6/30/2009 10:40:00 pm

Advertising Attraction and Doormen

Posted by Tom French |

Today was walk to Times Square and back day. That's almost all we did.

However before we set off I walked into our dorm and the Russian girl who is sharing with us was standing there half naked. Having mixed dorms with half-naked Russian girls in them seems like it should be every young man's dream come true, I found it kinda awkward. I quickly turned away and started fiddling with the key to the locker trying to work out what the etiquette was in a situation like that. I wasn't sure if I should just pretend that nudity is the most normal thing in the world and go about my business, because she was standing there in the room she shares with 7 other people, half of them guys, maybe she's fine with it and it'd be rude if I ran away like a prude. Or should I leave because she was caught during a private moment she had in the dorm. In the end I pretended I had only walked into the room to fiddle with the key to my locker for a second and then I walked out again. I'm pretty sure that was the best compromise and no one lost face.

Eventually when I thought it was safe I went back to my room. I passed the girl in the hallway and gave her an awkward smile. Back in my room I got ready to leave.

Times Square is a long way away from our hostel, so it was pretty exciting to see New York. All the New York like buildings and shop fronts, and food places. We ate brunch at a place called Jackson Hole in honour of the King of Pop. On my burger I ate seven pounds of beef and didn't think of Will Smith once.

I can't say we saw anything too remarkable but everything was cool. Everybody who drives in New York seems to drive smaller cars than the people drive in the rest of this country. While 75% of cars in the rest of what I've seen in the US seem to be SUVs and over grown sedans, here cars seems a bit more normal sized. It could just be that half the cars are taxis and yellow is a very slimming colour.

Times Square is pretty amazing. Neon and video everywhere. Everything is advertising. It didn't even occur to me while I was there, but we trekked for two hours through New York to see a bunch of advertisements. That's a little sad. Still I like advertising when it's ten stories high and lit up. In fact I liked it so much as soon as I left Times Square I bought myself a Coke and a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I also almost bought a Samsung TV, GMC Truck, Timex watch, got a loan with the Bank of American and started lining up for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince but I held myself back.

After this celebration of consumerism, we wandered back through Central Park. It was full of people sun baking and playing softball, none of it was advertising. The contrast was amazing. I fantasised about lying in the grass and reading my book but I had an appointment to keep.

The appointment was to go see my distant, rich, relative who lives in an apartment on 5th Ave. We went back to hostel, I got changed and left Lesley there, then hopped in a cab only 6 blocks from the Hostel. I haven't yet got the knack of waving down a taxi yet. When we made it to the 5th Ave Apartment block the doorman came over and opened the taxi door for me. I felt wealthy.

In the apartment block there is a man named Nathan whose whole job it is is to press the buttons in the elevator. He was very good at his job.

My distant relative is the cousin of my Great-Grandfather. He was very friendly and welcoming. He told me stories about his time in the Hungarian Army in WWII and about his children and grand children. He gave me ginger ale to drink. He was very kind.

He also has a view out of his window right over Central Park. It was quite impressive.

At the end of the visit we went back down to the lobby with Nathan the Elevator Button Presser, and I hopped straight in my waiting taxi and went back to the Hostel.

Tonight we had Chinese for dinner from across the road. Lesley is reading and I'm blogging. I'll go read soon too. Tomorrow we're going to catch a bus.

6/30/2009 09:24:00 pm

Fame and Fortune: Part Two

Posted by Tom French |

Sunday was preaching day. I unpacked my best jeans and least offensive t-shirt and put some product in my hair. It's important to look your best as you begin your preaching offensive on a new continent. That's what all the books on televangelism say. Tom French Power Ministries was about to break the US market!

Grace cooked us another good breakfast, and dropped us at the church early. I had my quiet time in the foyer. I hadn't had it at home and I figure if people in the congregation find the preacher praying and reading his bible in the foyer they'll know he's really, really holy.

At the church I found that on the front of the bulletin was a dumb photo of me super-imposed over a kangaroo. I think I appreciate a church that makes fun of it's visiting preachers. Mockery is the best form of compliment (except perhaps when you actually get a compliment). Nathan also showed the worship band my air guitar video. I'm glad they saw my best side.

Church was a rather quick affair. We sang some songs (with one Hillsong song as a nod the Aussies), took an offering, had some announcements then I preached. Once I preached we sang a little more and then we were done. The longest thing in the service was my preaching. I did preach for a while. I was pretty happy with how I preached, and people seemed responsive so that was good. I hope people got something out of it.

We got to meet a lot of people after church. There are a lot of lovely people at Crossway. I really enjoyed meeting some more real Americans. I did meet someone from the church who told me that Obama was the Antichrist. I think it was because of his policies on abortion. I didn't tell them how I felt about Obama. I thought it was best to keep my mouth shut.

After church the Hyde's, Carolyn's parents and Grace took us out to lunch at the Outback Steakhouse. It's all rather fake Australian. I was hoping it'd be a really bad misrepresentation of Australia, but it was just kind of like an overdone tourist place. Still I did enjoy being somewhere that celebrated Australia.

We followed up our meal with a trip to Assateague Island. It's an island that was created in a hurricane in 1933 when the hurricane separated it from Ocean City. The main attraction of this island seems to be that there are wild ponies there. We saw some. And we spent a while standing on the beach looking at the Atlantic.

After all that excitement we all went home. Lesley and I read books then retired to our rooms early.

Monday was leaving day. After getting a photo of myself with the church sign with my name on it, we farewelled the Hyde's and gave them our presents full of Australiana. It felt a little silly giving these small gifts after the huge amounts of generous hosting we got. But it's not like they were looking for payment, so I'll just take it as grace.

Grace took us to the bus station and she gave us both a hug and left us there to fend for ourselves.

We caught our Greyhound to a town just up the road, went to change buses for the bus to New York, but were told the bus to New York was full. So we had to get back on our previous bus and go to Baltimore. I was hoping it'd be raining in Baltimore because of the Counting Crows song, but it wasn't. It was very sunny.

We spent 3 hours in the Baltimore Greyhound station waiting for the next bus to New York. We met a young, earnest evangelical called George. He is a plumber who wants to go to Bible college. I liked him a lot. He asked a lot of questions about Australia and the Bible. I gave him my heretical non-literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and he was willing to accept it right there in the bus station. He was the easiest person to convince I've ever met. I told him he should go read some more before he just agrees with me. I'm pretty sure my ideas aren't the norm in Evangelical America.

