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.

Tress’ mum’s 80th today

The above Chinese words (thank you, Google Translate) were on the card that accompanied some flowers we got Tress’ mum today. It’s her 80th. She’s a cancer survivor, and an immensely strong lady.

When Tress graduated from UNSW back in 1989 (I think), she went to Sydney for the event. On the night before she and Tress left Sydney to return to Malaysia, she sat me down, 1:1, and looked into my eyes and asked if I was serious with Tress. I was terrified but I couldn’t be more certain with my answer.

Happy birthday, mum.

And oh, here are those flowers.

Dark and Cold Weekend, Thank God for State of Origin…

Tress and I took a drive to Tulla airport last Friday night. Her flight out to KL would be late that night, but we left just before 7pm, after a quick bite at the Forest Hill Chase shopping centre. News of long waits had taken over headline press earlier that morning so we were hoping to get in a bit earlier.

I dropped her off, parked the car, and came back to join her in the queue for checking in. When she had done that, we said goodbye and I drove back home, listening to the appalling cave-in by Hawks, to the Doggies. The Hawks remain in rebuild phase, I guess.

I got home, let the boys out, and watched something on TV before retiring to bed, and be ready for a couple of weeks of being alone, while Tress spend some precious time with her family in Klang…

I slept in on Sat morning, then took the little one for a longish walk, before coming back to do some cleaning. The house got a thorough vacuuming, the sofa covers (old sheets to protect the furniture from the boys’ rough treatments…) got vacuumed and aired/sunned – it had been a sun filled morning for which I was very grateful. Several hours later, the house felt fresher (for now) and I washed up to head out for some grocery shopping later in the arvo.

The little one got another walk when I got back, then the boys got fed and I then (finally) put my feet up to wind down and go to bed.

On Sunday, at St Alf’s, it felt strange when people looked at me and thought “he’s alone”. Some knew Tress was going to be away and teased me about it (“hello batch”). I then had a chat with someone who is on the Board of SparkLit and continued our conversation about me becoming involved in some way.

The whole of Sunday was very grey and wet – I had been caught out when walking out of St Alf’s to the carpark, and got a bit drenched. So when I got home, I promptly cooked a soupy thing for myself – noodles with spinach and an egg, all in a heart warming bowl. I looked out the windows constantly and everytime I thought the rain would clear for a little bit, I headed out for a quick walk – I badly needed to be refreshed on such a dreary day, made worse by being alone… . The dark clouds hanged on interminably and the poor little guy constantly gave me looks to say he too, needed to go out for a walk, and so when there was a clear window of opportunity again, we both headed out and he got his walk – we headed back just as the rain returned, and we only had to deal with the last 50m or so in the rain. Thankfully, the older one is pretty ok without a walk.

Later that night, I had the tele on and realised the State of Origin Game 2 would be on. So I ditched the program Tress and I usually watched on Sunday nights. The glitzy cook show with frequent tear jerking moments, was parked while I took in the beating the Maroons had at the hands of The Blues. It’s always great to see NSW doing in Queensland. I had been a student in NSW in the late 80’s, when the likes of Wally Lewis and Allan Langer from Queensland battled ET (Andrew Ettinghausen) and Wayne Pearce of NSW. I mainly watch AFL now but for the State of Origin series, I make an exception and switch to NRL. That helped me deal with a cold night alone, at the end of a very dreary day. I was grateful for that…, as well as for having both the furry boys snuggle up close to me on the couch, on a fresh clean cover, seemingly without a care in the world as they wander away in dreamland.

30 Years – Love.

30 years today. Time really flies when you’re having fun.

30 years ago today, Tress and I got married. Last night, I said to her I can’t imagine what the love of Jesus for his church – His Bride – must be like, if my love for her is only a hint of Jesus’ love for His Church. If I think I love Tress so much, how great Jesus’ love for his church must then be.

How do I – how does one – respond to love this great? What part do I play for the church – His bride – to grow in its love for its groom? In response to such immense, incomprehensible love?

We were at the Glen shopping centre yesterday, for lunch and some grocery shopping. There was a photo booth of sorts, that has a “Love is love” board as a background for folks to take pictures. It’s “pride month”. If only this world would turn to the true love that Jesus, and the Father, demonstrates his church and this world.