The Culture of Christian Leadership

Recently a number of friends have been telling me about how they found it unhelpful to be pressured into becoming a leader for certain ministries in their respective churches or other Christian organizations and circles. It was hearing about these attitudes being passed around by Christians which made me reflect on the nature of Christian leadership in our culture, and how at times it seems to be steadily deviating from the picture of the leadership that the Bible paints. Note that I am in particular talking about my experiences in my home city; and they may not necessarily reflect the Christian culture in other parts of the world.

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Final Year

So at long last I’m heading into my (supposed) final year at university. And once again the dynamics of how my week runs changes; so I suppose I should update most people (who are) on what entails my life for this year, and specifically this semester.

____________________

 

University

This final year might actually be a bit easier than last year (though to be fair last year was the hardest of my uni career). My Actuarial course for this semester is 1 of 2 non-mathematical courses I will need to complete this year. That is a huge surprise since everyone does expect my course to be nothing but maths; instead it’s exactly the opposite. The course is about thinking through the theoretical issues behind what we do with the maths. Rather than teach us more maths, we need to be taught how to use them in the workplace; so I guess it’s a more practical course although we only deal with case scenarios in the course. Strangely, the lecturer runs the course as a student interaction class. He doesn’t provide much notes and doesn’t want us taking notes. Rather, he wants us to be giving input during class and having us all think through the same topic and add to each other’s understanding. It’s different to other courses I guess and may prove to be more interesting than others since it’s being run differently. It will still be hard since we don’t actually have any notes for any exam discussion questions (yes, no more maths in the exams for this course haha).

 

My other two math courses are third year subjects which so far appear to be easier than last year’s math courses; hopefully they stay that way. My last course is a second year finance course which if done in second year would be considered extremely difficult. But doing it in fourth year, and also after doing an Actuarial course last semester that was EXACTLY like it, this finance course should pose no challenge for me too. Of course the last time I acted arrogantly towards a course in this way, I didn’t do that great; but that’s probably due to the fact that I didn’t study for it, knowing that I had studied for it once already in another course.

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Luke 15:11-32 – The Prodigal Son

I preached at my church for the first time today; and by preach I mean give a sermon or talk. It wasn’t anything too serious, it was an evangelistic talk on the prodigal son; which most of us would’ve heard at some point. But just like in year 12 when we were the last grade to do “journeys”, I had to come up with a way to present the prodigal son parable in a different way (that of course was still Biblical).

 

Long story short, my talk will be uploaded below, as well as my powerpoint slides to aid the talk; so feel free to be the judge of what I say yourselves. Writing the talk was a bit difficult at the time because I kind of left it a bit too late, and before I knew it I found that today when the talk was due, was sandwiched between a class test I had on Thursday, and this huge assignment which was set to be due this coming Tuesday. So it wasn’t looking to be a pleasant weekend; and the distractions that kept me from thinking about my talk got to me.

 

Eventually I got quite stressed over last week and I suppose it all nearly overwhelmed me. But it’s strange how God works. Within the span of a few days and by the time Saturday (yesterday) came, several things turned my situation completely around for the better. On Thursday after my exam, the tutor went through the answers and miraculously I think I should get 100% since all my answers matched up (not sure about the working though). And come Saturday I found out that my assignment deadline was pushed back from this coming Tuesday, to the Monday after (6 day extension). And so even though I really only had that final Saturday free; God had somehow changed my circumstances so that I would be completely unburdened the whole day to work on the talk. And though I still struggled on Saturday I managed to get it done by midnight; and well, here I am sitting at home talking about it.

 

It was a really challenging week for me as a Christian but as always God pulled through for me. And as always when I publicly present something from the Bible (at youth group normally), I really felt the power of the Holy Spirit working through me and giving me the words. I know I didn’t really qualify that last sentence well, but it’s hard to describe the effect of the Holy Spirit and I’m more mesmerised by what I was able to accomplish through God. Anyway it’s time to work on the assignment. Thank you all who asked me about my talked, prayed for me, or attended on Sunday to see me speak.

 

One last thing, I didn’t publicize it at the time because I didn’t want people flocking over to my church just to hear me speak, and also to give up their own church service as well. As such I kept quiet about it, it’s not that I didn’t want to tell people about it; it just makes me feel bad if people are skipping their own church’s to hear me speak (not to mention that their leaders would probably get mad at me anyway). So hopefully people understand why all the *hush hush* about it.

 

[SMAC] (2011.10.02) Luke 15 (pdf)

 

Note that a bit of the beginning wasn’t recorded but it wasn’t anything too important.

 

SMAC Camp ‘11

There is no better time to be doing this than at 4:30am after my long slumber since 9pm. This year our church had a 5 day camp instead of the standard 3 days (or 2 days and a bit really). Likewise our 5-day camp was about 3 full days and two half days; it’s still quite a long camp. I think I’ll condense everything into one post so I’ll keep things brief.

 

This will be different from other posts I’ve ever put up for camp before this time round, the camp was made more for other people rather than for me. That is to say, I was more a contributor to this camp than a consumer. My primary objective for this camp as a youth leader was to look after the youth, get to know them better and to facilitate their learning of God’s Word. So this time round, I think I’ll recount camp from a leaders’ perspective even though it’s easier to do it from a participant’s point of view.

 

Contents

1. Thursday
2. Friday
3. Saturday
4. Sunday
5. Monday

Thursday

I was really exhausted and stressed coming into this camp on Thursday night. I had spent the full day at uni for class and campus ministry; spent the afternoon dealing with the seminar I had to prepare for camp. Our rear guard car (since we were the last ones to arrive on Thursday night) consisted of me, Jacky, Quentin and Athena; all of us were put under the same circumstances of needing to do something intellectually “rewarding” otherwise known as class (or tutoring/study). so we only managed to set off from our homes at 7:00pm-ish. Our first pit stop was Hong Kong de Cafe because we all needed to have dinner. Seemed quite unreasonable for camp to not provide dinner the first night, considering how everyone else was arriving there in the afternoon. We weren’t about to be shaken from having a decent meal. As a result we ended up getting to camp at 10pm, luckily there wasn’t any traffic along the way. Car trips are always a good time to have good conversation.

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170478967362

 

Pretty much went straight to bed as soon as we got there. Sadly I was in the same room as my youth group boys, who were quite energetic for the first night of camp. We probably made the sad mistake of bringing our nerf guns to camp because our boys were messing around with them all night long, well until 12:30am at least. It wasn’t a pleasant first night, also considering how Jie snores. I’m a really light sleeper so it affects me greatly.

 

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Friday

The next morning, things were quite groggy for me. Getting only 4-5 hours for sleep the first night, coupled with roughly the same amount the night before really makes for a bad start to camp. Luckily there’s this thing called coffee for breakfast. I probably wouldn’t have made it past camp without that substance. Can’t remember what we had for breakfast or what we ate for most meals. I think we were really blessed to have Loretta’s parents there cooking for us over those 4-5 days. Few people really would give up their Easter long weekend to cook for a bunch of Asian kids, but we’re really glad that they could help. And as always, Asian parents never go wrong with food; so there was never any fear that the food would be bad or anything. I remember there was a large variety of food served over the days of camp, which is why I can’t remember them all.

 

For the three full days, the general routine of the day was this:

8:00am – Breakfast
9:00am – Morning session
11:00am – Morning tea
11:30am – Bible Study groups
1:00pm – Lunch
3:00pm – Group game
6:00pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Seminar
10:30pm – Lights out

 

Of course there would be some free time between everything thing; most of the free time was in the afternoon. The hard part of all of this is that our free time was spent preparing things for the rest of camp. There wasn’t really any time for me to relax at camp. Today’s free time alone was spent on preparing the seminar for night, I’ll get to that soon.

 

Morning Session

Our morning sessions were chaired by William, who did really well at adopting a charismatic attitude and tone to play out the theme of camp. He pretty well at shouting and making things as formal as he could; though he gradually relaxed to a normal church service tone as the week progressed. Music was done quite simply: one singer (Sharon) and one pianist (Phoebe), quite effective. It’s probably better to cut back on instruments than to put too much personnel into music. Won’t sound as amazing without other instruments but it’s still pretty effective.

 

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All the talks were done by our youth pastor, rather than a guest speaker. And this was kind of disappointing seeing as we always hear from our pastor every week on Sunday. However, it really was difficult finding another speaker who was willing to give up 5 days of their week to go to someone else’s church camp; they would have been giving up their Easter/Anzac long weekend and the chance to relax and spend time with their family. Our pastor gave a series of good talks over the week so we weren’t disappointed at all.

 

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Our topic for camp this year is justification. To save time I won’t really go over what it’s about but it was generally thinking about how justification, and justice, fit into God’s plan for salvation for mankind. All the leaders should have covered it at some point, probably during uni so it was more for the newer Christians to understand what it is about.

 

Bible Study Groups

After our morning sessions we moved into our Bible Study groups. Although I only had about half my usual group there at camp, we have a lot of good constructive discussion, as long as they learn stuff it’s all good. The good thing is that the nerf guns which were the bane of my sleep last night, turned out to be very useful. We used the nerf gun to play Russian Roulette. For those who aren’t familiar with it, we loaded the gun with one foam bullet, and spun it on a table. The person that it points at picks the gun up and shoots himself. If he “dies” then in this context we make them share something they learnt from the talk. So I guess for all you youth leaders out there, consider using this as a way to get your kids to share.