I'm glad we got diverted because I'm glad we got to hang out with George.

The bus to New York was pretty un-remarkable until we saw the buildings of New York arrived on the horizon. It was pretty exciting. Seeing all those famous buildings and that familiar skyline get bigger and bigger in the night sky, and then we went through a tunnel and suddenly we were right in the middle of it all. It was very exciting. I think it was probably a better way to arrive than flying in.

We caught a cab from the bus station to our Hostel. The cab was yellow. It had a little TV in the back. We ate pizza for dinner that night. We were in New York. Oh yeah.

6/29/2009 11:49:00 pm

Food and Fame

Posted by Tom French |

Ocean City was loads of fun! Lesley and I had been talking about how we were really looking forward to going because we'd get to hang out with some real Americans rather than just sharing rooms with sleepy backpackers. We weren't disappointed.

We travelled to Ocean City on Greyhound which Van warned us was "ghetto". I'm not exactly sure what that means. If it means the buildings were dodgy, the service not that good, and their entire workforce being people from minority groups, then yes, it was ghetto. Still I enjoyed the experience. I enjoyed riding with people who can't afford to fly, and I liked seeing the country side.

Greyhound also doesn't have much by the way of food, so we spent the day eating food from vending machines.

On the bus we went over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. It's 7km long. It made me happy.

When we made it to Ocean City Nathan was waiting at the bus station to pick us up. I saw him out the window when we arrived, but I pretended not to because then it would have been awkward till we got off the bus. Meeting strange pastors you meet on the internet is an odd business. But happily he didn't kidnap us or turn out to be an 80 year old woman with lots of cats.

Nathan shook our hands and introduced himself. He was friendly, American and sounded just like he does on his podcast. It felt like I was with someone famous.

Nathan took us to the house we stayed at. We were put up by a lovely older lady named Grace. Grace lives in a little cottage by the lake. She has soft grass. It was a pretty nice place and Grace was very welcoming and hospitable. She cooked breakfast for us every morning and slept on the floor in the lounge room so Lesley could sleep in her bed. I was put in the spare room with the freezer. I really liked having a room to myself. I haven't had one of them since I left Sydney.

Once we'd dropped off our stuff at Grace's Nathan took us to his place to meet Carolyn, his wife, and Laura Marie, his 19 day old daughter. Laura Marie was pretty un-responsive to our arrival, but she made up for it by being cute. Carolyn however was very welcoming and friendly, especially seeing as she had just had a kid. In fact the Hydes spent the whole weekend with us, entertaining us, taking us out for dinner, and their baby was less than three weeks old. I was very impressed and felt quite blessed.

They took us to dinner that first night so we could get some crab, it's famous in the Ocean City area. It was nice and tasted nothing like crab sticks, much to my happiness. Crab sticks are disgusting. Crab soup and crab imperials on the other hand are very pleasing to the taste buds.

While we probed each other for cross-cultural information and personal history, the conversation was peppered with regular descriptions of various local delicacies, especially delicacies we could have for dessert. We found that this discussion of food would be a theme of the weekend. I like food, but I didn't know that there was so many opportunities in a day to talk about it until going to Ocean City. My eyes have been opened.

We went for a trip after dinner to the famous Ocean City boardwalk, voted 3rd best boardwalk in the United States. It was pretty impressive. It was kinda like a cross between Surfers Paradise and the Manly Corso if they were stretched out in a long line, stuck right on the edge of the beach, and made to sell only bad t-shirts and unhealthy food. I did enjoy myself.

We spent so much time walking and talking about food that we ran out of time for dessert. I'm sure this is irony or something like that.

Saturday was a lazy day. Grace took us to Wal Mart. It was like K Mart but 50% bigger. I'm pretty sure this was a small Wal Mart though. Then she took us to a fast food place that sells salad and bread. True to local form, Grace had spent all morning talking about the food this place sold.

In the afternoon we went to the Hyde's and watched a DVD (Henry Poole is Here if you're wondering) then went and at dinner at a themed restaurant in an old fire station. It was pretty cool. I like fire stations and stuff. I had a big pork chop and ate it all. I felt like a local. Laura Marie, as usual, slept through the whole thing. Rude.

And now I'm off to bed. I'll finish the Ocean City catch up tomorrow. Now I'm kinda sleepy.

6/29/2009 11:39:00 pm

NY

Posted by Tom French |

We made it to New York. I like it.

Our room at the hostel we've checked into is full of people who go to bed early again. What's with young people these days! They should be out watching Broadway shows and getting drunk. Bah! Useless.

Now I should go back and write that big long blog post you're all hanging out for. Yeah, you are, you know it.

6/27/2009 03:54:00 pm

OC

Posted by Tom French |

We've arrived in Ocean City. We got in yesterday on the Greyhound. Everyone is friendly. We seem to talk about food a lot.

6/25/2009 09:57:00 pm

Last Day in DC

Posted by Tom French |

So today we saw everything else (Capitol Hill, Old Post Office Museum, Union Station, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial). We did a lot of walking. Saw Obama's motorcade again, I saw Marine One in the sky. And I sat under a tree, read my Bible and prayed. It was a good day. Tomorrow we're off to Ocean City by Greyhound.

There you go. That wasn't long at all.

6/25/2009 12:43:00 am

Giant Fighting Robots

Posted by Tom French |

We went to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen tonight. It's opening night. Where better to see a summer blockbuster on opening night than in Washington DC? To see it in LA, that's where. But seeing as we're not in LA, DC was a good substitute.

It was pretty fun. The crowd were at least half black and were adequately enthusiastic. There are twin robots in the film are obviously black (even though they're green and red) and every time they said something black like "I'm gonna pop a cap in yo' ass" or "yo' bitch" they all laughed and said "yeyah". I thought they'd be offended by the blatant stereotyping and white filmmakers' appropriation of their "street jive" but they seemed to like it. In fact anything done in the film by a black person was well appreciated. Even when Obama just got a passing mention it was appreciated. I think I should go to the movies with the African American community more often. They're good people to watch with.

The film itself was very cool. It seemed a lot less succinct plot wise than the first film. And it was less well written, the jokes were cheaper, and the characters even more shallow if that's possible and there were plenty of dumb things. But the robots spent a lot more time fighting, fighting with guns, fighting with fists, fighting with red hot robot swords! How can that not be cool? There's a scene in the forest when Optimus Prime takes on three Decepticons at once. It was brilliant.

