So it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, and for anyone who used to read my blog regularly (years ago) it would seem as if I’ve disappeared off the face of the planet. I stopped blogging regularly these last couple of years for a few reasons – but most of them can be attributed to my life being busy with full time work, and the rest attributed to my personal struggles in my walk with God. Things haven’t been easy for me these last 4-5 years, and it has troubled me to not have been able to keep in contact with people since the end of my university days. I hope to be able to give a quick summary here to help people get up to speed with my life.
“And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” – Job 1:21
When I reflect on the struggles and difficult times in my life, I often come back to the story of Job, and in particular the statement he makes that God is one who gives and takes away. I often see the story of Job and one who at the beginning lost everything except his life, spends many chapters wrestling with his friends about how to make sense of what has happened, and at the end after conversing with God he receives much more from God than what he had originally. And I realised that though I turn to this book in the Bible to find comfort when God has taken away things in my life, I should also be considering the things that God has given me too; we subtly miss the fact that God gives Job many things at the start before he took them away (well, I subtly missed that point).
I suppose my previous post gave a quick overview of some of the major areas of my life at the moment. However I did notice that I didn’t say much on how the idea of “patience” has been impacting my life. As I have already alluded to in my previous post, things have been a lot more of a struggle in my life, and whilst I have been anxious in many areas where there has been struggles, I feel compelled and reminded by God’s Word to wait upon him and be patient.
One of my focuses this year has been Christian discipleship. It was something I became a bit more familiar with towards the final years of university; and it’s funny thinking back to when I was in first and second year, where the idea of sitting down with one person and having deep conversations about life, God and the Bible seemed very uncomfortable. In third and fourth year, I started to see the value and importance of building those sorts of “intimate” relationships with Christians and non-Christians and the way it impacts our growth as Christians, and those investigating Christianity. This year I have tried to embrace it as much as I could, as part of the way I would undergo ministry in the long run; there were still so many things to experiment with in making one to one discipleship more effective. And then of course there was also a need to see how I might be able to fit one to one discipleship into my full time work routine (I’d like to order the words the other way, and have work revolve around ministry, but time-wise it still seems apparent that I spend more time doing full-time work than ministry).
It’s now been pretty much a whole month since I started full time work, and the last four weeks have definitely been a huge struggle in getting used to this weekly routine and restructuring the different parts of my life. Despite all the challenges I’ve faced and know that I will face, God has been guiding me in the last month and helping me adjust to this new lifestyle. As I’ve gone through full time work in the last few weeks, I’ve been asking and wondering questions about how I should be living as a Christian in the workplace, as well as how I should still be serving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, particularly those back at church. The biggest realization that prompts me to have to carefully consider how I should live out my daily life is the fact that I no longer have the same amount of free time that I used to have back in university – those days of what I would call in hindsight “bliss” are now gone, and the freedom to spend time with others (or just procrastinate) is no longer there.
So at long last I’m heading into my (supposed) final year at university. And once again the dynamics of how my week runs changes; so I suppose I should update most people (who are) on what entails my life for this year, and specifically this semester.
This final year might actually be a bit easier than last year (though to be fair last year was the hardest of my uni career). My Actuarial course for this semester is 1 of 2 non-mathematical courses I will need to complete this year. That is a huge surprise since everyone does expect my course to be nothing but maths; instead it’s exactly the opposite. The course is about thinking through the theoretical issues behind what we do with the maths. Rather than teach us more maths, we need to be taught how to use them in the workplace; so I guess it’s a more practical course although we only deal with case scenarios in the course. Strangely, the lecturer runs the course as a student interaction class. He doesn’t provide much notes and doesn’t want us taking notes. Rather, he wants us to be giving input during class and having us all think through the same topic and add to each other’s understanding. It’s different to other courses I guess and may prove to be more interesting than others since it’s being run differently. It will still be hard since we don’t actually have any notes for any exam discussion questions (yes, no more maths in the exams for this course haha).
