Salvos Fete, Social Media and New Shades

People often talked about Melbourne being a 4-seasons-in-a-day city. The weather here can change very quickly. Yesterday it was a very warm 28deg, and the clear blue skies and gusty conditions made it feel like we were in the middle of summer. This morning when I left home it was just under 8deg and it had been raining overnight. It felt closer to winter, though nowhere near as cold. The contrast told me for the umpteenth time, that Melbourne indeed is a city which can produce very different weather conditions within a very short period of time.

Last year around this time, it was bucketing down on a Saturday when the Manningham Salvation Army was having its annual fete. This year however, the fete enjoyed sunny conditions for the most part. Tress had been coughing badly last week and when the coughs persisted through Friday night, she told me, early on Saturday morning, that she’d stay home and away from the fete.

I woke early on Sat morning – just on 6.30am – and got ready as I was meant to get to the Salvo’s ground on Taunton Street, pick up the 12-seater, and head towards Blackburn Station to pick up a bunch of student volunteers who were meant to work on the fete. Just as I was about to head out however, I took a call from the coordinator of the students. None of them were coming. Apparently, the exams starting this week were getting to them. I asked the coordinator to ring Doug the gentlemen managing human resources for the fete.

When Tress heard the students weren’t coming, she resolutely got changed, and then headed out with me to Manningham. We got there just on 8am, and got busy straight away.

The weather held out – there were even long sunny spells – and it was a much better fete than last year. Around 10am I picked up a bunch of folks from a home on Elgar Road. Most of them I remember from last year, and a couple of them said to me they remembered me too, which was nice. Elgar Home provides residential care for people with mental health issues and it was good to take them out to enjoy the fete for the day. Last night Tress suggested we visited them periodically, maybe on Sunday arvos. That sounds like a great idea to me so hopefully something works out.

The fete finished up just after 3, and after helping with the cleaning and clearing up, Tress and I ducked into a Coffee Club place for a much needed cuppa. We got home just after 4pm and I said to Tress since I was a bit messy already, I might as well do the lawns, which had look like they had been on steroids. The “feed-n-weed” tonic I administered at the start of spring seems to have done its job.

The catcher filled up frequently and the cut lawn looked much neater after that and I cleaned up, we got to a nearby local shopping square, picked up some wine and takeaway, and went back home to finally put our feet up, just after 6pm. Channel 7 has been screening the Star Wars franchise in the lead up to “The Last Jedi” in December and “Revenge of the Sith” made its turn as we wound up Saturday.

We had spent Friday night with J & M our friends again, and during the day when we were exchanging emails, we said we’d pamper ourselves. We did that on Friday, as we rocked up to nice local restaurant, ate really nice food (the pork belly entrée was superb), drank good wine and had wonderful conversations. We were there from about 6.45pm and didn’t leave till almost 10pm. Yesterday (Sunday) as Tress was catching up on social media entries, she saw J&M tagged on pics taken in a home cookout. The host was a near stranger to us, and we had talked about how we made connections via a facebook group we were all part of. It was very strange to visit the home of someone we never met and only knew the existence of, via some social media groupings. But there you have it – J&M were at their home, enjoying the company of several other people and the hospitality of that host.

Yesterday after St Alf’s Tress and I went to pick up Tress’ new glasses. Kiddo had messaged us the day before, with her new glasses and sunnies so it was kind of strange – we’re all doing the same thing. It’s partly the season I guess – with longer sunnier days ahead. I too have been looking around for ways to keep my eyes protected against the harsh Aussie sun, as my multifocal prescription glasses meant my options are limited. At the optometrist where Tress picked up her glasses I told the optometrist and his assistant my problem. After looking at some options, I decided to get prescription multifocal sunnies. It’s all paid for now, and I pick them up in 1-2 weeks. I’m not sure if Mic got new sunnies too – if he did we’ll all be in new eyewear when we make that road trip over the Christmas break. Cool…

