Mysterious God – He Blesses His Own

Job 19:25,26  For I know  that my redeemer liveth, and  that he shall stand at the latter  day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

I will open with an admission. I had no idea I would be writing about today’s topic. I had gotten the inspiration to open up the New Post window, but there was absolutely nothing to write about. Then I had an out of the ordinary experience this morning that prompted me to write.

What happened today is in light effect a consequence of a staff meeting we had on Friday, June 13. At that meeting, our CEO raised up concerns about staff watching the world cup during work hours. During the general discussion that ensued, the staff agreed on setting up a TV set in the ICT Section’s waiting room for those who wished to watch the games. Staff were permitted to watch from 6am to 8:30am. Thereafter, anyone wishing to watch would need special permission from their supervisors. It was then up to us in the ICT Section to get to work by 6:00am to have the doors open and the TV set tuned in to the correct channel.

Here’s a personal fact for you. I root for Germany in the world cup. It is the most underrated world cup team and the one with the cleanest game. It’s for that reason that I have pledged my support to them.

So why am I saying this? Well, you see, I don’t have a TV set at home. And Germany’s game against Portugal was scheduled for 3:00am, Vanuatu time. I have a TV set a work though. Naturally, I decided to spend the night at work so I could watch the game at 3:00am. That’s how this “strange” encounter came about.

Now, in the process of getting ready to watch the game between Germany and Portugal, I removed my wallet from my pocket and put it on the floor. It lied there while I was screaming for joy and jumping up and down in glee at Germany’s defeat of Portugal. When the game ended around 4:30am, I forgot to retrieve the wallet and put it somewhere safe. I went into my office to update my observations of the game on Facebook.

At around 6:00am, I heard someone rattling the front door knob. I went to open the door but there was no one outside. I walked out and saw someone with a blue hoodie walking outside. (I noticed the hoodie and nothing else, and assumed that he was either a youth or a staff of Wan Smolbag Theatre.) I went back inside and left the front door open in case staff arriving early for work wanted to watch the 6:00am game. I had the foresight to leave my office door open though, but forgot to turn on the lights in the waiting room.

While in my office, the blue hooded guy walked into the waiting room and pointed at the TV screen. Assuming that he was a youth member or a staff member of Wan Smolbag Theatre, I nodded nonchalantly, determined that he would not distract me from typing my full observations on Facebook. That was my mistake! Or so, it would seem.

In hindsight, I don’t think this was a mistake. I believe it was an act of God. Having me distracted propelled the next few minutes into a series of events that have left me, even now, feeling blessed. Here is what happened thereafter.

Firstly, while I was completely preoccupied on Facebook, the hooded guy lost interest in the game and took interest in my wallet. Having determined that there was cash in it, he silently picked it up and quickly left the room. His swift movement in leaving the room, and the fact that he had not uttered a word alerted me to foul play! In a jiffy, I ran out of my office, threw a quick glance to where my wallet had been, registered an empty floor, and ran outside. The thieve had left.

I had this sudden urge to search for him and find him. What I would do to him was not entirely clear at that time, but I got this earnest desire to find him. I ran hither and yon, but didn’t glance him anywhere. Eventually, the desire to find him became clearer – it was because my food money for this week was in the wallet. Additionally, I had four cards in the wallet that would require more money to replace – money I don’t have. I didn’t feel panic or anger. There was actually a peace in me – and the realization that I had been robbed right under my nose.

I followed the path towards the back of our Youth Centre’s sports grounds and came across a staff member living in the area. I told her about what happened and she said she met the guy on her way to the store to get breakfast. She had recognized the face under the hoodie. And she would make investigations.

Less than two hours later, the wallet was back in my possession, excluding 2050VT. And that is where I believe God’s hand was in this whole experience. He knew I wouldn’t just give money to someone whom I know would misuse the money if I gave it to them. My robber, I was told, is one of the marijuana addicts in his community. If I had taken notice of him, I would have judged him on the spot and maybe even sent him out of the waiting room. But the Lord let him rob me, so that out of my selfishness, would spring a blessing to someone not favored by society.