My other two math courses are third year subjects which so far appear to be easier than last year’s math courses; hopefully they stay that way. My last course is a second year finance course which if done in second year would be considered extremely difficult. But doing it in fourth year, and also after doing an Actuarial course last semester that was EXACTLY like it, this finance course should pose no challenge for me too. Of course the last time I acted arrogantly towards a course in this way, I didn’t do that great; but that’s probably due to the fact that I didn’t study for it, knowing that I had studied for it once already in another course.
Surely the feeling of regret is one that most of us are very familiar with, although we may not always be talking about it. Generally, we feel some sort of grief or sorrow at the way a particular incident plays out, based on a decision that we made to influence it, or an action that we undertook. I reckon we all feel some sort of regret for nearly any situation we face in life, it’s just that we might not always feel the same “amount” of regret for each situation.
Let me share a now light-hearted story of regret from my high school days. Back in year 10, I was one of those typical guys who wasn’t good with BGR (boy-girl relationships) and had a sudden urge to find a date for the year 10, since it was the first such event most of us would’ve encountered in high school. Anyhow, so there was that girl I wanted to ask out, and then there were my friends, who wanted to know who I wanted to ask out. One day I had succumbed to peer pressure and decided to tell one of my closer friends who I wanted to ask out; I thought that if I had to tell someone, it would be that friend. And my hopes were that he’d keep my secret, as friends should. I told him at the start of lunch time that day; and within the span of 30 minutes before lunch ended, the rest of my friendship group knew, along with others who had overheard. Obviously there was no need to wonder how they all found out. Clearly my friend had betrayed my trust.
And so I felt a fair amount of regret at having told my friend what he had so deviously pestered me about. At the time I suppose it felt like I was in a really dangerous situation. In hindsight today it feels like a very comical situation. So the regret I feel about that situation today is actually far less than the regret I felt at the time. Either way, there was some sort of regret due to my decision to place my trust in him.
The one thing that can be noted from any situation where we feel regret is that there’s nothing we can do to change what has happened. Once you realize something is wrong, there’s no going back and undo-ing your “mistake”; there is no way to change the situation such that you won’t have to feel that regret. But that’s okay. I feel regret is never about contemplating “how” you could’ve changed the situation (it’s quite pointless; we can’t go back in time). However, feeling regret is a stimulus for us to think of what we can do “in response” to the bad consequence. Sometimes, broken things can be repaired. For my situation, I simply chose not to ever ask that girl to the formal. Like sure, I didn’t get my way exactly, but I at least managed to avoid any sort of future pressure from confirming the “rumour”. And consequently I now don’t tell my friend anything personal in regards to BGR. Problem mitigated, not solved.
There are some very simple patterns that we observe in life that confirm this. When we make a mistake, we feel regret over it, and then we work hard to not make that same mistake again because we know it’ll make us feel bad. I suppose this generally applies more for the common mistakes we make everyday, and also the ones where we don’t feel too much regret. For the more serious incidents such as making a decision that resulted in someone getting hurt in some way (I’d rather not name any specific incidents), we work towards not making that mistake again and we also work towards trying to help the other person recover from the hurt that our decision “caused”. And by that, I don’t think the phrase “no regrets” holds true, because nothing that happens, happens perfectly in the way we want it to. Have a think about it next time something good happen; did anything happen (even the slightest) which was bad?
One other thing I want to deal with in regards to regret is that I think it’s something that gives us strength in something we have to move forward in, but cannot avoid. I would not hesitate to say that in important things to me such as my ministry at church and all, I have felt much regret (made up of many events, each feeling a small amount of regret). And when I say regret I’m not thinking: “Oh, I wish I never did it at all.” My thoughts are more like: “I feel sad because bad things happened along the way.” But despite recognising the bad things (for me) that have resulted from the way I’ve done ministry all these years, I’m still resolved to continue forward in the things I do for church, knowing that there is more good to be gained than bad. We may always choose to run from the things we feel regret about because we want to avoid that feeling; but regret is our strength when we choose to push onwards despite such negative feelings. For something that we know is good at the end of the day, regret helps us persevere in that good task because we choose not be deterred by all the bad things which may result.
