Saturday, October 11, 2008

an eulogy for my grandmother

my grandmother was buried today, next to her husband, and trailing him by almost 11 years. the following eulogy was written by some of her children and is taken from her memorial service program:

EULOGY - Late Mrs Chiu Hua Wong

Chiu Hua Wong was born in 1918 in Ming Chin district near Foochow in China. When she was eight years old, she migrated to Sarawak with her father and elder brother. The family was so poor that at the age of 9 she had to go to work as a maid for a well-off relative's family in another village which was a day's journey away. Daily she had to get up at 4 am to cook, wash, look after smaller children and also take care of pigs, chicken and ducks.

When she was 12, her mother came from China to join them. She was still working and could not go home to see her mum. After being bullied by a cousin in that family, she longed for her mother and cried for days. Then she asked permission from Auntie to go home to see her mother and promised to return to serve the family. She knew that that large family depended on her service and would not let her leave. Finally they granted her permission to visit her mother in her home village. When the motor boat moved away from the jetty, she called out telling her Auntie that she would not be back!

At 18, she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour after attending the evangelistic meetings conducted by Dr. John Sung. She reflected often that she was so filled with joy that she even dared to give a short testimony at the meeting. It was an incredible thing to do for a girl who had never been to school. She wanted badly to read the Bible so she bought a small New Testament. Every time she opened the Bible, she prayed that God would teach her to read. She surprised herself that she could make out most characters and understand what was said. She firmly believed that it was Jesus himself who taught her to read. This was God's miracle to her and she would read the Bible everyday.

At 21 in 1939, she married Ping Duang Wong, a man 10 years older and a foot taller. She knew that he was a Christian and of good character. She gave birth to 7 children, 4 boys and 3 girls. "All her children arise and call her blessed" (Proverbs 30:28) because she had led them all in the way of the Lord. She had 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

In 1947, she became a pastor's wife when Mr. Ping Duang Wong accepted a pastor's post in the village Sg. Tulai without any formal theological training. She was a very supportive and faithful pastor's wife. At Sunday lunch, our table was always overflowing with elderly people or relatives staying for lunch.

In 1976, she migrated to Australia and became an Australian citizen in 1986.

After being widowed, she lived in Wishart Christian Village and recently in Jeta Gardens where she was known as "the lady with the sweet smile." God had given her a gift of endearing herself to everyone she met. We give thanks to God for her life which has been a wonderful witness and encouragement for us all.

Her favourite verses are found in Proverbs 30:7-9:
Two things I ask of you, O Lord; Do not refuse me before I die; Keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches. But give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you And say, 'Who is the Lord?" Or I may become poor and steal, And so dishonor the name of my God.
God has indeed answered her prayer.

[edit 13.10.2008 - my cousin has posted up some old photos in memory of my grandparents]

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

don't wait 'til you say goodbye

the title of this post comes from another blog i happened to read today, and some words resonated with me.
[S]aying goodbye fundamentally changes our perspective. Why is it that we stop and give thanks when we are about to lose something?
All this reminded me of the Mike and Mechanics 80s anthem, ‘The living years’. For those who can't remember (or weren't there), it was a song about a guy looking back after his father's death, and realizing that he wished he'd said more to his dad while he was still alive. Why is it that we are so self-centred—that we only stop to give thanks when something is being taken away from us?
he was writing about saying goodbye as a result of leaving a ministry that he had been involved in for some years. but as he alluded to in the latter quote, it's the same sort of thing when someone in your life stops living.

my (paternal) grandmother passed away this morning. i can't say i knew her very well... though having lived only a stone's throw away for the first 10-odd years of my life in Australia, and not that much further away thereafter, i can't help but feel i should have made more of an effort to change that situation, despite the generational and language gaps that exist.

i tend to be one of those strong(?), silent types who doesn't typically say very much. this is a reminder that i need to work on verbalising more, especially in thanksgiving. i can start by giving thanks for the life my 'ah ma' lived, most of which i know about through stories my father tells of his younger years. i am thankful for the legacy that she and my 'ah gong' gave to their children in living their lives under the headship of Christ. E and i pray we may be able to continue such a legacy, should God bless us with such opportunity/ies.

[edit 10.10.2008 - a friend (who will soon have the opportunity) has just written something that echoes the legacy thought.]