normally, when i think of these two words worship and technology, the visual images that pop in my mind are: 1) hip visual presentations such as well-made videos; 2) cool graphics; 3) fast beat band; 4) and the complicated looking soundboard.

on this post, i want to share the newest images i’ve gained when worship and technology came together: a new, fresh perception of worship (though it may not and it may sound just like what i mentioned in the first paragraph).  i’m just sharing these because they were beautiful pictures.  in my mind.

so it was couple weeks ago when this happened.  a good brother  named T with whom i do ministry planned a surprise “party” for his college roommate from connecticut.  this roommate had fallen away from the Lord throughout college until christmas of 2010.  this roommate, let’s call him W, started hearing the Lord couple months ago and he’s been following Him ever since.  T had sent out an invitation to his close believer friends in atlanta to celebrate his prodigal brother’s return.  T‘s idea of celebration was to fellowship by hearing W‘s testimony, singing praise songs, eating finger foods and enjoying each other’s company.  so T had arranged so that a good brother, called E, was to lead praise songs and  T was to share his testimony at the celebration. asking T to share his testimony before he even arrived atlanta probably had given the surprise away, but the gathering nonetheless turned out great.  T opened up the night by introducing why we’re gather here, and “surprised” W that we’re here to celebrate his coming to the kingdom.  then praising took place.

i was sitting next to E and i was able to see his laptop screen, where the song chords and lyrics were displayed.  the first song began.  in a bit i learned that W didn’t know any words to the songs.  his head was bowed down and he was in prayer while the first song was being sung.  in my head i thought, ‘should i switch seats with W so that he can peak at E‘s laptop screen to sing along?‘  i wanted to, but a part of me was concerned whether the commotion would interrupt the atmosphere or the musical worship that was already going on.  me being the chicken that i am, i didn’t interrupt and let, about, 2 minutes pass by.  next thing i know, another friend from connecticut, called D (who flew down with W to visit T) was showing W something from his smartphone.  D had pulled out his phone, searched the lyrics of the song on the internet, and was sharing with W (up to this point, i had no idea that D was a believer.  he turned out to be a seminary student).  this act, of D sharing the lyrics on his small phone screen with W so that W can sing along with the body of believers, was just wordlessly beautiful (i wish i had taken a picture of it).  it put a smile on my heart (since my lips were already singing the songs 😉 jk)  it was a good representation of a brother helping out a (spiritually) younger brother, being there for him and guiding along: not letting any obstacles to come before W so that he can be included in worship..

the next day, a group of people including W, T, D and myself, were gathered for house church.  at house church was also a friend named M, an iraqi believer who came to the U.S. less than 6 months ago.  his english is very limited.  we studied the book of Corinthians 2 and discussed amongst ourselves.  M understood the text because he brought his arabic Bible (and arabic is his heart language) but he did not fully understand everything that we discussed.  so a brother named C decided to translate all that we were saying on google translator so that M can understand just as much as we did and be part of it (while this was going on, i had noticed that D was observing M attentively).  C trying to translate to M on google translator made them lag in the discussion, couldn’t really participate with the rest of the group, but they did their best.  in the end, when we were sharing what we thought of the passage, M was also asked to share what he thought from what he understood from the text and our discussion.  so this time, C had to reverse translate what M wanted to express – from arabic to english.  it took a long time to translate M‘s arabic expression to english, but at the end, he shared a deep statement and we knew that M understood perfectly what the word was teaching us and what we had discussed.

it’s so awesome that these two brothers W and M became a part of the body immediately despite the hinderances of not knowing the lyrics or not having the ability to comprehend the discussion.  these two experiences back to back in two consecutive days made me realize that we can use things around us for better purposes, specifically to glorify God.

help us to see ways we can share our resources, Lord 🙂  because we’re often blinded.  graciously give us wisdom to allocate our resources for your purposes and give us convictions so that we can actually see our desires becoming actions.  lead our hearts to yours.  amen.

headache

i feel ya buddy..

headaches…  those darn things..

i can’t remember the first time i had a headache.  i do remember though that i started having regular headaches in middle school.  yes, not regular menstrual periods but regular headaches.  other girls would start having their monthly period in middle school, but i…  started having my headaches.  headaches and i are like bound together forever, but with strong hatred.

i went to middle school on guam.  (if you don’t know where or what that is, it’s a u.s. territory, an island in the pacific ocean near the equator – which means it’s summer all year long, coconut trees, aqua blue beach, etc.  if you were to draw a line from manila, philippines to west and another line from papa new guinea or west Australia to north, the meeting point is about where guam is located).  so whenever my middle school went through fire drills or bomb scares, we would go outside against the fence that indicated the school property.  sometimes it took about 30 minutes but some other times it took about an hour or more.  standing around in the stinging hot sun started to give me headaches: dehydration..  even if i didn’t feel like i was dehydrated.

at the age of 26, i suffer from headaches from various reasons.  AND I HATE IT!  i think i spend a good 1/5~1/6 of the year leashed to headaches.  i don’t think i complain a lot, but if i have one thing to complain about, it’ll be about my headaches.  you would know by looking at my face: an ugly crinkled face with squinty eyes.  if you were to hang out with me frequently, you’d get tired of hearing from me that i have a headache.