Plus the film has more awesome helicopters, planes, aircraft carriers and blowing stuff up. It was great fun.

***SPOILER WARNING***

By far the silliest bit was when Sam went to robot heaven and he was sent back to earth to finish the job of saving the world. It was amazingly dumb. I laughed, so did the man next to me. The man next to me was black. We laughed together. I think we bonded through that moment. In my head I said to him "Yo' that's funny my homie" and I'm pretty sure he said back to me in his head "Right on my brother from another motha!" When I'm in DC now I know I have someone to give me a hand if ever I get in trouble from the gangs.

***END OF SPOILER***

So that's my review. Go see it. If you like robots fighting, you'll love this movie. It's totally cool.

6/24/2009 11:26:00 pm

Washing My Ton

Posted by Tom French |

So Lesley and I have been in Washington DC for a few days. We arrived late on Monday night. Our shuttle driver didn't know Washington very well, so by the end of the trip we knew Washington very well.

We're staying in a Youth Hostel here. It's fine. Everyone goes to bed early it seems. Especially in my room. And no one talks to each other much. Although right now in the lounge there's a guy from Australia telling an American guy about our water restrictions and Greek residents. That's ambassadorship if ever I heard it.

The first day we were rather stuffed, went straight to Capitol Hill for a tour of the Captiol building but were foiled by our lostness. So we just headed on down to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

If I had to be locked in one museum for the rest of my life, that'd be pretty high on my shortlist. It was amazing! Full of planes, space ships, ballistic missiles and films about all of the above. I has so happy in there. I geeked out. It's not quite as cool as the wing walk tour at Longreach, but if I was locked in there for the rest my life I'd walk on all the wings. Perhaps they need a Chaplin or resident usher or something. I love planes.

We watched an Imax movie there called Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag which was about a big training mission. It had lots of cool military stuff and it was wonderfully shot. I spent most of the time trying to work out how they shot it. I was impressed and pleased.

In addition to being an amazingly cool museum, it also had the biggest Maccas I've ever seen. So if I lived there I would be fat and happy. What else could I want?

Last night we had salad for dinner.

Today was White House day! We wandered over after a late sleep in and Chinese for breakfast. It was special. Seeing the White House was like being in a dream. I've seen it so many times in movies, and then I saw it for real. But it was in the wrong place. Like how you can dream your in England and then walk into your home, that's was it was like finding the White House but it wasn't in the movies (or The West Wing). But I got my photo taken in front of it, so now I inhabit the same universe as Jed Bartlet. My life is good.

While we were trying to get to the front of the White House we noticed there was a lot of security around and a lot of Police not letting you walk places you wanted to go. We heard one lady comment that you couldn't go anyway becaues "Obama is arriving soon". That sounded fun. When we finally made it to the front (or perhaps back) of the White House we found ourselves on the other side of the road from the fence, with the Police not letting anyone across the road. Eventually we saw all the traffic on the otherside of the park facing the White House get stopped, we heard sirens. We went across to the corner where the police seemed to keeping things clear and sure enough in a few minutes, along came some police motor bikes, an SUV, then a limo, followed by a limo, followed by three SUV chase cars and a police car. Or something like that.

In both limos there were someone sitting in the back seat waving at us. One of the was Obama, I guess the other one was his decoy waver. Either way, Obama waved at me.

I love motorcades. It made me pretty pleased. This town rocks.

We went to the White House Visitor Centre which wasn't nearly as impressive as the White House gift store down the road.

We then wandered down to the National Museum of American History. It was full of American stuff, I'm not sure I learnt a lot, but it was full of good exhibits, and I saw Oscar the Grouch and Dorothy's ruby slippers. They're not really rubies, just sequins.

Tonight was Transformers night. I'll blog about the film later. It was on at cinemas right next to the Verizon Centre where Beyonce was playing tonight. As we walked through the crowd after buying tickets to the movie I had the urge to check tickets and usher people inside. I didn't however, I just went to Starbucks.

Now I'm ready for bed. The clothes have been washed. Tomorrow is Capitol attempt too! Woo!

6/24/2009 12:43:00 am

The Wed

Posted by Tom French |

I'm not sure this blog is going to do the day justice, so I apologise to all you Jo fans out there in advance. But I'll write more than anyone else has so far, I promise you that.

I'd start from the beginning of the wedding, but I'm not sure when that was. The day before was full of things like rehearsals, speech, sermon and vow printing, meals, and people being stressed.

The day started at around 5am when the bridesmaids awoke singing. They didn't wake me up but I think the rest of the house was blessed by their melodies. They all headed off to get their hair done.

I woke at six something and showered, got dressed, and noticed the rain. Of course we'd all been praying for sunshine, but we got rain. Alanis Morissette popped into my head.

At 8 10 of the many people who had converged on the house were put in cars with various bits of the world-wide wedding cake put on top of them. I was given a box to hold labeled "EXTREMELY! FRAGILE!" This made me somewhat nervous. But when Di who was sitting next to me got a whole tier of the cake placed on top of her, I was most thankful that my load was small, light and probably less important.

The two cars left the house driving slowly through the streets of Antigua with the all powerful hazard lights on. It was like when they drive heavy equipment or nuclear bombs through the centre of small towns, at least that's how it felt in the car. Outside people didn't seem to understand the nature of the convoy. We got a chicken bus on our tail for the second half of the trip honking and threatening to run us over the whole time, but Lerae, our driver, was fearless and defiant, refusing to be intimidated. She managed to get us and the cake pieces to the venue in one piece, if you know what I mean.

The wedding venue is the most sought after venue in Guatemala, so I'm told. It's on the top of a hill over looking Antigua, surrounded by plush gardens, and interesting sculptures made by someone famous. The wedding was meant to be out under a shade cloth under the watchful eye of the volcano, but the rain moved us underneath the giant, permanent circus tent thing, where the reception was to be held. It wasn't a disaster. In fact, it was more intimate, because we were forced to do the ceremony in the round, or at least we did it in a line, one half of the congregation facing another with Jo and Victor in the middle.

On arrival, I sat down with Erica, my translator, and we went through the sermon together. She'd translated it the week before so we really just had to make sure we could do it together ok.

Then it was time to stand around and wait for something to happen. There was a lot of meeting of Guatemalan people who I couldn't talk to. Finally we all went to our seats, half an hour late, Sons of Korah started up and out of no where appeared Van dressed as a bridesmaid and walking down the make shift isle. It took people a little while to realise what was going on, and when Van reached the end of the isle she didn't quite know what to do, cause everything that had been rehearsed the day before was useless. But she did alright. For those of you want to know about the dresses and all that, the bridesmaids dresses were green, the flowers were colourful and the bridesmaids looked good.

