Friday, December 30, 2005
First off, a round of thank yous:
To - Kenny, Aiky, Sheng Yeeng, Esther and Angeline...for being great to travel around with and bug and just laugh about things, even when it's cold, or after being mugged. And especially to Aiky, for being a great travel guide.
Paris was great fun, and very scenic...Plus we left enough to warrant a return trip! It was actually colder than England...and the French; it was the first time I'd felt foreign since coming out of cosy Malaysia. Aiky did a really good blog about Paris, which you can read here.
The churches were magnificent, their ceilings stretched high above our heads, our voices changing to whispers as we walked in. Stained glass windows would abound in every church, unspoiled by vandalism and seemingly untouched by time. The clincher for me was attending Mass in the Basilica Sacre Coeur; though naturally impaired due to the obvious language barrier, the chorus by the nuns was beautifully sung. And at St Severin, another church, when the organ played out of nowhere, it was the icing on the cake. I'd imagined how the sound would come out, ever since I'd read a description of a full cathedral organ being played, and it did not disappoint. The bass swelled out massively, while the high pitch rolled around smoothly yet coquettishly above the din. Though the organist didn't play my fav: Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring, it was still a great experience.
The Eiffel Tower and the Louvre were all that they promised to be. We actually rushed quite a bit, till we got to the paintings. Not being much of an artist, I held back for a bit. But soon we realised, despite our lack of technicality, how much we appreciated the use of colour and tones. The silk in one painting looked as though we could feel it's lightness, while the king's furs in another drawing looked heavy. The Mona Lisa for me, was a bit of an overstatement however. Possibly this may have been because I didn't take too much time with it, owing to the crowds of people jostling around it, or that the paintings before were just as, or even more eye-catching. We got to meet up Lena, Chiaming and family after that, which was good.
Food wise, I can't really say that I had a lot of French cuisine, save the excellent baguette, which we had for bfast every morning. It was a treat to come down to the cosy communal kitchen where backpackers of all races would congregate to receive their rations consisting of a baguette roll, butter, jam and juice. Cornflakes and coffee would follow - a true breakfast for ppl on the go! On the last night, however, we dined at a restaurant famed for their seafood. Certainly the salmon was good...tasty with every bite. And Kenny got the waiter to say "Bon Appetit!" before we ate!
To Ee and Uncle Hee Liong, Ben, Aunt Penny and Uncle Chuong - thanks for the extra kg that I put on, and the movies, and the books, and understanding how late I'd sleep in!
It was a real treat coming back from Paris to a home base with home cooked food and beds. After seeing off the Dundonians and Angeline off the next day, it was great to prop up both feet and relax. And when I met Uncle HeeLiong at the station the next day, and drove through a park to his house, I began to feel the best part of my holiday was not over yet.
Christmas at Bedford was great. From meeting Ben and Elisabeth whom I haven't seen for ages, to having Christmas lunch with the family with all the traditions like pulling the crackers with people next to you, carving the joint, waiting for Christmas pudding to the ceremonial opening of presents under the tree. It was all good fun, despite the cats that they owned, which to be fair, were really well behaved:-) The rest of the time was spent reading, either in bed or out of it, and watching tv(Spirited Away rocks!, and saw Dr. Who for the first time..) And waking up one morning, drawing the curtains of my room(which i had to myself) and seeing this:
Uncle Choung and I went mad with our cameras that morning. In fact, I've no idea how to link stuff up to my blog, and worked out the Multiply link fairly recently. May yet be changing it in the near future. Most of my recent photos are there, so there'll be less on my blog(only the ones that mean something, anyway). Btw, Aiky, if you're reading this, hope you don't mind me linking up my blog to yours..
Plus received photos of YokeLi/Ah Liang's wedding today, which were great!
I'm still trying to work out how to lose the extra weight:-)
Sunday, December 18, 2005
God? Satan? If God is the Creator of all things, then Satan is the destroyer. A long time ago, God made man; Adam and Eve. Not long after, both of them made the decision to reject God and go their own way. This has been the case for all humans from that time onwards. Since then, God has been working to bring them and their descendants back to Him; to save them from certain death at Satan’s hands. For Satan is the source of all evil in the world, and he wants humanity to himself.
