Postcards from St Andrew’s Church, Abu Dhabi

At St Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi, I met and entertained many children. I feel that “the sky lovingly smiles on the earth and her children,” quoting Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Jesus cross

The present St Andrew’s Church was built in 1984 on a land generously donated by the Late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the Al Nahyan ruling family. The area is known as the Churches area in Abu Dhabi.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

The website of the St Andrew’s Church mentioned that “somebody once described St Andrew’s church as Evangelical in the pulpit, Catholic at the altar and Charismatic in the pews”, to highlight their diversity.

It is likely that baby Ren will be interested in the St Andrew’s Playgroup (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, between 9.30am and 11.30am) with the entry fee of AED 15  per parent/carer, for children regardless of nationality or religion.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

In the autumn 2014, I started to study the Bible daily and have crafted prayers or made simple take-home messages. Once I complete studying the Bible, I plan to study Al Quran, as envisioned in our lifelong curriculum.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

♥ ♥ ♥

In the summer 2003, I almost became an angel as a mascot for inter-school games. Siew Hwey had kindly made the feathery-like cotton wings and the angel halo headband, but in the end those items were not used.

Patience is a virtue. Never lose hope. The universe will choose the right time and the right place to answer your desire. You kind, loving, inspiring desire is your prayer.

This afternoon, I became an angel – without wings, who told a Christmas story to children. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve children – our hope for the future, and to share messages of love and hope. Yes, a messenger of everything lifeward and positive. The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos, which means ‘messenger’.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart audience

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart hi angel
The little girl was excited to see an angel. 

Thanks to Dewi for firstly inviting me to contribute in the early Merry Christmas celebration, Laura for the help with the costume, the storytelling equipment (torchlight and colorful pictures) and the gifts for the courageous and lucky children who did well in the post-story Q&A session.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angel

According to Jerry A. Coyne PhD, 77% of Americans believe in angels. Do you believe in angels and miracles?

Upon seeing me in the angel costume, Alice (a little girl who just went to Moyenne Island, Seychelles) remarked, “she is not an angle, she is a girl.” It stroke me. Later, Alice told me that she loves the story told by the angel – me.

Perhaps, real people in angle costumes only work for toddlers. A young toddler whose name is Atara, curiously tried to touch me. She loves the pendants of my necklace too, as I realized when I carried her.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels dance

From the pamphlet, I also learned about a mnemonic of LIGHT.
L = Love (kasih)
I = Integrity (integritas)
G = Generosity (kemurahan)
H = Humility (kerendahan hati)
T = Truth (kebenaran)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here is a recap of Christmas service for the children.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart  christmas tree

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart candles

The first song was Jingle Bells.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot


I always love the classic Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate deity,
Pleased as Man with Man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing sung by a children’s choir:

A way in a manger

You can listen to a story entitled “Let Your Light Shine” narrated by Jing@servicefromheart.

Happy birthday Jesus (with a link from Laura)

Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You
Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holiday swell
And it’s all about You
Happy birthday, Jesus
Jesus I love You

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart cake

Silent Night

Silent Night by a children’s choir

Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night! holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour is born!

♥ ♥ ♥

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart children smiles innocent

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ~ Denis Waitley

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

While I greatly love to take photographs of people, they are also among the most challenging ones, especially children. There are a number of shots of mine that captured the joyful or amazed expressions of our little friends, but the photos turned out to be out of focus.

This morning, a girlfriend flying to Abu Dhabi today inquired me what things that I want her to get for me from Kuala Lumpur. At that time, I want nothing, but her safe flight.

However, after going through some of the photographs that I took at the St Andrew’s Church, how I wish I could have a light-field / plenoptic camera manufactured by Lytro, founded by Yi Ren Ng PhD. I hope that its price of US$399 will decrease so that more people can afford it. This is going to be my Christmas gift wish list!

By the way, I enjoyed Ng’s Stanford thesis and summarized it in a wordcloud.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Ren Ng light field camera thesis Lytro

With love,


Z for zucchini for #AtoZChallenge: zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe

Zucchini, also known as courgette / 夏南瓜, is a summer squash. A funny poem about zucchini and summer entitled Attack of the Squash People by Marge Piercy goes:

“And thus the people every year

in the valley of humid July

did sacrifice themselves to the long green phallic god

and eat and eat and eat.

They’re coming, they’re on us,

the long striped gourds,

the silky babies, the hairy adolescents,

the lumpy vast adults like the trunks of green elephants.

Recite fifty zucchini recipes!

Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;

sauté with olive oil and cumin,

tomatoes, onion; frittata;

casserole of lamb; baked topped with cheese;

marinated; stuffed; stewed;

driven through the heart like a stake.

