Thursday, December 28, 2006

405 at Urbana 06

It's Wed at St Louis. At 9 am we load our exhibition gear in the cold mid-west weather onto our passenger van at the Marriott Airport. We stop to grab a quick breakfast at a fastfood place (Jack in the box). Then we're off to downtown and see the landmark 'Gate to the West'. Its just next to where we going - America's Center convention hall. We eventually locate the exhibitors' unloading bay. This place is totally huge. We wander across 18 monstrously huge aisles. We find booth 405.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Our Last Week

The days are short and they are cold. When we got here it was quite hot but not anymore. We are adjusting to the climate. Then Deb said on Wednesday, "I'm beginning to get used to people here." I felt the same way too but this is our last week here. Here's the story of the final week.

Dinah and I wanted to go for a jog on Sat but it rained. This is the second time we have seen rain. It hardly rains here. Jason and Emmy came to take the twins to a birthday party for one of the church kids. Dinah and I speak with Dee from Seattle. Once Jason and Emmy brought the kids back, we had dinner out. It rained again.

Dinah preached at the pre-Christmas service. After service, I met with the church admin team leaders as Dinah conducted a training for service leaders. Then we met Chai and Crystal as usual. We led the DMM and at 8:45 pm we left for a quiet family dinner.

Mon started with a conference call with Dave Tucker from Michigan. We're doing a seminar together in Urbana '06. Then there was a call with David from Chicago. Next was time with Angela (Hope Irvine), Betty, Lee and Cynthia (all from LA) at Camarillo city out in Ventura county. This is north of LA county. We had a great time despite the 10 degree temperature. Later I had a conference call with Elaine from Singapore. But I had to pump the washroom later. Well this is something I won't miss.

Tue was another fun day. We drove 2 hours to San Diego. All of us enjoyed SeaWorld though San Diego seemed colder than LA. We hope to come again in future.

I had to rework my Urbana '06 seminar on Wed. Though it's been 5 weeks but four people in a studio is not conducive. Dan was playing his cello, Deb was reading whilst Dinah and I are working on our notebooks. Also this getting dark early, the dryness and the cold does require getting used to. Night time was our farewell dinner at Lee's place. The steam boat was nice. The church leaders gave very moving testimonies even about the twins. We've made some good friends out here.

Thur was the day Dinah and the twins hoped to fly back to join Christmas services in Singapore. Their wait listed seats just did not materialise into firm seats. We are thankful for confirmed seats on Christmas day itself. Today the twins were in a local school at Fullerton city. Lin got her principal and administrator to okay this. She said this has never been done before. Dinah and I could wrap up some work. There was corporate prayer then I had a conference call with our Urbana '06 team.

The twins were in school on Fri too. They were nervous yesterday but they were just fine today. For us there was follow up from last night's conference call. Then we spent time with the student leaders - Derek (from Singapore), Pao and Cynthia. Later we started preparing for Christmas eve service this Sunday.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hang of Things

It's been 4 weeks. We're beginning to get the hang of things. We're beginning to understand the road systems better. I'm getting lost less. I'm beginning to like not perspiring much. Here's an account of week four.

Sat was LA church leaders retreat. It was a day of dicussions on 2007 ministry. It was quite fun. Before we left, Jason and Emmy gave us home cooked food. Back at the studio we enjoyed their delicious cooking. Later William called from Vancouver. The rest of the evening was spent preparing for tomorrow.

Dinah led the Sunday service well before I preached. Next Dinah conducted a workshop for couples as I met with the kids ministry leaders. Suddenly Dan came running with a bleeding nose and we had forgotten to bring his nasal medication from Singapore. Thankfully the bleeding stopped after a while. Following was a session with Chai and Crystal before the church leadership meeting. We came out at 8:30 pm and Crystal has a warm dinner dinner prepared. So we ate together before leaving.

Mon started with Dan unwell. We prayed for him and decided to spend time at the nearby Knotts Berry Farm rather than going to San Diego.

Dan's temperature got higher on Tue. We had to cancel our appointment with a senior pastor of a local church here. We drove out to get porridge. Later Chris Ward called from Seattle. At night the kids joined Dinah as she taught the women's group while I taught the men's group.

Dan was better on Wed but I got a sore throat. The day started with a conference call with Peter and Linda from Leithbridge, Canada. Then JR called from Seattle as the twins enjoyed a DVD movie. At night we spent time with Hadi and Maria at their place till late.

