Friday, April 24, 2009

Three Benefits of Margin

Three Benefits of Margin
by Rick Warren
In our Devotionals series, Pastor Rick Warren discusses the Bible passages that inspire him the most. Today's Devotional is based on this passage:
"One handful of peaceful repose is better than two fistfuls of worried work..." (Ecclesiastes 4:6 MSG).


Margin is the space between your load and your limit. Your load should never be heavier than your limit. But the truth is, most of us are far more overloaded than we can handle; we have no margin for error in our lives.

Dr. Richard Swenson explains, "Marginless is not having time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counterculture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure."

Here are three immediate benefits you'll receive by building margin into your life:

1. Better health. Unrelenting stress harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margin in our lives is when the heart attack almost happens (or does happen) or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets before we make this decision? Why not realize that we need to build some margin into our lives now? The truth is, your body needs downtime in order to heal.

2. Stronger relationships. Lack of margin is one big reason for the collapse of the American family today. When we don't make relationships a priority and make time for each other, our relationships suffer. The truth is relationships take time, and margin provides that time to sit and talk, to listen and enjoy one another, and to provide the comfort we each need.

3. Usefulness in ministry. When you're overloaded by activity, you can only think of yourself. You're in survival mode, just trying to make it through another day. But being available to God for his use makes all the difference in this world.

When you have no margin in your life and God taps you on the shoulder, saying, "I'd like you to do this for Me," your first response isn't joy. Your first response is, "Oh, no! Another thing to do! Sorry, God, I'd like to do that, but I'm just too busy."

We end up resenting the great opportunities God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you're available for God to use.

You don't have to live on overload. You don't have to live in survival mode. Begin today to build a buffer around your schedule, then enjoy the benefits of margin and see what God does next!

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Monday, April 20, 2009

BabyA is now working!

Seems like just yesterday that BabyA was born. How his cheeky looks at the camera for the first time will always be dearly engraved on my mind. As he grew, he developed his own personality, character and its just a joy having him around.

Especially when he takes some "weight" off his godpa's shoulders! ha ha ha


BabyA giving godpa a massage, godpa has to encourage him with a marching beat of :"Ready? One, Two, One, Two..."

Wonder who is doing more work... ha ha ha

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So it was dirt afterall...

its been a while since I stepped foot into this house and I forgot what colors the floor tiles had until we bleached it....



Demonstrates how "clean" nasty lady was when she's in it....

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Fashion Statement

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Time for Muffins!

Our oven has been sitting there feeling cold for a while, so our head chef decided that its time to get creative with it again!









They are yummy! Lasted us a good 3 days, snacks, tea breaks & breakfast! Box cost $4 for 16 muffins, cost price for each is $0.50. How much do you pay in the shops?

Added cranberries to it too, but as they are heavier, they sanked to the bottom of the muffin. Still yummy nonetheless.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Day of Curve Balls!

I cant believe what a start I had today when it started.

I was juggling with 2 deliveries, 1 house cleaning, 2 alterations, errands for mum, disposal of a huge wardrobe (which is alot more complicated than taking it out of the house....). And a house handover to do...

It started with a hiccup in one of our deliveries... I had assumed that the loot (kindly donated by pals) was in good working order. Did not occur to me to question on the state, condition, material etc. I got a message from pal saying that we'll need to find some spare parts for it before it can be used.

*PANIC*

Handover in the evening, where's the time to find it??

First instinct taught me to call my most dependable, favorite contractor Victor Quek (who also did the renovations for our lovely home). With shivers in my voice, his response was:"Your voice like this, I'm scared of what you have to tell me."

My response was:"I'm scared of what I have to tell you too!"

He was very calm and worked through the options with me and we figured that it'll be too costly for us to get the spare parts at such late notice. So I've decided to abandon freebie and spend $ to purchase brand new ones instead.

But from WHERE? I need it almost like NOW kind of situation!

