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An Imperfect Reflection

Today was a rather eventful day. Kieron came home last night and told me about a preacher he saw at the Mall. For those of you not from the U of A, the mall is a large grass patch in the middle of the University. I saw that preacher today, and stood there a while to listen to what he had to say. He had a large video camera on him, and a microphone and speakers. He had quite a large audience seated before him. What he said wasn't wrong, it was logical, and in tune to what the bible says. He offered an intellectual argument that Christianity was right, that there was a God. He got his share of opposition from members of the audience, but he did manage to logically pull it off, rebutting them point for point.
The truth of God will stand the test of time, I have no doubt about that. Jesus did say that not a single dot will be erased from the bible. I agreed with what the preacher said, and in many ways my intellect was stimulated. I can't say I felt totally comfortable with the way and means he did what he did though. I found him a little blunt and insensitive, sometimes asking a particularly participative member of the audience to stop being rude and let others speak. I'm not sure if there's anything wrong with that, it could be that I come from a culture where courtesy comes in the form of 'giving face'. We try not to embarrass another. Another thing I felt, was that though some welcome intellectual argument, the belief in Jesus Christ that we have is not solely intellectual. When I say all this, do bear in mind I'm no expert at any of these. The preacher on the mall was well-read, thoroughly versed, and handled every argument with such conciseness and logic it almost seemed blunt.
I know that we are, like Jesus said, to preach to the world, but I feel that our lives speak a lot louder than our words. I may, through hard work and study, win an intellectual argument over an atheist, but have I brought him or her any closer to God? Or have I been caught up with winning the argument that I have forsaken the fact I have to love the person? Love conquers all. We who are Christians are called to love. In Jesus' day, it was to heal the sick, lame and blind. We still need to do that today. Healing broken hearts and dreams, loving our fellow because love is of God. Not placing the importance of debunking intellectual theories. Arguments may bring one to question the theories of man, and embrace the truth of God. That is a possibility. But if I have not love, I am merely a clanging cymbal.
I judge the preacher not. I think he has devoted his time to a noble cause. He is willing to be the object of hate to some people, and I respect that sacrifice and commitment. Maybe God has His uses for him. For myself, I want so much to love with the love Jesus Christ showed. To love those outcast by society, to want so much to heal them, to touch them. I feel my burden there.
I know that many of you who read this know me very well, even from a young age. I'm sure my parents read this, and they've known me from infancy. I've not been a stellar example of a Christian, but I hope and pray that if I come to you in all honesty, and tell you of my struggles in my Christian life, that you will not ridicule or judge me, but have a clearer picture of what being a follower of Christ is.

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A Quantum Leap

Wow. It's the 29th of February, and it means the next time I type this out would be four years from now. I came back to my dorm during my one hour lunch break and went to the kitchen downstairs to turn on the television. I never realised how close I had become to Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. They seem to keep me company every time I eat lunch alone.
I know that after reading many of my journals, it would be quite evident that you'd say "this guy has no friends," or "he needs to get a life". Maybe you are right. I have friends, or rather acquaintances. I do not know if I'd meet the same bunch of people again next semester, let alone after I finish my studies here and head back home. On the other hand, I've known Paul and Jamie Buchman for a really long time. I've seen them quarrel, seen them get back together. In so many ways perfect, yet in so many ways human. I remember falling for the character Jamie at one point in time, like the millions of male viewers who've seen the show.
I received an email from a young lady who visited my homepage. I was so amazed at the level of maturity I found in her short mail. She read my journal on "Childlike, Not Childish" and she wrote about how many people tried to cover up their true feelings but wished for the process of growing up to slow down. In her mail she reminded me of the beauty to be found in the eyes of the young, eyes that hold no grudges, eyes that are totally trusting. I breathe her writings in like fresh air, renewing me from the effects growing up has had on me. Becoming more cynical while calling it pragmatism, becoming more critical while calling it more analytical. Let's not fool ourselves. A lot of us grow up uglier than we first started. To the dear girl who reminded me thus, thank you.
Attitudes are contagious, I found that out yesterday. I played basketball at the recreation center at night, and found that despite my poor level of play thus far, there have been people who have noticed me and wanted me to play with them, saying "he's got skills". I played with them, always bearing in mind that pride came only before a fall, and just played for the love of the game. What seemed like a pretty competitive team I was on, slowly softened and played for the sheer joy of it. We won, but we trod on no one. we lost, and we did not blame one another.
I had a good block on one of the plays, where I sent the shot of the opposing team way out of the court. The people watching screamed with exhilaration at the block with phrases like "he took him to school!" or "he totally dominated him!". It's not about domination over the other, or trying to embarrass anyone. I patted the guy I blocked on the back and said "sorry man". He responded with a smile and said "Good defense". These are the games I want to play, where the basketball remains a basketball, not anything more. We can have a win-win situation even in games, but it is so easy to compete to dominate, to win, and eventually to really lose.

