You are God alone,
From before time began,
You were on your throne,
You were God alone..
And right now,
in the good times and bad,
You are on your throne,
You are God alone..

i just got back from my church retreat. it’s the first time i’ve properly sat down and looked at my church. gotten involved, talked to all the old people adults, served, taught, not sat by myself in a corner reading a book while eating at all the mealtimes etc. most of the time in church rebecca and i would be happily off by ourselves having breakfast after the service since the friendship/conversation anyone else in church can offer cannot match up. (she’s coming back the day after tmr!) you know you are getting old when you have to start asking the kids who their parents are since you are more likely to recognise their parents than the kids themselves – i had to lead discussion with some of the upper sec/poly girls since my bible study leader had to take the lower sec girls and i didn’t really know some of them. obviously i am better at communicating with older youths.. anyone below 14 can barely be considered human so i admire her for her patience. we watched a movie on fireproofing your marriage and talked a little about relationships and some of them have really funny opinions about that. when asked what are the top 5 things they look for in a guy, they would tell me he cannot drink, he cannot take drugs, he cannot smoke, he cannot gamble etc. which i think are rather low standards. it makes one wonder what their families are like, if they are so easily contented by a non-abusive spouse. my top 5 characteristics are:
1. he must be more/as spiritually mature than/as me so he’ll wind up teaching me more than i teaching him.
2. he must make me feel secure.
3. he must be more intelligent than me.
4. he must be funny.
5. he must accept me for who i am.
the girls were appalled at #3 since i have somehow acquired the reputation of being a semi-intelligent lifeform and they thought that would make things really difficult. it probably would, but i don’t want to end up with someone i am going to look down on or have to explain everything i say. he must get me just like that or it’d be too much effort. when asked when was a good time to start dating most of them thought 18-20 was a pretty good range, because one is supposedly more mature then and i told them not to count on it :) i barely think i’m ready – dating now means getting married in about 3-5 years which is a bit early, yes? can you imagine getting married at 25? i can’t. and i have so many issues that are yet unresolved, i’m not sure if it is better for me to grapple with them by myself or to share them with someone else and have to shoulder his issues as well.

the sermon sequence was based on the sermon on the mount (i.e. Matthew 5-7).. which is a bit overdone. the best part i felt was the hermeneutics workshop by pst henry who spoke on the proper interpretation of the Bible, how not to take verses out of context, etc. the girls didn’t like it much although i didn’t really think it was technical; they are just lazy to bother understanding things. he spoke about adoption in the bible, how we as christians are frequently described to be adopted by God, into God’s family, which is why we call ourselves children of God. Yet the modern understanding of adoption (find a kid at an agency if you can’t have children, etc.) is completely different from its biblical context, where if you couldn’t have kids and wanted them you could just pick them up off the streets. Adoption in biblical times was conducted typically when you were a wealthy businessman and had good-for-nothing biological offspring who were completely incapable of taking care of your estate, so you’d go out and find someone who could and adopt him as your son, so that your life’s work would not be squandered by your own progeny. so when you are adopted, you actually have more privileges and rights than the adopter’s blood relations – which is exactly how it is with Christ. God the Father adopted us and made His only Son pay for our sins, but only because we are clearly incapable of saving ourselves, not because of any incapability on Christ’s part. I was not previously acquainted with that nuance of my adoption by God, and i hope my church has more hermeneutics seminars in future.

i didn’t really think i’d be hanging out with anyone my age here since none of my friends (i.e. all one of them – rebecca) was going so i was prepared to stick it out with all my parents friends. they are interesting chaps in their own antiquated way. i had most of my meals with my parents and their friends (most of whom are already grandparents) were v. gd at feeding me! they all felt sorry that i had terrible chinese food to eat in the states and would be picking everything off the lazy susan and piling it on my plate. gotta love old people. and because my table consisted of adults who were all gluttons not unlike myself the other tables which had lots of kids and could not finish their food would donate food to our table, which was awesome. i had a chopsticks lesson on the art of holding chopsticks properly from aunty irene and got in the loop on which room to go to for beer (333) and which room to go to for peanuts (321). :D my mum converted some money and gave me a share, but we didn’t really go shopping (owing to worship practice on my part) and so i kept trying to drag my parents to the bar to spend my inheritance but they wouldn’t come with me. the sermons were carefully designed to clash with the happy hours (i’m only kidding of course we don’t drink). we did have a durian party on the last night though, with all the men trying to prove proving their manliness by hacking open durians with their bare hands for the ladies.