We don’t see the word “regret” in the Bible much (depending on the translation we read). I don’t do Greek but I suppose if we cross-referenced the Bible for all accounts of the word “regret”, we’d also have to look for synonyms such as “grief”, “sorrow” and other words. One verse I found recently from Genesis 6 goes like this:
When the LORD saw that man’s wickedness was widespread on the earth and that every scheme his mind thought of was nothing but evil all the time, the LORD regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Then the LORD said, “I will wipe off from the face of the earth mankind, whom I created, together with the animals, creatures that crawl, and birds of the sky—for I regret that I made them.” – Genesis 6:5-7 (HCSB)
Funnily we always missed this passage in our NIV Bibles because the word used in those verses is “grieved”, which I suppose carries enough of the same feeling.
It should come as no surprise to us that God himself can feel regret. After all, we, who are made in His image can feel regret. Then surely the one who created us can feel the same thing. In this passage of the Bible, God is feeling regret that he created mankind because of how nearly everyone in the world was wicked and that evil had pretty much consumed the world.
What does God do? He could’ve turned back time and un-did everything such that mankind would not result in all this evil (we might not be able to time travel, but God surely can). But God doesn’t do that. Instead He moves forward and chooses the harsh option of destroying the whole world with a flood. Yes that does sound quite drastic; God seems to be overreacting at what the world became. Surely we see a lot of evil today as well, but perhaps none of us would think of wanting to destroy the whole world because of that. Has God lost His mind?
Or perhaps, His decision to destroy the world highlights just how horrible sin is to Him (even if we may not feel the same way towards sin). His way of wanting to “cleanse” the world of evil makes a lot more sense if we understand His perspective on sin. An example: Suppose you have a bucket of dirty water, how would you make it clean? Aside from trying to use chemical reactions to remove all the dirt and substances from the water, the simplest solution is simply to pour out that bucket of water, and get some more (hoping that the next bucket of water will be clean). I suppose that’s what God did. It’s not easy to understand why God chose to rid the world of evil in the way He chose, but if we did a similar thing with a bucket of water, who are we to judge God?
My point from this passage is simply to show that God feels regret too; surely we can relate to Him and learn from the way He dealt with regret. He took steps to fix the problem; but even more so, the problem He was so eager to fix (that He would go to such desperate measures) is that of sin.
For all of us, we may simply feel regret about small incidents here and there. Sometimes, we may feel regret at the way we’ve lived our whole lives. But I think that regardless of how long, or how great our regret is, the problem at the core of all that is sin – our desire to turn away from God and to live our lives the way we want to, making decisions on what we believe is the right way to live, on what is fair and not fair for us and the people around us; simply being our own God.
Feeling regret for sin is a good thing; first and foremost because you recognise that it is bad. But more so, in order to correctly respond to that regret, we need to change the way we live and move forward, away from that sin. And doing so means coming to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, and accepting Him as your lord and saviour. My purpose here is not to give a reason “why” it should be done or why it’s this way (perhaps I’ve done a bit of that elsewhere), but I wanted to show how the idea of “regret” fits into the Christian message of salvation.
Lastly I want to share this verse:
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10
If we ever feel regret about the things we do in life, the proper regret we should feel (here it’s being described as “godly”) should be one that motivates us to want to change, by repenting and turning to Jesus. Read the verse carefully here, our decision to turn to Jesus is the thing that leaves no regret. Turning to Jesus will be by far the best decision anyone can make in their life, in that nothing bad will result of it – we are all destined to receive eternal life as a result. As a bit of a technicality issue, I don’t think Christian suffering is something that can be linked to our decision to come to Jesus, because technically suffering is common for both Christians and non-Christians. The worldly sorrow mentioned here I reckon is one where we try to live our lives better through our own sheer effort, and not relying on Jesus to sanctify us; yes, that will lead to death for we will never be able to become perfect by ourselves.
