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.

Staring down 3 storeys

My happy family of 7 gerbils spend a great deal of their time locked up inside their respective male and female designated cages. Occasionally I let them run around together in my closed room, so the males and females have a fun time getting reacquainted with each other (and the males never fail to have a go at the females, though the poor buggers always fail). Sometimes I will lock a lone gerbil in a transparent plastic hamster ball, so it can run semi-freely around the house, albeit in a claustrophobia-inducing hamster ball. And sometimes I grab one of the little fellas and poke it's head out of my bedroom window, just so it can have a look at what lies outside.

While inside their cage, they spend a lot of their waking time trying to get out of the cage, gnawing and chewing at the bars. Obviously they want their freedom... but every time I decide to grab a gerbil and pop it outside my window, usually the only thing it does is... well... nothing. It doesn't fidget. It doesn't move. It just stares at the big unknown world that lies beyond the window... perhaps in awe at what a great big wonderful world there is outside of it's cage, and perhaps scared to death that I'm going to drop it 3 storeys to the ground below.

I've been in the same place for a pretty long time, but for a while now something has been telling me that I need to get out there and go beyond what I'm doing now. And though I thought of listening to that little voice and stepping out, I was held back by some things. The main thing probably being that I enjoy my comfy little safe zone.... doing the same thing every week and hanging out with the same friends every week. But now a lot of changes have been happening and there's nothing really holding me back anymore, so I guess if there's any good time to step out and try new things, it's right now... coz' I don't wanna start getting back into comfy zone again and that little voice in my head is starting to get a bit annoying.

Ok, no more beating round the bush with riddle-ish talk then. Truth is that I've been thinking of going to another church, and I've been visiting other places for a while and pretty much decided on where I'm going to. Not that I don't like my current church, or that I don't like certain people in the church... I've learned and grown a lot here and I have a lot of good friends here. Just that, I think I've gotten too comfortable, I feel that I should be doing much more, and I'm guessing a major change of environment and people will be just the thing to kick me out of my comfort zone. Of course, going away from familiar things is extremely difficult, and I kinda feel like a gerbil being stuck out a window. On one hand, I'm excited at the possibilities of new things, new perspectives and learning new ways of doing things... and on the other hand, I feel a bit like I'm staring down 3 storeys and thinking I might rather be stuck back at home with the rest of my gerbil friends.

But still, every time I pray about it, I feel that this is what I need to do, and the place where God puts me is where I should be serving. For some reason, I feel like He's been asking me to into Youth Ministry. God knows why He wants me there... I don't even really like teenagers. They have the whole gossipy clique and hormone imbalance thing going on... yeah, yeah, I know that's a very judgemental of me. Sorry, all ye teenagers out there. I'm getting old and jaded. And yet the little voice continues to tell me to get out there and do it... do it do it do it! So I'm going to go to a church that is completely different from where I'm at now, and is very youth oriented. I see a lot of big things happening there, which is great... and hopefully I will figure out soon my place in the whole scheme of things.

Right now though, I won't be disappearing so fast from CBC, as I still do have obligations here. I'll still be around for the next 3 weeks or so, after which I shall pull my magic act and disappear. So far, only my cell leaders know, and as I'm too chicken to tell people personally that I will be changing places, I figure if you care enough to actually read my blog and want to know what's going on in Carol's boring life, then you have the dubious honour of being among the first to know. :P

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

8 Gifts

At Sunday School yesterday, I started off the class with an interesting activity which required quite a bit of work beforehand, but hopefully got an important message through to the kids. I prepared 8 gifts… some were in nice boxes with ribbons and even one heart-shaped box, but some were wrapped in decorated plastic bags, and others were badly wrapped in old A4 paper or a box made of newspapers. I told the kids that each of them could choose one present each, and whatever was inside they could choose to keep it or they could choose to give it back to me if they didn’t want it. The girls, quite expectedly, all choose the nicely wrapped presents (also perhaps they got to choose before the boys), so the boys were left with the not so nicely wrapped prezzies. Unfortunately for the girls, when they opened up their boxes, they got crappy stuff like paper clips, stones and even a box of my old business cards. The boys with the crappily-wrapped prezzies, however got slightly nicer stuff like keychains and sweets.

