All the Rivers Come From Him

Photo: efdreams.com

THE Lord hath a name
Bigger than the letters that spell “Lord.”

The Lord hath a love
Bigger than our hearts can ever fathom.

All the rivers come from Him,
All the rivers lead to Him,
All the ants of the earth march to His great song.

Have you ever seen His face, my friend,
Have you?

No, but the mountains have,
The stars, the skies, and the great wilderness.

His face hath an aspect
More wondrous than we can comprehend.

His voice hath a love
That makes us call out Abba, Father!

All the rivers come from Him,
All the rivers lead to Him,
All the ants of the earth march to His great song.

Have you ever seen His face, my friend,
Have you?

No, but our Lord Jesus has —
Our Lord who gave us His all, He has!

Jesus has, O Jesus, He has!

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When Luck Is On Your Side

image: vimeo

LIFE as a student here is not fun. Everyday is a homework day, including the holidays. Sometimes, we get stressed, sometimes, we can’t even catch up. And it gets worse if you are not an ‘A’ student like me. For Maths last year at the mid-year exams, I got 73; for science, 68; for English, 78.5; and for Chinese, thank goodness, I made myself proud. I scored 83, that’s an ‘A’. Still, overall, it was a lackluster performance. To the teachers, it was not lackluster, it was just bad.

Like the good student that I am and always strive to be, I worked hard, very hard, night and day, day and night, in the hope that lackluster and mediocre would turn into something shinier and brighter.

Would the toil pay off? Would it ever make a difference?

There was a mad kind of desperation for a month, then two, leading up to the final-year exams, but by the third month, I felt so tired I really didn’t care anymore. My motto, as the days approached the exam, was, “Ah, just go do it, and do your best!” I like to think this was all inspired by my mom and dad. Am I lucky or what?

A week after the exams, Mr. Goh, our science teacher, called upon four students to his desk. I was one of them.

“Well done!” he told us. “All of you, you’re going to get an award.”

“What are we getting?” Jeff asked.

“I’m not going to tell you.”

A week later, at the prize-giving ceremony, I still didn’t know what award I was up for until Mrs. Sachi, some Head of Department, announced my name: “Chia Xin Yu, second best student of the level.”

As it turned out, luck was truly on my side.

(303 words)

***

Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
April 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “A Proud Moment,” and three pictures: (1) a pair of clapping hands, (2) a trophy, (3) a sheet of paper with the word “Well Done” written on it

When Love Conquers Spite

Image: Pinterest

EDIE, my younger sister, has amazing friends. Not that my friends aren’t amazing, but hers feel more amazing than mine. And whenever I think about it, I get really mad. I get particularly mad at the sound of Jen, one of her closest of friends. Jen is a rich kid, who also happens to be very generous. Lucky are those who are close to her. She would shower you with gifts—pencils, erasers, markers, highlighters, all the cool kinds of stationery every kid wants.

Why don’t I have friends like Jen? Why Edie, and why not me?

One day, Edie came home with two mechanical pencils, one red and the other yellow. They were the expensive Japanese kind, the kind I liked. And when she showed them off to me with great excitement, all I saw was a smug look that drove me mad. If I couldn’t have those mechanical pencils, she needs to suffer! I contemplated cutting off Emmy’s hair, all that thick, long hair on her favorite brunette doll. But wait! Mommy had taken a long time to stitch and sew and put Emmy together, so I really shouldn’t, and I just couldn’t. Besides, I liked Emmy too.

So I went for the lesser evil. I took Edie’s new mechanical pencils, and tossed them into the bin—not the trash, but the recycle bin outside our front door. Even in my wickedness, I was kind. The rationale was this: if I had tossed the pencils in the garbage where all that end-of-dinner junk would go in—the unfinished chicken gravy, the chilli sauce, and the chewed up slices of orange—there would be no way Edie could retrieve them. In the recycle bin, at least there was some hope.

When Edie couldn’t find her pencils that very day, she was heartbroken. “Where are my pencils?” she cried. Guilt began to gnaw at my soul. To make things worse, I pretended to be a valuable member of her search team, which included poor Grandma and my innocent little brother, who is always the prime suspect when things get lost in the house. Knowing that I was the sorry, lousy culprit made me feel horrible.

By the time evening came, and all that after-dinner rubbish had gone into the trash can, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I owned up to my awful deed, a deed filled with jealousy, envy, spite, incomprehensible unkindness, all woven into Ugly Me. And to think that I had owned up in such a lame and rotten way: “I accidentally threw it in the bin.”

Edie broke into tears, without a single word of reproach. She looked so broken that I broke down too. I hugged her, and she hugged me back. But why, why wasn’t she angry with me?

Her heart was so much bigger than mine, yet it didn’t make mine any smaller, it just lifted it up.

(487 words)

***

Therese Lee, Primary Six
March 2018

For more essays by Therese, visit Therese Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme of “jealousy,” and two pictures: (1) a pair of scissors and (2) two girls bawling away, hugging each other

Amazing Japan

A view of Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen (Photo: Jerome D. Lye)

TRAVEL is one of the best forms of education, better than school. You get to see new things, eat new things, encounter new people, experience a whole new culture, an unfamiliar season, or an entirely different language. That was exactly how I felt about Japan in December last year. It was my first time there, and after 17 days, I decided, without a doubt, that Japan is the top travel destination. That sounds like a line you would find in any travel guide, but it’s truly how feel. None of the places I’ve been to—London, Australia, New Zealand, Maldives—beats Japan.