….and of course i’m writing about headache today because i have one right now.  what started as a tension headache at the back of my head around bedtime last night is now in the front of my head and it’s putting some pressure on my eyes.  i think this is one of the top 5 ‘worst headaches’ on my list.  what sucks about this headache is that i also picked up cough from some unknown person/source yesterday and every time i cough, i feel like someone is banging my head with a hammer..  it’s MISERABLE….  i have important things to do today but i can’t seem to focus on them due to pain.. i’d like to sleep it off but i’m not sleepy…  so with my desire to be productive, i’ve decided to blog about my feelings since my future is not dependent on this post as opposed to a graduate admission essay that will be judged by some educated people.

my pastor said today that we don’t really see or experience miracles, when compared to the times of the old testament and new testament, perhaps because we don’t ask for it.  he also suggested that we ask God for miracles and see His name being glorified through it this year.  God..  i asked that you would take away my headache out of my head for good as if you’re pulling a tree and all of its small roots out of the ground.  i never want to experience headaches again..   i feel like a slave to headaches.. i feel bound to them and can’t do anything whenever headaches take over me.  God, free me from 13 years of slavery!

so imagine this scene:

my friends and i are gathered around a table for a nice birthday dinner: mine.  a low-key birthday gathering to enjoy some good food.  i see that some have brought birthday gifts and i don’t quite know what to do with myself: kind of excited, kind of feeling undeserving to receive their gifts AND their time for dinner.  everyone is enjoying the food and each other’s company.  now that the meal time is over, the gift time has finally come.  each gift is brought up on the dinner table so that everyone can see it: after all, we don’t want anyone to be left hanging so curious to know, what it is that the birthday girl received from so-and-so.  so far, i am happy to be surrounded by loving friends and am glad that they’re having a good time with each other too.

a friend gets up from her chair and grabs a gift that she brought, off of the table and stretches her arms out (with the gift) to another girl two seats down from her.  i’m thinking, “it’s quite odd – it’s actually MY birthday, not hers…” feeling weird but not wanting to say anything to make anyone feel awkward, i just watch.  in fact, before i hesitate to say a word about it, another friend gets up, grabs his gift that he brought and gives it to another friend who is sitting across the table.  “um.. hey guys.. we’re gathered here for my birthday..  are these not my gifts?” before the second gift is touched to be open, another person gets up and gives another gift to another friend who hasn’t received one yet.  feeling so out of place, i wonder to myself.. “is it really my birthday?  how come no one has a gift for me when it’s my birthday?  um…  can they even see me?”

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could this possibly be what Jesus feels every christmas morning as families gather around their christmas trees and exchange their nicely-wrapped gifts?  everyone gets to receive a nice christmas gift or two (or even seven), while Jesus is robbed of his spotlight?

we hear annually our doses of anti-materialism sermons during christmas seasons.  ya know, sermons stating that christmas isn’t about receiving gifts.  christmas is also not about giving gifts.  instead, we should focus on Jesus and stay away from the materialistic culture that is surrounding us.  in fact, christmas is Jesus’ birthday, isn’t it?

but i have to admit, even within christian circles where anti-materialism sermons have been redundantly repeated, gifts are exchanged.  i’ve been trying to do away with christmas gifting for years, but i have to admit that this year i bought gifts for my parents, bought some materials to make gifts for my sisters, thought of what to give to my boyfriend and am in a group that does annual secret santa gift exchange.  i got excited when my older sister texted me that she sent me something for christmas.  why is it so hard not to give gifts?  why do we enjoy receiving gifts for christmas when it’s not even our birthday?  what did you give Jesus for his birthday this year?  why is this thick culture of christmas gifting so hard to escape?  we understand our sunday messages, and yet we are so bound to gifting and our actions don’t reflect the message..

