Patience

I guess I haven’t really blogged in a while, so I apologise in advance if my writing is incoherent or has grammatical errors. I suppose the simplest way to summarise the last year and a half (and not just the time since I last posted, which was in February), would be the word “patience“. Patience is something I struggled with in the various circumstances that God placed me in over the last year and a half. Patience is something I learnt a fair bit about from my experiences with different settings and people. And patience is something I still continually strive for as I try to make sense of God’s plan for my life.

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Non-Stop Road

Lots to go through in this post; but let me start with something less relevant just to get the ball rolling.

 

Today’s title is brought to you by an anime airing this season called “Natsuiro Kiseki” (A Summer-Coloured Miracle), quite a nice title with a nice slice-of-life storyline; and awesome voice actors who perform the opening and ending themes – I’ve always liked how Japanese anime like to get the voice actors of the main characters to also perform the music for that anime (the most well-known for doing so is probably “K-On”). Nevertheless I really like the song, here’s the opening clip:

 

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.

 

Semester 2, 2011 (Preview)

I couldn’t think of a better title, the timetable below is pretty self-explanatory:

 

[2011s2] Jason Tam

Wait, what am I on about? The timetable above is NOT self-explanatory, which is why I’ve also provided a Q&A. But before that, let me point out some straightforward facts and implications.

  1. I’ll finally have one day off (Monday) a week, instead of my packed 5 days a week this semester.
  2. CBS is heavily impacted in that I will not be able to attend ANY of the “required” weekly events, aside from Bible Study.
  3. I have 18 hours in total, and am not sure how many hours (if there are any) are skippable.
  4. Yes, “skippable” is a word. I don’t care if there’s a red squiggly line under it.

 

Q1. Was this really the best timetable you could come up with?

Sadly yes. This is pretty much the most optimal timetable (for me) that I could make. A reason for this is that all my courses are small, so there aren’t many (or any) classes to choose from. All 12 hours of lectures you see above were already set; there was no possible way to move them. As for the remaining 6 hours of tutorials/labs, some only had two choices, others had more but many of those clashed with a lecture time of another course.

 

Q2. Could you have done other courses instead?

I could. But because my peers are also doing these courses, I did not want to disadvantage myself by doing courses that I didn’t have contacts in; that would just be plain stupid. Having said that, there was one math course which completely clashed with my actuarial course, but the times for that math course were never fixed so I can’t really enrol in that one still.

 

Q3. What about Monday?

Even if I did decide to come in on Monday, and it;d be really hard to bring myself to do such a thing considering how this semester is playing out, I can only have a maximum of two tutorials there. So coming in on Monday for a maximum of two hours of class, I would rather put those two hours elsewhere and get Mondays off. The only serious trade off is that I cannot attend the CBS meeting, and since I have Monday off, I don’t think I’ll come in on Monday just for that meeting.

 

Q4. Why are you doing 5 courses?

Two of them are worth 3 Units of Credit each, and so I still have a total of 24 Units of Credit for next semester. I have 18 hours of class because these are science courses, and not just commerce (otherwise I would get a carefree 12 hours a week). If I do not do these courses now, it will disadvantage me (for the reasons listed in Q2) and it will probably stuff up my degree in one way or another.

 

Q5. What are your plans for CBS next semester?

Seeing as my timetable is completely anti-CBS (semester 1 of last year was the same actually), I am most likely going to wisely step down from my leadership roles there. The only thing I can really help with (or at least attend) is just a Bible Study weekly. I can still lead one if need be, but considering that I won’t be able to attend any other CBS activity, it would probably be wise for me not to lead a Bible Study next semester. We will have to see what my MTSer has to say. But with about 4 hours of break a week, I should still be able to attend a Bible Study group.

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my weekly routine, I cannot attend Core Theology on Tuesday nights because it clashes with my youth group leaders’ meeting. Somehow, my timetable managed to cater for my Tuesday night meeting once again (thank God). I think it will be wise for me to take a step back from CBS activities (only because the circumstances have made it so), so that I can get more time and energy to focus on church activities. My focus and energy has been greatly divided this semester between many things, and it’s felt like I haven’t done anything to as good a degree as I would like. I already mentioned about me being given more responsibilities at church, and so I should be wise about my responsibilities and give more time to that. Plus, uni studies have just plummeted because of all these weekly activities happening. Consequently, church will be my primary focus for next semester.