 

Our group stuck to the pre-written studies most of the time, but they also had their own personal questions about the talk, so there were many times where I decided we investigate the question they asked, rather than do the pre-written study. I tend to do that a lot haha, but then our boys had their questions answered and clarified which is more important than teaching them what we’re supposed to teach them.

 

I think my group become more open to answering questions with more complex answers and responses, which showed they were thinking. They started getting used to the way each other thinks so for once we actually had good flowing discussion where everyone was building on each others’ ideas; that was really encouraging to see. Of course some of them still trail off topic here and there, but that’s natural, they’re only year 10-11. I’m proud of the things they asked and the conclusions they were able to reach.

 

Games

Our camp organisers had some interesting group games for everyone to play each day. Just one big game each day. We played in the same teams each day and it gave us a chance to get to know other people better. For the first day we played a giant version of monopoly deal. The interesting changes where that the property cards were changed into people, so everyone had a card of themselves, with a photo that was taken prior to camp, which was placed on a different coloured background, just like the different colours properties. in the original game. All action cards that allowed the stealing of properties involved an extra challenge (physical or mental) before the stealing could take place, which was fair. There is one whacked up video of such a challenge here:

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170963897362

 

The objective of the game was to collect three sets of three (nine cards in total), cose to what the original game’s goal was. The game moved quite slowly but it was pretty fun. I had fun “activating trap cards”. Couldn’t find anything better so just watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Wyn1nH8XZ4

 

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To sort of hide this next little section amidst everything else, I think I should also address the behind-the-scenes when it comes to coming up with ideas for these games. I reckon the hardest part in designing games for anything is “balancing issues”. These include rules that not only run the game but also prevent people from finding loop holes in the games; and then you also have scoring issues if the game has a winner and a loser. It really sucks to have good group games spoiled at the end with a simple “But that’s not fair! They cheated!” or something like that, I know I’m a culprit of that haha. But then again, coming up with completely original games is hard enough as is; to make the game perfect in terms of rules and stuff would just take too much effort. Clearly the game above took a lot of effort just from first glance at all the cards and such. It just wouldn’t be worth it spending more effort “balancing” the game; for a Christian camp, that effort would’ve been better spent on improving the important parts of camp (eg: the Bible Studies). But that’s my impression as a leader, and my excuse to not put 110% into games for youth group haha.

 

Night Session

Every night we had a different activity at night. The first two nights were seminars and the last night was a performance night. Anyway, I was really anxious about Friday night’s seminar, mainly because me and Nat were the ones going to run it, and we weren’t exactly ready or finished in time. Well we did, but it was a bit rushed and too much stuff was going round my head with uni and all. Our seminar was on trying to encourage our youth group kids to have more godly conversations at church because they just seem to have a culture of chatting about random stuff and not really using the time wisely to build each other up in Christ.

 

Writing the seminar was extremely difficult for me; I’m not sure how things were on my co-leader’s end. The main problem for me was that I was writing on a topic I wasn’t familiar or sure about. For example, if you’re not a Christian and you don’t believe in Christianity, then obviously it will be hard for you to talk about Christianity. So for our topic of changing the culture of conversation at our church, I was really clueless as to how we would actually achieve it. I literally made up a lot of stuff; I mean, I vaguely had an idea on what I wanted to encourage the youth in but I wasn’t sure of how to best present it. I eventually came up with something I called the “4 C’s of Conversation”, I think I’ll blog it up some time later. Essentially I thought that our conversation should be guided by four criteria (starting with C):

1. Caring
2. Constructive
3. Centered Around the Other Person
4. Continuous

Why are there four? Because I was only able to come up with four. Anyway apart from just that section, we had a few key passages to look at, such as Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 13. We also had a lot of brainstorming sessions which seemed pretty good cos all our kids contributed a lot. And at the end we had some role plays done by the other leaders so the kids could see what was good or bad about each conversation. As something extra, yes Brandon I know I said I would try to base this seminar off of yours, but somehow things turned out like this. One thing led to another and I’m really glad we managed to pull off the seminar, it had me worrying heaps. I think I really do need to sit down and write up more articles for future seminars and what not.

 

I retired on Thursday night after the seminar; well, after another 1.5 hours of watching random anime. There was no snoring that night, which was good for me.

 

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Saturday

Saturday came and went in pretty much the same manner as Friday. The routine was the same, but the conversations were different. Obviously people start to get closer as camp progresses, and you finally see how much they’ve grown at the end of camp. And so, the truly encouraging things from camp are best left till the end of camp. In meantime, here’s what I did in the morning:

 

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150170453327362

 

Memory is starting to get fuzzy now but I remember that our Bible Study group went pretty well again. The boys really enjoyed the Russian Roulette idea of getting people to share what they learnt. For once they all actually stayed awake and concentrated through a 1.5 hour Bible Study; they normally find it hard to do that back at church on a Sunday morning for a 30 minute study.

 

I sadly spent most of this day watching anime in the afternoon for free time. Oh right, the game. This afternoon’s game was a rendition of “Capture the Flag”, combined with some rules from “Fresher”. If you’re familiar with how each game works you’ll sort of get a good picture of how this version was run. It was pretty fun, in terms of the teamwork and the chaos. Everyone got physically tired of course. Again there were “balancing issues” but the game was quite memorable. Don’t really have any good relevant pictures for the game, but seeing as there hasn’t been a photo for more than a thousand words, I think we need at least one photo to balance it out:

 

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As I was saying, I spent the afternoon watching anime. But to try and make good use of the time, I watched anime with a number of the youth. A lot of them are into some form of anime, but I reckon we all need to learn to keep anime in perspective. It’s more than a cartoon as many people would think; it’s an art form that does reveal some rather sensitive emotions and desires that mankind has. So while I can’t say the couple of hours was used in the best way, getting the chance to talk with the youth about what they liked and disliked in anime allows us to work out how people think. Okay fine, I’m just making excuses to watch anime; but it wasn’t as unproductive as watching a movie and not talking. We were all making insightful comments throughout the things we watched. I thought the Clannad movie would’ve been good for the youth who have never watched anything of the sort, but it was a sad disappointment. And of course it’s unreasonable to make them spend (not waste) like hours upon hours of watching the anime series instead. Oh well.

 

At night the second seminar was kind of like the first. And while it seemed a bit redundant there’s always something to be learned. I missed out on the first hour or so, took a break after dinner to recompose myself; lacking energy really takes a toll on everyone’s ability to suppress their negativities, like frustration and stress. Had to do the same thing on Thursday night too, after presenting our seminar. Sat by the lake’s edge for an hour and a bit to just relax and let my thoughts flow. It was nice watching the moon glisten on the surface of the lake and just letting the cool night air blow past. I think I’ve done this every time we had camp at Point Wolstoncroft; just snuck away at night to sit by the edge of the lake, without a care in the world. Yeah, people were looking for me, but so what? Haha. The world doesn’t stop for anyone taking a break, I certainly don’t expect it to stop for me ever.

 

To compensate for a short section on this day, I think I’ll add in a funny “blog post” that one of our youth daringly typed up on my laptop. The context is that she wanted to use my laptop to “blog” though she clearly normally doesn’t. I’ll censor relevant bits that breach privacy, and this is what she ended up with:

 

Hey 😀

This is Bianca *****!! Today I am going to introduce myself as I said before. I’m year 10 at ***** High School. Only cool people go to this school =)

I am now on Jason Tam’s laptop. The mouse is very sensitive. He just asked me if I can touch type. Phoebe is laughing really loud at Jason’s comments. Calvin is shooting a toy gun and Sean is building a rifle?!?!

I am listening to rocketeer on full blast but I can still hear Jason and Phoebe *sigh*

They are arguing about Korean music.

There is a group to my right that is playing a card game. There is Kylie, Natalie, Joy, Kevin x2, Jess, Danny and Jason Yap. Then the next table on the right is Kenny. On my left is some boys playing a board game with miniature statures.

Now I am clueless what to write! Let me ask Jacky. He told me to write about Jason. But he is too boring to write about! 😀

I asked Jacky again. He is thinking and told me write about the lake. I am never going to ask him for advice because he has no imagination. He nearly killed me with foam bullets!!! Time to plan for revenge =)

A chess set is being set up on the table

Jacky once again nearly killed me!!

Phoebe is now making Jacky smell the texta which is supposed to me cherry flavoured.

IM SO BORED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jason likes men. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA agreed =) This is no surprise.

Now I g2g because it’s time for fun and games!! I will be back to blog again.

Hi 😀 I’m back!!!

Sorry I had to go again 😀 had the awesomest night of my life!!!

We had a campfire and each group performed a 10 minute long performance. IT was amazing!! Army group did a musical but Pirates ended up winning. They won it fair and square =) CONGRATZ PIRATES!!!

Then we roasted marshmallows and made sandwiches with chocolate coated digestive biscuits

 

Yeah it’s really random and was heaps funny to laugh at. Honestly, I reckon only little girls have the writing style where they suddenly change into ALL CAPITALS FOR THE FUN OF IT! Ironic statement I know, but so is the one about me liking men. At the end of the day, blogging (or writing in journals) is a good thing because it shows how well your thought flow in your mind. The more articulate your words, the more able you are in translating your thoughts into words, and the more freely your thoughts flow in your mind. Will see if we can get her to start or something haha. I know I said to some of you that it would be funny if I tried a rendition on what her typical blog might look like (eg: boy problems) but it would be too mean so I won’t. Instead I’ll see if I can convince her to actually start a real blog.