Yep, I could write bridal magazines.

Jo arrived with Mum and Dad. Her dress was white. I almost cried (but I didn't because emotions are for weak people). It was strangely affecting to see my sister getting married. I don't think I've really thought through the significance of Jo's marriage for me, so I was surprised that I was emotional about it. But she's my sister and I love her, and I'm real happy that she's getting married, so I guess that's enough.

The ceremony, if it had not been in two languages would have been a rather simple affair, songs, sermon, prayers, vows, song, songs, recessional. But seeing as it was in two languages the whole thing seemed more elaborate, and it certainly was much longer. Added to this that it was cold and rainy and we were in an undercover but open air place, I thing there were a lot of cold people, especially bridesmaids and brides.

I preached, the jokes that there were crossed the Guatemalan divide, but there weren't many jokes. About half way through the sermon I realised it was going long. And while I normally would just edit on the fly, I couldn't because I had a translator and we were working of a pre-arranged manuscript. Erica, who did really well, had asked me at rehearsal if I was happy with the length, she may have been politely saying "It's too long you, nong!" But I didn't pick up on the politeness and thought it was fine.

Still people survived, and had the sermon been in just one language I would have been happy, so I'll sit with that.

When I sat down after preaching I sat next to Valentina who turned to me and said "So cool". And I thought "Wow, Valentina liked it." Then I thought about it some more and realised Valentina would never say "So cool" and actually she had said "So cruel". This stressed me out because I thought I'd really offended her some how with all my talk of needing Jesus in your marriage. But it turns out she was only talking about the length, especially when all the young women were freezing to death. I have to admit, I agree, it felt cruel while I was up there. I wrote a summer sermon.

The rest of the ceremony was lovely. I watched most of it with a lump in my throat. There was a Guatemalan lasso, Australian prayers, and even a John Colman song sung by Alex the American (who became my best friend for two days). It was a good ceremony. And as we sat and looked outside the rain stopped and the mist cleared and we could see glimpses of Antigua below. It was pretty special.

After the ceremony was the reception. I had a job to pull a string connected to a giant lace bell full of rice and beans as the bride and groom walked under it entering the reception . It's a Guatemalan tradition I'm told to wish the couple prosperity. I didn't do too well. My string broke and Victor Snr (Father of the Groom) had to run in and tear the bell apart with his strong, manly hands. Needless to say, I felt like a little bit of a failure.

The reception was breakfast, so I filled myself with eggs, sangers, beans and smoothies while Jo and Victor circulated and talked to all 200 of Victor's Cousins. You can tell he's an ethic just by the number of cousins he has. Those of us from devoloped nations only have a reasonable number like 15 at the most.

Watching them made me glad I'm not getting married. I don't want to talk to 200 people ever, unless it's all at once.

There were speeches, in two languages, plenty of tears from the Australians, Valentina's epic cake (which looked awesome) and then lots of standing around. There was a traditional Guatemalan band, but no dancing as dancing is a sin for Guatemalan Presbyterians so we all stood around and tried not to jig.

Finally, when most people had gone home, Jo and Victor decided to leave, and so did we. Jo's car broke down so she and Victor had to be driven to their swanky hotel in Victor's Brother-in-Law's flower filled car. We stayed behind and pushed the Corolla up and down the hill. Victor Snr finally started it by doing a live battery transplant.

By the time we all got home, we were all pretty wrecked. I read my book, ate some toast then went to sleep.

And that was the wedding day.

In the morning we all headed off to breakfast with the newly weds. You can tell your sister loves people when she has breakfast with 16 friends and family on the first morning of her honeymoon.

As it turned out, when Lesley and I made it to the airport we found out we were booked on the same plane to El Salvador with Jo and Victor. So we had the privilege of doing the first leg of their honeymoon journey with them. It was nice but a little odd. Like I said after Jo's first wedding, we're a close family.

Now we're in Washington DC and they're in Argentina. I'm going to bed. I'll blog about DC later.

The wedding was good. Jo and Victor are awesome. They're gonna be a great family and their kids are gonna be cute.

It rained but Jesus reigned.

6/23/2009 01:03:00 am

DC

Posted by Tom French |

Arrived in DC we have. Didn't get killed in a train crash. Nor get bashed by Homeland Security. Things are good.

We need to sleep because we're off to Capitol Hill tomorrow. Yippah!

6/21/2009 07:14:00 am

Ding Dong

Posted by Tom French |

Today is the wedding day. Jo's getting her make up done. I'm leaving for the place in 45 minutes. I have to get dressed.

It's raining today but Jesus reigns.

6/19/2009 09:23:00 am

House

Posted by Tom French |

I'm rather enjoying living in this big new-but-old-looking house here in Antigua. I like being here because it's full of people I love. I love the fact that we're not all just here for a holiday but a wedding. Being here for a week and a half before the wedding, with a week between the civil and the religious ceremony, feels exciting. We've all gathered from the other side to prepare with Jo for her wedding. It's like we're spending a week in the French dressing room before the big event.

Go Team French.

In one room the cake is being made, in another room the sermon is being worked on, in another the bridesmaids are trying on their dresses, in another the 5pm prayer meeting is happening. To be technically correct I'm not sure that all these things have all happened at the same time, but I'm writing figuratively or something. I'm allowed to do that, this is a significant time.

Plus we go out for dinner together often, or lunch, often both. Every meal feels celebratory, every day feels significant. The bride and bridesmaids are all off on a mini-pre-wedding getaway for a few days and even their absence feels significant. We have a week of waiting, a week to finish everything we need to do, a week to be ready, a week to say farewell, and we week to bring two families together.

I'm sure if we were doing this in Australia, I'd be staying out of things a lot more. Anything I had to do, I'd be doing at home alone. Everything would be happening in different places, there would be no hub of activity, Mum and Dad's place would be central command but all the work would be done at satellite locations. I'd probably just turn up on the day of the wedding in my suit, ready to be the brother, I'd meet everyone at the church. Now we have all the joy and roughness of sticking 11 people together in a house for a week to get Jo wedded.

It's special and I like it.

6/18/2009 01:00:00 pm

Cafe Time

Posted by Tom French |

I'm back in Cafe Barista, internetting and sermon creating. I've borrowed my father's laptop. I hope he doesn't mind.