 

There won’t be many lectures I can skip, I anticipate. But the only ones worth skipping would be the ones that take place at critical time slots throughout the week, namely anything that happens at 1pm. There is a chance I will get Thursday 1pm free, and that will save my “The Bible Talks” hour.

 

Q6. Is there anything we can do for you?

If you’re a CBS person reading this, do pray for me. It really does make me feel bad that I pretty much can’t go to any CBS event without killing myself over my studies and my energy (5 days seriously is painful), but I hope I can still be an encouragement to people in my faculty. I think I’ll still be involved in any faculty planning stuff (unofficially though) and I’ll be happy to offer my opinions and advice if they’re needed. I’ll be keeping tabs on how our faculty is going but I probably won’t be taking any upfront roles.

 

For church people, you are more than welcome to judge me more harshly next semester as a leader since I should have more energy (due to my free Monday) and my somewhat undivided attention for just church activities (since CBS won’t be on my mind as much next semester – but I’ll still be thinking about it of course). It’s not good to not be able to do campus ministry, but in any circumstance that God throws at you, it really comes down to how well you deal with the situation. And so for myself, I would rather get something done right, than to be able to do everything there is.

 

Still have more questions? Shoot me an e-mail or something.

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.

 

SAM_2960 (960x540)

 

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.

 

SAM_3001 (540x960)SAM_3003 (540x960) 

 

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

 

SAM_3079 (960x540) 

SAM_3080 (960x540) SAM_3081 (960x540) SAM_3082 (960x540)

 

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:

 

SAM_3165 (960x540) 

SAM_3173 (960x540)

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.

Quick Play (Updated)

Just as the mid-sem break started, a couple of event came up without me realizing that they were there; and so the Easter weekend that just passed was filled with a lot of tiring activities that have set this week to one of recovery rather than study.

 

Ronnie’s R (something…)

Ah forget it, I couldn’t think of another R word to make some alliteration haha! Anyway Ronnie was free Easter Saturday and for some reason or another wanted to come up to the Hills area, where most of us CBS people lived. So he called up Nat asking is he could crash her house and form some sort of impromptu social; that was Friday night. I tried to help organize it, we were trying to work out what to do for dinner – whether we should cook or not. The idea of cooking as a group sounded like fun only the problem was that we couldn’t decide on what to cook; not to mention that we had to buy the stuff just prior to the night.

 

An e-mail was sent like on Saturday morning and I tried my best to rally some forced through Twitter at work, since Facebook got blocked >.<” Things didn’t get far and so the cooking idea was a no go. A number of us showed up at Nat’s place around 5-6pm where we tried to figure where to go for dinner; again that was a kind of fail discussion because nobody had ideas or preferences. Jumping onto my end of the story, I was talking to Athena in the afternoon and she offered the idea to eat at the pizza place she was working at that night. And looking back now, that was probably a better idea than no idea.

 

Nonetheless we ended up going to Castle Towers to see what would happen, walked around for a while, not wanting to go into any expensive restaurant – Athena’s pizza place was clearly a good idea at the time had we not already parked there. Eventually we listened to Matthew’s idea to go eat at Nando’s T.T” and so we all had like the family feast meal deal or whatever it was, spicy chicken, lemon chicken, random sides and a big plate of chips. Didn’t fill us up all too well, but hey, fail dinner is fail dinner haha!

 

We all drove back to Nat’s place again afterwards and this is probably a good time to introduce our multimedia item for this post:

 

 

Just to add more to the story than what’s on YouTube, Nat was trying to park as close as she could to the left wall of her garage but she was afraid of scraping the side and so she continually ended up slightly away from the wall. I just thought it was funny that she just kept going rather than just give up and leave it as is; in the end she didn’t manage to fix it up (on her own). There is Cantonese dialogue, which I’ll add annotations for later, for the non-Chinese speakers.

