STORY CONTRIBUTED BY BRENDA LYE, EDITED BY JOEL LIAN
On 26 September 2020, volunteers from the Chinese congregations of COR, Church of the Ascension, and Chapel of the Holy Spirit went around Potong Pasir to distribute mooncakes to the residents, in celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival. This was an outreach activity by Happy Saturday, a regular community outreach programme to senior citizens conducted by the three congregations.
While we are not from the Chinese Congregation of COR, Sherry, myself and some members of Saturday Praise Service responded to Pastor Yang’s call for 30 volunteers. I was paired with Adeline Ting from the Chinese Congregation. We were given six residents who were not regular participants of Happy Saturday to visit. We had also been given their contact details to call in advance so that they were informed of our visit.
On that Saturday morning, we met at the void deck of Blk 122 to collect our goodie bags. Each bag contained mini mooncakes, a box of tea leaves and a festive greeting card with a COR number to call if residents needed help or financial assistance. After praying together, we set off!
We experienced several heart-warming encounters that I would like to share here. When we were waiting for the lift at a block, we befriended a lady who was pulling a trolley. She was friendly, spoke English and Mandarin and joked with us spontaneously. We asked to visit her home but she rejected us cheerfully, telling us her flat was very cluttered. When we asked if she needed financial assistance, she firmly said no as her children gave her an allowance and she worked as well. She enjoyed being independent and endured the periodic backaches that come with age. So we asked if we could bless her by praying for her and we did just that at the lift lobby! We shared with her our moon cakes and scribbled a hotline on a piece of paper for her to keep.
At the first household we visited, we met an 86-year-old lady who invited us in. While she does not attend Happy Saturday, her son, who is wheelchair-bound and has special needs, does. She was happy for us to pray for her.
At another household, we met a Christian lady whose father used to attend Happy Saturday occasionally but has since stopped as he does not like crowds. She expressed interest in volunteering, and we ended our time by praying with her and for God to keep her father in good health.
We also met a lady who lives with her helper from Myanmar. She shared that her children visited her regularly, and had engaged a helper for her as her legs had weakened considerably after a fall. We encouraged her to join in for Happy Saturday and prayed for her health and children. We also took the opportunity to pray for her helper and her family at home in Myanmar, and she was touched to the point of tears.
The aunty who lived in the next household had politely rejected me when I called in advance, citing concerns over COVID-19. Nevertheless I had assured her that we would be wearing masks and that the mooncakes had been properly packed. When we met her at her home, she was polite and spoke to us from a safe distance behind the gate. That did not deter sister Adeline. She took the mooncakes and tea leaves out of the bag and handed them to her through the gate. We chatted with her, encouraged her to visit our programme and bid her farewell. As we turned our back, she called out if one of us was Yan Fang, who had spoken to her on the phone. That was my Chinese name, and it was such a pleasant surprise that she remembered me!
There was no one home at the final flat that we visited, and so we left the goodie bag at the gate. I was surprised when the homeowner called me the next day to thank me.
The Happy Saturday outreach was the first time I experienced relating to Potong Pasir residents at such a close level. To be invited into their homes and to have the opportunity to pray with some of them felt really amazing. My partner, sister Adeline, was very experienced and an encouraging mentor too. She prompted me to pray with residents who were conversant in English. I also learnt from her warm and friendly manner with the residents, noting how she would enquire about their wellbeing, tell them that we missed them and encourage them to attend Happy Saturday again.
As we did not have many homes to visit, we were not rushed for time. When residents heard that we were volunteers from the Happy Saturday programme at the Community Club, there was a sense of familiarity towards us even though the residents we visited were not regular participants. Through this outreach effort, I truly see the fruit of the friendship and trust that has been built over the years through serving this community.
Brenda joined COR in 1988 when she was still an undergraduate. She is married to Timothy Ng and they have two children, Samantha and Isaac. Brenda joined Chinese congregation’s Happy Saturday ministry, after listening to Rev Lee’s sharing on community ministry during Mission month 2018.