 

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Sunday

Second last day and the energy levels are starting to drop dangerously. I guess with a longer camp, this is what naturally results. Once again coffee played a fundamental role in keeping me alert for the rest of the day. Again I’ll skip the daily routines and just highlight anything that was different or encouraging. Our Bible Study group did something different today, because I said so. No, I’m kidding. The boys had questions from the talk so we spent the whole time addressing them and discussing about them. That meant we had to jeopardise the Bible Study but had some very fruitful discussion. We went over homosexuality again and whether homosexuals can be saved or not. Moved onto smokers, which was random, but I helped them make it more general (that is, smokers is one example of a larger group of people known as “addicts”, and the real sin behind all of that is addiction, which leads to idolatry). And finally we talked about living as new Christians practically encompassed, like our priorities and out attitude to money and stuff.

 

In the afternoon we had a trivia game, not much can go wrong there. Afterwards we all had to work on a group act for the evening. I think a lot of groups were stressing over a 15 minute act, considering how we were given less than a day to do it. Me and Julz spent most of Saturday night and Sunday afternoon writing up lyrics for our act, which was to be a musical involving ninjas haha. Our two main songs were the “Hallelujah” one from the Shrek movie, and “Breaking Free” from High School Musical. Me and Julz wrote the lyrics for the latter one. Here they are:

 

God’s Grace is Free

Written by Jason Tam and Juliana Chen

 

We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free

You know that God can see us
In a way that’s different from creation’s start
Creating space between us
Till we’re separate hearts

But our faith, it credits us
With righteousness

God’s grace is free
We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free

Can you feel His suffering?
Like a lamb sacrificed to make us whole
Reconciled by his dying
Jesus paid our toll

Rising till it lifts Christ up
So everyone can see

God’s grace is free
We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free
We’re preaching, serving
To live renewed lives to be what God wants us to be
Now’s the time, cos God’s grace is free

More than hope
More than faith
This is truth
This is fate
And His kingdom we see it coming

All for you
All for me
Not by works, or by deeds
Faith in Christ, sets us free

We’re praying, praising
There’s not a sinner on earth that He can’t reach
We’re believing, that God’s grace is free
We’re preaching, serving
To live renewed lives to be what God wants us to be
Now’s the time, cos God’s grace is free

You know that God declares us
Justified so now we’re no longer apart

 

We didn’t really get time to prepare it as a duet by that’s okay.

 

At night all the groups presented their acts. Most groups had singing, most of them are well known songs where the lyrics easily fit into a Christian theme. The uni students would all have had experiences from having to do acts for camps such as MYC. Every group had a very unique act, and as much as I would like to recount them all, I can’t remember them that clearly, I’ll try to grab the footage from other people. One mentionable team was the Navy team (our camp had an army theme remember), and their act was completely made up on the spot. It involved a lot of actions that accentuated the lower half of the body. For example, imagine what “washing the boat” might look like if it was done emphatically. All their actions were funny and none of their act made sense, which was why it was really funny, it was just full of random. Marcus went far enough to make a joke about “sea-men”; and considering that only their team could’ve made such a joke, I more or less applaud them for making it. As for our team’s act, I pretty much put to use as many funny Naruto connotations as I could; our team was the Ninjas.

 

What I really liked about this activity was the way every team bonded when it came to organising the act. We had some quiet people in our team but gradually they opened up and weren’t shy in giving us their opinions. The activity really helped us build up teamwork. It was encouraging to see everyone open up to the whole congregation when they were giving the performance, especially the ones who were bold enough to dance in front of everyone. One of my boys really opened himself up that night, in more than one way too haha. That is, he was really bold in terms of dancing, which caught me completely in shock because he was never like that before. And then later on in the evening he made the mistake of taking off his jacket and ended up topless for a brief moment haha.

 

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Epitome

 

This last section deserves its own section. I said before that the true fruits at camp only start to show towards the end and surely, Sunday night must’ve been the most touching and encouraging night for me. When the night performances ended, and the odd rave party afterwards ended, we all retired to the lodges, not to sleep, but to stay up for conversations. Stuff the lights out thing at 10:30pm, let’s have some serious bonding conversation time. For myself, I literally stayed up all night talking; and I really mean that literally. Starting at about 10pm I chatted with one person for about an hour or so. That was pretty cool because I’ve never really had a serious conversation with them before so it was really cool being given the opportunity to do so. Learning stuff about the other person’s life really is productive because as I had said in my seminar, it allows us to understand the context of the other person, what their feelings are, and how they think and respond to different things we talk about.

 

For all the conversations that happened on that night (which also dragged on to the next day), I would not have traded anything for those moments. But that’s because they are my highlight for camp this year. And yeah, even though none of the actual organised parts of camp were most memorable, that’s how things are in all relationships, you can’t pick and choose and set which moments will be most important. They just come unexpectedly and knock away everything else.

 

Anyway, after that first conversation, people began to retire to bed seeing as it was the last night of camp. But for the same reason, people also stayed up for hours more. I continued to have conversations with a few other guys as the night went on. We just say outside the cabins and chatted quietly about all sorts of issues. Of course it wouldn’t really be a private D&M if I shared what was actually said. Anyway the next conversation went on for…6 hours? I am seriously not kidding, I was actually talking to someone else for a continuous 6 hours. Some people chimed in here and there in first couple of hours but eventually everyone retired to bed around 3am. So this conversation roughly happened from 11pm-5am. Again I assure you, I am not kidding.

 

At 5am we decided to take a break and have some noodles. Apparently we weren’t the only ones who were up at that time. Another person from the other lodge was awake the whole time, so we invited them over to share noodles, though they did not eat. In total there were three of us who stayed up. My 6 hour convo buddy retired at 6am, so me and mystery person #3 carried on and chatted for another 2 hours as we tried to watch the sun rise. Of course it was a cloudy morning so there was no sunrise to see, so we just stood by the lake and chatted. Even a whole night of D&M conversations takes its toll on someone like me. By the end of 9 hours of consecutive hours of talking, this last conversation nearly had me at tears because of what we talked about. Again I won’t share who it was or what we talked about but I definitely learnt something new about that person as well. It wasn’t something bright and it really did mean that it was my responsibility as their leader to follow them up about it. The ones who received lengthy e-mails from me will know who they are.

 

But yeah, who would’ve thought that the most productive time at camp would’ve been the one where we give up all our sleep for. I don’t regret trading away my sleep for all those conversations; I’ve definitely given up my sleep for the last night of camp for less useful things at other camps. This was the most well spent way of giving up sleep. And from a leader’s perspective, this is sort of what our goal has been all along; just being able to get to know our kids better, to listen to their life stories and to encourage them to persevere as Christians through their worries. It really makes me cry tears of joy knowing that we spent so much time for youth group every week and feeling like we didn’t “achieve” anything, but for that one moment at camp, all our time and efforts finally pay off, and we make some relational progress in growing our kids in Christ.

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Monday

Well technically, everything I mentioned above happened on Monday. And that’s always the problem with an endless night at camp; do you classify these things as having happened on Sunday night, or really early Monday morning? Anyhow the day came nonetheless, and as you can see from the photo, it wasn’t going to be the brightest of all days. That’s alright.

 

I think this post has gone on long enough; nothing exceptional happened today. But even though everyone didn’t get much sleep, and the fact that many people started getting sick, today was still a productive day. We had lunch, packed our stuff and left…for Hong Kong de Cafe again haha. There is much to reminisce about camp most definitely, whether as a participant or as a leader; but for now in all my exhaustion I am glad that camp is over because considering all the relationships that were built over camp, camp was not the end of them so there is nothing to be sad about, and nothing to “miss” about camp. Rather, our new stronger relationships with one another have only just begun…

 

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Holidays Are Over

In a sense, my holidays are over, before they even began. But I suppose I speak too rashly since only one week of three is down. However, my holidays are definitely “booked out” now; it was booked out since before they started haha. Let’s re-cap over the last 7 days.

 

Friday

After trying to relax from all that immense studying for that one final statistics exam that kept me from my holidays, I spent the whole of the following day preparing for my youth group seminar on Apologetics. It was quite a stressful day; it’s on the same level as doing an assignment from scratch that’s due on Sunday. It was pretty bad timing, because I was mentally exhausted from uni at all; a lot of my thoughts weren’t flowing well so it was additionally harder for me to get that seminar done. To make things worse, I really only had one day to get it done since I was going to be out all day on Saturday.

 

Saturday

Had a RICE meeting today out in Croydon. Sam Mak gave his thoughts on how as serving Christians, we might lose the focus on our ministries and simply call them “ministry” rather than it actually being “service”. Christian ministry is about service after all but amidst people’s busy schedules (such as mine), we might start having a different attitude towards wherever we serve; be it church, youth group, ISCF groups, or one-to-one ministries. There’s always that tendency to become overloaded and suddenly start getting tired from it all, and letting it become routine, without putting the heart into it. It was a good reminder for me to rethink my motives in wanting to serve at church, at uni, and for RICE.

