After more almost eight years in Singapore the highly respected Danish chaplain Hans Vestergaard Jensen and his wife Anne Hviid have said goodbye to Danish Seamen’s Church in Singapore and hello to Denmark, where they will live a lot closer to the rest of the family, not to forget “the worlds nicest” grandchild.
The first of July Hans Vestergaard Jensen begin the next chapter of his life on another “small” island namely Jegindø, Jutland, Denmark.
A new chaplain for the Danish Seamen’s Church on Pender Road in Singapore will be appointed in the early autumn.
But in the middle of the goodbyes to Hans Vestergaard Jensen and his wife Anne Hviid, the Danish colony get the opportunity to say hello once again to the very first chaplain of the Church, Ronald Pedersen, who has taken a break from his retirement to give a helping hand to the Danish Church.
Chaplains come and go, it’s a part of the lives of the Danes in Singapore and other countries in The Far East. But for many reasons Hans Vestergaard Jensen was not just another vicar. His open and friendly, “why make it complicated” manner made him outstanding and difficult to forget. He was always there for the congregation in happy as well as in difficult times.
In total, Hans and Anne have been abroad for more than 27 years. Their very first assignment was as a seamen’s chaplain in Antwerp, where they stayed from 1977 to 1982, followed by three years at the Hans Egede Church on Vesterbro in Copenhagen.
Then they did their so far longest haul, 13 years in Hong Kong, which culminated with the hand-over of the colony from Britain to China.
The next job was back in Denmark on the island of Bornholm in the middle of the Baltic Sea. Here the couple stayed for four years. At the same time he was involved in the preparations for the merging of the Danish churches abroad and the seamen’s Missions.
Suddenly the position as a chaplain at the Church in Singapore was available. Hans Vestergaard Jensen and his wife were pretty keen on going abroad again before they were going to be too old, so they jumped at the chance.
Hans Vestergaard and Anne Hviid Jensen arrived in Singapore in December 2002.
Even though Hans Vestergaard was employed and resided in Singapore, the new seamen’s Centre in Pelapas Malaysia took up much of his and the staffs’ energy.
To day almost eight years later the centre is a fantastic international success.
To years after the chaplain and his wife arrived to the safe “harbour” Singapore, the disaster knocked on the door. The Tsunami hit most of the region on 26. Of December.
The Danish Chaplain had just said goodbye after a Christmas service and a very lively Christmas party, when the phones went crazy.
The very next day Hans Vestergard Jensen was in Phuket, coping with people who were hit by the disaster.
It was a rough experience for the Danish Chaplain. But so it was for the people who were victims of the disaster. Four months later Hans Vestergaard Jensen met many of the people from the Tsunami disaster again at the Danish Tsunami Memorial Service 16 April in Khao Lak.
Hans has often told, how he as a young man dreamt of becoming a fisherman or a sailor, but unfortunately got terribly seasick, so in the end he became the next best thing, a seamen’s chaplain.
Now it is times to become the very best thing, a chaplain on another small island but this time closer to his only grandchild.