Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I wish I may, I wish I might...

I find it strange (or maybe just logical) that lately the only freetime I have to blog is when I am ill :( It is true that I have taken more painkillers this academic year than in my last 2 years in London put together. Oh well, it gives me more time to blog and think I guess :)

I had the mother of all headaches last night. Had a restless night's sleep, barely managing to doze off at 6am even though I went to bed at 12. It wasn't just the headache's fault though. Imagination overload, I also felt like hurling everytime I remembered Tom telling me that Jamie saw his digested turkey from RML 5 times. About 15 times throughout the night I agonised whether or not to make a dash to the loo but because I like to keep sensitive issues like chucking it up private, I decided against it, in case Elena or Sarah heard me and woke up or needed a late night trip to the bowl and saw/ heard me. Aaaah, the joy of knowing that what could have come up is now digested and is part of my system. So, headache, nausea... what else?Ah, my whole body was wracking with muscle cramps and joint aches as well. It was a joke back home that I had the ailments of a typical grandmother. My mum used to come into my room and massage my legs until I could sleep again when I was younger and then I had to do it myself. The smell of vapour rub and other traditional menthol or eucalyptus oils would be the first smell that hit anyone walking through my room. Once, an aunt said that the noly other room that smelt like my room was my late grandad's room cos he liked to walk around smelling oils, hence my similarity to old people :) Nowadays I just curl into a ball and try to fall asleep.

I also get strange dreams when I fall ill. There was one time in Aussie when I was desperately ill (but no one knew cos I'm stubborn and keep these things to myself until years later) and I kept on dreaming that the Tranformer baddies were chasing me and I broke out in cold sweat, which I blamed on the hot weather. It wasn't that bad last night. I dreamt that Tom was telling me about Jamie puking and of my neighbour Mark and his son, Mark II, which reminded me that I need to pray for them more often. I also dreamt of this guy called Lahmi who was really mean to me at a party and all my friends had warned me that he was mean. Lahmi? Where did I come up with a name like that? Apparently, he's Goliath's brother.

Yesterday I led my last one-to-one with Sophie de Witt. 1 Peter. She played the part of a new Christian to perfection and there were several times I cracked up just because she was asking questions to which she blatantly knew the answer. She's gonna give me a study Bible tomorrow at RML before she leaves.

I have written out my Christmas cards already and will post them in about a week's time as some of them have to go quite far. I have yet to complete my homework, Fi, I'm still waiting for my laptop with the in-design programme on it (yes? no? yes? no?) and my head needs decluttering. See some of you soon, see some of you sooner and if I won't see some of you soon, I hope we'll see each other in Heaven.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

The aftermath

I woke up with a very bad headache but tried to convince myself it was all worthwhile. Plates lined the skyline of the kitchen... exaggeration doh. sarh and I cleaned the kitchen bit by bit, plates, cutlery, smoothie maker, pots and pans, cups, living room, rearranging the rooms to the way it used to be. I still have a very bad headache but I tell myself it was all worthwhile :)

The house is not fully clean but there's always tomorrow, essay to write, two boys to tutor, friends to meet up with.

Quite comic but at the same time a relief, knowing that I am physically able to take on Thanksgiving, although it can always be better. Bring on Christmas and it has started to rain.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thankful because...

Thanksgiving day. Yesterday. The progression of the day is still going through my head.

