As the world begins to resume regular programming after the worst of Covid, four City Harvest Church members share how they navigate seasons of transition with God’s presence and guidance.
If there is one constant in life, it is change. Few could have predicted that the last two years would have seen the human race in “Covid hibernation”. Now in 2022, the world is slowly awakening as the Covid situation evolves into an endemic one. We gingerly step out of our homes—with our masks on, of course—and see that it’s time to take a step into the future.
As most of us move from Zoom meetings to having lunch in person again with our colleagues, these four City Harvest members share their experience of entering a new stage of life, from school to National Service to getting married to moving overseas for work, and what keeps them grounded as they navigate transition. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23)
Going from secondary school to first year in Singapore Polytechnic
Nicole, 17, made the big move from secondary school to becoming a Media, Art and Design student at Singapore Polytechnic this year. She tells of the big changes she has had to make.
“Poly life has been a rollercoaster ride. There have been ups—when I’m enjoying the modules—and there have been downs too—when submission deadlines are nearing, and it becomes very stressful.
“Transition is never easy and there have been many struggles. I came into my course not knowing anyone, so making sure I met the right friends who would support me through Poly was one struggle.
“Then, there’s coping with a new system: every assignment has a certain weightage contributing to my grade point average (GPA). This means I must consistently do well in all the modules.
“Dealing with the stress during the assignment submissions was also a big struggle for me as I had high expectations of myself in my first term. On top of that, I’m in a course where everyone is constantly striving to outshine each other, so I’ve had to learn to deal with that as well.
“Amidst all my struggles, what really helped me was staying close to God’s Word and to my spiritual family—my cell group! Having a like-minded community to share my struggles really eased my transition into Poly.
“Many of my friends told me that they miss life in secondary school after moving on to Poly. To be very honest, that is not the case for me. Don’t get me wrong—I miss my friends and my teachers who always went the extra mile for me, but I love what I’m studying at Poly and that makes going to school easy.
“I sometimes still look at my curriculum and think, ‘I can’t believe this is what I learn in school!’ In my course, we don’t have the usual subjects like the ones in secondary school—English, Mathematics, Science. My modules focus on things like photography, photo-editing and content creation, which are all interesting to learn and do!
“Contrary to the common belief that Poly life is a busy life, I feel that I have more free time now than I had in secondary school! Aside from the two weeks submission period, where we’re all rushing to complete assignments, my days are usually pretty free. This gives me time to catch up with friends and chill with my family.
“I think…the only thing I miss about secondary school is not having to worry about what to wear every morning when I wake up!
“I have no regrets about my decision to enrol into Poly because I really, really do love what I’m doing now, and I find joy in working on my assignments.
“In this transition season, I realised how big a role my family plays in my life. When I face a creative block, my family members are the first ones I go to. Bouncing ideas off them and getting their opinions on my projects really help me. I also learnt that managing my workload is very important: it’s very easy to forget about something I need to do and before I know it, my work pile has grown higher.
“Every so often, we would feel overwhelmed or caught up in life in these new transition periods. That’s why it’s important to always turn to God. For me, God has been my Comforter in times of need, and I always turn to Him for strength and peace when things get tough. Feeling scared of new changes and uncertainty can be common in these times of change but truly, God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of sound mind!”
Moving to the UK to take up a new job
It’s a dream come true for this 31-year-old Anglophile to be offered a job in Bath, England. But dealing with a whole new culture has its challenges, as he tells it.
“Life has been full of ups and downs since I stepped into the UK in March. Settling into a new culture, getting used to the processes, finding a house to rent, setting up a bank account—there are countless administrative things to sort through. I’m finally finding my footing and learning the ropes.
“Until February this year, I was a full-time staffer in City Harvest Church working in the Visual Communications department. It had always been my dream to live in the UK, so I took the step to apply for a job there in 2021. I started the interview process with my current company last November, but I didn’t expect them to accept me. It came as a surprise a few days after the interview that they offered me the job! I’m now living and working in the city of Bath.
“To say that I was well prepared and ready for the transition is very much an overstatement. Everyone I know knew how much I’ve been enamoured by the UK but arriving in the nation and facing the reality of living and working here made me realise how unprepared I was!
“It’s not easy living by myself, especially in a new country. At first, it was challenging to make new friends and be bold to ask for help. But surprisingly, people around me have been extremely helpful and friendly. There was once the shuttle bus from work that takes me from my home to my workplace didn’t come, and I had to resort to walking to take the train. Someone driving past saw me and offered me a lift to the nearest train station.
“Not only did I have to adjust to the various regional slang and accents—English felt like a whole new language!—but I also had to get used to the different working styles and cultures at my new job. There were days I let slip some Singlish only to realise no one understood what I was saying! Also, I’ve had to really enunciate my words to make myself understood, and use terms that are more culturally appropriate, such as crisps instead of chips, chips instead of fries, and trousers instead of pants (they’re very different articles of clothing!)
“Being here in the UK alone, I miss my family, friends and church, but thankfully the Internet has helped bridge the gap. However, one thing the Internet can’t provide is good Singaporean food. I’m grateful I’ve found friends who make amazing laksa, chicken rice, and rendang!
“I know this is such a cliché, but in the first few months of living in the UK, I missed the efficiency of Singapore. Getting used to the slower pace of things has been quite a challenge for me, but now, I’m learning to enjoy the slower pace of life, work-life balance, and the English’s emphasis on well-being.
“The thing I really like about the UK is its wide open spaces. It’s really easy to escape city life and find places to bask in nature. I love going out for hikes and country walks, and I appreciate the ability to travel around to explore.
