Wednesday, 30 March 2005

One of the major complaints my friends and I had when I first became a Christian five years ago, was the fact that church service was no longer relevant.

To be more precise, a Seventh-day Adventist church service was too rigid, too traditional, too - dare I say it - boring. The hymns sung were too old-fashioned, the sermons preached were irrelevant and the fixed service that started with an invocation and ended with a benediction was not effective in attracting a younger audience whatsoever.

In the last five years, there has been a steady change in the way the church connected with its youth. The music became more upbeat, the sermons became more relevant and the creativity that emerged from this revolution blossomed and drew young people back. There was a real energy and it seemed that life was breathed back into something that was left for dead.

The irony of it all however, is that we have swung from one extreme to another and are once again stuck in a rut.

Church service for a younger audience nowadays has taken on a "lollipop" quality - sweet, feel good and with absolutely no substance. We have swapped an invocation, three hymns and a benediction, for a service with seven Hillsongs and a dance.

Is there really a difference?

Don't get me wrong. I love the energy and liveliness present in a praise and worship delivered with drums and electric guitars. I appreciate the fact that preachers tackle topics faced by a postmodern generation. And I certainly like the various creative expressions that should be part and parcel of worshipping God.

Unfortunately, in an attempt to make a stand against a rigid and irrelevant church, we have successfully created another. And sadly enough, we may have made the situation worse.

Praise and worship songs are almost always from the Hillsongs variety. Sermons preached more often than not touch on how much God loves his children, and that we can never stray far enough for Him to give up.

The messages are all true, but the messages are also all extremely emotional.

Oftentimes, I leave a church service feeling really good about myself and my relationship with God. I feel extremely glad that God still loves me despite the sinner that I am. I feel contrite, I feel on top of the world, I feel sorry, I feel forgiven, I feel close to God, I feel...I think you get the idea.

Whatever happened to actually getting to know God and His teachings even more?

Whatever happened to reading from the Bible and coming away with new insight and understanding?

Whatever happened to being fed and gaining some real substance instead of walking away with sugary sweet fluff?

I really appreciate the effort taken by the church to make it more relevant to young people. I completely admire the courage of these people to stand against traditional expectations and provide something more. Most of all, I respect their sacrifical heart.

But I'm also a searcher seeking. Seeking for a church that will feed and nourish me, and remain relevant at the same time.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

Well, photos from my weekend at the Gold Coast are up.

Part of them at least.

More next month since I've maxed out the quota for this month.

Monday, 28 March 2005

i'm back!

back from a long weekend filled with glorious warm sunshine.

where i stayed with the sweetest couple, in a house caught between sugercane plantations and a gorgeous lake.

really, I cannot say enough about Letrica's grandparents. Grandma cooks this fabulous desserts that just threatens to fatten me up and Grandpa is really cheeky and fun to be around.

then there's her uncle who took me on two boat rides up and down the Tweed river just behind the house. We would have went water-skiing if it weren't for the fact that I was battling a cold and staying in the water for a prolonged period of time may not be the best thing.

of course, there was all the driving around and simply soaking in the beautiful scenes of mountains, rivers, rainforests and sugercane plantations...

and then going to the beach, walking along the sand, going to the headlands and just looking out into the sea for as far as the eye can see.

I think I got brown. It certainly was really hot.

But now I'm back in Sydney, where autumn has most certainly arrived. Where I have to start work tomorrow....ah..the long Easter weekend was way too short.

Photos will be up soon!

Thursday, 24 March 2005

reorganised the photo album so that it's in some semblance of order now.

included some photos from the Staff Away Day.

watch out for more photos next week when I return from my long Easter weekend trip to the Gold Coast!

Monday, 21 March 2005

drove in peak hour traffic for the first time this morning.

went for a Staff Away Day to Bobbin Head National Park with beautiful views of the Hawkesbury River.

played a three-legged race, an egg and spoon race and a tug-of-war.

went on row boat for an hour and had to be towed back by colleagues who were in a motor boat.

absolutely exhausted.

