Give and Take

“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21

When I reflect on the struggles and difficult times in my life, I often come back to the story of Job, and in particular the statement he makes that God is one who gives and takes away. I often see the story of Job and one who at the beginning lost everything except his life, spends many chapters wrestling with his friends about how to make sense of what has happened, and at the end after conversing with God he receives much more from God than what he had originally. And I realised that though I turn to this book in the Bible to find comfort when God has taken away things in my life, I should also be considering the things that God has given me too; we subtly miss the fact that God gives Job many things at the start before he took them away (well, I subtly missed that point).

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Reminisce 2013: Part 1

As the year draws to an end (even though there is two months to go technically), it’s a good chance to reflect on the year that has been for me; in particular how my first year of full time work has gone, and how my growth as a Christian has been going. There are many things to mention in my year that I have regrettably not found the time to share with people; and many more thoughts and ideas to lay down for myself and others.

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Mid-Year Conference 2012–Wednesday

Day number 3 tends to be the day where energy levels start dropping, and everything feels like more of a challenge, firstly because more elements of the topic are being tied in, and secondly because being tired means processing facts a little slower. As with every other year, there is this pattern of sleeping later and later, which results in waking up later and later; but of course today we were still able to wake up in time for breakfast. I am very grateful for having an ensuite to sleep in; the heater is a very welcome blessing – I don’t think nights are getting colder but it can still make sleeping uncomfortable without a heater. I chuckle a bit at the attempts of the MTSers (and our grade) to try and get the younger years to sleep early. I suppose 11pm, and again at 12am, are just too unrealistic of a time to expect the younger years to obediently retire to their rooms, let alone to get them to sleep. I suppose this affects us because we’re tempted to stay up, and most of the time need to watch them and tell them to go to sleep.

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Mid-Year Conference 2012–Tuesday

I know it’s a few days late, so we’ll see how we go with trying to keep up with the events of this week. Monday night was alright, though I will say in advance that as the week went on, we gradually got less and less sleep, which is to be expected. By Tuesday, there hasn’t been enough content to make us scratch our heads in confusion so it’s still a day where new information is settling in but we aren’t quite challenged or shaped by it.

 

In the morning we went out to McDonald’s in the morning for breakfast, as well as to pick up a friend from the station, who had just arrived at MYC today. I know it’s not fully respectful to go out of the campsite for meals and not eat the camp food; but I think we all sort of agree to some extent that camp food isn’t exactly something that will satisfy us, especially if we need to find sustenance from it for a full five days. Like, for a short camp it’d be okay to eat a little less for a few days, but a week long camp, it’s a bit harder to draw energy for all those days when you aren’t being fed well. With the sheer number of students at MYC this year (in excess of 750 in total), food supplies are a little more limited than usual; although I wouldn’t really know why since they should just be catering for more people. But I think camp staff were concerned that there wasn’t enough food to go around, and so for most of the meals, we’ve been receiving suboptimal portions, causing a lot of people to turn to their beloved cup noodles for satisfying their hunger. On Wednesday night something even more extravagant happens in regards to food, but I’ll get to that in the Wednesday post.

Mid-Year Conference 2012–Monday

Strangely I kept waking up throughout Sunday night; not sure why but it also didn’t impact me that much. One of my roommates sometimes snores a bit, he shall be purged from this world later this week if it persists. No, I’m just kidding; but I am a very light sleeper, which is why I opted for an ensuite as opposed to a dorm room (three people versus either in a room) – leads to a lower chance of having snorers and other distractions throughout the night.

 

2012_MYC_019

 

Today was a pretty fun day, waking up to get ready for the car and bus-loads of students coming to camp, welcoming them and helping them get up to speed with the pace of the conference. In short, it again was very daunting seeing the number of Commerce students in total. The numbers went up a bit this year to over 140, which is really crazy and hectic. I remember being in our faculty common room as the only 4th year, along with two of our MTSers, and we had to somehow control over 100 younger students, definitely not an easy feat. But likely everyone is mature and they all fell in line soon after being given an order. I don’t think there’s much to say about numbers that I didn’t already mention in last year’s posts. I suppose there were so many of them that I didn’t know this time round, mostly students that were at least two years younger than me. And yeah this is one of those opportunities to meet as many new people as possible. Although I would hope to speak fairly and say that it isn’t as big a deal for our grade anymore considering that we’ll be gone in the next six months and won’t really be able to actively take part in helping the younger students grow spiritually in uni. Yes, the fact that looms over us is that we’ll be expendable really soon since we’re about to graduate.

