Thursday, December 28, 2006

We're In Singapore

We left Melbourne at 12:50am this morning. The kids were very excited. Tom and Matt were pretty hyper but a dose of phenergan (is that how you spell it?) settled them down for a sleep on the plane.
We had a seven hour flight to Singapore and landed at 8am Melbourne time (4am in Singapore). It's now 6am local time and we're in the terminal having a coffee and Burger King. We depart here at 8:05am and head for Guangzhou.
Thomas, Kate and Matt enjoyed watching Open Season on their TV screens and the kids all had around 4 hours sleep. I can't say that Mum and Dad had that much. Matt had the window seat, then me and Thomas (on the aisle. Annette was on the next aisle across from us and Kate was next to her.
It's very muggy here (even with the air conditioning on). Hopefully I'll have another update when we land in Guangzhou.

Friday, December 22, 2006

5 Days Until China

Our whole family is flying to China on 28th December. We're travelling with 25 others from Balwyn Wesleyan Methodist Church to teach English, run medical clinics and help the churches in villages around Kaili and Jianhe (east of Guiyang in Guizhou province).
I'll try and give regular blog posts so you can hear what we're up to each day.

Christmas Day is Getting Close

It's so much fun celebrating Christmas with three young children. (See them proudly displaying their Christmas tree decorating ability) They get very excited about the family gatherings (they have nine cousins all around the same age), presents, and holidays. We try to keep the focus on the birth of Christ which is often difficult when they are bombarded with all the other aspects of Christmas from School and TV.
Each evening we go through an advent devotion called the Jesse Tree (from the root of Jesse will come...). We have readings from Creation (Genesis 1) through to the account of the birth of Jesus. Each reading, discussion and prayer identifies a key aspects of God's interaction with his creations and preparation for the coming of his Son. Annette made felt decorations (see left) with a symbol for each reading and each evening after our reading and prayer the children take turns to put the decoration on the tree. For those interested the 25 readings are:
1. Isaiah 11:1-2 Stump with branch
2. Genesis 1:26-32 The Earth
3. Genesis 3:1-19 Apple and Snake
4. Genesis 6:11-14; 7:17-18; 8:3; 9:8-13 Ark and Rainbow
5. Genesis 12:1-7 Camel and Tent
6. Genesis 21:1-7 Baby's Cradle
7. Genesis 22:1-14 Ram
8. Genesis 28:10-22 Ladder
9. Genesis 37:1-36; 50:12-21 Multi-coloured Coat
10. Deuteronomy 5:1-22 Tablets of Stone
11. Joshua 2:1-21 Rope
12. Ruth 1:15-2:3 Wheat
13. 1 Samuel 16:4-13 Horn with oil
14. 2 Samuel 5:1-5 Crown
15. Isaiah 9:2-7 Rose
16. 1 Kings 18:17-24, 36-39 Stones and Fire
17. Isaiah 11:6-9 Wolf and Lamb
18. Esther 4 Sceptre
19. Habbakuk 2:1-14 Watch Tower
20. Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah and Elizabeth
21. Matthew 3:1-6 Water
22. Luke 1:26-38 Love Heart
23. Matthew 1:18-25 Woodworking Tools
24. Luke 2:1-5 Sandals
25. Luke 2:6-21 Star

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saving $180- on a Car Fix

I've been surviving the past week without any Air Conditioning in the car. Not only no air-conditioning but no air at all. Using my trusty Gregorys Repair Manual I narrowed it down to the Fan Motor Resistor (or because my car has climate control the Fan Motor Amplifier). I'm sure most of you (like me) didn't even know your car had a Fan Motor Resistor.
So I called the local Holden Spare Parts and they wanted $195- for a replacement. I said, "You're dreamin'" - I didn't actually but that's what I thought.
So, I jumped on the web and did a search for "VR Berlina Fan Motor Resistor" and found that this is actually a common problem and people far smarter than me had already figured out a work around that would cost only $12- (and some time).
It involved taking the Fan Motor Resistor apart and replacing the transistor (see picture) inside. This involved removing the old one off a circuit board and soldering in the new one. I've never really done much soldering but I thought I'd give it a go to save $180-
I called my Dad and asked if I could use his workshop and he ended up helping me out as we tackled the changeover last night (thanks Dad). Apart from breaking a bit off the circuit board and having a couple of small pieces leftover we cranked over the motor and the A/C works - amazing.

Another issue has been that the heater/A/C fan has been noisy for a while and I have to apologise to passengers when the fan is on high speed. I had time to remove the glove box and check out what was making the noise. It was a serviette that had slipped out the back of the glovebox and was rubbing on the fan. It took all of 5 minutes to fix and yet I've been putting up with the noise for about 2 months.

A satisfying end to a few hours work. Not just saving the $180- but feeling good about actually making it work.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Simply Church

I've recently finished reading Simply Church by Tony and Felicity Dale who are part of House2House ministries. It's only a small book (around 100 pages) and a fairly easy read. Tony and Felicity have been involved in church planting and house church movements since the late sixties and have gathered their insights into this book.
A quote from pages 84-85 - "There is no question in our minds that God's intention is for the church to have a structure that enables each person to develop their full potential ... One of the consequences of this is that we have always had an emphasis on small groups. Small is beautiful! In the small group there is the potential for every person to tkae an active part in a meeting ... Does this means there is no place for the large gathering? Absolutely not! Big is beautiful too. There is nothing more inspiring than a large celebration of hunderds, if not thousands of people all worshipping the Lord together. We see in the early church the disciples not only met together from house to house but also in the temple. We know that the apostles taught not just in people's homes, but also in the larger context of the temple courtyard, the synagogue and the hired hall. Some may ask, with this emphasis on the small group, what becomes of the kids? Too often the children are kept out of church meetings as being the "church of tomorrow," when actually they are the church of today. In our experience, the kids play a vital part, particularly in any times of worship. The kids will frequently start a song, or pray for those needing prayer, when they are allowed to participate. We have often seen their contribution bring the Spirit of the Lord directly into a meeting in such a way as to totally change the course of that meeting. The Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons - not by age or gender."

Mimos Missional Church

My family and I have been part of a new church in Melbourne since the start of 2006. Mimos (which is Greek for imitate) seeks to be followers of Christ supporting each other in living out Christ's love in our communities. We come from all parts of Melbourne and meet together at a central location - the Stolberg Beer Cafe in Preston - twice a month. One of those meetings is a "service" where we gather for teaching, corporate worship, communion, prayer, and encouragement. The teaching is usually dialogical with discussion and application. We have a strong focus on scripture, prayer, involvement and accountability. We try to include a lot of tangible elements to our gathering times and although each of our services includes music we rarely have corporate singing. We are multigenerational and include the children as much as possible getting them to participate in discussion, reading, and prayer.
The other monthly gasthering is discussion based usually around one or more Scripture passages and includes intercessory prayer. Every time we meet as a larger group we have a meal together - this is intentional.
The alternate weeks we meet in our own neighborhoods (either with other Mimosers in our area or as family units) for worship. The weeks in our neighborhood have a missional focus either getting involved in community life or having a community family to your house.
We have intentionally minimised the amount of time we are together to place more emphasis on being incarnational in our local communities. New people will come into the group through the neighborhood meetings.
We want to support each other in being real followers of Christ seeking to honour him with our lives.