 

Played “Articulate” and just chatted, watched some YouTube videos and had ice cream. It was a nice chill time for all of us. Nat’s sister later complained about Ronnie’s loud voice, which projected very well within Nat’s house – he had it coming, he always does. We left at around 11pm, before Nat’s parents came home from their weekly mahjong-ing with family friends.

 

 

Cherie’s Baptism

The very next morning, we all had to wake up early to get ourselves up to Thornleigh CABC (Chinese Australian Baptist Church) for Cherie’s baptism – same group of CBS people, hence why we had to leave by 11pm, but then we had the daylight savings extra hour of sleep. I haven’t been back to that church since I left it in year 4; so many years ago. I hardly remember the people there anymore, a lot of new people came after I left so I don’t really know the church anymore.

 

Anyway Jacky was paranoid of not getting a parking spot, which was fairly likely to happen because their carpark was heaps small. So we drove there early, carpooled Sarah and Bec at the same time to save driving space. We were like the first ones there funnily enough, though we were only like 15 minutes early. We sat down in those nostalgic pews (to me) while the music team practised. I now realise that they also had those huge baptism pools as well that few churches have (I think). The only other one I’ve seen was at Matt’s church.

 

Anyway the rest of out group arrived soon; we had two closely-connected groups, one was for Cherie the other was for Michelle, whom I met at next gen like last year. Anyway the baptism video is on my Facebook, in all it’s awesome HD glory now haha thanks to my new camera (finally). And just randomly, seeing Fairen Tam today reminded me of how she bullied me when we were kids, I don’t remember the scene too well but I remember it happening a lot T.T” She gave me a small wave, and I’m pretty sure she remembers it too haha!

 

After their service some of our group decided to come crash our church since our service had yet to start; and so we all drove back and today our church had lots of new visitors…from CBS haha!

 

After our service we went out for lunch in Eastwood at the Shanghai place, because everywhere else was full and stuff. Paul Chan helped us scout for restaurants that weren’t full and in the end only 6 of us went out for lunch, oh well. That was Easter Sunday.

 

 

Steph’s Party

Oh wow it just goes on. The very next day again, Easter Monday, we went down to Bicentennial Park for Steph’s barbeque party, which was organized by Eva. Me and Jacky met Adrian again on the train at Epping, and we were like the first ones there. Olympic Park was packed with people by 11am, and it was very hard to find a spot. One of Steph’s friends, Janice, managed to guard a barbeque with her parents but we didn’t have a table. Luckily the Asian couple just next to us were happy to let us use one of the tables, and even gave us a mat to cover it (at least I think that’s what happened).

 

Anyway we waited for Eva to come by with the food, though no-one else was here. But that made sense because of traffic and how difficult it must’ve been to park there today. Eventually Eva came with the food and we began to cook. The party was more Abbotsleigh Girls than CBS but hence I overlooked the fact that someone had to cook for the barbeque. I volunteered myself in other words. I don’t mind cooking, I’ve cooked at like the last few barbeques we’ve had so yeah.

 

Today’s special restriction for the barbeque was…using only two tongs. That’s right, two tongs ONLY! Eva admitted she doesn’t barbeque much and so she only brought two tongs. I thought “okay, challenge accepted” although in hindsight  whether I accepted or not didn’t change the fact that we only had two tongs to use. I’ve barbequed enough (with mistakes) to think that the following materials are needed at a barbeque (minus obvious ones):

  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Oil

Give me those three things and a barbeque can go alright. Having only the tongs was indeed challenging; but there were ways to get around not having the other two things. Oil was of course the hardest thing to compensate for, but that’s what sausages are for. Although I forgot to do so at the beginning, I should’ve cooked the sausages first, let all the grease come out and use that as oil for the other meats. A tip for next time I guess. We cooked anyway and did our best without any oil and such. The spatula is there for the cleaning process rather than cooking. Last time we demonstrated that coke is an excellent cleaning agent to get all that burnt carcinogenic crap off the barbeque, you just need a spatula to help uproot it all.