Sunday, 20 March 2005

5 consecutive days of early mornings and late nights makes a person go somewhat insane.

Had been waking up at an average of 5.30am for the last few mornings and I think it took its toll on me yesterday morning.

At about 7.15am, I opened my eyes and realised it was already light. At which I gasped, woke up almost immediately and went "Oh crap, I'm late." Late for my driving lesson which usually happens at 7am.

I sat up, silently cursed my alarm for not going off and grabbed my mobile phone.

"Paul (my driving instructor) is going to be so mad at me," I muttered to myself. Yes, I talk to myself, live with it.

Thoughts of him desperately trying to ring me on my mobile which I switched off the night before flashed through my head. I kept imagining how upset he would be and was rehearsing in my head a suitable apology for sleeping in.

My phone finally started up and I started scrolling through my phonebook for his mobile number when it suddenly struck me.

It was the Sabbath. A Saturday. I had no driving lessons that day. I had set my alarm for 8am coz that was when I wanted to wake up to get to church on time.

I wasn't late. I was early.

I am only thankful that I realised what was going on before I actually called Paul.

Now that would have been embarrassing.

Friday, 18 March 2005

imagine my surprise when I received an email with pics telling me that my friends whom I met in England had a baby!

I didn't even know she was pregnant!

Thursday, 17 March 2005

the guy whose position and office i replaced is currently in Brazil and recently had a rather scary experience that left everybody in the office wondering if he would live.

amazing what you can put in a chewing gum...


After this we were walking and he bought a packet of chewing gum and offered me one. Having seen him buy the gum I didn't think much of it at the time. But now I am pretty sure that he swapped it for a pre-prepared gum in his pocket before giving it to me.

his conclusion about the whole thing?

I know now that chewing gum with a liquid centre can contain doping agents. I also am glad that they don't have Krispy Kreme donuts here because without a doubt it would be harder to resist a Krispy Kreme laced with 'Good Night Cinderella'.
goodbye summer, hello autumn.

seems like the Aussie summer is well and truly over. Not that we really had one in the first place.

But it's been wet and grey all day today. Feels a little like England actually. Gone are my sleeveless tops and short skirts with bare legs.

My wardrobe is gradually changing to one consisting of scarves, thicker long-sleeved tops and stockings.

Soon, the turtlenecks, thick scarves, boots and winter coats are going to come in.

And I haven't bought a heater yet...hmmm....could be interesting...

Tuesday, 15 March 2005

i don't know why I didn't see it when I was there previously (maybe I was blinded by student's poverty), but Melbourne has turned out to be a rather good place to get shopping done.

Our meeting finished just before lunch this morning which meant that I had about 4 hours spare before my flight back. Obviously, shopping was the only alternative available.

I know everybody says so, but it is only after my fifth visit to Melbourne that I realise what a great shopping haven Melbourne is! Streets and streets of shops with great brands. Not to mention the unavoidable sales which would have been more but unfortunately, this isn't peak season.

Mental note to self: return to Melbourne during the Christmas sales.

No wonder people go to Melbourne for the weekend simply to shop...

Monday, 14 March 2005

i was only joking when i came up with the URL for the upcoming cycle tour.

never did I realise that they would talk me seriously.

Seems like the official website for the tour will now be [deleted due to Google issues].

don't bother surfing there now. It's not launched yet (and don't you dare steal the URL!).

Visions of clowns keep popping into my head whenever i think of the URL, it cracks me up. Especially when along with the images, I hear the circus theme song, which I will not bother describing.

On another note, I have to leave for the airport at 5.30am tomorrow to fly to Melbourne. Gah! Early mornings and me don't really go well together. Am especially not looking forward to returning to Sydney at almost 11pm tomorrow evening and having to wake up at 6.30am on Wednesday for driving lessons....

