Monday, December 29, 2008

Did I forget to say Merry Christmas?

Oh yeah, I did! Sorry all, had a super busy Christmas Day and also going through one of my blogging PMS stages now (as in, I don't feel like blogging).

Anyhow, hope you all had a great Christmas and will have an even better new year 2009, full of joy and prosperity and all that good stuff. And my dog wishes you a belated Merry Christmas too.

Aahh, just gotta love them Santa hats.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Doing my bit for shameless advertising

It's 1.30am and I have to wake up early for work tomorrow but I'm not sleeping yet coz' I have an insanely busy week of travelling all over the place and I have yet to do my bit of shameless advertising for THIS.... our CBC Christmas Carnival! It's happening this Sunday, 2-7pm and SS14's school field, and we got food and games and all that other fun stuff. And of course, this would all be meaningless during Christmas if it was not for charity! We are raising funds for WAO's home for children from abused families... the kids need funds for school equipment, clothes, etc, etc... so you get to have fun and eat food while helping these kids get the things they need for the new school year. Everyone wins! Woo hoo!!! And we have flyers! Aren't they cool??

Alrighty, I'll stop writing Kim KARdashian-style now and go catch some zzz's. Hope to see you guys there. :)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Monash Alumni Gathering

Oh cool, there's a Monash article with my name in it on my old uni's website. Coz' I went for Monash's Alumni Gathering a couple of months back and they invited me to be on the panel of speakers at their forum, to share with the students and alumni on our working life experiences. It was quite fun, really... having to look and talk all professional-like while answering questions from students, when all the while I was quite tempted to say something like "Forget about finishing your degree and joining the boring working world! Go out and become rock star! Kekeke....". I highly doubt I would be invited back for next year's gathering if I had done that though, but it sure would have been funny.

See if you can spot the Carol in the immensely small group pic. Coz' I sure can't. Lol.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The disappearing blog post

After some advice from a good friend, I've decided to remove my previous post about my tales of oppression. Unfortunately, for every person like myself who just loves to tell things like it is, there are also people out there who just can't take it like it is and would make it their life mission to get the people who tell it like it is into trouble. And while I respect people like an a certain infamous bald blogger who will not back down from telling it like it is, even they it gets him into hot soup... I'd rather save myself the drama. It WAS good advice from my friend though, so thanks to you, you know who you are. :P

However, if you didn't get the chance to read my previous entry and you're dying to know what it's all about, I saved my story and can send it to you. Provided, of course, that I know who you are and I trust you enough not to abuse it. Heh. Just gimme a holler.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Talking rubbish

The main rubbish bin in my home is kept in this small little corner in the laundry area of my apartment, right next to the kitchen. Usually, there is a proper bin there, but sometimes when my mum or dad get their hands on a humungous plastic bag, they use that to keep the trash instead.

So a couple of days ago, I go to get my dry laundry from the laundry area, and I take a look inside the big bag o' rubbish, which at that point was already quite full. And I see a couple of empty potato chip cans, used shampoo bottles and God knows what other things in there that really SHOULDN'T be in the rubbish bin. So I grab another bag and proceed to rummage through the big bag of rubbish to look for stuff like these:

Lo' and behold, resting within the crevices of the big bag o' rubbish were the two potato chip cans, two shampoo bottles, a plastic bottle, a big Vegood tetrapak box and smaller tetrapak drink box, 3 tin cans, an aluminium can and a round plastic container... plus a stack of A4 papers not seen in this pic coz' I put them together with my stack of all other unwanted papers. All in all, I believe I reduced the amount of junk in the bag of rubbish by at least one third. If I really want to, I could've hunted deeper into the bag for more junk, just that there was some weird smelling liquid in the bag and I decided my collection was sufficient for the time being.

Now at this point, if you are a typical Malaysian, you might be thinking that Carol has developed some strange junk-hoarding disorder and she go get some help now. If you are an extraordinary Malaysian who also hoards the same kind of junk, then you would know where I'm getting at here. All the stuff above that I took out of the big bag o' rubbish... papers, plastic, tins and tetrapaks... are all RECYCLABLES. This is the kind of stuff that you can take to a nearby recycling centre, where they melt it down or something like that so they can reuse the materials to make new paper stuff or plastic stuff or tin stuff, etc...

The average Malaysian is like my mum and dad, who throws every unwanted item into the big bag o' rubbish and then happily continue with their lives. The average Malaysian will go *yawn*..."So why should I care? Why waste my precious time and energy separating my recyclables and taking them all the way to a recycling centre when I have soooo many other things to do? Zzzzzz...."

Well, I'd like to think most of you well-learned folks would at least have heard something on the radio or read something telling you that Malaysian produce too much rubbish, bla bla bla, recycling is important, bla bla bla, green is the new pink, bla bla bla... but if you have truly been living under a coconut shell and are completely unaware of how all the junk you throw away affects the world around you... and ultimately, you, then here are my fun (but not-so-short) facts for today.

1) The average Malaysian produces 0.8 kg of waste a day. For Malaysian in KL, the number is almost double, at 1.5 kg a day. Apparently in the year of 2007, Malaysians achived the amazing feat of producing enough rubbish to fill up 42 Petronas Twin Towers. That's just ONE year. Fu-yoh, Malaysia boleh!!!

2) All our rubbish goes into landfills
. In case you don't know what a landfill is, it's an area of land designated for the sole purpose of dumping rubbish. 'Ideally' it should be a big hole in the ground so that once it's full of rubbish, it can be covered up with dirt and let to decompose. Sometimes when people are too lazy to dig a big hole, you get a big pile of rubbish like this:

I took this pic from one of the estates I went to visit recently. You can click on the pic to enjoy the full extent of my lovely panorama of rubbish. And this is just one estate. Imagine the sight of the landfill where the rubbish of KL residents goes! Brr...

Obviously, landfills take up land space. That means precious land area that can be used for housing, or for agricultural use, or just to be left as natural reserves are now just being used to store our rubbish. Just so you know, right now we also have this major thing called Global Warming going on, and because of this, glaciers in the North and South Poles are melting like M&M's in your mouth. This causes the sea level to rise and cover even more land area that can be used for housing or crops, etc... Meanwhile human beings are breeding almost like rabbits... our world's population was 6 billion in 1999... in 2008 it's already reached 6.7 billion. We need land to plant crops to feed all these people... but WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF LAND!!! This, by the way, is also a reason why I don't want to have kids. My apologies to my future hubby if you or your parents are the old fashioned type who must have kids to carry on the family name or whatever hogwash like that. Poorly managed landfills also produce methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that when released to the atmosphere increases Global Warming. In fact, all of the greenhouses gases floating around, methane is most POWderful coz' it holds the most heat. In fact, Mr. Methane has 23 times the global warming potential of it's closest competitor, Mr. Carbon Dioxide. In landfills, however, most of the methane produced by the accumulated rubbish can't be released directly to the air coz', well, there's too much rubbish on top of the gas. So methane builds up inside landfills over time. And methane is also flammable. So guess what might happen at a landfill if some smart aleck comes along and tosses his cigarette butt on it? Landfill go BOOM.

That's a picture of a landfill fire and a very hapless fireman, by the way. Landfill fires have happened in Malaysian landfills, at Hulu Langat, Kepong, and God knows where else. Too bad I couldn't find a picture off those, so this will suffice.

3) Plastic, glass, tin and all these recyclable materials take ages to break down. I'm sure you know that by now. What you may not know is that
plastic does not biodegrade, it photodegrades. Meaning it doesn't break down to its constituents which are quite harmless, but instead just breaks into itty bitty toxic bits of plastic. These itty bitty bits of toxicness go into the land and water, get eaten by fish and other animals, which get eaten by bigger fish or animals, and meanwhile all the fish and animals, both big and small alike, get eaten by....(drumroll please....) US! Hence you or your kids end up getting lots of toxic bits of plastic accumulating in yourselves. That's probably not too good for health. That's just for plastic. I'm not too sure what happens to glass and metal... and I'm not too keen to find out right now.