There again isn't much to blog. I ate a bagel yesterday. It wasn't very good, but it had tomato on it and I liked that.

Last night Dad, Grandpa, Victor, Victor Snr and I went out for the family despedida. I don't know if it's traditional for the men of the two families to go out together, but we did and I'm going to pretend it is tradition.

We went to a fancy restarant and ate fancy food and had un-fancy conversation. It wasn't a very manly place to be doing man bonding, but lucky we're all so manly. We did bond and it was good.

I'm finding this sermon writing is wearing me out.

6/17/2009 12:17:00 am

Quiet on the Central Front

Posted by Tom French |

The last two days have been spent mooching around Antigua in cafes and restaurants. Plus I've spent plenty of time at home reading and sleeping. It's been quite pleasant. Unremarkable but pleasant.

For those who are wanting Jo news, she's been doing a lot more running around and wedding organising. As far as I can tell things are coming together. Tomorrow she's off to have a few days away with the girls. That'll be nice, and hopefully relax her so that she's ready to get fully married well rested, and totally happy.

6/15/2009 12:33:00 pm

Live Blogging at Cafe Barista

Posted by Tom French |

Jo Cafe Barista.JPG

Currently this is what I see as I blog just of Antigua's main square. I ordered my drink almost all by myself. If I was my mother, I'd be so proud.

6/15/2009 12:10:00 pm

Guatemalan Sunday

Posted by Tom French |

Sunday was much smaller to live through. I think we were all rather tired.

The day started with a trip to Guatemala's overbuilt airport with Jem and Jo to pick up the third and final bridesmaid, Anna. She arrived in time and in style. Then it was off to Victor's to pick him up after he lost track of time in coming to meet us. Poor guy. He's normally good with time, but getting half married took it out of him.

Jo and Victor took us out to lunch at some posh traditional Guatemalan resturant. Victor and I had the buffet. There was a dish that was meant to be cow stomach. I was most excited to try it, but it turned out just to be chicken. Disappointed. Otherwise the buffet was good, I stocked up my empty belly and didn't need to eat again.

Actually I ate so much, I just wanted to sleep for the rest of the day. But that may also have been the jet lag as well.

Lunch was followed by a trip to a very large homewares store to buy some cake tins but we were foiled as there was only one size cake tin and it was the wrong size. Apparantly Guatemalan's only like cakes of one size. Imagine what will happen, how their cake paradigms will be exploded when they see the wedding cake, three different sizes in three tiers. They'll be blown away.

Seeing as we were frustrated in our attempts to make Guatamalan cake history, we headed home and I spent the rest of the night on the couch digesting lunch. I went to bed early.

6/15/2009 12:04:00 pm

Wedding that wasn't a Wedding that was a Wedding

Posted by Tom French |

This is what I started writing on Saturday evening

They do things differently here in Guatemala.

I woke up today, excited because it was Jo's civil ceremony. While in Australia we do the church wedding and the legal wedding in the the same service, here in Guatemala they break things up but doing the civil ceremony before the religious ceremony.

So today was Jo and Victor's civil ceremony and next Sunday will be the religious one.

As I was saying I woke up, excited that we were going to do something official today. I may also have woken up because I couldn't sleep any more. I'm not yet totally adjusted to the time zone.

I spent most of the morning having an internal deliberation as to whether to have facial hair or not when I go to the ceremony, I decided in the end for facial hair to avoid the inevitable facial rash that always comes with shaving these days.

And that is where I fell asleep while typing so I thought I should go to bed

Once the whole house had been juoozied up, we hopped in our taxis and cars and headed off to Jo's miniature house just outside Guatemala City.

Upon arriving at her house we found Jo and Mum who had stayed there the night before after Jo's Despedida, and Lesley and Van who had both arrived in the country the night before and that morning respectively. While all the new arrivals gave themselves a tour of the house in our glad rags (Jo has a pool in her back yard about the same size as a baptismal font, good for sudden localised, religious revivals but not much else) while the women were busy getting pretty and confining Jo into her dress. When she came downstairs looking all dressed up in a large ball gown it occurred to me that this civil ceremony might be a bigger deal than I had previously anticipated. She looked pretty good.

But the excitement was short lived as Jo received a phone call asking us all to come an hour later as things weren't ready at Victor's house. This did give us a chance to have a cup of tea and all us Australians to keep asking Jo questions as to what was actually going on and what was the point of this civil ceremony. It's all a little confusing.

Basically yesterday was the legal wedding, but next Sunday will be the ceremonial wedding.

After receiving another call telling us we could come now, we loaded ourselves into the various cars and drove ourselves across the suburb, filled with it's people, street vendors, and one way streets, and arrived at Victor's family's house.

The place was full of Guatemalans who I smiled at and kissed and bluffed my way through greetings. There was one woman who I have met before who I think knows less English than I know Spanish because every time she sees me she gives me a huge grin, a thumbs up and says "Yes! Yes!" I don't understand what she means, but seeing as no one understands me either, I figure if I give her thumbs up and a "Yes!" too she'll feel validated in her cross cultural enterprises.

Victor's parents had decked out their backyard filling it with chairs and a largish, square, open-sided, tent. Under the tent were a few chairs and a table with a nice tablecloth, a big vase of flowers and two nice chairs on one side facing one nice chair on the other. This was where the ceremony was going to take place. It reminded me of a Jewish wedding, except there were a lot of people under the covering.

When the ceremony began Victor's parents introduced everyone there. We all stood and waved and were clapped. I got to sit under the tent with my parents, just behind Jo and Victor. I felt like royalty.

Pablo the Lawyer stood up with Mario the Airline Pilot Trainer/Translator and gave us a Cirmon. This is a Sermon for a Civil Ceremony. He started off by talking about ancient Roman symbolic animals but then we were told they were irrelevant. I think perhaps something was lost in the translation, but I quite liked it. I was hoping there would be more irrelevancies in the cirmon to amuse me.

He actually spent a lot of time talking about God and marriage, and I worried he might be stealing my thunder for the ceremony in a weeks time. He talked about civil ceremonies were about giving to Caesar what is Caesars. I hadn't thought about it before but I felt it was an appropriate application of the verse. Lawyer and Preacher, this Pablo was good, I was feeling more than little intimidated.

When it came time for the reading and signing of the Marriage Act, Pablo did slip a little in the Lawyer stakes. He named Jo, Joanna Mary French Lopez, told us all she was from the Republic of Australian and mis-spelt and mis-pronounced almost her entire family tree. I think this was because Jo had given him the names via Victor, over the phone while getting her hair blow dried that morning.