8am, wake up call.
9am, cleaning takes off - slowly - clearing clutter, cleaning the last 2 weeks worth of dishes....
12:30 noonish, house sat for Tom while knitting and dancing randomly to the radio (oh, the wonderful options I have when the boys are not in).
3pm, rushed back to my place. Tom was an hour behind schedule. My life hung in the balance. People were due at the house at 6pm for dinner at 7pm, I still had the house to clean, whole meal to cook and make myself look decent.
3:30, turkey went slam bang into the oven, stuffed with mushrooms, onions and a heap of herbs stirred into butter.
4pm, three large pots of water were boiling ready for the potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams that were only halfway cut.
4:30pm, most things are on the boil and I start making stuffing balls.
5pm, a record 10 minute shower.
5:30pm, three lots of potatoes are in the boys' oven, turkey is browning, I have finished making the balls to be dumped into the oven at some point in time, get the beans ready, hoover the floors, pretty flowers from Sainsbury's go up unto the mantlepiece, Elena has left to catch the train...
6pm, Helen arrives and helps me peel carrots :) and I realise that I have overcooked the sweet potatoes so tip them out of the roasting tin and begin mashing them instead.
6:30pm, most people are there chatting, drinking, chairs and plates start coming round from the boys' place. we rearrange the living room to accomodate 16 people. The kitchen table is brought through and joined with the dining table AND coffee table (7 people had to sit on the floor by the coffee table but I think some of the pilgrims way back in history did that anyway so all was good).
7pm, we waited for the last few people, I started making the gravy and checked on the four apple pies in the fridge (I thought I could save one for myself today, I was wrong. 16 people can polish off quite a lot). Bread rolls and butter, carrots, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, gravy and stuffing balls line the table. Not forgetting the cranberry sauce.
7:20, everyone is seated, Tom says grace, Jamie carves the turkey. 3 hours of systematic panic and phew! Thanksgiving indeed.
12 midnight, everyone went home after dinner, apple pie with whipped cream, rounds of Joe's Bailey's smoothies (oooooh), Krista's hot chocolate, tea and Robin Hood; Prince of Thieves (thank you Big Dave!!).
I fall into bed.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Speeeling 2

I spelt 'previous' wrongly in my latest blog before this one...

I promised Sean that I would go in for my 9am lecture today and I did. Woke up at 8am in a hurry because I thought I wouldn't make it in time but since a promise is a promise, I decided that whether I made a late appearance or not, I would still go. In fact, it turned out that I was not as late as I thought I was because my alarm clocks are set at 10 minutes and 15 minutes respectively, faster than normal so there was even enough time for me to grab last night's dinner as breakfast. Will be meeting up with a few people today and this week in general, to catch up, not to mention Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night. I invited 2 random American guys, whom I was serving at the Student Union, as well. I might have to borrow the guys' table from 3 doors away, if I can fit it through the front door. So later today I'll be cleaning house and tweaking things into place not to mention purchasing a turkey, necessary veggies, tuburs, pumpkin, cranberry jelly etc before going to St Hs for RML. I think I will wear my 12 foot long scarf tonight for fun.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

It has been a very long time since I have last updated you all and quite a bit has happened. My chat with Daryl is still lingering in my mind and more often than not, I awake, wondering how I can pursue purity and holiness for another day. Don't get me wrong, they are not airy-fairy days of butterfly wings and prancing among wild flowers. Rather, I am being confronted with what it really is to struggle to maintain, as DOGW puts it, the posture of godliness. Even then, I am sure that the bigger struggles I will have to face up to one day have yet to be smelt, let alone seen. Anyhoo, there is a strange sense of relief as I resolve to take a step into another chapter in my life. Although the previous academic year was very, very fun, I would have to say that it was tougher in some ways compared to my orevious 19 years of 'experience' - hahahahaha. Spiritual issues I had to battle with; my own rebellion still wanting and still willing me to 'take control' and perhaps, a new perspective on life, has all been a lot to take on. I'm not wallowing in poor-me pity, nor am I proclaiming my victories in overcoming my troubles(because I haven't, and will never truly overcome in this life). It is a fact that every Christian, from whichever nationality, race or background will in their lifetime face the same petty things that everyone else does. The only difference is that our hope is rooted in and displays Christ. In the book of Peter, the Bible says that we should be encouraged that our Christian brothers and sisters are going through the same struggles as we are. Personal/ emotional/ psychological issues; there is no need for me to go into the heartache and helplessness they can cause. But I am glad that, in Christ, I have 'emerged' from last year's tunnel so that as I enter or have entered into this year's channel, I have the assurance that even through the toughest moments this year will bring, I can be confident that as long as my hope and faith are secure in Christ, I have hope for a future with Him no matter what.

