GAFCON leading the way

This is a really crisp piece on what Anglican churches in Australia is going through. Well done to Murray Campbell.

A game of AFL is taking place on a local oval when a small group jump the fence and start kicking a round ball along the ground. The game stops. Players approach the group and ask them to desist.

They retort, ‘we’re also playing football.

The players answer, ‘no, you’re playing a different game. Different ball, different shaped ground, different goals….if you’re interested, you can join us but first of all, get rid of the soccer ball’.

The group insist, ‘no, we are playing football. We can all play together at the same time.”

In trying to point out the obvious, someone again speaks up, ‘hang on, look…the balls are a different shape. The goals are different. You’re wanting a completely different sport.’

Ignoring the self-evident, the group gaslight the footy plays and again insist,

“We’re going to use this ground. Let’s talk about it. Let’s arrange a series of…

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Kiddo’s visit

One of Kiddo’s mates from years ago, will be getting married next month. She lives in Melbourne. Saturday was her hens night so Kiddo flew in on Friday night. We got out to Tullamarine, picked her up and came back to some soup that I had made earlier. It is always good to catch up and chat, which we did a bit of the whole weekend.

On Saturday morning, we slept in a bit, then we walked the little fellow, together with Kiddo and chatted some more. We then got home and had some pork rib congee I cooked. We then did some quick shopping before we headed to South Melbourne. The hens event was to start at a “sip and paint” place. We drove there, and Tress and I (along with the little fellow whom we brought along) went to the market and wandered a bit, had coffee and a couple of little hot jam donuts, before coming home to walk the guy at the usual spot – the oval across the road.

We then settled down to watch some TV and the Melbourne v Carlton game was riveting. The Dees edged the Blues at the very end, with their small forward kicking the winning goal with some 15 seconds to spare. After the “sip and paint” exercise, the hens party was to head to Chapel Street for dinner in some fusion Japanese place, and then to bar hop after that. We waited for Kiddo and when she finally got home about midnight, we had some “Tang Yuen” soup – a dessert of glutinous rice ball stuffed with peanut/sesame in a soup of ginger and palm sugar syrup. It was comfort food that Kiddo always enjoyed so we sat around the dining table, way past midnight, and chatted some more.

Sunday morning, we decided to skip St Alf’s, so we took our time and followed the live streamed service for a bit before heading out to Box Hill for a noodles lunch at a Malaysian place (“Malay Kitchen”). Then we got home, Kiddo packed and we headed out to Tullamarine again. As we approached the drop off point, we received news that a gunman had discharged firearms at the Canberra Airport. We could see Federal Police pulling up at the Tullamarine airport too so we started to think the flight may be delayed, if not cancelled. Thankfully, it was only slightly delayed and it then turned out her flight was the last one out to Canberra, with several flights after hers cancelled. I was very grateful for that. I think we were all a bit tired last night, but it had been a wonderful weekend of just spending time together. It’d be some 5 weeks before she and Mic visit again, this time for the wedding. It should be good again then.

Cost of Investments (in People), etc…

It felt like another week of hard slog. As the week approched its end, I felt the body battery draining with each passing hour.

On Thursday night, after a bit of too-ing and fro-ing, Tress and I decided to just get up and head for the St Alf’s growth group meeting at the Longs’ home. As we were preparing to leave, we got a ping from the leader and we soon found out he wasn’t well. So the meeting was a casual chit chat and I guess it provided a bit of a refreshing reprieve that stemmed a bit of that body battery drain. It still meant however, that we went to bed later than usual.

Friday was the usual slog and there was to be a catch up dinner with Jason and Mel and the Hipos later that night. As with normal dinners on Fridays with the Hipos however, it started an hour later than we normally did, as their kids had activities that only ended after 7pm. It was good none the less, that we caught up. Jess had organised the event and we went to a Korean barbeque place, as many things Korean are the Hipos’ favoured flavours.

When the dinner came to a close, I got a bit annoyed when no one looked eager to go pay the bill. It was a substantial amount too. We often divvied up the bill anyway but very often, I’d be the one fronting up first and they’d pay their share to me later. I was annoyed because, I was tired of fronting up. After all, it wasn’t a night I had organised so I wasn’t sure why I was the one expected to front up. I’d always end up short as the rounding up process always favoured the later payers and I just hate chalking up big spends on my card. Also, often I’d add a tip but leave that out of the shared bill as I wasn’t sure they’re the tipping types. I later ranted to Tress that I’d been annoyed that no one got up to pay the bill and that Tress had asked for contributions that fell short of the total I paid. They all knew the amount I paid and yet, accepted the amount Tress suggested. I thought that was just poor form. The friendship angle prevailed however so I chose to just forget about it after having ranted to Tress on the way home.