Despite the issues, Jo and Victor signed their life away on the document, then my parents signed as witnesses, then Victor's parents, then all the Australians. It was fun. I've never signed wedding thing before. I didn't do a very good signature.

The various parents gave a little speech, then Jo and Victor spoke. Everyone cried. I may even have teared up a little. It was nice. And the Jo and Victor were married.

It was odd, I didn't realise Jo and Victor would actually getting married that day, but it turns out they are now legally married. Still that didn't make much of difference. They don't get to actually be married until Sunday at the Church ceremony. Right now it just seems like their still engaged with more jokes about their marriage.

As it was such an important occasion we all had to eat. I do love that all cultures celebrate with food. Food is wonderful. We had a wedding feast of lasagna and Guatemalan pudding.

A few hours later the festivities wrapped up and we all headed back home to our exotic villa in Antigua. I went out for dinner that night to a hippy cafe with loud good music, with Jem, Janet, John, Grandpa and Valentina. I think Jem and I were the only ones that enjoyed the music. It was a bit loud for everyone else. The food wasn't terrible though.

That night due to new arrivals I was moved out of the room I had been staying in, into a room with Mum, Dad and Jo. I was put in the double bed with Jo. The poor girl. My sister had to spend her wedding night sleeping in the same bed as her brother. Not really the best start to a marriage. She has told me that on her second wedding night I'm not allowed anywhere near, and that's totally fine with me.

6/12/2009 06:35:00 pm

Hammock

Posted by Tom French |

I tried the hammock. It was a let down. It seemed better designed to enhance flexibility than relaxation. Had I stayed in it I'm sure I would have been able to touch my toes with my face with minimal effort.

6/12/2009 02:39:00 pm

Airport Weddings and Pedidas

Posted by Tom French |

I have arrived now in the Guatemala. I'm "Sister's Wedding Ready".

After I last blogged I ventured out into LAX to get myself booked into my next flight to Guatemala 1:45am. I decided to check in early to save myself the hassle of lining up with a thousand other people. But when I arrived it was a like a Latino convention. I thought Latin American people were meant to arrive late to everything, but not the check in it seems.

But despite the people, I made it. I spent the whole time in the line running my tongue around my teeth and dreaming of brushing them. So I went and had dinner, then brushed my teeth. Oh how it felt so nice.

I made it on to my flight after sleeping at the gate in the uncomfortable chair for an hour, and I pretty much slept the whole flight.

Guatemala City airport is spacious, shiny and empty. It seems like they built it anticipating a boom in travel which is yet to come, but I'm happy to give them points for optimism.

Customs and Passport Control scared me because they were in another language (Elvish, if you're wondering), but I made it through alright. They didn't seem interested in my 7kgs of icing sugar. Which has given me new inspiration to begin a career as a drug runner. No one expects you to bring drugs into Latin America.

Victor and his Mum picked me up and drove me directly to the supermarket. They wanted me to see the sights.

Then it was to Victor's place for a shower, off to the posh mall for pancakes and back to the airport to find my Father.

While we were waiting at arrivals (which is situated outside, even though they have a perfectly good, shiny, new and empty arrivals hall inside) a bride and groom pulled up in a wedding car, got out and then proceeded to get married right there outside the Airport. They had a celebrant, photographer, video guy, bodyguard, cake person and everything. They stood there said their vows, had their kiss, took their photos, ate their cake, drunk their champagne and threw their bouquet right there in front of the people picking up their friends, business men and taxi hustlers. It was amazing! It could easily have been a performance by an improv theatre group, it was rather strange. I would have taken photos but I didn't want to miss the kiss.

Dad arrived just in time to miss all the fun, and we headed off for Antigua.

Victor handed us on to a taxi driver who arrived only an hour after summoned. I used the time to doze deeply. When the taxi driver got us to Antigua he promptly got himself lost. We stopped about 7 times to ask for directions. I think perhaps Guatemalans have a habit of giving directions even when they don't know the way. Everyone asked gave an answer, and only one person actually got us too the place. It may just be an over-developed sense of self-confidence. Whatever the case, we arrived at the house we're staying at only a few hours late.

We were welcomed at the door by Jane, Jo, Janet and Jem. It was a little sad to break up their retreat for women with names starting with J, but it was nice to see them. I like them all.

It actually turned out that Grandpa and Valentina were hiding inside so the J convention had already been crashed.

The house we're staying in is a large, new but old looking, posh place with a maid. I've never had a maid before, but I shall make us of it by throwing rubbish on the ground in front of her and watching her clean it up.

I'm actually not sure how well we're all coping with the maid. Everyone keeps feeding her and trying to do her cleaning and tiding for her. I wonder if our egalitarian nature insults her professionalism.

After arriving at the house I accidentally fell asleep on my bed, and woke up in time to get dressed in my nice shirt and ugly pants for the evening's Pedida. A Pedida is a Guatemalan tradition before a wedding where the Mother and Father of the Groom and the Groom come to the house of the Mother and Father of the Bride and ask permission for the Son to marry the Daughter.

Last night we had the Pedida. It was nice. All the important people made speeches. They all got translated. There was a bit of crying. I managed to stay awake through the whole thing, but I got a lot of worried looks that I might soon fall off my chair. It felt significant, the Pedida not the narcolepsy.

Needless to say, my parents said "Yes".

The two families (plus well loved ring-ins) then had a feast provided by the women of the French clan. The feast was meant to be traditional Australian, but I think it was more Hungarian due to the fact that Hungary actually has a culinary tradition to draw on. We did have Pavlova in honour of Jo's Australian/New Zealandish roots.

I went to bed around 9pm and woke up at 9am. It was one of those sleeps that feel as nourishing as a big roast dinner. It made me very happy.

Today started with pancakes and a trip into Antigua for coffee with Dad, Grandpa and Valentina. The women are now all off for Jo's Despedida (her hen's night) and I am blogging.

I'm eyeing off the hammock on the back veranda. It looks highly relaxing and exotic. I want to read a book in it and fall asleep. That'll be the life.

6/10/2009 08:06:00 pm

The Day of LA

Posted by Tom French |

You can tell I'm on holidays because I'm writing long blogposts again.

John and Cake at City Hall.JPG

Post Qantas lounge blogging, I stocked up on food and Dad, because he's a business man, talked on the phone and refused to invest in my life like the high-powered, high-flyer suit that he is.