The rest of the day was spent in the actual planning of a number of things, as well as to run through team procedures with all the extra leaders that signed up over the last few weeks. We have a large team of leaders again this year, maybe not as many as last year. But it never ceases to amaze me how a bunch of uni students and workers can get together and put together such a huge event that causes change in so many high schoolers. I look forward to the actual days of the events.

Had to give up work today, and for two weeks later at the next meeting; but money wasn’t the issue. In terms of what I really needed at the time, I really needed this day to work on my seminar for tomorrow. Managed to get enough of it done once I got back home. Though I was exhausted from the day, I pressed on till 11pm and called it quits, hoping that what I had done was enough.

Sunday

This was my 10th talk or so, and of sorts, in front of a Christian audience but this one just seemed really unprepared. But like every other time, it seemed as if I knew what I was actually talking about and I was able to pick out the right wording more often than I had expected. Apologetics is my area of “expertise” so to say; I’ve spent a lot of time reading about it, and pretty much the other Christian articles on my blog are the fruits of my knowledge in Apologetics. Having said that, it’s clear I’ve had a mental block in that field for a while now, but that’s probably bound to happen at some point anyway.

I’m glad the seminar went well, but of course I can only guess at how the youth felt about it, whether it’ll actually help them or not. The main goal is to stimulate thought, that in itself should be more than enough of a push for them to think harder about what they believe in.

After church I had the option of going back to high school to attend a reunion of sorts. But pretty much none of my friends were going so I didn’t end up going back. Guess I’ll have to pay my teachers a visit another time. Instead went up to Hornsby to have ramen. Spent $135 on a 1 TB external hard drive and went home to tutor.

Monday

Started working on a church camp video, I’m slowly making progress when I can, or when I’m in the mood. The rest of today was spent either gaming or catching up on anime. In less than a week I finally managed to watch all of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Yeah, that meant going through more than 10 episodes a day, amongst doing other things but it was definitely worth it. The 64 episode series had much more depth than its original counterpart and was animated much better; much more gory as well. I’m slightly shocked at how they’re planning on showing this to American kids after translating it and all. Given the level of animated violence in the anime, it should easily be given an M rating, possible M15+. *Sigh* at the Americans who keep (poorly) translating anime.

Tuesday

Went out to go shopping with parents and pretty much did what I did on Monday again. Hmm…I could’ve sworn the week was much more busier than how it appears for Monday and Tuesday. Oh right, it makes sense because of all the business with having to oraganise upcoming events in the following days. It becomes more stressful when a lot of things don’t get sorted out properly until the last minute.

Wednesday

Met up with my pastor in the morning to have a chat and stuff before heading over to Jie’s place for Mahjong. Five of us were there: Jie, Jacky, Nathaniel and Sharon. I had actually wanted Nat to come, so she could bring her small dog to play with Jie’s 4 big monstrous canines. His dogs were huge, two black, two white, the black ones were very aggressive. If Jie had a third black dog, I swear you could put those three together and you’d get something that resembles Cerberus. Wonder what Nat’s dog + Cerberus equals?

Haven’t mahjonged in a while and haven’t mahjonged with those people for a while too, since maybe some time last year. It was good to repeat old times, with the table trash talk and all. Me and Sharon came up with the biggest hands in the game, at 10 fan. Jacky also sought out this opportunity to try out Jie’s new flat screen TV, clocking at 52 inches. He made me bring my Wii and we mucked around with a couple of games. Didn’t feel that special, but that’s maybe because both Kelvin and Yit have equally as large TVs, the experience is already common.

Later that night we went back to church for a young adults social type thing. As I parked my car, some of the youth were also there for some meeting for a holiday crafts program or something for primary school kids. Sadly, they were “lost” because nobody else was there for the meeting. So I dragged them over to our young adults thing where they could sort of find shelter from the cold night to call their parents to pick them up. So after all that, spent a half hour on the phone with Kelvin (and then gamed for another hour or so) before finally calling it a day…the longest day this week.

Thursday

Our group’s meet up today turned into Eric’s birthday dinner. I suspected this was the case when Eric first offered to have a social thing on today but it wasn’t until maybe the week before that I recalled it was Eric’s birthday just on Tuesday. Which also means that we didn’t have much time to get presents and sort other things out.

 

I went down to the city a bit early in hope of looking for a present but I didn’t have much luck. Instead I spent the rest of the time with Charlie looking for a suitable birthday cake. I couldn’t find the Michelle’s under Myer in that food court for some strange reason and so after a long search I managed to get a Vanilla-Strawberry sponge cake from a place called “Dough!” I think

 

Eric took us to a Korean restaurant named “大長今” funny name haha! We managed to take the top level of the restaurant and had dinner there. There was a fair variety of cheap and expensive food there, but there was no BBQ buffet which was a shame. Me, Kelvin and Erica had BBQ while some of the other people who weren’t willing to spend much chose from the cheaper end of the menu. The food wasn’t too bad, neither was the price. Eventually we got down to the cake. Me and Charlie had also decided to get candles at the time; we bought a “1” and a “9” candle, two dollars each, what a rip!

 

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After dinner we went karaoke for an hour at Big Echo. Some new songs as usual, need to learn them again.

 

Sunday

Friday and Saturday were spent recuperating from everything that happened throughout the week. But Sunday again proved to be a long day. After church Nat had decided to go watch Toy Story 3 with a bunch of people from our youth group. At the same time, I was trying to arrange to watch a movie the following day in the morning, since it’s $8 movie tickets on Monday, But no-one was free on the Monday so I opted to just tag along and watch a movie with them. This day would be the first occasion ever that Nat beats me to any location by driving. I had major bad luck finding a parking spot in one of the Castle Towers car parks that I have never parked at haha. Anyway to my disappointment (in some sense), the movie was very popular and normal screening sessions were booked out, leaving us the only option of watching it in 3D (at the $17 price). My resolve to watch a movie there and then was stronger than my urge to save money so I went through with it. Won’t comment on the movie, other than that Toy Story 3 was a pretty awesome movie.

 

Watching a movie was not part of my plan at all for the day, and was about to severely impact the rest of the afternoon/night. After the movie I immediately rushed home to get changed for Josef’s 21st. The major issue at hand was that I had to work out the route to get there. This was the first time I’ve ever driven as far as Seven Hills on my own since getting my P’s last year. I took about 10 minutes to memorise the route on Google Earth, got changed and immediately sped off to the party. I was so glad I got there successfully and on time a s well. I was really pushed for time, seeing as I didn’t know how long it would take to get there.

 

Josef invited like more than 150 people that night and managed to book out a whole seminar room in the RSL club. His parents were also willing to shout all the guests dinner, seeing as it is his 21st. There was a structured program to the party and so we weren’t able to eat the entire night. But I think I had more than my fair share for the night. There were a number of speeches and some trivia games, a slideshow and a speech from the birthday man himself. After the party everyone moved off to the bar to chill; designated drivers obviously weren’t allowed any alcohol.

 

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I went off by about 10:30pm to get back home. But on the way I decided to swing by Ken’s place where our church was having hotpot; I obviously opted a free buffet over hotpot haha. I watched them play “the hat game” and then we left.

 

So that was a full week of action, nearly. But clearly it was enough all-day action to keep me exhausted at the end of the week. Apologies for the lateness of the post. But the second week of the holidays was also just as tiring. And it all starts with Monday, the day right after all that happened on the above Sunday.

SMAC Camp 2010

I’ll try to keep this post relative to the length of our camp, which somehow seems to be getting shorter every year, or so it seems. Anyway I was at least glad this year I had a camera to take photos with; much better than last year with my pathetic phone camera, which did it’s job relatively well. Our theme for this year’s camp was “The True King of Israel” – though this was not the actual camp title, this one sounds better. We looked at the book of 1 Samuel and our speaker this year was one Benjamin Ho who graduated from Trinity Grammar and previously went to St Paul’s Anglican along with Kenny and Billy.

 

Friday

My personal Friday began with lunch when Jie came and picked up Jacky and me for camp. We went down to Carlingford Village and ate at Hong Kong de Cafe (as per usual). I lose of track of who owes me money now, we always have a problem when it comes to paying the bill; and then in light of the mid-sem break last week I have completely forgotten who owes me money; I’m more certain that I am owed money rather than the other way round.

 

Anyway after lunch we walked around Carlingford Court, bought a bar of dark chocolate from Coles (which we didn’t end up eating by the end of camp which kind of sucks) and then we went to pick up Jess and Marcus because we were asked to take them at the very last second – how troublesome! Anyway their company was much appreciated; we pumped a variety of music while Jie drove, guided by his GPS, music from Backstreet Boys to Girls’ Generation. Jess was partially annoyed at the way we’d sing some English songs with an Asian accent.

 

The car trip took about an hour and a bit. As we got to the camp site, there was a gate blocking our way. We drove up to it. It didn’t open. We tried to give Jess (the co-ordinator) a call but she didn’t pick up – inconvenient. So we drove back to a McDonald’s we saw a couple of minutes back. We took a quick toilet break but didn’t buy anything to eat. Then we finally found out that the gate was automatic, although for some reason it didn’t open when we drove up to it. Regardless, we drove back and saw Ken’s car go past us; everyone was catching up. We got back to the gate and after driving a little closer to it, it actually opened T.T” Bad luck. Ken still mysteriously showed up 10 minutes after us.

