Moment’s Breath

When I think about caring for my friends, I tend to think not just about how I might be able to help one friend, but how I’ll be able to help all my friends; and as such to try and figure out how I might be someone who is always ready to help friends in need at any time. As such I’m a person who commonly doesn’t like to say “no” to someone and so immediately commit myself to helping people if they ask me for help. This isn’t a particularly bad thing, because after all you’re meant to be there as a friend so that you can be called upon for help when needed.

 

Continue reading

Advertisements

Twenty-Twelve

So I guess I owe everyone a long report and explanation about what I’ve been doing for the last six months and why I haven’t posted a single article online for a while. Let’s get straight into it.

 

University

So the main thing that kept me from being able to blog was my uni routine. I’ll have to admit that third year provided the most amount of struggle for me: the amount of workload, the difficulty of the workload, and the sheer number of things I had to try and do outside of uni. After much stress and studying, I managed to get through this second semester, a little more bruised than in my previous years; but I suppose things are still going well for me academically.

 

My partake in CBS this semester was severely hindered by the unfortunate times of my lectures, namely having class during ALL the CBS talks and the like. I had a similar timetable in second year, can’t really remember what it was like back then, but I was still able to serve as a Bible Study leader (also despite not being to attend any leaders’ meetings). Yeah I suppose that was a struggle too, but it went reasonably well I think.

___________________

 

Okay so moving on, I’ve been on holidays since mid-November. Here are some of my highlights in the holidays.

 

K-Pop Concert

Truly a night to remember, being my first Korean music concert and all. My last university exam was on that day (in the afternoon to be precise), so I was frantically rushing to the venue after my exam. My seats weren’t great (as you will soon see in the video below, but I had a blast watching all the different Korean artists perform and seeing all the wonderful stage production that other artists would normally never bother with. Koreans really do ante it up when it comes to stage production. Here is my fancam of my favourite performance of the night:

 

 

Terrigal Roadtrip

A week or two later I went on a roadtrip with some other people in my grade up to a nice beach house in Terrigal. We spent the three days there at the beach, playing games, jamming, and serving one another in preparing food and helping with washing up. It was a pretty cool experience getting to know the people our grade better. Props to the guys for doing most to all of the cooking; and to the girls for helping us clean up afterwards. This reminds me that I have some videos I need to upload from roadtrip…

 

My 21st

At the end of last year, I turned 21, had a nice Asian-themed party (to which very few people tried to honour the theme); but it was fun seeing all the people who managed to free up some time to drop by. Received some nice presents and some encouraging messages from a lot of people. I suppose I was a bit disappointed at the number of people who dropped out, even though they said they would come, I guess I’m not that important haha. But I was still glad at the number of people who did come. Still waiting on my photographer to upload photos haha, but in the meantime here’s my response video that I shot on my actual birthday:

 

 

One of the things I was really excited about for my birthday was getting an SLR. I’ve been testing it out heaps and trying to get the hang of taking good photos and editing them, not as a hardcore professional hobby, but more as a “I don’t just want a simple 1-second photo”; yeah. So my photo quality should be vastly better now.

New Years Eve

We had our (now) traditional CBS New Years party. But due to the sheer number of Christians in Commerce, we could only invite a select number of them to spend New Years with; the point of the party was to get to know one another better (something that is hard to do with a large group of people) and to also help pass on responsibility from our grade to the younger grades seeing as we are getting old and will be graduating soon. I gave a short talk on Acts 1, hoping to encourage not only the younger students, but all of us to step up and think hard about opportunities to evangelise since our freedom in university will soon be coming to an end. I believe I was the only one who stayed up all night, it was hard as usual but wasn’t impossible. Went to church the next morning and then had a few people chill over at my place in the afternoon. Here’s a photo of my grade (or the ones who could make it that night). This was taken with my new camera.

 

NYE_053

Actually I realised that this photo is kind of pointless seeing as I already have one above of our grade on our roadtrip. I also snuck away to my church’s NYE party too that night, perhaps that photo should be more appropriate:

 

SMAC_NYE_022

Coastal Walk in the South

Early this year, I went down south for the first time and hiked (sort of) near some southern beaches. It was a good change of pace because most of our socials would always take place around where we live (in the north) because that’s where most of us reside. But for the sake of those who lived in the south, we thought it fair to venture down to where they lived and hang out with them there. Half the awesomeness of the day was in the walk and chatting with each other; the other half was in our luxurious crab dinner in Beverly Hills:

 

JTTS_055

^ I thought this was a pretty awesome photo xD

 

JTTS_084

 

JTTS_088

Yeah I think that’s enough highlights for now.

