Goodbye to Wearing Military Green (Ver 2)

 

Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor. In peace or war. In living or dying. F… f… from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me… or death take me. —– Peregrin Took, Lord of the Rings.

This quote, written by J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings, really meant a lot to me during my two years of service to my nation. Today, 13 April 2017, I was finally released from service upon completing mandatory National Military Service, together with the other sons of Singapore, who were born and raised in our country.

Singapore is widely known to be an island paradise, called a “tax haven” for foreigners who are wealthy enough to live in a country that has low crime rates and where no natural disaster has ever struck (yet). While many other local residents might not like what our government is doing, try to look at the good things Singapore offers: it is “clean and green”, it is a multi-racial nation of mostly Chinese, Malays and Indians which in turn makes our country into a food paradise of different exotic foods from the different local cultures. Most important of all, it is safe. With low crime rates and a long arm of the local law enforcement & an effective Civil Defence Force to protect Singapore internally and a strong military force to defend Singapore and make our sovereignty widely known to the rest of this World.

By Law, all fit and able males at the age of 18 are to serve the nation, in the Singapore Police Force, the Singapore Civil Defense Force and finally the Singapore Armed Forces. I was proud to be a member of the SAF.

I enlisted on 16th April in 2015 and I was released from service today on the 13th April, 2017. Two years of Service might seem short. But to me, two years seemed much more like years, and I am even more surprised that it is finally done. I do not have to worry about not going to work and having Military Police come to my door-step and arrest me for desertion. I am so used to reporting to base everyday, that now it is time to re-adjust back to merge in with society again.

With the blessing of God, I finally returned back to Church to be more worthy to the Lord to earn his blessing in a more respectable manner, one that I’ve been lacking these two years.

I quote another scene from the Lord of the Rings, when Frodo and Sam finally destroyed the One Ring; Frodo could not believe that the Ring was finally gone, and the task that had set them off from the Shire was finally done. I have the same feeling now. The task that set me off from home, to the island of Pulau Tekong and then continuing my service of the Nation till this date when I have finally completed this service to the nation. Like Frodo’s journey to destroy the ring, my journey for National Service was full of ordeals too, but by the grace of God, I could overcome.

The plan to go ahead lies ahead of me. I  am to adjust back to a normal society living environment, pursue my Diploma in Biomedical Sciences and start to go regularly for weekly mass which I have not been going these past two years.

National Service is gone.

It’s done.

It is over now.

It is finally over now, for the time being.

Whether I serve the Church, my parents, a Company or my country, I serve my God in the Highest Heaven, who is my beginning and the end, my destiny; for without him, I am nothing.

 

 

 

Christmas Tidings

At last, finally. . .  

This joyful season has come again

Christmas

The Birthday of our Lord and Saviour

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem.

Little did we know, on that day, God had sent His Son.

And for what purpose?

To save us all from Sin.

When I was a boy, I had always thought, “Gee, it’s finally Christmas Day. Mummy is sure to get me new toys to play.” I had that thought whenever it was Christmas time, and that this joyous occasion was about having new things every year. Either my parents or Good Ol’ Santa Claus would give me new presents every year. It was when I matured, both physically but also in faith, that I learnt that Christmas isn’t  only about getting things. We are  actually celebrating the Birth of Christ. Thus the name, Christmas or the original concept of it: Christ-Mass.

Christ-Mass, the celebration of the birth of the Son of God, who came down as a Man. We get the biggest present of all time: The Grace, Love and most important, the Forgiveness of God.

Why would He send His Son down or why would He Himself come down, to die for our sins?

John 3:16 “ For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life.”

Yes, for God so loved the world and His children, that He sent His only begotten Son to save us all from sin, to guide us from darkness, back to the path of light. Jesus was born, not in an inn but in a manger. God, in the flesh of a man deserved to wear the robes of the Roman Emperor or be born as Royalty or Nobility, but Jesus was nothing more than a humble carpenter. The God-man who would win the hearts of many people, heal the sick, allow the deaf to hear, allow the blind to see and allow the dumb to speak. He, who would later give Himself to die for our sins. A God who died for the sins of His children.

