Coronavirus Updates

Lessons on love from giving out 6,000 cups of ice cream

by Gracia Chiang // March 12, 2020, 5:03 pm

Ice cream hospital - feat 3

It may seem frivolous when compared to care packages stocked with hand sanitisers, health supplements and surgical masks, but what if showing love to others during this COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t require any of these, but a small treat that will simply make someone smile?

For one young church ministry staff, two trips to the frontlines have impressed on him the importance of being open-minded.

Sharing how his church arranged for freezers full of Udders ice cream to be delivered to healthcare workers in the A&E departments, Joshua Tang, 31, said they had first reached out to the hospital administrators to ask how they could support them during this time.

The request? Ice cream!

RETHINKING WHAT LOVE IN ACTION MEANS

Collaborating with local ice cream store Udders who provided a discounted rate for this initiative, Christ Methodist Church (CMC) arranged for 4,000 cups of ice cream to be prepared for frontliners at Tan Tock Seng Hospital/National Centre for Infectious Diseases (TTSH) and 2,000 cups for Changi General Hospital (CGH).

Christ Methodist Church staff with frontliners from Tan Tock Seng Hospital. From left: Joshua Tang, Ministry Executive for Community Outreach; Samuel Choo, Ministry Executive for Youth Ministry; Rev Dianna Khoo, Pastor; Dr Ang Hou, Head of A&E Department; Dr Audrey Tham, A&E doctor

“All our initiatives stem from meeting a need in the community and this project is no different! There was a need for encouragement and joy,” said Joshua, who is CMC’s Ministry Executive for Community Outreach.

“Love in action means meeting the needs of others – in their hunger, thirst, discouragement, weariness, loneliness, etc – and in this case ice cream.”

Not that he minds. The self-professed ice cream lover completely understands why a simple cup of ice cream can be comfort food for the weary soul.  

He recounted: “The reminder to the Church is that the needs of others comes in many forms, and that if we are to meet them, then we also have to stay open-minded… even if it means buying ‘frivolous’ things like ice cream!”

Members of Christ Methodist Church penned their notes of encouragement to healthcare workers in both Changi General Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

CMC Pastor, Rev Dianna Khoo, added that the church had been in talks with Micah Singapore on ways to love the community during these trying times.

TTSH and CGH were chosen because they were the two nearest public hospitals to the church. The flavours sponsored were chendol and cookies and cream. 

She also shared that because small businesses are struggling, CMC decided to partner another ice cream store nearby to offer the same complimentary treat to healthcare workers within their own congregation. The Humble Scoop is sponsoring 50 cups and giving the church a discounted rate for the remaining 50 cups.

“People always say when you think of ice cream, you think of it as a happy food!” she quipped.

OVERCOMING FEARS TO BE A BLESSING

When asked if he was fearful about going to the hospitals because of the health risks, Joshua said: “Of course I did! I think the main concern was not contracting COVID-19, but that I might end up spreading it to others.”

He pointed out that the pandemic situation was a reminder of our finiteness and mortality, of how we are “often left feeling helpless in our fallen world”.

“But knowing that I was going to bring happy food that could potentially give someone a boost removed all reservations. I was really happy to be getting out of the office and putting love into action!” declared Joshua. 

What if there’s a disease much more lethal than COVID-19?

Ultimately, Joshua said what gave him a lot of satisfaction was seeing how the cups of ice cream and words of encouragement that were delivered to the hospital staff made them smile.

Some had also sent him text messages and photos of people enjoying the dessert.

Changi General Hospital’s (CGH) A&E staff with their cups of Udders ice cream. Photo courtesy of CGH.

SEEING HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN A NEW LIGHT

Sharing that he appreciated getting to meet these healthcare heroes in person, Joshua revealed that the experience gave him a fresh perspective on their working conditions and what they had to go through.

He said: “They have to man multiple temperature-taking and contact-tracing stations, and increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting common areas. They even have to wear scrubs now instead of their usual uniforms.

“We also saw healthcare workers having their packed lunches in their rest areas when they are able to catch a short break instead of having the luxury of enjoying their meals in the food courts or eateries.”

“There were times when I felt like giving up, but COVID-19 taught me to press on,” says ER doctor

Despite their longer hours and busier shifts, Joshua said what left the deepest impression was how the frontline staff could still smile as they savoured their treat, which goes to show that kind gestures (yes, even the humble ice cream) can go a long way in cheering others on.

He said: “I realise that I have been guilty of taking the healthcare workers for granted. They answer their calling as healthcare workers on a daily basis and not just in times of COVID-19 or SARS. That is something we forget – that they care for thousands on a daily basis.”

As a next step, the church is also exploring how they can reach out to bless migrant workers as well as other initiatives they can embark on for the rest of the year to encourage members to be a neighbour to those around them.

“COVID-19 or not, we should be showing our appreciation for others on a more regular basis. It does not have to be a fancy gift, but it can begin with a simple thank you or a smile… This was a timely reminder not to take one another for granted,” said Joshua.

THINK + TALK

  1. What does loving your neighbour look like during this COVID-19 pandemic?
  2. Have you allowed fear to stand in the way of being a witness of Christ’s love?
  3. How can you bring joy to someone today?
About the author

Gracia Chiang

Gracia used to chase bad news. Now she shares Good News. A journalist by training, Gracia is thankful that she gets to use her gift of writing as the managing editor of Thir.st. With a husband who is also in full-time ministry, they are always amazed at how God provides for their family of four.