Last night I had to wake up a couple of times – the first time was just after 1am and then again, about an hour later. For some reason, my ankle – the one I rolled in Phillip Island a few weeks ago – got very sore again. I took a cox (Arcoxia) but felt the soreness through the night. I missed my exercises this morning and played with the idea of staying home but I’ve been taking the odd day off for the last couple of weeks – albeit all for fair dinkum medical reasons – so I thought I’d give it a go. It feels as though I’m hobbling across the line to finish the year. If I do, I’d at least be grateful I managed to even get across the line as it has been such an(other) unpredictable year, work wise, for me.


OPM (“Other People’s Money”)

Margaret Thatcher famously said the problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.

With the last of the HR person asked  to leave at the end of August, we – the legal team – have been picking up various HR tasks. We’ve just managed to settle a “general protections” claim which had some ugly allegations so that was good. More on the peripherals were – are – a couple of work cover claims.

A lawyer appointed by an insurance company covering work cover claims has been liaising with me to defend a claim brought by an employee who hasn’t been to work for nearly a year. We had overpaid her for several months and yesterday, the lawyer asked if we wanted to seek offsets against any award which may be made against us.

I thought the question curious. In my mind, that is a no brainer. Of course we wanted to offset the over-payments against any award. The lawyer’s tone however, suggested that wasn’t always the case. I said to her we surely must seek offsets because it wasn’t my money – or any other persons’ safe the company’s – to waive away. I said to her (the lawyer) that it was “company money” and we have to seek recovery or offsets.

Even as I said that, I was reminded of an old colleague – back during Phileo days – who uttered those words frequently. “It is company money” was the mantra which justified his frugality and insistence that those with expense accounts acted responsibly and with restraint.

I’m reading a book kiddo gave me for my birthday. Judith Brett.s biography on Alfred Deakin took a while (50 pages?) to warm up to but I’m enjoying it now. A near 500 page mini tome, I’m about half way and this morning I read he and a few other pioneers of Federation went to London to seek imprimatur for the draft Constitution (“the Bill”). They were in London for 3 months and each were given £1,000 for expenses. Deakin returned to Australia with over £450 unused (and returned to the public purse) whereas Barton and Kingston each had cabled back for more money and ended spending £1,500 each. Brett went on to write about how Barton and Kingston both were justified in their expenses – albeit they did dine and wine freely – but Deakin stood out as someone you could trust with other people’s money. Much like Ng Seng Hin, the Finance Director in Phileo back in the 1990’s and my erstwhile colleague.

David Leyonhjelm’s 4 types of spending comes to mind (1 – spending MY money for MY purpose; 2 – spending MY money for OTHERS’ purpose, 3 – spending OTHERS” money for MY purpose, and 4 – spending OTHERS’ money for OTHERS’ purpose).  No prizes for working out which is the worst sort of spending and how our country has come to stew in the juices of public debt.

If only the likes of Deakin and Ng Seng Hin were running the finance of more people…

Break and Justice

We were at my favourite local Italian joint on Friday night, together with the Hipos and Chews. After dinner we went to the Hipo’s which is just around the corner, and had drinks. Gezza served up some really good scotch and it was a great way to end the week.

The next morning, I prepped the stuff Tress had bought the previous day. We were going to bring a potato salad to Ruth and Jonathan’s, for the latter’s birthday. Woodend is a good 1.5 hours away so we started prepping and cooking earlier and left home just after 10.30am. We spent the day at their little farm, got to know some of their other friends, and generally enjoyed a day out in the country. I had picked up a polo for Jon a week and a half earlier and it seemed to fit him. We left just after 4, and got home in time to walk the little fellow for a bit.

