Friday, 18 September 2009

Penang 2 - USM in search of Minden Barracks

We hired a bike and went to USM - Universiti Sains Malaysia – what used to be Minden Barracks. The Gatehouse looked familair - a Football pitch on left and athletics field on right Swimming pool New international/ competition standard But the old pool still there Now used for scuba diving where I learned to swim backstroke. A 61 year old, very fit looking swimming instructor NAME swimming instructor remembered playing football with the Greenjackets when he was about 14.

A good view of the Colonels house. We went behind pool to Sergeants mess beside Water Tower Plus a residential block past where NAAFI used to be and Health centre (Doctors) near a roundabout Didn’t recognise much of the bottom end of camp I couldn’t find Cinema or old school or parade ground . I imagine that end had been developed but the front end of camp was still familiar

I found our road near the roundabout (the next road after the officers quarters road and then our old house WONo3 above the door. The courtyard between the house and the utility block had been covered over and extended but the layout was recognisable Next door, on the left, lived Staff Sergeant Hornblower. His son Stephen was my age with water on the brain and a real nuisance. His daughter used to play with Liz

Below and round the bend was the road with the sergeant married quarters (Sergeant Morgan who appeared on Pegasus Bridge in the film the Longest Day). I remembered the tree where we played marbles and the small hill where I learned to ride a bike. The tree which I climbed at the front of our house and got stung twice in the head by Hornets. Dad killing a cobra in our back garden with a walking stick. Also a huge snake – a python - that a corporal had killed with a machete hanging over a tree like a trophy playing with plastic soldiers behind the servants quarters and napalming them with lighter fuel; making rice paper in the utility room on Mary’s (our Amah) ironing board

Her daughters Alexandra and Francis looking after us – I remember one time riding on Mary’s son Joseph’s motorbike and going to their Kampong and eating a cake she had made specially

I remember Setting fire to the field between our row of houses and the officers quarters circle a line of adults with buckets putting the fire out. Being stung twice in the back whilst Bob played his game of dare with hornets. Falling off my bike and my knee going septic and having to go to Taping hospital. Playing monkeys on top of the wardrobes in the bedroom, Cockroaches on the floor in the kitchen. Filling condoms from the bathroom cabinet up with water and having a water balloon fights. Onetime bubbles everywhere in the bathroom after a bubble fight and it being cleanest ever afterwards

The Officers houses were in more pristine condition, better preserved, with more original looking shutters and immaculately kept gardens. Military order had been maintained, with the officers mess now functioning as a museum .

I couldn’t remember where the ammo caves were nor the huge black water pipe we used to walk along. Saw where I learned archery, when the regiment was in Borneo the band stayed behind and organised activities for the families. Games galore and parties Jungle juice on sports days.

to be continued........


The Motor Scooter was becoming uncomfortable on such a hot day. We went to coast but couldn’t get a boat to the island which used to be a lepers colony then a prison and now a resort

Went to the snake temple, which had 'lost its sting' and had little impact on me. I used to be really scared of snakes. Now I just dislike them.

No way we could have driven round the island on the scooter in the time we had allowed so we called it a day and headed back to George Town

Evening watched football Chelsea and Villa in a Chinese food mart drinking ice-cold Tiger and eating hot chicken satay

Sunday went to St Georges church Rev Ho King Eng preaching (50 mins) A relaxed service worship led by keyboard and 2 vocalists all the songs projected. Mixed congregation young looking. Food was served afterwards, Soup and Bread, Chicken and Rice. Coffee and cake. We spoke to people from UK with YWAM and USA with SIL, plus locals

The Church is being decommissioned in a fortnight by Bishop Ny Moon Hing prior to extensive renovation by the Malaysian Govt of this National Monument which will take 2 years.

We walked to Fort Cornwallis which was unfortunately closed on Sunday (funny thing is I don’t remember going round it)

We passed the Diamond Jubilee clock tower 1837-1897 and Jetty at Sweetenham Penang Port to QEII Church street pier et 1897 and had a pizza and beer . It was probably here that I remembered coming to Penang at the beginning of the great adventure.

