Monday, December 08, 2008

A Death, A Wedding, A Youth Camp, A Good Dinner and Inagiku

An eventful week: news of a friend's wife's meaningless death at the hands of Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai (refusing to accept the meaninglessness of a life suddenly ended, some have tried to paint her as a martyr or a heroine),

Delightful Wedding
followed quickly by a most delightful wedding (featuring hilarious speeches by best friends, a groom who managed to insult the bride's sister, the bride and his own mother in his speech and a demonstration of why masking tape is better than sliced bread), whose intimacy was a marvellous celebration of relationship (cf the usual Chingay parade) and great reminder of much-awaited union of Christ and the church,

Front Lawn, Fairy Point Chalet 7
then immediately on to a week of youth camp. At the well-appointed Fairy Point Chalet 7, an old colonial bungalow overlooking the yachts moored off Changi Beach Club, with Pulau Ubin on the horizon. There was a field at the front of the house for a bit of football, a room equipped with table-tennis tables, nests in the surrounding trees to amaze visiting toddlers, a huge kitchen to the delight of the camp mother (inhabited, unfortunately, by huge hardworking ants), 4 toilets, 3 showers, 9 beds...

Because this was a holiday camp, indoor games included Cranium, Saboteur, Sleeping Queens (bought on a whim and has proved absurdly popular so far!), Taboo, Rush Hour, River Crossing, real-life Scrabble, Gift Trap ("I am really not a bimbo ok? I'm not! I...oh! Professional make-up lessons!"), Shadows Over Camelot - a co-operative board game, Citadels, round-robin table-tennis (with plastic plates as bats) and wave-boarding while clutching to sofas and walls.

Rainy Barbecue
One night, the boys went fishing. Another night, there was a rainy barbecue at the side of the bungalow, where there was an umbrella boy to shield the fire from the rain and wailing cats fanning into flame the, erm, charcoal provided by God. Then, there were observation-logic games (Open or Close?, What Number Is This?, Bang Bang Bang Who's Dead? Crossed-Uncrossed) and the bad jokes:
Which is the biggest city in the world?
Dublin. Cos it's always doublin'.

How is Ironman a woman?
He is an Fe-male.

What did Sushi A say when it saw Sushi B?
Wassup, B! (wasabi)

Man tou and siew mai went to watch a sad movie but only siew mai cried. Why?
Cos man tou didn't have filling (feeling).

Chicken StroganoffBabi Assam and Beef StroganoffBeef Bolognaise
All this play was sustained by good meals from the kitchen (the cheerful servant-hearted kitchen assistants had strange fake Indian accents) and from visiting wives and moms: chicken stroganoff, beef stroganoff, babi assam, beef bolognaise, pasta with porcini mushrooms, fried beehoon, beef hash, mandarin trifle, banoffee pie, brownies, hot chocolate.

The theme for the camp was the recently-concluded Beijing Olympics. The main talks were centered cheesily around the One World One Dream theme: ie, One World, One Dream? (Ephesians 1:9-10), One Garden (Genesis 2:8-17), One Mistake (Romans 1:18-19), One Saviour (Romans 5:9-11), One Decision (John 14:5-7 and a can of Anything and another of Whatever), One Life (Ephesians 4:17-24). The focus talks on Amos for the leaders and scampers were a real treat: standing on the shoulders of Hugh Palmer, L preached faithfully on God's judgment, his salvation and the terrible danger of presuming that past rescue meant exclusion from present judgment.

We read Vaughan Roberts' Battles Christians Face for the scampers' book club. Chapter 8 was a particularly good reminder of the God-instituted media by which we keep on keeping on in the faith: by his word the Bible, by prayer and by the encouragement of the other members of God's church.

In the same way I wondered why repeat campers still didn't quite get the gospel but continued to idolise Jay Chou, why professed Christians didn't see the need for Bible study, so I realised that I hadn't quite grasped the concept of primacy of God's word either despite understanding it intellectually. Instead of relying fully on the Word to save, was nervous(?) enough to try to contextualise too much in the seminars. Repented of not trusting in the Word to do the job it promises to do: being the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), quick and powerful, sharper than double-edged sword it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). It is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). It is the things that look weak and foolish in this world that God uses for his kingdom (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Leaders' Morning Meeting
The leaders' morning meetings at 7.45am-ish were good times to review the previous day and preview the new day and to express our dependence on God for all things.