This Christmas, let us celebrate and worship him. Let us offer Him the inn and the kingly robes, in our very heart of our soul. May we receive His love, grace and His forgiveness this Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone, and good tidings be with you. Let us receive Jesus. God Bless you all. Let us also pray for the victims of the Christmas Market Crash in Berlin and for the people who cannot celebrate Christmas freely without fear of persecution in places where celebrating Christmas is forbidden.

 

 

Jesus, The Teacher

Lord,

Before you is a sinner in need of saving. He who has taken oaths, all are broken. He would rather live by his own ideals, his own principles, his own ambitions. He, who has forsaken many of your teachings, your commandments and the blessings that you have bestowed on him, to further his own greed and pride. This very individual is your child. Lord, I humbly beseech you, and humbly ask for your forgiveness.

Oh Lord, let me learn, help me to understand.

Teach me to be Patient

Teach me to Love

Teach me to Forgive

Teach me to be humble

Teach me to pray

As you taught your disciples, teach me.

Let me be your instrument, your hands. Let me touch where your hands cannot. Teach me, and help me learn to be like you Lord.

 

Growing in Faith, Outside

It has been a long time since I ever wrote something for this blog. It has been a year since I enlisted into National Service and dropped everything: this blog, my hobbies and even my faith in the Lord. A Whole Year away from the community, the loving family of the house of God, away from the friends that used to keep me in check morally and who had counselled me. A lapsed christian I had become, the thing and type of person I feared turning into. Elizabeth and Josephine were right; once you took a “break” from church, you broke apart entirely.

I remember writing that my father and brother were lapsed Christians; now the table has really turned around, at least for my father. My father has come back to join the community. Praise the Lord!  Me? I broke apart from church, rather believing that though there is a God, things would still happen for a reason. I believed that words, words from men were not 100% in truth, even if he was a Priest of the Lord. After all, there is that slight imperfection in humans, that no one can be totally perfect or totally holy. The only words that are to be believed in full are the words that come from the mouth of the Lord. I guess that was one of the reasons why I decided to go out and admire the goodness and grace of the Lord of all things that are good outside. Or it could be that due to my own bias I would state that as an excuse although in fact I was completely overtaken by sloth. Right now, I am attempting to take baby steps into returning home while fighting against my own procrastination.

As I have written earlier, I am currently serving National Service, enlisted in the Army for 2 Years. I have ten months till my Operationally Ready Date in April next year, when I will be discharged after completing that tiresome though vital two years. National Service has been helpful in my character development, and unexpectedly growing in my faith even though I did not practice it that much during this period. My excuse is that I was tired and always focusing on the ‘now’ that I dropped everything and stopped going to the church. In the first phase of NS, Basic Military Exercise, they switch your Pink Identification Card with a Military green coloured one and switch your crucifix with an ID tag that you wear over your neck.

Still during this one Year, I met several like-minded individuals whom I had the honour of talking about the faith. Two protestants, one Catholic and a person who was agnostic but had felt the Lord’s grace. Let me tell you, friends, if the Christians from our sister churches can openly spread the Word of the Lord, why can’t we Catholics, we who pride ourselves as the Original first church do the same? In BMT, I had a section-mate named Alan who was a Protestant who preached about the faith to our entire section and chided me for not taking the faith seriously. Then after my Passing Out Parade, I was posted to a prestigious unit that I didn’t expect to be in – the Singapore Armed Forces Commandos, as a clerk.

In the Unit phase of NS (so far), I met another Protestant, Darren, who goes to City Harvest Church, a megachurch in Singapore. He talked everyday non-stop about the grace of the Lord and even could recite verses from the Bible, that at times I found it annoying as I had enough of theology and debate of what God truly is for one day. But I found it encouraging that there was still hope, that even away from church, I met other people, and even though they were from other denominations of Christianity, they did help me back on the path of faith.

Speaking about what God truly is, Father Ben used to say: search slowly, pray, meditate with the Rosary and read the Gospel and like flowers blooming, you shall discover the beauty of Christ.

