"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 14, 2009
Jon and I recently returned from a seventeen day stay in Singapore; which was business for Jon and vacation for me. This trip was quite an adventure and very memorable for the two of us.
Before going, I went online to research what we should see and do while we were there. We pretty much got to mark everything off our list. We found Singapore to be a very clean, friendly place to visit. We felt completely safe while we were out and about. It was a wonderful adventure.
Our favorite thing to do was go to the Singapore Zoo. It was absolutely amazing! It is rated as one of the top zoos in the world, and we whole-heartedly agree. They didn't have the cages and fences like we see in our zoos here. It was a very natural setting, and most animals had a moat of water and some landscaping separating them from the people. We had monkeys swinging overhead. It was incredibly beautiful there.
Singapore is about the size of Dallas, and has over 4 million people living there. Surprisingly, it didn't feel overly crowded and wasn't really all that noisy. They take a lot of pride in their country and keep it clean and very beautifully landscaped. There are areas that are older and not as well kept, but you don't see graffiti or trash lying around. In fact, people are heavily fined for chewing gum or spitting in public. But in the midst of all the numerous skyscrapers, you find lot of old trees and lots of flowers. All the streets have beautiful old trees and flowers growing in every bare spot available. It's a really pretty country. We heard that Singapore is trying to become known as "a city among gardens".
We rode the Singapore Flyer, which is akin to a huge ferris wheel. You had to ride an elevator up three stories to board. Each capsule had solid glass walls and could hold up to 28 people. At the highest point, you were 165 meters (which is equivalent to 541 feet) in the air. It ended up that Jon and I were the only ones in our capsule. I was a little worried that I would panic after getting on, because I don't always do real well with heights. Jon was a little concerned about me too. But I did perfectly fine. I will admit that I wasn't up walking around like Jon was, but as long as I sat down I was okay. I tried standing up and there was something unnerving about solid glass being in front of me and seeing straight down past my feet. It took 30 minutes for the capsule to make a full rotation, and it moved so slowly you really couldn't even feel it moving. From the top you could see almost all of Singapore, which was an incredible view.
Orchids are indigenous to Singapore. We went to the Singapore Botanic Garden, and part of it was the National Orchid Gardens. There were orchids in every color and shape imaginable. It was the most beautiful garden we have ever seen. The landscaping, trees, and flowers were amazingly gorgeous.
When Singapore was set up as a country, they gave sections of land to the Malay, Indian and Chinese people who resided there. We visited Malay Village and Little India. All I can say is... that was quite an experience! In both places we were pretty much the only white people there. Malay Village was celebrating their New Year's Eve. From what we understand, they party and eat all day because at 7:00 PM that evening begins one month of fasting. There were tents and buildings of booth after booth filled with people selling all kinds of goods. You could pretty much find anything you wanted. You had the booth owners trying to yell over one another to get people's attention to come and buy from them.
Little India was something else! The taxi driver dropped us off in front of a huge warehouse type building. We walked in and the whole bottom story was filled with booths selling raw fish. On the second level were merchants selling clothes, shoes and antiques. Imagine if you will a huge warehouse with one story filled with fresh, raw fish. Then on the second story you have shop owners waving very strong, sweet incense around. It was quite overpowering! We found that the Indian people are really big into incense. We walked down several streets and found them all to pretty much be the same. It was just one tiny shop after another. You would see a meat market, then a gold jewelry store, raw vegetable stand, tailor shop, cafe; over and over again. There was the building on one side, about two feet of sidewalk, then displays set up. The sidewalks were very narrow and uneven. In the midst of it all, you had shop owners waving incense. We only stayed there maybe two hours.
We never made it to Chinatown because I wasn't feeling well the last week we were there.
We also went to the Night Safari at the zoo and a bird park. We spent one day at Sentosa Island, which is a small island of Singapore right off the main coast. There were a few streets where cars and busses were allowed to drive, but to get around the island people mainly either walked or rode bicycles. We rode the Tiger Sky Tower, which was a glass observation car that rotated as it rose 50 stories high, then came back down. We also went to a butterfly garden and underwater park. We spent time walking in the sand along the Pacific Ocean with our shoes off, and relaxed by sitting on some big boulders by the oceanside. It was a fun day, and we both ended up getting sunburned.
In the midst of such a wonderful experience, everything didn't go completely perfectly. Time seemed to fly by and we were having a great time until the Monday before we headed home on Friday. I woke up that morning coughing and had chest congestion. Jon had gone specifically to do some testing on a control panel that is being installed on a ship, which will end up in the Gulf of Mexico as an oil pumping station. After getting to Singapore, he found out that there was no power ran to the control panel, but one of the main bosses kept telling him that they should get power any day so he could do the testing. He found out that last Monday that they really were not going to get power, so he would not be able to do the testing after all; which means, he will have to make another trip back to Singapore at some point. We had already seen and done almost everything we had planned by that point. When I woke up sick, and Jon found out he wasn't going to get to complete his work, we both wanted to come home.
On Tuesday, I had a rough day and really didn't feel well. I think I ran a low grade fever all day, and was coughing and congested. I couldn't sleep very well because every time I laid down I coughed worse and could hear myself wheezing as I breathed in and out. I spent the whole day in our hotel room and had no appetite to eat anything. That evening, Jon walked down to a Subway, which was attached to our hotel, and brought some food back to our room. While he went through some of the photos we had taken (we took over 1000 pictures on our trip), I laid in bed and dozed off and on. I don't make a very good sick person anyway, but being away from home made it worse. I get really, really impatient and frustrated when I'm not feeling well! I had posted a message on facebook that I wasn't feeling well and asked for prayer. I knew that one of my sisters was praying for me, and had messages from three others in reply to my facebook message that they were praying for me.