 

We mucked around for a while until the sun set.

 

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Skip the food (it wasn’t anything special, but it was prepared by like 2 people which is fairly amazing), we began our night session around 8:15pm, about 45 minutes late. Some of the tech equipment wasn’t set up entirely well stage-wise but that would have to be fixed the next morning. We had our intro and then our first talk. Our speaker, Ben, decided to give the Old Testament Bible readings by depicting them in a video with some actors. He picked UNSW as the stage haha! The New Testament Bible readings were done by Athena, as usual.

 

Oh I missed a bit, we played a game (that we’ve played too much now) which involved getting into groups of people and having a specified number of certain body parts touching the floor; some number of arms, feet, head, etc. I took the chance to grab more photos:

 

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After the night session we finally settled down in our rooms. Luckily there was wireless here so we YouTube-ed a bit until around 12:30am and then we slept.

 

 

The Campsite

Okay now we can move onto the camp site itself. It was disappointingly smaller than our normal camp venue, Point Wolstoncroft; I forget why we’re here this year. The cabins were quite small and cramped which wasn’t all too pleasant. They were cramped in that there was little floor space to put stuff down and actually walk around the room on.

 

Toilets were quite appalling although I will say that they were better than the KCC ones, the showers at least had hot hot water and were fairly large, and weren’t like bug-infested overnight. But this was not the only “controversy”. I am of course talking about the gender inequality in how the cabins were distributed. At the back of the camp there was a block which was obviously newer, it had air conditioning and the toilets were located inside the building. The girls were offered their “luxurious palace” while we were given the tight-spaced cabins with a toilet block that we had to walk out to. The girl’s rooms were significantly more spacious; significantly. Well of course I’m not pleased, it’s quite unfair that half the campers had better treatment than others. It would be awkward to put everyone inside that nicer block, yes, but everyone could have been fit into our cramped cabins; there was easily enough rooms and beds, the guys didn’t even fill up half the camp site. And it would not be awkward to put guys and girls into the same block, because there were four sets of rooms (A to D) which then led to 3-4 more rooms; clearly our dodgy block was sectioned off in a well manner such that there shouldn’t be any guy-girl tension. I’d argue the same way if the situation had been reversed and we had gotten the better dorms. I’m happy to have a less comfortable room if it creates equality. Besides, these physical barriers I’ve suggested are exactly the case with our pervious camp venue.

 

Other than the the camp site was quite small, nobody else was there so we sort of had the entire area to ourselves. There was like children’s play equipment which we all mucked around on (see the swings in the photo above) but that may be because it was more of a venue for primary school camps, rather than teen-adult camps T.T” There was a main hall where we had our talks and games and such, fitted with a table tennis table, and a pool table, which was quite a nice addition to things we could do for fun. Naturally everyone made good use of these facilities.

 

 

Saturday

To be continued…

Pre O-Week Week

Okay, here’s some unstructured blogging, won’t be easy to follow, maybe. Anyway this week has been pretty hectic for me. Of course there’s no official title for it, and it didn’t follow any particular pattern or trend; things that happened one after another. So let’s get started shall we?

 

 

Sunday

Okay so perhaps the week doesn’t start on Sunday, but whatever. As everyone should remember this was the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day, the awesome 2-in-combo that Chonny V-logged about. So at church we had to give in to the Chinese side, respect tradition and at least have lunch with them. Things were already rough because our pastor kept refusing to have a combined service with them. Skip the intricate details in the middle and we end up having a heaps shorter service, followed by lunch, which was pretty awesome. As always, when Chinese people want to celebrate for Chinese New Year, they do exceptionally well in regards to food.

 

I can’t quite remember what there was to eat but there were some good desserts. Anyway after lunch some of us from the ABC side stayed for the Chinese side’s afternoon shenanigans. There was singing, followed by some reflective words from the minister about things that happened over the year. It completely skipped my mind that our church is nearing its 1st anniversary of having moved to its new location. A lot has happened over the year at church huh? We had performances from the elders, as always. It’s not something that sparks our young minds in particular, but one can come to appreciate what they enjoy at their age; it was just some dancing and singing. There were some games which involved charades and guessing the Chinese New Year phrase, the ones that your parents say apart from…”Goon Hei Fat Choi” – whatever the proper English ping ying for it is.

 

It was quite a boring afternoon but I managed to sit through nearly all of it. Not the most interesting of all Sundays but certainly one that was pretty time consuming.

 

 

Monday

Okay Monday was another sort of bad day, hoping that certain people don’t read this. The legendary “Tensei” Victor Chan was having his 18th party at Bicentennial Park. It does bring a bit of shock, a bit out of normal expectations. The thing that became apparent for me was that Victor is a year younger than the rest of us; I knew there was something weird when I read he was celebrating his “18th birthday”. But such is the “Tensei” that he would start school a year early, according to him.

 

We met up at Olympic Park station at about midday. “We” was a very ambiguous term at the time; I had imagined “we’ would encompass…a decent number of people. But the net result was only 6, including myself. Yitian dogged me for his parents, some post-CNY celebrations? And then many others were no-shows. It ended up being me and 5 Ruse people – all of whom weren’t as rowdy as my group, or as the NSBs. There was a lot of silence, while walked back to the park.

 

But I’ll just keep things short here. There was a lot of awkward silence while everyone silently wondered what we should do, or rather, was waiting for someone to say something. There was a lack of initiative which for the first time in my life, actually created minutes of complete silence. It was sooooo awkward…but I couldn’t stand up and take charge and provide direction. The party was not mine and these were not people I’ve ever seen before in my life haha, how could I be complete “chill” or “lax” with them? We did play cards, for most of the day, played handball a bit later in the afternoon. Food was complete fail; lunch was nothing more than chips and lollies. I was really hungry when I got home *sigh* I bought drinks and cups in the morning, really saved the situation because otherwise we’d only have chips and lollies, hardly fit for lunch.

 

Victor suggested bike riding in the afternoon; not something I’m familiar with, but it was a good suggestion, despite the hot weather and the odd cost of $15 to hire a bike for the first hour, and $20 for two hours…odd. After Ellen’s party I’m trying to be more cautious in my spending. Other people weren’t so keen for the idea either, so we just continued to play cards…fail. I left closer to 4pm because I was sort of at my limit for wanting to stay. It was not a fun party, I was there solely for Victor’s sake, and I am glad to have been 1 of 5 people that actually showed up as guests. It’s not always that you get to celebrate a “Tensei’s” birthday haha!

 

 

Tuesday

Had my wisdom tooth (singular) taken out. Talked to Jess the next day and she raised the observation that everyone seems to be having their teeth taking out these days; true or not? Anyway went to a family friend who was a dentist and had him perform the operation. Because it was only one tooth – and because it was a local dentist – I didn’t get knocked out, unlike most of you people, who were given the grace of sleep. I, unfortunately, was kept awake through the entire horrific sequence of events. From the first needle in the gum, to the second in the tooth, to the third, etc I lost count of the needles that I was stabbed with, the first one hurt a bit, that weird numbing pain, and a quarter of my mouth went numb. If you’ve never been awake for the operation, trust me, you don’t want to. Essentially the dentist just hacks awake at your teeth and the gum around it. And there’s the classic high-pitched whirring from some instrument which gives kids nightmares. That thing was so loud that it gave me a headache throughout the operation.

 

It took an hour to get one silly tooth out. Of course, my tooth resisted, by having to grow in a retarded direction, like nearly perpendicular to how the rest of teeth normally grow. Yes, it was growing sideways, and so the hole that eventuated was quite a big one. The dentist was trying to just force my tooth out; he was using a lot of force and perhaps got tired of the slow hacking process with that gum-cutter. He had a lot of problems and had to revert back to other tools before trying again.

 

Finally it came out, and I was lucky to get a good look of it before he chucked that annoying tooth out; other people don’t get the privilege to huh? He stitched me up and I was out by midday. The anaesthetic lasted until 4-5pm in which pain finally took over and worsened my headache. As most animals are, pain really does annoy you, it just sits there in the background constantly annoying you, and it really does mess your mood up. I wasn’t feeling sick, I was heaps annoyed because of the pain and the headache; sent me into a pretty bad mood for the rest of the night. Haha but that was night one, things would get better the next day, yes?

 

 

Wednesday

CBS Orientation Day (which I didn’t go to last year because I was in Hong Kong). Caught the train with Jess but saw Katie and some Baulko kids from the year below us at Pennant Hills station, how fortunate sort of. Oh I almost forget to mention. On Tuesday afternoon, while it still hurt to open my mouth for anything, be it talking or eating, Alan (our MTS) called up to ask me to be a Tour Guide for today’s Orientation; conscripted at the last second, nice. Anyway we got there and registered and met up with people we hadn’t seen for a few weeks haha. It’s funny because the last time we actually went to uni was for our final exams last year; so we haven’t stepped on uni ground for a good 3 months.

 

The Orientation was mostly like others except there was a talk from Carl Matthei and some interviews with older people about “Surviving as a Christian at University”, that is quite an interesting topic to address which might’ve given me a head start last year, rather than having me figure out first hand what being a Christian in university actually meant. Most of it was just sitting and listening. We moved off into faculty groups and guess which one was largest? Obviously Commerce; there’s no need to comment on the others haha! We had so many new first years, but we also nearly had the same number of second years, so our “grade” haha. I’m glad that there’s so many dedicated Christians in my age level.