So if you do find yourself feeling a lot of regret in your life, may I suggest giving your life to Jesus? You certainly won’t regret that.
Now that the Mid-Sem Break has come, I guess I’ve got a bit of time to relax and reflect over how things have been since MYC, or maybe the whole year for that matter. Anyway, this semester at uni has been much much more relaxing than last semester. Having that one free day (as opposed to no free days) makes a huge difference in my energy levels. I’ve felt much better over the course of this semester about everything I’m doing. Shall probably go through each thing in some detail.
So in having four days this semester rather than five, the only major drag is that I have five courses to worry about, rather than four (sadly two of my math courses count as half a course each but have nearly just as much work as a full course). I regrettably have to admit that I’ve lapsed back into my pattern of not doing any of my tute homework again; I powered through the first week’s worth of homework and again things just died starting the week after that. However, that hasn’t stopped me from getting decent marks in my assignments and class tests. There is some real confusion in how I’m doing reasonably well in my courses even though I’m not really put much effort into studying. Surely in response to my last post, “where was God in all this?” He was there the entire time carrying me through all my uni work, that’s where.
The rest of the semester is looking fairly well; there are still assignments and test to come but I suppose we will always be facing them anyhow. And being my third year of study, there must be some moderate degree of difficulty to my courses, otherwise it wouldn’t really be called “third year”. A somewhat downside to uni right now is my lack of success in internships. Of course having put minimal effort into my applications and research, one could only blame me and my lack of effort. All hope is nearly lost for me but that’s okay, I have stronger intentions to go to Hong Kong at the end of this year; and I trust that God will provide a job for me when the time comes, there is no real need to go out of my way to desperately search for one now. Sounds like a stupid view to adopt, I can’t say that I’m fully convinced that it will work out well for me but I certainly prefer this path more.
Leading another fairly large Bible Study group again this semester alongside our MTSer, Alan. Groups are all guys or all girls this semester (obviously I’m leading an all guys group). One good thing about my group is that I know a fair number of them already prior to this semester so establishing a relationship with the group was easier. Following up on the group isn’t too hard as I have ample ways to contact them. My major setback each week is my inability to wrap up the Bible Study on time. In fact that happens at youth group too haha. Sadly during set group times such as Bible Study, we don’t really have the freedom to chat for hours on end; we’re limited to that one hour. But when your group gets good discussion going, it’s hard to make them move on to finish the study.
I get a few opportunities here and there to chat to my group members to see where they’re at in their Christian lives; it’s many and usually only for a short moment but gradually I think my group is maturing in their faith and their desire to glorify God at uni. Managed to get into a really good conversation on the train once with one of my group members; it was good to find out more about that person’s circumstances and to understand what they hope to get our of Bible Study and such. Hopefully I’ll be able to give him what he needs in those areas in the coming weeks.
Other than my Bible Study group, it’s been cool chatting to a few people in our CBS hangout room at uni. I literally only have those two hours of break at uni on Wednesday and each week they seem well spent in chatting with other people in my faculty and hearing their thoughts and opinions on different matters. Seeing how the whole faculty is growing makes me feel more relieved about stepping back as a leader at CBS and entrusting that role to the younger students, and giving them a chance to lead and such.
I think after many years of changing around the leadership structure and working out goals and stuff, we’ve finally started to settle down into a routine where we can get things efficiently and plan strategically and dynamically for various goals at the same time. We might not have found the most optimal method in organising things and getting things done but by the grace of God we’ve managed to make huge improvements from how things were at the start of the year. A more concrete and solid foundation has allowed us to look after the people at our church better and helped us chase up newcomers more effectively. And for once we can actually start thinking about really long term goals; so not about what we plan to do next week or next term; but rather we can actually think about things such as leadership structure next year and the year after. Hopefully this second half the year (well, final third to be more precise) will see us able to reach and convict people with the gospel of Jesus and compel them to give their lives to Him for His glory.