Yesterday was was National Recycling Day in Malaysia. For all intents and purposes, I should have been able to go around to everyone I know and say "Happy Recycling!". Of course, that didn't happen, coz' for one, most people don't know it it was National Recycling Day in the first place, and second, most people don't recycle, and I would've just gotten lots of weird looks. Heck, I didn't even know it was National Recycling Day until my boss told me to attend this presentation on recycling that was being held at HQ in conjunction with this day. My company is starting to get big on the 3R's (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and I'm part of the team working to make the project a success... but it's an uphill climb coz' it's never easy to change the mindsets of people. But after working on this and learning more of the facts, I learned that the problem is just getting REALLY bad.

So people, hopefully I've inspired (or scared) you enough to want to start sorting your trash from now on. And I just got to say this.... Happy Belated Recycling Day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Forum Ministry?

So it's been a while since my sabbatical from CBC, which turned out to not be a sabbatical coz' I didn't leave anyway. I don't visit Acts' evening service anymore, even though I want to coz' there are just too many things on my plate and too many other things I want to do but have no time to do. And work has been super busy lately, compounded with the occasional period of demoralization I go through everytime I do something I'm not supposed to do, or not do something I'm supposed to do, and my boss tells me off for anything I do wrong while completely ignoring anything I do right. I've gotten along perfectly fine with my bosses in my previous jobs, so I can only surmise that my current boss and I operate and think in too different manners, yet anytime I try to ask him what exactly he wants from me, he brushes me off coz' he's too busy. So for the sake of my career and sanity, I need to learn how to become psychic. Wonderful, I'm sure that skill would look fantastic on my CV. *Sigh* I've also come to realize that very few companies actually run as well as Accenture did, so my dream of getting a future job where I do environmental or conservation work but the company runs as well as Accenture will probably never materialize. *Double sigh*

Among other things I've been thinking a lot about is what sort of ministry to go into. I'm already doing stuff in church like teaching kids in Sunday School, and recently I decided to rejoin the worship team on choir (was on guitar before this until I got downsized coz' of being outstation so often I couldn't make practices... I'd still have the same problem in choir, but hopefully it'll work out. I think I sing better than I play guitar anyway. :P). But I wanted to do something else where I can meet new people outside of church, people who don't know God and whom I will have the chance to tell them about Him. Yet I don't want to commit to a ministry where I have to regularly go out somewhere to do something for people, like visiting an old folks home or something... just coz' I'm afraid work will take up too much time and I can't be committed. Plus, I already go out a lot as it, for work and church and God knows what else, so much that my parents don't see me around the house often enough. So I need to chock up on my good-filial-daughter points by spending more time at home... though it's not like I spend a great deal of time talking to my folks at home anyway. We all just end up doing our own thing and not talking much... just that when I'm at home, my folks don't complain that I go out too much. -_- Must be something that all parents are programmed to do...

Anyway, I thought, since I spend half my life online at home anyway, I came up with the 'brilliant' idea of going to online forums. There are plenty of people who have questions about Christianity and God who post their questions at such forums, so I thought it would be good to get in there and try to give some good answers, and maybe make some new friends along the way. Plus, making the effort to try and answer other people's weird and wonderful questions about Christianity forces me to do my own research to get good answers, and in the process, I learn new stuff. So now I'm using my previously-dead-coz'-I-can't-be-bothered-with-it Friendster account to check out forums there. And the rest of my post below is my reply to one of the forum posts from this atheist guy who had quite a few questions and I answered each of them to the best of my knowhow. I'm probably opening a can of worms here, coz' whatever answers I give will have flaws and will lead to more questions... to which I may not have a good answer for. But it's ok, then I'll just have to find the answer and learn more new stuff. :P

So here's the fella's post (in bold) and my answers:

Q: what is the act of god?
A: I don't totally get your question here. God has done many acts, so there's no ONE specific 'THE' act that He has done. I'm guessing what you actually mean is, what can be considered as an act of God. Most people would probably say anything extraordinary (miracles, for example) or extreme natural events are acts of God... but Christians believe that God works is less supernatural ways all the time... by working through people or allowing certain events to happen. So I would say that God is acting all the time.

Q: who created god?
who create the creator of god?
A: This is pretty funny, coz' it's implying that if God was made by a creator, then that creator must have been created by another creator, and thus THAT creator must have been created too... and so on and so forth. So where the heck did all these creators come from?
The Bible says that God is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. This means that God has always existed even before time began (as someone already mentioned, God created time itself). And since He's always been there, He has no creator. God is the creator of everything else.

Q: how can u say that u have faith?
A: If it were possible to prove beyond any doubt that God exists, everyone would be forced to believe. Unfortunately, we only have evidence that God exists, and different people interpret the evidence differently. Since we cannot completely prove that God exists, that where we must have faith.

Q: how do u know if i have a soul? is soul's even true?

A: Most people would define a soul as the 'essense' of a person that makes up their personality and consciousness. By this definition, we would of course have to agree that everyone must have a soul, since everyone has different personalities and a conscience. It is the thing that makes us different from other living things like plants and some animals. Plants and animals are alive, but they don't have souls coz' they don't have personalities and don't worry about doing what is right or wrong. They just grow or do what they do to survive (though some very smart animals like dogs and cats do have their own personalities, and so whether they have souls or not, I am not totally sure).
I think the main issue with having a soul is, if we DON'T have souls, then religion is a waste of time coz' once we die, we just die and that's the end of the story. We don't have to worry about what we're supposed to believe or what good we need to do to make sure our soul goes to heaven and not to the other fiery place. But
IF it is true that people have souls, then whatever we believe and do while we are alive probably DOES make a difference. We have to wonder what happens to the our after our physical body dies.
Again, it's hard to prove the existence of souls coz' we can't examine it under a microscope, but consider this: If we do all we can or whatever we think is right in order to get to heaven after we die, but it turns we actually have no souls and when we die nothing happens after that, then we don't really lose anything, except maybe the time we spent doing the practices of our different religions. BUT if we DO have souls, and we do nothing about it, after you die, your soul will live on forever... which is much longer than the years you have alive on earth. Wouldn't you think making the effort to ensure your soul goes to the right place would be a somewhat worthwhile investment?

Q: when did the believing of god started?

A: Well, if you believe that we evolved from cavemen, then it's pretty hard to pinpoint exactly when man started believing in God. But Christians believe that man was created by God, and the first man and woman (Adam and Eve) has a relationship with God. So I would say it started from the very creation of man. Now if you want to argue that creation is a load of bull, and evolution is true, then that's another long discussion altogether.

Q:why is god a man and not a woman?
A: God isn't a man or a woman... God is merely referred to as a masculine being, ie. we call God a 'He' instead of a 'She'. To Christians, I think this is because we also refer to God as our we consider Him as something like our earthly fathers who take care of us.

Q: for me.. being atheist.. whats the point of discriminating me?
im not discriminating god believers..why do you discriminate us? and whats the point?

A: Well, in perspective, Christians and people of other faiths are also discriminated against in different parts of the world, so it's not just the atheists. But anyhow, I have nothing against you, so I would not discriminate against you. Unfortunately I cannot control the actions of other people, and sadly some people of certain religions (even Christians) sometimes think they are better than anyone else who does not share their beliefs. I won't say anything about those of other faiths or why they act like that, but for Christians, I think this is not the right way to act. Being a Christian does not make me any better than anyone else, and certainly does not make me perfect. I'm just as screwed up as the next person, except that I know that God loves me and He accepts me through my screwed-up-ness.