 

During morning tea I ran off with Quentin to fix up our ID cards. Me to get a new travel concession sticker and Quentin to get a brand new ID card. He was unfortunate to not have had a haircut before today, and to not brush up on his complexion haha. Sad thing for him was how his ID photo turned out. I don’t have it of course but just to Sharon (if you read this part), if you haven’t seen it go do so. Poor Quentin was darker than…Obama in his photo. And I thought my photo was bad because I was dark, he was completely black nearly.

 

We hurried back and joined everyone else for more “lectures”. We eventually moved out towards lunch to conduct our tours; but before that we played a game and introduced each other. We made a huge circle in the quad because of the sheer number of people that were there. We had an intro from Alan and Emily, people in charge this year. And then we had some short interviews from older people. We played “Bang” with half the group (so two games), using it as an opportunity to learn names, a classic variation we played at church earlier this year.

 

The tours were rushed but we took them up and down campus. We made the first years trek the stupid stairs that supposedly “transport [us] from lower campus to upper campus”. They’re a pain and everyone who goes to UNSW must learn of it haha! Lunch was sandwiches with cordial, a nice budgeted lunch. I for one had a huge problem having lunch. In light of Tuesday’s events, today was a real test for me; it was pretty impossible for me to eat solid food, even with three quarters of my mouth intact. I had a banana and slowly got through my sandwich, with the hard hot dog bun. It was a very hard lunch time for me haha.

 

The afternoon session was rather short, just a few more words of encouragement about how to continue living as a Christian in this new uni environment, given also the lifestyle changes. Let’s face it, there are heaps more distractions now than back in high school. High school was simply bliss and ignorance. I went to pick up some of my textbooks after the orientation. They were so damn expensive; I haven’t bought them all and the bill comes to over $400 T.T” I’m still missing 3-4 more books, which come to another $300 or so, dang this term. My Actuarial Studies courses are horribly plagued with 3 prescribed textbooks. Impossible!

 

Everyone else went to get their travel concessions so I eventually caught up to them. Some of us went out to Town Hall to get Charlie Chen his present. It’s safe to talk about it now because he has obviously received it by now. It’ll be fun to look at what happened behind the scenes. We went to Myer, where Steph had the idea to get him cologne. None of us minded so we all looked hard and carefully at what was on sale. I don’t know how many different products we tested; Bec was holding like 20 or 30 so test cards with different scents on them. We spent a good hour and a bit just sniffing this and that, wondering what was suitable. Eventually we finally decided on one and we were all on our way home. It was hard to decide though, a lot of fun however.

 

 

Thursday

Got called up by work to pop down to the office for “further training”. The e-mail I got from the main receptionist that works on weekdays also mentioned problems that I had. I was so freaked out from reading that, I thought I was close to getting sacked. I admit that I like how easy my job is; I really do need to value it properly. I thought I was going to get a scolding about missing this and that, I hadn’t felt like I messed up a lot that it should draw the attention of everyone. Nevertheless I walked in thinking that they won’t dare sack me, since they had told me once that it was hard to find casual weekend workers who were constantly available. I secretly felt I was safe from being sacked; just had to distance myself away from that edge.

 

Luckily the receptionist told me only a few things. The ordeal lasted no more than an hour, which was interrupted by phones calls once a while. I suppose today doesn’t count as adventurous but I was pretty worried after reading the e-mail on Wednesday, thinking that my job would be in jeopardy. Tooth was still slowly getting better today, being the second day.

 

 

Friday

Ronnie’s housewarming party. I was the first to show up at his place, at 11am. His apartment is rather interesting, the building I mean. The lift didn’t work when I first got there; so I went back out and called Ronnie. Apparently he had to activate the lift from his apartment so guests could use it. That’s pretty cool, so random people can’t just invade the property. But there were stairs I heard?

 

Ronnie put on The Dark Knight in Blu-Ray and left the apartment in my stead when he went out to pick up Anita from the station. Others arrived before he got back so I had to answer the phone and get the door. Ronnie’s apartment is pretty good, rather nostalgic of Hong Kong really. They had a lot TVs and computer monitors; fairly loaded so it seems.

 

Ben brought mahjong, including a portable table; I so need to get myself one of those. His mahjong tiles were inside a…picnic basket. A lot of people were expecting to find food in it but found mahjong tiles instead, that was funny. Some of us played mahjong, others played with Ronnie’s board games; anything groupy was fine. We had lunch at about 1pm, everyone pooled food and snacks together and we had a decent lunch together. Poor Ronnie had to run out and drive several rounds to pick up people who were arriving at different times and then to get some chicken because Mandy faced traffic and failed in bringing Coles roast chicken.

 

The afternoon was long, we chatted and played more games. Some of the discussion went on to what games to play for another CBS day for O-Week next Tuesday; yes the fun hasn’t stopped yet. So we played a few games to see how they went; anything that was group building was good. We tried doing that activity where you sit back to back with someone else, link arms and then try to stand up. We tried it with 4 people; the girls failed repeatedly at standing up but us guys succeeded in one shot – that just shows the synergy that us guys have with one another.

 

I can’t remember what else we did. Oh, we played blind poker (sort of) where everyone holds a card on your forehead, so you can see everyone else’s card except your own. And then you’re trying to not get the lowest card, a bit of deceiving here and there but it was pretty funny at times when people traded away their really high cards for lower ones.

 

People started leaving as it got closer to night, the few of us stayed were juggling between my suggestion of The Princess Bride, and Mandy’s Italian movie Life is Beautiful. In fact let’s have a vote here, which do you prefer: The Princess Bride or Life is Beautiful. I shall make a poll on my blog here soon. Me and Mandy kept arguing, but she was more persistent, and whinny so I just gave in, out of courtesy. Adrian and Ken were playing some weird Lord of the Rings chess, and Brandon was just bored out of his mind; he wanted to watch Battlestar Galactica, which had near zero support haha!

 

At night we went out to Ikea to have dinner, because there’s heaps cheap food there. We had chicken schnitzel with chips, or pasta, for like $4 which was pretty good. Doesn’t fill you over the top but the price certainly makes it worth it. Ronnie bought some glassware as we walked through the rest of the store, and we then went to Coles to buy ice blocks. There wasn’t much food at Ikea at night, the restaurant was nearly out of food; but then we actually went there at like 8:30pm so that was sort of expected. And there was no desserts, how fail.

 

Went home after that. Jess drove me back to her house. While I waited for my dad I went inside and watched Family Outing along with Marcus; it’s fairly funny, I might not mind picking it up if I hadn’t made my commitments to anime already, otherwise I’ll have too many things to download haha. Oh and last thing, my camera broke today. I think I know why but it’s a fairly stupid reason. The touch screen cracked so now I can’t use it. Damn I hope warranty covers this; but even so it’s going to be a pain to get it fixed. But still I’d hate to blow another $350 to buy a new one; argh so frustrated from breaking my camera today.

 

 

Saturday

That’s today. I had work. It was long. I am tired. Badminton tired me out more. Me and Tim were nearly evenly matched, he beat me 21-19 for two games and the last one went to 22-20. Teased Claudia about being a weird NSG girl, but then again they’re all weird haha! And now it’s Sunday and I really need to sleep because of youth group in the morning. What a long and adventurous week, sort of. Ah, my beautiful camera. But on a brighter note I think my tooth had nearly healed up. The stitches are sort of coming out because I keep playing around with my tongue. I need to get them out on Monday next week.

SMAC End of Year BBQ

I am well aware of the fact that it’s not quite the end of the year yet, but every year our church has their barbeque at about this time. Close enough I suppose, being at the start of December. With our new move to Cherrybrook, and our inability to use Aunty Betty’s house; we chose to use Edward Bennett Park, which was sort of behind the school. Thumbs down at everyone because they all left right after church to go to the BBQ site, while I was stuck packing all the tech equipment; far out. I can see how hard Quentin’s job is and how much I do commend his efforts over the year; oh well.

 

I didn’t help with the cooking, but instead took the initiative to plan a game; which was just my excuse for a water balloon fight. So I spent all the time before lunch filling up water balloons; it’s annoying doing them on my own, especially when there’s two bucketfuls needed. And then there was only one tap, which was in the toilets. Would’ve helped heaps if there was another one like in the middle of the park, the other one was in the girl’s toilets obviously.

 

Some of the younger girls already started up trouble after lunch. They brought large balloons and proceeded to fill those up and started splashing other people. And within minutes there was an all-out war, guys against girls. And the guys kept coming into the toilets to refill their cups and bottles, disturbing my “investment”. And it was an investment, because their naive “splashing” was very short-lived; but my large collection of water balloons would call for a very long over-killing siege haha!

 

It was good to see everyone shout and laugh and “playfully” “attack” each other. Nobody got hurt which was good, and hopefully there was no intention of such. After witnessing how wild it can get from that social at Steph’s house a few weeks back, I was afraid our youth group kids would be just as wild as us. Other people took on a quieter activity and just sat and talked, just the older girls. The older guys were playing rugby, or whatever.