 

Hope nobody is eating and reading this because your appetite is now about to be ruined. We turned on the barbeque right next to us, so we were using two, and about 10 minutes afterwards, little cockroaches began to spawn like from a crack next to the second barbeque. They were just crawling around on the brick parts. I suspect they came out because of the barbeque getting hot and forcing them to spawn. The really bad thing was that some cockroaches panicked a bit too much and ended up running onto the barbeque. Yes, that’s right. Fortunately they didn’t run onto any of the food as it was cooking but they did run onto the barbeque and I watched them suffer a very painful death. Extracting the corpses proved to be rather…disgusting and disturbing for onlookers at the same time. Eventually there was another group who wanted to use the barbeque after us. so we just gave them the infested one and halved our production.

 

Halfway through cooking we had to clean the barbeque slate, and without a spatula to scrap all the burnt meat off, it was going to prove exceedingly difficult. Thankfully, the people we gave our other barbeque to were kind enough to let us borrow theirs, in exchange for letting them use our knives, and so we mutually shared some utensils for the rest of the afternoon; it was nice of them. Everyone stood around and chatted, I think. I was too engaged to worry about what else was happening. Food eventually was served and we finally had a party going.

 

Brandon and Jacky helped with the cooking, I took a break after about the 3 hour mark and left them to do the rest of the cooking. You have to admit, it’s hard to cook for a long period of time without taking a break. I ate a bit while I was cooking but yeah it is tiring haha. Everyone just chatted into the afternoon until we had the cake and then proceeded to clean up.

 

 

Mandy’s Déjà vu

This post will be left off with this hanging: tomorrow is Mandy’s party, exact same format, exact same place. So tomorrow will be exactly like Steph’s party, and perhaps the same people once again haha! I’m still deciding whether I should go or not. Saw her today at Eastwood with Elon buying the food for tomorrow. Hmm…

 

UPDATE

 

Okay so I ended up going to the party. Nat came and gave me a lift there, though she was exceptionally late; she was meant to pick me up at 12:30pm but ended up picking me up closer to 12:50pm T.T” And then she still had to pick up…Cassian? One of her law buddies. So by then it was already 1pm so we were clearly late. Nat kept freaking out on the way because she didn’t know the directions too well. I had the map in front of me but it was slightly hard to follow Brandon’s instructions; probably because Nat copied bits down wrong or something.

 

Eventually we got there, after much childish panicking and people questioned our lateness. Nevertheless I got straight to picking up the cooking with Elon and Brandon and also dug into some food. Mandy provided more vegetable alternatives to meat (or simply alternatives I guess) and Ronnie pulled in later with more meat because we had pretty much run out.

 

Throughout the afternoon we chatted much, Mandy brought some board games for us to play, Jacky came in much later but brought a ball so the guys had something to do. The icky thing was that Cassian kind of slipped on the ball and nearly twisted his elbow, I’m not sure what was going on, but it was bleeding, not severely. Oh I almost forgot, Mandy’s theme for the party was to dress up as Cartoon characters from when we were young. Few people bothered to; and it was wet also so it wasn’t entirely desirable. Funny though because it was pouring around 8am but Mandy still decided to hold the barbeque.

 

We played cards as the sun went down and cooked the rest of the chicken drumsticks which took ages to cook. We then packed up and were going to head back to Mandy’s place before dinner, which was moved from the city to Parramatta now. Dinner was at 6:30pm but it was already 5:30pm so getting back to Mandy’s place seemed inefficient. Nevertheless we moved off. I stayed with Nat because after dropping Cassian off at Concord West, she’d be the only one left; I mainly doubted her ability to get back to Mandy’s house given the way she panicked on the journey here.

 

And as I expected she panicked once again because there was quite some traffic from the Easter Show and we soon lost sight of our convoy, so we were on our own. I didn’t know the way either so it kind of was a fail plan. I vaguely remember Olympic Park well but we drove past the Aquatic Centre and ended up back on Parramatta Road, I was at least comfortable with that area. I directed her back onto Silverwater Road and she knew the rest of the way which was good.

 

The ironic thing from all of that was that we were the first ones there at Mandy’s house, not even Mandy herself was back yet, which was mightily strange. But I just thought given Nat’s driving (from the above video too) that we were naturally be the last ones to get there. But we were first by more than 15 minutes which was a huge surprise. The reason was that everyone took the M4 but that was uberly flooded because of the Easter Show and so everyone else was stuck in traffic except us. Nat was very pleased at herself.