Q: wheres the freedom of expression? wheres the freedom of speech?
A: You're free to say anything you want to me. :)

Q: for my opinion..there is no god. god was created by man so man can have power to other human beings.
A: In my opinion, God does exist and God loves us, and people who use God and religion to have power over other people deserve a good smacking around.

Q: there is no point if u go to church at sunday. why not just go to a community and serve the people?

A: It's difficult to understand school subjects if we don't bother to attend if we don't fully understand difficult subjects like Science, how can we go out and become Scientists? Similarly, Christians go to church because we believe it is important to be with fellow Christians so we can help each other grow in our faith and learn from the Bible. Without church, it would be quite difficult for us to understand or grow on our own. And it is from there that we are supposed to go out and serve the community and bring the love of God to others.
Unfortunately, it is true that most Christians don't really take the time to go out and do community work, but we serve the church and serve people in other ways.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lessons from iBridge

I went for iBridge camp during my lovely long Raya break (one of the perks of working for a Malay-dominated company). For the uninformed, iBridge is a Christian camp for young working adults to get together, chill, and do their Christian stuff... and it is also infamously known as the 'meat market' ie. the place for young working adults who also happen to be single, available and probably desperate to go 'find someone'. The camp lasted 4 days, and was at this place in Malacca called El Sanctuary, which is a like a bunch of wooden chalets in a edge of a jungle, and the place is run by a very nice Christian family consisting of an half-English, half-Chinese dad, a Chinese mum and a whole bunch of dang good looking kids. The rooms were nice and the everyone just LOVED the food there... unlike food at most camps which is pretty much the same ol' boring crap every day, we were practically pampered with different types of Western and Chinese food every day, including fish and chips, lamb chops and these awesome homemade mashed potatoes that I was quite tempted to 'tau pau' all of it to take home. Goodness, I think the accommodation and food itself was worth the price of the camp, let alone all the other activities thrown in. Though unfortunately, I didn't meet any potential suitors at the camp, so maybe I should get my money back. Hmmm.....

Of course, more important is what I actually learned from the whole thing. I can't say I came back feeling all gung ho for God, which is usually the case when people go for camps like these. Which I actually think is a good thing for me... I didn't really want to go there just to get all fired up and floating on spiritual cloud 9 or whatever... I've been for quite a few camps in my younger days where I come back like that and the high lasts all of 2 weeks, after which it's back to the normal humdrum of life and I am still my normal not-very-spiritual self. I'm quite done with going through that cycle, so I went without much expectations and just hoping to learn something useful. And I did learn a couple of things, though not exactly what I expected and not in the way I expected.

What I Learned #1: It's OK to Screw Up
One of the things I found quite interesting was the guest speakers who work in different fields, including a lawyer, an ex-performer who now runs his own live show business, and a guy named Roshen who used to work for big corporate companies like GE and NBC before going into full-time ministry. It was the Roshen's story that really encouraged me coz' he told us that when he first was working for GE, he went through quite a bit of trouble at work. He was even fired for leaving an important document lying around... though a few days later, the boss called him and told him to come back to work coz' he just wanted to teach him that important documents must be kept away properly. And his story was good for me coz' it showed me that it's ok to fail at work, which unfortunately has been happening to me quite a bit.

Since I joined my current company, I've gotten into trouble with my boss for doing things that I didn't think were wrong, but it turns out they were very wrong to the company. In Accenture, things were run COMPLETELY different. Everything was really open there, I could talk to anyone in HR or other departments easily by just making a call or sending an email, and I could call my project manager or even the company CEO by his first name and they would be totally ok with it. And Accenture is no small fart company, it's a renowned global company. I found out rather uncomfortably that in my company now, I can't simply contact other departments on my own coz' I risk saying or doing something that will give my unit a bad name. I even got into trouble for referring to my boss as my 'manager' instead of my 'unit head', which is his proper title. Fortunately I haven't made the mistake of calling any of the tops shots by their first name instead of 'Tuan Whatever' or 'Dato So-and-So'... I'm sure if I did, I would be hung upside down by my ankles or something. Heck, if my boss ever read this post of mine, I'd probably get sacked for giving the company a bad image... which would only prove my point even more. Basically coz' I totally don't get the culture here, which is full of procedures and formalities. Which is not necessarily a bad thing... some people may be ok or even like working in this type of system. Just that I'm not one of them. I've been in a company that does things much differently (and better, in my hunble opinion) but the seniors in this company have probably been in the system too long to know any better, while the rest of my team are all fresh grads who don't know any better either. One thing I find particularly grating is that when I first joined, there was no orientation on basic stuff like what's the company structure, how to make claims, and basically to let newbies know how things work around here. We're just expected to be 'independant' and ask the more senior people how things are supposed to be done. Now being independant is one thing... but not making sure your new staff are aligned to the way the company runs, especially when they have worked in other companies and have different ideas of how things usually work, well, this just causes problems for everyone. Like when I don't ask questions, or I ask and get wrong information and then make a mistake, I kena 'kantoi' for it.

Case in point: Initially there was a couple of times I was sent by my boss to outstation to attend a meeting or see what's happening in a project, and when I came back, the boss, being very busy, didn't ask to me to report to him on what happened. And I asked a colleague if I was supposed to prepare a report for him, and she said only if he asks for it. So I didn't make any report since he didn't ask for it. Some time later, boss reprimands me for not reporting to him. Fine. After getting over the annoyance that he seems to expects me to be psychic, I decided to prepare reports on anything I was sent out to do. One week, I was outstation and busy til Friday, my team was going to have a meeting on Monday, and we received an email stating that we need to be ready to present whatever updates we have to the team during that meeting. So that Saturday (not a working day for my office) I took the time to write a report, and emailed it to my boss to look through so he knows the update on my part before the meeting. You would think bosses would like their staff doing this kind of stuff. Instead during the meeting on Monday morning, he tells me off for not letting another superior review my report first (which I didn't know I had to do in the first place coz' I wasn't informed), AND he points out everything that is wrong about the format of my report, AND (this is the 'best' part) he says we are not supposed to be sending work emails on Saturday, since it's a non-working day. Right. But the other team members who sometimes have to work on Saturdays and probably send work emails to the boss somehow or another don't get into trouble. Only yours truly gets the dubious honour.

As you might imagine, I was so frustrated, I think I was ready to pop. And especially since I thought this job was the big blessing from God coz' the kind of work is exactly what I wanted to do... I don't really get why I'm having so much trouble here. Yeah, I even scolded God quite a bit about this, asking why is He letting all this crap happen to me and giving my boss and some of the other people on my team a bad impression of me, when I trying to be a good example for Him. Thankfully not everyone on my team thinks I'm useless... and there are a few other newbies like me who have also gotten into trouble for not doing things 'the right way', so the few of us like the little 'black sheep' of the family. Funnily enough, the other 'black sheep' look up to me in a way and would rather ask me how to do things instead asking others in my team. Sometimes I have to tell them to ask the boss coz' I'm worried I will tell them the wrong thing and I'll get into trouble. *Sigh*

ANYWAAAAAY....sorry, I got a bit carried away whining about my sorrows. So hearing Roshen's story about his failures at work just made me feel a lot better. I guess no job is perfect and I will have some issue or another with any place I work in. But I still want to stick it out here and hopefully not mess with the system anymore, coz' I actually do really enjoy the work here... even though I haven't actually had the chance to get involved in the cool conservation projects like hanging around with monkeys, coz' I've been too busy with other things. I've been put in charge of the 3R (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) project and Waste Management, so now I'm becoming an expert on rubbish. Not quite as glamourous, but still, I'm gaining experience in doing environmental management work, which is good stuff for my CV. If I had to pick between boring work but great system, or interesting work and stifling system, I pick the latter, just coz' I know environmental management is what I wanna do now, and I wanna become damn good at it. So hopefully I will eventually get used to how things are 'supposed' to be done around my company so I can stop worrying about getting into trouble and enjoy my work more.

