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    Notes from THE HAVEN
    Friday, October 03, 2003

    It is Saturday, a public holiday, Chung Yeung Festival. Whilst listening to YoYo Ma pull his cello strings to Cristal, a lovely birthday present from Ann, and sipping on a doong nai cha (iced milk tea) from the shop below us, I find myself, finally with some time to think. How sweet it is to find yourself with nothing to do. This week, as are many weeks, was extremely full and fulfilling. I think about a few of you, some whom I only saw a few hours ago, and knowing that you all have a chance to sleep in places a nice cushion on me heart. Bless you all.

    This past Wednesday was also a public holiday, PRC National Day. You know you can take a "Shabbath" when you have a packed-packed day off?

    Wednesday, October 01, 2003

    Tuesday night's Plus Group was amazing. I had had a long day at work.. and yes, compared to everyone else, it was not as long, but unusual to my usual departure from the office at 4:30, I left at 7 (Just an aside, Jinx (a good mate) and I made a quick calculation on money earned per hour and per minute. His busy marriage to UBS Bank earns him predominantly less on an hourly basis to what I earn with HVS. With further calculation, many investment bankers earn less, on a per minute basis, than a waiter at Pizza Hut. Sorry dudes, it’s just a fact of life). Tuesday was frightfully eventful, the MD and I were cracking away at our contracts and doing our usual detective work and interviews, when we were approached with more clients and clients looking for impossible people which is good for the challenge, and very rewarding (For all those who are wondering, yes, I am still on the Tokyo contract, I know it has taken about 6 months now but it has been very grueling).

    At Plus (Bible Study), we had a small group. For worship, Andrew came up with the amazing idea to encourage each other. For each person present, Andy Higgins, RRR-Honda, Lollylaw, Andrew and Christine Gardener, Blair, Gislenie and baby Armele and myself, there was a piece of paper for everyone to write an anonymous note about what it is that we like about that person. Funnily enough, it reminded me about when we were in a secondary school in Cebu and nothing worked, seriously, the MD broke down, the CD was missing, the microphone was hissing, and so we spent some time in groups to get to know each other and try to squeeze in some ministry. With my group and after introductions, I asked each member to share what it is about the person next to them they like the most. With each piece of paper I jotted the many things that I thought were awesome with each person. I realized, when I was done with most of the people that everyone was on their second or third sheet, poking my fingers together, I tried to look productive. Then everyone got theirs back and read with much curiosity. Everyone blushed. Blair decided that he would write Christine G's note in my sheet, no worries!! Nothing beats reading something serious from someone you are usually very crazy and non-stop joking with. And one of the comments managed to send some leakage in the eye department. It was a short and concise note that had about 3 major points to it. The major-major point, however was that I used my expertise to help others and bring joy to them. This affected me in many ways, it was first, confirmation that I am indeed trying to follow God's direction in my calling in counseling. It also meant that unknowingly, and with little effort or strain, I was able to touch at least one person which only opened up the possibility of not having helped someone for self gratification or indulgence. This, I found was very important to me as I had found in counsel in the past, I had used it for personal reward, either for someone to recognize that I had been a good boy, or something as malicious as doing a favor so that a favor will be returned in the future. It is always good to know that you have the capacity to give, with the knowledge that you need nothing in return because God has already offered all the treasures of heaven to you. For this, I am glad because this is a fruit that comes with faith. Thinking further, it also has to do with how the information had been delivered to you. Much of my counseling skills had been passed on freely to me by my MD, and without holding back. Synopsis: God gave me an amazing job that would polish my counseling techniques, an amazing teacher to facilitate that, an amazing church that offers support, amazing leaders to point directions, and Jesus for the best teachings ever all for free. Freely I had received, freely I try to give.

    This, however, was not all. The evening unraveled itself and we went to what Andy Higgins has named, “Hot Potatoes”, which is basically asking questions that are very difficult to answer about our faith. Lolly asked something about marriage (seeking to follow her calling, *wink*), followed by a few more. I asked two questions, although I had many on my mind for example, “Did God not crate sin and therefore know the downfall of man?” or something on Euthanasia or Evolution. Instead, I asked practical questions, one on the understanding of Catholicism and one about non-christian friends.

    1. The early catholic church was the one of the post powerful means of spreading the gospel. For centuries it ruled until the likes of Oliver Cromwell protested and the modern Christian church was born. It has been written that we are to respect all forms of authority, the Catholic Church was the government in Europe for the longest time. Take away the atrocities the Catholic church had been involved in, and the Pope and hierarchy, Catholicism still preaches the love of Jesus and the wonders of the lord. Their beliefs are obviously different to ours, the major one being the relationship with God. Question – Are we as Christians to accept some of the Catholic beliefs to be true, if so, should we minister to Catholics, if so, then how do we minister to Catholics without judgment?

    Andy Higgins’ answer was perfect, and it sounded very much like the Christine Caine sermon I attended at Hillsong this year (I will be paraphrasing), “The relationship with Jesus is what we as Christians know. We are called to love all people so the best thing to ever happen to them is knowing Jesus, because it is then that miracles happen. This is what is lacking in the Catholic faith”. I’d like to add that when you have the heart to minister to anyone or any se of people, the best thing you can ever equip yourself with is knowledge of them, their behavior and their beliefs.

