Monday, July 07, 2008

Camp Howqua '08!

How brightly the Moon shines
In the midst of a pitch black night!

Yet it's radiance and glory
Mask its deepest plight.

For it mourns in lonesome sorrow,
On each and every starless night.


The night sky at Mount Howqua was littered with MILLIONS of stars. These bright twinkling objects, that fascinate the inner child in every heart, filled EVERY corner of the pitch black sky. I traveled up to camp a day early with the set-up crew of 16 people. I saw them, and the milky way, as I looked out of the window of the van. I thought of how lonely the moon would be without all these vibrant companions. The brighter the moon shines, the more attention it attracts. However, fewer stars are visible, and it's left standing alone in a eternal void of blackness. In the same way, we have to be careful of being too self-centred (of shining too brightly!) and make a genuine effort to love and encourage those wonderful stars around us.

Here are just some excerpts from my experience at Camp Howqua:

Aud was the one that inspired me to write that short poem up the top. She really reminded me of the importance of friends. I was given the opportunity to song lead in a morning worship service and I was soo busy with the camp preparations the week before that I couldn't find time to seek God for the appropriate songs. So i frantically gathered some songs the night before. (with the input of Bryan, Nick, Aud, Alv, Gab, Aviel) Well, I was feeling really during the worship practice the next morning as it was my first time song leading. And as you know, i'm not a very good singer :( Unexpectedly, Audrey managed to see through my bold front and spot my rabid anxiety. She explained the hand-signals that i needed to know and gave me all sorts of non-verbal encouragers. Unexpectedly, that calmed me down and enabled me to just lose myself in worship. Well, we stuffed up the ending of Pick It Up, and i believe i sounded like a croaking frog on steroids, but i know God was glorified. And that's all that matters.

Over the past month or so, and while working in the set-up crew for camp, i realised that Stanley's actually a very sentimental person. I used to think that he was pretty uncaring, unloving, and all the other UN-WORDS that make a person look like a real heartless dufus. (No hard feelings Stan). As i got to know him more, I've found that he has such a love for God and a love for the highschoolers at Fungus. He just expresses this love in very absurd ways.

As he says: "I may not like you, but i do love you."

I mention this because i've had a long overdue dislike for him, and it's really not good to have a bad impression that arises whenever you see that person. It really feels like an unnecessary load has lifted off my back. haha! I was so surprised when he came up to me during camp to ask for a massage cuz of severe pain in his shoulders O.o"" His shoulder muscles felt like the inexplicably tough steaks that we got served at camp. I don't know how he got them that tense! I lay him down beside the fireplace and delivered some deep stroking. haha! Before i know it this big 188cm dude with a heart of stone whines and groans like a little child suffering from constipation.

I thank God for ALL the AWESOME dudes in my dorm: Alv, Hanley, Gab, David, Aviel, Josh, Keean, Tim, and Daz. I was given the opportunity to co-lead the dorm with Keean. I got to know each of them so much better as i led the daily devotions.

I saw a genuine interest to know more about God in each of them, especially Josh and David. David was so eager to do devotions at 2AM on the last night!!! What a hunger he has for God!!!!

Hanley and Tim were newcomers, but they managed to fit in just right. Gab,

Aviel and Alv have a comparably deeper understanding of God. But I sensed that Aviel's deep understanding wasn't matched by a some extent of love for God. His passion has somewhat simmered down along his walk, but i pray that it would be revived.

Gab knows God. He knows he loves God. But I sense a hint of rationalisation within him that might just hinder his walk. I pray that he would fall so very much deeper in love with Christ.

Alv's so much deeper than he seems. He LOVES God SOOOOO MUCH. But just as we all do, we need reassurance.. God's taking him through a walk of faith this year. I pray that he would stand firm for it is only by the testing your faith that perserverance is developed. Only by perserverance will we be made complete; not lacking in anything. (James 1)

Keean. I actually came down with an unknown allergy on the 2nd night of camp when my eyes suddenly become TOTALLY SWOLLEN mid-way through a sermon. It got to the extent that i had to close both my eyes to avoid irritation. As i couldn't see, I gave Keean the opportunity to lead devotions that night. He started off well but struggled to explore the deeper aspects. I see the potential to lead in Keean. I pray that God would teach him how to exert his leadership in the right ways; to grant him words of wisdom in the adequate measure. But Keean, the onus is on you to seek God through his Word and to fall deeper in love in the knowledge of our true and living God.

Daz. I admire his pure heart and his willingness to learn. The fact that he could come for camp is a miracle in itself, and will forever remain in my testimony. I know that God has a GREAT plan for him. I pray that he would seek God continuously and find Him.

