Notes From The DMZ

“This is really an incredible place, you know.

“This is a city stuck in between everything. This doesn’t feel like any recognizable place anymore. Certainly doesn’t feel like America.”

“This F.S.A officer I know said that, too.”

“I don’t mean like that. The F.S.A says they’re the “real” America now, and maybe they are, but this city, the people who are left here… like your friend Zee… they don’t belong to either side. This is like a whole new tribe, a new culture. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen here when the war ends.”

“When I got here I thought this city was just full of these lunatics, totally out of control. That’s how it looks from the outside. But from here? Everyone’s just normal. That’s what I want to show people.

“This is a war of extremes pushing against each other. But the stories lie in the middle. Here, in the city. That’s the interesting stuff. ”

Man I want to write something like this.

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Musings: The Marked ’09 Opening Video

Whoa. This year has been one where I’ve seen God take me to places I’ve never been — metaphorically speaking — a journey in which I’ve seen incredible stretching, undeserved favour and His tangible presence manifesting in every area of my life: relationships, ministry, work, family; I believe that 2009 will always be to me a season of astronomical growth, a dektos year, one in which I’ve tasted and seen my Abba’s goodness.

2009 also marks plenty of first for me — one of them being asked to shoot and direct (with a lot of help, I might add) a video for the ministry — this being the Marked ’09 GenRev camp. Not only was I blessed with the privilege of being able to shoot a video, it also allowed me to test out the capabilities of my DSLR (all the non-interview footage was shot with the 5DMKII, whose full HD video mode broke my system; Zixiang and I had to use Sam Quek’s MacBook Pro to edit this).

As harrowing, exhausting and time-consuming video shooting can be, I have to say I enjoyed it thoroughly and learnt plenty, even though we had a skeleton crew for the first day (only myself for the second) and no fancy equipment (pretty much only the camera and tripod). The street footage was random at best — sat around in Raffles Place on a weekday evening, trekked up the Fort Road flyover for the timelapse, tied my tripod to the car’s front passenger seat with scotch tape to shoot street lamps, or had Yoshie help to film the moving road shots as I drove — but it was an experience in itself.

But thank God that I was blessed with a big-hearted cast with seemingly-infinite patience (the waiting time can be incredibly testing), a tireless editor (Zixiang, who pretty much taught me everything I know about Premiere now), Sam Q (who oversaw and advised us on the editing direction) and Yosh (whose creativity never ceases to surprise and amaze me; she did the boards all by herself).

The concept of the video was fairly straightforward, and gave me the perfect excuse to use Explosions in the Sky music.

First we had some emo-ness, to depict some connection to the reality of working adults everywhere:


Frantic Esther Ann flagging an imaginary cab


Marc & Ken as ‘business partners’ having a spat (Ken’s CG loved him)
While the street footage used in the video was only a fraction of the immense amounts I shot, since we limited it to the ‘office workers’ set:
Lurking around Raffles Place in the evening
At one of the Queen St party shops

Along Stamford Rd, waiting for Yosh

I also had the chance to throw in some cameos, such as Nikki (below), Joana, Diana, Grace Lee, Shawn..


The focus is off I know, but this was the first time I was actually using the video mode 😛

But of course, God’s word and promises reign, so we had some scenes of defiance/triumphant-ness and general happiness..

Grace Khaw; this was a weekend, so we had Cindy to walk past in the background to give the scene some semblance of the contrast between stillness and motion
And also some goofing around:

Marked people eat at Burger King
This is actually my favourite part – where the scenes lead up to and from the climax of the song (First Breath After Coma!):


not alone

Download link available upon request 🙂

Knock Knock

This photo looks like something out of Murakami’s books. Weird surrealist fiction, painfully ordinary male protagonists, strange alluring women, with words that leap straight out of imagination.

It’s been a whirl of a few days. But nothing beats hearing zoe-infused sharing from two wonderful leaders. Better than mindblowing buffet dinners, maple-syrupy waffles with ice cream, fresh oysters that taste of a vast briny ocean that shimmers at noon, or desserts served in shot glasses.

Only You can bring true transformation. Here’s to taking a stand and bidding farewell to foolishnness, to standing firm on my righteousness and speaking truth, to wishing love to travel across analogue phone lines and digital frequencies, to playing guitar and singing to an audience of One.

Here’s to life, and to the Love that is sweeter than life itself.

Still Awake

‘Cos nothing else really matters.

The words have been eluding me, and my fingertips write silence, like giant word balloons with nothing in them. How do you write a smile, a laugh, or a sound of a voice? How do you write lovers speaking in quiet voices underneath a star-filled sky? It’s not a bad thing to be silent; maybe I’m just selfish and I want to keep all these things to myself, to be unafraid, triumphant, and free.