The lesson I learned is one of unconditional giving. I’ve always had reservations about giving – especially when I suspect that my gift will be misused. But that is not how God views giving. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

That gift of everlasting life is for ALL who believe. And I thank God for teaching me that lesson in a very practical and unconventional way. And with Job, I acknowledge that “my redeemer liveth!” That Redeemer is not mine alone. He is also the redeemer of my hooded friend. I look forward to meeting him one of these days and telling him about the Gift.

The Vanuatu airports contract

Antonio Josiah:

The Agreement signed on 27 July last year was to give VTDPL the exclusive right to “develop, finance, design, construct, modernise, operate, maintain, use and regulate the use by any Person of the Airports in any manner it deems appropriate and without any interruption or intervention by the Government or any Government Authority.” State authority and responsibility were in this manner to be assigned to the already contracted company.

In addition, VTDPL would “determine, adjust, demand, collect, retain and appropriate the Aeronautical Charges and Non-Aeronautical Charges and such other revenue and income as may be generated from the operation of the airports.” It could also sub-lease or license any part of the airports to anyone. VTDPL, initiating the Agreement, effectively put itself in a position to collect any and all profits for the fifty year term of the Agreement. The government agreed.

Originally posted on Vanuatu Daily Digest:

Airport rights & profits given to company of unknowns – and at cost of USD 350 million …

Four months after the formation of their government last year, former PM Carcasses and DPM Natapei signed a fifty year Agreement with the company called Vanuatu Trade Development Pte Ltd – VTDPL (incorporated in Singapore) to build, own and operate an international airport for Port Vila. It was agreed that four unconditional and on-demand promissory notes for a total of three hundred and fifty million United States dollars would be issued to VTDPL whose membership is unknown.

Daily Post has obtained a copy of this first major development Agreement of the Carcasses Government, achieved without any recourse to a tendering process. The document clearly lacks any advice of the State Law Office. It is simply signed by the former PM and DPM and Mak Kum Hoong David and Eric Ong Kok Eng…

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Vanuatu’s method of choosing PPP partners

Antonio Josiah:

The two biggest independent Melanesian countries are both entering into contracts for extension and improvement to their international airports. They both see the need for a Public – Private – Partnership (PPP). However, unlike the former government of Vanuatu, they are intending this to be achieved by calling for tenders to bring experienced operators in. They are advertising for bids from leading advisers worldwide with the intention of choosing the most competent.

Originally posted on Vanuatu Daily Digest:

Fiji and PNG both extending int’l airports, but by public tender.

The two biggest independent Melanesian countries are both entering into contracts for extension and improvement to their international airports. They both see the need for a Public – Private – Partnership (PPP). However, unlike the former government of Vanuatu, they are intending this to be achieved by calling for tenders to bring experienced operators in. They are advertising for bids from leading advisers worldwide with the intention of choosing the most competent.

The Fiji Government has been the most recent to advertise, about 2 months ago. Nadi Airport averages 30 international flights per day and 20 airlines connect Fiji to 14 international cities. Nadi handles over 90% of Fiji’s aviation needs. However, Nausori, serving the capital, was also needing upgrading.

An increase in efficiency, productivity and profitability for government at each Fiji airport is sought. Successful tenderers would have…

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Take a spell, have a rest

Genesis 2:2,3 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

I am a ni-Vanuatu at heart. I have always been, and will always be, proud of that fact. There is no amount of coaxing by any third-party that will make me willfully deny the place of my origin. This is where I was born and grew up. I have never known any other place that I can call home like I do Vanuatu.

Both my parents are from Vanuatu – from the volcanic land of Ambrym. That island has so much stereotypes attached to it, so much so that people from other islands shun any associations to it by default; but it is my land of origin. It is where I spent my formative years; where I learnt about family ties, kastom, religion and language. My identify was formed in a tiny village just a few kilometers uphill from Linbul village, on the Northern part of Ambrym. I am from Fanjever village!

