Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Letter for My Son

Dear Lyle,

While i write this, you are already sleeping. You are not able to read yet, but i will write anyway with the hope that you will read it someday.

Tomorrow (October 18th, 2014) is a very special day for me and your mommy. It is your very first birthday. It is a testimony of how God has been so good and faithful to us as a family.

Mommy is pregnant!
Time really flies… I still remember how excited we were to find out that your mommy was pregnant! It was March 5th, 2014, in Bandung while we were having a short holiday with your Uncle Daniel Tong. He was the first person to know about Mommy’s pregnancy.  

I also still remember the ritual we did almost every night (if we didn’t do it, it was usually my fault… You can ask Mommy about it.) during your nine-month stay in Mommy’s womb. We spent time talking to you, telling you about how our days went. Honestly, i sometimes found it stupid. What motivated me again and again was realizing that someone (not something!) was alive inside my wife’s womb! It was our child! The “fruit” of our love! God’s precious gift!

I also read biblical passages to you. My favorites were Psalm 139:13-18 and Jeremiah 1:4-10,19. You should read them. And we also sang for you every night. I and mommy have our own special lullaby for you. Mommy chose a Tagalog song entitled "Ikaw". I chose a song composed by my former lecturer, Dr. Lim Swee Hong. It was the Lord’s Prayer made into a beautiful song. It was our hope that your life would exemplify this magnificent prayer.

Whatsapp message from Metty
The day you were born was extremely memorable. I was accompanying your Mommy inside the delivery room. While she was in severe pain, i received a Whatsapp message from my junior in Perkantas Jabar, Tante Metty. This was her message, “Bang Andre… Apa kabar? Bang, aku menghubungi Abang untuk nanya adakah yang bisa kami doakan untuk Abang?” What a super timely message! You call it a coincidence? Perhaps... But i prefer calling it a beautifully predestined coincidence! Ha! I was thrilled to know that a lot of people inside and outside the country were praying for you and Mommy. 

And you know what? You didn't come out the usual way. You didn't cry. In fact, you were not breathing for almost 30 seconds! It had to be because your umbilical cord was wrapped around your neck twice. Thank God, the nurses (God through them!) were able to revive you. And when they put you on the bed, your very first pose was a praying pose; you clasped your hands! Dr. Vivi, Mommy's gynecologist, remarked, “Lihat tuh. Dia berdoa; anak pak pendeta.” And I was most thrilled when your Uncle Peter Pang eventually made me realize that October 18th, 2013 was World Student Day! It was an annual celebration of all that God was doing through International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES [Perkantas]), amongst students around the world. It was a time to pray for student ministry around the world. It was our prayer that you would be involved in student ministry, preferably in Perkantas or IFES around the world for sure, in some ways someday.

Some people had been asking us what the meaning of your name is. I'm proud to say, I'm the one fully responsible for your name. Ha! It was Mommy and Daddy's deal. Since Mommy wanted to know your gender, I got to chose your name. (I gave her the right to give you a nickname though. Ha! Hence, Lyle. It doesn't have any relation to your real name; maybe the sound, but it was simply because Gamaliel is too long.) Gamaliel is a Hebrew name. It means “reward of God”. I chose the name after Gamaliel, the great teacher of Apostle Paul. He was a teacher held in honor by all the people of his days (Acts 5:34). What we admired most was his wisdom in dealing with the Jews in Acts 5:17-40. Read it up. According to tradition, he eventually became a Christian. It was our prayer that you would be a wise churchman.

Danilo was actually given later. It was “Daniel” in Tagalog. I chose to add that name as a remembrance of your Uncle Daniel Tong. In March 2013, he planned to come to visit us without knowing that he would be the first person to know about your presence in Mommy’s womb. And in October 2013 he booked his ticket without knowing that he would meet you in person! Your due date was actually Nov 9th. Uncle Daniel planned to visit us before Mommy gave birth. But you were born on Oct 18th to welcome him! But not only that. Let the name “Daniel” remind you of Daniel of the Old Testament. He was a man of integrity par excellence. He was a God-fearing statesman. It was our prayer that you would follow his steps. May your life be a blessing not only to the Church, but also to the state wherein you would reside. Btw, Daniel means “God is my judge”. May you always remember this. At the end of the day, your life will be judged not by what people say about you, but what God will say about you. 
Welcome to the world, Gamaliel! 

For you to remember your root, we also gave you Chinese and Ifontok names.  李金恩 (English pronunciation: Lee Kim En) is your Chinese name.  While means “gold, precious”, means “grace, mercy”. Put together, they mean “precious grace”. Your Ifontok name, Falingway, was given by your lolo (grandfather). It was the name of your lolo’s grandfather’s brother. It was a common practice in Ifontok culture to name a child after someone’s name (the elders) in the clan. May this remind you that you will always live in a community and be a part of it. Love and respect your family.

Last but not least, a blessed happy birthday, son! We are so thankful that you are surrounded by God-fearing uncles and aunties in Christ. It is our prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. We love you, son… 

With much love and prayer,
Mommy and Daddy

PS: If you wonder why i wrote in English, it is to remind you that it is the language that has brought me and your Mommy together. It is the lingua franca of the day. 
A few minutes after mommy gave birth

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