4/29/2008 11:15:00 pm

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Posted by Tom French |

Oh boy did I have some awesome times today.

I went to Longreach and saw the Qantas Museum, and it was great.

Actually the whole trip was good and I'll do one of my extensive updates soon. For now I'm sleepy.

4/27/2008 07:58:00 pm

Apartheid and Saying So

Posted by Tom French |

I’m currently in the Traveller’s Retreat in Mount Isa. I’m not able to get on the internet because there is some dude there MSNing it up. So I’m on Jem’s computer doing the dry blog. I just made that term up but I figure it’s a good one.

We’ve been driving since yesterday morning. We left Alice Springs only an hour and a half shy of our 10am departure. But it was pancakes that held us up, so there was no reason to be upset.

On this leg of the road trip there are only five of us. Jem, Tracy, Ryan, Daniel and I. Driving is all rather uneventful but quite lovely none the less. There is something therapeutic about driving through the outback. Seeing straight roads that stretch on over the horizon. Having hours and hundreds of kilometres between towns and knowing that, were you to stop the car and start walking away from the road in any one direction, you probably wouldn’t see another person before you died somewhere in the desert. You feel the need to respect the country, to take it seriously.

Plus the hours of just sitting gives you time to read, sleep, listen to music, think, pray, talk. You’re forced to stop, and it’s pretty nice.

Last night we stayed the night in Tennant Creek. It’s somewhere in the middle of the Northern Territory. The town isn’t actually at Tennant Creek, the story goes, there was a bit of a settlement at the creek, and there was a wagon carrying beer and the pub for the town up from Adelaide, but the axle broke about 15km south of the creek, so everyone packed up shop and moved to the pub, and that’s where the town is today. I’m not sure if I believe the story but it’s a rather Australian sounding story, at least Australian in how we like to view ourselves, so I’ll keep it.

Anyway, we stayed in Tennant Creek at the Traveller’s Rest Backpackers. It was classy in the extreme. It kinda looked more like someone’s garage, with junk and bird cages everywhere, lit by those ugly yellow fluro lights, than a beacon of rest to the weary traveller. They even had the radio playing all night in the concrete and steel outdoor setting with the classic hits only interrupted by the occasional chatter of air traffic control which sometimes hi-jacked the frequency.

After having an opening drink in the depressing but endearing Memorial Club we wandered up to the main street in search of some dinner. Walking down the main street was on of the strangest cultural experiences I’ve ever had in Australia. The place looked more like Africa than Australia. The whole time we were there we only saw three other white faces in the many indigenous people that wandered or sat on the side of the road at 7pm on a Saturday night. We weren’t even in an Aboriginal township, we were in a normal, Australian country town.

When we went into the pub, the only place open to give us food, it was chock full of whities. Like they were taking refuge in there from the black fella. It was rather sad. I’ve never seen segregation like that in Australia, or anywhere for that matter. It made me rather sad. I wish I could do something, but I can’t. I’m just a tourist passing through.

Dinner in the pub, despite feeling like we were hiding from the marauding black mob outside, was nice. It was good to hang with my road trip pals.

Walking home was a similar experience to the trip to the pub, only this time we saw more white faces, they were in the police cars that regularly drove down the street.

We went to bed early so we could get up at the literal crack of dawn. I stayed out later than the others to Bible, look at the stars and pray. Yep. It was pretty good.

Today was another speedy trip down the highway. I got to see the sunrise, and then we left. We left at 7:20am, 10 minutes early, which we managed to nullify by getting lost at the first turn, and heading resolutely into the unknown desert. We were saved from certain death and cannibalism (probably not in that order) by a shrewd mix of pessimism and GPS.

But once we were on the right track it was straight on till Mt Isa. We arrived here just after 2pm (I think, the time zone change stuffed me up a little) which is majorly early. We have heard reports that Mt Isa is by area, the largest city on Earth. This is a pretty big boast for a town of just over 20,000. But considering that they seem to consider towns 200kms west of here part of Mt Isa, I can see why that would make such an outrageous claim. I also found out that you’re not a real Aussie until you’ve been to Mt Isa. Which, again, seems to be rather audacious thing to say, but seeing as we only found out about that little part of the citizenship test on arriving in Mt Isa, I reckon most people in Australia are blissfully unaware that they are, at best, just permanent residents, and it’s probably better to leave it that way. Otherwise Mt Isa will either be inundated with people visiting to make sure they are “real Aussies” or destroyed by a rampaging throng of pretend Aussies upset to find that Mt Isa has dared deny them of their supposed identity.

But seeing as we were here now, and safe in the assurance that we are as Australian as Rupert Murdoch, Russell Crowe and Greg Norman, we figured we could see the town. So we bought some bad Asian from a place called “Happy Box” (awesome!) and went to the lookout. The rest of the afternoon was filled with sleeping and people feeling sick.