No matter what. Pretty brazen words. But not of my understanding or from my own strength, but through Him who died for me, through Him who has redeemed me even as I stand condemned by my words and actions and thoughts.

Heavy words to ponder, heavy thoughts to weigh... maybe that's why it takes so long to process.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Speeeling

I spelt frustrated wrongly in the previous blog. Will blog when I have more than 10 minutes to myself.

P/s: Shortest blog in my history... I think.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Hmmm?

I lost my earring back piece 2 nights ago and was involved in a long and fruitless hunt for it. Although I failed to recover my lost property and was frsutrated, as I sat on my bed wondering where on earth it had flown to, I found myself thinking that I had discovered other things more precious in eternity; my letter to Ben that I wrote 2 weeks ago, which was under a pile of something (I sent him 2 letters yesterday), email addresses on scraps of paper that I had forgotten to put into my account, catalogues that sparked new ideas not just for Christmas but for life in general and flyers inviting friends to Christmas Carols and other evangelistic events.

Daryl came round yester evening and we had a good long chat, reminding ourselves of what it meant to be loved by God despite shortcomings. It is good to be reminded of the important points, the central focus, the big idea. Such a simple act of love that we often take it for granted or try turn it into some complex theory (to make it more acceptable... after all, it can't be THAT easy, surely) and as a result grace and mercy are disregarded because the sinner becomes the focal point instead of God. So profound that we will never comprehend it in this life.

4pm and I need to go to Tesco for baby lotion among other things. I bought myself a book on horses in Marks and Sparks last Monday; Spirit of the Horse. RML tonight and before that I need to get more Bible reading in and draw up invites to Thanksgiving dinner and Friday Cafe.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Oh Christmas tree...

Elena and I put the Christmas tree up today, decked with home-made decorations made out of shiny paper stuck onto tea coasters, polystyrene bla bla bla for snow and painted, fused lightbulbs for baubles, not to mention gold ribbons, grapes King Midas would be proud of and a snowman. I taught Sunday School today :) and bought 3 more books of Phil. Elena got me the biggest jar of Marmite she could find and that, ladies and genteel men, coupled with a biscuit or two, shall be my breakfast until the Marmite runs out. I have an essay to write for tomorrow; Immanuel Kant and his Categorical Imperative theory has to be completed before 12 noon tomorrow.

I have to start disciplining myself in my lifestyle and need to stop excavating holes I can't dig myself out off. One wonders why I have seemingly so much time to spare. It's because I have to wait while God calls in His team of expert engineers to fashion an elevator. But in the long run, it's God who's waiting for me to finish what He has destined me for and be perfected through Christ to be transformed into his likeness. I can see an aeroplane bleeping away in the sky. I can't wait to touch down on good, ol, Malaysian soil again. Am looking forward to the end of the year. It signifies several things; my course is halfway over, I would have (hopefully) completed the McCheyne Bible-reading plan, Christmas with the Grinch is on the cards and the start of a new year. It is so refreshing that as Christians, we don't have to wait for a new year to begin anew, to start afresh, to start from scratch, for a change of heart. The Spirit is constantly changing and moulding us as we process change and change in the process. All we have to do is be submissive and surrender. The easiest thing to do with the most reward and yet so often we fight for our rights when in actual fact, we have none. I for one, am excited about what God might do through me in the future or right now or what He has already done because it's all about His glory and character; His goodness and mercy and patience and forgiveness, His full attention on the mundane in our lives, His delight in our joy that comes from Him. Truly, life is all about God and to realise that, though in the little that we may in this lifetime, is to burst forth in jubilation and song.