On Sunday we heard a guy called CB Samuel, who is in Melbourne for the Justice Conference organised by TEAR. We’ve come to know Matthew Maury over the past 3-4 years. Matthew is the National Director of TEAR Australia and he has known CB for some time. CB spoke about national and systemic justice, and said God cared about those things – it is the character of God to care about justice and so we should too. I don’t think anyone disagrees with that. I guess the question may be what constitutes injustice. Many are very clear-cut black and white issues and clearly there is injustice. Many others however, are what social activists may label injustice but which can also be characterised, perhaps, as outcomes which aren’t favourable to certain groups of people. He alluded to Adani’s proposed coal mine in Queensland and suggested that wasn’t right. I believe that is in the latter basket, where I think the jury is still out.

What was clearer to me however, was our – my – consumption practice. He suggested we don’t think enough about our consumption. That may be an Australian problem at this time. Perhaps, given the trajectory of Australian spending on areas like welfare, that problem would not hound future generations who may be forced to simpler lifestyles simply because Australia will cease to be a wealthy country.

We had lunch in Doncaster, bumped into Jason and Mel, and later when doing grocery shopping, we teed up coffee with them. We had a wonderful catching up, just sitting down and chatting. Back home I did the usual cooking, Tress did some much needed vacuuming, and we ended the day in front of the idiot box, with Tress nursing a worsening cold. I’m counting the days to the next long weekend, when Tress and I are planning to go away to some place not too far away. We both need that little break.

Glorious sun

I don’t recall a spring weekend quite like the one we just had. Weather wise, that is. Two gorgeously mild and sunny days meant I spent hours upon hours just working outdoors, pottering around the front, side and back of the house. I trimmed the hedges on the back, removed a James Sterling breakaway on Sharon’s side of the fence – it had climbed sideways and then headed skywards, probably 3 meters tall – trimmed the front hedges, mowed the lawns, swept everything and… I wanted to do more but we had other errands to run, after Tress went for a regular dentist’ checkup, so we stopped late in the arvo, got a late lunch and did the groceries. We came back, took the little fellow to the oval to milk the gorgeous day’s remainder hours before ending the day in front of the idiot box, watching United’s goalless visit to Anfield.

On Sunday I continued working on the garden, putting in nutrients and weed killers, after doing some edging manually with a pair of shears and my bare hands for the most part. It was another glorious day and we talked to the neighbours just across the house, on the parklands on the edge of the oval.

It was more somber earlier in the day when in the morning, we received news of the passing of a member of St Alf’s. Pam Lawrence had gone away to a town in the Gippsland – Coolamatong – with her husband Andrew a little while ago. to do some work in a camp. She had been a nurse in Bali years ago and witnessed the horrible bombing and that may have left scars which may have led to her demise. Mike told the 10am group that she was found in her car with the bible opened on her lap. After the service I turned to Tress and said perhaps the “Are you ok” days really are very important. We just don’t know the depths to which some people can plunge and I hope all they need is the knowledge that people care. The engagement I had stopped taking for granted, is so crucial to provide hope and meaning to the daily grind, potentially laborious burdens which may have been speckled, perhaps, by past experiences which can just take hold of one’s mind.

So this morning as I woke to mentally take notes of my tasks at work today, I continue to be grateful for the here and now. I have work to attend to, as I left a warm home, made lovingly live-able by Tress which made me want to return to each day. The little fellow is an object of our love and kindness and he returns the affection in spades. We have things to look forward to – Kiddo and Mic’s visit over Christmas, our trip together after that and closer, the long weekend with Tress in a few weeks. Even closer, Jon’s birthday way yonder in Woodend this weekend and the Salvos’ fete the week after. And, this Thursday, there’s a talk by Jude Long, the principal of the Nungalinya College in Darwin. All of these can turn pretty quickly if not for the glue that holds it all together – the knowledge that our lives make sense when seen in the light of who God is and what He is doing. I know that wouldn’t change in a hurry – and the father of lies will continue to chip away, which means I need to stick to my routine of reading what He says about who He is and what He is doing.