Right, enough diverging. Back to iBridge then.

What I Learned #2: Freedom through Obedience
As I said earlier, this is something I learned in a way I didn't quite expect. The people who ran the camp site we were at also owned quite a number of dogs. At my count, at least 8 of them. One St. Bernard, one Labrador, one Dalmation, three Rottweiler-mixed breeds, one black dog (probably pariah) and one brown dog (can't tell what breed it was).

All the dogs had the freedom to run around the camp site, and they enjoyed accompanying us campers wherever we went, even when we were running around playing games, or having a prayers around a campfire on the final night, the dogs were always following us and would just sit or lie down next to us, while we would enjoy giving them pats on the head or good belly rubs.

All except for the brown dog, which I noticed was chained up all the time and sometimes barked noisily at the rest of us. I found out that this dog was old and was given to the family by someone else. They tried to train it to not poop all over the place and not go into the eating areas, but the dog didn't obey them, so that's why they kept it chained up all the time. The other dogs were all trained well, which is why we didn't see a single piece of dog poop ANYWHERE (frankly, I'm wondering where on earth they went to do their toilet business) and they didn't wander into the eating areas (although the Labrador did wander in once to greet some of the campers, but got a prompt smacking from the owner).

Anyway, point of the story is that the dogs that obeyed the few rules set by their masters were given the freedom to go anywhere and do anything else they wanted, whereas the one dog that didn't obey, unfortunately was not given such freedom. Most people think that freedom through obedience is oxymoronic, but the case with these dogs show otherwise.

In a way, I guess this is how it works with God, who we Christians call our 'master'. Most people may think that being a Christian and having to obey a gazillion and one rules in the Bible is restrictive... but in actual fact, it isn't. When we obey His commands, we are actually free. Free because instead of relying on other things to get our kicks, like partying or alcohol, we are relying on God. Or free because when we obey Him, He opens up avenues and opportunities to us that we probably wouldn't get otherwise. I've heard lots of stories from pastors and missionary who can testify on this - God tells them to do something and even though it sounds crazy or they might lose everything, when they do it, they find they are more blessed in return. Like the pastor who once owned this little coffee shop, and when he was low on money to do ministry, he wanted to sell his shop. But then he felt God was telling him to actually give the shop away to another man in another ministry, for FREE. Sounded totally insane, he was totally freaked, but he obeyed. And soon after, money started pouring in from all sorts of other sources, and he ended up getting even more than the worth of the shop.

Well, these are the kind of stories I hear during Sunday sermons. But of course, applying it to real life isn't always that easy, and I have also seen cases of people obeying God but are still held down by other...issues. Still, it's just something to think about.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The wedding of Galina

Well, they've finally gone and dun it. Tied the knot. Gotten hitched. And whatever other phrases that basically mean... MARRIED. Congrats, Gavin and Selina... or Galina... or Selvin. Ah yes, the weird names that wedding guests come up with when they're milling around waiting for the bride to arrive. And I really gotta hand it to these two, coz' even after like 6 (I think) breakups and reconciliations, and having to deal with a lot of problems preparing for their wedding, they've managed to pull through it all together, which all in all has probably made their relationship even closer.

Another cool thing is that theirs was the ultimate DIY wedding. Practically everything from the invitation cards to the wedding cake stand to the wedding cake was designed or made by Gav or Sel or a friend. Including the cute little heart-shaped cookies some of us ladies baked one day sometime at the end of August, to give to the wedding guests.

Actually, it was more like the other gals were doing the baking and I was happily fixing the tails for the fans to be given to the guests... as I don't really trust myself with baking stuff.

The Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties were on last Thursday. While the guys hit KL for a night of karaoke and boozing, the gals opted for a more *refined* English tea party celebration, where all the lovely ladies had to come in a dress, and we enjoyed various types of tea, cakes, scones, meat pie Rocky sticks. I hear they're quite popular in England.

After a while though, the party turned out to be... well... not so refined as Sel opened up her prezzies to find some rather raunchy gifts, including this one!

Now 30% more powerful! Batteries not included. :P

We also enjoyed the time-honoured tradition of torturing the bride by putting a bunch of temporary tattoos on various parts of Selina, the locations of which only Gavin would know after the wedding day. Really had to hold Sel down for that one. Too bad I couldn't take any pics of that coz' my camera batteries ran out.

And after all the excitement on Thursday, it was finally the big day on Saturday. The colour theme for the wedding was pink and brown, and you would think that the manly men would opt to wear clothes in the latter colour instead of the former. Interestingly enough, the opposite was true for pretty much all the guys who came for the wedding. Check out these good lookin' Men in Pink.

Kudos to you guys for breaking the stigma that pink is only meant for little baby girls. Woo hoo.

Of course, a wedding is also a fantastic opportunity to grab some artsy fartsy shots... such as a violin laid on top of the bushes...

Or the decorations on Damien the designated driver's car...

Or the shy flower girl who's always trying to run away from the camera...

Plus her adorable little brother in a mini tux.

And here's Mattie's chin with his corsage.

Yes, yes, I know you want pics of the actual wedding and not this nonsense, so check out them Wedding pix here, plus some more piccies of the Hen Night.

And to the happy couple, congrats and be blessed. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A sneak preview...

... of my latest artwork.

I don't get many opportunities to put my drawing skills to work, and I don't draw unless I have a reason to. Well, there's a very good reason for this one. I finished drawing a couple of weeks ago and spent a couple more weeks looking at it every now and then and touching up the parts that look weird. Finally decided to stop mucking around with it and sent it to be framed yesterday, which will take about 3 days.

Just hoping that I managed to do justice to these two pretty faces. :P

A special person, in more ways than one

Last week I got an email from my cell leader Matthew, forwarded from Pastor Mal, telling about this disabled lady named Carol Rasiah, who's interested in coming to visit CBC and he asked for some volunteers to pick her up from her place on Sunday to bring her to service. He attached the photo above of her in the email (yeah, apparently she and Hannah Yeoh are quite buddy buddy. Hannah Yeoh even made some space on her blog for Carol), and I recognized her coz' while I was visiting another church a couple of months ago, she was sitting pretty close to her in the service. I didn't talk to her at the time, so I doubt she would have remembered me, but considering she's wheelchair-bound and exceptionally small in size (due to some form of stunted growth disorder, I suppose), I didn't have the same problem of remembering her. And considering she's staying at USJ 1, which is really close to where I stay, I decided to go ahead and offer to pick her up.

So Pastor Mal passed me her phone number, I gave her a call to work out the whole plan of getting the little lady to church. She told me that I would have to go up to her flat to get her, and also I would need to carry her around a bit, so she strongly suggested that I get help from someone else. Considering I'd seen her before and she doesn't look all that heavy, I was thinking I probably could handle it on my own. But soon I decided since it's my first time with her and I don't spend a great deal of time lifting around disabled people, I decided to rope in some male muscle in the form of Damien Loo to help me, just he lives pretty close to USJ 1 too. I thought bringing a visitor would be a good way to get myself to church early too, coz I usually get to church close to 10am, when it starts at 9.30am (in fact, prayer starts at 9.00am, so technically I'm an hour late. Verrrrryyy bad! :S ).

