Welfare

ADDING LIFE TO DAYS

Oct 2009    

Volunteering with Agape Methodist Hospice: An outreach of Methodist Welfare Services

“I ONCE FAINTED at the sight of my own blood, so I would have been the last person to volunteer at any kind of medical facility. Just thinking of the tubes and needles that are part and parcel of the work makes my stomach turn.

Yet God kept bringing it to my mind. en, He made it extremely easy for me to sign up as a volunteer at Agape Methodist Hospice (AMH). AMH is located exactly where my daughter’s kindergarten is. I didn’t know there was a “mobile” hospice until I walked through the doors of AMH, and found, not rows of patients, but a welcoming smile. My interest in volunteering was welcomed and encouraged, even though I had zero experience with tubes and wheelchairs.

I was prepared to be assigned to the paperwork team, seeing that hospice work is really a specialised ministry. However, early this year, I was assigned to cheerful 92-year-old Madam Choy. She was thoughtful of others and practical in her approach to life. During the months when her body was stronger, she would tell me many stories of her past – her work experiences, her culinary skills, how she met her husband, and the men who courted her! I was touched that she so readily accepted me into her life.

It was also encouraging working with the AMH nurse Florence, who patiently answered my frequent “first-timer” questions regarding patient or hospice work.

One of my apprehensions about hospice work was not being able to speak other languages or dialects. Madam Choy was fluent in Malay, many Chinese dialects and knew some Mandarin. However, my initiation to dialects never happened because my mother introduced the “Speak Mandarin” Campaign in our home before the Government did! There were times when I could not recall a dialect word to express myself but Madam Choy was always patient with me, waiting for me to squeeze out the relevant word. Sometimes we simply looked at each other and laughed at my ineptitude. Such an angel was Madam Choy that when she passed away, even the nurses at the Assisi Hospice (where she was eventually admitted) cried.

Lessons learnt

Thanks to dear Madam Choy, I learnt some valuable lessons: my Hokkien improved (I now sing some Hokkien hyms quite well) and my knowledge of Singapore’s public bus services is now very good. My four-year-old has learnt the difference between a hospice and a hospital. My pre-teen and teens have learnt that Mummy is not available between noon and 1.30 pm on weekdays, and that there is another Christian ministry, which is AMH, that has almost the same initials as our church, Agape Methodist Church (AMC).

My husband is supportive of my ministry at AMH and has ferried me on occasions. He himself visits hospital patients. Thank you, Agape Methodist Hospice, for the much-needed ministry you provide to a segment of Singapore that the healthy rarely gets to see, and for being the visible face of Jesus to those who are about to meet Him .’’

Mrs Grace Foo and other like-minded volunteers befriend the patients under AMH’s care, supporting them through their treatment, and giving caregivers much-needed emotional support and advice. Together with the medical team, which helps to alleviate the patients’ pain and other distressing symptoms, they aim to journey with those who have life-limiting illnesses to a graceful and dignified end.

According to the Singapore Hospice Council website, about 70 per cent of people with terminal illnesses are dying without hospice palliative care in Singapore. Efforts to counter that include Hospice Awareness Week (Oct 3-10, 2009) activities. Find out more at www. singaporehospice.org.sg

Grace Foo is a volunteer with Agape Methodist Hospice. Agape Methodist Hospice is looking for volunteers to join its ministry. If you would like to serve in this ministry, or to make a donation, please call 6478-4766 or email admin@amh.mws.org.sg

OBITUARY: EUGENE McGRAW, May 17, 1909 – July 6, 2009

Remembered as missionary, teacher and principal

obituary

METHODIST MISSIONARY Rev Eugene McGraw, known in Malaysia by his nickname as “Mac”, passed away on July 6, 2009 at the age of 100. He is survived by his brother Glenn, his daughter Bonnie, his son, Paul, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.

He had come out to Malaya in 1937, and served exclusively in Malaysia, where he is remembered as a teacher and principal of Methodist schools in Sitiawan, Sibu, Malacca and Penang until he retired in 1971. He also served as District Superintendent in Sibu, and pastor of the Wesley churches in Taiping and Sitiawan.

The oldest in a family of four boys, “Mac” grew up on the small family farm and developed practical skills which he used to augment the family’s modest means. He was able to attend Earlham College only because he was offered a small scholarship and a part-time job while living at home on the farm. He majored in Physics and Bible Studies with the highest grades in his class.

His theological training was taken at the Oberlin Graduate School of Theology which offered him a three-year tuition scholarship with a part-time job as cafeteria chaplain enabling him to complete his studies.

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