Emotions are very, very fickle and very shaky ground to base any convictions on. So let our convictions base themselves in solid truth that our emotions, fragile as they are, will glow with the peace that comes from God, be it on the mountain top or in the valley of the shadow of death.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Question time

Someone asked me to blog on the following questions:

1. What is the seemingly most attractive thing about Jesus to Malaysians? What distinguishes Christ the most?
Grace is the one thing that is offered by God in Christianity and no other religion. What is attractive about Christianity? It depends on the person really. One of the reasons could actually be peer pressure (talk about positive peer pressure). Because we come from a 'kiasu' (scared of losing face or being left behind in the stakes) society, among teenagers, when non-Christians see their friends in church lifting hands and praising God unashamed, it breeds interest, especially if the individuals are popular at school and etc. So, anything from the curiosity of grace to the neo-charismatic service. However, there is an understood slight danger where many 'Christians' put their faith in how they are feeling or how they can please their Christian boyfriend/ girlfriend (by 'becoming' a Christian) rather than being grounded in truth.

2. What is witnessing like in the Malaysian church? How free are you to evangelize? Do you use tracts? Do you use any programs like FAITH, Romans Road, 4 Spiritual Laws?
Among students, witnessing is usually at school or when we are out with our friends. People observe their Christian friends' behaviour to back up this 'faith' they keep jabbering about. Christian 'concerts' and conferences are also a great way to reach out. However, we have to remember that the follow up is also important if not more important to ensure that they are sure about the message and are not just on some concert high.
Malaysian churches use programmes like the Alpha course or other programmes run by organisations such as the Scipture Union. We are free to evangelise and is usually done over dinner/ lunch/ buffet... :)

3. What would be distinctive about an Malaysian service, compared to Western services?
It depends on which church you attend. There are charismatic churches in the West as they are conservative (although very few) churches in Malaysia. Most churches (in Malaysia) are charismatic or neo-charismatic and there is a full session of 'praise and worship' for about 45 minutes followed by notices etc and a 45 minute sermon. The church I go to in London is of the sit-stand-sit variety - great for exercise.

4. Can Jesus be portrayed as the elders' elder, the authority to which all authorities must conform?
He can and he should be. He is the cornerstone, remember?

5. Does the Malaysian church offer food pantries, orphanages, visitation to nursing homes and prisons? Any of this, or is it restricted?
Most organisations welcome food, clothing and generally help, from anyone and the government encourages this regardless of religion.

6. How does the government view home church meetings? passing out Christian literature?
2 of the 14 states in Malaysia are ruled by the Syariah law and so passing out literature there might not be allowed - I'm not sure. However, they are still allowed to go to church. I doubt there are such limitations on other churches though.

7. Do Asian churches have love feasts, church potluck dinners, fellowship around food, and how is this viewed. I understand that in Jesus' culture, food sharing was almost as intimate as sex!
I doubt food sharing is considered intimate although we all enjoy a good 10 course round dinner from time to time. We have feasts at church on a regular basis where we all bring a dish (or more) and share it. This is usually followed by a talk or is held in conjunction of an event like Christmas. Eating is not just a necessity among Malaysians, it's a social event.

8. Is there a Malaysian version of the cross, a special ornamentation, like Greek, Russian, etc. versions?
No.

9. Is the cross a prominent symbol?
Most churches if not all, would have a cross on the wall in front of the building and inside, so yeah, I would say it's prominent. Is it prominent in general? Most people who either wear it as an ornamental piece or out of belief know what it stands for so again, yeah.

10. How do you reach your Mohammedan neighbors with the gospel (I call Islam "Mohammedan" because they follow that guy's teachings, like we are called "Christians" because we follow Christ's teachings).
With love and sensitivity.

Jesus and horses

Very few things/ people stand between me and my two loves although maybe I should fit my brother just before horses(?). I find everyday a struggle to consciously ensure that I'm not leaving my friends out of my daily walk with Christ. We were made for fellowship with Christ and one another is a phrase, of which I find the latter extremely hard to follow on my own accord. A distorted Eden if you would like. There's me, and God and all the animals and nature and creation. But standing next to me is another person (representing fellowship with other Christians in this context) with whom I am supposed to share my life with. I am learning to be more and more Christ-like everyday from the least likely of sources, which both humble and renew me and yet there is still a stubborn and selfish streak that will not let go of my world. Fear of being exposed? Fear of being vulnerable? Fear of realising I cannot make it on my own? I quoted it before and I quote it again, "Perfect love drives out all fear." I wonder if that is why I only feel like myself when I'm alone, sharing my thoughts and insignificant questions with God.