Ah ha moment: I had previously checked out some supplies at a local shop in the neighborhood, got the quotes for the items as well as their name card. So without hesitation, I gave them a call and requested for a delivery within the day. Uncle over the phone was very accommodating and agreed to my demands. (Which seems unreasonable to me even! Instant confirmation for same day delivery without any deposit and not even knowing the person? Where in the world does such GREAT service occurs besides in a neighborly place? I was filled with love for my neighborhood. There is so much trust here!)
So I made this delivery to coincide with my other delivery around evening tonight. Uncle said OK.

*happy* *peace*

Ate our brunch, did the alternations & errands for mum in good spirits and headed home to seek refuge from the HOT HOT HOT HOT HOT weather.

After an hour of rest, I got a message from my bro (who was responsible for the 2nd delivery but being the lazy him, he told me to meet the guys instead, so I had asked for evening delivery 2 days earlier).

You know that it cannot be anything GOOD when the message says:"Call Alvin, the delivery guy at 9********".

*SIGH*

Reluctantly, I called him, he told me that he could deliver earlier at 330pm instead of 630pm. It was 245pm now! My 2nd delivery HOW?

I tried calling my friendly neighborhood uncle, explained to him the situation and he was very willing to comply to our timing again! So long as his delivery guy returns back to his shop soon, they'll be able to come over first before heading out to other destinations. So I gave him my contact number and hope for the best. And of course PRAYED very hard!

I was up to my nose with all these arrangements that was happening at this speed for the past 2 weeks. So you can imagine my frustrations at the curve balls spun at me today.

I was late in meeting up with my gals who was helping me to clean the place and they almost left the block!! Thankfully, I caught them in time! Thank You Lord! There is NO way I could have cleaned the place on my own even if I want to, it was filled with dirt! We had thought that the tiles were of a grey tinge! Only to find their natural colors after a wash & scrub! The girls spent 2hrs in a tiny kitchen scrubbing all the cabinets to be free of dirt stuck with oil! (Unbelievable mess that was created by nasty lady from my previous entry).

Then I realised that we do not have duplicated keys for the handover because nasty lady has not hand them over properly! (When I met her for the last time - thinking that it'll be the last of her, I had several promptings to just take the keys from her but I had the impressions that she has made other PROPER arrangements with them and I tried to stay out of them. Yes, that was the mindset then, dun disturb her as much as I can. Because I'm not sure if I can take more of her nastiness. ha ha)

Guess WHAT was her arrangement? To handover the keys to a neighbor, when the neighbor is not at home. So what did she do? She threw the keys into the neighbor's house. Yes, one by one... all 8 of them singly without a ring to hold them together. She could have given them to me, but chose not to do that. Unbelievable!

So while the ladies were scrubbing, I ran out to look for a key specialist. Thankfully, there was one in just a block away. See its great in a sub-urban neighborhood!! You get all the great services that you need at a stone's throw away! I love my neighborhood!

I was warned that he might have shifted or closed. So it was a real mercy that he was still around. When I saw him, I was so grateful that I could have hugged him (because I was cutting close to the handover time, there's no way I can find another duplication service on time). BUT he said no promises because he has to find the duplicate key models that resemble those that I want to duplicate! MAN, is there MORE obstacles today?

While he was patiently searching through his drawers, I was praying so hard, please God let him find them. Every key that he picked up to match, I would go Please let this fit! Took about 5mins before he could find all the keys that I need.

*phew*

*ring* *ring* phone call from unknown number... 1st delivery is ready to come! Yeah! I went back up the house to wait for them and told key uncle that I'll come back. He was very nice and said sure sure go attend to your stuff. He must have seen through that hassled look of mine!

When I reached the corridor, I got another call from 2nd delivery guy, goody, they are here too! But they cannot find their way to access our block as close as they can to unload their goods! So, I guided them along while pointing to the 1st delivery folks where to install their goods.

2nd delivery guy came and I showed them the wardrobe that needs to be removed. Immediately he shook his head and said no, he cannot take it. Its too big!!

WHAT? Too big?

I want to faint!

He explained that it cannot fit into the lift etc. It would have to be dismantled into smaller bits and disposal cost would be at least $100!

*sweat rolled down my whole face*
(from the heat as well as the bad news)

So I asked him HOW?