I was just dropping off to sleep when God placed a very special mental image in my mind. It was fleeting, but was a very real picture in my mind. I saw myself lying in the bed there in the hotel room. I saw my sister, my mother-in-law, my nephew's wife, and a friend (who were the ones who had responded to my message) all gathered around me on their knees praying. Only it was like they weren't really there in person; it was like I could see their spirits knelt around me praying.
That was one of the most wonderful gifts that God could have given me. I was several thousand miles from home and 13 hours ahead time-wise. Yet God let me know in that one moment that He is not confined nor limited by time nor space. The prayers of those four women in the United States reached God; and in turn, God reached down and touched me in Singapore in response to those prayers. During the night my fever broke. I wasn't completely made physically well, but I was able to get through the next few days and make it safely on the 27 hours it took to get home. Whenever I started feeling ill or feeling sorry for myself, I would remember the picture God showed me of those women praying for me. That gave me peace and assurance that God was with me and would protect me.
Philippians 4:6,7 tells us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
During that one moment in time, God showed me the power of prayer. Too often we think our prayers don't really matter. We tell others that we will be praying for them, then forget or never get around to doing it. We don't realize that when our prayers reach God, then He in turn will reach down and touch that person in response.
We got home around midnight on a Friday night. I slept about three and a half hours before waking up coughing and congested. I went to an urgent care clinic the next day and was diagnosed with bronchitis and was given a prescription antibiotic and cough syrup. There are those who would argue, "Why pray? What good did it do you? You were still sick and had to go to the doctor. God didn't heal you while you were in Singapore in response to prayer. God didn't answer and ignored your prayers, the prayers of your husband, and the prayers of those four women. So what's the use of praying?"
The truth is, I can't explain and understand everything. I don't always know why things happen the way they do. And I can't know the ways of God. But what I do know is that prayer does work!! God may not always respond the way I desire, but He does answer. Too many times we become so focused on what God doesn't do, that we can't or don't see what He does do.
I know that God protected my health while I was in Singapore. I know that He kept me healthy and well enough to make the trip from Singapore to home safely. Other than some coughing, I felt fine on the flights home. On the way from the US to Singapore, before we got to the airport in Seoul, Korea where we had a short layover, we had to fill out a health questionnaire. When we got to Seoul, we had to go through a quarantine check where our temperatures were digitally taken as we walked through and we turned the health forms in. They were looking for those with any symptoms of swine flu; coughing, sneezing, fever, congestion, diarrhea, and throwing up. Praise God, on our way back through Seoul from Singapore we did not have to fill out a health questionnaire; and when we walked through where the officer was sitting at the quarantine check desk, he was otherwise occupied with something else and waved us through. I didn't cough for the hour we were at the Seoul airport. Was that just coincidence or was it God? I believe that it was God looking out for me. I know there were those who were praying that Jon and I would have a safe trip home, and I know without a doubt that God honored those prayers.
Isaiah 59:1 says, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear."
Nothing is too difficult for God. He is never too busy to hear our prayers or answer. His hand is never too short where He cannot reach down to where we are. His ears are never too heavy listening to other people's request where He cannot hear ours. What we have to say is important to Him; whether it's on our behalf or on the behalf of others.
So don't ever write off your prayers as being insignificant or of no importance. God does answer prayer. We may not always see it happen as we think or want, but we can be assured that He will respond. Many times it's those unseen things that we don't see that God is doing on our behalf, and on behalf of our family and friends. And sometimes it's those unseen answers that are more important than those things that we can see.
So when you say you'll pray -- pray. When you hear of a need that stirs something within you -- pray. When you have a need within your own life -- pray. Prayer works!!
I was really struck by all the beautiful diversity in Singapore. The orchids alone have over 22,000 species! We probably saw about 100 to 200 there. And they were beautiful, and had far more variety than I'd ever expect.
God has designed the world with so much beauty around us. And why? For our pleasure.
And if He gives us all this that we didn't ask for, how much more will He give us what we ask for? (Matthew 7:11)
2 cans whole kernel corn -- drained
1 can Rotel -- drain juice off
1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cream Cheese - softened
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Chili Powder
Mix together. Serve with Frito chips.
When Jon and I flew to Singapore, we left Tulsa at 6:00 AM; which meant we had to wake up at 3:30 in order to get to the airport and get checked in. The first leg of our journey was a flight to Dallas, where we changed planes and flew to San Francisco, then on to Seoul and Singapore. We had a short layover in Dallas, and only had time to find our connection to San Francisco and board the plane. By this time we were beginning to get hungry. When we got to our seats, the overhead bins were getting full and there wasn't room for our carryon luggage. Jon helped the stewardesses juggle luggage around and lifted and moved various carryon bags from the overhead bins for them. They were very appreciative for his help. After we got in the air, they came over the speaker and said they were offering breakfast items, but there was a charge for them. Needless to say, airline prices are fairly expensive and we weren't planning on paying for breakfast items. We decided we'd just wait until we got to San Francisco and try to find something to eat there. About that time, one of the stewardess that Jon had helped came back and offered him a choice of some breakfast items and said they were going to give it to him free for him helping them. He got a breakfast box that had a muffin, yogurt and granola bar in it. It was enough for the two of us to share. Good deeds do pay off! Jon was willing to take a couple minutes of his time to help, and in turn we got free breakfast. God does take care of His children!!!
"Test all things; hold fast what is good."1 Thessalonians 5:21
We hope everyone is having a wonderful fall season.
We love you!
Loretta & Jon