On Sat, we did our usual thing but I then had the Steer AGM. That lasted some 3 hours but thankfully it was all online so I still got to walk the little guy before coming home in time to just change into something that I thought would be just about presentable on screen for the meeting. The older little guy also had his grooming session so for a few minutes, I turned off the camera, put myself on mute, and headed out to engage with Amber the groomer, before returning to the meeting.

The rest of the weekend was filled with our usual activities. At St Alf’s on Sunday, Tress made it a point to stay behind after the meeting, to catch up with others over a cuppa. I often struggled to make small talks so I normally just skip the tea/coffee time and head off. Small talks however, annoying for me as they may be, can be essential starting points to build relationships. It is an investment in people that I know I need to make. So, I gave in and had a cuppa, made small talks, including with Wilson, an old acquaintance who has been coming to St Alf’s in recent weeks. Those small talks are perhaps like fronting to pay the bill when dining out with friends, I guess. Prices we pay to invest in people and relationships. Annoying as it is, they are things I need to do more of, probably.

Later in the day, I did my usual cooks for the week’s meals for both Tress and I as well as for the little guys, and then walked them some more. It had been a beautiful day and it was very pleasant to just stroll around at the oval with other dog owners. We later messaged Kiddo about her visit to Melbourne for a friend’s hens night. She’d been planning to visit from Friday night and leave on Sunday arvo. That’s something to look forward to.

Busy catching up, duties and… (yay)…

When I first landed in Sydney back in early 1985, I had some help from the folks at OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship). I remained in contact with OCF’ers and their activities right through my stay in Sydney. When I left in 1990 however, I stopped having any contact with most people from that cohort. We re-established contact when we returned to Melbourne in 2004. Ing Tung and Chin Moi were very helpful to us then. We had attended their wedding in Kuching, Sarawak in 1993 (I think).

Last Friday night, a bunch of us from OCF days in Sydney got together at Patsy’s. Andy and Lisa, who live in Sydney, were visiting Melbourne. Andy’s sister has a daughter living in Melbourne, who has given birth to their second child so the sister left Malaysia to be with her daughter. Tress and I bought a dish from Flavours of Mekong and drove to Patsy’s, and we had a wonderful time of catching up with all the wonderful people we had known so long ago. Patsy’s facebook post later confirmed that was some 35 years ago.

Some time on Saturday morning, I got a ping on my phone. Graeme, who was to lead the corporate prayers at St Alf’s the next day, said he had come down with a cold and asked if I could fill in. We were just heading out for a walk with the little fellow so I thought I’d think about it when we walked. Not long into the walk, I thought I couldn’t turn down a request for help simply because I may feel uncomfortable doing the task, so when we got home, I responded to Graeme. A short while later, I retrieved a copy of the last one I did – some 3-4 year ago now – and worked on it. I told Tress the good thing about this was I only had less than 24 hours to be anxious and nervous, compared to when I last did it, when I was anxious and nervous for weeks!

Later that arvo we headed out for our usual grocery shopping and some lunch, before coming back to take those two out for another walk. It had been a warmer and sunnier day and we wanted to make the most of it, before a busy Sunday comes around.

We were also on communion duty on Sunday, and we were going to head out west to Point Cook for a kiddy’s birthday party. Tress’ cousins’ kids were turning 1 and 12 and both were going to have their birthday parties at their grandparents’ home, which was where we would be heading after St Alf’s, but not before picking up some “ang kuh” near the Glen as our contribution. We had also bought gifts for the kiddies and the drive out west was going to be costly too – the toll alone was about $20 – so this kiddies party was going to give our wallets a bit of a thump.

I read from my prepared/scripted prayer, and after the communion, we headed out to pick up the “ang kuhs” and then headed out west. It was great catching up with family again. Alden, the 12 year old has grown, as has April his sister, who is 10. We also met Alana (5?) and Remy (2?), David and Jessica’s 2 little girls, for the first time. Everyone who were there looked well. Chris, Nat’s partner, teaches in Blackburn High and Nat is working with Marsh, the insurance company. Adam continues to work on his durian business, and treated us to durian ice cream which was really nice.