 

Mandy’s parents let us in and I finally got to meet her huge dog, who was like 50 times as big and as active as Nat’s entree (we were going to eat him that Saturday night after Nando’s haha!) Eventually everyone else turned up and Mandy pushed her restaurant booking back half an hour. We sat in a circle in the living and played some simple games, Mandy opened her presents in our midst. Eventually we had to go, some of us weren’t going for dinner (like me) because of the need to study. And when you think about it that’s fair considering how much I’ve been out this mid-sem break. And now it’s Friday as I wrap things up and I have camp later on today. There goes the mid-sem break >.<”

NTE Mission ‘09 – Sunday

Well it’s the last day, and we’ve just about run out of stuff to do. So today we just had the regular Sunday church preparations; some people to do music in the Chinese service, and pretty much the rest into Sunday School. I got scripted into this, though I knew it was going to be a rough experience; I’m surprised I held it together for Sunday School. I mean, I did pick youth ministry for a reason; children ministry is just *shudders*.

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Easter Sunday

Hmm this one should be a long post; and about time too. My life has been fairly empty over the past few months, so it’s good to finally have an interesting day.

 

Church

Easter Sunday proved to be another one of those special Sundays particularly for church, and I thought so too. In fact, the Chinese side were having this fairly large morning tea so I thought we were having a combined service or something with our English-speaking side. But I was wrong and so I sat through a Cantonese service for no apparent reason; but then my parents were there anyway so fair enough to attend an Easter Sunday service with them.

 

Actually I decided to use the time to analyse the structure of the service, since I am still sort of relied on to coordinate for our side. I was also hereon Friday for the Good Friday service; again I thought it was a combined and I ended up sitting through that one also for no apparent reason. Anyway I did come to realise a few things about their service which made theirs seem better than ours (or in other words: things we could be doing to improve our service).

 

Firstly I noticed a slight difference between their music worship team and ours. I guess that’s fair since their song leaders are older and hence more experienced. I’ve seen song-leading for several years now, and I’ve had to be song leader the odd couple of times for Soul Purpose (otherwise their wouldn’t be any guy singers haha!) and what I realise is that our song leaders merely sing the songs. I always thought there was more to song leading than just singing. I always had the view that song leaders should also give a brief 10-second introduction/summary to certain songs and how they relate to us; and then add in the occasional prayer and all. I remember fairly well the way Jackson (Donna’s brother, Kel you may remember him from Hamachi DotA years ago) did song leading; the same way I just described. I guess it helps the congregation relate more to the song leaders, when they actually speak to you.

 

Also, their prayers are fairly powerful, and by that I mean heart-felt and emotional. No matter who is praying, you can always feel the emotion in the speaker’s voice; yet for our side prayers are somewhat sensible and solemn; not boring but like not overly emphatic. As I’ve said before in a previous article, I don’t particularly like preaching through emotion because it can mislead people; and yet I cannot deny that we need this good feeling from emotion in order to get us hooked into the service. I suppose there is no helping it, that we do need emotion in our preaching; but I would just hope that people would know better to let their heads lead them to faith, then let their faith lead them to their heart.

 

Anyway our service rolled past in the hour after that, although I paid less attention to how we could improve our service then. I was more thinking about the rest of the things I had to do for the rest of the day.

 

Crossfire Leader’s Meeting

Next up on my program list was to get all our youth group leaders to discuss plans for next term and such. Well I had to organise this one because our pastor Kenny had a meeting with the church council, as a member of the church council I should rather say. so without him someone has to take the initiative. We were meant to start at 1pm but somehow time dragged on and instead we started at 1:20pm, shows how time-wasting we sometimes are. Kenny joined us for a short while since his meeting was yet to start.