The beauty of Japan lies in so many things, too many that I struggle with where to even start. Do you start with the wonderful shopping or the great food, the Zen-inspired gardens or awesome beauty of Mount Fuji, the clock-work precision of the high-speed bullet trains, the hot-springs, magical Disneyland, or the centuries-old temples in ancient Kyoto?

Oh, there’s also that amazing aquarium in Tokyo, the largest in the world, where I must have come face-to-face with close to a hundred species of marine life! I would also be including Studio Ghibli here, except we didn’t get to go because my father, our chief travel planner, hadn’t known that we had to reserve spots a month in advance.

But missing Hayao Miyazaki’s creations couldn’t quite count as a disappointment given everything else that this beautiful country offered us. As a teen, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled at the prospect of visiting temples, but when I actually got there—Sanjusangendō and Kinkakuji in particular—I was mesmerized.

At Sanjusangendō, the longest hall in the world, I saw rows and rows of Buddha statues, each of them seemingly identical, but their faces were all different if you walked up close to look them in the eye. The bigger, solo statues that guard these endless rows of statues are probably more fun to gaze at. With their pupils studded with crystals, you aren’t quite sure if they would suddenly come alive and whisper to you.

At Kinkakuji, the famous golden temple, this feeling of light is equally profound. That day when we visited, we were approaching dusk. It wasn’t exactly sunset yet, but the light had an intensity about it, and it played a game of ebb and flow, brighter some moments, dimmer others. Who would have thought that a 14-year-old teen would have been transfixed by all this? But he was, much to my surprise.

Kinkakuji kissed by a not-quite-dusk-yet light (Photo: Jerome D. Lye)

My other transfixed moment was when we were on a schooner cruise across Lake Ashi where I beheld Mount Fuji for the first time. Such a majestic mountain, so beautiful, so symmetrical. But my favorite view of Fuji-san, as the Japanese call it, is when we were on the Shinkansen from Hakone to Osaka. It seemed to lord over us in the train, such that all we seemed to see through our window was Mount Fuji and just a little sky and smatterings of village houses.

A view of Mount Fuji from a schooner drifting leisurely across Lake Ashi (Photo: Jerome D. Lye)

It’s hard to believe that at the start of our 17-day trip, we felt as if we had so much time to take in all the beauty of Japan and stuff our faces silly with sushi and soba. But as each day passed, the culture, the cuisine, and the natural beauty of this country greeted us with the same old konnichiwa, but always colored with something new. The same dip in the same onsen the second, third, and then the fourth time, was still as rejuvenating as always, but each time, I would sense something different. One time, the sulphur stung the nose more aggressively, another time, it was more muted. But each time I went, it felt like a place I would love to return to again and again. I suppose Japan is like that. I want to return soon. 

(652 words)

***

Jerome Lye, Secondary Three
March 2018

For more essays by Jerome, visit Jerome Writes

Don’t Mess With Dad, He’s Got OCD

Image: Goodhousekeeping

BRYAN has OCD. He doesn’t like people to touch his things. It would drive him crazy. Walk into his study and you would find everything spick and span, neat and tidy. His laptop is never on, except when he sits at his desk, doing some paper work, sending a couple of emails, surfing the web, and dawdling over Facebook. No one can touch that laptop, not even his mother, his wife, his daughters three, or the cat.

One time, his eldest daughter Xin Xin, tried to push her luck. She had to submit her term paper by 5PM on February 23, but for some reason, her own laptop died on her on the eve of submission deadline. She panicked, and she cried. Then her mother said, “Sweetheart, don’t worry, go use Daddy’s laptop. I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure, Mom?” Xin Xin said. “He’d kill me.”

With her assurance, Xin Xin went for it, taking care not to mess up his workspace. Her father was away in Shanghai for business, and so she worked through the night of the twenty-second, typing away. Every so often, she would log into Facebook, which was where the mess started. She logged out of her father’s account so she could log into hers.

The next day, when her father got home in the evening, he was so mad. His mouse had moved an inch or so to the right, and his keyboard was a little off-kilter. Oh, and when he clicked on his Facebook icon, all he saw were photos of Xin Xin eating chocolate cake with her best friend, Winnie, and a slew of other silly posts!

The next morning, at the breakfast table, Xin Xin got an earful from her father, but her mother intervened. She too got an earful, only louder and angrier. Xin Xin was so upset she vowed, “I’ll never ever let Mom be a shield for me. When Dad’s triggered, nothing can stop him.”

Truly, nothing can, except coffee, his peanut butter toast, and the morning paper.

(342 words)

***

Chia Xin Yu, Primary Six
March 2018

For more essays by Xin Yu, visit Xin Yu Writes.


This essay was written in response to the theme, “An Argument,” and two pictures: (1) a man and a woman in an argument, and (2) a broken laptop