So on Sunday, the two of us met up in USJ 1, spent a few minutes driving around the flats there until I figured out where Carol's flat was, went up to the 11th floor, and we spent another couple of minutes walking around there til we found her place. We found the grill door unlocked and she was waiting for us in her living room on her motorized wheelchair. She explained that she usually gets around her house and flat in that wheelchair, but whenever anyone takes her out, she has to go on a foldable wheelchair as that's the only one that can fit into a car. So Damien utilized that man muscle of his to transfer Carol to the foldable wheelchair, which was pretty funny coz' both of us have never handled wheelchair-bound people before, so we were both asking Carol what was the best way to do it. She was just amazingly understanding and friendly to these two blurcases whom she just met and who were trying to figure out the best way to move her around. Of course, eventually we got her into the wheelchair, down the lift and into Damien's car and off we went to church. Unfortunately my plan to be early to church failed miserably as after having to hunt for her place and move her around, we ended up getting to church around 10am anyway. Bleh. Of course, we gave her the best seat in the house by pushing her all the way up front, before I went to plop myself down at the usual side of church. I was quite amused during the announcements when they introduced the visitors for the day. Usually the visitors stand up for everyone to see, but obviously Carol couldn't stand when her name was announched, so I guess everyone was wondering where the heck this new person was.

After church, Damien and I took her out to Medan (which is now called Rock Cafe, for the uninformed. But seriously, who is going to call it that??) for lunch with some others church friends, where when she introduced herself as Carol to our friends, I got the chance to interject with the all time lame joke, "I'm Carol too, by the way. ^_^". We sent her back to her flat after that and the second time there, I guess it was because I was in less of a rush, but I began to notice that the flat area was in quite a sorry state. The walls at the lift area at the ground floor are covered with old posters and ads, and there are scratches, marks and graffiti all over the place. On the way up in the lift, Damien and I were wondering if there was any ventilation in there, coz it didn't feel like there was much air, though I guess there must have been coz' when we went up the lift was full of people and if there was no ventilation, I think we would have suffered severe breathing difficulties. Fortunately, we didn't. Still, later on after dropping Carol off, we both agreed that the condition of the flat was pretty bad. According to Carol, the lift even broke down once for 3 whole days, so she was stuck in her flat unable to go down to buy food from the shops during that time. Good grief. Fortunately, Hannah Yeah helped to do something about that. Go, Hannah Yeoh!

Another thing that got to me was when we were waiting for the lift, there was a lot of other people there waiting too... and all of them were just staring at Carol. The lift took at least 5 to 10 minutes just come down, and all that time, most of them just stared and stared at her, until I was rather annoyed with them and had the urge to say "Yo people, this ain't a freakshow!". I doubt they would've understood that anyway since most of them looked like foreign workers with probably very lousy English... but then I realised that while all the staring made me uncomfortable, the other Carol must be used to it coz' she probably would have had to put up with people staring at her all her life. Or maybe even worse things like people avoiding her or touching her coz' she looks so different... or kids getting frightened and running away.

Yet even with her disability and her sorry-looking flat and the stares from people, Carol was nothing but friendly and happy the whole time I was with her. And she told us that she even used to go to this centre for disabled people to help them out. Which really boggles the mind, coz' I find it hard to imagine that someone like her who has to rely on others to move around and can't do much physically can still help others like her. I suppose that makes her special in more ways than one.

Damien actually said that he learned a lot about working with people with disabilities that day, just helping to bring Carol around. I think I would have to agree, it's pretty interesting.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gerbil or hamster?

I'm quite amazed by how having animals around and observing their behaviors has given me quite a few insights on life. Take, for example, my gerbils and their persistent scratching and chewing at their cage. All of my gerbils spend a considerably amount of their waking time doing this. They also know where the openings of their cages are, so they focus most of their scratching and chewing energy around the area of the door or other openings.

I can only surmise that my gerbils are extremely bored in their cages and want nothing more than to get out and run around outside (they have managed to escape quite a few times too... the clever little buggers). My Habitrail cage once had a green loft on it's side, like the one shown in the pic here, and I could lift off the green lid from the loft to clean it out or just poke around at my gerbils in the loft. They quickly figured out that there was 'some' way to get out through the loft, so they spent a lot of time scratching away at the side of the loft, hoping to get out, until one day they actually managed to dig a hold right through the thing. The loft is made of plastic, so it took almost a year of scratching, but eventually they got there, so I had to throw away the loft and shut off the hole at the side of my cage. So now, as can be seen in the vid, they have resorted to scratching the side of the funnels. Hopefully it won't end up having a hole at the side of that too.

And then I heard a funny story from a friend before who keeps a hamster. Even though sometimes she leaves the door of the cage wide open for her hamster to go out, it just refuses to leave the cage. At the most it would stick it's head out the door, take a sniff around, then promptly go back in and happily curl up into a contented little ball of fur in one corner of the cage. I find it amusing that while my gerbils so persistently try to attain their freedom, even though they never get it (I sometimes let them run around my room for a while, but that's the most freedom they get), while that hamster has a chance for freedom but would rather remain in it's comfortable little cage.

There is this simple little Christian song that has only a few lines repeated over and over. "Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom... There is peace, there is hope, there is joy. It is for freedom, He set us free.... I'm free, I'm free...". Obviously, the songwriter plagiarized some verses from the Bible to write this song (unfortunately the people who wrote those verses were kind of too dead to enjoy the royalties), but the verse that really gets me thinking is 2 Corinthians 3:17, which says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."

I find the Holy Spirit most fascinating. Most Christians believe in the Trinity, where God is sort of like a 3-in-1 entity consisting of the Father (God), Son (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit. And unlike God and Jesus, which are both mostly there for us to worship and pray to and all that stuff, the Holy Spirit is different in that it's not something we worship or pray to, but it's something that supposedly lives within us. At least, that's what I gather from verses like 1 Corinthians 6:19 (Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?) and Mark 13: 11 (Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit).

Ok, so now we know that the Holy Spirit is supposedly in each of us who calls ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. So going back to 2 Corinthians 3:17, which says "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." Since the Spirit lives in us, from this verse, I would assume then that all of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit within us would therefore have freedom. And this is the part where most Christians on a high would go "Praise the Lord!" and do the Chicken Little dance in celebration of our freedom.

But I wondering... what exactly is the extent of this freedom? Not that I like the idea that the freedom given by God in His infinite wisdom and love and power has a limit of any sort, but all 'freedom' usually has a limitation. We are free to drive anywhere we want to, as long as we keep to the speed limit. We are free to start our own businesses, unless it's something illegal like loan-sharking. We are free to complain about crap in this country, unless you're Raja Petra, Teresa Kok or Tan Hoon Cheng. Bygones. So what about the freedom that we have in the Holy Spirit?

I think most Christians would agree that we are free from the ultimate effect of sin in our lives, which would be being separated from God after we die and going to that rather unpleasant place of extremely high temperature. Ok, I can get that. But what about freedom from other bondages? Freedom from stuff like feeling guilty from past sins, or getting angry or impatient too easily, or sexual addictions... basically the stuff that we know we shouldn't be like and we try not to be like, and yet somehow we end up falling back to doing or being the same thing. I've heard my fair share of testimonies about people who had all these issues or more, and once they became Christians, they changed completely and no longer go back to those old lousy ways. But I also know quite a few Christians who continue to struggle with these issues in their lives. Heck, I don't need to go so far, I'M one of these people. I've spent quite a few sessions asking God to help me change, to be better, to not fall back to those ways and continue doing stuff that I shouldn't do... but usually I end up falling back anyway. It's kind of gotten to the point where I just accept that this is probably just the way I am, and though I know I it's wrong, at least I'm trying and all in all, God still loves me anyway. Whoop de doo.