 

____________________

 

Looking to 2012

I suppose that as I come to this year, there is quite a lot to reflect and learn from last year. One of the things I want to change from last year is the way I do ministry. Last year, whilst dealing with a lot of administrative matters for church and CBS, I found that I had little time to build relationships with the people I was ministering to; I found that I didn’t know them as well as I have should and as a result it hindered my influence in encouraging them to grow in the love and knowledge of Christ. As a result, this year I’m going to try and focus less on admin matters, but put my time and energy into building relationships with the people under my care, and the people who do need to be cared for. I do hope that being freed to work on my relationships will help me to be a better witness for Christ to all my friends, particularly my non-Christian ones; that hopefully I’ll get opportunities to help explain to them what a relationship with Jesus is all about. That is my primary goal for this year.

 

Another thing I do want to work hard towards is defending the truth of the gospel, for fear that a lot of Christians lack the core truths and hence fail to understand what Christianity is all about. I’ve noted some ministries and churches in Sydney that may be preaching unsound doctrine; not things that are “completely” but where the truth is not evident for one reason or another. I know that it’s hard to correct a lie once it’s been implanted in someone’s mind, so I hope to be able to target these “untruths” before people root their beliefs firmly into them. And yes that will raise questions for me as to whether I know the truth or not; I hope to be able to address that concern soon in the coming weeks.

 

And of course lastly there’s university still to consider. My fourth year seems to be a bit more relaxed than last year. In a sense, you could say that this is my “second” 3rd year, because most of the courses I’m doing are just third year courses that I couldn’t fit into last year. As such, the courses I’m doing shouldn’t be difficult and so hopefully I will get that time and energy to focus on the goals I’ve listed above, as well as aim to get a graduate position in something. With my free time at uni, I hope to be able to meet up with some of you guys and to spend time getting to know you better, for the purpose of encouragement and edification (in case the objective wasn’t clear). We all need to ration our time carefully, so let’s use it as efficiently as we can.

 

____________________

 

In the meantime I will be heading up to Hong Kong next week, for about 4 weeks. If you have something you want me to buy for you, please message me as soon as you can. Stay tuned for more posts and updates from Hong Kong. My next serious article will be on the theme of “Regret”, it shall be up soon.

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Friday

So for once on the last night of MYC, I managed to rack up 3-4 hours of sleep as opposed to 0 hours. Still, the dawn of the last day pretty much meant that camp was coming to an end, and we would soon no longer have all that time to sit together with other Christians, to have fellowship and to study God’s Word. Which is probably why over the years we’ve managed to see that the time spent at MYC is precious and needs to be used in a manner that reflects how rare the opportunity is. Just like all the speakers say, you really don’t get a daily chance to study God’s Word so in depth outside of MYC.

  Continue reading

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Thursday

It’s funny how by the fourth day, you seem to not think about the rest of camp that lies ahead, but start to reflect on how much has gone by in the last three days. And to put things into perspective, the start of Thursday makes me think about how there’s only one more night left to enjoy the fellowship with everyone, one more night that have fun and to catch up people we weren’t able to chat with since the last three days; because Friday would pretty much be the end of MYC (and everyone goes *sadface* over that of course).

  Continue reading

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Wednesday

Come Wednesday, people had lost a lot of sleep:

 

SAM_3646 (540x960)

 

SAM_3647 (960x540)

 

But then again when you only get like 4-5 hours a sleep per night you are bound to start getting exhausted; this is a fundamental factor for any camp. I think Wednesday was the start where we all gradually slept closer and closer to breakfast time, such that we were facing the possibility of not having breakfast at all in the morning. Thirty minutes more sleep in exchange for breakfast probably wasn’t the best deal, but when you’re tired, you’ll take all that you can.

  Continue reading

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Tuesday

If you haven’t read Monday’s post, please do, because I’m just going to move straight into things without giving another introduction.

 

I forgot to mention cabins in the last post. So this year, our MYC was really full so some of us had to upgrade from the normal cabins to the ensuite rooms (with a surcharge of course). This year I upgraded to an ensuite (to help free up spots in the normal cabins for other people) and it was a really pleasant experience. The ensuites aren’t the most luxurious of rooms of course but the attractive features for me were that:

  1. Non-communal bathrooms. It just felt nice not having to be using a shower or toilet that 50 other people would be using throughout the week as well. Each ensuite held 3 people.
  2. Fewer people means fewer snorers, which means better sleep. I’m a really light sleeper and I detest snorers (in a friendly way). So having fewer people snoring definitely helps me get to sleep easier.
  3. Better beds allows for comfortable sleeping.
  4. Better D&Ms. Fewer people allow for more bromance haha.