Get rid of old friends:

they too have gardens and full trunks.

Look for newcomers:

befriend them in the post office,

unload on them and run.

Stop tourists in the street.

Take truckloads to Boston.

Give to your Red Cross.

Beg on the highway:

please take my zucchini,

I have a crippled mother at home with heartburn.

Sneak out before dawn to drop them in other people’s gardens,

in baby buggies at church doors.

Shot, smuggling zucchini into mailboxes, a federal offense.

With a suave reptilian glitter

you bask among your raspy fronds sudden and huge as alligators.

You give and give too much, like summer days limp with heat,

thunderstorms bursting their bags on our heads,

as we salt and freeze and pickle for the too little to come.”

Zucchini contains useful amounts of folate / folic acid (24 μg/100 g), potassium (280 mg/100 g) and vitamin A (384 IU [115 μg]/100 g).

While looking for star anise (for sea cucumber recipe) at Bishan NTUC Fairprice Finest, I came across yellow zucchini – products of Malaysia. Since it has been produced regionally, I asked myself, “why not try a new dish with zucchini?”

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

For #AtoZChallenge on 2014 April 30 Wed, I lovingly present a recipe of zucchini bok choy stir-fry.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Dear loves it, he describes zucchini as being slightly similar to aubergine / eggplant.

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 7 minutes or until crispy tender


♥ 1 zucchini (夏南瓜), washed & julienned

♥ 2 bok choy (小白菜), washed & cut

♥ 5 cherry tomatoes (樱桃番茄)

♥ 1 tbsp olive oil (橄榄油)

♥ 1 tbsp peanut butter (花生酱)

♥ 1 knob ginger (), minced

♥ 5 cloves garlic (蒜头), minced

♥ 1 tsp dried shrimp (虾米), minced

♥ 1 tsp DOM Bénédictine (法国廊酒)

♥ pepper (胡椒粉) to taste


1. Wash & cut zucchini & bok choy.

2. Sautee ginger, garlic, dried shrimp with heated olive oil until fragrant.

3. Add zucchini, peanut butter, DOM, pepper.

4. Add bok choy & stir-fry until cooked.

5. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart


♥ If you buy green color zucchini, Choose bright green color one with a max length of 25-30 cm. Larger ones may be bitter.

♥ May I also suggest an easy recipe of zucchini soup with meatballs?

zucchini bok choy stir-fry recipe by ServicefromHeart

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.
With love,

easy tasty sweet potato recipe by ServicefromHeart

Tender and buttery sweet potatoes make a filling meal that goes well with fragrant cilantro, sweet honey and pungent raw garlic.

easy sweet potato recipe ServicefromHeart garlic cilantro sesame oil

I am happy that today I managed to shop for red sweet potatoes from Malaysia at Cold Storage Novena. In term of easy-to-peel shapes, I prefer sweet potatoes sold at Cold Storage than at NTUC Fairprice, though the latter sells cheaper.

easy sweet potato recipe ServicefromHeart cilantro garlic sesame oil

Eating humble root vegetables like sweet potatoes always reminds me on humility and versatility. In the past, our Indonesian friends brought us sweet potato chips as a snack souvenir upon returning to celebrate lebaran at kampung hometowns. Crispy companions for our chit-chats, sweet potatoes I love you! Food always remind us on family, friends and people. Every bite, every chew, and every swallow – brings all joyful memories.

Rich in vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes can be steamed, boiled, baked, mashed or deep-fried with a wide variety of ingredients. Instead of using oil for deep frying, next time I would consider (1) oven frying, to make sweet potatoes as a component for tempura and (2) a method combining of steaming and very shallow frying.

Serving: 1
Preparation and cook time: 15 minutes

♥ 3 medium (@100g) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
♥ 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
♥ 1 strawberry, quartered
♥ 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
♥ 1 tbsp honey
♥ 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
♥ 1 tsp sesame oil
♥ 1 tsp sesame seeds
♥ 1 clove garlic, pressed
♥ pepper, to taste

1. Boil sweet potatoes for about 10 minutes or until tenderly soft.
2. Mix oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, pepper. Toss tomatoes and strawberries with the seasoning mixture.
3. Drain sweet potatoes well, leave to steam dry. Gently toss with the rest of ingredients.
4. Sprinkle sesame seeds to garnish.

♥ Don’t throw away the water you used to boil sweet potatoes. Some nutrients from sweet potatoes are dissolved in it. Add the hot water to (pre-cooked, non-creamy) soup to make bowls of warm soup.* This way, we can save little gas or electricity.
♥ For variations, garnish with pumpkin seeds or chopped nuts e.g. pistachios, walnuts.
♥ Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, dark place. Do not refrigerate sweet potatoes, as they will dehydrate.