At Butterworth we ditched the not so comfortable bus at the last minute in favour of the slower more spacious more elegant train. So I left Penang the same way as 45 years ago. By ferry and overnight train.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

George Town - Heritage site and Penang Hill Railway

Tim is in Penang at the moment so I am publishing my notes written back in feb 09 so he for one can see where I went.

Our bus from KL arrived at 4am (we left KL at midnight) so we sat around KTM Keratapi Tanah Melayu, the Railway station with trains to Bangkok and Singapore from Butterworth.

This is where we caught the overnight sleeper in 1965. An old loco outside of station, seemed familiar, stirring long forgotten memories, which is why I was back after 45 years.

Cup of chai in market area and talk with Aamir then to ferry for early morning crossing. On the Pulau Angsa (built 1980) It was still dark Penang lit up over the water I remembered sea snakes, the Ambulance trip to Taiping hospital, arriving in Georgetown on SS Nevassa, picture of band playing colonel off to tune of 'moon river'

On the other side we killed more time with Roti Canai Murtabak in street side café. pulling the tea. Then at 8am an acceptable time we went to where Staying at YWAM base address above 2nd hand clothing shop.

Had a sleep and then something to eat before looked at parts of the Heritage trail George Town, Penang is a UNESCO world heritage site.

See full size image

In the information centre a very helpful curator showed us books on old Penang , whilst it poured down with rain.

We visited a Temple, passed the mosque and then took a taxi to the station for the trip up Penang Hill Railway, a funicular railway built between 1906-1923.

I didn’t remember changing trains halfway, but bits of the walk around the top were familiar: mosque Temple No church, This is a hill station, like Murree in Pakistan or Shimla in India but on a smaller scale. Used in the Raj for relaxation, An aviary in old Hotel. Giant spiders and monkeys playing in trees cream teas available in a vestige of Raj, called David Brown’s lodge. Drink of coconut milk Old funicular coach. The Taxi there and back again cost too much. The bus would have been much cheaper.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Romero 'A future not our own'

More inspiration. I originally came across this poem/prayer in Brian McLaren's The Secret message of Jesus

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

Wonderful words but not Romero's according to one blogger:

The 'prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included in a reflection book a passage titled "The mystery of the Romero Prayer." The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.'

Monday, 14 September 2009

Aaron by George Herbert

Henry shared this poem at CMS. I thought it was brilliant, so I'm passing it on.


HOLINESS on the head,
Light and perfection on the breast,
Harmonious bells below raising the dead
To lead them unto life and rest.
Thus are true Aarons drest.*

Profaneness in my head,
Defects and darkness in my breast,
A noise of passions ringing me for dead
Unto a place where is no rest :
Poor priest ! thus am I drest.

Only another head
I have another heart and breast,
Another music, making live, not dead,
Without whom I could have no rest :
In Him I am well drest.

Christ is my only head,
My alone only heart and breast,
My only music, striking me e'en dead ;
That to the old man I may rest,
And be in Him new drest.

So holy in my Head,
Perfect and light in my dear Breast,
My doctrine tuned by Christ (who is not dead,
But lives in me while I do rest),
Come, people ; Aaron's drest.

Herbert, George. The Works of George Herbert in Prose and Verse.
New York: John Wurtele Lovell, 1881. 276-277.

* Exodus xxviii. 29-37.

George Herbert

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Rublev's Trinity - 'Troitsa' - Moscow

In our devotions Cathy read Rowan William's poem simply entitled 'Rublev'

The title is referring to the famous Andrei Rublev, the greatest master of Russian icon-painting, (14th century). The poem is Rublev's icon of the Holy Trinity, which shows the persons of the Trinity as angels seated together around a table. It is in the Tretyakov gallery in Moscow. Known as Trioitsa in Russian, there is an explanation of the deeper meaning of the icon .

But back to Rowan William's poem

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,

slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,

said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

I said Here is the blood of all our people,

these are their bruises, blue and purple,

gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

These (god) are chromatic pains of flesh.

I said, I trust I make you blush,

O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

For ever. I shall root you in the wood,

under the sun shall bake you bread

of beechmast, never let you forth

to the white desert, to the starving sand.