John on Phone.JPG

My Father neglects his son while on the first day of holidays together

Once our flight was called we bundled ourselves, our carry on bags, and the wedding cake onto the A380, and it managed to fit all of us and our gear plus about 3,000 other people. We lifted off into the skies metres of runway to spare.

The A380 is a lovely plane. Being downstairs is like being on a new 747 but you have to remind yourself that there is a whole second story of people more elite than you upstairs. Then it feels big. It's also new. And shiny. And you know it's important because instead of saying "Welcome aboard", the flight attendants all say "Welcome aboard the A380." I wonder if they'll still be saying that in 20 years.

Anyway the flight isn't much to comment on. My TV broke early on and I was worried I would be forced to watch the frozen launch screen of a video game for the entire 14 hours, which would have made it the worst flight ever (I only fly for the entertainment), but the Lord had mercy via a flight attendant who reset it for me. Praise Jesus. I got to watch Last Chance Harvey with Dad (it was about an inept man going to his daughter's wedding overseas, I think it made Dad cry small tears). I also watched the first two episodes of Season 2 of Flight of the Conchords. I know you're all jealous.

We did learn on the flight that the Americans have made a new rule for any plane flying to America that passengers are not allowed to congregate on the plane in groups, especially near the toilets. When you've squashed 500 people into a metal tube in the sky and then making a rule for them not to congregate is like sticking five people into a Mini and making a rule that they mustn't sit near each other. Suffice to say, we did see multiple incidents of people congregating near toilets. I can only guess how our flight didn't end up in the side of a building somewhere attacking freedom.

When we arrived in LA, due to the A380s flux capacitor, it was 3 hours before we left Sydney. I managed to leave my passport on the plane and had to get a security man to retrieve it for me. He did and didn't beat me around the head with his Homeland Security batton, which was very gracious of him.

Customs was long and a tad silly, as is to be expected, but they allowed my suspicious looking 7kgs of icing sugar through no worries. And then we were in glorious LA.

We caught a taxi into LA where I promptly hid a special treasure for my friends Pip and Caleb to go find when they get here in a few weeks time. It's an international treasure hunt and I'm excited.

Dad and I followed our pirate like booty concealing with lunch in the most American place we could find: Showbiz Ribs. There was lots of food, free soda refills, and people of hefty proportions. We couldn't have asked for more.

Tom in Showbiz Ribs.JPG

I didn't realise I look like that in profile. I'm going to get cosmetic surgery to the side of my head

We wandered around the city, discovered the Disney Concert Hall, which you may remember from such films as Get Smart and Sketches of Frank Gehry. It is kinda cool.

Disney Music Hall.JPG

Disney Concert Hall

John at Disney Centre.JPG

Dad in some garden with some architecture

We also found the famous City Hall. You may know it from films, but I can't think which ones.

John and Cake at City Hall 2.JPG

Dad and the World Travelling Wedding Cake at City Hall

We went in, were given visitor's passes and given free access to LA City Hall. It was great. We wandered deserted corridors looking at pictures, through empty reception halls, and looked out at the empty look out. If you're in LA, go to LA City Hall. It's the best thing to do Downtown. I know because I did Downtown today.

Bored in LA Downtown.JPG

Bored in LA. Probably not the best bored shot ever.

Ugly Art.JPG

LA should be famous for it's ugly art, because that's the only art we saw today.

We finally headed back to Union Station to catch a bus to the airport. You may also know it from movies but I can't remember any of them either. It had comfy chairs.

John Union Station.JPG

Still neglecting his son

Hacked Sign Union Station.JPG

Union Station Sign Hack. Sweet.

Now I'm in the ReLAX lounge. It's like the Qantas lounge only less posh and you can get in if you pay money. It has the most comfy chairs. Dad just left to go and catch his plane. I'm all alone till 1:45am when my flight will take me on to the Guate.

This place is full of Australians. I wish it wasn't. I want to listen to Americans. I love Americans.

John in ReLAX lounge.JPG

If you look closely you can see a plane out the window

6/10/2009 11:19:00 am

A Three Eighty Alrighty

Posted by Tom French |

I'm in the Qantas Club because my Dad's all la-de-da and got us in on his golden credential. I haven't eaten breakfast but I plan on gorging myself on the free cheese and bread rolls. I may even get totally sloshed on the vodka. Can't pass up a free opportunity to vomit on a plane!

That last bit was a joke for all my conservative Christian friends.

Last night at work there was a girl walking around in a bra. One of the cleaners told me to "Check it out! That's amazing!" And I did notice that she got a lot more helpful service from the male ushers than most patrons. I tried not to look because it's rude to look at women in their underwear, unless it's in a catalogue and then you can look for bargains.

I'm ready to leave Australia now for the North American World Tour. The bags are checked, the 7kgs of icing suger safly on the way to the cargo hold.

For those who are interested, I'll be going Sydney - Guatemala - Washington DC - Ocean City - New York - LA - Sydney.

We just saw our plane, the mighty A380. I'm so excited. It's a darn big plane with a self-service bar. Sweet!

This is all I have to say. Now I'm going to find free food and drink and relax in pomfy-pomf elegance.

6/09/2009 05:43:00 pm

Almost Done

Posted by Tom French |

I did my exams. They were about as good as unstudied for exams can go. Joys be had.

Almost everything on the to do has gone on the too done list. I'm even almost totally packed. All the suits and icing sugar and one or two pieces of clothing I want to wear are in and wash bags and clothes on the line to be squashed in.

I have to work tonight and earn my cash monies, than I'm sleeping and flying.

I love this time before you go away, when you realise you're almost ready to go and all the things that were stressing you about leaving are over. The holiday begins now. I know I have to work, but that's pretty stress free. It only really involves scanning tickets, telling people they can't smoke outside or bring plastic bottles inside and maybe seeing a bit of an international pop star. Not too shabby really.

Now I have to go wee. That's my most pressing need and it really is pressing.

6/08/2009 11:02:00 pm

Never Touching the Ground

Posted by Tom French |

I'm leaving the continent on Wednesday. Tomorrow I have two exams and work. Tonight I'll pack when I've finished doing some last minute computer work. Today, yesterday and many days before that I was sermon writing.

As usual no where in there have I found time to study. This isn't ideal.

I'd be pretty happy if I woke up in morning and I'd slept right through Tuesday. Oh well.

6/06/2009 09:18:00 am

The Pilavachi Tapes

Posted by Tom French |

This is one of the videos we made for Soul Survivor this year.