 

So I looked at him with the mental message: “Okay Kenny tell us what we should discuss about first.” And Kenny stared right back at me with the same question. And I was then “Oh no, so I’m chairing this meeting?” Yes I was nervous at being “in charge” in front of the other girl leaders because yeah I’m sort of afraid of them; maybe I’m paranoid? And also I get reminded of the segregated leadership back from Soul Purpose. Well most of you will know what I’m talking about. And let’s face it, our two different views sort of divided the leadership up and so I was afraid something bad might happen if I accidentally overstepped my mark or said something wrong. I’d hate to have the girls turn on me >.<”

 

But anyway I tried to take us through the basic factors that needed to be considered. Luckily we also had Nat’s sister, Kylie, who for a year 9 gave some in depth feedback. Funny she always seemed the fun-loving type, I never thought she’d take strict notice of the way we ran youth group. But yeah her feedback proved to be very useful. We didn’t get through much in 40 minutes because everyone had to leave at 2. Well, Jess and Eva had music practice (argh!) and then Nat just went home. And I also had to go somewhere for my final thing for today..I do know that Jess and Nat haven’t finished their Bible studies, which is not a good sign from them. And they’re busy from being behind in university and so since I’m ahead, I guess I’ll have to help them if they need it.

 

Well that just auto-sets me as the one to continue setting agendas and all for our youth group leadership since I’m the one more ahead in my work (hence I have time to blog); so that really means I have to be careful in how I lead, for fear of causing problems similar to those in the past.

 

And now we come to the pinnacle event of today, I was looking forward to this the most and I was glad at the way it turned out:

Double Take

Hmm…I think I should re-evaluate my first university experiences over the course of the entire week, as opposed to the first day. Having been through the first week I can see what university life is like now, and I can sort of project how future weeks will seem. So I think now would be a better time to put some real thoughts down.

 

First off, the whole waking up early concept is going to be a hassle over this semester; waking up at 6:15am every morning is far from cool. But purposely picked it knowing that I would have a hard first semester, but that I would also learn to get used to a “worst case scenario” so I can better adjust for future years. But yeah, it sucks having to wake up early because that means I need to sleep early; which therefore limits the amount of stuff I can do at night. But I suppose the heaviness of it all is also to do with the transport required. I’m looking at about 1.5 hours worth of travel time for one way, and just over an hour on the way back when it’s not peak hour. I’m glad I’m getting used to taking public transport because I never did during my high school years and hence I was nervous about it. And I suppose I’m getting used to being crammed on a train or a bus; it’s not so bad as long as you get a seat.

 

But anyway I guess my week was sort of like a rollercoaster; it started off well but then I hit a major down point by Wednesday but I guess now on Friday things picked up to where they were on Monday. I can’t believe that in the first week we were already expected to have done a fair amount of math homework from books that we have yet to buy. It’s not cool already being behind on the first week; and I still am but I estimate that I’ll catch up by this weekend so things aren’t as stressful. But earlier this week I was really heavily stressed by Wednesday because for three days, including Wednesday, I knew I wouldn’t have any time to do any sort of work, not even read over my lecture notes, or the course outline and stuff. I hadn’t a clue as to what I was to do at university so I was simply lost. And the reason why I didn’t have time was because I had church activities on for two nights straight, lasting 3 hours a night for two nights but simply killed off my entire night anyway. Having MLM on Tuesday and then Crossfire leadership on Wednesday really taxed on my working times at night. I kind of figured church would tax on my studying but somehow this week seemed so vitally important to me that I got stressed at forcing myself to attend these meetings even though somehow university became a higher priority for me during this week.

 

I think that the most important thing to think about is how you manage your time, and that means taking a stock of all your spare time, knowing that you need to devote some of it to studies. But think about it: you have your hours at university attending classes (for me that’s 18 a week); then you have idle hours spent on campus in between classes (for me that’s 6) plus your travelling time (that’s about 15 every week), sleeping time (30 hours for weekdays). and I guess after deducting other things then you can see how much time you have for leisure activities and stuff. I don’t have a job like others, although somehow my ministry at church counts as my job, shame there’s no income on it. So I am going to go through uni knowing I’ll be spending a major part of my spare time involved in church matters;I mean think about it: church coordinator, youth group leader, young adults group participant, and now RICE leader, I swear that’s more work than most other people have at the moment. But I won’t get the opportunity to tutor people for income I reckon; I don’t know. I’m still not sure how much time I can devote to another activity.