This whole activity was to lead up to me teaching the story in Acts 10, which is about Peter meeting Cornelius, a Roman officer. Peter was a Jew and Cornelius was a Gentile, and back then the supposedly holy Jews were taught not to mix with the supposedly unholy scoundrels that were the Gentiles. But in this story, both Peter and Cornelius received visions and messages from God that led to them meeting each other. Once Peter found out that God was speaking to Corny too (or at least, that what I’m guessing all the kids at school used to call him), he learned a good lesson… that if God doesn’t discriminate between Jews or Gentiles, then he shouldn’t either.

If you haven’t already figured it out, the whole purpose of the 8 gifts was to teach my kids that the gifts are like people. There are some people who look nice, pretty, handsome or well-dressed, but they are aren’t very nice and are just full of crappiness. However, other people who may be poor, fat, ugly or look completely different can turn out to be nice, friendly, generous people. And of course, most people fall in between the two spectrums … but the main thing is that we cannot judge, discriminate or make fun of people based on their looks, coz’ even though they may look different from us and they have different cultures and languages, God still loves them the same as you and me, so we should love them the same too. And to further drive home the point, I had the wonderful idea of inviting Erhire, a Nigerian studying in Sunway who goes to our church, to come to my class and talk to the kids about his country’s culture and help them understand that even though he looks quite different from us, he is still a brother in Christ. Though later into the session I was beginning to think it wasn’t such a good idea after all, coz’ some of the kids were asking Erhire those weird questions that only kids will ask… like do they eat worms/lizards/bugs in Nigeria, and how tall is the tallest person in Nigeria (in cm). I had a hard time resisting the urge to facepalm.

Of course, teaching kids a lesson like this is simple enough. But getting them to believe it and live it is quite a different matter altogether… especially since practically their parents and practically all adults have some form of prejudice or another, which they will pass on to the kids. I have people in my own family who have nothing but unpleasant things to say about Africans... perhaps because of the many stories of Africans committing crimes in Malaysia, but I think it’s also because they just perceive black skinned people as ‘dirty’, unrefined people. Which totally ticks me off coz’ they don’t even know any African people and are just making judgments based on looks. I’ve met quite a few Africans like Erhire, who are all perfectly well educated, very friendly and fun people to hang out with.

Having said that though, I’m not totally blameless myself. It’s kind of hard not to sometimes make unkind generalizations about certain people, especially growing up in a country where the government condones giving handouts based on race, instead of merit. We all know what I’m talking about, so let’s leave it at that. Over time though, I’ve met people of this certain race that we all know about are also quite nice, usually generous and some quite hardworking (contrary to a certain dictionary that once defined this race as the laziest bunch of people on the planet. Needless to say, there was a big hue and cry, so they had to revise that definition. I do agree, that was a pretty mean definition).

Well anyway, before I start to blabber nonsense, I’m just saying… sometimes the disparity of living in reality and teaching rosy lessons in Sunday School gets to me.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A fascinating lunch trip

I went out for lunch today with a friend, and when the waiter came over to take our orders, I had a look through the menu and found that local policemen was apparently one of their specials.

I decided Chicken Cop didn't sound very appetizing so I went for the Fish and Chips. I wasn't too sure about what to drink, so I told the waiter, in usual nonchalant Malaysian style, "Anything-lah!". My friend also couldn't decided what to drink, so she said, "Whatever also can!". So the waiter went off and came back a few minutes later with exactly what we ordered.

My 'Anything' turned out to be orange flavoured while my friend got a nice drink of ice lemon tea in her can of 'Whatever'. After our meal though, we both had immediate emergencies to attend to before going home, and found just the perfect place to do so.

So after we had happily completed our 'business' at the very aptly signed ladies toilet, we hopped into the car and I had to send her home, but got rather confused at one of the U-turns along the way...

I spent a good 5 minutes at this U-turn stopping and moving my car every few seconds, just to make sure I didn't go against either one of the signs. I didn't get caught by any chicken cops, so I think I did a pretty good job of abiding by the law.

Once I dropped off my friend and I got home, I decided to practice some good dental hygiene by brushing my teeth after every meal. So I got out my toothbrush and my favourite brand of toothpaste (which is the new and improved version of Oral-B).

Oh yeah, who knew brushing teeth could be so much fun? Hmmm....

And to make sure my mouth was truly and completely free of germs, I rinsed out with a cup of 'Isteri'.