I have a doctrine of notice versus doctrine of overreaching essay to write for Property tomorrow. With Tim Hughes in the background and chinese sweet and sour (I cooked for Daryl and JP too - one of them picked away at the cabbage whilst the other flatly refused to eat the mushrooms) in my stomach, I will endeavour to finish this essay before Sarah comes home tonight and reclaims possession of her computer.

Sunday school today and two peeps in my group had birthdays and Oliver's mum made a ooooh-yummy chocolate ship complete with yellow and green sails and chocolate fingers all around. Ooooh yum. Yet another thing five-year olds and I have in common. For about 3 years running, I had the same cake ordered for my birthday; a horse and a rabbit iced unto a vanilla chocolate sponge cake about a foot by a foot and a half. And if you think that's nutty, my mum ordered me a giant snoopy chocolate cake for my SECOND birthday - it was bigger than I was - and though I may not have been that big, it was sufficiently sized to be defined as giant. Sunday school is a blessing in disguise. I went in to serve and what I have received in return in a thousandfold; a further investment in eternity. For the past 6 weeks, our memory verse has been "The LORD is faithful to all His promises" Psalm 145:13 and next week, I will actually be teaching! Yay! I think it's the Esau and Jacob story. Red, hairy guy versus smooth-skinned lad. Hunter versus shepherd. Impulse versus Deception. But that's not how I'm gonna introduce the story :)

As I shared with my tutee on Saturday, the importance of discipline, whichever field of work he might want to go into in the future, I felt God addressing me even as the words fell from my lips and the more He spoke to me, the more discipline made sense. A disciplined Christian. Discipline in thought and word and deed. Consistent. Reliable. Strong in Christ. When we look round and judge the lifestyle and bits and bobs of others' lives as we do, bear in mind, the 'weakest' person, the least likely candidate for speaking out for Christ in the face of adversity, the person most likely to crumble and fall, that person probably has convictions and faith that will blow most of us away. It is when we are weak that we are strong, it is when we are frail that we are strengthened, it is when we are torn that we are united, it is when we are dead to ourselves that we live.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Cookie monster - that's me

Roast chicken and bacon sandwich from Ginsters, a large packet of chilli crackers and a king sized Cadbury dairy milk bar was, is and is going to be, my lunch; my only break working from 9 to 5 today. Supersize everything! For dinner tonight, I have been invited to Limehouse to partake in a feast of belly pork or as the Chinese call it, pui bak, directly translated as fat meat (*sigh* perhaps I should just nibble on carrots for the rest of the week). It's only convenient to revolve my timetable and social responsibilities over a dish of good food. I made giant pancakes for Elena and myself last night (consumed with butter and pure maple syrup from Canada) as we tried to convince ourselves that studying was going to happen any day now.

I have 3 essays to hand in on Monday and I am hoping that I shall complete one a day from tomorrow onwards.

I met this guy (his name's Alex) yesterday who I started chatting to (as opposed to chatting up) just because I though he had such nice hair. Not frizzy but not exactly curly... more ringlet-like. I think I am slowly driving Elena mad with my references to Mr Knightly (Emma). I have to get back to work in 10 minutes time and my mouth is filled with chocolate - it's as if a chocolate bomb exploded in my mouth. Maybe I should wash it down with coke - more good/bad food.

