JEXIT Stop 1 – Church & The Suburbs

Since I left Jamaica back in January, I’ve been pastoring myself.  I didn’t attend church while I was in Banda Aceh because those people burn churches and attack Christians whenever they feel like it.  As much as I’ve learned to stand firm on my faith, and as much as I love Jesus and would be lost without Him, I was of the strong opinion that I already stood out enough and that God didn’t send me there to die.  So I pastored myself where I was at.

Once I got to Jakarta, I looked for English-speaking churches, but the closest ones were pretty far away from where I was, so I continued pastoring myself.  Then I met The Jamaican and he took me to the Catholic church near his house.  I went back once after that and I also went to an English-language service I found while I was in Bandung.  So in the 10 months that I spent in Indonesia, I went to church a grand total of 3 times.

I think I’ve gotten pretty good at pastoring myself this year but I’ve really missed going to church regularly.  I’ve missed worshiping with other believers, I’ve missed receiving teaching from God’s word, live and in person from someone trained in biblical exegesis, and I’ve missed participating in holy communion.  Therefore, a big part of JEXIT includes church attendance and I’ve been really excited about that.  In fact, I was practically vibrating with excitement last Sunday because the Jamaican pilot’s family took me to church. Yay!

It was my first time attending a Presbyterian church.  The parishioners were very warm and welcoming and the sermon was very good – I learned some new stuff.  I was over-the-moon happy to sing praise and worship songs again with other believers, and I really wanted to raise my hands in the air (and wave them like I just didn’t care) as we sang, but nobody else was doing it and I didn’t want to draw unnecessary attention to myself.  So instead, I clasped my hands in front of me to keep them from going up too high, closed my eyes, and got lost in the worship music.  My spirit was refreshed by the entire experience.  The topper was that it was communion Sunday, so right off the bat, I got the whole shebang.

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Sunday dinner at East Coast Park…chicken wings (top), cereal prawns (bottom left) and sate. I didn’t eat it all…it was a shared meal!

On Sunday afternoon, we went to an outdoor food centre, called a hawker centre, in a big park on the waterfront and gorged ourselves on delicious food.  Let me tell you, I am not sorry to say goodbye to Indonesian food (except ayam bakar – best chicken I’ve ever eaten in my life, bar none).  It’s not that the food is bad; it’s just that I got seriously tired of having rice at every meal, and of everything being fried to within an inch of its life, and of everything being doused in chili peppers.  So believe me when I say, me did nyam up da food deh laas week Sunday!

The Jamaican pilot and his family live in what is considered a suburb of the city, even given that the entire country is actually a city.  So they weren’t very close to the main tourist attractions.  Also, they had planned some excursions for me and I happily fell in line with their plans.  That’s why for the rest of my time in Singapore I didn’t go see the typical tourist attractions, like Gardens By The Bay or the National Museum or the Singapore Flyer, but I saw other things at a nice, relaxed, suburban pace, and that was fine with me.

So it was that on Monday I went on a Singapore harbour tour.  It was lovely.  The tour started at one of Singapore’s many malls in an amphibious vehicle – it has wheels and drives on land but is also a boat.  We literally drove down the street and right into the water, cruised around the bay, then drove right back out of the water and back up the street to our starting point.  We had a gorgeous view of the Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum.

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View of Marina Bay Sands (middle) and the ArtScience Museum (the white hand-looking structure on the left) from the middle of the harbour
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In front of the merlion on Sentosa Island…the merlion is Singapore’s symbol

On Tuesday, we went to Sentosa Island and had a nice wander around while we chatted and laughed and generally had a good time together.  The island is home to resorts, a casino, a Universal Studios amusement park, and a pretty nice beach.  We took a cable car to get there and a monorail back.  By the time we returned home that evening, we were all beaten out from walking around in the hot sun all afternoon so we all trundled off to bed pretty early.

On Wednesday, we took the train from the suburbs into the downtown area of the city and explored a little of Bugis Street, a street market type of place that reminded me of a mini version of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (summer last year, it was great).  That evening back at home, I repacked my bags and washed and twisted my hair.

And, as slowly as it seemed to have taken for JEXIT to begin, just as quickly my time at Stop 1 was over.  I spent Thursday morning writing then it was off to the airport for my next stop.  Where in the world would I go next?

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