 

Anyway these were my primary concerns that stressed me out over the week. I didn’t have much problems finding my way around the campus even though I never went on the tours; but I guess now there’s less of a need to. I’m getting the hang of how we’re meant to learn here: it’s just sit through the lecture with notes and textbooks. Frankly with these additional sources to the lecture, I don’t really see a need to attend. I guess this is where the whole skipping lecture thing comes into play and I might consider doing it haha. Tutorials on the other hand aren’t much informative either in a sense; it’s more to do with everyone being involved in a discussion which isn’t too demanding I suppose. Well this is true for general university courses. However, I will testify that maths courses are slightly different. It’s all just math work all the time, even during tutorials; there’s no discussion. Tutorials for maths is more like telling your tutor which questions you want him/her to go through, that’s it. No discussion involved.

 

But other than that I can sort of estimate what my workload will be like so that’s why I’m slightly more relaxed at the moment. But I want to devote time to life outside of university; that’s why I joined clubs and such. Most of my other time is spent at CBS (Campus Bible Study) and through that I’ve met so many new people which unlike in lecture halls I’ve actually seen several times over the week. And then there’s the anime club (of which I shall become president over one day haha!) I’m not too involved because they aren’t running too many things at the moment. Actually they had a kick-off night tonight but because of work I elected not to go; that’s fine by me. Butt they do have gaming sessions every Tuesday afternoon, so that’s where I’ll be then.

 

And on the topic of meeting people, I personally don’t feel the need to socialize as much and make new friends and such. I’ve already met like 5 new people from CBS and have chatted to them over the week; and then I’m recommended to make more friends from lectures and tutorials? I don’t see the logic of it, especially in lecture halls because you’re bound to never see the person next to you ever again. And during tutorials you usually only see that person like one hour a week; what’s the point? Well I guess it’s not that I’m against doing it but I personally just don’t see the need to put my priority in that. After all, most of my high school friends are here anyway, particularly Yitian who I see for 8 hours a week at least. Who knows? I guess if an ideal situation to make friends does come, of course I’ll take it I guess I was too stressed this week to bother.

 

Other than that I also need to buff up a bit because the weight of my bag is sort of becoming an issue. This is probably due to the fact that I’m bringing my own lunch in a thermos tin haha; probably accounts for like half the weight of my bag, maybe. And then I might have to bring in some books to tutorials; I don’t at the moment an am surviving quite well off a single pad of  paper (that belonged to high school haha!)

 

Things haven’t yet flourished in my university life but then again I am still settling into this lifestyle after one week; still so much to do and such *sigh*

まだ時間だ “Mada Jikan Da” (It’s Not Yet Time)

I suppose over the last two months a lot of stuff has happened; but then again none of this is actually part of my university lifestyle yet. This was all just an intermediate stage just to try and figure out what to expect. So despite what I said in my very first post for this blog, the real story has yet to start. So I guess the real beginning will commence once I get back from Hong Kong I guess, when suddenly the things I’ll be involved in this year will start to take shape. And only then can I evaluate how much progress I am making.

 

So as February dawns, my days in Australia turn to dusk and very soon I’ll be in Hong Kong for a few weeks. I always wanted time to getaway from everything around me; just so I can have time to reflect on everything in my life. I actually more wanted to getaway to a quiet and peaceful place (like a retreat), rather than be in noisy and busy Hong Kong. But that’s okay, I won’t have the Internet with me and being without that is practically getting away from a lot of things. Then it’ll give me time to go over the things that are to come once I return.

 

I think first and foremost is the people around me. Since high school things have changed, and are about to change again in university. In regards to my “Consistency” post, I want to use this time in Hong Kong to re-evaluate my relationship with everyone around me. These days I’ve been so confused as to how close I am to certain people and how far apart I am from others. I have been neglected by some and perhaps myself have been neglecting of others. So I need to work things out again, sit down and consider carefully the things that create strength in a friendship bond.

