I can hear the fireworks going off here and there outside of our apartment. It was nice to have a bit of snow, not much but enough to make the kids happy. In a short while, we’ll be sitting down together sharing about what has been significant highlights for us this year. Gareth and Elysia and Mummy all have drafted their thoughts. I have scribbled some note and invite you to count the blessings one by one with me.
In fact, there’s too much to share, so I’ve decided to pick one main theme for each month, and throw in some commentary.
JANUARY – Farewell Bangsar Lutheran Church
Well, in many ways it wasn’t a total cut-off with a “Good bye, I won’t ever see you again!” moment. But, it was a month of officially handing over, and doing everything I could to pass on Bangsar Lutheran Church (BLC) to new leadership.
It was not easy, but in hindsight ‘necessary’ for BLC and for me. Though BLC will always be part of my own journey, and I hope that I’ve contributed in a way that will always be part of BLC’s story, but there’s a time for everything, and this is a season for us all to grow.
FEBRUARY – Hello, University of Agder
After landing in Kristiansand early February on the 4th Day of Chinese New Year, I was then immediately plunged into the first portion of the 15ECTS big PhD Scientific Theory and Method course. University of Agder (UiA) has now become the main arena where I will spend a solid three years of my life doing this PhD in Religion, Ethics and Society.
It was good to be a full-time student again. But more importantly, it began this season of just being ‘Sivin Kit’ as the starting point. Even if it’s closely linked to moving from Sivin the ‘Pastor’ (and other things people call me ) to the ‘PhD Stipendiat’, for me it really hit me that it’s just me, nothing more and nothing less.
Another new beginning.
MARCH – Kristiansand, My Second Home
The orientation of the PhD program and settling into the Institute of Religion, Philosophy and History was one aspect. The other major aspect was the simple and yet important matters ranging from basic social security matters to looking for an apartment for the Kit Family.
This was also the first time I have been away from May Chin and the kids for so long, i.e. from February to middle of April. I thank God for SKYPE. Terima Kasih to SKYPE too. We survived!
APRIL – Velkommen, Anja!
The event of the year for the Kit family will be Anja’s arrival on Monday April 18. We even chose our 4th child and 2nd girl a Nordic name to mark this ‘surprise’ blessing to our family. In a way, she’s also symbolic of learning to ‘do it or ‘start’ all over gain.
She’s indeed a blessing to the other siblings too. Elysia is especially happy to have another girl in the family. Gareth is shown more qualities as No.1 (as I call him!). Ewan now is demonstrating more and more than he’s not just the ‘Di Di’ (younger brother in Chinese), but is learning how to be a bigger brother too.
MAY – Big Move
I will never forget somehow managing the hand luggage together with the kids, while May Chin was pushing Anja on the stroller, and her mom helping us as we flew from KLIA through Schipol, Amsterdam and landed to Kjevik Airport in Kristiansand. It was a massive undertaking especially going through security.
The Kids were exceptional through the flights, and I’m ever so thankful that even though Anja couldn’t get a ‘basket’, she actually got her own seat!!! These are times that you really sit up and count this blessing!
We were also welcomed by a wonderful Norwegian couple whom have now become also very close to the family. I think they are ‘angels’ send to make sure we’re okay.
JUNE – The Kit Family Orientation
I was advised to bring the family during summer rather than winter. I agree it was the right thing to do. Furthermore, school would only start later in August, so the Kit Kids had the chance to relax a bit and just settle in and get used to the environment.
We were also busy getting ‘details’ sorted out for the whole Kit Family, and that’s additional energy especially with a very young baby Anja, and her three energetic elder brothers and sister! I survived!
JULY – Neuendettelsau, Oslo and Utøya
It was good to have this chance to return to Neuendettelsau. In my former life as a pastor, I have been there for a summer school and later used as the base for a 28 day Preaching-Teaching Program traveling through Bavaria. This time it was as a resource person.
Now looking back on what I shared on, especially the experiences from Malaysia, and some reflections based on that, I realize more and more the ‘raw’ material from there is the heartbeat of my PhD project. The sharing and interaction there reminds me of the ‘fire’ in the bones of my current work.
July 22 will be an unforgettable day for Norway. The bombing at Oslo and killing spree at the island of Utøya shocked all of us. We never imagined anything like this could happen in a nation known for peace and tranquility. But then again, evil and tragedy is not rational neither is it predictable.
AUGUST- ‘Religion, Values and Society’ Summer School
One thing I’ve been very fortunate is the timing and sequence of the courses I’ve done so far. After the big course on theory and method, this was the second smaller but significant course I signed up for. This is where I had to learn to me more ‘cool’ headed to revisit the ‘glasses’ I’m wearing. So, while the ‘fire’ in the bones was important to keep one motivated and energized, a certain ‘coolness’ is needed to know what and where to look at, and how I am looking, and what are the adjustments needed to ‘see’ clearer and better.
The extra bonus is of course relational, and never did I imagine that at least in one case it was also very crucial for my project. I can foresee more that will come out from my time at Metochi Study Centre, Lesbos.
SEPTEMBER – Norwegian Course Begins
While May Chin and I have been doing our own self-learning, finally I decided to go for evening classes twice a week that lasted till December. I can’t claim to be conversant in Norwegian yet. But the classes most surely have helped me grasped the basics in which I can build on at my own pace.
It was not easy at times, as I was quite exhausted during the classes and especially after 8 hours at the university. But again, I survived, and learnt more than Norwegian. My eyes were opened to see how others are learning how to ‘fit in’ in little Norway. And there were also other lessons of life that somehow invaded some one like me who often loves to reflect on the ‘raw material’ everyday experience.
OCTOBER – Revised Proposal Submitted, Direction Decided
I felt good when my two supervisors felt that we have a good basis to work on for the project. Decisions had to be made, and I made them. Some decisions are more tentative and revisable but at least now it’s all spelt out clearer and achievable, and at least valuable not just for myself but beyond myself and even Malaysia.
Nothing grand or earth shattering, but this is what’s going to occupy me day and night for three years. The clock is ticking, and at least I know where I’m going, or better, where I will not go.
NOVEMBER – the Return to USA
The last time I visited USA was in 1996 after I graduated from seminary. So, it’s somewhat interesting for me to return during my first year of the PhD Program. The main occasion was the American Academy of Religion (AAR) meeting. A bonus I managed to attend earlier was the Society of Anglican and Lutheran (SALT) meeting which had a great theme on Christian-Muslim relations that I thought was timely.
Other blessings were time with my Aunt (who housed me thus savings on lodging!) and time with cousins and their family. It was especially significant for me to have had the chance to spend thanksgiving and extra time with my ‘mentor’ and his wife. SKYPE is great, and amazing, but nothing beats a face to face encounter. We are more than a face on a screen!
DECEMBER – ‘God Jul!’
Anja was baptized on December 4th. This also marked our bond with the faith community across the road, as well as our own ‘baptism’ into this new adventure not just for me, but for everyone.
This Christmas was also the first time our family was the center of our celebration for a change. We still did the normal church stuff, e.g. May Chin and Anja was ‘Mary and Baby Jesus’ for 3 days, Elysia sang in the girls choir. And space doesn’t permit the new experiences we have had, e.g., our first traditional Norwegian family dinner, but for this season, for this time, it was good for us, and for me to just ‘Be’.
Godt Nytt År!