One particular weekly event springs to mind every time I think back to when I was a kid at Fanjever village. This event happened on Fridays. You see, the whole village that I am from is comprised of practicing Seventh-day Adventists.

When Friday arrived, there was no personal work to be done. Instead, everybody would go to the gardens, get some root crops, cabbages and vegetables, fruits, laplap leaves, dried coconuts, firewood then immediately head back home. Once home, the preparation of food for the remaining hours of Friday and the whole of Sabbath (Saturday) would begin.

Kids knew the part they were to play. Fathers and mothers kept order and made sure all responsibilities were carried out. No one was idle. Everyone had a work to do.

What was all this preparation for? It was a preparation for the Sabbath day. The next day would be the Sabbath. This is the day that no one was allowed to work. The whole village came to a halt and individuals rested. You could feel on the Sabbath that a holiness had encompassed the village. There would be church services, then lunch, then people singing – getting ready for the afternoon services.

When afternoon came, the church would be as packed as it was in the mornings. There were no excuses. The elderly and the younger villagers would sit together and sing their collective hearts out.

Those are pleasant memories which I can only ponder upon now. But I loved those Friday preparation days. Those were the times when you could feel the presence of the Sabbath approaching. It was a feeling like someone was coming to meet us at the village.

Children would be cleaned and ready for church by 4:30pm to 5:00pm. We would all be in church singing choruses before night came. Parents would soon after join the rest of us in church and services would begin with an apparent air of heavenly fellowship.

I didn’t use to appreciate this as a kid. But now that I only ever occasionally experience this, I am beginning to understand that feeling. It was indeed God’s presence that was approaching during those Friday preparations. He was coming to meet His children during the Sabbath hours. The hours which He had “blessed …and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work …”

How I long for that day, when all human kind will rest in the presence of God continually and be filled with rejoicing because at that time, everyone is free from worry.

Friendly Rivalry: Who’s side are you on?

Psalms 118:18 “The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.”

Just before putting up this post, I put one up about a brief history of the State of Origin. You can read that post here. It goes into a light background of how I came to know about the State of Origin series, as well as the origins of the series.

Leading up to Game 1 of the series in 2014, there was quite a bit of ruckus going on in Facebook. My friends and family, including myself, were at each other’s necks rooting for our favorite team. The Blues fans were bringing up facts and the Maroons fans were disputing those facts. People who did not know what was going on would either just ignore the comments, or go onto Google and search about the State of Origin series.

While some in the Church might frown upon such rivalry, the close circle in which this friendly rivalry was going on appreciate each other. We appreciate each other firstly as associates, then as fans of our teams. Due to this appreciation springs a respect that only people close enough will understand that it exists.

The rivalry, in my view, is healthy in that it promotes taking sides. As a Christian, life is all about making choices – and the right choices at that. One cannot be “lukewarm” and jump from one state of being to the next, then back. One has to either be hot or cold.

In Revelations chapter 3, Jesus is speaking about the seven Churches. The seventh Church is the Church of Laodicea (Rev 3:14). In verses 15 and 16, Jesus says “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

What is human condition today? Where is this world headed? How has human choices shaped the future of this planet? These are big questions, but it all comes down to making choices. In the eyes of Jesus, a faithful servant is one who makes good choices under the influence of the Holy Spirit. One who chooses to stand on His side.

We are not unlike King David, who realizing his sin, fell before God and pleaded to God for forgiveness.  Through the leading of God’s Spirit, the psalmist realized the greatness of his sin and repented. After receiving reassurance of God’s forgiveness, he rejoiced and declared, “The LORD hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

It is when we are on the side of Jesus that it becomes easy to make good choices. It is not of our own strength that we can overcome, because we have no power to do so. Taking our own side, is taking the devil’s side.

Where do we stand? Where are we headed?