Secret words with secret smiles, to know that we have all these things that belong only to us.

To Be Marked

rearview

I’m listening to Sound Fragment’s 陌生城市的早晨 and it’s perfect. It’s the kind of thing you plug into when you’re driving through a strange, endless road with the dawn breaking over the horizon. In half an hour or so, it’s going to be like that. At first it’s a faint indigo lightening by the minute, with fading starlight; then it all blooms into a warm amber, like dark honey, peppered with clouds drifting lazily through the sky; it’s a wonder to watch and a trick on the eye, because you know the sunrise is happening but you can’t quite tell; before you know it it’s morning — daylight — and everything’s begun.

I’m going to my first camp in the last two years, the first hotel camp in three, and my first with GenRev. It’s been a long and hectic road, waiting for the days and weeks and months to pass to this one. I’ve never been busier than this in my entire life, which only makes the next five days all the sweeter.

48 hours: scripting, storyboarding, shooting and editing the Marked’09 opening video. 10 hours: setting up the Games Day logistics for Rock Kidz. 2 hours: tearing down the Games Day logistics and prepping for next Sunday’s Sports Day. Many more hours: meetings upon meetings.

I’ve wondered whether I’m overstretching myself with so much ministry work. Maybe I’ll find out during Marked Camp. Maybe it’ll be a precursor for more ministry stuff coming my way. In any case, one thing is for sure: Jesus is in the midst of it. And He is the only thing my eyes are fixed on.

You Are The Answer

theanswer

I believe you are the answer
To every tear I’ve cried
I believe that you are with me
My rising and my light

Give me strength when I am weary
Give me hope when I can’t see
Through the crosses I must carry
Lord, bind my heart to thee

That when all my days are over
and all my chores are done
I may see your risen Glory
Forever where You are

Corrinne May, ‘The Answer‘ (melody adapted from Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite “Jupiter”)

Not much to say — except that I’m loving this song.

Being Desperate

desperation

We’re rising up in spirit and in truth
A living sacrifice we worship You
People undivided Lord hear us sing
We are Yours and You are our King

This is our love
Hearts joined as one
Desperate for all You are
Lord break down these walls
And see how we love
Desperate for all You are
We chase Your heart

We didn’t come to leave here entertained
Or worship under any other name
We’re crying out for You alone
You are holy Lord

Hillsong United, Desperate People

My laptop’s a mess. I’ve been spending the last week or so trying to fix it — first it was an incomprehensible speed problem, starting with Google Chrome behaving worse than Internet Explorer on its worst days. Eventually things began slowing down to a point the entire system would freeze. After countless forced reboots, malware scans and ninja Googling, it’s now come down to a .NET Framework failure of epic proportions. So I’ve been reinstalling Windows Installer, the various versions of .NET Framework, removing, reinstalling, etc (rinse and repeat); right now I’m running Windows in safe mode so everything’s lightning fast, except with some inconveniences such as the lack of sound and well, basically everything else.

I’m pretty much convinced that these technical problems are not coincidental, considering how ministry work is stepping up to a level that I’ve not experienced in the past eight years of being in church. Not only that, I’m seeing a beloved friendship crumble among other stirrings in the personal arena of things; God is the only thing holding my sanity together in these rather tumultuous times.

I don’t even know how to even begin writing about it. Maybe it’s part of the threshing — separating wheat from the chaff. I thought it was an essential part of my life to be perpetually connected to the internet and be busy with what I thought I needed in order to live life fully and meaningfully; now, literally disconnected and out-of-touch, I’m discovering that I can easily leave it all behind. What is the point of Facebook or Twitter or being up-to-date with the latest news, gadgets, trends and videos when it does nothing else than keep you immersed in pop culture at the cost of real human connection?

I don’t crave the latest fix of scandals, natural disasters, memes or viral videos. I don’t need to know about the Imma-Let-You-Finishes or Ris Low’s latest foot-in-mouth tragicomedies. I don’t have to know all this so I can sound clever when I name-drop or try and assert my cutting-edge, in-the-know, tapped-into-the-vein ins-and-outs of the social media ebb-and-flow.

I really don’t.

When God brought back Desperate People to my memory recently, everything flashed back to the first and only time I heard it on stage. And listening to the song again reminded me of what is really important: coming back to that place of worship. Realising that beyond ministry, beyond the hundred things we are responsible for, beyond what we imagine to be pertinent or urgent, beyond all of that and more, nothing is more crucial than the simple act of worshipping Him. Sometimes we tend to dress it all up, with fancy guitars or pitch-perfect singing, but it’s really about stripping it all away and coming to Him just as we are.

Even if my writing’s all over the place or my life is disintegrating around me, tonight I’m just going to acknowledge that I’m desperate. Desperate for all that He is.

And that will be all that I need to do.