so..  in response to my own blog.. i think i’m gonna do away with gifting next year.  sorry mom and dad, but i’ll do better on your birthdays and mother’s & father’s days.  sorry boyfriend, but i’ll spoil you throughout the year except for christmas day.  sorry sisters, but i’ll do the same for you girls, although i don’t treat you well enough than i should.  guess i’ll withdraw myself from the secret santa tradition although it’s been so much fun in the past four years.  if i give you a gift around christmas time, i dare not to label that gift as a christmas gift: i’ll make sure that my intention was out of my desire to give you that gift because it reminded me of you, not because i HAD to get you something because we just entered the christmas season.  with the time that i spend stressing out thinking of what to give to the loved ones, i’ll just think of Jesus and hum this song.  or.. spend money on where Jesus would spend his money: donation for homeless, clothing drive, water wells in africa, education needs in a county i’ve never heard before, Bible translations, grocery for refugees, etc.  just by imagining where we can spend money for Jesus, rather than on ourselves, i.. just got excited for a few seconds (this.. is due to the developer side of me from strengths finder 2.0 haha).  but seriously, wouldn’t it be SO AWESOME if we become the generation that spends money for those around us and/or across the country FOR JESUS?

please rebuke me if you catch me buying a christmas gift next year.  you may pull my hair so that i’ll be forever corrected.

p.s. sorry future friends, sorry future in-laws, sorry future kids..  poor kids..

as i do ministry with my teammates, we’ve ordered english-arabic Bibles and english-arabic Qu’rans for our neighbors so that they can better understand God and experience God in their own heart language.  we’ve had cases where teammates had to order a kurdish Qur’an for a kurdish friend, and an english-arabic Bible for an iraqi friend.  my own experience stretches out only to an order of english-arabic Qu’ran for a sister, who wanted to start reading the Qu’ran and also learn arabic.  the task itself isn’t too hard.  you just go to amazon or ebay and they usually have them.

today, some of our teammates and myself were having dinner with a friend and his roommate.  it was my first time meeting that roommate.  he is a 25-year-old sudanese man who came to america less than 6 months ago (english level: not proficient).  really tall and skinny.  6′ 3″.  in our conversation, we naturally talked about his language and what he speaks.  he grew up speaking dinka (which is also the name of the people group), a dialect in south sudan, and later learned swahili when he fled from his own country (reason: war) and lived in kenya.  so we asked him if he has a Bible in dinka and he said no.  we asked him if he can read dinka and he said yes.  so in my head i naturally thought that we can order a Bible of his heart language on amazon, or on a website of an organization that translates the Bible to different people group languages.

so there i was, on a teammate’s laptop, searching for a dinka Bible.  i looked through many links that google spat out, and the first relevant link that came to my eyes was a link that had an audio stream to dinka new testament.  i clicked on a link to old testament and there was no such audio stream in dinka.  i kept on searching for a written text.. and there was no such thing.  momentarily, i didn’t know what to do.  i’ve heard cases where there are people groups that don’t have Bibles in their heart language.  like, out there.  in the books that i read.  through speakers whom i’ve never met before.  but here i was, witnessing the reality of those people far out there, but right in the dining room where we just had dinner together.

we help people around us.  sometimes we are the means to their solution.  but this time, we couldn’t really help this friend named roommate.  the best he has now was that audio stream website that had a list of all the new testament chapters.  he doesn’t have the accessibility to go to a verse just to reference that verse.  he’d have to listen to it from the beginning of the chapter of the verse he wants to reference, or guesstimate the the part on the stream player.  while all these were going through my head, he asked me to email him that link.  he was excited.  when i asked him if he can understand what he’s hearing now (which was Matthew 1), there was that hint of excitement, recognition in his eyes (or maybe it was his gesture that hinted this).  although he doesn’t have a quick reference access to the Bible (verses) like i do, he was already holding onto this audio stream website so dearly.

then i thought about my Bibles.  BibleS.  having more than one version, majority of those Bibles are left on a bookshelf, a stool that i call “a nightstand”, and one in my bag that i actually use the most.  i wish i can give one of these dormant Bibles in my room so that he can have one: except.. he doesn’t fully understand english yet..  i wish one of these was a dinka Bible.

while feeling helpless, it made me appreciate the value of the Bible the way i’ve never appreciated it before.

p.s. it’s almost 2am and i couldn’t think of any appropriate title to this post.  it was just meant for us to ponder about this kind of reality: how we take things for granted and don’t realize it.  it was not meant to be condemning or anything like that.  speaking of myself, i have 2 that are pretty dusty, one that is semi-dusty and one that gets dull whenever i carry it around.  should i donate the two dusty ones now that different versions are available online?  one Bible shall be good enough, no? (i’m not hinting you anything here.  it’s 2am, whatever i babble can be excused =P  well, except for the situation of our friend named roommate).  buona notte, friends 🙂

this week seemed like it would never end.  last night, as i got ready for bed.. thinking about what i would wear for work the next day, i realized that the ‘next day’ is friday.  casual friday.  i lived IN work this week that i didn’t know what day it was, and all my mind was focused on getting as much work done: just like a programmed brain that knew only one thing, one mission to finish, one command to follow.

it’s past midnight and it is now technically saturday.  my week still is ongoing.. it hasn’t ended.  here i am, about to take a 30 minute personality test that is required for tomorrow, but what i really wish is just closing my eyes and fade away from reality.  my eyelids have been heavy since 3 hours ago.  today was the roughest evening of the week.  tomorrow will be the roughest morning of the week.  gotta wake up at 5:30am and get ready for the day..  which means only 4.5 hrs of sleep.