And so it comes down to my true to the faith Catholic friend, Matthew. I just realised he was named after St Matthew. I figure that Matt was the ordinary Sunday Catholic. But hey, at least he turned up every weekend for Mass, attended the important masses such as Christmas Eve and Easter and the Obligatory Masses. I didn’t turn up for any, not even Christmas or Easter. When I talked to him about the faith and told him I was skipping weekend masses, he chided me. He said that attending Mass on Sunday is Obligatory, even for a Catholic of little faith. It has been tradition since the beginning of time, that the Sabbath is the day that you take a break from everything (even video games) and devote the day to the Lord. My excuse would have been that Life now is not as easy as Life was 1000 or 2000 years ago. The Christians were forever the target of the Romans and the other societies, and where they lived, they hated them until Christianity was finally  accepted into society. It was then sealed when my patron saint, Constantine the Great signed the Edict of Milan. Sure, they were doing simpler chores like farming rather studying their brains out pursuing Diplomas and Degrees. They had their own risks, even after the age of martyrs had ended. Outbreak of Wars, the Crusades and when the Church had grown too powerful and some false prophets were accidentally ‘chosen’ by the Papal Conclave to be Leaders of the entire Church.

And yes, not forgetting my agnostic friend, Wesley. He shared about a time when he was really sad and angry and he was thinking of doing some terrible things. He felt calm all of a sudden, in that moment of sadness and anger. He then felt really better. Wes – he is quite a unique guy. He was brought up as a Buddhist, but he did not practise it in the end. He had gone to both Churches and Mosques, discovering the different faiths, trying to figure out something to believe in. It was at church he learnt about the grace of the Lord. That was at that moment, he figured that ‘calm moment’ as the grace of our Lord God. Yes, indeed the grace of our Lord is plentiful and immeasurable. But let us not take his grace for granted, Brothers and Sisters.

Eugene had always said that he was also a lapsed Catholic and that during his time in National Service, he grew deeply in Faith. Now I guess I could say the same too.

Yes, the journey outside has been a very interesting one allowing me to also grow in faith and learning how to face the obstacles that block one from growing in faith and morality. Life is full of highs and lows. The World is a decrepit shell of its former self, but remains of the beautiful Garden of Eden remains. Nature still blooms while the World advances forward every day. You will meet nasty people, ungrateful individuals, back-stabbing opportunitists, and facing workplace politics if you are working. However you will meet good people, helpful individuals, and colleagues who believe in working together.

I yearn to be back in the House of God, in the Great Hall of the Feast. Pray for me brothers and sisters & for lapsed Christians just like myself. Pray for your friends, your family and even your enemies. And pray for the hope that this world and all of its problems will be aided by the One Who is Holy, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

 

Ninja Company BMT Song

Ninja Coy, Platoon 3; Our stories of BMT

-Song Start-

On the 16th of April, go BMTC be Soldier, waving goodbye to my Ma. Now it’s time for me to serve.             IC changed from pink to green. No. 4 replaced my jeans. No Zani to keep things clean, ownself must do everything ya.

Aiyo aiyo, ai aiyo ah. Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo.

One guy late, whole lot kenna shout, anything also kenna shout. In a file if you move around, kenna shout even unpleasant words. Chiong Sua till I want to keng, sunburn till I chao da skin. Half-full bottle drink and drink, drink till whole day go latrine ya.

Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo ah. Aiyo, ai yo, ai aiyo.

In outfield, crawl leopard crawl. From the stones, we trip and fall. Pick myself up and chiong somemore, IFC just shag my balls. Every Night OTOT, still couldn’t lights out all on time. Stay back in Camp late bookout. Weekend kenna burnt like free ya.

Aiyo aiyo, ai aiyo ah. Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo.

During Field Camp build basha, Build too slow tio semula. Sergeants became Godzilla, kenna tekan in the mud. Dig and dig with ET Blade, dig a lobang called shellscrape. Dig till my arms nearly break, dig till my buddy hyperventilate ya.

Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo ah. Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo.

Sergeant gave me an envelope. Inside it, there was a note. Mama said ‘ah boy stay strong’, Daddy said ‘ah boy fight on’. In the middle of the night, feeling homesick, want to cry. How I wish my boots were dry, guarding my ‘wife’ with my life ya.

Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo ah. Aiyo, aiyo, ai aiyo.

In the blink of an eye, so many weeks have gone by. Marching with friends by my side, couldn’t bear to say goodbyee. Oh, oh….. Ohhh, Ohhhhh, Ohhh, Ohhh, ohhhh!!!! Eh ya oh ah, Infantry Ah. We are the men from Ni-In-Ja……

-Song Cut-

Because we are: DUTY, HONOUR, COUNTRY!! NINJA!!!!!!!!!!!