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Brother to Sisters

I just turned to my jukebox page and played this midi. It is one of the themes from the Playstation game Final Fantasy 8. It was the last game I played on the Playstation back home in Singapore before coming to Arizona. Hearing this music brings back so many memories that though recent, seem so far away. It seemed only yesterday when I was sitting in front of the television, with Min and Louelle by my side, and Auntie Lyn popping in now and then to see how the game progressed. I miss my sisters. Of course I don't miss quarrelling with them, or having to ask them to do their homework, but there are so many things that I love about them.
Min has grown up so well. It wasn't too long ago I was carrying her in my arms, or watching her fling telephones in her bursts of rage. Right now she's deciding what to study. I guess she hasn't found what she loves to study, but she's a smart girl who seems to get pretty good results without working up a sweat.
Louelle, my younger sister is turning more beautiful by the day. At the rate she's growing, she should be seven feet tall when I return to Singapore. I remember distinctly one wonderful thing she did for me. It was one of my birthdays, and this girl couldn't have been more than nine years old then, gave me two dollars as a present. I was so touched that tears came out of my eyes. Two dollars to that young girl meant the world at that time. These days, it would probably take all of Bill Gates to make her flinch. Seems like most of our children in Singapore have it good now. I'm not so sure if the shift from the lowly game of marbles to the high tech gameboy is good, and I pray that this lovely sister of mine chooses what is right and good.
Sigh, the music still playing, brings that scene so vividly in my mind. Sitting by my sisters, playstation controller in my hand.
To Min and Louelle, your brother loves you very much. Do remind me often of that fact, in case at times I act like I don't.

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Speaking the Same Language

My new roommate Kieron, has finally arrived. He's 24, and doing international architecture in UA for a month. It's funny to see how the people in the dorm cannot understand the English he speaks because of the English accent. I can hear him perfectly fine, and sometime interprets what he says for other people. I've to try to be quiet in the mornings when I wake, and sometimes my Asian tendency to be reserved takes over, and I lose the otherwise social behaviour I try to maintain. I guess sometimes I need some space. I shouldn't have any problem adapting, having come from the Singapore army, where living in close quarters meant having your face constantly in someone else's armpit. This should be a piece of cake. Nevertheless, I know I have to commit it all to God, rather than play the probabilities. We all know Murphy's law.
I received my English paper back today. I did better than expected, and I have a lot to thank God for. So far, my results have been good, and it's not because I strive hard to get them, but I like studying now. I walked home today from my science lab class, and I am convinced that the human mind is capable of understanding infinity, if not bogged down by obstacles like competition, conformism and laziness. I have learnt much since coming to school here. For those of you who think that school here is easier than Singapore, it's not. It's different, not in the fact that grades are easier to obtain, but a level of continuous learning is needed here. Back home it was the hit and run of the exams. Here the game is consistency.
I guess life is getting more diverse for me. English roommate, American environment, Chinese church. Doesn't get more diverse than this. I've learnt a lot of things I never knew I never knew, and I'll include them in my section sometime.
Anyone wants some tea and crumpets?

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The Mountains Declare

It's a beautiful day today, and the sky is the most beautiful blue. I just returned from a gospel meeting, which which is somehow connected to my Dad's church in Singapore. They managed to contact me and even provided the transport for me to get to the meeting. It was amazing to see how the meetings were exactly the same, even half-way round the globe. It had the same feel to it, had the same format, sang the same songs. The best part is, there is no main officiating body that governs these two geographically separated meetings. There's no head church or person to say that this is the way meetings should be held. I guess God is the main person.
I felt weird amidst all the people I don't know. I had problems introducing myself. I don't even know how to pronounce my name. Is it "Lucian" with the Cian pronounced like magician? Or see-an? Never had to call myself before. I just told them they could call me either – as long as it got my head turning, they got it right.
My roommate came in today. I was sitting in my room, waiting the whole day, and he didn't turn up. I went to the meeting and came back to a room with the lights off (I usually leave them on). His bed was already made and clothes all on the dresser. He left me a note to say that he'd be back late and apologized if he would wake me up. So, I'd assume he's a nice guy, who is considerate. His name is Kieron, probably an easier name to pronounce than my own. It would sound like Karen if pronounced fast, but beats having a name that sounds like Lucy-Anne when you want to pronounce it clearly.
School starts tomorrow, and I have the weirdest of English papers to hand up. I have to critique an article on American politics. You'd imagine the amount of extra reading I have to go through just to know who's the right and left wing of the political arena, what they have been standing for, and their differences. It's much simpler in Singapore. I won't comment too much on that for fear of being sued (if you have any comments, you could email me).
Ah, the mountains glow with a deep auburn, shadowed ridges that resemble that of a face, a wise face that has gone through countless ages. I can see why the American Indians belong to the land – it even looks like them. How small I feel when I place myself beside all things large and great. It's puts my pride back into place.