He smiled and offered another solution for me. While we have to take a chance at it, he even offered to walk the estate to look for the cleaners that cleans our neighborhood and maybe the can help us. He said let him talk to them. I did not resist at his offer, I just went along. Too exhausted to even think clearly by now. We walked past his lorry and he went in to take a new packet of tissue paper and offer them to me!

*surprised* such a sweet gesture. But at least I'm sure he understand the panic in my mind ha ha ha

We walked around and could not find anyone at all... sigh, we'll just have to keep the huge giant wardrobe in the room first before i can find another solution. (hope i wont get scolded for it... but at least I know i tried! +with alot of effort)

Just when we were talking to his delivery men downstairs about where to put the items, a cleaner boy came round the block!! Gasping with excitement, I pointed my hands out at the cleaner boy in delight! Immediately, 2nd delivery man took the boy by hands and started his negotiations! Real pro! I can treat him like an idol already!

YEAH, he got it sorted! *happiness*

Then we found a drawer FULL of things in the wardrobe during the dismantling process!

AIYO! I can feel blood shooting up my brains!

Made some phone calls and confirmed that they were NOT from the nasty woman (who obviously did not very please to have to answer a call from me). I could have just dumped them. At least I asked.

Well, no choice, gotta sort them through lor!

We had to reward the deliveryman with some drinks because they had to move the items up the stairs, items wont fit into the lift!

But we do NOT have drinks in the house!

*another curve ball*

2nd deliveryman went along with me to shops nearby to pick up some drinks & also get the change I need to pay him. Good!

When I was almost back to the house, I remembered my KEYS! AHHHHHHHHH

I rushed back downstairs, almost sprinting, because I was afraid that they would be closed!

True enough, from a distance, I could see that the gutters were down!

*siao liao*

*more sweat*

In my panic mode, I did not notice that the 2 ladies standing infront of the shop were the ones trying to close it. Because they were not there when I was there earlier. So I did not make any connections.

One of the ladies kept saying:"keys", to me and I thought that she was also looking for the key duplication service! ha ha ha

Turns out that they were worried about me too! And wanted to leave a note that my keys were with the saloon next door! So sweet hor! Neighborhood folks are like this, they care, they understand that people need certain things urgently. In corporations, they would just lock up and say come back tomorrow. Long live the kampong spirit!!

*phew* keys checked!

Finally, I can sit down and catch my breath when I reach the house I thought to myself.

When I got back, I asked the girls if things are okay and they replied that they are unable to clean the place without bleach. So I went back downstairs to get them the bleach that they wanted. More running, because the girls were scheduled to be with me for only 2hours, we are left with only 20mins leh!

Made it back after like 8mins because I had to hunt for the cheapest bleach! Its just chlrox afterall...

WOAH, what a difference chlrox made to the floor! What was grey when we stepped in, became WHITE!! The girls vacuumed, cleaned, mopped and mopped while I finally sat down and catch my breath.

We chatted and I found really amazing things with these two girls. Great people, cheerful with a clear aim of what they want in life. Fantastic!

I offered them a pair of free movie tickets which I cant find time to use and we took a walk back to my place together.

Yeah, my plans was to take a good shower, take an early dinner before heading for the handover.

As today is a day of curve balls. Plans would not usually go as planned.

After the shower, we headed back the house and found more works to be done. Okay, fix them.

With 30mins left to the handover, we locked up and headed down the stairs for the quick dinner at the coffeeshop nearby.

At the foot of our stairs, we met the folks who were early for the handover!!!

So we went back up again (with hunger + fatigue) and did the handover...

Finally had our dinner at 9pm!

Thankfully, no more curve balls during handover!

And we took a wonderful dinner together, bringing us a step closer together.

I realized that its easy to have misunderstandings with another person when we do not really KNOW the person. We may know their name, their job, their hobbies, their interests etc. But when it comes to making certain decisions, we may not necessary know their real reasons behind odd or unusual decisions unless we make the effort to understand their decisions first. Standing in their shoes, you can understand where they are coming from better and often, anger, frustrations from the misunderstanding can readily be dissolved away.

What a day!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle - Britains' God Talent

You've got to watch this!

Look out for Simon's face when he asked for her age + her response.