I reckon our dorm was the most fun and exciting one of the lot. On the last night, we plotted a rampage on Daniel and Shaun. They managed to win the hair-shaving comp against 101 (you might see Nick, Daryl, Adel and Andrew walking around with bald heads). But that wasn't the result we wanted to see. So, with Daz's AWESOME camcorder on night vision mode, we gave a threatening intro, infiltrated Shaun and Dan's dorm and decked Dan. Our intention was to pin his down prone on the ground and snip off a bit of his hair, and basically to scare him shitless. haha! Well, we managed to pin him down and scare the crap outta him, but Qynn stopped us before we could proceed any further :( haha! I felt a huge sense of guilt after. But i gathered that we didn't have any malicious intentions, and what's a camp without a bit of fun? All the footage is on Daz's camcorder.. i'll upload it soon.

I was so occupied during camp that i struggled to find solitude with God. I had to dorm lead, worship lead, MC for the theme night dinner, prepare for the group skit, etc... And i thought to myself that it would be such a great pity and an irony if i don't get to seek God with all my heart on a camp like this! There was such a deep craving my heart to seek God alone.. At 9am on the 2nd morning, i grabbed my guitar, my bible, a notebook and pen and ventured out into the wilderness in search of God. It was the dew on the green grass that brushed against my toes felt like icy cold darts. It was a bad idea to wear thongs, but i couldn't care less. I found a nice wooden table, sat down and started to worship God. "Jesus, Lover of my soul," i sang as i admired the river, the mountains, the clouds that hovered just above my head, the trees, the stillness and freshness of the air.. and the sounds... the song of birds; the cry of the river. As i sang and worshipped God i felt LOVED.

I asked God about several things that were concerning my heart. Regarding my future, God said that he has placed in the right where he wants me, but i should be READY to GO when he calls. It wasn't "if" he calls, it was "when" he calls. Regarding the affairs of my heart, He warned me about a girl in my life, and not to take things to a the next level. Then i believe the Holy Spirit came upon me, and i started to write a new song (something that i haven't been able to do for a long time). It was 11AM when i got back; i had lost track of time. I had missed morning worship. But i encountered God and NOTHING can ever take that away from me. Remember the allergy that caused my eyes to swell and become like goldfish eyes? I was healed. Praise God!

In the Wilderness

The sparrows they sing in the morning
The sun always keeps on shining
The trees raise their hands to you
O my God, how they long to worship you!

You know my weakness
You know my shame
Yet you love me the same
O my God, how great is your Name!

Lord I stand here
In your presence
And I'm calling out to you.
Love unfailing overwhelms me
As I look upon the cross
How you looked on me with mercy
And you covered all my shame.

* Written by the creek at Mount Howqua. For the God who loves me despite my weaknesses; despite my shame.

The campfire on the last night was an experience that i will NEVER forget. It took us some time before we got our fire ablaze. There was some sort of competition between Nick/Qynn's fire and Gab/my fire. haha! They got theirs raging earlier than ours, but when our reached its prime, everyone started to flock to our side. It was late... 1AM or so, but our hearts were pumped full of excitment as we sang ALL SORTS of songs. haha! From Waltzing Matilda to the Malaysian national anthemn, from Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to Confidence by Teddy Geiger. We had a really fun time singing together. Aviel, Alv, Sha, Chris, Daz and I took turns to play on the guitar. I sang so much that i lost my voice that night!

Yes, one final exerpt. On the last night, Pastor Chris was moved by the Spirit to open the altar to anyone who wanted to confess their sings, ANY sin that was preventing us from really connecting with God. Oh, and believe me when i tell you that the presence of the Holy Spirit was OVERWHELMING that night. Obviously, everyone HAS some sort of secret sin. I didn't think I would respond, but i felt convicted by the Spirit and before i knew it.. i was kneeling.. crying. I cried sooo bitterly that night.. Initially, i cried because i felt that i had let God down.. but with each proceeding sob i felt overwhelmed with love and forgiveness. It was the deepest cry i've ever had.

Then Chris told us to form small groups and pray for each other. In my group of 4 were Kai, Chris, Nick and myself. Boy, how fervently we all prayed that night. Nick, how God is really doing a work in him. I believe that God planted a heart of love and compasssion in him that night. Chris, he's been such a good buddy to me. He's so smart, yet so humble.. I pray that he would fall so much deeper in love with Christ. Kai, the purest of hearts, was someone i didn't know much before camp. But i'm so glad that i got to know such an open and honest person. On the first morning, he came up to me while i was reading the bible and he asked if he could do devotions with me! haha! I was sooooo shocked! But gladly welcomed him. Oh, how i wish God would grow that burning passion within his heart!

Through this camp, i believe that God has taken me to a whole new level in my walk with Him. He's shown me that he wants me to lead and not to dwell solely in my personal spiritual growth. Leading my dorm group, Kai's request to seek God with me, teaching Franny and Hue to play the guitar have somewhat instilled a passion within me to see these people grow in Christ! I pray that this passion would grow sooo much more.

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