I'm not so naive to think that the Holy Spirit is some miracle cure to stop us from sinning. We are all people, after all, and we will always mess up. But I do wonder why it seems as though while some Christians seem to be totally enjoying this freedom, others like myself are kind of left out of the loop. I kind of feel like my gerbils... knowing that there is freedom out there and I'm struggling to get out... sometimes I escape from the cage and totally enjoy that freedom, but eventually I end up back in there again. And sometimes, when I just can't be bothered to try anymore, I feel like a fat lazy hamster who's content with my lot in my little cage and too lazy to bother going out to enjoy the real freedom that's out there.

Ultimately, I do believe that God wants to set each of us completely and totally free of all these crappy stuff that holds us down spiritually. Probably just that because we are people of free will, and not robots, we have the choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing. And perhaps because we are so used to getting things wrong, it's kind of hard to get used to doing things right. But still, even though I've tried to change myself many times and failed many times, I still want to try be like a persistent gerbil desiring freedom, instead a fat hamster happy in the cage. I'd rather keep on trying and fail then lull myself into thinking this is just the way I am and I'll never change. And unlike my poor gerbs stuck in their cage just coz' I refuse to let them out, I'm pretty sure the door to my cage has been left wide open. I just need to get my lazy fat hamster butt out there and enjoy the freedom.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Not quite moving on

So as I said I would do a few posts ago, I've been up and raring myself to move on to another church for the past almost two months. My idea was that after my last Sunday School class, I would start going to another church (which I didn't mention before, but it's Acts) instead of CBC. My last Sunday School class was 3 Sundays ago, so technically I should've started going to Acts 2 weeks ago. But then, 2 Sundays ago, I thought, what the heck, one more Sunday at CBC should be ok lah. So I went back to CBC on that Sunday.

Yesterday morning I woke up with two decisions weighing on my head... "Should I go to CBC or should I go to Acts today? I think God wants me to go to Acts.... but I still wanna go to CBC. Why ar why ar why ar??". It was Aunty Jo's birthday yesterday too, and I didn't want to miss out on that. Besides, Acts has an evening service, so I can always go for that instead of the morning one.

So after a few minutes of tossing the two choices around in my head, I decided to go back to CBC. And I also went to Acts in the afternoon.

So I'm wondering now if God is leading me somewhere else, then I shouldn't be finding it so difficult to leave. And the fact that I AM finding it difficult to leave maybe means that my heart is with CBC after all. After all, I've been going there for the past 7 years or so, I think. I'm practically on auto-pilot every Sunday - wake up, go to CBC, though most of the time I'm late, which is not a great thing (need to work on that). And I know practically everyone in the church already. And if God wanted me to do some more people-oriented ministry then it would make more sense to be somewhere where I already know the people. At least, that makes sense to me. And recently I think things are really happening in my church. Last Friday we had a prayer and worship meeting in the church to pray for all the cell groups. And the youth were just totally HYPED. I mean, during the worship, they were bouncing and running all over the place just giving praise to God. And during the prayer sessions, they were the ones leading most of the prayers. Whoa. And I see they've been getting all hyped up for God for the past few weeks. I'm thinking if God is moving the youth people in the church, then the church is really going to go places. And yeah, I really want to see what's going to happen from here... hopefully help make things happen too. :P

At the same time, I am still a bit worried that I'll end up remaining happily in my comfort zone by staying in CBC instead of doing what I'm supposed to be doing. So right now I'm also going to Acts' evening service on Sundays, just so I can learn from them and see what they do to attract people there coz' their church is growing. It a bit weird going to two churches, but I figure more of God can't hurt... and it's only til I really figure out what I need to be doing. Which I should figure out soon, coz' right now I'm not serving in anything at church, and I want to get out there and start serving already! In the right place, of course. But having a break from serving from a month or two isn't too bad either... less time doing stuff, more time learning and growing. Yeah. Or at least that would be the theory. :P

Yeah, Carol is so fickle-minded. So sue me.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Stuff I probably shouldn't blog about, but what da hey :P

Writing in my blog has kept me occupied enough that I have not updated my personal journal for the past couple of years. Not that there was any lack of juicy secrets to write about, just that once I started working, updating a blog AND my journal was just too much of a hassle. Recently though, there's been quite a bit going on that I didn't feel like writing here, so I decided to go back to my journal and blah it all out. And so I got out a pen and picked up that dusty book I have hiding somewhere and wrote about 6 pages worth of stuff... until my hand started to ache, I was sick of having to use correction fluid everytime I make mistakes, and I still wasn't done writing. So I figured, since I type a lot faster than I write, and whenever I make errors on a comp I can simply use the almighty backspace instead of having to wait for correction fluid to dry, might as well take my personal journal online. Ooooh, how risky is that? Anyone might just be able to find my writings online and happily read all my juicy secrets. Well, there is always a risk I guess, but as long as it's no one I know reading my juicy secrets, it's ok. :P Anyhow, I tried googling my journal and couldn't find it, so I trust it's secure enough. So don't bother trying, you nosy pokes. I'm just thinking how funny it is that now everything is so easy to do online, I can't even be bothered to write the good ol' fashioned way. I can happily spend my whole life in front of my computer now... oh wait, I'm already pretty much doing that. Ack.

A hot topic to write about has been, and always will be, guys. Such as the new guy in my office whom I really enjoy having around, for little other reason other than I think he's totally hot. I'm tempted to put up a pic to show how hot he is, but asides from that being a violation of his privacy, photos of him really don't do him justice. He's much hotter in real life, mannerisms and all. And he's also pretty funny, which is always a major plus point for me. Unfortunately, I can merely enjoy looking at his royal hotness but not take it any further, for a few reasons.

One, he's just a fresh graduate and kind of a bit too young for me... one and a half years younger actually. I suppose age isn't really a problem as long as the guy is mature in dealing with issues in a relationship. Problem is it's hard even to find older guys who are mature in dealing with issues in a relationship... I highly doubt a younger guy would do much better. But perhaps it's just my rotten stinking luck. Of course, another problem is that a younger guy would be less financially secure. While I don't mind so much paying for a date every now and then, I don't want to end up paying all the time just coz' my date can't afford it.

Two, he already has a girlfriend. Or at least, I have very good reasons to think so, though I haven't asked him to confirm it and I don't intend to ask coz' I know I can't be with him for reason number...

Three, he's not Christian. Not that I think any less of guys who aren't Christian, but while any other differences like age are not so important, it IS important for me to be with someone who shares the same fundamental beliefs. If cannot pass this one criteria, then no matter how perfect he is in other aspects, it ain't gonna happen. But it's ok, coz' since I'm quite happy that I get to see eye candy in office almost everyday, sometimes semi-flirting with him coz' I'm single and I can get away with it, minus having to go through the annoying emotionals ups and downs. I do believe having hot guys in the office improves office morale... though the same may not hold true for office productivity. :P

Of course, I would not endorse getting your highs from such superficial means. What I would really like is to have a good, Christian guy in my life who loves God first, love me second and loves people too. I have some cool notions that the guy I meet will be involved in some ministry where I can be the supporting partner-in-crime, whoops, I mean, ministry. But then the problem would be if I DO meet a guy so gung-ho for God, I doubt I'd have much to offer him since I'm not all that gung-ho myself. Well, I do try... and fail... miserably. Which is probably why I've settled for guys who are much less than gung-ho for God before. But now, I think if I can't get a partner-in-crime, whoops, ministry... I'd rather go alone than settle for any less. Recently in cell, we had a discussion on 'grey' areas of our faith, like appropriate dressing, and working on the Sabbath, and also on marrying non-Christians... and my discussion group got the last topic. At the end of it, the other girls in my group (who are both attached) decided to pray for me to be able to find a good, gung-ho Christian guy to be with. I was ok with it, though I can't help but think that God would probably have plenty of better things to do then fix my love life. But then again, He did say in Genesis 2:18 that it's not good for man to be alone, and so Eve was born to keep Adam company. And thus is probably why most females have this annoying inclination to want to find partner, yours truly included, and therefore God owes me a good guy. Hmm... I should have a chat with Him about that next time I pray about it. :P