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Mid-Year Conference 2012–Sunday

And so begins my last year’s experience at UNSW’s MYC before I graduate. The major difference so far that I can speak about is that my week begins on a Sunday, as opposed to the standard Monday as in the previous three years. Pre-MYC is a small “event” that takes place on the day before the week of MYC, simply as an extra day for those who come to prepare themselves for the week ahead, and for them to plan how to serve the rest of the faculty and campus; this includes things such as preparing the folders of material to give out the next day (that is, tomorrow) and to help with decorations and organising how to usher people to park their cars and direct them where they need to go.

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Luke 18:9-14 – The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

This was my second talk at church, again on another parable of Jesus. Just as a quick reflection I think I’m starting to adopt a manner of speech similar that of our preachers on campus, which I think is a good thing, because I really want to push reading and understanding the Bible to an intellectual and academic level since it’s so important to hold onto the truth amidst a world where lies seep on from the most subtle of sources. Next talk will be some time in October, and will not be an evangelistic; no clues given as to what my passage will be for next time.

I know I haven’t had any time to blog this semester; I will be doing yet another reflection post on how things have gone this semester, but I cannot be certain if I’ll be able to commit to a regular blogging habit due to weekly commitments to church and university ministry. In the meantime, please leave me feedback on how you think my talk here went.

Let me Re-iterate

I think we should start this again from the top. As more and more people start to read my blog, they seem to just take the most recent one that’s there, and use that to create an initial opinion about me. That’s not wrong, it’s just common sense. If you want to get a quick overview of what someone is like, just take a small “sample” of their life and see what you can infer from it. However, the point I raised in my “stereotyping” post is that after we make that initial judgement, we should keep our minds open to learning more about the other person that we barely know. After all, we only truly get to know someone after we’ve spent enough time interacting (and observing) them. Only after that can you make a better judgement as to what that person is like.

 

I certainly would not like anyone, especially new readers, coming to my blog and making an opinion about me just from a single post. And I think to be fair, that swings both ways, to positive and negative comments. So don’t think I’m a good guy from one good post I made, and don’t think I’m purely a bad guy from one negative post I made. If anything (and I know it will be hard for many people to do), I would like people to read through my other posts before making a judgement about me; but if that isn’t helpful, at least read my very first post. Had a short read of it just then, and yeah perhaps there was a bit too much negativity there. But that’s okay I don’t regret publishing it for the world to see.

 

However, I will agree with myself from two years ago about one thing: I am not a “normal” person. But maybe what I really mean by that is that I’m not a person you can just easily understand. Read every post I’ve ever made and you still probably won’t come close to understanding the person that I was then and am today. I don’t mean to throw people off with that, I would like to share my life with people (which is part of the reason why I blog), but I really don’t want people thinking they can just “guess” me from reading these snippets of my life. And it does start to make me feel angry, because on my end it feels like people have made irrational or unreasonable conclusions about me; however on your end it’s probably a fair opinion based on the evidence in front of you. I guess I can’t discredit you for that. Things are just that inefficient in this world.

 

Anyway, it is clear to me (well it’s been clear for years now though I never actually addressed it) that many of you will just read my blog and keep quiet about it. There are many of you who will actually come up and talk to me about what I wrote, or leave a comment behind, but for everyone else, you’ll just keep quiet about it, at least from me. I guess that makes sense because I’m not posting about simple, harmless things, like how horrible my Actuarial lecture was today because of how fob my lecturer is. I talk about things that raises moral questions that have no obvious answer. So clearly for anyone to make a statement about these things, you put yourself up to criticism for trying to make things a binary (one thing or another) when it’s not that simple. Okay fair enough, but if I didn’t do that, my blog would be no different from anything random you would find on the Internet, except maybe I wouldn’t have found as many interesting or funny things to share. So clearly, this password protecting thing isn’t going to work, because no-one is going to fess up and say that they read my blog, knowing that you’ll put yourself up to criticism for having an opinion on my opinions.

