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.