 

I think the foolish thing I’ve done is to assume that everything is still the same, by using the feelings I had back then. But those feelings I have are false now because circumstances have changed and my feelings no longer describe the relationship I have with some people. I have been lied to, deceived and betrayed and to those people my feelings have been shattered for them. They won’t know it, they probably won’t admit it either but I can testify that the “friendship” we once had is of no more. I can’t really trust those people anymore, I’ve lost my faith in them and the word “sorry” means nothing from them because there is no feeling behind it to convey their message. But I guess I can’t hate them, that should not be my response. The best I can do is try to forget everything, the good and the bad, to wipe the slate clean and start again. The hardest part of that is discarding those feelings that have become false; it’s hard to through away a feeling but hopefully I can pull it off. To me, they are no more than strangers that I may have been in contact with frequently in the past but they need to start off as nothing more. The only thing I won’t forget is the pain they caused, I can only keep it in the back of my heart. So from then on, I stand separate from them and have no intention of ever-trying to befriend them again – I fear that I may fail and once again be hurt. They may do as they wish; if they want to fix things I’m leaving things in their hands, I’ve given up my hope for them. But I will act fairly if they ask for a chance; I don’t want to be as inconsistent as they are.

 

But despite such harshness, most other people around me are not of this group I described above. There are many people I want to thank for staying consistent with me over these few months; if not becoming closer. I guess it’s these people that give me hope when I can come back because I feel with assurance that I can turn to them and that they’ll be the same as when I left. Thanks in particular to Shaz and Ness for commenting on my blog and sometimes chatting to me about life, puts a smile on me at night when I go to bed =)

 

Which group do you belong to? Think carefully over the last few months and remember what has happened between us. Forget meagre words because I discount them; words and feelings don’t build a relationship, they are merely a product. It is actions that determine how strong a bond is. That’s what I’m going to consider for everyone. And so if you do so too, you can work out which group you belong to. I would guess that those who can unswervingly say that we are friends, truly are friends. And for those who are unsure or hesitate, you might just be in that group my heart cowers from. I guess you’ll find out once I get back, huh?

 

Lifestyle-wise, I suppose somehow things are tied between university and church. At university I’ll be facing 18 hours of education a week, on every single weekday and starting at 9am nearly everyday. But then classes end early at like lunch time so I’m happy with that. I hope I’ll get used to waking up early, catching transport and everything. But yeah class scares me as to how much effort I should put into my education; whether I need to cram as in the HSC or laid back as in year 7.

 

But apart from education, there is so much more at university as well. I want to put first priority into the Christian group there, CBS. Not sure if I want to get involved in volunteer work as I already have “part-time” at church. Second priority goes to the other clubs I join. I want to pay particular attention to the Soccer club and then either Basketball or Tae Kwon Do. Leaning more towards Tae Kwon Do now because of time convenience. Just want to pick up more skills I guess. And then third priority goes to the Bridge and Anime clubs; a chance to flaunt my skills there. Although for Bridge I more want to develop professional playing skills and anime just because it’s my hobby.

 

And then we come to church. Now I’m an actual leader of my Bible Study group in my youth group and this would be my 3rd year of ministry although obviously it will be different because I know my pupils more closely than those at Soul Purpose. I’m going to have to leave that group out of my life for a while, better to let the year 12s run on their own. And apart from leading, there’s theology courses I need to do, other types of leader meetings, the university group to replace youth group, and then to my excitement: RICE leadership! At last our church will be part of it and I’ll stand as their representative; so a lot weighs on my shoulders for this year.

 

And then outside of university and church I’ll need to deal with staying in touch with friends,spending time to be consistent with the people around me. And also I’ll have to start discipling now, ever since “next generation”. I’ve found my “disciple” and at long last I can bring someone to church and it’s going to take a lot of my effort to raise him in Christ (yes a “him”), but I’m glad for the opportunity I guess.

 

Then we come to work; I own half a new tutoring college my aunt wants to open. She’s not sure how successful it will be but I’m already putting in a lot of effort to “write” the teaching material, which I’ll tell you is nearly beyond my ability. So if this doesn’t work out I’ll have to go back to private tutoring, write out ads and everything, but only after I work out when I have free time once everything settles down.

 

So a lot to come back to after Hong Kong. So for now I’ll leave this part of my life and we’ll end this “season” of my blog here for now. In the next three weeks my life will be taken into a “filler arc”,  which means it won’t follow the “main storyline”  but is still necessary for character development, which what I am about to undergo. I’ll probably have a few entries in if I can find the Internet there (I won’t be living in a place with access off course) so yeah.

 

The true “Counter-Break” will begin in March 2009.