Of course having said that, there was still one person my room who snored, but it wasn’t as bad as other people I’ve shared a cabin with. So for once this year, I actually got decent sleep (even though the hours weren’t any better) and so I had a bit more energy for MYC this year, than in my previous two years.

  Continue reading

Mid-Year Conference 2011 – Monday

This is conference number three for me and it couldn’t have come at a better (or worse) time. Worse in that I kind of wish I had another week to relax and cool down from the busyness that was last semester, but good in that I needed something to help give me a bit of a push in terms of growing as a Christian. I guess for me growth has been slow in that spending all your time in ministry growing others gives you less time to grow yourself. I still need to find a balance of Christian ministry in my life.

  Continue reading

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.

 

Return to top 

 

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.

 

Return to top

 

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.

 

Return to top

 

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.

 

SAM_3250 (960x540)

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.

SAM_3256 (960x540) 

Return to top

 

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…

 

SAM_3271 (960x540)

SAM_3272 (960x540)

 

Return to top

Shine On

This post re-caps my series of events on Wednesday, 12th January 2011. Today some of us CBS people living near the Hills (and some others who did not) were going to spend time with a few people who were about to go back to work for the new year; and so today was kind of the last chance to have some fun with them. We has a bushwalk planned out, followed by a barbeque, and then other random stuff in the afternoon.

We all met up at Nat’s house in the morning, and though it threatened to rain most of the morning, we still decided to go ahead with our bush walk at Cumberland State Forest and we headed there around 12pm. We had lunch first and I helped barbeque up a bunch of meat that Seb and Steph(en) bought. There were spiders around the barbeque, which freaked a lot of the girls out. Most of the guys took this opportunity to exaggerate the fear, and also to capture the moment on camera. During this time, there were people playing the ukulele and others playing Uno.

We finished lunch around 3pm, somehow it went on longer than expected; and we finally went on a short bush walk. Seb continued to sing along to the ukulele, making up lyrics on the spot as he normally does, I’ll upload a 9 min video to Facebook in due time. The walk wasn’t too bad, but due to the moisture a lot of insects and stuff came out. There were webs here and then, and the girls again screamed for their dear life because they were just that scary.

Afterwards we goofed off in the community centre for a while and then went to the shops to get ice cream. We got back to Nat’s place and decided to have 25 inch pizzas from a nearby place (which is only in the Hills). A couple more people came over for dinner and we all shared two large 25 inch pizzas. I guess we must’ve overthought things and in fact it became a struggle for 13 people to finish two of those large pizzas. After the whole group had finished one off we were all pushing our stomachs up a hill. At the end of the night we had to make people take slices of pizza home.

Throughout the night we watched Bride Wars and The Dark Knight, whilst having some interesting conversation, which may or may not include sexist comments and stuff haha. It was a fun day and shows that you can have heaps of fun just doing simple things (even if the pizza was slightly expensive). However, that is not the main point of this post.

SHINee

Oh, no I didn’t?! At the same time that all of this was going on, there were many other people who had gathered in the city to find tickets for a concert to see SHINee. I guess it’s not just any ordinary concert, it was the first time any famous Asian star/group (I believe) has come to Sydney (not Aus) to perform. And so today was actually quite important for the Korean music industry. Today’s concert was to “test the waters” and see how responsive the Australian (or Sydney) people were to Korean music.

As such I had friends (link to a fan’s post below – I know you’re going write one Sharon) who put a lot of energy into getting tickets and then making the most of their opportunity to see their beloved SHINee. From what I gathered on Facebook after I got home, tickets were being donated by UNICEF for a cost of $50, most tickets were handed out beforehand, and at the last minute to the show, people got let in free (probably not to be repeated again). That is a decent cost to see people as famous as SHINee. And judging from hearing of the success of tonight’s concert, there will probably be another one next one; but the tickets might be more expensive next year.

A few people uploaded their videos as soon as they got home, and from what I could see, a lot of people had their cameras out the whole night. But that is to be assumed since it is extremely rare to get something like this in boring Sydney – this was the first major K-Pop ever, right? The Koreans had some expensive cameras flying around as well, so at they decided to capture the moment on film, though I don’t think they’ll use the footage from tonight too extensively; not much point I think.