Ahhh.. nothing left to say. Food on the brain.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Father Ted

Elena and I had the rare opportunity to watch Father Ted on TV last night at about 11pm. Elena's mum is getting her the whole series of Father Ted so we can watch it everyday, anyday (yay), not that we will watch it everyday. Last night's episod was the one with the milk float and some dodgy milkman in it. Father Dougal is so sweet... awhh.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday... 5 days have passed and should I tell all? On Friday, I contracted migraine and so couldn't go in for a seminar or work. I did however, start knitting Fay's Christmas scarf. When Friday night came around though, I remembered I was invited to dinner and so began the process of getting ready. My eyes were dreary from squinting because of my sore head so I dressed them up to look like panda bear eyes. We went to Royal China in Canary Wharf and waited an hour before we were served; typical of a Chinese restaurant especially when tables are not reserved. Royal China, oooooh yum. We had peanuts and pickles, duck pancakes, yam basket (more like yum basket... hehehe), some wine chicken thing, green vegetables, tofu, prawns... mmmm, it was all very good. Feeling very full afterwards, we walked to Limehouse for dessert - chocolate coated doughnuts ("Mmm... donuts" - Homer Simpson), ice cream cake and fruit. All very yummy.

Saturday; had a tutorial at 11.30 til 1.30, followed by a trip to Lewisham and back at 5.30, quite exhausted. I did a quick check of my wrapping paper and I need a good 2 more rolls. I might do some shopping next week as this week is reading week and I have (I think) 3 essays to catch up on. So, I arrived home thinking i was going to have a laid back and quiet night in with Simon Cowell (the X-Factor) when I suddenly remembered (again) that Carly had invited me round to hers for dinner and to meet up with Katy's brother. So, I tried to get through changing as fast as I could and hopped a bus and went to Carly's. It was good to be there, despite me nearly falling alseep on several occasions. I just wanted to snuggle down into the warm and comfy spare bed but I couldn't, so instead I sprawled myself unto a bean bag and tried to pretend I was a large sheepdog without a care in the world. I met Dan, who has, in my opinion, on of the nicest heads of hair I have ever seen. The other belongs to Matt Williams. After dinner and chat, we trooped to St Paul's - a good 30 minute walk at least - to show it off to Katy's brother, Pete. For me, it was a chance to breathe in some 'fresh' air. The clocks changed as well!

Sunday. Had a nice, long lie-in. Lie in? Lay in? Sleep in? Hmph. My head was going through an on-off relationship with pulsating capilaries in my brain and I felt awful. No, be positive. I felt lightheaded. There, that sounds much better. Did my share of house cleaning and washed the laundry, which took a long, long time as a substantial amount of clothes I have are supposed to be hand-washed. I nearly didn't want to go in for Sunday service that evening because my head was still throbbing but Sarah persuaded me and off I went. Arrived St Helens 'late' and got to sit in the gallery :) John Chapman was giving the sermon and for some reason I though he would be a middle aged, lots of brown hair and maybe a tache to go. It turns out, he's 75, white haired and no tache. He's cool though - he was wearing an elephant-print tie on Monday.

Monday. Had one-to-one and a prawn pasta thing in Bow at 12. We learned about submission to authority yesterday. Next week, we will be looking at the whole husbands and wives ding-a-ling. I arrived home about 4 and had to preen myself to go out again to help in St Helen's 'Investing for Life.' I had to don white and black attire as I was scheduled to help serve canapes to guests - fun. There were several of us there in penguin coloured suits; Sim, Chris, Martin, Big Dave... I also met some new people whom I will look out for in the future. The spread was as usual delightful courtesy of a one Mike Thorpe. Samosas, bhajis, little salmon things on crackers, cheese balls, bacon rolls, pork pies, mini scotch eggs, pies, quiche, pastry thingies, cocktail sausages, sausage rolls - all very yummy food. After helping clean up, Big Dave and I went home with 2 bottles of wine each.

The above, ladies and gentlemen, is my submission to a very busy past few days. Today, I hope to get all the necessary notes off the Intranet, pay the gas bill, do some reading, phone the landlord, check the laundry, wine and dine at Wagamama's, followed by Accoustic night at the Great Hall. Tomorrow, I shall be working the whole day as I will also do the following day.

Before I go, John Chapman listed 5 things on Sunday, which I think is a good pivotal point for us to share Christianity with our friends.

1) Christ's unique birth - the virgin birth
2) Christ's unique life - he came to die
3) Christ's unique death - what his death accomplished
4) Christ's unique resurrection - doh (maybe 'doh' is not a great explanation...)
5) Christ's unique characteristics