Check out the pretty face in the crowd before Susan sang.

Listen to the judges comments after... there's even tears if u look hard enough....

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7.59am Good Morning Singapore

Woke up unusually early today and in a surprisingly cheerful mood! ha ha ha

Good morning Singapore at 7.59am as with what ST does.

Found trash on my aircon condenser unit AGAIN! This time it wasnt banana skin but a big giant chunky of tissue paper!

I wonder what's with throwing tissue out of the window with these folks. Is it purely habitual or do they think that its more natural this way by returning the pulp of the trees back to the ground which hopefully decomposes as fertilizer to the soil?





Long day ahead, going to be meeting some of my favourite people today and some on the way to being my favourite hee...

So let's not let some tissue spoil our mood, its going to keep happening until we catch the notty person!

Its also the sports day for the school next to my place, lots of cheer in the air! Hip Hip Hooray!

Enjoy your day too!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

God is Good Good!

In the past few weeks, I have to deal with a lady with a pretty nasty temper.

The old me would fight, bite & yell back. But not the new me. The new me has Jesus's suffering in mind and just really want to be the better Christian that I was the day before.

So I listened, endured, reasoned and of course tried to stay out of her way as much as I can.

Finally, today came the last day of me having to deal with her. How I rejoiced!

Because now I have free reign to do whatever I want without the need to go through her (when I do have every right to in the first place, it was out of politeness that I asked).

I was told that she'll clear out of the venue before 11am today. So I made arrangements for someone to service the aircon after 11. When we arrived, it was already 1115am. Yet all her things were littered all over the house. *sigh*

Before I can exclaim "Oh My God!" I heard her voice in the corridor (along with her charcoal face):"You have to inform me BEFORE you come over!"

My response:"I was told that you'll be done by 11am." humbly, I showed the aircon man around to service the aircons. And I left her to wander around the house aimlessly waiting for the rain to stop before her movers can start moving her things.

Not sure if my presence does ignite some hunger pangs in her or what, for the 3rd time in a row, she started cooking in the kitchen! ha ha ha

While she ate in silence, I was happily in my own world enjoying my Avenue Q musical & indulging in a few Solitaire games (hee hee). Often with a chuckle because of a cheeky comment on the Avenue Q music album.

Yes, you can tell that I'm STILL trying to stay out of her way by sitting at a corner of the room furthest away from her or her belongings ha ha ha (inside my heart, I was praying so hard for me not to unleash the nasty side of me for the MESS that she's created in the house. I was praying to be the best Christian that I can be. Its especially tough because the "policewoman" in me looks at the wrongs and wants to put them to the RIGHT side.... ENDURE I kept reminding myself).

After a while, something must have struck her because she actually offered me a coffee!! WOAH!!

What a turn around!

Thank God for showing me how wonderful it can be to turn hearts around, soften the walls & show the rewards of grace all in 1 day!

Thank You God! *happy*

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Cathay Showtimes

Do you know that you NEED the internet to find out the movie screening times for the movies that have been screened for more than 3weeks?

The other way is perhaps to BE at the cinema itself to find out the show times.

So interesting that Cathay have used this method to reduce cost of publishing show times on newspapers.

I was trying hard to find the show times for "Confessions of a Shopaholic" only to find a tiny line with the name on Straits Times Life Section with NO indication of the cinema venue/showtimes.

Had to check them online!

What about those folks like my mama who dun use the internet but still want to go and watch a movie? Their good old trusty Straits Times is not going to provide this information to them anymore!

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Crossing Borders

I din have much chances to travel when I was a kid. I recall listening with amazement to my primary school friends who used to travel every holiday to different countries, disneyland, white winters in snow, skiing, sakura flowers. I was even more amused when some of my school mates would skip school just to go on holiday. Being young and innocent was a strong advantage then because I never really knew what I missed hee.

As I have more opportunities to cross the borders, I was fascinated by the rich and vast diversity of cultures out there! (we dun get travel & living programs at home till 5yrs ago...)

I was impressed by how smart the Romans were, to build towns, cities, ports, libraries (with underground links to brothels), colosseums, even public toilets with proper sewage systems. All these were built more than 3000years ago! How clever they were!