Tonight Jem, Tracy and I went to church at the only place we could find with an evening service. It was a unique church going experience. While I didn’t hear anything much about Jesus, I did hear that they’re getting a new 400 seat auditorium. The sermon was basically talking about how we needed to get on board with the church vision. We were told that Jesus had a “sole vision”, his was the Kingdom of God, ours needs to be the new auditorium. We can’t serve the vision of any other churches, we must get on board with the sole vision of the church, because you cannot serve two masters.

Perhaps the highlight of the service was an inane song I have never heard before. The chorus was:

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so
Say so
Say so
*

I have no idea what that means, but as one of the redeemed I am now going to get in the habit of saying “so”.

Tonight we had curry for dinner which we cooked ourselves. We’re amazing and I’m off to bed.

So!


*In doing my research I have come to see that this is an adaption of Psalm 107:1-2 where it says "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this". But I can't say I really got the impression from the song that I was singing about the goodness of God, but the limited vocabulary of the saints.

4/25/2008 08:03:00 pm

Uluru

Posted by Tom French |

One would like to sat the highlights were the spiritual experiences at the big rocks but I'd have to say it was the $1.68 600mL Coke in Yulara and the 130km/hr speed limit on the Stuart Highway.

Oh yeah. That was definitely a trip worth doing.

(Photos and more words coming soon)

4/22/2008 04:20:00 pm

Alice

Posted by Tom French |

So I've made it to Alice Springs. I flew in yesterday from cold, wet Sydney at around 1pm.

I was kinda freaking out being is Alice. On Sunday morning I was in Canberra, on Sunday night I was in Sydney by Monday arvo I was in Central Australia in Alice Springs. Planes are strange things. I have no idea how far I flew yesterday, but how I managed to get from Sydney to the middle of the Australian in desert in four hours has kinda baffled me.

On arrival Mum, Andrew and Hannah took me to Glen Helen which is a place with tall cliffs and a rock pool. This part of the world, I have discovered, has the most spectacular scenery. Lots of huge red cliffs, red dirt and dull green scrubbary. It's amazing to travel around, and even more fun to drive around in a big, powerful Land Cruiser called Mayhem. The Uncle and Aunt have lent us their 4WD for the trip and it's big and fun, I got to drive it a little.

Last night I slept outside in a swag. Everyone had been telling me that I should do it because they had their most comfortable night's sleep ever in a swag. So feeling a little jolly and lot like a man, I carried my swag out to Keith and Stella's backyard to sleep under the stars. The great thing about this part of the world is there is no dew, it doesn't rain and the stars are brilliant. Plus, I've been told that Keith and Stella's property is at the foot of the oldest mountain range in the world* and that the mountains used to be higher than Everest. Which is kinda like the geological equivalent of living next door to Ringo Starr.

Anyway, the sleep wasn't the most comfortable I'd ever had. It wasn't bad, just not amazing. I was a bit cold, and I got woken up by some stray cows at one point. But still, now I can say I've slept out under the stars at the feet of Mt Ringo. And not many people in the world can say that.

Tomorrow we're off on a three day trip to see Uluru (Ayers Rock for those who don't know) which, I have heard, has been the most debated and contentious issue of this whole road trip. But we're planned now and there are three of us going and I'm excited. Many hours in Mayhem and a big rock that's world famous, what more could you want?


*Wikipedia tells me the the oldest mountain range in the world is the Urals in Russia. So either the Urals stretch all the way to Alice Springs or someone has their facts wrong.

4/19/2008 08:05:00 pm

Live from Canberra

Posted by Tom French |

I'm sitting in a rather large corridor here at EPIC (Exhibition Precinct in Canberra) and I've finally finished five shows of The Gilbert and Marty Show, the replacement to Donny Jaffa. There's singing happening in the main hall but I need a bit of time out. It's been a rather full-on 5 days.

It's been hard. Gilbert is a puppet played by Johnny and I play Marty, and over excited, try-hard youth pastor. I don't really like Marty very much. He's not as funny as Donny. But I've had to scale Donny back this year because he's pretty good at offending people.

Since arriving it's been all go. Not having any videos edited has meant that we've been editing two videos every day.

On the first night we only got one done, and even that didn't work. The show itself was under-prepared and not very funny. We were playing to an almost packed house and we were pretty bad. Lots of them didn't come back the next night. I didn't feel to happy about that. It's hard going out in front of an audience and absolutely bombing, especially when you know lots of them are expecting you to be funny.

But in the following days we improved. Johnny is great. I've really enjoyed working with him. He's calm and supportive and honest when he thinks I've had a bad idea. Plus he's optimistic which is always helpful.

Everyday after day one we made a video with Donny Jaffa going to visit people doing projects around Canberra. That's been pretty fun. It was nice to have Donny. I realised I missed him. He may be a rather unpleasant person but I do have a soft spot for him.

Making videos during the day has meant every afternoon has been packed full of editing. I usually give the video to Sam (who's been my right hand man this week) and just tell him to edit it and then check it later after Johnny and I have gone through the show. It's great. He's been a star.