Pulau Ubin
Sent the camp to Old Changi Hospital and Pulau Ubin for the wide game: a time for the campers to get out of campgrounds, run about in packs and have opportunities for good conversations. The ones who bothered to check with the Gamesmaster got useful hints about taking the van, the ones who'd gone off on their own theory of where they were supposed to be heading ended up cycling (they said it was very nice) and one fell over and had to have dirt scrubbed out of her wounds back at base camp later.

This wide game was less Amazing Race and more of a build up to the Final Challenge. The clues were meant to reinforce what the campers had learnt about eg. the garden, the fall... One of the teachers said it was useful. Throughout the game, I also gave out "Prophet Notes". Like the OT prophets, these popped up in their own time and told the camp their current status: a great gap had opened up between them and the Safe Haven, they needed something to bridge the gap, or someone. The Final Challenge consisted of us locking the main gate on them and preventing the tired, sweaty, mozzie-bitten, hungry people from returning to Safe Haven. J totally relished his role as St Peter With The Keys. One leader irritated by the heat time being of the essence said he was going to go off if the gate wasn't opened by 7pm, other campers tried (with big Bambi eyes) pleading, alternately, their good works, the Virgin Mary and unsubstantiated grace. Finally, a designated saviour revealed himself and upon hearing that he had to die for them to enter the gates, the mob ran towards him screaming,"Get him! Kill him!" So much for that Messiah.

In-bone ham, beef short-ribs, mash, salad with a choice of 3 dressings
After camp, stumbled home and konked off for the rest of the day, waking up just in time for a delicious meal of in-bone ham, applesauce, beef short-ribs, mash and salad with 3 types of dressing, and Ironman on HD for dessert. Grateful for the generosity and hospitality. The host had more bad jokes of his own:
Who is the most business savvy woman in the Bible?
The pharaoh's daughter cos she went down to the banks to get a little prophet (profit).

Who is the most famous orphan in the Bible?
Joshua, son of Nun (none).

Who is the shortest man in the Bible?
Nehemiah (knee-high Miah).

Canapes at Surprise Birthday Party
The next day, a surprise birthday party for a big boy (who did not look the least surprised), a real life roti prata man, kiddies being introduced to beer (they weren't too impressed and wisely decided that the ice surrounding the cans and bottles was more fun afterall), after which I was thankful for conversations on dealing with sin, frustration with the self-centredness of professedly sorted people and the lack of good conversations on things of eternal value, they preferring to waste time and energy either promoting themselves or fawning over "senior leaders"zzz, and dealing with own sinfulness and the sinfulness of these people in humility and grace.

On Sunday, Joshua Ng preached on Haggai at Bethany Trinity Presbyterian Church and Hosanna Baptist Church. The prosperity gospel, he noted, is only half right. Hillsongs and the mega-churches in Singapore are getting God's timetable wrong. And Satan's strategy has always been half-truths. Of course health and riches are good but God promises them only for the future. And just as we do not expect them now, we also should not expect our labour for the Lord to bear fruit immediately or ostensibly. We can work hard at it but our Bible study groups might keep shrinking; we can prepare to meet up with a young Christian and change our schedule to fit him but in the end, he may stand us up for a soccer game on telly.

Inagiku, Fairmount Hotel, Singapore
Later, a belated birthday lunch at Inagiku where the sashimi and wagyu beef and garlic fried rice and tempura were ok, but the news of another person setting foot in the kingdom of God was terrific indeed! Told people at the table about Haggai and thanked God for his grace in keeping me in him. The effort I put into his work has borne little if any fruit and much as I want to save family and friends from their certain fate I've achieved nothing, yet despite my obvious disinterest in my career, God has provided a boss who thinks well of me and colleagues who don't have too much of a problem with that. If God had let me be too tempted by the path of less resistance, I may not have stood.

Altogether a very humbling and therefore refreshing week, PG, lived in light of major awareness of the suddenness at which the light can be switched off on life. Yes it was more than worth missing Kraftwerk for.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

[Edit: a self-appointed regulatory officer has pointed out a lack of transparency in the matter of bad jokes. So in interests of full disclosure, I hereby declare that I too contributed to the bad joke fodder with the following stinker thought up during the talk on Amos 9:
Moses warned Pharaoh of all the disasters that would befall his country if he did not let the Israelites go and Pharaoh saw that God did indeed do as threatened. Yet, he did not believe (in) God. Why?
Because he was in the Nile (denial).
And later, because the skin on my ears and knees was sunburnt from sailing and peeling, I was proud that I was a-peeling (appealing).]

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At December 15, 2008 10:09 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's an easter joke!


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