Well that’s my simple report on something I didn’t even look deeply into; but I will admit I was very interested in going to see SHINee, even if I don’t know what their names are and I only know several songs. I said on my Facebook that I didn’t regret missing out on SHINee to enjoy a day out with friends and I still stand by that statement. Since I’m not familiar with SHINee’s work all that much, I wasn’t too devastated to have missed out on $50 tickets to their concert. The main thing that would’ve got me going was the fact that tickets were relatively cheap (I even had to chance to get free tickets off other friends as well, if I had asked), and so in a sense I had traded away this opportunity for friends, which isn’t a bad thing, don’t get me wrong; somehow I can’t help but feel like sacrifices were made today haha. I didn’t lose much, but rather I gained something more important than watching 5 guys dancing to songs with poorly written English lyrics. “Oh no he didn’t?!”

But of course I would definitely go next year (almost added “again” but then realised I actually didn’t go haha). But yes I won’t miss out on the next opportunity. I just wished the Japanese weren’t as stingy as the Koreans – though I believe Sydney is full of anime sooks who don’t know anything about recent trends in Japan, let alone it’s music industry; it’d be a waste of them bringing bands like “UVERworld” or “the gazette”.

Link to a fangirl’s post will be here when it’s up. Right here

NYE 2010

At last the end of the year has arrived. This year CBS Commerce has managed to set up their NYE hideout at Andy’s place in Killara. I was able to meet and thank Andy’s dad today after church at Carlo Court and I still felt kind of sorry for the noise and mayhem they had to put up with on New Year’s Eve. But other than that, we were really glad to have found a place to hold our NYE party.

 

Through much collaboration we were able to organise a tonne of food (though it was limited by our budget) and games to fill the night with much rowdiness. I arrived in the afternoon with Cherie to find Jacky and Brandon, and other people preparing food. So we just prepared food and helped clean the kitchen while people continued to pour in. The highlight dish for the night was sashimi, which was also the one with the highest risk of food poisoning and turning everything that night into a “night”mare – haha get it?

 

I think we had trouble starting the barbeque again; it was probably my fault for not using enough firelighters, but then Elon said you didn’t need to use an entire box. I only used a few blocks but Andy suggested overkill by using the whole box in one go. According to some YouTube videos, you can easily light up coal by just burning newspaper, will definitely try that next time we need to barbeque something. Commando Lam, AKA Daphne, knew how to start a fire from her training as a cadet; so she went around Andy’s front yard and foraged a bunch of twigs to start the fire, but there wasn’t enough and she gave up some time later. The fire was eventually started later, somehow.

 

By the time we were ready to eat, somehow I assigned myself to the gas barbeque probably because no-one was manning it. That turned into me cooking all the meat for the next hour or so. Actually for the number of people that were there, there wasn’t much meat to cook and I was able to retire from the barbeque sooner than expected. Brandon later explained that they were over budget with the food because of the cost of salmon.

 

After that, I retired to the kitchen to help with washing up. A lot of the girls came in surprised to see only guys in the kitchen, as opposed to all the jokes us guys normally make about the girls belonging in the kitchen; quite ironic. But at the same time it did seem loving (perhaps I’m not the one to talk though) of the guys to take charge of something we would normally (respectfully) expect the girls to do. Sadly, Jacky is a complete noob at washing up and I fear that we, or he, did not wash things up properly which may lead to food poisoning for Andy’s family in the very near future. We’ll find out soon enough.

 

After dinner everyone sort of kept shuffling around the house joining in on different activities; whether it was playing music with the guitar lot, playing card games, the Wii, or StarCraft II, which became my prominent activity for the night after midnight. At about 11:30pm we gathered together and as a Christian group, we broke off into small groups to pray for the things that happened this year and to pray for things this year. I’m glad we still kept Jesus somewhere in the program and that as Christians we still tried hard to encourage one another to continue living for God even though it’s so easy to slack off in the holidays.

 

At midnight we watched the fireworks on TV and then we went outside to play with sparklers. We managed to get a nice photo of “CBS 2011! =)” using the sparklers – yes, and that also included the exclamation mark and the smiley face. The photo is on my Facebook here:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=491583638189&set=at.491578363189.269370.621608189.508477361
Soon after that everyone just settled into a passive post New Year’s mood; most people just sat around to chat and pass time or to sleep.