Three crazy early mornings in a row (I had to leave Avondale at 7am this morning to get to work on time), I think I should get an early night tonight...

Sunday, 13 March 2005

spent my weekend at Avondale and it was really nice to be back. Especially nice to be back during the weekend and know that i didn't have an assignment due next week or something.

It's a funny feeling, to be back where you had all these memories, and then realise that those are now things of the past. And to know that whatever experience and memory you had will be experienced by the people who are now surrounding you.

It'll be different, and yet the same.

It's weird to find that after spending 2 years away, there are people you knew who are still around. And who, well, are still the same and doing the same thing.

It's even weirder to be introduced to people and have them go, "Oh! So you're Melody. The Melody!"

I can only hope that whatever they've heard about me had been good things...

Friday, 11 March 2005

going to Avondale for the weekend!

wonder how old I will feel by the time I come back.

giggly, bouncy, wide-eyed 19 year olds....*shudder*
goodbye all you stupid trojans and annoying pop-up boxes!

goodbye internet explorer!

hello mozilla!

yup! I finally got the mozilla web browser installed on my office computer.

I'm a happy camper!

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Six riders will cycle across Australia in an endeavour to raise awareness about “at risk” behaviour among young people in small rural communities on April 5.

“Studies have shown that rural adolescents have some of the highest at risk statistics,” says Jonathan Duffy, Director of Adventist Health, a department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific. “They are up to four times more likely to commit suicide and females living in a rural community are up to 11 times more likely to experience physical abuse. They are also more likely to use illicit substances.”

The Circle of Courage Bike Ride is organised by Adventist Health. The riders and their support team will start their journey from the Murray Street Mall in Perth on April 5 at 8 a.m. and finish off at the Sydney Opera House on May 5.

“I am very concerned about the increase of risk behaviour in young people,” says Mr. Duffy. “I want to challenge the adults in rural communities to take the leading role in developing positive community relationships. This will build resilience and self-esteem amongst the young people.”

Mr. Duffy and his team will be covering an average of 165km a day during the ride. They will be speaking at local community venues organised through community groups such as the Lions Club every evening. The riders will introduce to parents and other interested adults the Circle of Courage principles for building resilience in young people.

The Circle of Courage is a philosophy that invites people to see themselves as belonging to a community and take the step forward as independent people, able to make wise choices about how to live life.

Very soon, I'm going to become the expert in unknown towns of the southern end of Australia.

Being in charge of the media relations of this project means I have to track down all the newspapers and radio stations operating in all the towns they visit.

Which means having to actually know where places like Bookabie and Wagga Wagga are.

Have been studying the map of Australia for two days now and cross-referencing it with the list of newspapers and radio stations we have, and trying to find out which newspapers cover which areas.

On top of trying to write media releases, coordinate with town representatives and come up with press kits.

By the end of it all, I'm probably going to know more of Australia than some Aussies do.

And yes, I'm going on the cycle tour with the team, although it hasn't been decided if I'm going to be staying for the whole thing.

And no, I'm not cycling. If I did, there will be no media relations whatsoever happening during the entire trip. The only relations there's going to be will be my relations with the bed in a motel.

Wednesday, 9 March 2005

15 Words That Should Exist

1. ACCORDIONATED (ah kor' de on ay tid) adj. Being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time.

2. AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus) adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub tap on and off with your toes.

3. CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun) n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

4. DIMP (dimp) n. A person who insults you in a cheap department store by asking, "Do you work here?"

5. ECNALUBMA (ek na lub' ma) n. A rescue vehicle which can only be seen in the rearview mirror.

6. EIFFELITES (eye' ful eyetz) n. Gangly people sitting in front of you at the cinema who, no matter what direction you lean in, follow suit.

7. ELBONICS (el bon' iks) n. The actions of two people manoeuvering for one armrest in a cinema.

8. ELECELLERATION (el a cel er ay' shun) n. The mistaken notion that the more you press the lift button, the faster it will arrive.

