I am who I am because of you ...

16 425.  I like to play with numbers.  Maybe because when I was young, my parents like to play with numbers too.  "Chap Dee Gee" meaning 12 sticks in Hokkien.  Basically, you place your bet on some numbers and if you guess it correctly, you win some money.  No, I don’t bet my luck on numbers but numbers play a huge role in my life.

Grace my daughter was born at 314 am.  When I first came to work in Hanoi, my Vietnamese friend, Thang, friend of more than 23 years now, gave me his motorbike, a Honda Dream with the number plate 314.  When I was offered a scholarship to pursue a masters degree in social work in America, the area code of that area is 314.  Those of you who are familiar with this area code, you will most likely know where I did my masters. 

1414, 818, 333.   The numbers keeps going.  Well, if you visit my dad and stay with him, you will see him patiently and quietly sitting in his room writing on a book full of numbers.  At 82 years of age now, he continues to keep his journal on numbers. Maybe that is why the Bible has the book called Numbers.  Oh, yes, so what is 16 425. It the number of days I have been alive.  Thank you mum and dad for teaching me to count my days.

Mum & Dad

I am the 7th of 7th in the family.  That’s PERFECT score. I am the youngest child.  Definitely not the most spoilt.  I can promise.  Or maybe it is better to verify it with my siblings.  I believe they will agree.  Um, maybe not.  Let’s not go there. Nonetheless, I am most privileged. Mary, my 6th sister know this very well.  Mary is 3 years older than me.  So we share many things.  Unfortunately, I always got the “better” share. So Mary thought.  Mum will leave Mary at home and bring me out.  Maybe I am the youngest so mum brought me along in case my siblings bully me. NO! That is certainly not the case.  I certainly do not remember all the reasons why I get to go out with my mum and Mary did not.  However, I do remember a few incidents.  Mum will go work as a cleaner at a factory and I get to go along.  Other days, mum will work as a house cleaner, and I get to go along.  How fun!  Or maybe I selectively block out the fun outings and write here only these mundane ones? It will be interesting to hear from Mary what was it like to be left "Home alone!"  Till these days, Mary and I still share a lot.  We feel connected though thousands of miles apart. We share our hearts.  Our true heart felt feelings for each other.  Mary is honest and real.  Mary, you have such caring and loving heart. I am who I am because of you.

I am the little boy on the right. Besides me is Roger and besides him is Mary.

Roger!  Got it!  Roger! Roger is my 3rd brother. I grew up knowing my brother Roger as a very strict disciplinarian. He was not only strict on others. He was very strict on himself too.  My 1st sister Chye Hong, 1st brother Steven, 2nd brother David and 2nd sister Angie would have been out working by the time I have any vivid memories of my childhood or teenage years. Honestly, I don't remember taking the above picture. Roger, by default had to be the disciplinarian for Mary and I.  Ha ha,  I think for this, Mary had the bigger share of it.  The greatest impact Roger had on me was to introduced me to the Boys’ Brigade at Pentecost Methodist Church along Koon Seng Road.  The 23rd BB Coy will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year.  So did Roger. He was born 5 years and 2 days before me.  I had many of my most wonderful memories with the Boys' Brigade.  Camping in Pular Ubin, Penang Hill, hkiing up Mt. Ophia ...   Roger was not only the big brother who protected me.  He even saw to it that I work towards the highest honor a BB boy can receive, the Founder’s Badge.  Today, I love adventure and is not afraid of hard work.  Sure and Steadfast - that’s the BB slogan. Maybe that is why I choose to work in Vietnam all these 14 years to build a foundation that is SURE & STEADFAST. It’s hard work but certainly an adventure that I will never regret.  Roger, you are hardworking and disciplined - never give up like "Ah Gu" that we all know you to be affectional.  I am who I am because of you.

Oops.  4 more siblings to go.  Guess I have to stop for now.  

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