 

This was the time where all the guys started their StarCraft II campaigns. We played for pretty much the whole night, but with only 2 computers, we sort of took turned but most people just watched. The awesome points of the night were when we got the girls to play. We made Bec play two full games and Cherie to play one with Bec. The one where they played against each other with no help at all from the guys was hilarious. All the videos of notable games are on Facebook as well as my YouTube account – the YouTube ones will be posted on this blog later as well.

 

We played up to 5am where a lot of people left to drive off to a beach to watch the sunrise. I felt it was too far to the beach and that I was too fatigued (from gaming) to drive so I stayed at Andy’s house with a few other people, who were sleeping or still gaming. Played Modern Warfare 2 for a couple hours until they came back around 8am. Sadly, we didn’t have plans for breakfast and so there wasn’t much food left for the morning. I can’t believe they left my beautiful dessert for breakfast that morning. Still, people enjoyed it and I was happy that my food was enjoyed.

 

We left Andy’s house soon thereafter and went to Chatswood to have breakfast at a Chinese restaurant. It turned into brunch really, but the food was really for lunch. The day turned very hot so we just went home, well I did anyway. Went home, showered, slept and tried to last the rest of the evening for New Year’s Day.

 

Okay, so my blogging literacy is declining very quickly so I will end the post here. Our New Year’s Eve was pretty much a bunch of random activities one after the other, all of which would take a while to get through even from within my memory. But they’re not anything special to mention, other than it was more opportunities to spend quality fun time with friends. New Year’s Eve was again quite fun this year when spent with a large number of friends. Hopefully many more good things are to come this year.

 

In the meantime, I will think carefully about what I want to blog about in my reflection post, and also to make more StarCraft II videos. I still find it funny that most of the guys in Commerce CBS play SC2, and so now the guys all have something common to bond over haha!

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL!

Hatsuka

When it comes to counting age in Japanese, the only weird number is the one for 20 years old: “hatsuka” although in kanji it is still written the same way in Chinese. Nevertheless, this post will be one to reflect upon the day that was my 20th birthday party and on my thoughts and feelings of the things that led up and happened on the day.

 

I’ve never been one to care much about my birthday, let alone my birthday. It’s not really a day where I care about how I’ve turned a year older or about what type of presents I would be receiving that year, if I was receiving any. As such I guess I prefer letting my birthday just pass by silently, without anyone noticing and making any sort of fuss over it. I really do still wonder how it is that I eventually organised a birthday party for myself, and how so many people were invited and actually came. I suppose at the end of the day I should care about my birthday because it was a day where people showed that they cared about me.

 

LAN

In the morning I had organised LAN although I never forced any RSVP on it; and that was because there was no need to book for LAN, nor to find out exactly how many people were coming. After all, you can game with as many or as few people. However, at 11am I would never have expected no-one to come. Apart from Jacky who accompanied me to the city, there was only Andrew and William who was there. Jacky ran off with Brandon to organise my present while I camped in City Hunter for three hours playing games with the other two. I think it was a pretty fun 3 hours; I mean, these were two people I haven’t gamed with much and so it was good to spend some time with them. We played Left For Dead 2 for a while and then Team Fortress 2; yeah that took up 3 hours. I wanted to play Black Ops or Modern Warfare 2, but our cheap $2.50/hr computers didn’t have them haha!

 

After LAN the three of us went to Subway off George St because I was still suffering from a stomach virus, which I now don’t believe was food poisoning but in fact an illness I caught off my brother. It caused a very dismal Christmas for me. Soon after lunch, people started arriving for karaoke. But throughout the morning, I was already being spammed with a lot of text messages about where people were, and whether they were still coming or not. Honestly, it was very hard to keep track of where people were.

 

Karaoke

Many people were either late to karaoke, coming for dinner only, or weren’t able to make it at all. I guess that was a bit of a disappointment having people say they were going to come but in the end changing their minds and such. Nonetheless, there were still a fair number of people who came. The bad thing today was that there was a surcharge (stupid Christmas being on Saturday) of $2. But funnily enough, the 15% birthday discount reduced the price back down to $12 ($11.9166666) to be exact. Because people weren’t here at 3:30pm, they let us sing for half an hour and then coming back out to pay at 4pm. By then we had about enough people to fill our one whole room and maximise the discount. But at that time as well, many late people had also come and it was difficult for me to count the number of people who were now here. It was also hard for the staff to keep track of this number as well; and so when it came to paying I believe not everyone was charged. What none of you saw was that after I gathered $12 from everyone and paid, I actually had $16 left over. It was as if I didn’t pay my share AND made a $4 profit haha! Worry not, I kept that in mind for the rest of the evening.