much to my surprise i did hang out with the young people. we had bridge parties on two nights which resulted in great sleep deprivation for me. i was staying with my parents but most of the young adults had shared a suite, so we all hung out in the guys’ suite and played everything from saboteur to mahjong. the bridge was floating of course, but some contract strategies can still be employed in floating. most of them were quite good, like samuel and adrian but joy seng didn’t bother with strategy lol so playing as his partner frequently gave me the illusion of kamikaze. quite a lot of people from my cg were there, so i wonder how many actually showed up for cg back in s’pore since james didn’t cancel it. it was funny to see all these guys turning in at 12am sharp every day and you could discern quite obviously who had all these important responsibilities in the retreat such that they had to sleep early, and who were the bums who could play until 3am and not have it affect anyone apart from themselves. :P such as i. i’m not sure if it affected my playing for worship today, but i must say i am really encouraged by all these faithful servants who have their priorities and their heart in the right place. i just needed my bridge fix because all my bridge/mahjong friends are dispersed throughout the world and i haven’t played in ages! you may not know this but i am a pretty good dealer. not neat, but fast. compared to the average in my church at least, and now they all think my ‘schooling at cornell’ was but a front for my secret job at a casino in vegas or like macau. they kept making me deal the cards which got a bit embarrassing after a bit because they’d all be staring at me deal and i don’t like being at the centre of attention. i mean i am egoistic but.. quietly egoistic. lol.

there was song writing competition for the retreat theme song before the retreat, and my mum asked me to participate but i didn’t because well, i was busy. or lazy, whichever. tis a fine line. anyway on the last night of the retreat the three ah jies presented their songs – three keyboardists in my church who play for worship, and who all took part in the competition despite being saddled with tonnes of really young kids/babies. lian si (one of them) asked me why i didn’t take part, since it was one of the things i can actually do with some aptitude (not in those words of course) and i told her that wasn’t really the sort of music that i write. i didn’t even write for the CD my church cut bout three years ago because.. i don’t know. it’s pop music, innit. and that’s hardly the sort of music i do. not to be derogatory or anything, it just isn’t. although i could probably do a pretty good job of editing the current songs church members have composed – the theme song that was chosen eventually by liang liang had some word setting that needed to be corrected since the accents weren’t falling at the right places although everyone was rather undiscerning forgiving about it (ok i guess the retreat hasn’t altered my snarkiness one bit). tian tian asked me if i was a better pianist than sebastian (she has a thing for seb given that he can sing and play the piano so well although he’s like a decade younger than her which makes it not a little bit disturbing lol) and i said i was. she was shocked at my brazenness but c’mon, if you ask a musician a question like that there are only 2 reactions – a real ‘no’ or one of those fudging-about pretenses at humility (which are completely disbelievable by the way given that you are a musician, the better part of your life consists of your showing off your skill to other people, quite obviously humility will be a foreign concept to you) where you claim that y’know, you can’t really compare people like that.. apples and oranges and that sort of thing. so i did away with all the fudge and gave her the unadulterated truth. she said i am going to be the next rising ah jie, which was a huge compliment. haha. although one of the defining characteristics of ah jies is their cloying kids. my mother kept trying to dump these babies on me when we were there in a valiant bid to induce some maternal instincts but it was like squeezing water from a stone. it was so difficult given that my bible study leader had two babies with her and i wanted to help her be less hassled but i didn’t want to give my mum any hope whatsoever by actually carrying one of them. that woman is already thinking of grandchildren, and believe you me, they won’t be from me. i can carry diaper bags, milk bottles, and inanimate objects in general far better than animate ones, so she really ought to perish the thought. gah.



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