As for youth group, even though I said before that I feel discouraged at times about how things might not go well on some weeks, I think it might because I’ve been trying to focus on the group as a whole, when rather the real growth takes place through individual relationships. And getting to know the youth better over the last few months (and the first half of this year) has really helped me understand them better and see how much they’ve matured over the years. Surely, to not waste my life, it means I have to put more effort into individual relationships so that I can find ways to encourage and grow the people under my care. Perhaps I’m not quite ready to lead the youth group as a whole but in directing which way our youth group is heading I think I’m beginning to see that it starts deep down at the roots of friendship and unity in Christ. Only after we’ve built upon those roots may we then progress as a youth group living and serving Jesus.
All in all I think this semester has allowed me to find renewed strength in the things I’m doing; and while I’ll feel anxious here and there about all the other things I need to do (particularly my assignments right after this post), if God has been able to carry me through thus far, what worry would I need to have in other things? Of course it doesn’t mean I live my life carelessly, but it means I can afford to give up more of my time for things such as this blog, since clearly if I held back every time, I’ll continually find an excuse to put these things off, and that would be pretty bad particularly when I tell my youth to read their Bibles daily. Probably shouldn’t ask them for something as challenging as that unless I’m prepared to do that myself.
In the meantime, more work awaits me, as well as a lot of 21sts, along with my own 21st. So many things to do; but so many more things to do for Christ. It shall be a good final four months to the end of this year.
Recently I have been trying to take these things called “internships” a bit more seriously. I always knew they held some sort of significance over a future job after graduating from university. I guess, with all the busyness that is my weekly routine, I never really got around into researching what they were about. Today I can’t say that I’m up to scratch, but for the least I’ve submitted a few applications to a few places. Some say that’s a good effort, others wonder why I’ve submitted so few.
What worries me at the start is that having an internship and not having one can actually be the difference between getting a job (upon graduating) and not getting a job. While it’s good to know that having an internship makes finding a job so much easier, it makes me nervous to think that I must obtain one for fear that I won’t be able to get a job in the future. Of course, I know that failing to get an internship is not the end of the world and it might just merely mean putting more effort later, rather than now.
As I went through filling out some of the application forms, I was reminded of applying for the Co-op Scholarship at the start of uni, and how easily I was rejected with the material I put down there. In terms of Extracurricular Activities and Skills and Experience, there is no doubt that a dominant majority of all that for me is all the ministry I have been going about since year 11. Without adding up the hours in total for church, CBS, RICE, ISCF, etc, if there was anything I had to mention on my resume, it would have to be these activities. But are these “acceptable” activities that companies and firms would look for? To me, it seems like Christian ministry is very undervalued in their eyes, whereas “helping out with a uni society barbeque” (just pulling a random example) may be deemed as an important display of teamwork. My Co-op Scholarship was probably rejected for this reason.
And that annoys and upsets me a bit, which is why I don’t have much of a care for scholarships of internships now; what company would care about what I’ve done for a God who politically speaking may or may not exist (and from a conservative point of view, he probably doesn’t exist)? It makes me feel quite discouraged and disappointed in every company in society. How would you make them understand the value of youth group, or Bible Studies and such? When it comes to “naming achievements” from your extracurricular activities, do people dare to just simply put down medals and awards? Our high school had a pretty funny merit award system, and we figured out ways to get around the system a bit (in an honest way of course) and obtain a higher class of merit than was expected; by that, most people in our grade were able to obtain the highest level of award, which makes it not that special since everyone had it. Oh, but to companies, would they give you the job because you obtained the highest level award from an educational institution?
What value is awards and medals, and do they truly reflect your effort and the person that you are? What would I put down for “achievements”? I would be tempted to put down something like “winning people to Christ for eternal life”. While applicants and companies are taking pride in bits and pieces of paper, I would try to be taking pride in having helped people find the Man who gives eternal life. If I had a choice being eternal life and a piece of paper that did nothing, I’d know what I’d pick. But, what company would accept that to be an achievement, that you helped people find Christ, find life, and find true meaning to life? What value or mark could you put to that for them to measure?
