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OK folks, I would like to make a bit of an invitation. On 31 July 2004, beginning at 6:30pm, there will be an anti-formal in my room. There is no entry fee or dress standard, no fancy photographer or posh dining, and only if attendance warrants it will I clear the pool table for a game of pool. If attendance is exactly what I expect, I'll be cranking up U2 very loud for four and a half hours by myself. In fact, considering how delightful that sounds, I'd like to say NO-ONE IS INVITED (unless they're me, U2 bootlegs, or some wonderful person with lots of U2 bootlegs). RSVP whenever you want.
I keep on forgetting whether it's 2003, 2004, or 2005. This is a problem. Another problem is today I did something I'm not proud of, but thankfully it's nothing major and I'm not getting haunted by it.
Poor, poor Sam. Today he had to dance in front of the whole school. One group of people from West Side Story performed a scene on chapel this morning (the actual production has its first night in a week) and it was BAD. I'm sorry, but it was. Sam gave me a whole list of reasons why it was substandard and some were valid, but that doesn't excuse the fact that the musical itself is BAD. They sung the Jet song, and wow, stupid lyrics galore. The idea of gang members singing rather clashes with reality too. I just didn't like it and I didn't think it was good at all. The school's even made an ad to play on TV that they showed on chapel, and in the words of Jamie, "they're not going to get many more people with that." I think the school tries too hard with its performing arts programme, but then again, I would seeing I'm resentful about how academic subjects have been shafted. As far as I'm concerned, performing arts should get none. I don't see why they get nice, fancy new studios while academic stuff is left in the cold. The money they spent on that new block could've been put to much better use putting enough computers in every class (even ten would do!), making sure EVERY class has access to the DVD network, putting more money into the Languages Other Than English department so we can have some decent equipment, maybe some stuff for us debators, and so on. I have no idea why I chose my school now. I'm glad I did, because it's changed my life in so many good ways, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.
Speaking of debating, I'm sick of it getting lesser priority than other stuff. Grr. We damn well better not have to forfeit the debate next week. I'll be pissed if we do just because Christy and Lauren have a netball game. It's stupid. Why did I not go to an academic, debating school? Because God wanted me to believe, of course, but that's beside the point when I'm having a bit of a whinge.
Hm, anyhow, that went markedly off course. A very good, moving thing happened this morning on chapel after the WSS debacle. At the end of term one last year, my favourite teacher, Mrs Downman, left the school to go work with her husband on a mission in Thailand. She's the best History teacher I've ever had, and I honestly could not say whether she's the best Geography teacher or if Mrs Hugo is. Well, today, she came back to the school to speak on chapel about her year in Thailand. And wow, it was moving. For those who don't know, a horrible human trade goes on in that part of the world, with impoverished tribal families tricked into giving their daughters to men to take to the city, under the guise of getting good jobs and making money the family desperately needs. In reality, they are forced into prostitution in these cities, effectively held prisoner in brothel bedrooms, and the only time the door opens is for a man to come and have sex with them. This happens to girls as young or even younger than eight, and if they try to escape, they are bashed and sometimes killed. It's horrendous, it really is. However, there are a number of organisations over there working to rescue the girls from lives of prostitution, and Mrs Downman went to work at a Christian centre the girls are taken to after they've been rescued. There they rebuild their lives, learn the skills they need to support their family properly or go back and help their village, and generally receive the safety and love they haven't known for so long.
Mrs Downman's husband told a particularly moving story of one girl - indeed, he couldn't finish it, he just broke down in tears at the end. It was about a fourteen year old Burmese girl named Esther whose parents had been tricked into giving her to a well-dressed man promising a job and money when she was younger. She was trafficked over the border to Thailand and was then locked in a room as a sex slave, I can't remember for how long (there was one girl who was in a brothel for six years, but I think Esther was in there for two). It was just so tragic. For the length of time she was in there, she coped and survived on the following verse;
'The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.' - Psalm 27:1-3
One day, a man from Organisation's Name I've Forgotten happened to walk into her room, but instead of wanting sex, he wanted to talk to her about escape. She became an inside informant, and after a while (a month?), a group of people from a few organisations including the police raided the brothel, rescuing twenty girls, including her. Mrs Downman met her in the emergency centre of the place she was working at not long after the raid, and could tell she had some incredible intelligence in her - she was only fourteen, but could already speak four languages, Burmese, Thai, English, and her native tribal language. Now, she's returned to her family in Burma and has gone around to other villages, warning of the dangers, and spoken at some major conference on human trafficking. It was such a moving, inspiring story, I don't think there were many dry eyes in the hall.
There's ... there's a bit of a personal thing attached to this for me. For the first time in ever, chapel actually felt REAL, and ... I've only spoken of a potential calling with a couple of people so far, but ... I don't know, I'm more sure of it now. As I was listening to what Mr and Mrs Downman had to say, I realised more and more that I'm not staying here in Australia. I've got to go somewhere to help, there's no way I can keep sitting here in good conscience. There's something out there, I don't yet know what, but all I do know is I'm going somewhere. I need to schedule a time to talk to Johnno, I want to see what he thinks, he knows all about these calling things through his own personal experience. Obviously, I've also got to pray about it. But ... I can feel something, there's something, and I know somehow I will be doing something somewhere. It's just dawned on me that my fascination with the countries of the former Soviet Union and specifically those in the Caucasus region (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, and the as-yet-not-independent Chechnya-Ingushetia) may be for a reason a tad different to simple curiousity.
So anyway. That's enough for today. I should remember to discuss the Home Ec argument tomorrow. For now, I should go practice mathematics and write poetry. Should.
Brothers In Arms
Written by Mark Knopfler, performed by Dire Straits
These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be
Some day you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I've witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
There's so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it's written in the starlight
And every line on your palm
We're fools to make war
On our brothers in arms