 

The two karaoke rooms were split into high school friends in one, church in another, and CBS people constantly mixing around in both as we always do. Both rooms doubled up on songs, and I had to keep jumping back and forth between rooms to catch up with everyone that had come. Mandy at the last moment had decided to come to karaoke and of course I was especially fearful of what would probably happen at karaoke; dinner was a separate issue as well. Nevertheless, I think I took enough preventative measures to delay the inevitable, and I was glad the room she seized was the one with fewer people, and the one where nearly everyone knew what was going on. There were a still a couple of confused and worried faces but everyone did their best to provide support.

 

Presents had also begun to stream in and so I kind of just dumped them all over the place since I was more engaged with talking to people than securing my presents into a single pile. My voice was somewhat more dead than usual that day; it died before the three hours was up. Everyone made me sing Kelly Clarkson’s “My Life Would Suck Without You” by myself, with my cracked voice. I do wonder whether people were laughing at me or with me the entire time. But yes, everyone sang happy birthday towards the end of the three hours, and I mustered the courage to stand and face my friends at that moment. I already said before I didn’t like making a fuss over my own birthday and I really do have difficulty accepting any sort of “special treatment” for that day. By this time most people had arrived; there were several late comers who were just early for dinner.

 

Again, I want to make clear that I refused to give a speech on that day for the reason that I had no words prepared and in order to give a proper speech regarding all my friends, I really do have to sit down and take time to think things through thoroughly.

 

Dinner

Everyone went ahead after karaoke to go to dinner. The reason I trailed behind was to help Mandy, who struggled to walk. I would definitely have been a bad host and friend if I had just gone ahead and not waited for everyone; it’s definitely not my style to neglect even one person. The funny thing was that I had to keep relaying orders to the forward group to tell them to eat, even though by the time we got there (which was 15 mins later) my table was still the first one to order T.T”

 

We went to Kobow which isn’t too bad a place as a Korean restaurant, but there were many that were better, but perhaps not cheaper. Again because of my stomach virus, there was a restriction on what I could and could not eat. Rather there wasn’t anything I could eat, but I had hot pot anyway, it was probably the safest option. Halfway through dinner, people made me go around to each table to have them toast their drinks to me; this is definitely something I would never do by myself. The bad thing about the whole ordeal was that I had a shot glass with Korean shots poured into them at each table. I stopped at what I believed was the second shot, but everyone else said it was my third; definite signs of getting drunk there. So thank you guys for trying to get me drunk. There were many things I did which even I was aware was due to the influence of alcohol. I had about a third or more of a bottle of soju (funny, I played some guy on StarCraft with that name) which apparently approximated 3 standard drinks; that’s probably more than what I would have safely tried for my first time drinking (properly).

 

I went around talking with as many people as I could again and despite Mandy getting into trouble with the people around us, there was still a pretty good vibe amongst everyone. I was glad to have been able to catch up people I haven’t really had a chance to speak with for a long time, as well people I haven’t seen for ages as well. It turned into a pretty good night and we stayed for quite a while even after we had all finished eating.

 

Dessert

Again my stomach was not in the mood for any sort of dessert; but luckily neither was anyone else. So instead, I took everyone to George St McDonald’s near Town Hall and I used the surplus I had obtained from karaoke, to buy a bunch of soft serve cones for everyone. And with the help of Leslie’s employee’s card, I saved 20% off for 22 soft serve cones. The staff were kind of puzzled at our order and it took them a while to churn out all 22 cones. Some people *ahem* Sharon were a bit impatient in waiting for their free soft serve cone but eventually everyone was satisfied. To be fair, even after buying everyone ice cream I still had a bit of a surplus; oh well.

 

We lingered outside McDonald’s for a while afterwards again, nearly blocking pedestrians as we normally do. Eventually people started going home, and I thanked everyone for coming.

 

All in all, I really enjoyed my birthday party that day, even though my self esteem kept from feeling up for it. I guess I’m still touched, though not emotionally as much as I should be, by everyone for their company and their kind thoughts. But this point will be further reflected in my proper reflection post  coming soon. In the mean time, thank you to everyone who did come, or who tried to come. Though I haven’t pondered much on the presents I received, I am still very thankful for even the smallest of gifts. To close things off on a decent note, here is a picture of all your birthday cards to me sitting above my desk:

 

SAM_2212 (960x540)