My Beloved Family

“Here do I swear fealty and service to Singapore; in peace or war; in living or dying. From this hour henceforth, until my country releases me or the Lord take me.”

Dear Friends, my fellow countrymen and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I, Ryan Constantine Chong Jia Le have entered the service of the Republic of Singapore. I have sworn to protect the land that has been given to me and I also protect my loved ones and my other countrymen with my life. By serving my country, I serve the people of God. It has been two weeks since I enlisted into Mandatory National Service when all males at the age of 18 and above are conscripted and turned from carefree civilians into proud, vigilant soldiers; from sheltered boys into independent men.

Our prosperity and wealth of our island not only comes from our high economy. There are certain forces behind our carefree everyday lives. The people who maintain our safety and the sovereignity of our nation. They are the Singapore Armed Forces, who watch over our lands, sea and air. The reason why we are safe. Of course it is thankful that we have good diplomatic relations with our neighbours thanks to the late Mr LKY, but still it is necessary to maintain defence of the country both inside and outside between the boundaries of Singapore Territory. That is why National Service is not needed but still important for survival. To protect against all potential threats that might happen around the boundaries of Singapore. To protect the way of life of every Singaporean and the sovereign right of every Singaporean which is Freedom.

I did not choose to be a soldier, none of my section-mates, platoon-mates nor the men in my company (Ninja Coy) chose to be soldiers. We have been conscripted into National Service, and without a choice we serve. Is National Service really important? The training of Recruits into Battle Ready Soldiers. Would it be better if less time was wasted for Singaporean males to serve NS so as to focus on studying and further enhancing our economy as they join their respective work industries?

The opinions of all Singaporeans would be completely different.  Some think that NS is important while others think it should be scrapped. Me?  I would originally say that NS is not important but I also think that untrained soldiers would not fight effectively on the battlefield. We did not choose to be Soldiers, but Singapore has chosen us to be her protectors. Our Families, Friends and all other Singaporeans have called upon us to be the defenders of our beloved nation. If not, who will protect us in times of war, when an enemy army can just sweep through Singapore in a matter of half a day. For me personally, serving is to return to Singapore what she has given me in all the years of my life and what she continues to provide for all Singaporeans: Safety, Prosperity, Wealth, Freedom, Justice; a Bilingual nation where all live in peace and harmony.

So it has been two weeks of confinement period in Pulau Tekong BMTC (Basic Military Training Centre). I’ll be booking out on Thursday 30/4 to join my family again to spend time with them. To gaze upon our beloved City State, and  to know that all of these are the reasons why I serve NS. To preserve and protect our way of life from any ilk who would try to take this peace away from us. The confinement period has been both a physical and spiritual exercise for me. It has been a good wake up for me spiritually. I have felt that I really re-evangelized through just the confinement and the training in these two weeks. Re-evangelization through Jesus’ own commandment: Love.

Love, true love. Yes…. I discovered true love as I wept for two days after my enlistment day on 16 April 2015. At first as I entered the camp, even after I had received my enlistment draft, thought I could cope by myself and that I could take care of myself. But it was certainly not the case. Now in camp, I have to wash and fold my own clothes, make my own bed, and keep myself clean and healthy. All these things back home were taken care of; a carefree life I have been having all these years. Discipline and Military Drills are familiar to me as I was in a marching symphonic band back in secondary school. Despite my fears of having to survive on my own or being punished by my commanders, I think of why I’m serving, and it is  to protect my home and my loved ones.

I remember when my brother left Singapore to study for his Degree for Culinary Arts in Switzerland. Before he could walk through the departure gantry and after taking a final picture before he went through to the duty-free area, and after taking final photos, my brother started to weep. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. I was about to tell him not to cry, as brave men do not weep. As we said our final goodbyes, he bade me farewell and only asked me to take good care of myself.

Back then, four weeks ago, I admit I was glad to have my “own room”. I still wondered in my mind about  why he cried. He was really excited to leave for Switzerland; he had talked about it ever since he graduated from Shatec. And still as he left, he shed tears, tears that no one would expect him to do that.  I began to do a self-examination and discovered the ugly truth. The truth being that I was too devoid of love to understand why my brother cried while leaving on an ambitious quest. Now I do understand. That it was because of love, and the thought of him going to Switzerland and leaving his family and friends behind back in Singapore.