But we shall sit and speak around

one table, share one food, one earth.

Rublev, Rowan Williams, from The Poems of Rowan Williams

Monday, 7 September 2009

Greenbelt: 'spirituality on the edge'

we just had a great mini Greenbelt in Woking as part of our monthly Sat night 'sacred:space', proving that you can take a festival back to church with you.


1 Performance Cafe (30) introduction to Greenbelt – The Kitchen - Open Mike. live performance - songs, stories, poems, couch-thoughts, anything goes!

2 Greenbelt punting (30) wander around the venue - Overflow 'G:source' - Prayer:space, Tent Talk, Stalls; Art Gallery; plus Mainstage - Music videos.

3 Community Hymns (30) 'Beer and Hymns' in the 'Jesus Arms' -community singing & Blessing

Greenbelt 2009 AS 1058Greenbelt Festival 2009Greenbelt Festival 2009


Food and Drink : Cheese and Wine : Beer and Nibbles


Greenbelt 2009 AS 9918

Sam Watts - songs & Reflections

Mike Cope - Reflection and Song

Nigel Griffiths (aka Bruce Cockburn)

MAINSTAGE: LINEUP (big Screen music videos)

Greenbelt Festival 2009

Kitaro (Heaven and Earth), Hayley Westenra (Amazing Grace/ Benedictus) / Boccelli (‘Canto Della Terra’), One Giant Leap (unity/ faith); Sinead O’Connor (intro to theology/ Jeremiah/ Isaiah); Sigur Ros (glosoli, hoppipollia); Jeff Buckley (Hallelujah/Grace); Melissa Etheridge (Kingdom of Heaven) Ukulele Orchestra of GB (The Good the Bad and the Ugly); Dayvan Music Video + Foy Vance: (Gabriel and the Vagabond)

We didn't even get a chance to play them all only those in Italics


The Art of He Qi – from Nanjing - 3 paintings


East and West video + Aradhna music

Sanctuary: PraiseRepentAskYield

PRAISE a moment to focus on (& hold) the Cross and give thanks using the Prayer cards

REPENT take a stone representing a burden and pause for thought before letting it go in the water.

ASK - light a candle of prayer for someone you are concerned about

YIELD make a personal act of commitment & seal it with a sweet


Greenbelt Festival 2009

Standing in the Long Now’ browse newspapers and programmes - Quotes, Poems, Books

Stalls: CMS (Phil) - Christian Aid (Bob) - Love Russia (Caroline) - A Rocha - Re:roote (Jo)



Listen to a talk in the Tent (Andy) whilst modelling clay : Mike Yaconelli - Rob Bell - Brian McLaren


Community singing lead by Father Ian from All Saints Woodham. Brilliant.

And then finish with a communal blessing to finish a great evening:


John O'Donohue

"It is a very cool thing, a blessing. It has a democracy and equality in it, a sense of intention and well-wishing that is concerned more with the destiny of someone rather than their destination."

A blessing from Juli Allen written at Greenbelt 2008 during the Proost Lounge session.

blessings on you who have entered this space-
who have travelled far and near to be in this space. 
let your soul sigh in this space. 
let yourself be undone in this space.
 let yourself feel the love that surrounds, and permeates, and brings this space together.
 breathe it in and let it wash over you. 
for some, this marks the beginning. 
the beginning of a new year,
 a new song, 
a new season.
 for others it is a close, an end, a period at the end of a chapter.
 hopes have been sparked here.
 dreams have begun here. 
revolutions and relationships have arisen here. 
and as a phoenix, we will descend in all the glorious shades of red, and orange, and yellow. 
this time together...
this space together...
this experience together...
we will take deep, deep down into our bellies 
where a fire will burn that will take us through the next year. 
until we meet again we will carry within us memories that will never leave us.
 embrace what is left in this space,
 and in this time soak up all that you can,
 and be sent out knowing that you are loved and you are blessed.

Greenbelt 2009 ED 9964Greenbelt Festival 2009Greenbelt 2009 AS 1058Greenbelt Festival 2009

Friday, 4 September 2009

The Sinking Islands

Carteret Islands

The Sinking Islands

programme information

(30 minutes)

Available since today.