State of Origin Logo

State of Origin: A History

Maroons and Blues

Tackle during game 100

It was the year 2000 and I was just starting out in Uni at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (PNG UNITECH). It was the year I was introduced to Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL). Right from the start, I chose the Brisbane Broncos as my team of favor, mainly because they had a black man playing for them. His name was Wendell Sailor, from the Torres Straight Islands. Wendell, sadly, left the Broncos the next year to join the Queensland Reds, playing rugby union. He left me hooked to NRL and the Broncos have been my team to this day.

It was in the same year that I got a taste of the State of Origin series, a rugby league test of guts between two of Australia’s neighboring states. On one side from the South, is the New South Wales Blues (simply known as #Blues) and on the other side, up North, is the Queensland Maroons (#Maroons).

Back in 2000, Wendell Sailor played for the Maroons. My response was to align my support with the Maroons. Regardless of his move to rugby union, my fan support remained with the Broncos and the Maroons. The Maroons lost in 2000, but my support never changed. I was hooked!

The term ‘State of Origin’ reflects how the players are chosen. A player for either team is

State of Origin Logo

The State of Origin Logo

chosen based on which of the two sates they played their first senior NRL game in. This system was emplyed from 1980 onwards. Before that, the series was not known as the “State of Origin” since players were selected based on which state their NRL club team was based at. Criterias change though, and since 2012 there have been new criterias – for instance players can now be placed based on which state they were born in.

From 1980 onwards, the state winning most games has been the Maroons. Up to 2013, the Maroons have won 53 games and the Blues 44. That is 20 years to 12 with two draws – one in 1999 and the other in 2002. At the start of the 2014 series, the Blues have upped their game wins to 45.

Each year Australians and friends from overseas look forward to the State of Origin. In one year, there are three games played for the Origin series. There are two test matches and one final. The first test match takes place in May. After the first game, there is a spell for three weeks while the players return to fulfill their NRL club responsibilities.

After three weeks, the second test match is played. The final match takes place three weeks after the second test. To win the series, one team has to win two games. The State of Origin is known to be Australia’s greatest sports rivalry.

Crowd

Crowd at 52111

2014’s first test match was the 100th game of the series. (I was introduced to the series druing the 58th game.) The 100th game was played on May 28th, 2014 at the Suncorp Stadium, on Maroons homeground – at Milton, Brisbane, Queensland. The crowd was numbered at 52,111 – the majority of them wearing the Maroons’ signature XXXX jersey.

Diehard fan of the Maroons as I am, and regardless of my obvious dislike for Jarryd Hayne, I put my hat off to Jarryd for an outstanding play during the 100th game. He might have set out to beat the Maroons on homeground, but he surely made a personal mark on NRL history.

The Maroons’ dominance of the series is in question because of this man. He is a force to reckon with. Darius Boyd of the Maroons won the title of top try scorer during the 2013 Origin series, but he just might lose that title to Jarryd if he doesn’t play harder with the rest of the Maroons team in the 101st test match.

The Maroons have been winning for the past 8 years, starting from 2006. They know they have to put up a fight on Blues homeground if they have to win game 2 of this year’s series. This will be a nerve-racking game 2 that will see injuries, guts, and more injuries – all in the name of the game.

I am looking forward to a win by the Maroons in the second game. When that happens, the rivalry that will ensure will be something of a legend. The support, the nerves, the sheer thrill of grit coupled with the fit of anticipation will surpass that of known history.

Until that time comes, I am all for a Maroons win in game 2 of the State of Origin 2014.

Laef i Swit: A song of hope

max-n-sonia

Sonia and her boyfriend enjoying an intimate moment, while her friends warn her in the background.

The life of Sonia reflects the many lost hopes and dreams in the female population of Vanuatu. School was not appealing enough for her, doing the same tasks everyday. She would have otherwise enjoyed school, but her teacher always asked her to write about what she did the day before, everyday, and before long she lost interest in school.

Her friends would find her daydreaming about a boy. At age fifteen, hormones running high, she thought she was the first girl to enter adolescence and would not listen to advice from friends and families. That boys should not be the focus of her life at such a tender age, no, that did not matter. What if she had listened? How did her life turn out because of the choice she made at age 15?

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