 

And so when I post something that’s disagreeable, no-one is going to say anything about it, because just as much I put myself up to criticism for a complex topic, you put yourself up to criticism too by adding your own opinion about it. So for the people who actually reply and give me a counter argument: good, that’s exactly what I want, not an argument, but another opinion. If that person who gives the counter argument holds something against me then okay sure, I said before that if you have to make a judgement about me from one post, then by all means do so (since I can’t really stop you, I can only ask you to not judge harshly). But for everyone else who holds a silent grudge against me over one thing I said, shame on you because you didn’t even have the guts to face me and my opinion. I don’t think I’m being irrational and unreasonable here. If I was, then I won’t really deserve an answer and you would then be free to hold silent grudges against me. But I’m not am I?

 

One last thing. I am not invincible, so please don’t have any preconceptions that I am. I think my Christian life has been my characteristic that’s been put on display for criticism. If I make one false move then *boom* the world ends (I’m exaggerating of course). I would hope people won’t have unreasonably high expectations of me. If I’m having a bad week due to stress and I’m bitter about something that I normally wouldn’t be then I’m only being genuine. I can easily just keep this blog completely formal, not a hint of my life (well the bad bits really) in it and then no-one can criticise me. I’ll let my negative feelings out in a controlled way here because I am not a perfect person by far, and I hope everyone remembers that for myself, and for all other church leaders. Just because we don’t show our negative emotions to other people, doesn’t mean they’re not there. We’re not always intentionally having bad thoughts about things here and there, but at some point it’s going to happen because sin is inevitable, and we as Christians are not exempt from it.

 

I really will try not to be discouraging in my posts, but I get the feeling that I’m forced to be encouraging in whatever I do, but people don’t have to show the same attitude back towards me? I will have to think more about that. Please let me remind you that this is my blog and that I do have the freedom to post whatever I want on it, though many times I will not exercise that freedom. But please respect that since you are not the owner of this blog, you have no say in what I can or cannot post. I know that might sound immature of me, but these are indeed unspoken “rules” which have mutual boundaries that we all try to agree on without ever stating to one another (eg: no obscenities and no invading people’s privacy although I could very well do so if I wanted to). But again, I think I’ve said this before, if I do post something you don’t like, I hope you won’t just say to me: “Oh, take this post down because I don’t like it”. I hope instead you would say to me: “Oh, take this post down; I don’t like it because…” Please give me something to work with or you will not be given the same.

 

Sounds harsh? I hope I won’t have to repeat myself again.

Your Average Accident

The place where I work sits along the busy road known as Pennant Hills Road. It’s a fairly major road that runs through from Hornsby up ion the north, to nearly down to Parramatta and beyond out to the west. As such the road is very busy and consequently many road accidents take place on it. So today at work, my boredom has been relieved by a loud thud, which to be honest may me smile in excitement more than cringe in fear. Any excitement seems to be worth whatever the cost.

My work colleagues went outside to take a look, and then I followed suit:

Can’t even tell what car it is but the damage seems pretty serious. Once the photo is up, you’ll also see that there was fuel leaking out from under the car. The woman in the blue dress was in the carat the time. The driver was a 63 year old woman. There was also another man, the one wearing a black shirt who is standing next to the car. How do I know these things? That’s because they’re sitting right here in the office right now, trying to sort out their problems.

I know it’s a bit mean of me to blog about them while they’re still here; but clearly, nothing really happens at work so even a car accident is something to get excited over. The three people in the car weren’t injured, which is quite miraculous considering the extent of the damage. As for the other car, it wasn’t there when I came back out, but I think I caught a glimpse of it going past soon after I heard the thud. There was one blue car that had a huge dent in its rear so I suspect that might have been the car that was rammed.

According to the old woman, she simply failed to stop at the yellow light right outside my office and she slammed into the car in front. The car in front decided to stop instead of speed through the yellow light because there was a safety camera at the intersection – it basically encourages people to go through yellow lights WITHOUT speeding. So if you aren’t going to make the light, you’re better off stopping. Perhaps the people in the car weren’t aware of this safety camera, and probably didn’t see the small sign that said “Safety Camera Ahead”.

Either way, they (were) in the office trying to call up an ambulance (to make sure they were okay), police and a tow truck, which is probably outside right now somewhere. So they sat in the office while making phone calls, and making me search up numbers for them to call, which was understandable but still a bother. I seemed to have forgotten that there was a police station right near Pennant Hills train station, but thanks to the incident today, I have remembered that there is.

And so thus ends my temporary excitement for the day. Everyone is always crashing at that intersection for some reason. And as a result, nobody is a safe driver, or is safe from other drivers.