But there is one clear thing wrong with hat I just said above. We don’t “achieve” eternal life for other people, I haven’t “achieved” eternal life for the youth that I serve at church. Nor have I achieved “Jesus” for them. Coincidentally we’re going through 1 Corinthians 3 at youth group this Sunday; and 1 Cor 3:5-7 says:
“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
I can take no merit for anything in ministry that I have done to this date, because truly it was God who did the hard work (and I thought my work felt hard as it was). What can I boast in then that I have achieved? Nothing. And so what have I to show to companies as achievements over the years? Pretty much nothing. But clearly my “lack of achievements” doesn’t really reflect who I am, and what I am able to do through God.
So at the end of the day, for me, I harbour little hope as I fill in internship applications, knowing that there isn’t much I can legitimately put down on paper, and knowing that the way I’ve lived my life will not be appreciated by secular society. It disgusts me a bit I guess, and why shouldn’t it when all the effort you’ve put into the past few years is not counted. However this is okay, it does mean that I’ll keep trying and to not worry if things don’t go the way I want them to.
A Different Sort of Internship
There is one internship that stands out from the rest, and if there’s any internship I’d ever want to make, it would be this one; and I know that I’ve made it.
This particular internship is quite simple, it only has one yes/no question: “Do you believe in Jesus Christ?” No doubt, this is clearly the “internship” into a place in heaven. While most people would expect getting into heaven to be harder than getting a job in a big company, it is actually somewhat simple. Sadly, answering yes to that question isn’t easy for a lot of people.
Furthermore, you are free to attach your resumes, your cover letters, list down all your achievements, put down the fact you went to the best schools and universities, and anything you’d expect your average company to look at. However, God won’t look at any of that; all He cares is whether you ticked yes or no to that question about believing in Jesus, his son. All you have to do is tick “yes” (and actually mean it), and that’s it.
So while companies might not care about how we serve God, for our internship applications, neither does God care about the things you would submit to those companies, as a basis to get into heaven; a strange but pleasant twist of fate huh?
Edit 1: Friday, 4th March 5:53pm
I said I’d post again after a week of uni, so here it is again. But before I get into my uni routine for this semester, I’d like to spend a bit of time looking at this:
Everyone should recognise this to be the chain that hangs off my phone. Most of you will remember that I once had a “gold” one, the one on the left; and now I have a new “silver” one. What was wrong with the “gold” one? Well those of you who have seen my gold one will have most likely FONDLED with it MULTIPLE times. And as a result, the one of the left is now the way you see it is. Before, it used to look just like the one on the RIGHT. Yes, that’s right, my “gold” chain used to be silver; which obviously implies that all your acidic sweaty fingers have fondled my chain such that all the silver colour has rusted away. I guess that can’t be helped. But I would hope that those who find my phone chain interesting, would admire it from a distance, rather than up close with your fingers; I don’t think I’ll be able to get a replacement one any time soon.
Okay, so onto uni now. 5 days a week is going to prove to be quite challenging, especially since my weekend is booked with activities and commitments as well. Doesn’t seem to be too bad, as long as I commit to doing my readings and my homework I should pull through this semester alright. There were a few notable things that happened this week, which should make for an interesting, yet annoying, semester. For starters, all my lecturers are foreign to the point where understanding their English becomes a challenge of its own. Both my Actuarial Studies lecturers have really appalling English and I find myself wondering how these people were even selected by the uni to be lecturers. Even if they are intelligent and such, if you can’t communicate what you know to your students, you’re worthless.