We came back in time to give the two furry fellows another walk, before settling down to finally put our feet up, for the first time, for the weekend. I rang my mum and had a good chat. She told us Nic has landed a position as an intern. I later messaged Nic and she said it would be a role in a NSW hospital up in Northern NSW. That’s a wonderful piece of news. We then messaged Kiddo and Mic to let them know the good news. The chat with my mum, along with this piece of news, was a wonderful way to finish the weekend. A busy weekend. Busy but good? I guess…

TGIF! (An etched one)

It had been a busy week, with a Steer 60th anniversary kicking it all off on Monday night. It went on for just over an hour and when it was over, it was almost 9pm. It had also been a busy work day so there wasn’t much room for a Monday Blue kind of start to the week. We also caught up in the St Alf’s small group over dinner on Thursday. LB, who was also the Youth Minister, had resigned to join the Navy as a Chaplain so that was the small group farewell thing for her. Tress and I had brought a long a fried rice to accompany the roast dinner that Ros and Mike had prepared as hosts. It was a wonderful small group event.

We had also teed up a dinner on Friday night with Ing Tung and Chin Moi so as we worked through Friday to plumb worrying depths in the body battery department. I decided to knock off early and from about 4.30pm, I joined Tress at the oval to walk the little one.

A little after 5pm, we got a ping from Kiddo asking if we were still working. I said we were at the oval but could talk on the mobile. We did a video call there in the oval.

We often remember the moment we took a call that would pivot our lives – or at least our thoughts and emotions – and send it on a different trajectory. I later said I was glad that call happened on a Friday arvo (TGIF!) as it gave us the whole weekend to process what it will all mean. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time. And happy. Not for us, but for Kiddo and Mic.

We went through the rest of the weekend in a bit of a frenzied but clear minded surge. We spent a wonderful evening with Ing Tung and Chin Moi over dinner at the Flavours of Mekong, then went home to watch a very exciting Fremantle v Richmond game. The Tigers botched two marks in the final 2 mins. The first went past the 30 second kick time and the other – a mark on the siren – had the young player inexplicably playing on. Either would have won them the game to break the 52-52 scoreline.

On Saturday it rained the whole day so we stayed home. I did some vacuuming, Tress cleaned the toilets and we then went out for lunch and did the groceries. I found a dry window to quickly walk the little fellow and later, cooked the doggies’ dinners. All the while, I had listened in on the Hawks’ decimation of the Kangaroos. Listening to Jack Gunston kick 5 goals the week after returning from his father’s passing, was something else. All those activities on a drab and grey day however, were like blurred background against thoughts and visions of what the future holds – for Kiddo and Mic, and to some extent, for Tress and I too. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time.

On Sunday at St Alf’s we had Tony Rinaudo speak of his work – we (especially Tress) have been deep admirers of Tony’s work in forest regeneration and what that brings to farmers and the environment. We’re certainly not alone, including a guy we stumbled across when we went to a dog park in Ringwood North to check out a relatively new facility the council there had built. That guy was the head of the department Tony worked in and had wanted to invite Tony to speak in his church. We spoke about Tony’s work and about the dog park. Later, we came home and I busied myself in washing and cleaning the Lexus and swapping it with the Mazda for the next few weeks. I also refueled both cars as petrol prices had abated from the recent high prices. Later, I cooked the week’s dishes before again joining Tress at the oval where she had started walking the little guy. It had been a warmer and very sunny day so it was great to just stroll around in the oval, having done all of the chores we had wanted to do over the weekend. Even so, the brighter day and sense of rest were again, like blurred background against thoughts and visions of what the future holds – for Kiddo and Mic, and to some extent, for Tress and I too. I haven’t felt so excited and hopeful for a very long time.

Changes, New Learnings.

Last Friday, we caught up with the Hii’s and Chew’s for dinner. We ventured a bit further and drove down to Clayton for some old-fashioned Malaysian goodness. We had to start later than our usual time (of 6/6.30) as the Hii’s needed to drop their older one off at church.

Jason had announced that he was accepting a separation package – sort of a retirement – so the dinner was to celebrate the occasion. At that dinner, Gerry also made an announcement of sorts – that he too was moving on. Hopefully he finds the new role more to his liking. The Hii’s have had a rough few weeks, as they’ve had visitors staying with them for an extended period and things got a bit hairy. I guess as long as we remain narcissistic, we’d think woe is us – when we focus on others, what little woes we thought we have, take on different shades.

There was another event on Saturday night – we went to the Victorian CMS branch dinner, which had an aboriginal theme. Titled “Deep Roots”, the focus was on the journey of CMS at the top end, and how the aboriginal community accepted CMS and its work. Wei-Han, the Victorian CEO relayed stories about aboriginal people being killed by stock men who were expanding their cattle stations. These aboriginal people found refuge with Christians. These accounts were both shocking and uplifting. The menu for the dinner was also aboriginal – we ate bush food. It was quite an educational event for Tress and I, and we ended up staying the whole night, which ended just after 10pm.