[J-Pop] HO-KAGO TEA TIME – U&I

With nothing better to do at work, I thought I might blow some time by posting up my favourite song of the moment. There hasn’t been any recent music that has sparked to my interests but this song is pretty awesome, compared to everything that’s new at the moment.

 

The song is “U&I” by “After School Teatime”, a virtual band from the anime series K-ON! which is set to air it’s last episode for season 2 next week. Here’s a short segment of the song that was used in episode 20, a couple of weeks ago. I waited in anticipation for the song to be released as a single since then haha; came out like a week or so ago:

 

If there was a moment to cry in the anime, this would be it. Our main character Yui, the one singing, writes this song for her sister Ui (creative character names yes, even the song name itself) which makes it a really pretty song, because it shows character development and the sisterly love that’s been lingering in this series since the beginning. I would prefer Mio, the black hair girl, to be singing all the songs from the anime because her voice actor can sing better than Yui’s one, but I guess this is Yui’s song so it’s right for her to sing it.

 

Mr Geoffrey Wong must definitely agreed with me if he bothered to do this:

 

Okay, back to folding stuff. Lyrics and translations are below; if you want to hear the full song, YouTube it or something.

 

Romaji Lyrics

Kimi ga inai to nani mo dekinai yo
Kimi no gohan ga tabetai yo
Moshi kimi ga kaette kitara
Tobikkiri no egao de dakitsuku yo

Kimi ga inai to ayamarenai yo
Kimi no koe ga kikitai yo
Kimi no egao ga mirereba sore dake de ii nda yo

Kimi ga soba ni iru dake de itsumo yuuki moratteta
Itsu made demo issho ni itai
Kono kimochi wo tsutaetai yo

Hare no hi ni mo ame no hi mo
Kimi wa soba ni ite kureta
Me wo tojireba kimi no egao kagayaiteru

Kimi ga inai to nani mo wakaranai
Satou to shouyu wa doko da kke?
Moshi kimi ga kaette kitara
Bikkuri saseyou to omotta no ni na

Kimi ni tsuitsui amaechau yo
Kimi ga yasashisugiru kara
Kimi ni moratte bakari de nani mo ageraretenai yo

Kimi ga soba ni iru koto wo atarimae ni omotteta
Konna hibi ga zutto zutto
Tsudzuku nda to omotteta yo

Gomen ima wa kidzuita yo
Atarimae ja nai koto ni

Mazu wa kimi ni tsutaenakucha
“Arigatou” wo

Kimi no mune ni todoku ka na? ima wa jishin nai keredo
Warawanai de douka kiite
Omoi wo uta ni kometa kara

Arittake no “arigatou”
Uta ni nosete todoketai
Kono kimochi wa zutto zutto wasurenai yo

Omoi yo   todoke

English Translations

When you’re not here, I can’t do anything.
I want to eat your cooking.
When you come back,
I’ll put my best smile on, and then I’ll hug you tight.

When you’re not here, I can’t apologize.
I want to hear the sound of your voice.
If I can see your smiling face, that’s enough for me.

Just by having you here by my side, I’ve always found the courage for anything.
I want to be together with you forever.
I want to deliver these feelings to you.

On the sunny days and on the rainy days,
You were always there for me.
When I close my eyes, I just see your smile shining brightly.

When you’re not here, I don’t know anything.
Where are the sugar and soy sauce, again?
When you came back,
I was thinking of giving you a surprise.

I always find myself depending on you,
Because you’re too sweet to me.
All you do is give and give to me, but I can’t give anything to you.

I always thought of having you by my side as something that was ordinary.
I thought that these days
Would continue on forever and ever.

I’m sorry. I’ve realized now
That it was never ordinary.

First I have to deliver those words,
“Thank you for everything.”

Will my feelings reach your heart? Right now, I don’t have much confidence,
But don’t laugh, and listen somehow,
Because I’ve put my feelings into a song.

I want to take all of my “thank you”s
And send them to you on this song.
I’ll never, ever forget these feelings as long as I live.

Come on, my feelings, go through!

*Lyrics and translations taken from http://bambooxzx.wordpress.com/ don’t really know who they belong to, but whatever; don’t really have time to translate songs myself these days.

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2017/03/05 – Updated the theme for my blog! I wasn’t meaning to change the layout, but the “Categories” plugin for my old theme wasn’t working anymore so I had to change to a more recent and supported theme. The banner image at the top was from Sculptures by the Sea in 2013, taken on my Canon 7D. Enjoy!