For ages, no side had gained an advantage over the other. God’s armies would win significant victories, but Satan always managed to sneak in a particularly devastating attack when no one expected it. This was one such battle, above the consciousness of most people happily sitting down to a quiet dinner in their homes. But on this night, something would happen that would change the course of the eternal war forever.
Even farther above the battle raging, in a secret, quiet chamber, Jesus was in council with God. “After understanding everything You have to do, do You still want to go through with it?” God asked.
Almost immediately Jesus answered, “Yes. There is no other way since we planned this right at the beginning of time.”
And in a more quiet tone, He added, “And, besides, I want to do this. For them.”
God looked into Jesus’ eyes, and saw eyes overflowing with love. “Godspeed then, my Son.” He said, with tears in His own eyes.
For this secret mission, 2 elite angels were assigned to Jesus as escort. Satan must at all costs be kept from finding out the true purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice. Taking leave of God, they sped off in a streak of light. As they entered into the battlezone, things became serious. Two crack demons spied the trio, and zeroed in on them. Sensing danger, the 2 angels held back, drawing off the demons and leaving Jesus a clear path to Earth. They knew the important thing was that Jesus should get through, even at the cost of their own lives. Knowing Satan had defenses around Earth, which was still mostly a stronghold of the Enemy back then, Jesus entered earth’s atmosphere and began immediate transformation into human form.
And thus began the life of Jesus on earth, which was the start of God’s plan to save humanity from eternal death. Like Hitler after D-Day, Satan knew this was the beginning of his end.
This is the image of Christmas I would like to leave with you. A message of an amazing sacrifice made at great cost. A thrilling tale of secret infiltration into an enemy-held stronghold. An account of a Father’s sacrifice and a Son’s love.
For it was through this plan that Jesus was born to Mary. He lived His life for one purpose: to die and rise again (Project Easter). For Jesus knew that without help, we were doomed to spend eternity without God, in Satan’s hands. His death replaced our own deaths, and when He rose again, alive, He showed His defeat of death; the key that Satan used to keep people from God. Now mankind had a fighting chance, if they would only believe in Him.
And it all started that night, when Jesus infiltrated earth to reach us.
So, when you sit down to Christmas dinner, or reach for ‘just one more’ glass of Christmas lager, think about what it cost for Jesus to be born. And when you open your first present, remember God’s original gift to humanity; Jesus. A gift that Satan has no chance of taking away. A gift that gives us the chance for us to return to God, our Creator.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Today(which has already passed in Malaysia), the 17th of Dec 2005, a significant event which has been talked and speculated about in the annals of the youth in Sitiawan Wesley MYF has occurred. A union of souls long foretold.
By now the music will have played, the vows would have been read, the kiss sealing the bond between two hearts intertwined with God for eternity. The youth would have much to say on this (if JoLynn has anything to do with it, that is..) occasion, and the church would have been packed with friends and well wishers. And right about this time, they would be having dinner, the hall packed with people who knew the bride and bridegroom growing up, both from an adult point of view, as well as friends growing up together with them.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Well, monday hasn't been this fun in ages.
Christmas dinner preparations started with an early morning shopping trip to ASDA, which saw our first misjudgement of the day. Looking at turkeys, we rashly decided we would require a turkey for 8-10 ppl. On arriving home, we discovered the turkey would take 2 whole days to defrost.
However, the eternal optimist in us arose, and we settled for 4 hours in a blocked sink filled with hot water. Then the cooking had to be divided amongst the 8 of us. Hsupheen's friend agnes and jack's friend christine were joining us so we had extra help. Howver, things were looking bad around 3pm when the turkey had not gone into the oven(it was supposed to take 3-4 hours to roast in time for dinner at 7). The sun burst through the clouds, however, when we discovered agnes was a hidden store of roast turkey know-how. She promptly took charge, as you can see here..
Agnes stuffing the turkey (into the neck and rear cavities like the paper says)
We had to leave halfway for a workshop on our CTM, so we left the guests in control of the kitchen. The workshop turned up pretty boring but we were presented with the fact that we would be splitting up to go for different hospitals in our fourth year. More on that in another entry mayb. We hurried home determined to eat our hearts out.