Anyway, the end result is that we have a made a show that hasn't been as funny as Donny Jaffa. But it's improved, and it's made people laugh, and they've sat down and that's been the main point. So I'm happy now. Marty won't be back now.

I think the singing might have finished, so I should go. Tim Costello is speaking tonight and I'm looking forward to that, so I should be off.

4/15/2008 07:58:00 am

The Goal is Soul

Posted by Tom French |

I'm off to Soul today.

The Donny Jaffa Show has turned into the Gilbert and Marty Show. Technology has been so rude to us that I'm heading down there with nothing edited. So it's going to be an interesting week, full of editing and improvisation. Lucky I've got superpowers in both those areas.

Yep!

Be well blog readers. I might blog when I'm there.

4/11/2008 10:10:00 pm

Fullness of Life

Posted by Tom French |

Life seems really full at the moment. I guess because I'm trying to get a youth group to Soul Survivor, get a 2 and a half hours of live entertainment planned for next week, organise my self to get to Alice Springs in a week or so, and then be ready to start the new youth term when I get back.

It's going to be a biggy.

I can tell it's big because my procrastination has been at a bare minimum. I guess that's good. It might mean I only really procrastinate when I think I can afford it.

But I'm not feeling too stressed yet. So this is good.

I'm off to see U23D tomorrow. It'll be joyous.

4/09/2008 02:48:00 pm

Climb Aboard the Rudd-boad

Posted by Tom French |

This is why I still like Kevin.

Kevin goes to visit China, then tells the students at Peking University that there are human rights abuses going on in Tibet. It's like being invited to your neighbours house then telling them to stop abusing their kids.

Go Kevin!

4/09/2008 02:33:00 pm

Kibosh

Posted by Tom French |

Tomorrow we have an introductory staff meeting with our new Minister, and a few of us staffies thought it'd be the perfect time to pull a prank on him. We decided it'd be a rather funny idea to do the opening devotion from the Koran or some Buddhist text for the new guy. It'd be good to see his reaction when he starts to wonder what sort of a Church he's signed up for.

Alas though the Revs didn't think it would be very funny. Stephen said he didn't see the humour, but he didn't mind if we did it. Joe, the acting Senior Minister, laughed and said "That's not a good idea. Next time you have a thought Tom, keep it to yourself."

Alas, the dreams of the little people are crushed by the clergy yet again.

Next time I decide to pull a prank remind me not to ask for permission.

4/08/2008 05:23:00 pm

The Donny Jaffa Show?

Posted by Tom French |

So it's that time of the year again. A little later than usual actually. But I'm off to Soul Survivor in a week and have 5 30 minute shows to put together in a week. Things are late due to some communication mishaps between me and the others. But I figure it should all be good now.

What that means is I'm on a mad scramble to create a show. I'm not sure if it'll be the Donny Jaffa show or some other monstrous absurdity. If you have any other ideas for crazy pre-worship meeting entertainment, let me know.

4/07/2008 11:06:00 pm

Late Night Hosptial Party

Posted by Tom French |

I went with Lauren to visit a girl from youth group who's stuck in hospital right now. We managed to stay over three hours and got kicked out at 9:30pm, an hour and a half after visiting hours were over. It felt pretty rebellious getting kicked out of a hospital. But I guess for Girlfriend magazine readings and games of "Guess Who", who can blame us. It was pretty fun.

In other news, we're getting a new minister and his kids are youth group age. This is a little scary. Who wants to be the youth minister for the bosses' kids? I'll pay them to love it.

4/03/2008 07:23:00 pm

Porn Blog

Posted by Tom French |

We've got a man night on tomorrow night for youth group, and I've been planning on talking about porn, seeing as it's such a huge issue for young guys and no one ever talks about it.

Anyway, I've been doing research and XXX Church (I always feel naughty typing that address in, especially when I'm in my office) has an interesting blog from a Christian guy who used to be Porn Producer. I read a lot of it yesterday, it was rather fascinating. It puts a human face on a rather secretive industry. It was quite worth reading. He's not all Fred Nile about porn. He seems to take a rather smart, considered approach, while still acknowledging how much damage it does to people. I like people like that.

4/03/2008 07:20:00 pm

$7 Shuffle

Posted by Tom French |

Twice in the past two days I've had to raid two bank accounts with only $7 left in them. Doing the $7 shop means I have to do maths when I walk the isles. Still 7 is the holy number so I'm thinking it was probably a blessed scrounge.

I should get paid tomorrow. It won't be $7 but I'm sure I'll feel blessed anyway.

4/01/2008 05:15:00 pm

Having a Whack

Posted by Tom French |

Jem and I went to a driving range in Hoxton Park this arvo to whack golf balls. We were both pretty bad, but it was a bit of fun.

Yesterday night I went to see 10,000 BC with some folks after out Leaders' Meeting. It was rather silly. It had big, evil turkeys and the most absurd groups of ancient tribesmen I've ever seen put to film. But I had a good time watching it, and that's what matters most.

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