Good single gung-ho Christian guys are hard to find and prospects are few... but they're around. Right now, the mysterious tilapia guy is back on my radar again. And who is this mysterious tilapia guy? See, this the stuff I write about on my private journal. Har har. Actually, he's always been around but for some reason I've never really noticed until recently a weird chain of events led to us hanging out together for almost half a day and being with him was pretty fun. And it was only after we were done hanging out and I was heading home when I thought "Hey, we could have something pretty good going on here". Far as I can tell, he's not only totally gung ho for God, but he cares a lot for people too. So he DEFINITELY passes the main criteria. Now all I need to worry about is the secondary stuff like whether or not he's partially insane. You'd think it's a given thing that Christian guys have all their bolts screwed on tight, but interestingly enough, they can be just as whacked out as the next guy. Haha. Anyway, I'm trying not to get my hopes up or rush into anything. I just want to bide my time and get to know him better. And if something happens, then great, but if not, then well... I can just happily continue getting my kicks from the eye candy in my office. Lol.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Kalimantan and other side stories

I had to go to Kalimantan last week with a bunch of my colleagues to visit some of our estates there (yeah, Sime Darby has estates in Indonesia). I think the only time I've ever been to Indon was when my dad worked in Jakarta as a plantation manager for a couple of years, and my mum and I went there to visit him once. This was when I was in secondary school, and it wasn't a particularly interesting trip, considering there's little or no form of entertainment in the estates... though I remember we went to this restaurant in the nearby town where a drop-dead gorgeous guy was working, and after that I bugged my dad to go back there to eat, though of course I didn't tell him the actual reason why I wanted to go back there. Bygones. Anyway, visiting Kalimantan last week was pretty interesting, coz' although Indon is pretty similar to Malaysia, a few things are quite different, and being there gave me a refresher on just how different things are.

Take the highways, for example. Malaysian highways are usually about 3 lanes wide. But in Kalimantan, from the time we entered Indon land from Kuching, the highway is only one lane in each direction with no divider. It's like a trunk road all the way... but for some reason they call it a highway.
My team and I were driven by the estate manager drivers about 3 hours along this so-called highway before we reached our destination. Not unexpectedly, our drivers were happily overtaking whatever cars or bikes they could, and driving at at least 80 km/hour throughout this small, koochi single lane highway. After the first hour or so, I stopped freaking out quietly in the back seat and decided to just go to sleep and hope I wake up in one piece. Strangely enough, when I asked one of the managers if accidents were frequent, he said there are very few accidents. And I also did not notice ANY roadkill on the roads throughout my stay there, even though I saw heaps of dogs, chickens and other animals wandering just metres away from the road. Which either means that drivers in Indon make more effort to avoid animals that wander on the road... or animals in Indonesia are smarter than animals in Malaysia and they don't go onto the roads. I'll go for the second theory, just coz' it's more fascinating. I, for one, can't stand seeing roadkill, so I'm pretty glad it doesn't happen much there. And speaking of roadkill, just today while stopping at traffic light at Taipan on my way to work and when the light turned green, I saw suddenly a kitten rolling out from under the car in front of me as it started moving. The kitten flopped over right onto the dotted line between lanes, but I couldn't see how it was as I had to move my own car past it while yelling "Aaaargggh!!! Don't roll over the kitty!!!"... supposedly to the drivers behind me, but they couldn't hear me anyway. I wasn't sure if I should stop to help it or just keep on going coz' I might've been late for work... but thoughts of the poor kitty trying to crawl off the road amidst oncoming traffic got to me. I quickly parked my car at the housing area nearby and came back to the traffic light to try and save the kitty from being run over again if it was still alive... but as I watched it from the side of the road to see if it was moving or breathing, it showed no sign of movement. I suppose it was already dead, so after a while I decided to go back to my car. In hindsight though, I didn't see any wounds or blood on it, so I should've just gone and taken it off the road to make really sure it was dead, and at least let the dead kitty rest in peace on the grass instead of being smashed up by other cars...but oh well. *Sigh* Roadkill make Carol sad. :(

Anyway, back to the story of my trip to Kalimantan. Another thing about the roads is that they aren't maintained too well. While the supposed highways are not so bad, there was one road leading into the estates that we had to go through that was really super bumpy coz' there was a gazillion and one potholes in it. It was kinda like a souped up Motion Master (I swear, after working here, I don't ever need to pay for a Motion Master ride at Genting ever again. Riding through bumpy estates roads is well more fun). I took a video of my ride out through this road, and uploaded it here

Bumpy ride at PT SIA - Share on Ovi

Unfortunately, my Share on Ovi site temporarily doesn't allow direct streaming of videos, so you can only go to the link and download the video to watch my super bumpy ride. Sorry for the trouble!

Trying to communicate with the locals in Indonesia was also an interesting task. Malay and Indonesian words are mostly the same... but some words in Malay mean something completely different in Indonesian. On one day, we were talking to the estate staff about the amount of fuel they use to run the estate vehicles, and they were going on about their 'mobil-mobil menggunakan solar'. I know 'mobil' there means car... but when they talked about 'solar', I was wondering if the cars there had solar panels attached and they ran on sunlight instead of fuel. While that would have been a cool idea, common sense told me that it was more likely that they weren't talking about solar panels... and eventually I figured out that 'solar' means petrol. And if you're wondering, solar energy is called 'suria' in Indon. And NOW you know....

Along the way back from one of the estates my team had to visit, our drivers decided to take a slightly more interesting route. We went into this area of forest where we saw a few animal enclosures with deer, crocodiles and orang utans. Deer are pretty boring, so I didn't bother to take pictures of them, but I caught some cool pics of the others residents.

There was another smaller orang utan in the same enclosure with this fella (I think it's a mother and daughter) but the smaller one didn't seem too sociable that day.

Perhaps she was having PMS that day or something. Whatever it was, I didn't stay too long to find out coz' after some time, Mama Orangutan started grabbing some big rocks and was giving me and my colleague standing at the edge of the enclosure some weird looks. Seems like she was about to throw them big rocks at us... like I said, we didn't hang around long enough to find out coz' we both ran off as fast as we could to safety.

My team and I got the pleasure of staying at the mess hall within one of the estates. If you think folks going into the estates have only dingy shacks to stay in, think again. Most of the time, they have guesthouses which are pretty comfy and so far. The mess hall we stayed at had a large screen tv where we got to enjoy satellite tv (that has even more channels than Astro!), computer with an extremely slow internet connection but I could still play games on it, and a pool table. I think I played about 20 games of pool the whole time I was there... some by myself just so I could work on my sucky angles. I played against the estate manager, and lost 4 out of 5 games to him... most of which when I only had one ball left to hit in. That was quite annoying.

One thing I really like over there is their orange juice, which they call 'es jeruk'. I had a taste of it at lunch one day, and the juice was made of pure mandarin juice, with the pulp and all still inside, and it was sooooo much better than the fake orange juices we get over here. And after conversion, I think the drink cost less than RM2, whereas it would probably cost at least RM4 here, or some even more insane price as a result of the fuel price hike (good that the price has gone done, but I highly doubt the prices of anything else is going back down, so doesn't really make much a fantastic difference).

