After many weeks of toiling at work, the time for our annual church camp – “Kawan Go Melaka” – had arrived and I was really looking forward to a great time of fellowship (and relaxation?). Admittedly, the road leading up to the camp hadn’t been smooth and there were times that I had doubts on whether I’d be able to attend. But, in the end, God still made a way and shifted certain events back so that I could take my leave as originally planned. Hallellujah!
Chapter 1 – The Gathering
The hardest part about every church camp is getting up early on the first day to head down to the meeting point. This year was no different as we gathered at the carpark next to the old Newton Hawker Centre at 7.30am. Thankfully, all Islanders were punctual and the gals even had time to go buy breakfast. This was definitely a lifesaver as I rushed out, so a big thank you goes to Pris who bought curry puffs! Oh, and to Jerilee too for preparing sandwiches. *yum* 😛
Islanders and new friends – Kim and Michelle.
Chris’ CG didn’t fare as well and he spent the time giving some people “are-you-on-the-way-yet” calls. Thankfully, everyone managed to reach in time as the coaches were departing!
Hello hello, are you reaching soon?
Chapter 2 – The Journey
For those that have not taken a bus up to Melaka before, a word of advice- go to the toilet beforehand. And, have your breakfast. Heh heh… Despite the seemingly short distance on the map, our coach driver drove really really slowly. Coupled with the opportunity of seeing endless fields of palm trees pass by, I was in la-la-land in no time.
“One palm tree over the hill, two palm trees over the hill, three palm trees over the hill…”
Other extremely excitable folks managed to avoid the zz-monster by focusing on talking rather than sightseeing.
Would you believe this was my first time using the Tuas 2nd Link? As expected, traffic was nowhere near as bad as the Causeway and we cleared customs pretty fast. But, not before I had my bag searched! Hmm… just what is it about my face I wonder…
Gab busy filling up his immigration card, a necessity for Singaporeans entering Malaysia.
Having lunch at Yong Peng, a small town in Johor that’s a standard stopover for coach drivers plying the North-South Highway.
Chapter 3 – Shopping
After approximately 4 to 5 hours on the road, we finally reached Melacca Town. We were given a bit over an hour to have a bite and do our shopping at Mahkota Shopping Centre (not sure of the exact name). Many folks took this opportunity to pick up gifts for their Barnabuddies (my term!) and to stock up on mineral water as there were some filtering problems with the hotel tap water.
Nice big shopping centre. Nice big expensive prices inside too!
Baskin Robbins outlet! In terms of flavour, richness and texture, this ice cream can give Ben & Jerry’s a run for their money.
Can you spot the bags of mineral waters? We bought 22 bottles in all!
Finally, after all the shopping, it was time to head down to the Riviera Bay Resort hotel in order to check in by 4pm. Now, the fun really begins!
Chapter 4 – Grand Welcome!
In true Hope style, all campers were greeted by a rousing welcome by the camp organizers although I must admit it felt strange to walk past two rows of clapping people as if I’d just won something!
Everything is here except the red carpet.
Here’s a shot of my very first shepherd in Hope, Ah Lu, honing in on me to give me a big bear hug. This is exactly why I asked him to be my shepherd last time, because he is always so warm, friendly and funny.
Brudder brudder… lai…
Chapter 4 – Our Rooms
I’ve got to say, these were one of the nicest hotel rooms that we’ve ever had at camp; not because they were well furnished, but because they were large (especially those rooms with an apartment style layout). Most rooms came with a kitchen, two bedrooms, a common toilet and a living room. For campers, this configuration is perfect because it gives us enough room to gather and do stuff like quiet time, watch soccer and play games together.
Hello Hello? IslandHope has checked-in. Yo!
People seem strangely drawn to my large big bed! Wifey, that’s what you missed. Haha…
Tiger, Princess, JL and Drew’s room.
Requires some D-I-Y work before everything starts working!
Check out Chris’ room. No wait, forget his room, check out his view!!!
Chapter 5 – Kawan Skit Rehearsal
Barely after settling down in our rooms, it was time to rush for our skit rehearsal. The plot for our skit was based on the “Three Little Pigs”, with Changky playing one of the pigs, Ming as a brick house wall and Pris doing sound effects. Other Islanders contributed too in various ways such as props and photography. And, not forgetting Gab who did all coordination for our unit. Bravo!
Chapter 6 – Opening Night
Opening night is always a big highlight as everyone is full of energy and anticipation for the next few days of camp. This year was no different, starting with a march pass, followed by a high energy praise and worship session and finally the opening teaching by Ps Jeff.
Our AG3NG9B banner, the product of 20mins of intense drawing and colouring. Not bad eh!
Writing our camp expectations on the walls around the ballroom.
Today, Ps Jeff thought us all about the importance of establishing covenant friendship with one another, just like the way God established a covenant relationship with us. In fact, the theme for this year’s camp – Kawan – means friend in Malay. Covenant friendship allows us to bring out the best in each other, because covenant friendship is one that is committed, faithful and genuine. I must admit, that despite the simple premise of the teaching, it really got me thinking too about the kind of friendships that I build with people. I must admit that when I evaluate my life, I haven’t really been an ideal friend to a lot of my close friends because I tend to get scared whenever bumps happen along the way thus causing me to withdraw. True covenant friendship is one that can really stand the test of time as both parties are committed to help the other person achieve their best in life just like how God wants us all to live our life to the fullest! Needless to say, covenantal friendship requires humility, patience and sacrifice, traits that Jesus himself demonstrated in abundance to his disciples.
Chapter 7 – Room Service
Well, what else can I say, all that fun does build up one’s appetite. With the World Cup only starting on Day 2, Changky, Gab and I enjoyed a room service sandwich while watching WWF and laughing about how we once thought all those moves were actually real.
Nothing like ending the day with a nice big sandwich!