* For tonight meal, I mix the boiling water with six-flavor soup. Delicious! Mom advised us to start our meal with drinking soup, then wait ~15 minutes before continuing to the main course, so that our stomach will not overwork.

easy sweet potato recipe ServicefromHeart cilantro garlic sesame oil

If this recipe takes too long, how is about other #5minutemeal recipes?

With love,

Draw My Life Map : Indonesia – Malaysia – Singapore – world

This mini video of Draw My Life Map (URL: is inspired by an exercise for a course of storytelling by Novoed.

I used mouse (using digitized pen will be better) to draw in SpeedyPainter (, which is freely available. For editing, I used Movie Maker.

Hello friends
I am going to share with you my little life map.
Sit back and relax.

I spent my early months of life in a little farm in Sumatera, Indonesia – a beautiful emerald of equator. Before I turned 1 year old, Daddy and Mommy moved to Jakarta for a better life.The capital was entirely different from the rural area of Sumatera where we came from.

At age three, I had a lovely baby brother.
His short stay with us reminds me forever on the precious yet vulnerable life.
I dearly miss him!
Several years later, I had a sister and another much younger brother, whom I love very much!

My childhood was simple and happy, with schools, friends, books and TVs.
I enjoyed riding a bicycle, watching MacGyver and SeaQuest episodes on local TV channel, relying heavily on the subtitles. Not many people spoke English in Jakarta at that time.
My favorite books include the translated versions of The Famous Five novels by British author Enid Blyton.
After completing my homework, I eagerly looked forward to join the adventures and picnics of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and her dog Timmy. Timmy would do anything for her, such a great loyalty!
I dreamed that when I was reaching their ages, I would go for such adventures with my dear friends like The Famous Five did.
Many years later, a part of the dream was realized in my young adulthood, when I occasionally helped my housemate to walk his playful golden retriever that loves to chase tennis balls, ducks and ducklings, swimming at the River Cam.

Back to my childhood.
A riot happened in Jakarta. That event severely affected many people.
They lost everything, including their loved ones.
The event also changed the course of my simple and peaceful life with my family.
Daddy and Mommy were determined to work harder so that they could afford to send me to a safer place.

It was the first time I applied for a passport and flied with a single-way ticket to a neighboring country: Malaysia.
At the beginning, living far far away from Daddy, Mommy, my sister and brother, I often felt sad and worried about my family.
It was tough, r-e-a-l-l-y tough!

Fortunately in Malaysia, I was blessed with kind friends and encouraging teachers. Thanks to them, I looked forward going to school, to learn, to chat everyday. I am forever grateful to them. For the first time of my life, I learned Chinese Mandarin at school. I found the Chinese letters beautiful, every stroke can carry feelings, emotions and aspirations.
Somehow, some of these beautiful letters and words transpire over five-thousand-years of wisdom.
I fell in love with many idioms and quotes, especially those related to happiness, nature and people.
Let me share one of my favorite:
笑口常开 / Xiao4Kou3Chang2Kai1.
It means “Smile & Laugh Often”.
I wish you, my dear friends, 笑口常开!

During our high school days, we wanted so much to go to a university, so that we could train in our chosen disciplines, pursue our dream careers, earn a decent living to take care of our ageing parents and future children.
My friends and I worked hard in our study.
Learning by heart is rewarding, generous people have allowed me to come to Singapore with a scholarship for my undergraduate study. It means a lot for me.
Thank you from my deepest heart.

So I come to Singapore – the Little Red Dot of Southeast Asia.
On Yunnan Campus, I made many friends, learned from my professors and peers, further developed deeper passions for life and learning, worked part-time, volunteered in several activities, including a mentorship program organized by the Welfare Service Club. We also performed song signings for Christmas!

Since then, my passions have brought me to many places worldwide, learning from and sharing with people who have become dear friends.
Places shape people, and people shape places too.

Fast forward to now, I am very grateful with my life, my experiences (bad and good), and most importantly, the people who have walked with me, have loved me and whom I love.
Although everyday I face new challenges, I choose to see them as opportunities to learn, to be creative, and to grow in our lives.
There are many people whose lives are far from the acceptable and their ideals.
What can we do for them?
How is about choosing to be happy and grateful?
Being grateful creates simple happiness.
When we are happy, our minds relax and we can conceive meaningful ideas and solutions.
When we are happy, we can spread our joy.
“Happiness is contagious”.
I tell myself to make at least three people smile everyday.
It’s not that difficult, I am sure you can do much better than me.
Being alive is a miracle.
Being happy is a choice.