That last thought has just reminded me of a CS Lewis saying about the glorious sun which light and warmth I have enjoyed so much these past 2 days. Lewis said ““I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” There but for the grace of God go I…

A good friend and I exchanged emails re woes of Aus, earlier today…

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ian Teh
Date: 10 October 2017 at 14:03
Subject: Fwd: Euthanasia article in The Age today
To: (Tress)

FYI – I fear for Australia.

There is every chance that schools like St Andrews’ (xxx’s school) and Brindabella Christian College (Christian school in Canberra) will be prohibited to teach basic Christian principles like complementarity of a male and female universe.

If that happens, what can Christian parents do to bring up their kids in biblical ways? We might not have the freedom to do that.


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ian Teh
Date: 10 October 2017 at 13:59
Subject: Re: Euthanasia article in The Age today
To: Jason Chew

articulate = BS? 😂😂

I think if our kids have half the chance to go to a place like Singapore/HK, they should be given every encouragement they can get. It’s not so fair on them because in many ways, those countries are harder to live in/raise a family (takes more effort) than here where things are more laid back (relatively speaking of course – it still takes blood sweat and tears to bring up a family)


On 10 October 2017 at 13:54, XX wrote:

I am not as articulate and my ideals are not as high as yours but the goings on everyday directly and indirectly just irks me more and more! YYY kept telling me to just be patient and bear with it.

Your last paragraph resonate well …

On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:43 PM, Ian Teh wrote:

i still get why people want to leave Malaysia. Things have only gotten worse since we left, so all those reasons for leaving only amplified, not diminished.

It’s just that I’d hesitate to encourage them to leave to come to a place like Australia, if they take into consideration their kids’ faith journey. Australia is as negative (if not worse) than Malaysia in that regard, given what has happened in the last few years.

Starting over is the price one pays to provide a better chance for the family, but not sure about how better that chance is in terms of faith journey.

We’re staying because God willing, we are old enough and have seen enough to know what Australia is experiencing is the devil – and sin – playing out its role in full flight. But if kids get immersed in this environment, there is so much more rubbish to impede their spiritual development. I dont know how our kids are going to bring up their kids in this environment.


On 10 October 2017 at 13:30, XX wrote:

We feel the same. We met a new’ish migrant from Malaysia on Sunday and wondered why?! Why when you are doing OK and you uproot to come here and start all over again.

Anyway we feel kinda stuck here as well because of the kids and how we want to be near them…not necessarily reciprocal feeling haha

On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:03 PM, Ian Teh wrote:

haha. Good on you.

I’m here to stay. For now at least (and the foreseeable future), Malaysia is a place I cannot see myself living in. Thankfully I don’t have growing kids to worry about anymore.

But I would/could no longer unhesitatingly encourage people to leave Malaysia to come over here.


On 10 October 2017 at 13:00, XX wrote:

You know what bro. I was saying the exact same thing to YYY yesterday and today – to the extent of buying an apartment in KL “just in case I go insane here” !

On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 12:52 PM, Ian Teh wrote:

I was talking to G…M…P (MMM’s wife) during the church camp and she told me about a Sarawakian doctor who worked with her. That doctor and his family were considering migrating to Aus and she asked him which place offered the better chance of securing a strong foundation for his children’s faith formation.

The clear answer was Sarawak.

Yesterday I was saying to T.. that if I were to make a decision today, knowing what I do now of Australia, I wondered what my decision might be.

Australia is such a godless society now (even anti-Christian), bringing up kids in this environment is probably as negative as bringing them up in the Malaysian context.


On 10 October 2017 at 12:36, XX wrote:

St Alf’s Camp 2

Last Friday I took up an offer from the boss to take the day off. I sort of worked from home in the morning, and in the arvo, we got ready for the St Alf’s camp at Phillip Island. I picked Tress from work after 1pm and we went for lunch in a Japanese place near our home. We then got home, packed, dropped the little fellow at a dog sitter, and then drove off to camp.