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Old School Rivalry

I'm sitting here and my voice is hoarse. No, it's not the flu bug. I just came back from a basketball game between Arizona State and my school, the University of Arizona. There's been an ongoing rivalry between these two schools in terms of athletics, so you would expect some of the loudest screaming you've ever heard at games between these two.
Walking through those doors was like going to a surprise party. There were thousands in the stadium, and you couldn't tell until you stepped through those doors. The myriad of red, blue and white was a deafening noise to the eyes. When the game started and our players came unto the court, the crowd rose from their seats, and I held my breath. It was as if a giant had woken. I've never been to the Kallang Stadium in Singapore as soccer never really was a sport I followed. The roar of the Arizona Wildcats was something to behold. When the ASU (Arizona State University) players stepped on court, they looked intimidating in their gold uniforms, like gladiators ready for battle. The Wildcats played really well from the start though, and it wasn't till some time when ASU scored their first points.
It was a good game (We won). Despite getting a high on the euphoria of being on the winning side, I got a clearer picture of how competition has made us less than what we should be. Eddie House, Arizona State's top scorer, was booed and the target of many a vulgarity. He did nothing wrong, just playing his game. "Unity" would make people aggressive. No one likes to lose. I feel the unity of course, being from the school, but I cannot turn away from the fact that what happened was as senseless and unjustified as racial discrimination. Sports is ugly. I've always thought that sportsmanship was inseparable from sports, but I guess I'm wrong. That's why we have sportsmanship awards – it's that rare a lot of the time. I am not totally depressed, I had a good Saturday. It may sound lofty, but I have hopes for mankind, that we may see through the civil strife, and focus on the problems we face as one united people. I'll do what I can in my own small way, and we'll see, if it indeed is a better way than this.

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Sweet Fellowship

The most wonderful thing happened. I met Cheryl and Matthew online just now and we had a short time of wonderful fellowship. It's been so long since the three of us were together. Cheryl is now in Stanford, Matthew in the Singapore army, and I in Arizona. The weekends have always made me lonely and wanting for company, and God has so marvelously provided for me tonight. Tonight, I go to sleep under a blanket of warmth and love, knowing that God has given me brothers and sisters in His family whom I can depend on throughout my life. They're unlike classmates, which somehow fade away. They stay for good, knowing me inside out, encouraging me, rebuking me, teaching me and loving me.
I feel so blessed. I had a short chat with Ai as well. Even though we were half a globe apart, it felt the same as if I were sitting next to her and talking to her about work. I guess that's what happens when good friends meet. There's never the awkward silence, in its place, a peaceful loving silent embrace.
We all grew up together, sharing dreams. Now, many years have passed and our dreams still stay as they were, dreams, but we have changed with time. I only pray that time has been kind to us, changing us closer to what God wants us to be, rather than us being changed by the pressures of society and self-ambition. I hope for myself that I have not gone this dark path, where the insatiable greed for self-esteem takes over all which is noble and good. I know I face a real danger of that happening, and I ask that if you read this, and know me well enough, to offer me a warning once in a while to put me in my rightful place, as a servant, of no one but the Most High.

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Bridging the Linguistic Barrier