    2. If your non-Christian friend had a non-christian event in his life that brought joy, and you recognize it to be good for him/her, is it wrong to acknowledge the event’s benefits? Basically, a friend of mine was a wee bit down, met a girl and slept with her. The relationship will not last, but as I understand, they are ok with it and remain friends. He has changed a lot and the bounce is back in his stride and I felt that this is a very good thing to kick start a new chapter in his life.

    Andrew Gardener answered this by explaining that there is a difference between being happy for someone’s joy and endorsing his actions. The truth remains that if we want the best for our friends, we try our best to bring God’s messages and teachings as best we can, at their level of acceptance because what He wants is the best for all of us.

    Thank you all for one amazing Plus group. I slept very well Tuesday night.

    Tuesday, September 30, 2003

    As usual, this week has been as busy as it can get. Not particularly with work, but with everything else. I reckon I topped the number of things I could fit into a single day this past Saturday, yep, topped it over last Sunday.

    Visited SNA after 180 as we had a "Scandelous" dance we did with the kids. We are doing it again on Sunday at church. SNA is tons different from anything I thought it was. It is really nice and the kids still are inquisitive about everything, not yet to the stage where they assume they know it all. Perhaps these kids are pleasantly different from what i am accustomed to. Janice remarked this morning, on our way to the MTR, that she taught a buch of year 7s yesterday about peer pressure and touched on the subject of wanting to look and dress to impressed. Blankly they stared back at her and said, "We don't do that" and this was FIS!! Looking back, i donno if any of us dressed to impress in year 7 back in FIS, Ben, Nick.. confirmation please. I still remember wearning naf white tennis shorts with the overlapping button to PE, and mum dressed me to some extent. But when I got to CIS, kids of all ages were raving on about, well, I guess it was Stussy, Quicksilver, Levis' and the likes especially the wee little ones who try their best to shoot the ball into the basket but never made it close to the rim. Having said that, I am glad that simple kids still roam our compicated lands.

    I then hauled Katie Stephens' djembe, which by the way is one very amazing instrument, back to my place, took a shower, because, by way of supernormal catalysts my person began its smelling like lillies, roses and some form of botanical patch that had decided to die and pong. Anyhow, smelling very much like dettol shower gel, headed off to Amy and Sarah's new place in Sai Ying Pun (Everyone say WESTSIDE) where we had some lovely deep-fried Wontons and pizza. Fion lost some sort of game and via Christian Yang who had not say in anything whatsoever with the mere possession of a big mouth, she had to go down to the gound level to the basketball court and football ground and ask someone for 5 dollars. She did it!! what a trooper, came back up and for proof, and went back down to return it. Then Mandy, Cece and Fion (yet again) collectively lost and had to do ballet twirls for us to see from the window. I have to hand it to them, they went to the farthest place on the football ground, behind the goalkeeper and did some, what can be considered, of the ugliest ballet twirls someone could possibly observe from the 20th floor. Naturally, we all thought it was wonderful and marvelous.

    they came back, not as embarrassed as expected, something tells me they really enjoyed that.


    This game is so amazing, I am dedicating time to describe it to you.

    The Amy Game, sorry, THE AMAZING AMY GAME goes like this: there are two teams and tons of bits of paper. One team is responsible for writing down "Why?" questions, the other team is responsible for writing down "because" answers. Qs and As are completely random. Things like, "Why is Italy in Europe" or, Nate's favourite, "Why is Nate so good looking?", and because answers like, "Because we are at Amy and Sara's housewarming", "because Oranges are called oranges because they are orange". You get the idea... hold that thought more later

    OK.... you may not know it, but it is now a few days from when I last wrote. But write I must because it is about THE AMAZING AMY GAME!!!! So, each team swaps their bags of bits of paper and the team with the questions pulls out a random piece of paper and asks, which is followed by a random answer. Woh! I can tell you, it was amazing. More amazing than Fion going down to the football ground to ask some innocent punter for a 5 buck coin, better than any ballet twirls, I tell you it was amazing. We had some silly matchings which made no sense. Then the fun began... Question: Why is Hong Kong in Japan? Answer: Because no one really knows it but Bill Gates actually rules the world!!! Question: Why is this paper green? Answer: Because Fion is wasting paper. And a few funny ones, "Why is it only woman for man, and not woman for woman and man for man?", "Because we were in a hurry". Then after a few eye-openers, it was Cliff's turn, everyone in anticipation for the question to come out, the paper read, "Why is it so quiet?" we all freaked out coz we really were quiet, I was going spaz, everyone was affirming eachother that that was so cool and wierd at the same time, and quite contrary to her "I cannot be bothered" look, Ashleigh's eyes were streched open like suffocating goldfish, as she read her answer........ "Because it is not yet time to answer". Then everyone freaked out again. The best, and those who were there can confirm, was when Mandy who was sitting next to me, pulled out a bit of yellow paper with etchings on it, blushed and read, half trying to hold back her embarassed giggles, "Why is Mandy still single?".................................the answer dear friends is, "Because God had made it this way". We all behaved like zoo monkeys at feeding time and redefined the meaning of Spastic!! Spastic was indeed what we were. The opposite team seemed to have relationship matters especially with marriage. Nate seemed also to have an obsession about asking people why he was so good looking. After the second round of THE AMAZING AMY GAME, we finished off the Wontons (aka Whontonnes, thanks Amy) that were oh so delish, prayed over their lovely house, cleaned up and headed home. What a fine evening that was. What a fine way to end a very fulfilling day.

    Monday, September 29, 2003

    I love my work

    I love this band and this band