The traffic along the M1 was very heavy and we didn’t get to the camp site till well after 6pm. The next 2½ days were filled with lots of conversations with people we seldom get the chance to talk to, as well as the excellent (albeit expected) teaching from Paul Barker, a Bishop in the Melbourne diocese.

Some of those conversations I caught were over a long walk through the Woolamai Cape on Phillip Island. It was a 7km trek starting from the Woolamai beach, trekking up towards several lookout points. On the way down from one of those points, while talking to Prosper, a Rwandan who moved to Australia nearly 20 years ago, I stepped on a mound of sorts and rolled my left ankle. It was painful for a few minutes but I tried to walk it off and for a while, it felt like I succeeded. We returned to the campsite before 5pm, and that night over a session of fun quiz, I didn’t feel any discomfort.

The next morning however, the ankle became very sore and I could barely walk. I took an anti-inflammatory, applied some volteran gel which I providentially brought along, and managed the pain somewhat but it wasn’t reduced enough for me to ask Tress to seek out Peter, the senior minister, to get someone else to do the communion assistant task which he (Peter) had, the night before, asked Tress and I to help out with.

The camp wound up a bit after 1pm, and we made our way back to Melbourne, picked up the little fellow, and went home a bit after 4pm. I stayed home yesterday for the foot to recover better, and it was good to just sit out the day before returning to work today.

Being back at work today, after 4 days off, felt a bit unusual. Maybe it was because I still limped around with a less than perfectly healed ankle. Perhaps more likely the cause, is the sense that somehow, the workplace feels very stripped down, with less and less people. My boss and his team appears to be taking on more tasks as people from across the business leave.

St Alf’s Camp

Paul Barker

Church Camp 6-8 Oct 2017

Talk 1 – Sat 10am
Deuteronomy 4:32-40

 • Deuteronomy is full of “seeing”

 • Our needs for the visual representation of the divine

 • God asks, directs, us to listen – to heed.

 • Hearing the voice of God appears to trump seeing him. 

 • God’s presence is to be engaged by listening to his word being read out to his people, not by experiences such as a pilgrimage. 

 • Israel’s listening, heeding, and obeying the law – God’s word – informs the rest of the world how to engage with God.

 • Christian living needs to also inform the world how to engage with God   

 • His people keeping his laws should be an attraction to the world. 

 • “Take care and watch yourselves” (see 4:9) – obedience of his laws is hard. Disobedience comes much more easily. 

 • v32. God is incomparable – and he has spoken to his people. 


Paul Barker

Church Camp 6-8 Oct 2017

Talk 2 – Sat 11.45am
“What will the neighbours think?”
Deuteronomy 9:7-29
 • We dislike injustice. But beware self righteousness in dealing with injustice

 • Dilemma of justice and mercy

 • God gave Israel the land not on merit. God kept his promise – the Abrahamic covenant – and executed his plans to bless the world through Israel. 

 • Even at Horeb (Mt Sinai) the awful sin – of idolatry- corrupted Israel. 

 • Where the covenant was to be consummated. 

 • God disowned Israel as a result of idolatry 

 • v26 – Moses’ prayer = model prayer. Seeking God’s promise to be kept. Pray according to God’s promises – know the promises (Scriptures) well. 

 • Success for Israel is hope for the world – driver for Moses’ prayer

 • Let the neighbors see – through his people – that You are God, so prayed Moses. 


Paul Barker

Church Camp 6-8 Oct 2017

Talk 3 – Sun 10.30am
Deuteronomy 28:1-14
Blessed to be a blessing
 • Danger of passage being used for prosperity gospel

 • Works theology – deeds to earn God’s favour 

 • Hearing and heeding God’s word in response to his grace

 • Context – ancient Israel. “You Israelite” as a nation. Blessing to the nation of Israel 

 • Related to promises to Abraham. Through Israel being blessed by being under God’s law, others will see who God is, and fear him. 