Enjoy.

6/05/2009 07:00:00 pm

Harvest

Posted by Tom French |

"They sang. It was an old song whose meaning they had long forgotten but now they knew the meaning of it and they could sing no other. It was a song of the season of bloom and feast. They had gone so long without a harvest that they forgot what harvest was. But now they knew what the [sickness] had stolen from them long before. What had been lost was found again. And those who had been hungry without knowing the name of their hunger, they were fed" - Orson Scott Card, Children of the Mind

6/05/2009 01:01:00 am

The Hair

Posted by Tom French |

One film I am looking forward to, which I don't think will disappoint, is State of Play. Although I'm not sure I could handle two hours of Russell Crowe's hair:

russell-crowe-in-state-of-play.jpg

We have given him back to Kiwis haven't we?

6/04/2009 11:38:00 pm

Terminating

Posted by Tom French |

terminator salvation.jpg

We went to see Terminator Salvation tonight. I was a bit worried going in. I love Terminator films. I even liked T3 the first time I watched it (not so much the second time round).

I was excited by the idea of this film because I love apocalyptic movies. I love trained men with guns. I love killer robots. I get a little frustrated by the films' continual ability to say "We thought we killed SkyNet, but oops we didn't." Which is partly why I loved the end of T3. If nothing else the end and the crane and fire truck chase were way cool.

But sadly Terminator Salvation isn't really that good. Sam Worthington had a cool character. At least, if they'd not written the whole bit about him being a death-row convict with a need for redemption he would have been cool. I love the idea of the man who finds out he's a robot. I'm sure it's been done in another film but I can't remember what.

There were some cool helicopters, guns and planes. The whole thing looked great. The special effects weren't too shabby at all. But the whole film kinda feels like no one was putting in any effort. There was a lot of potential quality action, but it didn't really get there.

And while all the other films had a sense of fun to them, especially T2 and T3, this one had maybe one joke. On the other hand there was plenty of dumb over simplification and humanising of machines don't need to be humanised. Why would a bunch of robots need a graphical interface to deal with when they can just communicate wirelessly in ones and zeros? What machines type in access codes to open doors? And why do we need to have a scene where the computer tells another computer the whole back story, character motivation and plot of the film? Bah!

I was always worried that they handed the job to McG to make the movie. He's made three films before this: Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and We Are Marshall. Would you think these are safe hands to put the Terminator franchise in? Even Jonathan Mostow had a better resume.

I guess every summer season has to have it's disappointments, and this is one of them.

Still I haven't given up on the world of the Terminator future wars yet. If they learn from their mistakes the next film could be cool. Christian Bale is pretty special, even if he seemed rather bored through out this film. He could be a good John Connor. I have hope for the future.

6/02/2009 02:52:00 pm

I Sing a Dream

Posted by Tom French |

6/02/2009 10:46:00 am

More Academic Grace

Posted by Tom French |

So I got a phone call yesterday from the lecturer who is marking the essay for the subject which I'm redoing because I failed. I couldn't work out why he'd be calling. I didn't think it'd be because my essay was going to fail because I had put a lot of work into the essay. I was pretty sure it wouldn't be because I neglected to hand it in. All I could think of was that it was so good he wanted to publish it. At least, that was what I was hoping for. So I rang him back this morning.

He asked me if I was aware that the late penalties at college had changed this year. They used to be 5% a week, which was insanely generous and I exploited it regularly. Now they've been upped to 10% a week. Which is still very generous, but probably better to stop people like me treating deadlines like suggestions.

But this phone call was the first I had heard of the change.

Turns out my essay wasn't as insanely brilliant as I had thought it could be. It seems it takes more than having 12 books in your bibliography to impress these academic types. I even had a book by John Calvin! Anyway the lecturer told me that if he marked me on the new system then I would fail. But seeing as I didn't know he was going to mark me on the old system, and so I'll pass.

I must say, it's times like this that I love my college. I have by no means been the best student. But they're gracious to me even when I should have known better. Ignorance isn't really a valid excuse, but they passed me anyway.

It makes me not regret the dream I had last night where I got into a shouting match with the lecturer of one of Sydney's other conservative evangelical colleges who was ripping on my college. I totally won the argument too.

If they've got my back in real life, I've got their back in my subconscious.

6/02/2009 01:43:00 am

Jonah Arrived

Posted by Tom French |

For those who are interested, the Friday's preach is up here or on the podcast.

As a bonus in the blog post about the talk, I discuss with myself the ethics of telling a girl who has a boyfriend you like her, and then the ethics of doing an illustration about it. Just so you know where the juicy bits are.

6/01/2009 12:23:00 am

Getting Rich

Posted by Tom French |

Money in hand.jpg

I worked yesterday (Saturday) ushering for a "how to make money" seminar. What was interesting for me was that it was so unlike anything I am used to. I'm used to going to Christian conferences where a bunch of people talk to you about Jesus. This was a conference about how to get rich. While at a Christian conference often talk is about how to give, serve, help the poor, be humble, and repent, all in the context of worshipping Jesus. This was all about how to get rich, make money, have power, be successful, all in the context of worshipping the self.

One of the first things I heard when I started my shift was the guy making a joke. There was a Buddhist monk on stage who had obviously just been talking about happiness. The main speaker said "I think it's important to be happy. I saw the 2009 Lamborghini the other day and I got unhappy... because I only have a 2007."

There was a lot of talk about the economic crisis. It was all about how to exploit the crisis for your finacial gain. All the Christian talk I've heard about the crisis has been about asking, what is God saying through this? Has money been our idol? How can we be helping those people hit hard? How do we live more responsibly with money? How can we respond to the poor who are hit hardest? How can we trust God to provide?

The contrast between what the church is saying, and what these people are saying is huge. I didn't sit there thinking "These people are terrible." It did however illuminate for me how a huge section of the world thinks. Greed is still alive, well and celebrated.

I am so pleased that I can clearly see the difference between what this section of the world is saying, and what the Church is saying. The Church, as much as we beat it up, is being God's mouthpiece in this current economic crisis. We too might be suffering the consequences from our rampant greed and materialism, but at least we're asking the right questions. If we come out of this with a better attitude towards money, a greater generosity towards those who have less than us, a greater appreciation for God's provision, a greater understanding of money as a gift given by God not earnt by us, and a better understanding that money is a bad god, then we will have come out well.

I hope out of this current situation we don't just get changed wallets but changed hearts.

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