Meanwhile preparations were going on full swing. Ed had a sudden inspiration for baked potatoes, and between alex, tricia and himself, whipped up a killer sauce which smelt like heaven. The veg of beans, carrots and mushrooms were being boiled and the cold meats were getting warmed up in the microwave. Jack roamed around wondering what brandy sauce was meant for.
Christine and agnes finding out what it meant to be a guest in I3..
The turkey took an awful long time to roast. We didn't help matters much by opening it every so often to check on it.
But soon, all things come to an end. For better or worse, our first Christmas dinner in the UK was ready to be eaten. And as always with IMU ppl, photos come b4 food..
This is when i discovered my camera's flash is not capable of lighting up its' own nose(that is, if it had one).
Jack head of I3 carving the turkey.
In my everlasting battle against tooth decay, I was joined by two recruits..
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Why should this astonish me? I can think of no good reason on the top of my head, why this should give me reason to pause and reflect. I mean, between youth group and church back home, and with PC, Shawn and the rest bugging me in KL, it should come as no surprise; when we pray, God works.
Why then am I struck by a certain sense of, dare I say it, awe at this statement?
And going on to the fact that these 5 people are not exactly people you'd think of immediately when deciding who to invite to a quiet dinner with friends...People whom are 'not of our preference'. Oh I'm sure Christians love as Christ loves us, unconditionally and without looking at whether we can get that same love from them, in fact without looking at whether we can get ANYTHING from them. After all, there has to be a reason why love is the greatest in the company of such stalwarts as faith and hope right?
The fact is, that loving people is not all easy. In fact it is never really easy. Which is how it should be, I suppose, because it definitely was not easy for Christ to come and do what He did for us. But to get down to the very core of it, it's not even about the dying that I have seem to have an issue with. It's with loving people that don't share the same values that I do, that don't see for the life of them why someone would choose to give their life for something, or someone they can't even see. And to be honest, when I look at it from their point of view, it really takes faith to believe in Jesus, and in all honesty I can't blame them totally. But still the feeling lingers, sadly. Truth is, I think I have a preference issue.
Cue Peter and the sheet full of animals(Acts 10). Peter looks at it with disgust, and when God commands him to eat, says that he has never eaten anything impure(according to Jewish law) and that he is not going to start now. Soon after, 3 men come and ask him to visit Cornelius, an upstanding man in many respects, devout and God-fearing even(10:2). The only problem; Cornelius is a Gentile.
Peter goes off, knowing well that the equivalent of a Jew visiting a Gentile back then is like a Muslim eating pork now; it's against the law(10:28). But this is when God does something never before done in the history of the Bible up till this point. God sends the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and all who were there when Peter arrived(10:44). Peter learned how God does not show favouritism(10:34).
Imagine what would happen if Peter chose to have another of his 'preference moments' and had not gone to Cornelius' house. The salvation of the Gentiles would have been delayed at best, deferred at worst.
What we stand for, and what we allow to block our way HAS CONSEQUENCES.
So I guess I really have 2 issues. The unconscious preferences in my mind of different people, and the persistence to love them unconditionally, wanting to see them in heaven with Jesus. Keep me in prayer for this guys.
Does the life I'm living provide an environment which triggers people to God?
On the day of Goerge Mueller's funeral, his 5th and final friend came to the Lord.
I think this is where I woke up during the Christian Union meeting:-)
Friday, December 02, 2005
How do people communicate with a woman who is both blind and deaf? She'd be able to talk and shout and yell...she'd be able to feel people around her touching her and patting her on the back.
In short she'd be able to express herself, but wouldn't be able to receive input from others. She'd be without any sense of hearing and seeing...the two big ones for getting around. Sure, she'd be able to taste, and be able to feel and be able to smell..but how frustrating not to see and hear..
It doesnt matter if she's asleep or she's awake. Actually, she'd probably prefer to be asleep, cos' she'd probably hear fine in her dreams. While awake, though, it'd be a dark and silent world, punctuated with sudden touches that would probably shock her momentarily. She'd be irritated, scared and apprehensive at first, but later on, she'd probably welcome these touches...if only to prove to herself that she's still existing...that around her is a living, vibrant, noisy world, of which she can no longer enjoy.
Life does have a way of putting things into perspective.