 • Fertility- attack on fertility gods of Canaan

 • Verses 15-68 however, talk about curses if Israel disobeys God

 • Amos 4, famine yet Israel did not turn to God

 • Famine = curses of the covenant set out in Deut 28:15ff

 • Ignorance of God’s word leads to failure to repent

 • How intersect with us here today

 • We are children of Abraham, we are Israelites. 

 • But we don’t live in Canaan – what is our land? Heavenly inheritance. Hence blessings are heavenly. 

 • Language of blessing changes in the NT – about seeing God, about belonging to the kingdom of heaven. (E.g. Beatitudes in Matt 5ff)

 • Curses – taken by Jesus on the cross

 • Not works righteousness but God’s grace in Jesus


Tigers, Lighter Days Ahead

A weekend of manic footy activities saw the end of the footy seasons – the AFL south of the Riverina and NRL over across on the north side. The Tigers got up and Punt Road was rocking from Saturday night. Although I spent a few years in Sydney, I never latched on to the rugby league and so I was surprised that I sat through the grand finale last night. I guess it was the fairy tale swan song for the triumvirate of Melbourne Storm which interested me. The retiring trinity of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk didn’t disappoint as they turned on their magic to beat the Cowboys.

Over in Melbourne, the Grand Final meant a long weekend. Daniel Andrews came into government and introduced the Friday off from 2015. On Friday, I took advantage of the day off and did loads of work cleaning and tidying the outside of the house. On Friday it was trimming the James Stirling so that the 7-foot green wall is now a close cropped picture of tidiness, mowed the lawn, swept the deck, porch and driveway and mulched a bit of the front area. I finished up by washing Tress’ car as we’d probably use it for the St Alf camp later this week.

The next day – Grand final day – I got into Bunnings a bit after 7, and got some more mulch and stuff to scrub down the deck. I couldn’t clean the deck properly the day before so I thought some specialist cleaning stuff may help. So while Tress went to see Simon the hairdresser I gave the deck a good scrub, did some more mulching and when Tress got home we got cleaned up and went out for lunch and some shopping – getting stuff done before the opening siren for the Tigers’ quest for their first flag in 37 years.

During shopping while at the checkout a Chinese lady cut in across in front of us, from the checkout line next to ours. I looked at Tress and said to her I couldn’t believe that lady just did that. I started complaining about what she did, getting louder as my anger built up. That lady finally turned around and would you believe it, started getting defensive and when I said she didn’t even say sorry or anything she muttered something like she’s saying sorry now. I confronted her more and asked her not to do that ever again (which she said that was the first time she did that. Ok…). I hope I made her so uncomfortable she would never do that ever again.

We got home, sang along with Mike Brady’s “Up There Cazaly”, watched the exciting game, and then after the game took the little guy to the oval and joined the boys and girls who were doing some kickabout. It was a grey day but Grand Final day – even when your team is not involved – is always special.

We also caught up with the Hipos and Chews again on Friday night. As we all had the day off, we decided to trek to Bentleigh for some Malay food. The nasi kandar Tress and I had was very good and everyone enjoyed their food. It was a long drive and as good as the food was, I wasn’t sure we’d be back anytime soon. I just tend to look for the nearer option. I don’t know if that is just reflective of my propensity for the convenient solution, as opposed to quality solution, or simply that where food is concerned, I don’t think it is important enough for me to trek outside a certain distance.

At St Alf’s yesterday Mike had a chat on stage with an Iranian migrant. His wife and he were Muslims from Iran, became Christians when they were still there, came here some 15 years ago when his wife attended Monash Uni and he now works with an Iranian congregation just up the street from St Alf’s. It was a compelling story.

I did my cooking yesterday as Tress took the little fellow out again, and in the evening as I sat to watch the Storm swarmed over the Cowboys, I started a countdown of sorts. It’s now October, daylight saving just started and I’m again looking forward to the summer, especially over Christmas when Kiddo and Mic will visit and we’d go for a road trip of sorts.