And then in the two weeks of confinement term, I felt regret and extreme pain in my heart. Stinging pain that it was the realization of the true meaning of love in my heart. I re-evangelized then. Right now, most certainly I can say after the deepest thoughts, I have come to finally realize the vast ocean of love, hiding in this fist-sized heart of mine. The love of my Family, of my friends, brethren in the name of Christ and now my comrades & brothers in arms. The encompassing love poured out by the Spirit in all of God’s holy Flock. A people of God, a Priesthood of God, the Kingdom of God.

Everyday, I look out the fence of the Camp, look towards the Sea and gaze upon the beaches opposite the beaches of Tekong. The beaches of Singapore. The land of Singapore. Our sovereignty to defend against anyone who would attempt to steal our freedom from us.

My Home, my dearest Singapore. A small island that has always provided for me and Singaporeans with things both essential and things of luxury. A land that has always given me everything I could always ask for; it is time for me to return something to Singapore. It is time for me to serve.

In 2 days’ time, I am having my first book-out back to mainland Singapore. I will gaze upon her. My Motherland, my home. My Singapore which I will protect with my LIFE!

Remembering our fathers

(This was supposed to be posted 3 weeks ago.)

Men are blessed and cursed. They are kind while also wrathful. After all, no man is perfect. Even the Saints in Heaven were not sinless. All men have their vices, and it is the ugly truth of mankind.

This week, a great man, very much known by my countrymen left for greener pastures. Like every man, he might have had his own vices, but very few of them. His name was Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and builder of the glorious Republic of Singapore. A proud republic full of virtuous women and honest men. This great man built up the clean and green city state, sovereign nation of Singapore. A man whom I admire and whom I hope every of my fellow countrymen would look up to him.

This week, all Singaporeans from all around the island mourned the loss of the first Prime Minister, the person to whom we owe much for building this prosperous, safe and strong nation. Much credit goes to him for our City of Bright Lights and not a dark smelly slum. He is the reason why we have proper houses and schools with proper roofs over our heads. He is the reason why we do not thirst from water shortages. He is the reason why we do not fight each other because of racial and religious indifferences. When our founders created our National Pledge, they meant it to be said.  Mr Lee did. “One United People, regardless of Race, Language or Religion; to build a democratic society, based on Justice and Equality.” This is my favorite quotation from our National Pledge. Our founding fathers made this and meant it to for a nation consisting of Ethnic Chinese, Malays, Indians & Eurasians, that all may live equally in peace.

The pledge and the National Anthem. We sang the Anthem and recited the Pledge everyday during my primary school and secondary school days. I did not know what the two meant until I was in my upper secondary days when I studied Social Studies. We learnt in our text books about events such as the Racial Riots and the Maria Hertogh Riots, the emergence of communism in the then merged Federation of Malaysia and of course the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. I learnt that it is good we have racial equality, religious freedom and a free democratic republic.  All these good things are all thanks to our founding fathers and of course the grace of our Lord. What LKY did for Singapore was a great feat and it could probably be never done without the grace of our Lord.

What we have today is Singapore, a City of greatness, beauty and awe. The Builder of this City is our First Prime Minister LKY. Our nation is his legacy. The Americans talk about George Washington,  the French talk about Napoleon Bonaparte,  the Indians talk about Mahatma Gandhi, the Mainland Chinese talk about Mao Zedong, the Taiwanese talk about Chiang Kai-Shek,  the vietnamese talk about Ho Chi Minh; I am glad, and I am proud to tell the world about Lee Kuan Yew.

This week, we have lost our First Leader. His life on Earth is over and his role for Singapore is finally done. His Legacy lives on. His Legacy lives on through our rulers today, notably through Mr Lee’s Son, Lee Hsien Loong, our current Prime Minister. His Legacy will also live through the youth of Singapore. With the passing of our great leader comes a new age for our nation. May we follow in his footsteps to ensure a free, equal Singapore.

Mr Lee, I thank you for sacrificing all of your life on Earth to build Singapore. I am grateful and I  know that many others are too. Rest in Peace now, for you have earned it. May the perpetual light of my Lord Jesus Christ ever shine upon you.

Goodbye and Thank You, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.