The next day was to be a final MCG home game for the Hawks but we had loads to do and we had been planning how to squeeze a few things in when we drove past Blackburn station and saw that bus replacements were on, so we promptly decided to ditch the game. I came to regret it as it was a better game for the Hawks, who got up well against West Coast Eagles. United did well too – beating Liverpool, Melbourne Victory and Crystal Palace – so on the sporting front, things went well. Yes, those United games were only pre-season friendlies but with United being where they are, it felt good to see a string of wins.

Yesterday, Alex dropped by (I was working from home) to have his son’s passport renewal signed. He had just dropped Li Har at the airport earlier – she’d be in Malaysia for a couple of weeks. We chatted a little bit and I was very happy to hear he’s started a role with an Australian operation of a large Malaysian property group. It’s strange that a friend is finishing a work journey while another is just starting his.

Tress (and Life as I want it) is back…

It was a very wet Saturday morning, again. I tried walking the younger fella and we didn’t get very far. Back home, I did some quick vacuuming as Tress organised the laundry. When that was “done”, we took it out to the local laundromat to use the drying machine. As we waited, we walked into an op-shop and wandered around. I then walked further up the street to a Sri Lankan food shop but it was only half-opened, with some renovation works going on. The other shops were all shut and although it was late in the morning (just after 11am) it felt deserted and lifeless. When the dryer stopped spinning and we headed home, I finished up the vacuuming, got cleaned up and we headed out. Tress had fulfilled the shopping lists of a couple of people so we were to drop off the second shopping harvest at A Hooi’s who had covid and was house bound. We just left the stuff at the front door and Tress messaged Ray, who was going to drop in to bring food for the family (Hooi, Marloney and Justin all had the bug).

The night before, we delivered the first of the two lists. Jason and Mel met us at the Mekong place and we caught up. Jason told us he was offered a severance package, that he accepted. He had been talking about retiring anyway so I guess the package was timely. He looked like he was still processing it but on balance, looked at peace. We were happy for them. It made me think of what I wanted to do, but I still have some ways to go before I’m at where Jason is now. The boss rang on Thursday anyway, and said they were revising my pay, as part of a financial year end adjustment. I wasn’t expecting it as my full year only comes up in about 3 months. My employer has been fair that way – seeing that inflation is the word most thrown around at this point in time, and the adjustment they gave me was a bit over the official inflation rate. I can’t possibly be thinking of retirement at this time, restful as it may sound.

On Sunday at St Alf’s it was a “Going Bananas” Sunday – the Sunday after the end of the winter school holidays program that run every year. Many kid were visibly excited and the atmosphere had a distinct “family” feel about it. So it was a bit of a strange Sunday for one of our old acquaintance to visit. Wilson is 85 years old (he told/reminded us over coffee after the service), and we had known him from our days at ICC (International Christian Community) Church. We bumped into each other a couple of weekends ago and he told me he was looking for a church. It was good to catch up with him.

Later that arvo, we did our usual Sunday things. We did our grocery shopping, I cooked, Tress did some weeding and we then took the little fellow out to the oval. It had turned sunny so it was a good end to the day/weekend. Made even better by a Hawks’ win at the Marvel Stadium, over the Crows. Mitch Lewis kicked 5 inside the first half, so it was quite the performance.

The press had been going on about the Wimbledon Men’s final, but like many Australians, I turned off and couldn’t be less interested, given the distasteful ways a certain Australian finalist had behaved. I told Tress two of the least liked players were involved (the Australian much more than the Serb, yes) so we just didn’t bother following that match. It turned out the usual implosion happened and the Serb went on to win. Next, please.

All that shows how life has returned to normal. It was always going to be great with Tress back.

Winter blues?

The oval across the street from our home is probably the most frequented spot for me at this time. I was having a casual chat with a guy on Saturday, and we did the polite thing and chatted only about the weather. We’re both of roughly the same vintage and we shared the view that it has been a cold winter so far. It’s only early July and it feels like winter has been here for a while. I don’t think I’ve suffered a worse case of winter blues.

I have just been off it – I feel tired, uninterested, restless and listless. I constantly asked the Lord what is it that is causing this and sometimes when I hear a podcast – particularly if I was listening to someone like Tim Keller – I feel I have an answer (of sorts) but soon, the tiredness and emptiness creep in again. May be it really is just winter blues.