9. FRUST (frust) n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

10. LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun) n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the 'illegal' side.

11. NEONPHANCY (ne on' fan see) n. A fluorescent light bulb struggling to come to life.

12. PETROPHOBIC (pet ro fob' ik) adj. One who is embarrassed to undress in front of a household pet.

13. PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n. The affliction of dialling a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

14. PUPKUS (pup' kus) n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

15. TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun) n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.

Thursday, 3 March 2005

Interesting website alert!


Church Marketing Sucks isn't simply about putting butts in pews or selling glossy postcards. It's about helping the church be the Church, and seeing lives changed as a result. If helping the church communicate better allows one person to finally glimpse the Gospel, then our work has been worthwhile. It may be fuzzy math, but God can worry about that.
I went horseriding yesterday evening!

It was such a fantastic experience to finally be able to ride a horse, especially with being so in love with the medieval period and fantasy stories and all. I've always read about horseriding and the amazing things the riders could do, and now I finally know how they feel!

Well, the part where they walk the horse that is.

And Ange had to give me a knee-up to get on the horse. I was lying face-down on the horse for a while after that, feeling absolutely disorientated with being so high up, as well as being clueless as to how to straighten myself.

When I finally managed to sit upright, and Ange started leading the horse, I seriously thought I was going to fall off. It was a completely strange rhythm and everytime the horse moved a leg, I slid further and further sideways.

Then Ange told me I had to straighten my legs more and should kind of only half-sit. That cleared everything up and once I got used to the rhythm, it was the most amazing thing ever.

Until the horse went up a hill. Then down a hill.

And then Ange thought it would be fun for me to feel how it would be like to trot. Seriously, bouncing up and down a horse was well, rather strange.

I had a brilliant experience though and absolutely loved it.

In fact, despite my initial hesitations, I have grown to love Warburton. Well, as much as one can love something after 4 days.

Nathan and Ange have been absolutely wonderful and were great company and hosts.

Taking me to watch Hotel Rwanda on Tuesday evening was amazing. Especially with being able to finally meet up with Kel, whom I've kept in touch with through emails for a year or so but never met face to face till then.

Then of course, there's the Three Sugars cafe (thanks Kel for the recommendation!) which is an absolutely delightful place to have a meal, read a magazine, listen to nice music and have a great lunch break.

And the 5 minutes walk to and from work, past beautiful views of the Yarra River and the mountain ranges...

I'll miss Warburton and my time spent here, but I certainly would not miss the millipedes.

Wednesday, 2 March 2005

“After they see this, people are gonna say ‘My God that’s terrible,’ and then go on eating their dinners.”

Chilling words uttered by a news cameraman to Paul Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda, on the footage he had shot of the genocide. Footage that Paul hoped would spur the world into doing something against the atrocities that were just beginning.

In three months, one million people would be brutally murdered in an event fuelled by ethnic hatred. True enough, the world turned a blind eye to the genocide that claimed Rwandan lives at nearly three times the rate it claimed Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

Hotel Rwanda is not just a brilliant action movie or one that celebrates Paul’s bravery that resulted in saving 1,268 lives. It is not just a true story that gives Paul the recognition he deserved.

It is a movie that makes you realise just how many innocent people gets killed, because the rest of the world does nothing.

The events surrounding Hotel Rwanda is not fiction. The streets of Kigali did run red with blood. Paul Rusesabagina did shelter people in the Hotel des Mille Collines for 11 weeks in the midst of it all. And at a time when Rwanda needed help the most, there was indeed no international intervention, expeditionary force or international aid.

Rwanda was swept under the carpet, the genocide written off as “tribal warfare” and deemed unworthy of attention. And in the movie, we step into the shoes of these victims, terrified and utterly deserted by the rest of the world. We feel their desperation and despair as they realise people will not do something just because an atrocity like the one they are experiencing makes the news.