“On Sundays, I go to Bath Abbey, or the Church of St Peter and St Paul, located in the centre of Bath. I attend their Evensong service where most of the service is sung by a choir. Every week I feel like I’m transported into heaven, listening to the angels sing! How beautiful it is to experience the varied expressions of church worship.
“I’ve seen God’s hand move every step of the way of this new journey I’m on. From the visa approval process to finding a house, everything came just in time and within budget. The visa process took more than two months, as I was hired near Christmas, so a lot of people who were involved were off work. There was a lot of back and forth in terms of preparing the documents, signing various things and then waiting for the approval of the visa. I was only given a rough estimate of how long approval might take, but there was no certainty until everything was submitted and approved and I had the entry visa printed on my passport. But praise God, the visa was approved just in time for me to start work.
One of the Bible stories that have kept me going was how God provided the children of Israel manna from heaven, more than enough for each day. I confess this as I walk through this season of change and I keep seeing how God keeps providing at every step of the way, just enough and just at the right time.”
Entering National Service in a pandemic
Covid ensured that Ryan, 20, has had an unusual national service experience since he enlisted in 2021. He shares what’s good and bad about being in NS at such a time as this.
“Army life has been going quite well. I’m now a vehicle commander. We are slowly preparing for our final evaluation at the end of the year before we finally ORD (operationally ready date)! Army life has been different from what I envisioned—not that I knew what to expect in the first place (laughs).
“One thing I found out is that everyone’s NS experience is very different from another’s—it all depends on where you’re posted and the job you’re doing.
“Sometimes I struggle with being in camp the whole week and having a busy schedule that is very draining. Thankfully, the friendships I have made in camp and from church help me to cope with army life. Seeing my cell group at the end of the week is like an escape and it helps me stay close to God.
“The thing I miss most about civilian life is being able to go home every day. I miss the comfort of home, being able to see my parents every day and have meals with them. However, I’m glad that I didn’t miss many church events—such as youth camp—because we could not have them, given the Covid restrictions.
“My favourite thing about being in the army is that I got to grow with the different experiences I’ve had. I got to meet many different people in NS and learned to work with them to achieve common goals. I realise that in NS, everyone has their part to play. We must be united and each one must put in effort to work well together. I feel that the same thing applies to many situations in life as well, and I hope to be able to work well with whomever I meet in the future!
“Of course, there have been difficult moments in the past one and a half years. When I feel down, I pray for God to give me the strength to be able to go through that situation. I know that God is always by my side and that ‘I can do all things through Him who strengthens me‘!”
Getting married and starting a new life
Christina, 26, married Sean Aaron, 28, in February this year. She shares about adjusting to life as a married person and discovering a new side to her husband and herself.
“Married life has been a steep learning curve of being independent in various aspects. From maintaining the house and meal prepping to financial planning, Sean and I are learning to take up these responsibilities.
“Embarking on this journey called marriage is very much like a treasure hunt. Along the way, we discover and understand each other more. For example, I never expected Sean to take the cleanliness of our home so seriously. Before marriage, the state of his room made me assume that I would be the one making sure that our house is clean. To my surprise, Sean spends his off days wiping, vacuuming, mopping the house and cleaning the toilets. He also finds joy in seeing a cleaning agent producing the results that it promises on its packaging. I totally didn’t expect to see this side of Sean.
“As much as we are thankful to have a home of our own, I do miss my family. I miss sleeping with my mother when I can’t fall asleep or calling “Papa!” when something breaks down at home. Papa would magically make anything work!
“I also miss the company of my brother. I am not a fan of household chores but doing them with him made it so much more enjoyable. We would have conversations while washing the dishes or hanging the clothes. He is also my go-to person when I feel unwell or injure myself at home. But I know I will eventually grow out of these feelings and get used to being married.
“The best part about marriage is that I get to go home with Sean. While it seems obvious, we treasure it very much! Before getting married, I lived in the far West of Singapore while Sean lives in the far East. Being a most faithful boyfriend, Sean would travel all the way to the West to pick me up for dates and then send me home thereafter. My heart would ache when I knew he had had a long day at work or needed to start the day early the next morning, but still chose to travel across the island for me. Now that we are married, Sean gets more rest!
“One of the greatest realisations I had after getting married is that I have an interest in cooking. When I lived with my parents, I relied on them or my brother to cook. If they didn’t cook, I would simply eat out before I got home—I had never considered cooking for myself.
“However, home-cooked meals are a big part of my family’s culture and I love home-cooked meals—they’re more nutritious as well. Now that I am married, I also want to provide home-cooked meals for my family. This desire prompted me to learn cooking.
“In the first few weeks after getting married, I would FaceTime my parents as I cooked. They would guide me step-by-step as I prepared the dishes. Though there were discouraging moments when my dishes failed, I slowly started to get the hang of cooking.
“These days, my husband and I will eat at home from Tuesday to Friday and eat out from Saturday to Monday. There is also a sense of satisfaction when I see my loved ones finishing the food that I prepare. I also want to thank my husband for cleaning up the kitchen after every meal! Thank you, Sean, for giving me a clean kitchen to cook in!
“I realised that sometimes, there is only so much we can prepare for when two people get married. We must be ‘thrown’ into our roles—that’s when we have no choice but to learn how to survive. While transitions are stressful and challenging, God has been the constant Provider and Comforter in this journey. From major transitions such as being financially independent to little things like preparing a meal without sustaining any injuries, God has provided and protected us. Marriage has been an adventure and there will be more transitions in the future. With God in our boat, we can navigate and adapt to new things, trusting that He will be our Anchor.”