And that was my fascinating lunch trip! And after you've recovered from my horrible Oral-Me joke, here's the rundown and where all these fascinating photos were taken:

1) The Chicken Cop - It's part of the menu at the cafeteria of Wisma Guthrie, the building where I work. You might also have noticed at the bottom of the pic that they spelled 'Rice Dishes' as 'Rice Disher', and somewhere on the menu (not in the pic), they also spelled 'Noodles' as 'Noddles'. Obviously whoever made the menu did not pass their spelling tests in school.

2) Anything and Whatever - I went shopping at Mydin for some chicken nuggets to cook for my cell group's potluck dinner tonight, and saw packs of these canned drinks being sold at the Mydin main foyer. Apparently some genius in Singapore came up with the idea of calling their drinks 'Whatever' and 'Anything' to cater to the indecisive people who can't be bothered what to drink when they go out to eat, so they just order anything or whatever. The drinks were more expensive than the usual canned drinks, but I couldn't resist getting a couple of packs to share with my cell group. I also got two free postcards, and one was of a hot chick posing with a can of Whatever, so I gave the postcard to my cell leader, since he was the only single and available male there that night and I did not want any girlfriends/wives killing their boyfriends/husbands due to over-ogling at a postcard. He seemed pretty happy with the postcard. :)

3) The funny ladies toilet sign - It's a real sign for a real ladies toilet at Sime Eco-Retreat at Kempas, Malacca, one of the places I've been going to quite often to prepare for an upcoming audit. We ladies definitely know where to go in case of emergencies.

4) The Stop and Don't Stop road signs - The signs are right next to each other at the U-turn right next to SS23 on the LDP highway. Perhaps it's a way for policemen to make extra 'duit kopi' by catching motorists there... one way or another, drivers have to go against one of the signs. Yeesh.

5) Oral Me - It actually is the latest version of Oral-B toothpaste. I think the name says it all...

6) Listerine becomes Isteri - This ad for Listerine is at the Bangsar LRT station, and it seems some joker had the smart idea of removing the 'L', 'N' and last 'E' from the name to turn it into a completely different word. I don't condone ruining public ads for amusement... but it IS pretty funny. :)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Some things are harder to believe than others

I'm among this strange group of people who believe that about 2000 years ago, God made a virgin pregnant and she gave birth to a boy who turned out to be God's own son.

We believe that this boy grew up to become the one and only perfect person that ever has and ever will walk the earth.

We believe that this person this some really cool miracles like walking on water, healing people's diseases and even bringing a dead fella back to life.

We believe that this person took upon Himself all the sins of everybody else and willingly died a cruel and exceedingly torturous death on the cross as the ultimate sacrifice to save us from our sins.

We believe that 3 days after his death, He resurrected from the dead and went to heaven, to be with God.

We believe that God this all this because His love for all people is so deep and so unfailing that until today, even though many still refuse Him, reject him and mock his name, He still loves them and He never stops trying to show them His love.

For me, the last part may be the hardest to understand. I can accept that to an all-powerful God, miracles and resurrections must be easy peasy stuff. But if God has feelings... and He must have feelings since He is capable of love, then how does He deal with being rejected by so many of the people He loves? For any normal person, I think, being pushed away by just one person they care so much about would just make them want to implode. And considering people can so easily disappoint, most of time it's just easier not to care.

But for a loving God, I suppose not caring is really not an option. He continues to love and continues to deal with the rejection even though it probably hurts a heckuva lot. Somehow or another, He doesn't give up on people. And if God doesn't give up on people, then I don't think He'll let me give up so easily either. Even though it hurts heckuva lot. Aarrgh!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Meet Rufus

I caught this little bugger minding it's own business at one of the estates last week, and I decided to adopt it as my blog mascot. My dragonfly identifying friend wasn't online tonight, so I had to try and identify it on my own... and from some pictures I googled, I figure it's of the species Rhodothemis rufa... so I decided to name him Rufus. And why does my blog need a mascot? Well... why not??? Rufus will be stuck on my blog sidebar from now... promoting the freedom and rights of dragonflies all over the world.

I also got quite up close and personal to this rather big grasshopper, that was taking a walk around on a coffee table.... and since I was a bit too free at the time, I caught a short video of it.

The grasshopper got a tad bit TOO up close and personal with me at that last bit. Should be enough to satiate my fascination for bugs for a while... at least until the next trip to an estate, that is.