As BBC journalist Steve Bradshaw says about us, “It is hard not to be carried away with the appalling cultural totalitarianism that is the precondition of genocide. We’re not trained to say ‘No’ when the state, our teachers, priests, police, neighbours and friends all say ‘Yes!’”

But Hotel Rwanda challenges that. Hotel Rwanda challenges you to stand up against such atrocities. Hotel Rwanda challenges you not to simply dismiss something as “terrible” and then go on eating your dinner.

“Ten years on, politicians from around the world have made the pilgrimage to Rwanda to ask for forgiveness from the survivors, and the same politicians promised ‘never again,'" says director Terry George. “But it's happening yet again in Sudan [and] the Congo…places where life is [viewed to be] worth less than dirt. Places where men and women like Paul and his wife Tatsiana shame us all by their decency and bravery."

Hotel Rwanda is worth a watch for the brilliant script that portrays the Rwandan genocide the world tried to ignore, but watching Hotel Rwanda will leave you wanting to do more, even when the rest of the world doesn’t.
in case anybody was wondering, I ended up battling with 5 millepedes yesterday.

There were two hiding by the sides of the shower stall, one crawling towards my bed (again!) and this morning, I found one on my shower wall and another next to the toilet.

I think it's called Revenge of the Millepedes...

Tuesday, 1 March 2005

I think I've got to have had the weirdest experience of the year.

Bored from editing articles and facing the computer for hours, I decided to look out the window for a break.

Instead of the usual mountain view, I see a sheep trotting down the main pathway into the building. It looked perfectly prepared to saunter into the building and buy a book from the bookshop in the foyer or something.

Wonder if a giraffe would visit tomorrow.
Adventures in the Warburton Motel

Walking back to my seat after a drink, I noticed a thin black something wriggling towards my bed.

Upon closer inspection, my worst fears were confirmed - it was a millepede.

I seriously fought the urge to scream.

Honestly, I hate any form of creepy crawlies. Tie me to a bungy cord and throw me off a bridge. Give me a parachute and tell me to jump out of an airplane. Get me to touch a snake even. But there is no way you can get me near a worm, a cockroach or a spider.

Yet, neither do I want the horrible thing in my room. Images of it crawling up my body and across my face while I sleep was flashing through my head.

I ran around the tiny motel room looking for help. I wasn't sure what I was expecting to find, but I was running.

I picked up the newspaper and considered killing the creature with it. Then it struck me that I would have to then get rid of the carcass. And yes, even touching a dead worm sends shivers up my spine. The newspapers were thrown back onto the couch.

Get it out of the room, get it out of the room, get it out of the room...that was the mantra for the next few seconds as I watched it inched closer and closer to my bed.

Finally, I decided to brave the horror. I tore a couple of tissues away from its box and squatted in front of the worm, all the while wishing I was someplace else.

Next came the most traumatising task of getting the stupid thing to crawl up the tissue. I started cursing the fact that the piece of tissue was firstly too small, secondly too soft.

Seriously, getting the thing to actually crawl up the tissue was a nightmare. I tried to slide the tissue under the worm and succeeded only in turning it upside down. I bit down on my lips as it flipped this way and that.

After several tries, and believe me it was horrible, it finally got on the tissue.

That was when pure panic struck.

"Oh God, help me," I cried as I held on to this tiny piece of tissue with the worm crawling on it. I folded the tissue in half, hoping that it would lessen my fear.

My eyes caught sight of the back door. I rushed towards it, all the while keeping an eye on the worm, ensuring that it was more or less staying in the middle of the tissue.

I opened the door and unfolded the tissue. I started wondering how I was going to transfer the worm onto the ground outside.

Then I simply gave up and threw the tissue, worm and all, on the ground and slammed the door shut.

Somewhere in the backyard of the Warburton Motel, there is a piece of tissue with a worm on it.
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