Jesus, can i have extra shot of strength in my coffee tomorrow morning?

ahhh, long time no blog!!  my creativity is DYING!!  just kidding.  i am NOT a creative writer:  i can’t write.

lately, i’ve been wanting to see more musical shows than theatrical shows.  i would typically see more theatrical shows than musical shows each year, but since my kind boyfriend lets me decide what we should do on our date nights based on what i want to do, i thought i can start deciding our activities based on his interest: music.  i think i’ve gone to more shows/concerts in the past three months than in my whole life prior to that point.  because i liked my last show a lot, i decided to write about it and write about any future shows that i get to experience.  perhaps past shows too (since there aren’t that many).  oh yeah, this is not an objective review of her music but my own subject experience of her show.

the boyfriend and i went to brooke fraser’s flags tour concert two weeks ago.  i knew that he was a big fan of brooke fraser and kind of liked her too.  at that point, i only knew her from desert song by hillsong as the ‘other girl’.  but what do you know, after the tickets were purchased, i listened to more of her songs and became a big fan too.  BIG.  she sang the kind of songs that i like listening: the slow beat, vocal dominant songs (subtle christianity in her songs made them even better).  that made me listen to her songs on repeat and also made me pull out my dusty keyboards and play her chords.

her show was at a small theater in little five points.  (no comment on the opening guys).  up to this point, all i knew of brooke fraser is from her songs, lyrics, her wikipedia page, and her blog on her website: she seemed like a next door neighbor kind of a girl (from her wikipedia picture) and sweet (from her writing style on her blog).  this tall, skinny girl came out in her sleeveless blouse with a huge bow and her pencil skirt and the first sound she made on her microphone was a random ‘ahhhhhhhh’ sound.  i didn’t expect her outfit to look so proper and well put together rather than comfortable and casual.  on that first random noise she let out, i thought ‘hm, quite a character’.  i thought maybe she let it out to get rid of nervousness or anxiety.

she spoke more during the first half of her show than the latter half.  when she spoke, her words were naturally flowing as she shared her experiences, memories, and thoughts.  she seemed very sweet, likable and (as the boyfriend put it) charming.  of all things that she shared, one thing that i took away was her story about her absurd collection as a child.  i decide not to share what she collected because it is gonna come off as a strange habit and gross if i share it, but if you actually hear it from her, it won’t sound as strange or gross because of the way she tells you (or so i thought).  i admire that she was able to share that freely without a bit of hesitation or feeling embarrassed.  in one sense, i wondered if THAT freedom part of her personality brought her to where she is now: i’m thinking.. she’s embraced her uniqueness (whether it be her collection or music) and went with it: she didn’t care what other people/listeners perceived of herself or her songs.  being boundless in songwriting, being true to herself..  instead of  letting people/listeners get to her uniqueness and her music style.  hence her music style, hence the next-door-girl kind of personality. at that moment, i was encouraged to be myself and go with it without being affected by people around me so much (since i am very sensitive about what people around me would feel or say).  but yeah, i’ve got to say that she had the smoothest talking transitions among all the other artists i’ve seen (again, not that many, and maybe because her show was my first female artist show i’ve gone to – ya know, girls talk more and better generally).

her music, was GREAT.  it was like listening to her songs on grooveshark, but live, and with visuals.  though she seemed fragile, skinny and tall, when she strummed, her movement was big and powerful.  she had good moments of strong belting voice transitioning to her falsetto and vice versa.  she also had a good pattern of song selections i’d say: as said above, she talked quite a bit during the first half of her show as she was tuning her guitars between songs and let the latter half be filled with nonstop music; in addition to that, she introduced a few of her new songs then would invite the audience to sing along to one of her old songs, three more new songs, another old song and so on.  the audience definitely sang along louder and better on her older songs and i think she knew to use that so that people won’t be quiet for like 45 minutes straight.  i think overall, she sang about 7 songs from her new album and about 5 songs from her previous albums.  it was a very well put-together show.

wanting to write this entry the next morning, still reflecting on the show and her success at her age (she’s only a year older than me), i thought to myself: i’d like to see her music journey til i grow old if my parents’ generation grew up with elvis.

man, i can’t believe that i took two weeks to finish this entry.

men playing soccer at the park

does this technique look better? hm.

the white shirt kid was inside the dumpster when i found him. i asked him to stay for a picture and his buddy joined in to pose 🙂 i wondered what they were possibly up to.

siblings & friends

friends

tiny white flowers