When you give

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

Jasmine: When Andrew asked me if I would be keen on joining his cell for a mission trip to Muar, Malaysia, I told him that I needed time to consider it, but I already knew that my answer would be yes.

Actually, we were supposed to go to Hanoi (we postponed last year’s tickets, and then this year’s tickets fell through due to a lack of travel partners), but because we decided not to, we were able to go for this mission trip, which fell on almost the same dates as our Hanoi trip would have been. Which turned out to be a blessing in disguise!

There were six of us adults travelling with twenty-two youth (only two of them girls!). The adults were supposed to serve as mentors to the youth, who were tasked with planning and conducting a three-day children’s camp for 120 young campers (think ages 4 to 15), so that meant early mornings, late nights and err.. sunscreen!

I’ll leave it to Andrew to provide a detailed breakdown of the day-to-day workings of the trip (‘coz being meticulous is his thing, right dear?) [Andrew: We’ll leave the day to day happenings to another post], but I’ll just share a few of my trip highlights:

1. Getting to see my Andrew in action, facilitating small groups, morning devotion and stepping in as the emcee for the camp whenever necessary. For example, he almost single-handedly took over the English lesson for the 4 to 9-year-old age bracket when our boys could not handle this very demanding audience. What a leader!

2. Having Pastor James affirm the both of us in his sermon, for different things. For Andrew, it was for his act of buying fruits for the boys so that they would not get dehydrated or constipated. [Andrew: The pastor then mentioned how Jasmine’s praise for the lunch they prepared on the first day really encouraged him as he felt that his efforts were truly appreciated. Dearie made a very apt comment indeed that Pastor affirmed us both on our respective languages of love.]

3. I’ve never really been good with small kids (re: my cell leader’s infant cried when I tried to teach him alliteration i.e. "A is for Adorable") but during this camp, I got to know a very precocious six-year-old girl called Huixin. We bonded during English lessons and I helped her fold an origami bird, which we took to calling her moustache. She was quite fond of her moustache…

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And also became quite fond of clinging on to me. My xiao nian nian (the sticky little one), as I took to calling her, followed me everywhere. Or should I say, dragged me everywhere like some adult-sized rag doll, to the toilet, or to drink water, or even to the front because she wanted to dance on the stage (that was embarrassing, I had to kneel so as to camouflage myself).

I even joked with Andrew that I had held hands with xiao nian nian longer than I had with him! Xiao nian nian was so endearing that I never really had the heart to push her away, even though the educator in me knew I was encouraging bad behaviour i.e. overt dependency and withdrawal from same-age peers.

The mission trip certainly had its ups and downs. Several campers fell sick because they had participated in another camp right before coming on the mission trip, and one leader came down with an URTI.

I was also mildly concerned about fitting in with this all-boys cell because I’m a girly girl (and often joke that hearing teenage boys talk is like observing animals in a zoo- boys seem to communicate with Neanderthal grunts and foreign languages involving LAN) but I really enjoyed getting to know both the older guys in Andrew’s cell and the youth that they were in charge of.

For instance, I remember a lunch conversation about personal style and men’s accessories that we had with the older guys, and helping one of the teens pick out sunglasses. I was totally in my element then.

Overall though, it was a truly wonderful experience, and I’m already looking forward to doing another mission trip (but with my girls!) next year. There’s no better way for young people to grow than for them to serve, and no better way for a relationship to mature as we witnessed each other loving others and being at our best everyday.

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