We were meant to leave LA on Thur. Our leaders have asked us to extend. First Lee accompanied us to extend the car rental. The journey took 1 hour. The new company offered the exact same car - Chevy Malibu. We had lunch afterwards. After lunch the short journey back took a whole hour. We were exhausted but needed to go to care group in North Hills. On the way the GPS insisted we take a ramp onto a highway that was closed. It kept making us turn back to the same ramp. This 90 min journey made us very late. Eleven persons waited for us (if you don't count a bunch of toddlers and infants).

We had Friday to ourselves because Nancy couldn't make it. We drove out and had Carl's Junior burgers for the first time. Later we spent time with Jason and Emmy. We're beginning to feel that we're more oriented after 4 weeks here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rush Hour

We've been here 3 weeks. More meet-ups and conference calls are still being added. The tough part isn't the discussions, planning, ministering or counselling. It's the commuting. LA traffic drains you. It ravenously consumes time each day. Here is the story of week 3.

We spent Sat with Annie before meeting Chai and Crystal. Then we go to their place to meet with the Unit Leaders. Then driving back I turn into the oncoming traffic (the first time). Praise God there were no cars coming behind me when I backed out.

The next day Dinah and I met Ronald, a member from Singapore church. After service Dinah and I did workshops for the parents and the worship team respectively. This was followed by the Care Leaders meeting. Later Dinah and I helped the leadership team. All this time Deb practices at the church piano. Finally we enjoy dinner with Cynthia. As we return we try out the replacement GPS. This one uses "yards" just when we were getting used to the previous one which spoke in terms of "feet".

On Mon we go off to Legoland. This resort is more for younger kids. At least the drive there was scenic.

Tue starts with a conference call with JR from Seattle. Next we meet with the Vineyard International missions director. In the evening Dan and I go to the men's group as (Deb and) Dinah teaches at the women's group.

On Wed, Vern calls from Seattle. We try to cook but our stove doesn't heat properly. Next we drive to Irvine to meet with an executive from Assembly of God South Cal. We drive again to meet Jason and Emmy Betts and then we join their care group.

We get stuck 1 hour in rush hour on Thur. Never go on freeways from 7-9 am! We are late for Sam and Sung. Later it was good to speak with Dee from Seattle. Next we drove almost 1 hour to the west side of LA to meet James and Christine. Then we drive to Irvine and got stuck in trafic for 2 hours. Never travel on the freeways between 5-7 pm! We spent some time with Al and Doreen.

Fri sees us have a quiet breakfast. Next we get the maintenance guy to replace the stove. Later Lee brought us shopping for gifts. Tonight is the first night that we are in. We recover from weeks of driving up and down this huge metropolis. Tomorrow marks 3 weeks of serving here.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Still Adjusting

We've been here for two weeks. We're still adjusting to the size of this place. Metropolitan LA has 10 million people and California state has 36 million. There's just so much commuting here. We're adjusting to the meal portions and the cost of living here. Our skin is adjusting to the dryness. Ministry is picking up though. We're adjusting to the church. It's different in a smaller church. I'm also adjusting to pumping washrooms.

Here's an account of our week two. Dinah awoke on Sat dreaming about Singapore. Probably homesick? Bible Conference resumed in the morning of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In between sessions I caught up with James Loke, Nancy from Thai care group and the youth members. The guys won the team building games. After the conference the GPS malfunctioned on the way back. We figured out the freeways but got lost on the roads nearer Arcadia. We finally get home and we pray for Dinah who is feeling sick from our late nights.

Sunday was cold. Dinah travelled with the twins to preach in Hope Irvine church. It was great to see a Latino convert in LA church. It was great to lunch with Hadi, Maria and their son Joshua. They are old friends from Solo, Indonesia. The rest of today was spent with university leaders, followed by the church leaders preparing for 2007 ministry.

This week, the church here blessed us with a two-day Disney passes. Needless to say, the twins enjoyed themselves at "The Happiest Place On Earth" - the tagline of Disneyland.

We met with more Hope LA church leaders one-on-one. We also spoke with external leaders. We spoke with the Cal state churchplanting leader for the Southern Baptists and met with an associate professor from Fuller Seminary.

Dinah and I joined the Thai care group on Thu morn. We also visited a church in LA city with Chai.

Friday evening, I preached at the students service as Dinah joined the young adult care group. When we got back, the toilet bowl is stuck again. It's back to more pumping.