6/6. As sea-levels rise, Dan Box witnesses one Pacific island community's climate change exodus

I've just listened to a fascinating programme on Radio-4 about the 'first climate-change refugees' following Dan Box's journey to the sinking Cararet Islands - A BBC 'journey of a lifetime' - Dan was the winner of the annual BBC/Royal Geographical Society's competition for travellers who want to fulfil their dream journey.

Dan at work 001 by dan boxTo the islands by dan boxAround the island1 by dan box

You can read more on Dan Box's BLOG and see more pics on his photostream
He will be speaking at the Royal Geographical Society about the trip on Oct 6th and Dec 14th Monday night lecture

Radio 4 aslo has a related programme

Tom Heap reports on the first large scale human evacuation due to climate change. The Carteret Islands, a small coral atoll in the South Pacific are slowly being submerged by the rising sea, forcing the removal of hundreds of islanders to nearby Papua New Guinea.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

trax 16 from greenbelt

trax16 podcast 01 September at 16:53 Report
trax16 podcast

the final trax16 podcast is from greenbelt festival, 2009. join mike, dave and anita as they look back over the life of trax16, remembering some unforgettable moments on the podcast, alongside hearing from some of the top people appearing at greenbelt this year.

gene robinson, the first openly gay bishop of new hampshire, usa gives us a lot to think over and talks about his early youth worker days. we also catch up with rob bell – pastor of mars hill church in grand rapids, michigan usa – and the man behind the nooma dvds.

thank you for your support over the last 3½ years. if you want to download any old podcasts, go to thanks for listening!

Worth Listening to for a more youthful perspective on Greenbelt

GREENBELT 3 The Long Worship

Greenbelt Festival 2009 Greenbelt 2009 AS 9966Greenbelt 2009 AS 1273Greenbelt Festival 2009Greenbelt 2009 MB 33215

Greenbelt is primarily a music and arts with a strong concern for social justice So it has its music and talks, art and literature, film and comedy, youth and children, but there is also a worship and spirituality track.

I started Monday morning in the CMS tent with Sanctuary, part East+West trust from Birmingham. Run by Pall Singh. Sitar playing, simple acts lighting candles, dropping stones / burdens into water, bread and wine. Indian sweet representing goodness. Prayer of St Francis. It was beautifully and meaningfully put together.

Later in the day after putting down all the tents and packing camp for the long jorney home, I was able to visit The Long Worship 'a space to reflect on how God fits into your story and how you fit into God’s story'

A spiraling labyrinth in the centre of the room. Images – an old man shovelling snow in a monastry – ambient mucis in background. Kids playing lego and colouring celtic saints. A wall of words for meaning making. Hanging fabrics, floor cushions. People sitting, kneeling, lying down, stretching, reading, writing, relaxing, meditating, thinking, reflecting. Shoes off for this is holy ground.

Thoughts are not imposed but are free to wander, and fix themselves momentarily on an idea, a connection, a point of contact with the Divine. Moments of Spirit of God

I was grateful for Mark Berry of safespace for putting it together (along I am sure with many friends) a great way of finishing Greenbelt 09

Afterwards I picked up a number of postcards advertising other alt.worship events

ReSource creating church in the emerging culture

Grace big complex worship café afterwards 2nd Sat 8pm and gracelet small quiet service New Inn afterwards 4th Sunday 8pm in St Mary’s Church Ealing

Reviv’in seeking God in the Grove – both a journey and an opportunity to meet with God (in Temple Bar, Birmingham) 2nd Friday of month 9pm til late

sanctum (re;connect) and sanctum (:lite) in Horsham

op/en no bag for the journey in London

critical.mass building and celebrating - responding deeply to a desire to make connections in St Stephen’s Bristol

Transcrndence An ancient Future Mass - a multimedia Eucharist with ambient music, chant, movement and symbol run by York Minster and Vision

Dream Re-imagining Church a creative and open community for people exploring a spiritualit centred on Jesus - dream

And lots of 'inspiring resources that fuel faith' 11 books + 22 albums + 44 videos plus new content for £60pa see