I was treated like rock royalty on my recent holiday to Singapore and Malaysia.
Everyone was at my beck and call, eager to take my sister and me around for a tour of town.
While we were in Singapore, friends and acquaintances would either sacrifice their evenings or willingly take days off so they could show us around the island nation.
In Malaysia, we were taken on road trips to a little village that was famed for its coconut shakes and relatives took us to various local cafés and restaurants round-the-clock.
Okay, I lie. No one was at our beck and call, and we had spent most of our time sheltering in one of the many mega malls that Singapore is known for, hiding from the humidity that greeted us the moment we stepped out of the building. But what struck me most about our two-week vacation was how hospitable the people were, as some of them were only friends of a friend. So there really was no reason for them to entertain my sister and me, and I wouldn’t have expected them to.
Our reason for visiting Singapore and Malaysia was because we were invited to a wedding in Malaysia, but I decided we could also use the time to call in on Singapore.
In Singapore, I had wanted to meet the fellow writers of YMI, an online youth arm of the American-based Our Daily Bread Ministries, where I have been volunteering my writing for the last two years.
Until I had arrived in Singapore, I have never actually met any of the YMI writers, and most of our correspondences were via emails.
I was immediately overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity the team showed us, and I asked myself, “Why would anyone go out of their way to entertain strangers?”
It was a question I continued to ponder long after returning from my Southeast Asian holiday. One day, it dawned on me that that was easily one of the best ways we can extend or show our love to the people around us. The Bible encourages us to love one another (John chapter 13, verse 34), and I often think “loving one another” means tolerating annoying people and doing the odd charity donation every now and then.
However, I have now realised loving one another can also mean being a gracious host, be it to our nosey, pesky relatives or to acquaintances, connected to us via a friend of a friend of a friend—you get what I mean. Because, you see, it takes a lot of effort to be a warm and generous host. How much easier would it be to ply someone with a map and the app of a bus or train timetable, and to blather on about which tourist attraction they should or should not go to. But it requires going the extra mile to take time off work, to plan for an outing, to consider which tourist or off-the-beaten track attractions you’d like to show your visitors.
My family and I have lived in New Zealand for 16 years and over the years, we have had relatives coming to visit this beautiful country of ours. Depending on our guests’ preference, a holiday tour with the Ong family includes the stock standard trip to Rotorua, followed with a two-night stay in Taupo (but it’s only because I love Taupo and Huka Falls is simply a dream).
The Bible also says we mustn’t forget to entertain strangers as we could unknowingly be entertaining angels (Hebrews chapter 13, verse 2), and I believe this extends beyond buying lunch for a homeless person, or helping a disabled person cross the road. After all, angels can come in many forms, and it could be the next random person you have taken out on a holiday around your beautiful country.
Michele Ong is a former regional news journalist with a passion to be a voice for the marginalised and disenfranchised. Writing is as essential to her as breathing and she believes words contain life, which is to be used to inspire, inform, and influence readers. Michele attends Auckland's City Impact Church with her family on the North Shore.
Michele's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/michele-ong.html