Our first Actuarial Studies lecture ended an hour early. The lecture was meant to last a full 3 hours (yes, 3 hours, no breaks, except for about 10 mins every hour or so). The lecturer just packed up his stuff and left, even though there was a whole hour left AND he hadn’t finished teaching the first week’s stuff. That was pretty bad. The second lecturer just couldn’t speak English full stop. At the moment one course requires a huge Actuarial Mathematics textbook, which was quite big and heavy, but only worth $120. The other course requires special course notes from the Institute of Actuarial Studies Australia, which go on sale for $150 for just the notes only, and $230 including a questions and answers booklet. Quite an outrageous price to pay for simple pieces of paper, it’s not even a textbook and they’re making us buy that sort of crap. Luckily our students have our ways to counteract that…
As for my two math courses, again both are foreign but their English is much more understandable than my Actuarial Studies ones. One of them was French with a fairly heavy French accent. In the first lecture he put up his contact number on the screen and told us to “call [him] if you want to hear [his] voice…” very nice! Although he seemed like a funny man, I was mistaken today when he sent one of my friends out halfway through a two-hour lecture for resting his head on the table. My friend tried to talk his way into staying, at the same time not realising that our lecturer was asking him to leave, due to his poor choice of English words. The lecturer later explained to us that he sent him out because he was not shown respect, and then mumbled some other stuff. Honestly, we’ve shown respect to all our lecturers by PAYING for them to teach us something we supposedly need in the future. And not only so, we’ve paid our respects by actually SHOWING up to the lecture; paying for our cost is a “sunk cost” already.
And the last math lecturer? He’s the crazy scientist-like guy who was my tutor was one of my courses two semesters ago. His accent is quick thick though so it’s a bit hard to understand him but he is quite intelligent. I call him crazy scientist-like because that’s what he looks like, not to mention the way he “wields” a piece of chalk and crazily writes a bunch of math equations of the blackboard quickly, and messily. I don’t hate him, he’s just really enthusiastic about teaching maths, which I guess is a good thing for us students who want to learn. Neither of my math courses require a textbook – well for one I do, but it was the same as a textbook I already have for an Actuarial course I did last semester; what a coincidence!
So all in all university doesn’t seem too big a thing this semester; although I speak pre-maturely about that since I haven’t even considered the homework, some of which I already have, which I haven’t done yet haha. The five days is going to hurt me I reckon, but I’ve done it before already so it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Moving on, I am once again leading a Bible Study group this semester for CBS. Instead of leading with MC Ding this semester, my co-leader will be super tall Ms Chung (code names will have to do, sorry people). My group so far is quite big, at least 9 other people apart from the leaders. But the thing that’s a bit daunting is the fact that they’re all 3rd years and older; I haven’t met most of the older students. My group only have 2 people that are younger than me and Ms Chung, so hopefully we’ll be able to cater well for them and look after them this semester. Other than that Bible Study leading should be alright. We’re having leaders’ meetings on Monday afternoons, though I suspect each week there is going to be problems with trying to finish on time; you can only do so many things in a 1-hour meeting, so having a long agenda really isn’t helpful. We will have to see how this organising structure goes.
I guess the last thing I might mention is youth group. Things picked up over the last few weeks, because my co-leader went off to do her own things so I was left to follow people up and get admin stuff done by myself. But now most of it has been taken care of for this school term. Hopefully I’ll be able to see some fruit from this term that will let me know that I’m doing the right thing; most of that will probably be seen through our Bring a Friend Day evangelistic thing; have a talk to prepare for that day too. It feels awkward now, doing talks, because I haven’t done a proper one since Soul Purpose back in year 12. As such it is probably up to me (and God) to become more articulate in the coming days and weeks.
Until next time, I guess I’m going to get back into studying or procrastinating.
Knew I forgot something. Wanted to also talk about how this week reminded me just how horrible our public transport system is. Not having used it during the summer break has eased a lot of stress from me. It really has been frustrating nearly every day this week just having to put up with the annoyances of public transport. As usual, trains run late but it hasn’t been that bad this week. It’s the buses that have been the most annoying this week. Simply put, the buses DON’T COME, AT ALL. On a few of my days this week, I got to the bus stop in time for 11am and 12pm and there were more than a hundred students waiting in line for the bus. Rarely anyone starts uni this late, and rarely do that many number of students wait for the bus, ever.
