta, or creme brulee, or chocolate torte, you would not have been lacking in options!

Us, in front of one of the dessert tables.

In a way, I'm glad it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving meal because it wasn't a typical Thanksgiving Day. It is nice to know that the giving of thanks isn't dependent on cool weather, cozy foods, and even good family fellowship. I Thes 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Viva La Comida Mexicana!

As I have already lamented, Mexican food is scare here in Singapore. There are few Mexican restaurants and even fewer grocery stores that carry Mexican food ingredients at a price that won't break the bank. For example, one can of refried beans (forget trying to find whole pinto beans. . . they don't sell them here!) runs around $4.50. A package of 8 flour tortillas (forget about trying to find corn tortillas. . . they don't sell them here!) will cost you about $7.00. A small jar of salsa (forget about trying to find fresh salsa. . . they don't sell that here!) comes in at a whopping $8.00. An 8-oz package of cheddar cheese (forget about trying to find Mexican cheese. . . they don't sell that here!) will set you back almost $10.00!

So, as you can guess, when a surprise package arrived from my friend, Sarah Stranske, loaded with Mexican food supplies, Josh and I literally leaped for joy. Dustin and Yvette had brought us a Costco-sized jug of salsa (thanks, guys!), so combined with Sarah's items and $40 worth of beans, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and ground beef, we were able to feast on Mexican food for 3 days straight! Freshly fried tacos. . . mmmmmmm! Tostadas loaded with tons of goodness. . . . delicious! Enchiladas for breakfast. . . why not!? Even Caleb enjoyed eating at our "Taqueria a la Singapora," and filled his tummy (and nose and hair and thigh-rolls) with beans and Mexican rice.

The stash!

Look at that "sonrisa"
("smile" for those of you that don't speak Spanish)

Beans, beans, the magical fruit. . .

If any of you are dying to send us a care package, here are a few items that would be a hit:
  • Corn tortillas
  • Plain tortilla chips (we can only get nacho-cheese chips here)
  • Green enchilada sauce
  • Chalula
  • Green taco sauce
  • Whole pinto or black beans
  • Anything else necessary for a home-grown Mexican meal!

Thanks Sarah, Dustin and Yvette for making our Fiesta possible!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Time for a new profile picture

Caleb is getting bigger by the minute so I wanted to use a more recent picture for my profile. This was taken in Bintan, Indonesia. . . just a 45-minute ferry ride from Singapore. It's a nice little resort island where the jungle meets the sea and the sky is big (no sky here in Singapore!).

My Students

We moved to Singapore with the expectation that Josh would be "the teacher" in our family. Little did I guess that God would open up the door for me to teach as well. But, the door was not only unlocked, it was wide open.

The church we have been attending, International Baptist Church, sponsors an ESL (English as a Second Language) ministry that reaches over 250 women in the community. The first week we attended a Sunday service at IBC, there was an announcement from the pulpit that the ESL ministry was in dire need of teachers. . . immediately. Josh nudged me and whispered in my ear, "I think you should check into that," which was exactly what the Holy Spirit was whispering in my other ear. It seemed as though God had prepared me for this ministry years ago, before I ever would have imagined being in this place at this time. My undergraduate studies were in Education and I was required to take several TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) classes. Not only that, but one of my part-time jobs during college was as a private tutor for a Korean-run tutoring center where I had the opportunity to tutor non-English-speakers. And, most importantly, God had been preparing my heart through prayer as Josh and I asked God to provide an opportunity for us to serve the community here. Less than a week after the announcement was made, I was sitting in an orientation class for new teachers!

Top Row(L-R): SoYoung, Tomo, JinJu, Chie, Miki, Joyce, Janet
Bottom Row: JongHwa, Emiko, YanShi, Me, ShuHsien

I have 16 students (though, as you can see from the picture, attendance usually hovers around 12). We meet once each week for about 2 hours and spend the first portion of our time going over basic English skills. The last part of the class is dedicated to Bible study. Many of my students (most, in fact) are not Christians, nor are they even familiar with Christianity. We went over the Creation Story and several of them had never heard it before. . . same goes for Noah's Ark, The Exodus, and The 10 Commandments.

Pray that God would help me be an effective ESL teacher (if they aren't learning English, they won't be motivated to come to class). Pray that God would allow me to present the truth of Christianity to them in an easy to understand way (this is a Beginner class and most of my students have very limited English skills). Most importantly, pray that God would soften the hearts of these women toward the truth of His gospel.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thai Food Poisoning

Thai food is good. Thai food poisoning, on the other hand, is not. Josh and Caleb found this out first-hand on our trip to Phuket, Thailand this past weekend. We still aren't sure exactly what it was that they ate that caused them 24-hours of misery, but we're thinking it was the watermelon slices they ate on our day-tour of the Phi Phi Islands (Yvette wrote an interesting post about these islands. . . check it out here). Josh got hit really hard, but thankfully, Caleb didn't suffer quite as much. He did, however, administer the "True Test of Motherhood" on me and I am proud to say I passed =)

As a result of the 24-hours of misery and grossness, I spent all day yesterday doing laundry. Caleb is still extra-clingy right now (another side-effect of being ill) so posting anything that takes longer than 5-minutes to write is out. However, Yvette has been doing a great job journaling about her visit here so if you want to see what we've been up to, hop on over to her blog.