I was awed by what man can do, building all the magnificent architectures all around the world.

Some experiences remain stuck with me for a long time like experiencing a turkish bath. Hee... you sit in a steam room to sweat it out until you cannot tahan anymore, then you jump into an ultra-chilling cold shower and back into the steam room again, jump into the cold shower again. Repeat at least 3 times. This process opens the pores on your skin and allows the dirt/toxins to be perspired out of your body. The cold shower helps to close the pores ( I think). Next you lay down on cold marble slab about the height of a chair and a huge turkish man will rub you with a foamy sponge. He will scrub and scrub you front & back until you can see the white foams change into slightly greyish foam (white+dirt=grey). Then he'll rinse you down with spring water. Feeling totally refreshed and 100% clean. It was such a treat!

More than 15yrs ago, when my parents decide to bring me to Lake Toba along with their friends and friend's kids. We were brought to a village on the island where they have unusual burial practices or rather, they do not bury the dead until the corpse is totally decomposed! We were brought to a special forest that had some species of the trees which absorbs the bad odour from a decomposing corpse. So when we were there with the guide explaining to us the varies degrees of decomposition, we were not infused by bad odour at all. I recall being fascinated by the various states of decomposition of the corpse and after about 1 month or so, when all the flesh/proteins are ingested away, leaving behind the skeleton, the family will return to collect the remains of the corpse. And do a proper burial for that family member. I can still recall how the corpse were neatly place in rows for the decomposition process.

Many other wonderful traveling experiences were made up of interacting with the drivers, stall holders, service staff of the restaurants, hotels, cab rides, museum attendants that we visit. The first hand interaction with the locals gives us a good sense of the culture of the place. The Italians are crazy drivers but totally polite on buses/trains, they will give their seats to any ladies. The French loves to sit outdoors to enjoy the sunshine and a good wine. The American meal can easily feed 2 Asians any time. The Thais are so polite and friendly with their gestures.

These are true first hand experiences of the people that makes up the cultural experiences for a traveller.

With the increase in foreign talent-scouting, can we say that Singapore is giving our tourist a true-blue first hand experience in Singapore? I walk into our Orchard Road malls, its flooded by service staff from neighboring countries who at times have difficulty understanding english. I try to ask about the discounts offered in Giordano (in Suntec City) and was greeted by "可以說華語嗎?" Instantly, I felt as if I am not in Singapore! Our first language in school is english, how come I cannot speak that in our own malls to ask a basic question in the shop? In almost all the service centers that I've been to for the past 6months, I have yet to be served by a Singaporean. We are talking about Starhub, M1, Sony Ericsson etc.

Even the hawker centers are now flocked with foreign talents, I get ultra salty fish soup from more than 1 food stall wondering if I'm actually tasting overseas version of our local delight. I find it really weird to imagine that I'll be eating prata prepared by a non-indian, can we really say that its one of our favorite indian cuisine if its no longer prepared by our Indian friends?

This phenomena does not limit itself to within our shores, when I was in Guangzhou a few years ago. My relatives who were native folks there shared that they can no longer place their orders for food in cantonese (native dialect in Guangzhou, China) because most of the service staff that works in restaurants are no longer native folks of Guangzhou. These service staff comes from other parts of China with little comprehension of the Cantonese language so hence part of the culture of ordering food in Guangzhou was lost. Its pretty different experience to order dim sum like xiao long bao, har kao, siew mai, lor mai kai etc in Mandarin. Part of the fun of ordering food in dim sum places is in the use of Cantonese itself as we do not have much opportunity to use it in Sg. So you can imagine our immense disappointment.

When we were in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we were lured by the travel agents to visit the elephant reserves along with the visits to the tribal villages of the Long Necks and Big Ears. So thrilled to visit the natives of the rural outskirts, we had to wait till our necks were long for this part of the itinerary as its the last bit before we head back to our hotel. What was disgusting about the "visit" was that these "tribal folks" are not thais! They belong to tribes outside of the Thai border. They were the foreign talents lured by monetary rewards to display their native practices of inserting metal rings around their necks as a sign of beauty and enlarging their ear lobes by wearing heavy earrings (2 separate tribes). The "village" is a poor attempt to mock their homes with attap houses built on stilts, their tribal clothes were like uniform to them. Those who were not "on-duty" that day wore normal tee-shirt & jeans like any regular folks. What was worse is that they were not allowed to leave the premises on their own, almost like a form of imprisonment!

