Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Ride Of Our Lives

"Wow, it's been more than a week since VBS ended." I remarked casually to Joey while locking the church gate.

"Daniel, are you okay?" she asked me.

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"Why do you keep talking about VBS? Did you take up too many roles till you are now unable to forget them? Last time you were never like this."

"Oh, no lah." I looked down, slightly flustered. "When people become old, they tend to look back on memories more."

She laughed and walked off, taking care to avoid puddles on the freshly-rained pavement.

I laughed to myself too, realising what a silly lie I had told.

Yes, I was guilty as charged. I was still deeply entrenched in the memory of VBS. The only surprise was her saying that I was never this way previously. I had always thought it was a yearly affair. One only needs to take a look at my blog to see that it is the most consistently-updated event year after year.

But perhaps Joey was right in a way. This year's VBS might be hardest for me to let go. And for a simple reason: It could be the last VBS of an era.

Sure enough, this year's VBS was a bittersweet experience akin to graduating from school. Bitter due to the crazy workload I foolishly took on - worship leading, storytelling skit and organising the carnival. But as things slowly came into fruition, they became sweet. Also, it was a joy working closely alongside some of my peers - Zhi Yong, Ju Yuan and Joyce. A reunion of sorts.

In the weeks of busyness leading up to VBS, we all couldn't wait for it to be over. But as Day 1, 2 and 3 passed smoothly and quickly, a strange melancholy crept up to me on Day 4 - the second last day.

Exhausted after the worship leading and skit presentation, I recall sitting with Joyce by the stage watching children go about their lessons.

"You know," I glanced at her. "Something tells me that this is going to be your final VBS."

She stared at me, probably a little taken aback. It was not common knowledge yet that she was planning to work in Australia next year. "Who knows. But I'll help out if I happen to be around. Just not in songleading."

We mused about how VBS songleading was really getting tougher the older we got. And indeed, this year's songleading had been especially tough on us both. Due to lack of song leaders, I had to lead two days while she took THREE. Wow. In fact, I had not even planned on being involved in the worship this year. But me and my softie heart, pfft.

And then I realised: by the time the next VBS rolled around I would already be 30. And most likely married. Many of my peers, like Joyce, might not be around any more or married with new lives to build.

I'm not even sure if I will still be in this church then.

Life tends to be like a cassette rewinder, if you're old enough to know what that is. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. As I head to the tail end of my twenties, I'm gradually coming to grasp how limited my days are. Gone is the sense of immortality; that time is an inexhaustible resource waiting to pass on and on.

When you're younger, it's natural to think that things will stay the same forever. But age brings with it the knowledge that nothing lasts forever. Especially the days of serving alongside friends I grew up together with.

Fittingly, one and a half weeks after VBS we celebrated the farewell of Timothy, another VBS legend. He was also leaving for Australia with his family. The farewell dinner, which consisted of twenty people who were mostly my peers, ended with us seated in a circle sharing farewell wishes to Timothy and how he had impacted each of our lives.

It was a very surreal experience indeed, as though I had been transported 3-4 years back in time. That was the last time I was part of them, before I consciously decided to turn away. It was a time fraught with bitterness, anger and unhappiness. But this time round, I felt no such hardness. Just happiness. Happiness to have known Timothy and share in a part of his life. Happiness for the many friends of his who were my friends as well.

It's a strange time in my life now. Adjusting, anticipating, awakening. Best of all, I have no idea where the ride's gonna head next.

Colossal Coaster Wor-r-r-rld
Facing fear, trusting God
Colossal Coaster Wor-r-r-rld
Facing fear, trusting God
With everything, that we've got

The Sunday 2pm worship practices. The confusing dance steps. The carnival planning. The night we built Candytown in church. The decoration which took weeks to set up and just 15 minutes to destroy. The numerous script revisions. The late night rehearsals due to everyone being late. The hours spent making props.

Indeed boys and girls, it was the ride of our lives. Just very, very blessed to have been a part of it all. :)

The only skit from this year's VBS I had the foresight to record. And it is one that I am mighty proud of - a kid-friendly version of the famous Lifehouse Everything skit.
For the longest time, we were thinking of a suitable song to replace Everything as the plot was rather different. The whole fact that kids don't exactly 'struggle' with their sins, and that we had to show Jesus' death / resurrection. Then I just decided to try Here I Am To Worship.
Over the course of one afternoon in Ochado fitting the music to the scenes, I was amazed how perfectly the lyrics matched - as though the song had been written for this skit. If ever I had experienced a magical moment of epiphany, this would be it.
I'm also very proud of how well all the actors performed, especially Joyce. She really cried. Without me asking her to. And Ju Yuan, I hate to say this but... you were born to be evil.