 

I guess the game was a bit fail because it was really hard to get everyone’s attention, especially since they were all going so wild as it was. A few people were completely soaked already. Maybe I need to become more assertive to stop them going overboard? Anyway I didn’t have much of a game, made them play a relay race where you have to hold a water balloon under your chin and walk to some predetermined point, and then pass the water balloon onto the next person, but without using your hands. That was quite a funny challenge; there was a lot of teamwork going on, which was the main goal, and everyone just had a lot of laughs. Mission accomplished. Only Phoebe had the accident of squishing the water balloon under her chin, resulting in…yeah, that’s the whole point. But she was already drenched so it probably doesn’t matter.

 

After the game, the rest of my water balloons disappeared within 5 minutes as the kids just all grabbed a handful and bombarded each other as kids do. Fast forward a bit and I eventually got dunked, twice even, because I let my guard down and Calvin took the initiative to go against his leader. Whatever. As much as I wanted to retaliate, I can see now that there was no point and that me getting dunked was for their amusement; that’s fair, if they have fun then I’ve served my purpose haha!

 

Everyone was exhausted after that so there wasn’t much commotion afterwards, ever since the water balloon stock ran out and we were like down to 2 or 3 of them. We started playing on the swings, obviously we were all too old for them, but even at our weight we still couldn’t break it. I know that I can go high enough such that I’d actually free fall for a bit. Think about it, if you swing up real high, then the horizontal distance of the swing from the bar above becomes less, after you pass the 90-degree point. At which you will actually fall down because of gravity. That’s how high I would dare to go. Andre was behind pushing me and I swear several times he threatened to push me off; I hadn’t planned a safety fall at the time and am glad that I didn’t fall off.

 

The barbeque was fun; too wild but fun nonetheless. And this being my fourth post for today, in order to catch up, will therefore end abruptly without reason except that I am getting tired from spam blogging so much today. As for me now, I have to research on a camera to buy with my “hard-earned” receptionist money, in time for NTE and my birthday!

MLM Buffet

On Sunday night we went out to Shangrila, or however you spell that hotel, to have a buffet dinner. I don’t think there was any special occasion to have a buffet; we probably just went for fun. So we all met up at Yvonne’s place beforehand, and then carpooled our way to the city.

 

In short, the food was rather nice; the only thing that was hard to stomach was the choking price of $35 per person, but that was only for the first 10 people; we had 15, so 5 had to pay the full price of $68?! Most definitely not worth the variety of food that they had. And I’m sure it would’ve been very difficult to eat up that value in food. It was hard enough doing that at Andy’s sushi buffet dinner party.

 

I’m still trying to work out a good strategy to maximise the amount of food one can eat throughout the night; to maximise the amount value to compensate the sunk cost of the buffet. Of course that’s just Asian thinking really; but you feel a lot of fail when you get full quickly and can’t eat enough to increase the value. I’ve worked out that, like a marathon, you can’t rush it all and hope to achieve the most from that; it won’t work. It’s got to be patient and slow eating, such that digestion helps generate more room in your stomach, and you also won’t “feel” full as much either.

 

But that’s just my two cents. There was some okay seafood: prawns, crabs and oysters. The prawns and crabs weren’t that great, the meat wasn’t very tasty; but the oysters were pretty good. There was sushi, potato salad. That was the cold food. Hot food included some weird Indian rice, vegetables, more crab, sirloin beef (which wasn’t that great either) and various other Asian-like meat dishes, and some curry. There wasn’t much variety unfortunately and it didn’t take long before managing to try every single dish being offered.

 

Dessert was heaps better; there was so much variety there; lots of chocolate, dark chocolate mousse, black forest cake, lemon-mango stuff, more chocolate, and fondue. Damn what type of stupid spelling is “fondue”, had spell check verify this for me. Guess I take back my scoff at Nat when she spelled it this way; I seriously would’ve thought just “du” rather than “due”. But anyway that was about the food there was. The chocolate fountain was pretty awesome, sort of.

 

Highlights of the night included camera battles between Jason Yap and Marrilyn, who each brought their professional cameras. Well I’m so sorry that I only intend to buy a cheap camera; I guess it won’t suit as a photographer for media and such, but oh well, I’ll just have to make do with it, once I actually buy the camera that is. Other than that, our main entertainment was supplied by Nat (as usual); who as expected was just *palm face* or *giggle* throughout the entire night. First with her enthusiasm and trouble at cracking the shell of the crabs, with just a fork, up until being a complete hog with the fondue; always going back for more strawberries. She had at least 10 strawberries, over 6 sticks, all covered in chocolate, etc. She just wouldn’t stop, and didn’t seem to have any intention of doing so. *palm face*

 

There was also fireworks at about 9pm, we had a pretty good view of them. They were probably for Australian Idol right? Doesn’t matter who wins; they’re both losers in the end, ever since the second season when they let Casey Donovan win because she shook…Bob Carr’s hand? That premier guy yeah? They were short and rather ordinary I guess. And just randomly adding, there was this Chinese guy on the table next to us who just spammed oysters, he grabbed like a dozen of them in one go; and he kept going back to grab that many. That was just uber greedy of him, uber Asian of him really. But people from our group eventually; not for themselves but to share with everyone else. I had 7 the entire night; grabbed 4 the first and second time, donated one to Nat.

 

After all the food, I was at my “regular” critical level again; but not as bad as last time, there wasn’t ice cream to end it all. But I was still rather sensitive to sudden movements and yeah it was a bit hard to walk and stuff. We all went back to Yvonne’s place where we watched Transformers, more shenanigans from Nat with her slightly immature and fake cheers for “Optimus Prime” and the “Decepticons” zzzz. We left at about midnight; didn’t finish the movie and just for the record, I still have not seen the entire movie in one sitting yet. No my money!!!

MLM Guy’s Night In

Well last Tuesday (12th November) we took a break from our regular Bible studies and had a night in at Ken’s place. I say “guy’s night in” because in the end only guys turned up…and Nat. It was pretty “lol” for her, being the only girl there. Anyway we had dinner first. Ken made Japanese beef curry, which was pretty good; managed to feed a number of mouths. I would’ve liked to eat his turtle haha, nah just kidding; can’t remember the last time I saw a live turtle up close, nor a dead one in case anyone was wondering.

 

Afterwards we simply gamed the night away. I brought my Wii and so some people were playing Wii sports. The rest of us played Mahjong. Highlights/clowns of the night include Nat (as per usual) and Billy. Nat and her funny Mahjong antics, and Billy and his overly competitive nature, in all the Wii sports: tennis, bowling, baseball, boxing. Would be funny to see how he would’ve gone at golf. Some of the videos can be found on my facebook.

 

As the night went on, most people left; only me, Jacky, Nat and Ken (cos it’s his place obviously) stayed and played Brawl till midnight. More “lawl”s there. I haven’t played Brawl in ages, still pretty rusty, don’t know why I got bored of the game at home; can’t even beat level 9 CPUs yet; oh well. I still need to finish Fire Emblem.

 

Hmm I thought I could blog more about the night; it was long, it was fun, it was random; and perhaps too many funny moments which you can’t really put into words. But yeah maybe they’ll be more of this in the holidays since there isn’t anything better to do now.

Semester Break Weekend 2

Well okay nothing happened this weekend, but stuff certainly did happen a few days after it:

 

Monday – Crossfire Leaders’ Meeting

Kenny asked us to go to his house on the Monday to plan for our youth group. He figured that it would be better to use like half a day to plan something like in Soul Purpose rather than try and meet up some time during the week or prior to youth group, in order to plan for that week. We spent quite a while there, part of the time watching him and his sister’s kids play; so many children =.=”

 

Apart from planning for our series on Jonah, we also started on making a big paper mache fish. I have done this level of craftwork for a really long time, and it’s been a while since I last soaked my fingers in icky glue. We used a cardboard box and some wire mesh to make the outline of the fish and then we just slobbed on newspaper to make the surface; we only spent a bit of time on it but already the fish was taken form really nicely. Kenny made glue by mixing water with…starch? Cheap method but he said that’s how they did it back in Malaysia.

 

Also there was this stray cat the entire afternoon, who hung around us. At first when I arrived I noticed some blob on top of Kenny’s car; I thought it was like two birds because the mass was too large for a single bird. But then when we all arrived and went down to the garage; someone noticed that a cat was inside Kenny’s car, someone even asked the typical question: “Oh, Kenny, when did you get a cat?” I never realised the thing on top of Kenny’s car back then was in fact the cat. Kenny opened the door and the cat solemnly came back out. But after that it hung around us as we made a paper mache fish; Jess L lured the cat over by meowing at it, and the cat meowed back haha! It then sort of walked around us as we made paper mache. At one point it wanted to see what was inside the pot which held the glue, and we had to stop it from drinking it. Not sure what the cat wanted but it kept following us until we decided to let the fish dry and went back inside the house. The cat wanted to come in too; but we didn’t let it so it ran off elsewhere I think. Jess said something about the cat not having a microchip; and so then it won’t have an owner? o.0” I don’t know, but it was like Kenny had a chance at that point to own that cat haha!