The benefit of these foreign employment is beneficial to the business owners as it reduces their operational cost for manpower. However, it totally removed the joy of interaction with a native for a tourist. We are unable to fully immerse in the culture of the place. Which leads me to my next question:

What's the point of traveling?

When my prata is no longer flipped by an Indian man in his sari?

When my dim sum is not ordered in Cantonese?

When my sushi is not prepared by a Japanese Chef?

When its just a job for them and not a passion of sharing the rich culture of the place?

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I wanna file my taxes!

For a long time, I did not have to file my own taxes due to super efficient systems for the organizations that I work in.

So this year, I get the "luxury" of filing my own taxes, after digging up the dust filled pins that I would need to do e-filing, I got this message:



*bleah*

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

99 Balloons

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Fireman in the neighborhood!

I was heading towards the bus stop at the end of my block of flats when I noticed some blue/red flashing lights in a distance. With some curiosity, I walked at a faster pace to check out the "flashing".

Just in time to catch two young fireman at the lift lobby, anxiously pressing on the lift buttons to get it to come down for them.

I'm relieved that at least it cannot be a case of fire in the block as we are not advised to the the lift when there's fire right? In addition, they were all suited up in fireman uniform but did not carry any hose or other equipment with them, so less likely that its fire again. *phew*

Cant be anyone trapped in the lift either since all 3 lifts are functioning and no sound of the alarm bell.

I approached them to share with them that there are two other lifts half a platform higher available for their use (since they are urgently trying to get somewhere right?)

They turned around and asked if the lift serves a particular unit (the unit was indicated on a metal information plate next to the lift), so I told them that it should be in the block. Logic told me that it cannot be in the other two blocks in the row.

The two young firemen quickly went up the flight of stairs and popped into the lift with grateful smiles and thanked me. :) Nice teeth!!

My closest encounter with firemen. My they certainly look young & very strong!! *evil wink*

Thankfully, as I walked by the letterbox, I noted the unit number that they were asking about... *phew* they did go up the right block of flats!!

Hope all's well up stairs, i did not see any dangling legs from windows, so its unlikely that there's a suicide either... now I'm very curious to find out what brought the two young firemen to our neighborhood.

Hmm.... what can it be?

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day 2nd May 2009!

Hello hello,

This is a shameless publicity stunt from our group who is going to run a stall selling Galatica Kaya Toast!! Along with Intergalatic cookies + books + limited edition bags!

Photo opportunities with some famous troops!

Relaxing music will be played at our stall composed & written by our two of our stall holders! (see if you can guess who they are when you visit our stall!) Albums available at our booth! Look for Starfish Stories!

here's more details:

Assisi Hospice Charity Fun Day promises to be a fun-filled event with over 100 stalls serving up all kinds of food, fruits and wacky games. Co-organised by City Developments Ltd and City Building Management, this long-awaited event will be held on

Date: 2 May 2009 (Saturday as 1 May is a public holiday and can rest on Sunday)
Time: 10am to 5pm
Venue: St Joseph Institution INTERNATIONAL (same venue last year)
Target: $500,000
Sale of Coupons: @ $10 each available from February 2009

SJI International is located next to the SLF & MCYS Buildings or opposite the Singapore Polo Club & Police Academy at Thomson Road.

With the impending economic crisis, we need your help MORE than ever and we are determined to work harder for the benefit of our patients. The Charity Fun Day needs more supporters this year to meet our financial needs.
Admission to Charity Fun Day is free. To purchase items or participate in stall games, however, please obtain the tickets, which are priced at $10 per sheet. Tickets are now available at the hospice and can also be purchased at SJI International on the day of the event, 2 May 2008.

Click here to go to Assisi Hospice Home

Here's last year's experience at the Fun Day by Otterman & Lekowala.

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