So I really have to hand it to the bus company, for knowing how to be inefficient. During peak hours, around the 9am to 10am mark, there are heaps more buses, which is good. The problem is that none of them are full; and this is when most students want to get to uni. The buses simply don’t wait and leave once the bus is half full, even though there are students waiting. I’ve even come across an EMPTY bus, that’s right; a bus that didn’t pick a SINGLE student up. I don’t why it was empty, but if it was going to the university (to take students back from uni), it could’ve at least picked up some students (even 1 would’ve been good) rather than be a complete waste of space on the road – seriously, a giant vehicle carrying only 1 person, the driver.
Buses from uni are just as bad; they also don’t come, leaving hundreds of students waiting, and missing their desired train. Not only so, but during O-Week, the express buses weren’t even stopping at the right place. They were stopping before the traffic lights, which isn’t where they stop, and they totally missed the normal bus stop, which is right after the traffic lights. And to add insult to injury (for those who were waiting at the right place), those buses were only half full as well. How’s that for complete *face palm*?
Today on the train back home, a man with a Middle-Eastern accent was shouting over the intercom; yes, shouting. It was hard to make out what he said, and all I really heard was “Attention passengers”. But what he said after that sounded along the lines of: “We have hijacked this train and will kill one hostage every 10 minutes until our demands are met. Do not try to resist.” Don’t you just LOVE this city?
The title doesn’t really relate much to what I want to write here, by I like this song:
Anyway, thought I’d make one last update before uni starts again. I guess me whole holidays have been like a daydream; in a blink those 4 months have gone by and most of us are now back to the fast-paced lifestyle that is our tertiary education. It’s not a bad thing; it gives us something to work towards yet again, our so-called “future”. Like many others, I wished the holidays continued endlessly. I did a lot of stuff these holidays; I was productive in some sense. But again I hunger for more breaks, but that’s probably because these holidays were quite busy for me. That again is a good thing, because it keeps me from being completely idle; it is much better to be working than to be sitting still doing nothing and rotting away.
This semester is going to be more challenging than the last, yet again. 5 days a week is not a pretty thing. I haven’t faced such a cruel timetable since my very first semester back in first year. It really doesn’t help when you don’t have a day to rest: five days of uni, one day of work, and another day of church. I don’t really wonder how much I’ll suffer this semester; I know it’s going to be stressful most of the time, but it won’t be something that I won’t be able to manage, that’s for sure. My textbook costs have been limited to an odd $120 for this semester, just a single Actuarial Studies textbook. I had imagined this course to be more cost-demanding in the later years but it appears the staff are fairly light on costs. Oh, there is this $150-230 course pack for another course which I can obtain online, so I’m not going to buy that one.
I haven’t gotten enough sleep these past few weeks. Since the week of the Commerce Retreat, I’ve been trying to recover my energy but that hasn’t worked out so well. Having to double your efforts to cover for other people has really stunted my recovery. As such I’m not looking forward to uni tomorrow, apart from to see faces that I haven’t seen for weeks or months. Don’t really know why I’ve been so tired these days, but hopefully the start of uni will give me a change of pace that’ll be helpful, rather than make me more tired than I already am.
The last thing on my mind before I retire to bed is just my priorities in life now, uni life that is. In the past few months, having picked up so many commitments to Christian-related activities (“ministries” if you will), it feels like these commitment now rank higher than my university studies. Well at the moment I don’t see it actually happening but I get the feeling that once uni starts, I’ll do what I can to stay on top of my studies by any spare time I get on top of that will immediately be spent on my ministries. I mean, it’s a good feeling, being to put God first, even above my studies, but at the same time it feels like I may have crossed the boundaries for optimally dividing time between my duties and my Christian duties; even as Christians we can’t just entirely neglect our studies. I know I’m not going to do that, but having thought about it, I seem to be prepared to sacrifice my studies for emergencies relating to my ministries if the situation ever arises. I hope that never happens.
But until then, let’s see how this first week plays out. So many 21st birthday parties coming up; suddenly, money is no longer the only cost we incur to go to these once-off events, time becomes an issue too.