 

We had dinner there at a really small table, where Kenny made us share deep stuff about our lives. I know that something we should be able to do as Christians; but I for one wasn’t entirely comfortable with sharing personal stuff about myself with those people. I don’t know why; I mean I’ve known them for quite a while, I guess perhaps I never really got to get close to them so it is uncomfortable to tell them personal stuff. My fear was they’d laugh at me for being a weak pussy, and sure enough they did, sort of. I don’t trust them any less though, I just know that I can’t go to them with my problems because they just can’t be trusted with them. It’s just setting a personal boundary away from other people, it’s not like super bad but yeah, setting your basic limits I guess; had to happen at some point.

 

Tuesday – Chris’ 18th

Oh man I got home at like 9pm thank God any later and I’d be too tired. I slept as early as I could on Monday but had to wake up early for Tuesday to get down to the city. Ah I haven’t had to wake up this early since uni haha; and that’s still heaps far away sort of. Jono called me and managed to meet up in the right car in the train. Chris and Tim then found us like in the same carriage by chance haha and the four of us travelled to the city. Matthew was going to be late because 1) He misread the date and thought the party was on Thursday, and 2) He misread the times and thought to catch the train at 9:30am when in fact we were to meet up down at Town Hall at that time.

 

We all met up at Town Hall as planned; good on Chris since he had like 3 days to plan this up and get it running. Only Matthew was going to be late so we just moved off. Chris took us to Star City Casino; my first time at that place; it’s mediocre, nothing that posh or special. We spent a while getting our member cards; man they are kick ass! Discount food at the food bar and also 3 free drinks each day, from like those coffee vending machines; now that is cool haha!

 

There weren’t many people when we got there, obviously; who comes and gambles at such an early time in the morning? Jono showed us to the 1c slot machines where we just spent a couple of dollars gambling and just having fun. Kelvin was a pre-emptive on experimenting and bet his whole dollar on one turn and lost it in mere seconds haha! Jono showed us how to use our dollar to get a bunch of goes and he then made like $3 profit; what the?! My first dollar didn’t go too well and I lost it after a few minutes. Slot machines aren’t that fun, it’s more mechanical, just press the button and see if money comes out. The only thrill is when you actually win something, but most of the time you’re doomed to losing your earnings within a few minutes.

 

My second dollar lasted a but longer and I had fun for a good 10 minutes, winning a bit and losing a bit. Eventually my luck gave out and that was my dollar again. Tim was lucky enough to make $7 in one go and pulled out. But the addiction of gambling kicked in and he kept going until his total earnings had dropped to like $4, or was it less? Chris wanted to play real blackjack, where the buy in was $10; we stood around waiting but no-one at those tables actually left so that was no good. Eventually Chris blew it on some other game in one go. But I reckon that losing money isn’t all too bad as long as you had a thrill earning some and then losing it, my two dollars was worth the thrill I got out of it haha! I don’t regret losing it.

 

Afterwards we had lunch and then moved off for laser tag. Again my first time at laser tag. Well we played pool before that; maybe I should continue playing pool at uni, I made a couple of fluke shots but my partner Jono made a lot of bad shots which let Kelvin and Matthew win, by technicality. Man I managed to knock one of their balls and the black ball close together and near one of the corner holes; they were screwed from finishing and yet Jono managed to noob shot it and it nudged the black bal into the hole T.T”

 

Laser tag was really fun; shame it costs so much and only lasts such a short time. Chris shouted us laser tag which was really nice of him! He was trying for some 2 for 1 deal, but I overheard at the counter that the offer is only for school holidays, what a jip! And so Chris could only shout us one game. That’s still okay. The place wasn’t that great as Matthew said; I’m sure there must’ve been a better laser tag place. The play field was too small and wasn’t dark enough haha. Unfortunately we played an FFA game with a bunch of random white kids. They were kids; they should be in school geez! All of us did rather well, we were all grouped from third place onwards, with two people like at the bottom of the board, out of about 15 people? Some uber small kid came first in score; I remember him, stupid midget came and blasted me and then ran off. There was no way to get him before he got me; he’s so small it’s unpredictable. Why the hell would I be aiming at crouch level of our group to hit this midget kid? That’s why he won, none of us expected a short thing to come out of nowhere, so we didn’t have enough time to readjust our aim. My accuracy was fairly good; snapped a lot of people, those damn white kids who would noobishly camp in those holes; I outplayed a lot of them haha, they just walked away, bleh!

 

We were full sweating after the game and then proceeded to train back to Chris’ house. Back there we played Guitar Hero World. My first time at that too T.T” Now I can say I’ve played Guitar Hero. It’s not that hard obviously since I play DDR, just need more time to coordinate my hands, never had to use my pinky before that’s why. Other people played Poker. Oh we bought Buzz for Chris, I’ll go to that later. We swapped after an hour or so, when Andy and Brandon showed up. I moved off to Poker and cleaned up Kelvin and his bluffs; Matthew also is a pretty bad BS artist haha, it’s clear when his hand matches the flop well and you know not to play on. Kelvin is a bit more trickier with his psychological spurring. But it wasn’t a complete bluff for him, I just had the better hand funnily enough. Haha I love shutting people up; but I fairly don’t rub it in afterwards.

 

We bought pizza as usual. Thank God we had Brandon’s car to pick up pizzas. It was a really cold night since it had just rained and it’d be hell trying to walk through the streets the way we were dressed haha! I honestly didn’t see the logic in getting 9 pizzas for 9 people; well the nine who were able to eat, minus Andy. Honestly not everyone can stomach a pizza, I did 6-7 slices, can’t remember now. I know some can more than 8 slices but on average everyone does less than one. So now Chris has a lot of pizza left over for breakfast and lunch, etc. Oh well. I was a 2 for 1 deal on Tuesday so yeah!

 

We played a bit longer into the night and then left before it got too late. A nice long day, really tiring especially for me because…

 

 

Wednesday – Mahjong

Why did I organise Mahjong at 10am in the morning?! I guess Chris’ party thing only popped up after I set down the Mahjong date and time; and my mum preferred the day time. I groggily woke up at 9:30am, knowing that I had half an hour to set myself up with breakfast and regular hygiene processes before my guests came. Again I invited Sharon, Matthew and Jacky for Mahjong; I guess they warmed up to the last time we met at my house where my mum unexpectedly let them stay for dinner and we ended up playing Mahjong on that Sunday night till 10pm.

 

Sharon was the first to come; she brought her table and set with her (thank you!). Again I am surprised that she’s willing to come and play with people that she didn’t know all too well, guys at that fact. But oh well I’m Mahjong gave her a really strong motivation huh? The guys were running a bit late so we had time to set the table up and the set. Matthew drove his way here, which explains a lot haha! And Jacky walked over. We got started at about 10:30am.

 

Luckily Sharon’s family set up a system to count money with those weird chips that come with every set; it was a fairly balanced system and for once made point-scoring actually worth it. I think I learned heaps today; I think I’ve learned to play heaps better and there’s no point going out with small 3-farn hands anymore, they earn you jack squat! I felt like I benefited heaps today. Sharon on the other hand we could all see had the worst day out of all of us. She ended up last in terms of money; which is rather strange because she’s meant to be the most experienced out of all of us; bad luck I suppose. She kept feeding me and Matt and the only times she managed to compensate her losses were through like a 7-farn and 8-farn hand plus a desperate 3-farn all-pung hand.

 

Funniest moment of the day was Matthew trying to get something else other than 3-farn all-pung hand (which he did every single round and was getting rather lame because he kept sort of leeching small amounts of cash off us). Anyway he was trying for a flush; we knew what he needed and obviously we all refrained from giving it to him. But he was oh so confident in drawing the tile himself, which seemed very unlikely because the wall was nearly gone and the game was going to end in a stalemate. Jacky boldly made the statement: “If Matthew manages to self-draw then I’m Mickey Mouse.” And today Jacky is now known as Mickey Mouse, that’s just how “WTH?!” the moment was, and truly was funny; as funny as his reaction as well.

 

I thought having Sharon there would help keep Matt from bursting with energy and trashing my house, but her presence didn’t have a big impact. Not until his mum came over to pick him up, and my mum invited her to come in and have a chat, that Matthew started behaving: “Oh mum is here. Must be a good little boy now…” Well guys, I think we’ve found the solution to Matthew spazzing out and everyone’s party, thinking especially to the night before at Chris’ party.

 

Our mum’s chatted for a really long time so we played for like another hour past 5pm; her mum was spilling goss about Matthew, mine was spilling goss about me, and we all just sat there in the living room eavesdropping; so embarrassing :S. The day ended with Mathew coming first with the most money (how did that happen, honestly?), then me coming very close behind; then Jacky with a loss compared to the beginning, and poor Sharon dead last with a huge loss but not out for the count haha! Poor girl got passively frustrated every time she’d hit out and then suddenly owed money to someone else; for instance that one time where I was calling a flush, she kept discarding my suit and the first two times she was really lucky; yet on the third she luck broke and she owed me for 7-farn. Matthew had the biggest hand at the Mickey Mouse round, at 9-farn after counting the flower and the self-draw.

 

Man what another long day, but heaps of fun; I know me and Matt got heaps out of it. Don’t feel bad Sharon, we still respect you as our Sempai! haha! Maybe Mahjong again in the mid-sem break; I’ll see.

 

And that brings us to the end of three days worth of constant fun; and I was so dead tired afterwards. Stuff still happened on Thursday and Friday. I’ll go onto Friday next; Thursday was a miscellaneous fun day so yeah.