By the way, I also had the unfortunate experience of having to take MAS instead of Air Asia to Kuching, so we could get into Kalimantan from there. And I have to say the MAS food was SOOO bad... We had a choice of french toast or roti jala for breakfast, and I chose french toast. The french toast was tasteless, the bun was dry, the yogurt had the blah taste of cheap food...
much as I don't like wasting food, I have to say that the stuff they let us eat on MAS can't really categorized as food. It's more like weird stuff we can put in our stomachs to reduce our hunger. Go Air Asia anytime. You gotta pay for the food, but at least the food is palatable. And if you travel for work, you get to claim for the meals too. Yay!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A night at Passion

This is a rather long overdue post, considering the event happened 2 weeks ago on Sunday, 3rd of August, but considering I've been pretty busy, you'll just have to deal with stale news. Bygones!

Couples of weeks ago I went for Passion World Tour 2008: Kuala Lumpur, held at the Sunway Convention Centre. For those of you wondering what da 'eck is this all about, the event is a worldwide Christian concert tour run by Passion Conferences, a Christian organization that runs annual Christian events targeted mainly at college students (or those who can still pass off as a college students such as yours truly). For their Passion World Tour 2008, they are visiting a total of 17 countries, Malaysia being one of them, and their tickets were pretty cheap at only RM20. At first I had read about the event on Facebook, but wasn't really planning on going for the concert... until a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go, and I was "". Only Rm20 anyway... so I thought, what the hey, might as well go and check it out.

And as expected, the event WAS totally awesome! The entire convention centre was packed with about 4000 people (mostly college students and older foggies like me trying to pass off as college students). The concert started off with some cool visual effects, which you can see
here in the wonderful world of Youtube. Then the band started off with a bunch of upbeat Passion Christian songs, most of which I'd never heard before but learned how to sing along soon enough. And when you're singing worship songs along with about 4000 other people, jumping up and down like a bunch of bunnies high on caffeine coz' they're so ecstatically praising our God, trust me, there is no cooler feeling. UNLESS you're singing along with tens of thousands of other people from all over the world jumping up and down while praising God, like I was once when I was in Australia attending the Hillsong Conference in Sydney.... but that's another story! Oh yeah, Chris Tomlin (who is only like probably the most famous contemporary Christian artiste today) was leading the Passion band too. I've heard a bunch of his songs before, but didn't really know what he looked like, and of course it was my first time seeing him live. Fantastic singer, singing some fantastic songs, and not too bad on the eyes too. All the elements needed for a great concert... :P

But the music wasn't all that was to it... after about 6 or 7 songs and everyone had had enough of jumping around, we got to have a seat and listen to a message from Louie Giglio, who's the founder of Passion Conferences. While his message overall was really good, the part that really got everyone was when he pulled out a journal and opened it to read to everyone. He explained that the journal belonged to a young girl named Ashley who was a senior at the University of Florida. As he read out loud and explained the first part of Ashley's journal, which consisted of quite a few swear words that Louie had to 'edit' out, it revealed the story of a typical party girl who enjoyed nights out getting drunk silly and getting it on with her boyfriend. Ashley's mum was a Christian who kept talking to her about God and Jesus and stuff like that, but to Ashley, her mother behaved as though she was better than non-Christians. And in fact, all the Christians she knew behaved as though they were better than non-Christians... so Ashley wasn't too fond of Christians, and thought that considering her partying lifestyle, she was too far gone, too 'sinful' to ever be accepted by this God dude her mum kept talking about.

Then one day, Ashley has a big fight with her boyfriend whom she was living with. She kicked him out of her apartment, but didn't like living alone and started advertising for a housemate. A girl named Christa took her up on the offer, and after she moved in, Ashley found out that Christa was one of those Christian people. Ugh. But she soon learned that Christa was...different. She didn't act like she was better than Ashley, and she didn't look down on Ashley for her partying lifestyle. Christa started talking to Ashley about Jesus, and though at first Ashley at first had her inhibitions, when Christa started showing her DVD's of some Passion Conferences and she listened to Louie Giglio's messages, she started to have a change of heart. After getting through the awe that Christians actually record church messages on DVD, she learned from Louie's messages that no one is too 'far gone' to be accepted by God... and God would love and accept her even after all her 'sinful' partying ways. Ashley was intrigued by this, and wanting to learn more, she started writing letters to Louie Giglio himself. She didn't expect to get a personal reply from him, but he did reply, and they exchanged a few emails online but never actually met.

Eventually, Ashley decide to accept Christ and become a Christian, and her journal entries from then on were very different from before as she talked about how great God was and all. In one entry, she talked about how she when to a Christian cell group, and they sang one song which she didn't know, but the lyrics of the song just hit her so hard and she loved it so much, she wrote down the lyrics of the song in her journal. The song was called 'Mighty to Save', and these are the lyrics she wrote:

Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

My Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

At this point, Louie lifted up the journal and showed everyone that the last few pages were blank. Ashley had wrote a little more after that about how excited she was about graduation which was coming soon... but she never finished the pages in that journal and she never made it to graduation because soon after, she got into a bad car accident and died of internal bleeding at the hospital. That was 3 months after she accepted Christ, and after Ashley was buried, her mother wrote a letter to Louie telling him what had happened to her. But even though she had died tragically, her mum told him that in the last few months of her life, she was a completely different, joyful person. And to thank Louie for his encouragement to Ashley, her mother and father sent Ashley's journal to Louie, allowing him to use it to tell her story to people around the world, as he was doing that night at the Passion concert. The Passion blog also tells a bit more about Ashley's story, as it shows the letter that she wrote to Louie and also the letter that her mum sent to him after Ashley died.

Of course, not many stories of people believing in Christ are as dramatic as Ashley's. Especially for people like me who came from a sort-of Christian family, where I known about Jesus all my life. Sure, at one point when I was older, I had to make one my own informed decision on whether to really believe in Him or not, and I chose the former, albeit with a few ups and down along the way. Sure, I've experienced the joy of being a believer and knowing no matter how crappy a person I am, God has taken care of it so I don't have to worry about anything. But naturally, being a normal human being, it's hard to remember that fact all the time, and it's easy to live a normal every day life and be... not so joyful. And I guess that's why it's good to go for concerts/ conferences like Passion coz' events like these give me the whack on the head I need to remind me of what God has done for me, and for all of US, and it gives me the chance to go crazy happy about it. We got that chance again after Louie's message, when the band got to playing more songs, including the wonderful 'Mighty to Save'. And everyone was singing, lifting their hands and jumping around even higher than before, which was all totally great fun. :)

Here are a couple of vids of the concert that I stole from Youtube to give you a rather foggy idea of how the concert was. First vid is of the song 'Mighty to Save' and the second vid is of them playing the song 'Sing, Sing, Sing', where you can see the good lookin' Chris Tomlin and sort of see part of the 4000 people there jumping like bunny wabbits throughout the song.

Unfortunately, the quality of the videos aren't great so you just need to imagine a much better sound quality and having 4000 other people singing around you to really enjoy the vids. OR you could go to the Passion concert next year to enjoy the REAL experience, or whenever they decide to come back, which hopefully will be next year coz' I want to go agaaaiiiinn.....!!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life Is Beautiful

What a coincidence that Sel just recently blogged about what
song she wants played for her funeral, coz' I was thinking about the same thing... for no apparent reason other than when I heard this relatively unknown song by Sixx AM, I thought it would be such a fantastic song to play at a funeral. The song is called "Life Is Beautiful", and I really like the chorus, which goes:

Alive, just open your eyes, just open your eyes
And see that life is beautiful
Will you swear on your life
That no one will cry at my funeral?

I also like the song coz' it's one of the most soothing, beautiful ballads I've ever heard.


Oh yeah, I'm sure no one will cry at my funeral when they hear this song. They'll be too busy getting through the brain hemorrhage.