It's amazing how fast time flies, and I face another weekend. Time on your hands when you have little to do, and no one to meet, becomes a little laborious. It's hard to find something to do in Tucson, where the bus systems are not as convenient as back home.
My new roommate is due to come in this weekend. I finally cleared the mix-up. He's from England, is English, and speaks English. It would be quite impossible if he didn't, and there would really be a communication problem, Latin being so hard to pick up. I don't know what is in store, but I pray that I'll be a good roommate, and that he'll be a responsible one too.
Found out today that Mummy went ahead and printed all my journals from day one for Daddy to read. I also heard that Daddy has been poring over it. It's kind of hard to picture that. Don't get me wrong, my Dad and I have a great relationship. Though he's not as vocal as Mummy, I know that he cares for me a great deal, and in many ways, his leadership in my life has complemented my Mother's. I am thankful for them both and all that they have done for me. Indeed, God has put His hand in my life so wonderfully. Everything has really fell into place.
I also found out that Daddy bought a new knife. He has this fascination with knives, going to Sungei Road where people lay their goods on the ground to potential customers who flit from mat to mat, surveying the best goods for the best prices. That's one thing we share, and something my Mother can never understand. She tends to think of us as serial killers. Knives interest me in a weird way. I cannot put my finger on it. Looking at it objectively, it's just a piece of metal, but yet there are styles and patterns that are artistic, and a functionality you don't find in pictures hanging on the wall. So, it's a mixture of usefulness and beauty. Maybe…just maybe that's it.
The application for dorms for the fall semester is out already, and the deadline is next week. I still don't know if I want to stay in the dorms or move to an apartment. The dorms are so convenient, I even catch some of my forty winks between classes. The space is small though, and I've been living without a roommate these past two months, so adapting to one is still an uncertainty to me. Getting an apartment is a good idea, so if family and friends were to visit the very-interesting town of Tucson, I'd have a place to put them up in. I've to make a decision fast…
I made up my mind. I'm going to play basketball. I'll think about the apartment thing later.

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A Kinder, Gentler Message

It rained again today, and it was slightly heavier than two days ago. It's an amazing sight, everyone walking around with waterproof jackets rather than the usual sweaters, and for the first time since I came, umbrellas appeared. The glossy, plastic feel of the crowd seems almost unreal to the everyday scene of sunshine I'm so used to seeing.
What sort of person would walk around carrying an umbrella here, I wondered. There is an average of 300 sunny days, and of the remaining sixty, a good percentage of them are just cloudy. Well, it must take quite a prepared person to whip up an umbrella.
I've been quite a prolific contributor to the WIldcat, which is Tucson's daily newspaper. It's free and easily available, but I read it online, and contribute to the discussions there. I would like to think of myself as environmentally friendly, but the real reason behind not getting the papered copy is that I don't want to fill my wastepaper basket in my room at too fast a rate. Laziness rules.
There was a recent stabbing of a gay student somewhere near campus recently, and there was a march to protest against such hate crimes. I read the Wildcat and saw pictures of people carrying signs "Jesus Loves Gays" or "God loves all Her children", and I found the focus of the signs entirely wrong. I contributed to the Wildcat, and got a rather defensive response from another reader. I tend to shun away from heated confrontations, because I know that I don't have the perseverance to argue my case. Winning an argument gives me a distorted sense of success I'd rather not have, and I find it not worth stepping over another for.
I replied to that person, Pattie. I tried to be objective and understanding, explaining that I had nothing against homosexuals, nor was I branding my beliefs on everyone else, but that I could not stand by and watch the God I knew misrepresented. She replied to that my post this morning. I opened it, rather frightened to find out if I had offended someone, or if I had to once again defend myself in an argument that was closed by defensiveness and hostility.
The post Pattie put up was heartwarming. She told me about her search for the truth in her life, and shared personal things which I felt privileged to learn about. I told her about how I came to believe what I believe. It was the most amazing exchange, where two parties have put aside hostility, and accepted differences, willing to learn from each other. I do so wish the discussions in #poetry would be such. Too often had we have to deal with minds that thought they knew it all, unwilling to admit other people's opinions, yet claiming to have an open mind. Not willing to hear another view without first trodding on everyone else. I cannot sympathise with people like that. It takes an open mind to know that we know so little. That's a beginning.
Thank you Pattie, for your kinder and gentler message. If only the world could view things like that, we would have stopped fighting ourselves, and concentrate on the many issues at hand, gaining a fuller, richer, and more vibrant knowledge of all that is around us.

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Droopy Eyed

I know I'm not the only one who feels that growing up is something we sometimes wish we could do without. As I grow older, I feel that life has become too complicated, too fast, and a little too ugly for me to handle. I often dwell on things that have been constant in my life (if you already haven't noticed). Things like the blue sky, and the blanket of stars that surround us. Maybe I'm in denial, but I do so believe that if I could retain the nature of a child, I'd be a much better person. I'd want my entire life to be a single moment on a Precious Moments picture. So much for a goal in life.
Today was my short day, classes ending at 1pm. I went to the Recreation Center, and today I scored three whole points! I know, it isn't as high as Michael Jordan or the rest, but I'm getting there. I'm indeed blessed to have played these few weeks with people who don't slight me for my lack of skill or size. I'm able to play hard and enjoy the game.
The cool of night and its solitude makes me miss home. Today, it's no longer scenes of boat quay, but I miss the yellow-lit ambience of Faith's home, Auntie Joyce's cooking, and just sitting down in front of the television, with Faith sitting beside me. I thank God for these blessings, and I yearn for the day I return home, and be there again.